Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More Questions About The New Guys

The middle of April, on the 16th, I posted an entry here entitled, "Welcome To The New Guys On The Block", which can be read HERE. Since that time two of the blogs in question, the CMTR
UTH and CM Watchtower, have posted a few entries of interest. I'm still trying to figure out the thrust of their message.


In the case of CMTRUTH it's clear that the author has some significant knowledge of local law enforcement. It's also clear that the author has strong views about another blogger here in town. The insights provided there are worth considering.

The CM
Watchtower is an enigma. Clearly, the author is not a patient person. His (or her) approach to this city is interesting. He (or she) demands that any candidates for elected office in Costa Mesa toe his line. Recent entries have taken an interesting turn.

In one recent entry a reward of $1,000 has been offered for any "dirt" dug up about Costa Mesa Council candidates. However, this blog provides no way to respond if you find anything. It looks like this blogger is just blowing smoke.


The most current entry presents a reaffirmation of it's mission statement, which includes the following two sentences: "We are a fact-finding group of residents. Our goal is to keep our city politicia
ns in line where they belong." I don't know about you, but for me that conjures up images of vigilantism, with mobs carrying burning torches and pitchforks.

I agree that the elected members of our City Council must be held accountable for their actions. I don't agree with what appears to be the tactics planned by this group. How, for example, do they plan to use that "dirt" that might be dug up about candidates? Do they plan to use it for blackmail or extortion?

It would be easier to take this group seriously if they didn't hide behind the veil of anonymity. They provide no method of communication with them, much like another unsavory blogger here in town. With him, and apparently with this group, too, communication is a one-way street.


I hope these folks give some serious thought to their actions before they go off
the deep end. They may think they are anonymous and, therefore, beyond the reach of the law. They are not. They, like the council members they criticize so vociferously, are accountable for their actions. Let's hope they don't learn that lesson the hard way - at the wrong end of the legal process.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

BREAKING NEWS!- Irish Eyes Are Smilin'

Rumor has it that former three-term councilman and mayor Gary Monahan is mounting a drive for yet another term on the Costa Mesa City Council. I understand that fund-raising fliers are floating around the city announcing his most recent campaign.

I view this news with mixed emotions. From a positive standpoint, Monahan has tended to be more moderate and pro-business during his time on the council in the past. However, during the last several months of his final term he joined Allan Mansoor and Eric Bever in an alliance that thrust our city squarely into the national illegal immigration debate. In my view, that was not good for our city.

Some folks aro
und town are already speculating about Monahan's reasons for making a run for a council seat again. Some speculate that he wants to belly-up to the municipal trough again and pad his city pension. You will recall that he's the only council member to qualify for a pension. More time on the council will further augment his "golden years".

Others wonder if he's worried about the plans for SR 55 as it passes through our Downtown area. His business would certainly be affected by almost any plan - except doing nothing - that might be considered. For example, a plan to bore/drill under Downtown would likely begin directly in front of his pub. He might be worried about some of his patrons being vibrated right off their stools by the drilling.

Some will recall that it was the potential loss of his job at the Goat Hill Tavern that first got Monahan involved in politics.

Regardless, if Monahan's running that will certainly change the dynamics of this year's campaign. One wonders how this might affect any decision Linda Dixon might have regarding running for re-election. And, will Jim (I'm a realtor here in town) Fisler decide to withdraw from the race if Monahan actually files to run? How will Monahan's presence in the campaign affect Bever's fundraising?

Life is never dull here in the land of Newport-Mesa.... stay tuned


Monday, April 28, 2008

Latinos Score - Critics Muzzled

In the ongoing drama that is Costa Mesa politics there has been a persistent drumbeat of criticism of the impact of children of immigrants on our schools. The main targets were, of course, the so-called "anchor babies" - those kids who have been born in this country but are thought to be the offspring of illegal immigrant parents. The discussion didn't stop with just those few children - it was expanded to include all children of immigrants, legal or illegal.


During the last municipal election Allan Mansoor rode to re-election using the subject of the illegal immigrants among us as his magic carpet to float him above other issues, dr
agging his barnacle, Wendy Leece, along for the ride. In that campaign Mansoor supporters frequently ranted about gangs, graffiti and the drain the kids of immigrants were on our schools. They never missed a chance to take a shot at the system which permitted those children to have a chance for an education and a future. The negative message became part of the ambient noise of our community.

Recent events, however, seemed to have caused them to go mute - a good thing, in my view. Here's why...

Earlier this month it was announced that 5 schools within the Newport-Mesa Unified School District had been named California Distinguished Schools. Three of the schools are located on the east side of the Back Bay in the high rent district. The remaining two are in Costa Mesa - Killybrooke and Sonora. This is great news! Sonora has
been one of those schools maligned by the Mansoor mob as an example of what's wrong with the school system because of the large number of children of immigrants in attendance. You can find the original Daily Pilot article HERE, an editorial on the subject HERE and an excellent Town Hall piece HERE.


