Friday, November 30, 2007

Consent Calendar Dollars And Laguna Beach Defense Bucks

The Costa Mesa City Council will wrap up 2007 at their final meeting of the year on Tuesday, December 4th. Except for a study session scheduled for the 11th, they will not meet at an official scheduled meeting again until January 2, 2008. They will go out with a bang.

The agenda for Tuesday's meeting looks fairly routine, but with these folks you just never know. You will recall that our young jailer/mayor chose to spring his infamous plan to cross-designate all Costa Mesa police officers as immigration screeners two years ago at the final meeting of the year and ignited a firestorm that persists to this day.


One thing I noticed on this agenda is the amount of money to be authorized in the Consent C
alendar. The Consent Calendar is where "routine" items are placed and typically voted on in one big hunk, sometimes without any discussion at all. In addition to the usual warrants authorizing payroll and city operating expenses, this time there are eight items - numbers 7 through 14 - involving much needed street rehabilitation projects around our city. If you include item number 5, which will facilitate the completion of access roads and improvements to streets for the Home Ranch Project, and item number 6, a consulting contract to provide conceptual design and public outreach services for the proposed mulitpurpose trail at Paularino and Santa Ana Delhi Flood Control Channels, our city council may authorize the expenditure of nearly $12 million with a motion and vote that might take no more than 15 seconds! The breakdown is listed below:

Item 3 - Warrant Resolution 2189 - Payroll #723 $2,418,455.91
Payroll #722A $1,047.03
Operating Expenses $2,532.134.51

Item 4 - Warrant Resolution 2190 Operating Expenses $396,040.06

Sub-Total - Items 3 & 4....$5,345,583.45

Item 5 - Purchase of two parcels to facilitate completion $213,168.00
of improvements to Harbor Blvd. and 405
access to the Home Ranch project

Item 6 - Prof. Svcs. Contract - Multipurpose trail $92,277.00

Item 7 - Roadway Rehab. - East 19th St. $555,555.00
Santa Ana Ave. to Irvine Ave.

Item 8 - Roadway Rehab. - Baker St. $751,649.00
Fairview to Bear

Item 9 - Roadway Rehab. - Harbor Blvd. $1,430,213.98
Wilson St. to Newport Blvd.

Item 10 - Roadway Rehab. - Sunflower Ave. $1,092,387.38

Harbor Blvd. to Hyland

Item 11 - Roadway Rehab. - Hyland Ave. $859,000.00
So. Coast Dr. to MacArthur Blvd.

Item 12 - Roadway Rehab. - So. Coast Dr. $475,363.10
Harbor Blvd. - Hyland Ave.

Item 13 - Roadway Rehab. - So. Coast Dr. $842,030.00
Carmel Dr. to San Leandro Ln.

Item 14 - Parkway Concrete Repair and $374,800.00
New Sidewalk Project

Sub-Total - Items 5 - 14....$6,686,443.46

Grand Total, all items.....$12,032,

Now, before you get all hot and bothered, all these items seem to be important projects and do need to be authorized, but it makes this taxpayer swallow hard when I realize that, in one quick wave of their magic wand, the City Council will agree to the expenditure of $12 million of our hard earned dollars. This is especially interesting when you consider this same group haggles over pennies during the budget discussions.

The Orange County Register, in it's Immigration Blog, reports this morning that the City of Laguna Beach spent $75,000 defending itself in the lawsuit by Minutechick Eileen Garcia challenging their d
ay laborer center. Combine that with the thousands of dollars being spent by the City of Costa Mesa in the Benito Acosta trials because of our young jailer/mayor's actions almost two years ago and it sure looks like those Minutemobsters really like to spend our hard-earned tax dollars on their flights of fancy. I find that amusingly curious since both Eileen of Laguna and our mayor claim to be conservatives. I guess they are good students of Minuteman Grand Pooba, Jim Gilchrist, who reportedly has had some difficulty managing money himself.

That should give you something to chew on this weekend as you stay all warm and cozy inside trying to figure out what that wet stuff is that's falling from the sky while watching the Trojans and Bruins battle for a potential Rose Bowl bid.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Politics of Immigration

Over the past couple of days the local news media has presented us with some very interesting and thought-provoking articles to consider on the subject of illegal immigration. I'll present the following comments and the links to the individual pieces for your consideration. I think you'll find the time reading each well spent.

Right off
the top, a judge backed the city of Laguna Beach on the issue of their day laborer center. You will recall that our pal, Eileen of Laguna - Minutechick Eileen Garcia - and her hubby with a different last name sued the city. This link will give you the information. It looks like our young jailer/mayor's favorite Minutechick will appeal this ruling. At least it might keep her occupied and out of Costa Mesa's business for a change.

Next, th
e Orange County Register produced an editorial on November 16, 2007, which can be read here, in which they addressed the Costa Mesa illegal immigration plans, and the presence of the ICE agent in our jail. On November 25, 2007 the Register ran a rebuttal to that editorial produced by our young jailer/mayor, which you can read here. Based on some of the stuff he wrote, it certainly does appear that the mayor has issues with those in authority, probably due to his under-achievement in his chosen profession.

