Thursday, July 12, 2007


It's going to be a terrific weekend beginning tomorrow, Friday, July 13th. On that day the most recent edition of the Orange County Fair at the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa opens it's three week run. This year, as usual, it promises to be loads of fun. You can read about the schedule of events, times, etc. at the fa
ir web site, here. The Orange County Register also has a special blog for the event, which you can reach here and watch ace reporters Jeff Overley and Niyaz Pirani make fools of themselves on streaming video as they guide you through the fun and games.

The highlight of this year's fair will be the cattle drive through Costa Mesa streets on Friday, July 27th. I've been trying to get the city council majority to volunteer for duty as the clean-up crew with brooms and shovels, to follow the bovine contingent and perform a function for which they most certainly are highly qualified. So far no word if they're up for it.

Visit the web site and find out just how much fun you can have for the next three weeks.


Then, on Saturday, July 14th, The Great American
Race comes to Orange County again. This year the 25th Anniversary Great American Race completes it's 4,000 mile trek from Concord, N.C. to finish at the Promenade Center in Downtown Anaheim. This race, the largest of it's type in the world, is a test of stamina and endurance for more than 200 competitors in over 100 cars as they struggle to hit the "perfect score" and win the top prize. Last year's winners, Dave Reeder and his then 13 year-old grandson, Sawyer Stone, seen above, are in the thick of it again this year.

This event has a very pronounced Orange County flavor to it. Five time champion Wayne Stanfield is a Costa Mesa High School graduate and former long time Costa Mesa businessman. He and Newport Beach resident Dennis Holland ran the very first race in Holland's 1909 Buick Racer - the second car to be registered in Orange County. Stanfield retired from competition a few years ago, to the great relief of his fellow competitors, and joined some partners to purchase the race from it's creator, the late Tom McRae. Since that time he has been the Chief Operating Officer - the guy who puts the whole race together.

You can read more about the race at their web site, here. If you're an old car fan, or a hot rod fan - this year many '32 roadsters are competing in a special class - jump in your car and run up to Anaheim Saturday for a real thrill. Since it's inception the Great American Race has been a slice of Americana, playing to record crowds along it's route every year. You won't want to miss it this year.

Have a great weekend.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Anger Management - Who's Next?

Well, it certainly has been an interesting few days here in the Land of Newport-Mesa. I've managed to provoke a man who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, into writing not one, but two blog entries aimed directly at me, here and here. Any day is a good day when he's unhappy with me. I think he's just peeved because he fancies himself an ace reporter and I managed to scoop him on a couple issues in the past week or two. Of course, he's never happy when I point out the failings of his Anointed One, our supreme leader, the mayor. That means he stays peeved a lot.

I ticked off the current mayor and a former mayor with my commentary about the bogus plan to directly elect the mayor of our fair city and how it went down in flames, here.

Then, a friend pointed out an entry on the Daily Pilot blog purportedly posted by our resident court jester, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever, in which he threatens me with le
gal action. For your reading pleasure I've copied and pasted that entry below. This comment was the fifteenth and final one posted at the end of the recent commentary, here, co-signed by Mayor Mansoor, Bever and Councilwoman Wendy Leece published in the Daily Pilot online on 6/30/07.

Eric Bever wrote on Jul 8, 2007 8:20 PM:

" Mr. West again incorrectly states: "The only voices they listen to are those of their tight knot of westside buddies and one guy from Mesa North. All other voices are just ambient noise to them." MR. WEST, YOU ARE COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY MISTAKEN. We listen to all who have a viewpoint to share regarding city issues. At council meetings we all listen to every person's comments. West’s oft-repeated incorrect statements like the above only confirm his complete lack of credibility. Mr West, you are hereby informed. Your continued promulgation of this incorrect claim shall constitute libel. "

As usual, Bever knows not of which he speaks. When he tossed his hat (and pony tail) into the ring as a politician he opened himself up to criticism and ridicule, when appropriate. Unfortunately for him, "when appropriate" seems to come around qu
ite often. For example, in this very instance he sets himself up for criticism, not only by me, but by anyone with the slightest knowledge of the legal system. If he, as an elected official, continues to threaten me - or any other resident of this city - he might find himself at the other end of that legal system he has used as a threat, for harassment and abuse of his power. He obviously feels he's a very clever fella, so he will likely realize the error of his ways and think twice - or three times - before printing such a statement in the future. I hope so - he has a lot to lose.