Then, last week, a report was released providing information on the improvement by English as a Second Language (ESL) students in our district. I won't try to paraphrase the results, except to say they were excellent. You can read them in the Daily Pilot article HERE and get the editors take on it HERE.

During this time none of the anti-immigrant voices have been heard. The outstanding achievements by schools t
hat include significant populations of immigrant children has apparently muzzled those who have yapped incessantly about the damage those children were doing to our school system. Our community is benefiting from their silence.

No one can dispute that children with limited English skills, regardless their ethnic background, have a tough time obtaining an education. However, with the creation of
excellent programs by the leadership of the Newport-Mesa School District and the application of them by the individual teachers and administrators, combined with the hard work by the children, they have proven their critics wrong. These children can achieve at high levels if given the chance. They can master a language not spoken in the home.

This is something to which all local politicians should pay close attention. These American-citizen children will soon be the voters in our Costa Mesa. The demographics of our city, now approximately 35% Latino, will continue to shift as these children make lives of their own and begin to take an active part in the future of our city.

Those presently in power in this town better begin to find ways to positively direct the energies of this growing group of constituents. It's not likely that they will be as passive as their parents have been. They will have grown up with the power elite treating them as if they are a sub-class of residents, not worthy of our attention. If attitudes don't change, these young folks with a vote may force the issue. The clock is ticking, Costa Mesa.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Another Anti-Foley Diatribe

A local blogger, who is intent on slamming Costa Mesa Councilwoman Katrina Foley at every turn, has recently posted another jab at her, this time embedded in a critical diatribe about the activist organization, AirFair. A
s some may know, AirFair's role in life it to protect us from the expansion of John Wayne Airport - or whatever the official name is of that place that directs airplanes nearly over my house all day, every day. There's a link to that organization over on the right side of this page.

The entry
in question postulates that there is something sinister going on because AirFair seems to be supporting one Costa Mesa council member over others. Apparently, the author of the blog feels there is something suspicious about AirFair's support of Foley in her re-election bid and states flatly that "the airport issue is non-partisan and should remain that way."

I agree - the airport issue is, and should be, a non-partisan issue. However, AirFair is
certainly free to support council members who have demonstrated to them unwavering support for their goal of blocking any further expansion at John Wayne. Foley apparently meets that standard.


The City of Costa Mesa has an abysmal history when it comes to fighting against expansion of John Wayne.
A few years ago, when Libby Cowan was mayor, we missed a tremendous opportunity to rally in support of the use of El Toro as the logical choice to meet the growing demand for air transportation. I've said before, I thought Libby was trying to protect her job with the City of Irvine when she not only didn't provide leadership on the issue, but blocked every move proposed.


Now the demand remains but the perfect solution is gone and all we hear about these days is the impending demise of the agreement that currently restricts traffic at John Wayne and feeble mutterings about using surface transport to move travelers and cargo to outlying airports in the Inland Empire to quench the demand. Good luck with that!

At least the rants by those proposing a triple tunnel under Saddleback Peak to an airport on the other side of the mountain have died out - as has their web site. They were so darn passionate about that fiasco that I suspect they may have just, appropriately, gone underground and are continuing to work on it in the dark.

If Katrina Foley is, in fact, eager to lead the charge against further John Wayne Airport expansion, that gives us yet another reason among many to support her candidacy for re-election. An even better reason, however, is that she recognizes that blog author for what he is and doesn't take any of his guff. Unlike others on the council, she can't be controlled by that guy - as good a reason as any to vote for her in November.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Byron Zings Leece - Cheers All Around

Daily Pilot columnist Byron de Arakal wrote a terrific column today addressing the witch hunt Costa Mesa
council woman Wendy Leece has been engaging in at the Costa Mesa Senior Center for the past several weeks. You can read his handiwork HERE. The original article by Daily Pilot reporter Chris Caesar can be read HERE.

Leece, apparently provoked by a couple malcontents at the Senior Center, has been sucking up staff time like a bone-dry sponge as she demanded immediate responses to four dozen questions which ranged from the inconsequential to the ridiculous. What ever happened to the "4-hour rule", where any project that required more than four hours of city staff time required a vote of the council?

I'm not really surprised that Leece is nosing around the Senior C
enter. Since she rode into office on then-mayor Allan Mansoor's coattails she's been developing a reputation as a champion of the underdog. She's getting that reputation by over-reacting to every piddly little complaint that is tossed her way. She apparently doesn't have any kind of filter in her make-up to help her sort the important issues from the meaningless. This Senior Center episode is a perfect example.

I don't think there are many people in town who will doubt Leece's good intentions. You remember the old proverb, though, that says, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." I don't think Leece

Rumor has it that, when the doors to the Senior Center were opened this morning, there was singing and cheers all around as a result of Byron's column today. That's good news for the seniors and those of us who care about them.