The Los Angeles Times provided us with an interesting story of a study that appears to refute much of the argument that illegal immigrants account for a large percentage of the use of e
mergency rooms for health care. This study postulates that those here illegally don't use the emergency rooms because of the need for identification - that they fear deportation more than they need health care. If true, this takes much of the wind out of the sails of some anti-illegal immigrant factions. You can read the Times article here.

The City Council of the City of Orange considered the subject of day laborers in their city at their meeting Tuesday night. Among the more than a dozen speakers was the ubiquitous Jim Gil
christ, co-founder of the Minuteman Project and the man who anointed our young jailer/mayor with the mantle of Minutemanship. Old Jim certainly does like to spread the wealth, so to speak. You'll find the Register's account of that meeting here.


Finally, the Los Angeles Times provided us with a most fascinating story from Tom
Tancredo country in an article about the ouster of Tom Selders, the mayor of Greeley, Colorado - a city similar in size and ethnic makeup to that of Costa Mesa - apparently because he was viewed as sympathetic to illegal immigrants. The link to that article is here. Rather than try to give you a "spun" version of the article, I'll leave it to you to read it and form your own comparisons to our situation.

Illegal imm
igration, and it's impact both locally and nationally, continues to be a ripe pimple on the nose of American politics, that will undoubtedly affect local and national elections next year. There seems to be no middle ground on the issue. The most vocal, rabid anti-immigrant activists - like Gilchrist and his frothing mob and some of Costa Mesa's own self-styled "improvers" - leap at any attempt at reasoned discourse like starving pit bulls, ready to rip out the throat of those with an opposing viewpoint and label anyone who tries to present a moderate view as "illegal immigrant lovers". As we've seen locally in recent years, attempts at dialogue end up being shouting matches - or worse. This is a truly sad commentary on our times.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Post-Thanksgiving Musings

Ten days a
go I left you with my Thanksgiving message - a tome of sad memories recalled and encouragement to be thankful for your blessings. I hope your holiday found you close to family and friends and that you did, indeed, take a moment to contemplate those things and people for which you are grateful - I did. As you can tell from my photo, I did what many of you probably did - ate too much. URP! Excuse me!

Returning from a little holiday vacation I found that not too much had changed, although there were a few noteworthy events to think about.

For starters, our municipal court jester, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever, displayed both petulanc
e and bad judgment in one clumsy move. He apparently was so angry at the result of the now notorious Lion's Park/Fairview Park Skate Park issue - both were turned down as possibilities - that his hissy fit continued for two weeks. He had an item placed on the agenda to revisit the Lion's Park issue, then for some unknown reason, had the item withdrawn. I'd like to think he thought again about it and used good judgment, but I doubt that's the case. More likely is that someone pointed out to him that his reasoning was flawed and that he would only look more ridiculous if he persisted. In a perfect bit if timing, Daily Pilot columnist Jim DeBoom presented his annual Turkey of the Year award and reminded us that Bever had been a recipient not too long ago. Just as leopards don't change their spots, apparently turkeys don't change their feathers either. I really am looking forward to next year's council race when Bever is expected to run for re-election.

At that sa
me council meeting a renovation of an existing hotel was given the go-ahead. This move, combined with other planned developments, means that before too long the north part of our city will soon look like an asparagus patch, with residential towers in excess of 20 stories popping up like that vegetable over night. If memory serves, there will now be nine new towers in that location. Yikes!

Then, as I read my accumulated Orange County Register newspapers I found that our young jail
er/mayor, Allan Mansoor, had penned a pathetic response to an earlier editorial regarding ICE accomplishments. In his missive he blathers on and on, trying to justify the actions he took two years ago that fractured Costa Mesa. At one point he asks, "The Register also said that 'those here illegally will be reluctant to report crimes or cooperate with investigators in criminal investigations.' Where is the evidence to support this claim?" Well, he conveniently forgets that three of the last four chiefs of police in Costa Mesa advised the council on that subject and each concluded the same thing - that the bridges of communication between the CMPD and the Latino community would be severely damaged by his proposal and that victims of crimes would be reluctant to come forward fearing deportation. I don't recall any position the current chief, Chris Shawkey, has taken on this issue. Of course, Mansoor doesn't care - he consistently ignores the advice of his senior law enforcement officials. One might think that he, an underachiever in his career, has issues with those in authority.

Also during our absence the blood tests for Sara Harris were announced. You will recall that Harris crashed her Audi in Mesa Verde as she played games with her boyfriend, dodging in and out of traffic. It turns out that her blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit and traces of marijuana were also found. As sad is this case is, with a young, vibrant woman killed through her own bad judgment, it could have been much, much worse. She and her irresponsible boyfriend could have taken others with them as they played games in heavy traffic on one our most crowded streets. There is nothing good in this situation, but perhaps her death can be used as a lesson for other young, careless drivers before they kill themselves and others.

And, finally, I returned to find a commentary in the Daily Pilot by a man who can be most generously described as an "influential activist" in Costa Mesa - a man about whom I've written much in the past, but nothing recently. He bemoaned the condition of several defunct businesses and/or homes throughout our city and demanded that the city council create an ordinance to prohibit such conditions. While I agree with him about the proliferation of such places - even a stopped clock is right twice a day - this is dangerous ground for the council. I urge them to use caution before they begin creating such draconian ordinances. The next thing you know they will be creating an ordinance to penalize your neighbor for not mowing his lawn every week.

So, off we go toward Christmas and then a new year.

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