Thursday, March 22, 2007

Civility, Where Art Thou?

Have you noticed just how acrimonious our City Council meetings have become lately? The end of the last one, of course, was fraught with tension and rancor because it involved Councilwoman Linda Dixon being forcibly unseated by majority vote of the council, which conferred upon our young jailer/mayor the right to arrange the seats in any manner he chooses. In fact, it's likely that the council policy the City Attorney was instructed to prepare will permit him, and future mayors, to arbitrarily shuffle the deck any time he or she chooses. Pretty silly stuff, if you ask me.

Silly as it might have been, though, it caused an amplification of the stress long visible to those of us paying attention to such things. Clearly, much of this city remains divided into two factions - those who agree with the mayor and his majority and those who prefer a more mature, moderate, reasonable, steady approach to governance.

Prior to vote being taken to bounce Dixon from her chair, former mayor Sandra Genis attempted to provide some history and education for the council. She read excerpts from The Federalist Papers, quotes from The Bible and even tried some good old common sense. None of that worked. Dixon read the email that apparently launched this whole thing - a message from Leece to the City Manager, Allan Roeder, requesting the seat swap. She then let the mayor know in no uncertain terms how disappointed she was to have not been given the courtesy of being included in the decision - or even consulted. His pitiful attempt at an apology was disingenuous at best.

This kind of rancor has spilled over into the communications tacked onto the end of articles, commentaries and editorials in the Daily Pilot, too. Ever since that fine newspaper provided the capability to post comments we've seen a deterioration of civility in many comment threads. Most usually start out with the first few commentors addressing the issue at hand. However, almost invariably, many of the subsequent comments are critical of earlier comments and commentors instead of simply voicing a divergent view of the subject. Most of the nastiest are posted by anonymous cowards using fictitious pen names, spouting rhetoric they would likely never use in civil conversation. I mentioned this phenomenon in an earlier post and it's getting worse. I admit to being sucked into this literary quicksand, but have never posted comments anonymously - which still doesn't make it right. When your integrity is challenged it's normal to strike back - like any shouting match. However, it seldom accomplishes anything except giving the combatants a sore throat to go along with their sore heads.

So, from this point forward I'm going to do my best to keep my comments on those venues at a higher level - maybe others will do the same, although I don't have much hope for a couple of them. If I back-slide I know there will be some of you out there to remind me.

Here on my blog, though, I'm going to continue to present my views as I choose. That will likely involve ridiculing some of our local officials frequently - because they deserve it. I will also continue to chide one particular blogger - because I disagree with his philosophy and his ego makes him such a great target. I suspect he feels the same about me. That's just the way it is.

As we turn the corner on the last week of March and head, appropriately, to April Fool's Day, I look forward to continuing to participate in an exchange of ideas and opinions with those of you who choose to join me. Every comment received here is much appreciated and will be published, unless it is submitted as "anonymous" or it doesn't pass the "cuss-o-meter" filter. Fortunately, there have been very few of those.

Thanks for playing in my sandbox.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Grant, Alexander and Floating Effluent

Well, that didn't take long. Before the sun was up this morning The-Brain-That-Ate-Costa-Mesa had published his version of events at the City Council meeting last night on the CM Press - the official house organ of the Mansoor Majority.

In his own special way ("giddy gang of galloping galoots" - I love it!), in a post full of homilies, he compares our young jailer/mayor to General Ulysses S. Grant and Alexander The Great! He also implies, through one of his homilies, that Mayor Mansoor can walk on water! Geez!

He spends a good deal of time justifying Mansoor's bullying approach to leadership, which doesn't surprise me at all. After all, this is his guy - molded (manipulated?) for years to implement his plans. He knows the mayor much better than I do, for sure. If he thinks Mansoor is like Grant (a drunkard) or Alexander (how shall we say it? - a "switch hitter"), who am I to quibble? After all, he's invested a lot of time writing the script for the mayor and his mob, so he should know. As far as that "walking on water" reference is concerned, there's an old saying, which I will paraphrase - effluent floats.

I'm still trying to figure out Wendy Leece. Her role in this "seating chart" scenario is very strange. Did she initiate this whole thing or didn't she? Why does she give two different versions at different times? Is she really that vacuous? Her performance in this issue only re-affirms that she really is nothing more than a rubber stamp on the dais, doing what she's told by Mansoor. I still think moving her between Bever and Allan Roeder was more about removing her from Katrina Foley's influence than providing her the chance to whisper questions to Roeder. She and Foley seemed to be getting along just fine, which had to rankle our young jailer/mayor.

Now we'll see Mansoor, Bever and Leece chatting among themselves, with Mansoor's back turned on Foley and Dixon - both physically and symbolically - for the next nearly two years. Although, this could change, too. Mansoor has asked that a council policy conferring upon him the power to decided who sits where be created. Maybe, as one observer commented, he'll ask Foley and Dixon to sit in the audience, since their opinions are irrelevant to the proceedings. After all that's gone on, it wouldn't surprise me.

Our young jailer/mayor actually seemed surprised that the seating issue became such a big deal. Under most circumstances it wouldn't have. It's really more of how he ham-handedly went about trying to do it that became the issue. He has a history of this kind of disregard for opinions of others. I haven't seen such a display of cluelessness since Chris Steel sat on the dais with his deer-in-the-headlights look on his face.

So, once again, I jam my tongue firmly in my cheek and "thank" all you voters who gave us Mansoor and Leece last November. I'll continue to remind you what a disaster this has become as time passes, although when they begin to mess with your rights I doubt it will be necessary.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dictator Rising

Those of you who are frequent readers of this blog will recall that I've warned that our young jailer/mayor is methodically attempting to turn Costa Mesa into a dictatorship. Some of you scoffed at that claim, accusing me of being too dramatic. Well, tonight's City Council meeting gave you yet another example of why I feel the way I do.