Not unexpectedly, Byron's column has evoked some critical comments from some of the "u
sual suspects" - folks that write their own blogs critical of anything not "improver" generated. This is just so much pre-election smoke being blown from parts north in our city.

Let's hope that Councilwoman Leece can find something more productive to do with her spare time instead of throwing rocks in a calm lake just for sport. I think she needs to find a new form of recreation to burn off some
of that pent-up aggression. Perhaps co-ed mud wrestling would appeal to her, since she seems to be happy to trying dig up dirt at the Senior Center.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Searching for Carona's Replacement - A Comedy

The on-goin
g drama of the Orange County Sheriff's Department continues. Last week the 47 candidates dredged up by the consultant hired by the Board of Supervisors to replace ousted Sheriff Mike Carona was announced. The list makes for some very interesting reading.

Whomever the Supervisors select will fact a department in disarray. In addition to Carona himself, top aides George Jaramillo and Don Haidl are covered in scandal and the recent death of a prisoner in custody reeks to high heaven. Of course, the exclamation point last week was the allegation that deputies may have tasered a cat to death at a jail just for fun. The "new sheriff in town" will have to wear some pretty large boots, because there's a need for a whole lot of butt kicking right now.

Go to the county's site, HERE, then click on the link to the "candidates". As you scroll down the list you can't help but chuckle. Scattered among the serious candidates - top law enforcement officials from venues local and remote - there are some names and backgrounds that make you shake your head in amazement and cause you to wonder exactly what kind of a job specification the Supervisors gave their consultant. Looking at the list, one might think that profile required only a warm body who was interested in the job - period. Heck, we're not even sure some of these guys are warm!


The list is alphabetical, so you just never know when a surprise will pop up. For example, there's a guy named Roderick Fletcher who works in "Compliance Support Assistance - Internal Revenue Service". Yeah, that's a fit!

A little further down we find Alan Hamilton, the retired Chief of Police from the town of Duck, North Carolina. where he oversaw a staff of 6 sworn officers and one tracking dog. Actually, he might just fit in here because, for the past several years, most of Mike Carona's senior staff have been yelling, "Duck!" whenever a new scandal broke.


Further yet we find Nicholas Paros, who lists his qualifications as "Owner & Managing Member, Paros Liquor, LLC" in Baltimore, MD. Why am I not surprised that a guy who sells booze applied for the job of top cop of Orange County?

A couple entries further down the list we find Ion Petrinca, an "Electrician's Assistant" from Garden Grove. Geez!

Among the REAL candidates there are many of the "usual suspects", Paul Walters, Chief of Police for the City of Santa Ana; Jack Anderson, acting Sheriff; Ralph Martin, Commander in the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and Bill Hunt, recently retired from the Orange County Sheriff's Department following his demotion by Carona after challenging Mike Carona in the last election.

The range among the "others" is fascinating. For example, in addition to the above-mentioned Mr. Hamilton from Duck (!), we have Tommy Tunsen, the Chief of Police from Arvin, California. Many of you know of Arvin - a little burg of 16,000 souls deep in the belly button of the Central Valley agricultural area. I
t's just off Interstate 5 on the way to Bakersfield. In Arvin, "SWAT" means what you do to fend off the gnats hovering over the cotton fields.

At the other end of the spectrum we have a couple very interesting applicants. There is Robert Peppler, Assistant Director, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Kim Brian London, Executive Director of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). How's that for some horsepower? My question to these guys is, "Why would you want to come to Orange County? Did the consultant tell you that you'd get a chance to be on "The Real Housewives of Orange County?"


However, for me, the most interesting applicant on the list is near the middle. There we will find the name of Erik Mansoor, a Deputy Sheriff in the Orange County Sheriff's Department. You may know of Mansoor - he's the brother of our young jailer/mayor pro tem and, based on my information, is also a career jailer. How this guy, with limited academic credentials and even more limited law enforcement experience, hopes to be seriously considered for the job of top law enforcement official in Orange County is way, way beyond me. He may be afflicted with the same malady as his brother - delusions of grandeur on a monumental scale.

Now the sorting process begins. In my opinion, the first thing the Board of Supervisors should do is demand a fee reduction from their consultant for wasting their time with some of those "candidates".

One of the first problems faced by the successful candidate - the person the supervisors choose to fill Carona's shoes - is that he is going to have to immediately begin raising funds and start campaigning for election to the job in 2010. Sadly, we need a great law enforcement leader and we're going to end up with a politician. Such is life in Orange County these days.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Andy Rooney's Generation - The Greatest

A little over
a month ago, on March 16, 2008, I wrote an entry - which you can read again by sliding over and clicking on the March 2008 Archive on the right side of the page and scrolling down to it - which addressed My War, CBS commentator Andy Rooney's personal memoir of his time as a correspondent during World War II. When I wrote that entry I was having a tough time getting through it, even though it's far from a challenging read. I just kept getting mad at Rooney, so I'd put the book aside. Well, I finally finished it.


