Wednesday, October 10, 2007


This morning Alicia Robinson reports in the Daily Pilot, here, that the City of Costa Mesa has spent $32,000 prosecuting the case against Benito Acosta so far, and the meter is apparently still running.

She quotes City Attorney Kim Barlow as saying the case could be appealed to the State Supreme Court.

Let me ask you - what is the return on investment in this case? Is it really worth $32,000 plus to convict Acosta of two misdemeanor charges and gain the fine of $1,000? I don't think so. It looks to me that what's going on here is that a petulant council majority, led by Mayor Allan Mansoor, is trying to "get even" with Acosta - to teach him a lesson for being rude and disrespectful before the council.


Here's another question for you. How do you suppose this is going to appear when presented in the federal civil rights case Acosta and the ACLU have filed against Mansoor, former Police Chief John Hensley and the city? How will it look when the court is told that the Orange County District Attorney's office declined to prosecute this case more than a year ago? How will it look when the court is told these charges were filed only after Acosta filed his case? And, how will it look if the city - in yet another boneheaded move - actually does appeal this case to the State Supreme Court? Add that to the obvious double standard Mansoor used on January 3, 2006 and it's going to look like the leaders of our city are inept, vindictive and prejudiced.

In my opinion, this is exactly what happens when you elect small people to big jobs. Mansoor and his majority have consistently ignored the advice and counsel of each of their most recent top law enforcement officers - men who, between them, have had nearly a century of experience. This is the kind of trouble that lack of regard for folks with wisdom and expertise can create for the city.

It is not unreasonable to assume that Acosta and the ACLU will prevail next spring, and with their success will come not only a huge financial hit to the treasury of this city, but to it's image, as well. I do not take joy in pointing this out, contrary to what some bloggers have said in the recent past. I'm not happy we have a city led by people without the vision to see the quagmire they are dragging us into. Their stubborn short-sightedness is going to cost us a bundle.

Over the past week or so, as stories of this case and it's dismissal by the judge have dominated the news, some Daily Pilot bloggers have suggested that our young jailer/mayor should be recalled for this monumental gaffe. At that time I said it was a bad idea. It would cost the city a lot of money and, more important, would only serve to further divide us as a community. I must say, though, that if this plays out the way it appears that it might, and ends up costing us a lot of money and tarnishes our image among the community of cities, the voters of this city should weigh their choices next November very carefully to avoid perpetuating this kind of narrow-minded folly in the future.

In my view, the city should cut it's losses. It should cease any further consideration of an appeal and immediately begin negotiations to settle the federal case out of court, if possible. The longer this drags out the worse we are going to look and the more it's going to cost.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Save the expensive recall and vote out the Bever and Mansoor at the earliest opportunity! What a fiasco - it's already too late to save the city from embarassment.

Acosta's actions were certainly amateurish, but he deserved the same treatment the Minutemen received. For the mayor to claim he had no affiliation with them (while letting them sponsor barbecues and whatnot) is ridiculous. What a black eye when the money could have been spent on much better things!

10/10/2007 07:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've said it many times. You Mayor likes the media spothlight, and will do anything, including dragging this coastal city to poverty, to get his face in 60 minutes or the NY Times. Recall is an excellent idea, but it seems that it only works with a conservative electorate. Well, desafortunadamente, we've got too many ultras here

10/10/2007 08:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I think that prosecuting Acosta was justified, I agree that we blew our chance and should drop it. As with normal criminal trials, a procedural mistake by police often gets the charges thrown out.

Mike, I wouldn't say that Acosta's actions were "amateurish". If he hadn't deliberately disrupted the previous meeting with a profanity-laced outburst (protected speech on the Council steps, not necessarily protected speech while addressing the Council), I would have cut him much more slack and chalked this up to misguided passion or zeal for his cause.

Acosta's willingness to throw decorum out the window indicates a deliberately planned act of civil disobedience. If you watched the video, the normally passionate speaker was very, very nervous. was that because he was planning on disrupting the meeting again?

Acosta is a young man, standing up for what he believes in. I admired his passion for his cause, even though I disagreed with him. His subsequent actions to spread fear and disinformation in his own community during that time period disgusted me, and I lost all respect for him, despite his passion.

I urge you to watch the video again. Notice his swift transition from barely-able-to-speak nervousness to agressive defiance. The Mayor was clearly heard telling him to stop. Watch also when the police calmly surround him, and listen to his protests. When they put their hands on him to move him away from the podium, he violently shakes them off to retrieve his notes. He then points at the officers and keeps aggressively telling them to keep their hands off him. When it becomes clear that he has no intention of complying with multiple senior police officers, Cheif Hensley leans in and orders him removed from the Council chambers.

Gentlemen, in this country, disobeying and resisting police gets you arrested. It's just that simple. If an officer has his hands on your arm and you violently shake it off, you will go down to the ground. Not a mystery and not an inappropriate use of force.

Again, I urge you to watch every available video. Take Mansoor's actions out of it, and attempt to leave any bias you may have behind. Faced with a defiant Acosta and a now very vocal crowd, what were the police supposed to do? He actively resisted them and disobeyed their lawful orders. If the City had refused to prosecute him, what message does that send to anyone else wishing to cause a disturbance? What sort of message does that send to the police officers? Their Chief and Council won't prosecute a guy who kicked them while resisting arrest?

I know full well that this is a very passionate issue, and that it does seem completely unfair and disgusting that an elected official would grant an out-of-towner privileges (Gilchrist standing) while shutting down a resident wishing to do the same thing. To not allow Acosta's supporters to stand was wrong and discriminatory on the face of it, but you simply cannot dismiss all the contributing factors.

Acosta's previous behavior, the size and make-up of the crowd, the disputed nature of the Minutepeople's standing, etc. The Mayor made a decision based upon his perception of the situation, and it seemed pretty clear that the police felt the same way the Mayor did. Acosta did say that he and all his supporters would be "right here" and would "fight this" and were "not going to allow this to pass." From a public safety standpoint, what do you do? Just hope that everything will be OK, its just rhetoric, or take preemptive action? When the speaker defies the presiding officer and urges his crowd of supporters to do the same thing, you don't really have a choice.

I'm not a cop. I don't like Acosta. This is my opinion. Take it or leave it, but please - look at the whole situation and try to see both sides. Acosta is no angel, neither is Mansoor. But this was far from a clear-cut instance of abuse. I don't think the City should settle with Acosta at all, and I don't think he will prevail in his lawsuit. So before we sell City Hall, the helicopter, etc., lets see if the case has any merit from a federal jurist's standpoint.

And lets have someone else try the case besides Peelman...

10/10/2007 07:07:00 PM  

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