Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Improvers" Coming Unglued?

Still fighting a cold, I arose this morning and did my usual canvass of online publications and blogs, just to see what was on folks minds this cloudy day. When I hit the CM Press and read his current contribution to the general enlightenment of our populace I almost choked on my grape nuts! Then I got a big smile on my face. Sorry, I just couldn't help it.

The guy, who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, seems to have slipped a cog or something. In his post today, #88 since he became a blogger, he goes on and on accusing the current majority on the Costa Mesa City Council of having "lost it's focus". I've linked to it here. He asks, for example, "Have your elected positions gone to your heads?" This was one of fourteen questions he posed to the majority - hand-picked by him, by the way - apparently trying to slap them back into line.

Another very interesting question was, "Have you turned your backs on improvement activists in your appointments to some city commissions and appointed political hacks who know nothing about our city or improvement?" This, obviously, refers to one loyal "improver" foot soldier who was rejected not once, not twice but three times as a candidate for the Planning Commission by Mayor Mansoor and carpetbagger Jim Righeimer was appointed instead. That must have been painful and embarrassing for him.

The final sentence on his entry was quite telling. He says, "The CM Press certainly hopes the above don't apply to you three, but some in the improvement community are asking questions similar to the above."

The message here, my friends, is that this fellow feels his little flock has stopped dancing to his tune. Apparently he thinks they should already have bulldozers plowing down the "slums" around town to make way for parks. That's just one of his metaphors for expunging every brown face from the city's borders.

That "improvement community" to which he refers is that small, angry cadre of mostly Westsiders who have attempted to take over control of the city for almost a decade, beginning with the election of the chronically inept Chris Steel. When Eric Bever was elected and lame duck Gary Monahan joined the dark side, they began to trample the rights of residents and have kept this city in a turmoil for more than two years and counting. Now, with Wendy Leece teamed with Mansoor and Bever, there's no stopping them. They've stacked the deck on the Planning and Parks and Recreation Commissions, which provides them even more power. This "improver" majority has demonstrated a willingness to blatantly ignore opposing viewpoints and have attempted more than once to quash debate when it didn't suit them.

Over the years I've gotten to know a few of the self-named "improvers". Some of them are pretty darn nice people, with good intentions and some very valid concerns about the deterioration of their neighborhoods. There are others in that group, however, that might be best described as frothing pit bulls instead of activists. They seem to have channeled all their fears toward the Latinos among them and have followed the lead of the guy who runs the CM Press to solve every problem in this city by simply removing the Latinos, legal or illegal, from our midst.

Today's posting is, hopefully, a sign that there's discontent in the "improver" camp. Let's hope that means that a few of them will realize what a dangerous, disgusting path they've been led down and will come to their senses. Let's hope those good, solid citizens among them will take a step back and select a different course. I fear that, if they do not, they may be tarred with the same brush as the guy who continues to turn the pages on their song books - a man who is notorious for his racist rants posted on the internet at various sites and who has been under scrutiny by civil rights organizations for years.

In the meantime, if the CM Press is angry, I'm smilin'.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Youth In Government - Again

Last night, at their regularly scheduled meeting, the Costa Mesa City Council voted unanimously to spend more than $3.5 million on a chunk of property on the Eastside which seems destined to become another park for our city. Within the past couple weeks this same group got into a squabble over a measly $3,800 for a Youth in Government program, which actually ended up being less than a grand. Don't you just love politics?

Speaking of which, while fighting a cold I finally managed to view the tape of the last council study session, during which they discussed that self-same program. If I happened to be a betting man, I'd bet the farm that every single person in attendance at that meeting was frustrated by the whole event. While we couldn't see the residents and other guests in the room, we could hear their response to the proceedings. Of course, we could see the council and city staff members as the camera panned back and forth. The photo above will give you an idea of how much fun Mayor Pro Tem (and court jester) Eric Bever was having as he unsuccessfully attempted to make a point to Katrina Foley. It's a good thing the table separated them. This image was captured right after Bever accused Foley of "grandstanding" and of being "willfully ignorant", two phrases of endearment that certainly won her over. Sanctimonious horse's patoot that he is, Bever went on at one point to state, "The youth in our community, the seniors in our community, the middle aged people, everybody who has a mouth and a brain and an idea and a viewpoint has access to sharing those viewpoints." He was referring to the Public Comments section at the council meetings, where speakers have three lousy minutes to present a viewpoint. You just have to love the guy and his arrogant disregard for almost any group in the city.

Much has been said and written about the Youth In Government plan that was initiated by Foley a year ago. The Daily Pilot has published a couple articles and an editorial on the subject and readers have chimed in with comments posted online at the Daily Pilot web site. Many of those comments were predictable and purely political in nature. Most of those supporting the position of the ruling troika, whatever it is, seem unwilling to identify themselves and use pen names of two, three or four letters. There's really nothing wrong with anonymity, but one can assume you choose not to have your family, friends and neighbors know your viewpoints, for whatever reasons. Fear and shame are a couple that come to mind.

After the study session on the 13th, the council adjourned to the regularly scheduled meeting of the Redevelopment Agency - the council in a fancy dress. It was interesting to note that several observers from the study session followed the council to the chambers and used their three minutes to address the Youth in Government issue, even though it's not under the purview of the Redevelopment Agency. Wisely, the agency members (council) voted to permit those few speakers to voice their opinions on that issue.

The Youth in Government issue will be on the agenda of the first council meeting in March. It will be very interesting, indeed, to see just what happens. Will Mansoor, Bever and Leece come up with real reasons for not considering the program this time around? Will they offer workable alternatives? Foley and Dixon were willing to bend to their will the last time around, but the majority refused to accept that compromise.