Within a couple pages of the end of his book Rooney talks abou
t his impression that it is difficult to capture the real essence of a war in a book or movie. I'm going to quote several paragraphs from this thread of commentary exactly. Once you read it you'll understand why.

One of the most dramatic educators has been St
even Spielberg. It surprised me that I'd ever think a commercial movie could do a good job showing people what any part of World War II was like and, in spite of my reservations about Schindler's List, the 1998 movie Saving Private Ryan did that for a great many Americans who might otherwise never have known.

I admired
Saving Private Ryan more than I enjoyed it. Being reminded of bad times in your life is not my idea of a good time. It is common knowledge that many
Americans who fought in Viet Nam were psychologically damaged for life. The terror of it returns to them in nightmares. But the common perception is that most of the soldiers who fought in Europe seem to have suffered somewhat less of that kind of cerebral damage. It had never occurred to me that there were any ghosts in my own attic until I sat there watching Spielberg's movie.

At the end of the unrelentingly horrible scenes of the Normandy Invasion there was a change of pace, a lull. I don't cry in sad movies but at that point in the movie I began to sob. I was rational enough to try to understand what was making me do it, but I could neither understand nor stop. It was another example of the heart knowing somethin
g that the brain does not.

In retrospect it was apparent that there must be a storehouse in some hidden corner of my brain that contains fragmen
ts of my memory of a hundred friends who were killed. Private Ryan evoked those. I went home thinking about all the friends I never saw again... all the good guys who never had the chance to live the good life I'm living.

The movie is remarkably accurate in both historical and visual detail. after seeing it, I telephoned my friend Al Smith, Major General Al Smith, Jr., in Tucson. As a captain, Al led a battalion of the Sixteenth Infantry Regiment of the First Division ashore that day. There are only a handful of men alive who saw what Al saw on June 6, 1944. He had also been moved to tears.

"My wife looked at me as we left the theater," Al told me, "and said 'I don't know what t
o say.'" After living with Al every day of her life for the previous fifty-five years, she got a better idea of what he had gone through from seeing Saving Private Ryan than she had from anything he had ever told her.

I have to agree
with Rooney on his observation. I suspect he would have been similarly moved by the HBO series, A Band of Brothers - produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg - which followed Easy Company through their years in World War II, except it was produced after Rooney's book had been published.

Now, I have to tell you right here that I'm a big movie fan. I see a lot of films during the year - I have ever since I would walk down to the local theater and spend ten cents to see 10 carto
ons, two serials and a western on Saturdays. My favorites include a couple of John Wayne epics, Stagecoach and The Searchers, most Indiana Jones movies, Henry Fonda's Twelve Angry Men and - right at the top - Saving Private Ryan.

When I say "right at the top", that means that I've seen the complete movie more than a dozen times and big chunks of it nearly as many times. I saw it at the Big Newport theater the first night it was released ten years ago and four more times during that run. The first night was the most memorable - not for the movie itself, but for what I observed during that presentation and immediately afterward.


I went to an afternoon presentation, which was populated by mostly older couples - folks who co
uld have been my parents age. I found myself thinking that many of the men in the audience certainly had been in World War II. The couples smiled, laughed and talked as they found their seats and began munching popcorn.


During the movie, following that horrible first twenty minutes that portrayed the Normandy Landing, I, too, heard muffl
ed sobbing in the theater, some of which obviously came from men in the audience.


When the movie ended and the credits rolled there was just silence, punctuated by sniffs and some sobbing, as the theme by John Williams just reached right in and pulled your heart out of your chest. My wife and I left our seats and, as I surreptitiously wiped the tears off my cheeks, moved out into and through the lobby to the patio at the front of the theater where I watched the older men and women as they made their way out. Most of the men had a kind of far away stare on their faces and their wives clung to their arms tightly - I'm not sure which was holding the other up at that point. There was very little conversation a
mong the couples - just an almost reverent silence as they slowly made their way to their cars. News reporters hovered around the older couples, trying to get comments from the men as they left the theater. Many were so choked up they couldn't speak.

Personally, I had never before, and have never since, been so moved by a film as I was by Saving Private Ryan. Even today, at the end of the movie as I watch the James Ryan character as an older man, standing beside the grave of Captain Miller, ask his wife if he led a life worthy of the sacrifice made to bring him home I get a huge lump in my throat - just as I have now as I type this line.


In his book Andy Rooney opines that he thinks Tom Brokaw, in his book The Greatest Gener
ation, got it wrong. As indicated by the title of his book, Brokaw postulates that our World War II generation was, in fact, the greatest - that subsequent generations wouldn't have "the stuff" to pull through a similar war. Rooney thinks otherwise - that the current generation has what it takes to act similarly under the same circumstances. I'm not so sure.