Then, I thi
nk I've managed to make more than half the people in Costa Mesa, including some good friends, angry at me with my commentary in the Daily Pilot today, here, responding to their columnist, Steve Smith's column on Tuesday, here. I won't bore you with the details of our little spat about fireworks in this city - you can read both pieces for yourselves - except to observe that he shouldn't poke a beast in the eye with a stick and expect it to continue to sleep peacefully.


All in all, it's been a very interesting and productive week here at the old Cauldron. A week ago I was watching "bombs bursting in air" during the Independence Day celebrations. Tonight, I can almost hear the "blood vessels bursting" around town. Yep, it's been a
productive week. To all of you still ticked-off at me tonight, please remember this. What you read here are only my humble opinions. Take them for what they're worth. (I heard that, Andrew!)

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hello, Stranger - Where Are You From?

Buenos días. ¿Hablas español? Si no, debes aprender rápidamente.

Did you get that? I said, "Good Morning. Do you speak Spanish? If not, you had better learn fast". At least, that's what my translation software says I said.

In an article in the Orange County Register today by writer Brian Joseph, he tells us that Hispanics will become Orange County's ethnic majority in 2034 - seven years earlier than predicted. It also predicts that Hispanics will account for 50% of the population in the state by 2042.

Joseph goes on to tell us that, by 2050, California will be 52% Hispanic, 27% white and 13% Asian, and the total population will be 59.5 million. Yikes! My initial reaction was not so much about the changing demographics, but wondering where all those people are going to sit - or stand, for that matter. The phrase "Up close and personal" takes on a whole new meaning! You think we have a water problem now? Just wait until nearly 60 million people flush their toilets every day!

So, your friendly correspondent - who, for the past thirty years, has been telling friends that their children should learn Spanish if they expect to communicate with the people around them - turns out to be a prophet. It kind of reminds me of the lyrics to that old song..."Oh lord, it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way!"

Actually, it didn't take a prophet to see what's been happening in our state and region over the past several decades. Continued prosperity in this state, shifting geopolitical realities and a virtual open door on our southern border combined to create this situation, with no "relief" in sight. Soon, not only in Costa Mesa, but thoughout our area, if you don't "habla Espanol" you won't be able to "habla" with most folks around you. Trying to communicate with your neighbors in a couple decades is going to make our current perception of Babel seem like a Sesame Street episode by comparison.

This won't make much difference to me personally. By the dates quoted in this article I'll be long gone - only the brass urn full of ashes, jammed into a nice, decorative piece of granite at a local cemetery, will be all that's left of this old carcass. But, what about you? What's your plan for living in a society where the majority of your neighbors don't speak English? How will you handle being in the minority? What is your plan for living in a state where the population will double in your lifetime?

I know some of my Latino friends are smiling as they read this entry. I don't blame you. Some might say, "What goes around, comes around." By the way, did you notice that the O.C. Register refers to those of Latin extraction as "Hispanics", while the Los Angeles Times (and the Daily Pilot) uses the term, "Latinos"? I fought that battle with the Daily Pilot editors several years ago, as they changed every submission I sent them. Finally, I just gave up since it was their ball game in which we play by their rules.

There are those who rant and rave about "sending them all back" where they came from - an asinine, impractical and impossible solution, bred by fear. There are those, like me, who feel our borders should be made secure as the first step in national security. That may never happen if the lack of resolve we see on the part of our national elected leaders is any indication.

So, what's your solution? Seriously, I want to know. If you don't want to post your ideas on the blog, just send me an email. I'm curious and I know some of you who read this blog can come up with some good, rational solutions to problems. I want to hear them on this subject.

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Riggy Slips The Leash - Again

It was like a night at the Bark Park in the council chambers last night. Those of you who chose to miss the Costa Mesa Planning Commission meeting last night because you thought it would be brief and boring missed some post-July 4th fireworks.

Whenever I see developer Barry Saywitz's name on the agenda I make it a point to watch the proceedings because he and carpetbagger Commissioner Jim Righeimer have this little
feud going that makes for some fun viewing. Last night was no exception.