During the Public Comments portion near the beginning of the meeting several parents and residents of our city stood and spoke against what they perceived to be a pending violation of their rights and those of their children. They referred to a daytime curfew that was mentioned last week as part of the Gang Intervention program discussed at the Study Session. I understand their concern, since such a curfew reeks of some authoritarian regimes in the past. I suspect those concerned parents might not have been as worried if the mayor hadn't demonstrated a tendency to play fast and loose with individual rights.

Then, at the end of what turned out to be an abbreviated council meeting, the much-anticipated seating arrangement changes were discussed and the Mayor Mansoor demonstrated for us that he is, in fact, well on the way to becoming a dictator in our city. Despite the guidance provided to the council by former mayor Sandra Genis - who twice stood before them and read some very relevant passages from The Federalist Papers, gave some biblical quotes, and provided some history of previous council procedures - the mayor and his majority voted to force Linda Dixon to swap seats with Wendy Leece beginning at the next meeting. Dixon voted "No", but Katrina Foley abstained, stating that she didn't think this issue was appropriate business for the City Council.

Prior to the vote Dixon read an email, apparently the one mentioned in a late post on this evening, in which Leece apparently asked the City Manager to make the seating change. That message provided a cc to the mayor. We join in being more than a little curious about the faulty recollection on Leece's part, since she feigned ignorance of how this issue was brought up when interviewed by the Daily Pilot. I'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt on this one, but since she showed us a willingness to bend the truth during her campaign, I think it's likely she's fibbing again.

The mayor took one more step to consolidate his iron grip on our city when he moved not only to force Dixon to give up her seat to Leece, but also included a proviso directing that steps be taken to codify his authority to choose who sits where without having to consider any view except his own. Actually, this is pretty much how he operates on most issues, so it was no surprise to me.

Those of you who voted for Mansoor and Leece last November based on their position on illegal immigration will soon find that the mayor is more than willing to mess with your rights, too.

Watching the mayor in action over the past few years makes me nervous. This apprehension is only exacerbated by the pervasive rumor that he might be investigating a change to directly elect the position of mayor. That sure sounds like a guy trying to solidify his position as dictator, not at all unlike Uganda's Idi Amin Dada - the Dictator For Life. As each day passes he demonstrates an unwillingness to be accountable to anyone for his actions. Such a direct election scheme would compound that problem.

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"The Brain" Rants Again

Over at the CM Press this morning The-Brain-That-Ate-Costa-Mesa has published a little study guide for his followers on the City Council to read prior to the meeting tonight, when they will consider putting a moratorium on certain types of development on the Westside.

For months, when the Westside plans were being formulated, this hypocrite stood before the City Council and Planning Commission and spouted off about how "market forces" would take care of the Westside if it were just properly zoned. Now, when it appears that his idea of the renaissance of the Westside isn't moving fast enough to suit him, he's advocating the council to provide a little "push", to jump start the removal of industrial uses to make way for homes.

And, as we all have seen recently, he continues to raise the bogus claim of pollution defiling the entire city, blown across from those nasty industrial uses by the wonderful ocean breezes. This claim has been refuted in the past by investigations by the Air Quality Management District (AQMD), but that's not good enough for this guy. Now he claims the AQMD isn't the proper body to be assessing pollution. What?!

Nothing will satisfy this guy until every single brown face is removed from our city. His putrid, racist philosophy underlies all the things he's doing to expunge them from our city. The sad part is that he's now got a majority on the City Council that either completely agrees with him or are just too intellectually challenged to see what he's doing. The end result is the same.

By the way, the musical chairs issue comes to full boil tonight and has had plenty of press. But, if guidance is what our young jailer/mayor has in mind for his rubber stamp, Wendy Leece, perhaps they should just scoot her present chair over toward Katrina Foley's spot and place a folding chair beside her next to the mayor and let the guy from the CM Press sit there and coach her along though the proceedings. That way Wendy wouldn't have to try to filter what the City Manager had to say - she could get the straight scoop from her mentor. It's just an idea...

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Buffoonery Abounds

It's an interesting day in the local blog world.

First, in response to an article in the Daily Pilot, here, about the childish game of musical chairs our young jailer/mayor seems intent on playing, our old pal, Byron de Arakal published yet another pithy post on his blog,, here. Nobody manages to insert the knife and twist it just right better than Byron.

Then, over at the CM Press,
The Brain That Ate Costa Mesa posted not one but two new entries designed to twist the facts for his loyal, misguided readers, here and here. It constantly amazes me that he actually finds folks who believe him, especially in light of his perverted views of our society as reflected in his numerous essays on radical right wing web sites, here.

Then, Claudio Gallegos posted the final installment of his expose', Confessions of a Westside Improver, which you can read here. If you missed the first two, you can read number 1 here and the second one here.

All of this is an interesting preamble to the City Council meeting tomorrow night. The grand "musical chairs" issue is scheduled to be discussed at the end of the meeting. It will be interesting to see if our young jailer/mayor continues with this folly, or will he have seen the light and changed his mind. He should simply ask to have the issue removed from the agenda, apologize to the staff for making them waste valuable time and money researching this issue and move forward - but he won't. Nope, much as Brer Rabbit got stuck in the Tar Baby in the briar patch in Disney's "Song of the South", he's just going to keep slugging away until he's got both feet and hands so deep into this ridiculous issue that he can't extricate himself.

So, the beat goes on here in the land of Costa Mesa, where buffoonery
on the dais has been refined to an art form and intolerance forms the foundation for governance.

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