We live in v
ery different times than those in which my parents and their peers struggled. They were born at the end of World War I and were young adults whose metal was tempered during the great depression of the 1930s. They understood sacrifice. Today many young people of similar age feel their world is ending if they lose a cell signal. Today we express anguish because just over 4,000 American men and women have lost their lives fighting in the Middle East over the past four years. My parents generation lost more than 450,000 young men in the same period of time, decimating a generation of Americans.


Today I wonder if 10% of our young adults - 16 to 30 - could rise and sing the Star Spangled Banner accurately. My parents generation began enlisting in the armed forces beginning on December 8, 1941 by the tens of thousands each day - ready to do their patriotic duty to defend our country and our very way of lif
e. Heck, many of their children - my generation - headed for Canada during the Viet Nam conflict. Different people, different times.

So, even though
Andy Rooney made me angry as I read his book, I'm grateful to him for re-kindling my appreciation for the sacrifice he and his generation made for us. The Greatest Generation is leaving us at a rate of more than 1,000 per day now. If you have not done so recently, seek out your friends and relatives who fought to defend this country and those who remained behind to keep the home fires burning. Listen to their stories and thank them for their efforts. They deserve it.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Costa Mesa Community Run

On Saturday, April 26th the first annual Costa Mesa Community Run will be held to recognize the grand opening of the new stadium at Estancia High School and to raise funds for programs at Costa Mesa's high and middle schools.

Here's a link to the web site that will provide information about this very worthy event.

This promises to be a very family-friendly event, including a pancake breakfast and Health Fair in addition to the running events. The organizers are still looking for sponsors, so open your checkbooks if you can.

So, come one and come all. This should be a great, historic and memorable event.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Welcome To The New Guys On The Block

Well, the wonderful world of blogging has gotten a lot more interesting recently.

A couple months ago an anonymous person who calls himself "John Smith" launched a blog he calls CM Watchtower. I'm still trying to figure out his focus, but he does have opinions - like most of us who thrash around in the blogosphere.

Then, in the past few days, another anonymous blogger launched CM Truth, after the pen name he, or she, has used to post on this blog and elsewhere. There is no ambiguity about his focus, as you will see when you read his first few submissions. He writes about a person in town who used to be the subject, obliquely, of many posts here - but no longer.

And then, over at the Daily Pilot, Managing Editor Brady Rhoades launched his blog, Rhoades Less Traveled. As I understand it, this will be the first of many such blogs presented by members of the Daily Pilot staff.

It is, indeed, going to be interesting to see how these new blogs go. So far, only Rhoades seems willing to entertain comments on his. CM Watchtower initially had a link for comments, but yanked it when I tried to post one. cmtruth has a link on his but no comments have appeared so far. Maybe he's just teasing us...

In any event, welcome to the newcomers...

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Orange County Register Predicts Earthquake

The Orange County Register, which is rapidly becoming the news source of choice for greater Orange County, supplanting the Los Angeles Times, had a front page story today entitles, "THE NEXT BIG QUAKE", and included a photo of the San Andreas Fault to get your attention. It got mine.

Here's the link to their story, with the byline of Gary Robbins, their "Science Dude", that predicts a large earthquake - 6.7 on the Richter Scale or stronger - within the next 30 years. Once there you will find other articles, one about Tsunamis, for example, that will also get your attention.

Those of you who have read this blog for some time know that this is the second generation of A Bubbling Cauldron. The first, using what I referred to as a bargain basement blogging tool, was abandoned eighteen months ago. However, occasionally I'll provide a link to a specific segment to illustrate a contemporary point. This is one of those times.

A few years ago, following Hurricane Katrina, I wrote an essay entitled, "The Big One - Fiction or Prediction?", in which I presented a scenario in which the Newport-Inglewood Fault ruptured. You can read that essay by simply clicking on the title.

It's never too soon to make preparations for a cataclysmic event. Earthquake preparedness kits for your homes and automobiles are essential parts of that preparedness. Now's the time - make plans for the safety and security of your loved ones when The Big One hits.

A quick Google search will turn up many sites to help you begin your preparations. Here are a couple to get you started:

Los Angeles Fire Department Earthquake Preparedness Handbook (pdf)

The preparedness list

The precautions outlined in those two sites and many others are simple, straightforward and easily followed. Don't delay.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Newport Beach SR 55 Workshop Report

I attended the Orange County Transportation Authority's final public outreach workshop on the subject of resolving the traffic snarl currently occurring on Newport Boulevard (SR 55) in Costa Mesa's "downtown", just beyond the terminus of the Costa Mesa Freeway at 19th Street.

Unlike the two similar workshops in Costa Mesa last week, this one was sparsely attended. A dozen folks who identified themselves as Newport Beach residents attended, plus some Costa Mesa residents. The total headcount at the meeting, including OCTA and consultant staff, was fewer than 30 people. It made me wonder if our good friends in Newport Beach would rather sit on the sidelines until this process is well down the road, then jump up and say, "NO WAY!"