You may recall that Righeimer went after Saywitz like an unleashed pit bull when Saywitz was at
tempting to get a condo conversion project approved. This time, during a re-hearing of the same project, old Riggy was back at him again, trying to micro manage the project by questioning every line item in the project to see why Saywitz felt he couldn't make sufficient profit if he was forced to delete three of the twelve units.

This time, however, crusty Chairman Donn Hall wasn't having any of it. He stopped Righeimer in his tracks as he began tenaciously interrogating Saywitz, told him he had embarrassed the commission previously with that kind of nonsense and that he, Hall, wouldn't put up with it this time. Riggy fired back, saying he was appointed by the city council to do exactly what he was doing. Hall persisted and prevailed after threatening to muzzle Riggy on this subject. I must admit that I en
joyed watching Hall cuff Righeimer around as he barked at him on the dais.

Saywitz was the loser, though. His project was denied, as commissioner Clark and Vice Chair Fisler joined Righeimer in voting it down.

Righeimer has demonstrated again that he's a dangerous guy to have angry at you. Watching him in action against Saywitz, it's clear that he has a burning animosity toward him. One suspects there may be more here than meets the eye.

In any event, Righeimer's conduct on the dais should cause any developer planning to do busine
ss with our city to take pause. An earlier speaker, a developer with a long history of doing business in our city, virtually said as much during his comments. If the city is serious about re-vitalizing the Westside of our city it needs to, in addition to developing reasonable development standards, work hard to make the Planning Commission a whole lot more "user friendly" and much less adversarial. Somebody needs to get a trainer for Riggy, to teach him to sit, stay and heel on command.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Independence Day - 2007

With all the hub-bub around the city council meeting that ended in the wee hours of July 4th I neglected to mark the celebration of Independence Day here on the blog. I sure do hope you all had a wonderful day - I did.

For the first time in the nearly 34 years that we've lived in our home, our neighborhood decided to have a good, old-fashioned block party and it was a rousing success. We had games for the young ones - and for those young at heart.

We had an apple pie contest, which, for some inexplicable reason, was not won by my sweet wife who makes the best crust on the face of the earth. What do those judges know, anyhow? I think the fix may have been in, because the winner lived in the house of one of the three judges. I must admit, though, the winning pie was spectacular.

Due to the generosity of one neighbor whose heart is as big as his wallet, we had food, food and more food. He provided a BK Burger truck, who served burgers, chips, salads, cookies and drinks to all in attendance. It also provided some appropriate music until well past dark, when the fireworks began.

Speaking of w
hich, we had lots of safe and sane fireworks, overseen by one very responsible young high- schooler. Somewhere nearby the occasional bottle rocket or mortar round were fired off, although I couldn't swear to their origins. They did evoke cheers and applause from the assembled throng. Through the smoke of the fireworks I swear I saw a strange apparition - a guy running around shirtless with a helmet strapped to his head and fireworks blazing away from a long tube welded to the top of his helmet. I hope it was just my imagination, because such behavior - if not illegal - was certainly foolhardy.

We had a "pickle ball" tournament which, after all the elimination rounds were complete, was won by our culinary benefactor and his lawyer buddy. They defeated the pie-baking champion and her boyfriend. In the dimming light, the champ then mixed and matched with different partners and took on all comers, remaining victorious.

In one garage a two-table ping-pong tournament was being held. A retired fire captain, who fancies himself quite a ping-ponger, had all he could handle with the teenagers from the neighborhood.

The glorious day provided a great opportunity for the
neighbors to re-acquaint themselves, and to meet some of the new arrivals for the very first time. It was a chance to greet returning neighborhood college freshmen, to hear the stories of their adventures in the year since they flew from their comfortable nests here in Costa Mesa's best neighborhood. It was a chance to admire how much they seem to have grown intellectually since their mother's last did their laundry. The energy of their return always invigorates the neighborhood.

So, a big thank you to all the committee members wh
o rallied to collect the money, get the permits and road barriers, produce those wonderful "A.W.E.some" commemorative T-shirts, plan and oversee the games, coordinate the activities and clean up the debris in the aftermath of a wonderful celebration. I hope we do it all over again next year.

To all you readers out there, I hope your July 4th, 2007 ca
me close to being as much fun as mine was.

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