One disappointing fact was that, with the exception of Newport Beach Councilman "Walkin'" Don Webb - who kicked it off then left - no Newport Beach elected or appointed official attended the meeting to hear what their constituents thought about the plans presented. Former controversial councilman Dick Nichol showed up after the formal presentation, but was actively engaged in the subject, asking many questions and making very relevant comments. And, even better, not once did he mention "Mexicans on the grass". (That's a kind of inside joke, folks.)

Many of the comments made by the Newporters were concerns about the traffic being "dumped" into Newport Beach. I had to chuckle, because they already get that traffic. Most of the more favorably viewed options presented would help folks heading for Newport Beach arrive there more quickly and with much less stress. No matter how carefully the moderators of the workshop tried to explain the situation, much apprehension still existed at the end of the meeting.


Our good neighbors - most of whom lived in the Newport Heights area - were concerned about cut-through traffic in their neighborhoods. If that sounds familiar, it should, because many of my Eastside Costa Mesa neighbors expressed the same concerns at the two previous workshops. The difference between them is the fact the the Eastside of Costa Mesa is feeling the impact of cut-through traffic NOW due to the long delays on Newport Blvd.


Much was made about the need to disperse the traffic at the end of the freeway. Nichol was concerned about the freeway ending at one single traffic light at Industrial Way - as it does now at 19th Street. Nichol - who had not yet viewed the options on the display boards - suggested off ramps at 16th Street and 17th Street to help with the dispersion of traffic. That rankled residents, who "heard" that to mean more traffic on their residential streets.

Along with valid concerns and suggestions there were, predictably, some pretty off-the-wall suggestions. One woman suggested discarding all the proposed solutions and concentrating on public transportation alternatives. She apparently just arrived from Mars, or would have known that southern Californians don't leave their cars to go anywhere. Another speaker took my tongue-in-cheek suggestion about installing toll booths and turned it into a suggestion!

Despite the paucity of attendees, the OCTA and consultant staff dutifully took copious notes of the concerns and suggestions. Now this process will continue with the blending of existing proposals with suggestions made by attendees of the workshops and the distillation of the options to 3 or 4 possible choices. Those will then be presented to the OCTA Board and elected officials. More community outreach will be conducted following that effort. The target for the end of this phase of the project is August of this year.

At that time cost estimates will be compiled and possible sources of funding will be investigated. No funding is available for any of the long-range options at this time. When I asked how long it would take to get something built, the moderator, using assumptions that one of the more costly options would be chosen and it would involve property acquisition, speculated that it would take 10-15 years. Yikes!

I fear, based on some of the comments made this evening, that this project is going to be one more contentious issue that the cities of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach will butt head on. The problem that generated this study is clearly a Costa Mesa issue. At the two workshops conducted in Costa Mesa many residents expressed displeasure that Newport Beach even gets a vote. I hope the elected leaders and staff will be able to mediate an amicable approach to this subject because there are many more issues that require close cooperation that are at least as important as this one. If we allow this to deteriorate into a schoolyard spat there is much to lose on both sides of our common border.

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Wall Street Journal Report on Illegal Immigrants

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal provided us with a Front Page report by Miriam Jordan entitled, "Crossings by Migrants Slow as Job Picture Dims". Her lead paragraph sets the tone by stating, "The number of illegal immigrants apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border is falling steeply, an indication that the economic downturn and
beefed-up security could be deterring unauthorized crossings."

She goes on to tell us that the U.S. Border Patrol reported on Tuesday that the number of individuals apprehended between October 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008 dropped 17% to 347,372, with particularly significant drops occurring in the Yuma, Arizona sector, where the number dropped 76%.

Jordan's report is lengthy and is full of statistics. For example, she tells us that this dramatic drop in the first half of the fiscal year could mean that the apprehensions for the full year ending September 30, 2008 could be less than the 858,638 in 2007. That would be half of the nearly 1.64 million arrests made in fiscal 2000. Stunning numbers!

The nut of her report can be captured in a quote from from Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Hoyt is quoted as saying, "The U.S.-Mexico labor market is one of the most efficient examples of the law of supply and demand. If the demand goes down in the U.S., the supply of people coming from Mexico goes down."

One measurement used in this assessment was the amount of money sent "home" by immigrants. In 2007 these "remittances" sent to Mexico and other Latin American and Caribbean countries amounted to $66.5 billion - an increase of 7% over the previous year. While the amount of money sent home increased, this is the first time in this decade that the rate of growth of remittances failed to reach double digits.

While acknowledging that there is no way to accurately measure the number of illegal immigrants coming to this country each year, officials apparently feel that tallying those apprehended can illustrate trends. Jordan quotes T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union that represents 13,000 agents, on the issue of the cost to the illegal immigrants attempting to cross our borders. Bonner is quoted as saying, "The coyotes typically charge $2,500 per person, up from about $350 in the early 1990s in California or Texas. The cost of being smuggled has increased dramatically. People are thinking more carefully before crossing the border."


This report should be viewed as good news to those who blame all the ills in our society on the illegal immigrants among us. Those in our community who bemoan the "slums" where they purport illegal immigrants make up the majority of residents should be happy now. Those who complain about the negative impact of the children of illegal immigrants have on our schools should be happy now.

If Costa Mesa is, in fact, a haven for illegal immigrants and if the thesis of the Wall Street Journal article is valid, then we should be seeing an exodus of dark-skinned folks leaving our city for either greener pastures or back home across our southern border. I've seen no reports recently to indicate this is happening, but that doesn't mean it isn't.

So, if there is such an exodus of immigrants from those "barracks-style" apartments on the Westside and in areas in the north part of our city, will the owners capitulate and sell the buildings so they can be demolished so more upscale, single family homes can be built? If so, where will those buyers come from, considering the current condition of the real estate market? And, who will build those homes?


Will we see the pockets of loitering day laborers scattered around town - those willing workers who once used the now-defunct Job Center to find work each day - gradually disappear? What will the impact on our labor market be if these willing workers do, in fact, disappear?


In Jordan's article she tells us that, "About 60% of all unauthorized workers in the U.S. are originally from Mexico" and that the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 14.4% of all Mexicans in the U.S. work in the construction industry. She says experts estimate that if the illegal workers were folded into that equation the number would be much higher. I find myself wondering how the departure of this cadre of willing, affordable workers will affect our country's ability to eventually pull itself out of what is almost certainly going to be a recession?

In a great paradox, on the same page there was an article exclaiming that the full quota for H-1B visas - those reserved for highly trained professionals, like engineers and computer programmers - was used up within a couple of days of becoming available. Industry leaders are screaming that they cannot find enough of such workers and want the quotas to be increased. Our economy is so strong that our universities cannot generate enough technical professionals to fill the need and our present immigration regulations prohibit us from importing that talent from abroad. I guess it's no wonder that companies, when faced with this dilemma, choose to export the jobs in order to remain in business. We're living in strange times, indeed.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Study Session Canceled plus Jailers Suspended

What's that old phrase, "The best laid plans...."? Well, the study session Tuesday in which the council was to hear from the Costa Mesa Police Department on several issues, including gangs, was canceled. It seems three of the five council members were absent - no quorum, no meeting. Oh, well. I certainly hope they don't wait another month before hearing what the CMPD has to say on this subject... it's too important.

One of the folks who posted anonymous comments on my last post on this subject, a person who identified him or herself as "cmtruth", provided a url to a YouTube video tha
t is fascinating. For those who missed it, simply click HERE and you'll be taken directly to the video. Once there you can watch it, then view the other four in the series by British documentarian and actor, Ross Kemp from the menu on the right side of the page. It's a fascinating study on Gangs of Orange County and the first two mention Costa Mesa extensively. CAUTION: these video clips - each is around 10 minutes long - are not for casual viewing.


All over the news in the past couple days is the grand jury report on the beating death of inmate John Chamberlain in the Theo Lacy Jail here in Orange County. Based on that report and the news coverage thereof, it seems the poor fellow was beaten to death by a half dozen of his fellow inmates - perhaps because one of his jailers mis-identified him to other prisoners as a child molester.

It now turns out that the jailers don't do a very good job of paying attention to their charges in the hoosegow. There are reports that they watch television, leave their posts to workout and generally ignore prisoners. The names of several jail personnel who have been suspended were published in the newspapers Tuesday. You can read the Los Angeles Times article HERE and the Orange County Register article HERE. I looked for familiar names but didn't find any.


I'm not really surprised that the sheriff's deputies who are performing the job of jailers ignore their duties. The tour in the jail can be 6 or 7 years - perhaps even longer if a person requests it. I've been led to believe that's the case with our former mayor, Allan Mansoor. In my opinion, using deputies as jailers for an extended period of time is a waste of training and talent. Perhaps the new Sheriff of Orange County, whomever it turns out to be, will address this issue. We do know that interim sheriff, Jack Anderson, has stated he wants to replace sworn deputies in the jail with civilian custodial officers. Sounds like a good start to me.

Of course, that m
eans that Mansoor will actually have to become a real law enforcement officer and work in the streets. I'm sorry, but I can't help but smile...

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Gangs - Drumbeat Of Lies Muffles The Truth

At their
study session on Tuesday, April 8th, members of the Costa Mesa City Council will consider, among other things, proposals from representatives of the Costa Mesa Police Department about their plans to manage the gang issue in our city. You may recall that the council majority rejected a proposal to fund an intervention element last year, restricting the police department's activities to enforcement only. As I've stated many times, enforcement alone will not solve the gang problem. I can tell you that from first-hand experience. The neighborhood where I grew up in Los Angeles is now dealing with it's fourth generation of one gang - Los Avenues - and they are more vicious than ever.

We really don't know what the CMPD has in mind this time around because the staff report, such as it is, tells us only that the issue will be presented, with no details. I guess we'll just have to wait until Tuesday at 4:30 in Conference Room 1A to see what they have up their sleeves.


In the meantime, sources of misinformation around town are howling about this event, proclaimin
g that it will be another plot by "lefties" to make Costa Mesa a sanctuary city for illegal aliens. As is usually the case, this blather is pure fabrication, intended to further inflame a difficult situation in our city.

There are folks who think the one-third of our population that are Latino are the root of all problems in our city and the solution is to bulldoze apartment buildings occupied predominantly by immigrants - usually Latino immigrants. Apparently they feel that if you can't use legal means to discourage these folks from living in our city, then it's OK to chase them out using the blade of a Caterpillar D9 as motivation.


Another little bit of self-serving fiction being foisted off on r
esidents is that Costa Mesa gangs are primarily and overwhelmingly Latino, and that the members have strong links to illegal aliens. Horse manure! Yes, there are Latino gangs in Costa Mesa. Yes, some probably know illegal aliens through their cultural ties. However, ask any Costa Mesa cop familiar with the gang issue and he will tell you that White Supremacist gangs are a huge problem in this city. They are much more dangerous to the general populace than the Latino gangs might be. They are heavily engaged in the drug trade and identity theft, infiltrating financial institutions and harvesting personal data. Those who spread misinformation about gangs won't tell you that... I wonder why?

I hope the study session presents to the city council options for dealing with all gangs in Costa Mesa and I hope they will give very serious consideration to the funding and implementation of an intervention element this time around. You simply cannot "enforce" gangs out of existence - a fact to which every credible student of this subject will agree.

Meanwhile, the drumbeat of intolerance continues to attempt to drown out the truth with a steady stream of lies and fabrications... You'll probably be able to tell who the purveyor of these lies is if you attend the study session - he'll be the guy with his trousers aflame.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Winships Thumb Their Noses

A couple of our good neighbors over in Newport Beach, Ron and Anna Winship, posted an entry on the Newport Beach Voices blog yesterday that is sure to ruffle the feathers of more than one Costa Mesa resident. The Winships, who also post on the SantaAnaCentric Orange Juice Blog, have set a new low water mark for smarmy, snooty, in-your-face comments in the battle for annexation of county lands between Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

At a time when officials from both cities profess to be attempting to mend fences between our cities, this kind of condescending tripe can only harm those efforts. There are already plenty of Costa Mesans who are offended by the holier-than-thou attitude displayed by more than a few Newporters without the Winships rubbing our municipal nose in the loss of West Santa Ana Heights. In fact, if I were one of those new Newport Beach residents annexed recently I'd take offense at the childish "instructions" provided by the Winships on how those good folks should act as new Newporters.

Now, I've read many of the Winships previous posts and I know they sometimes stumble in their attempts at tongue-in-cheek humor. Occasionally it seems that what might have been funny in their heads loses something when it hits the page - or screen, in this case. If this effort was one of those times, then I apologize. Read it for yourself and decide. You can find it HERE.

Newport Beach is a fine city with municipal wealth we Costa Mesans can only dream about. Our neighbors in Newport should feel very proud of their city and all it's assets. However, there are many issues in which both cities share an interest, including the probable expansion of John Wayne Airport, our school district, Banning Ranch and the future of the 55 Freeway extension, to name a few. Residents thumbing their noses at us across our common border certainly isn't very neighborly and won't help with our relationships on those issues and others.

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Smoother Sailing at Second Workshop

Well, that's more like it! Last night's second workshop on the SR 55 Access Study, conducted by the OCTA and their consultants, LSA Associates, in the City Council chambers at City Hall, ran more smoothly than the first one on Monday. These workshops are designed to facilitate development of solutions to the growing volume of traffic through the Costa Mesa "downtown" area, which will soon strangle commerce and create major traffic issues on adjoining residential neighborhoods as frustrated drivers cut through seeking relief.

While the auditorium setting was a little less user friendly for the 70 or so attendees (roughly half of Monday's contingent) - it was more difficult to meander around and see the exhibits, for example - the meeting had a little more much-needed structure. Instead of permitting speakers to jump up and speak randomly, as was the case on Monday, a "speaker card" system was used to permit orderly presentation of questions and suggestions. The result was a much smoother flow of both questions and answers.

The tone of the meeting was more civil, too. In a refreshing display of candor, two speakers apologized to the moderators for their allegations Monday that traffic numbers they presented were bogus. Both speakers, among the most emotional on Monday, acknowledged that the consultant's numbers were accurate and the numbers they, the speakers, had been throwing around were way, way off the mark. And, last night there was no vitriolic criticism directed at the City Council.


The array of questions from residents were thoughtful and relevant. For example, former Planning Commissioner and two-time city council candidate Bruce Garlich used part of his time at the microphone to suggest a modification to the apparently most popular choice - the so-called "cut and cover" option. He suggested that a "boring" alternative be investigated, citing the advantage of being less disruption to traffic and commerce in the Downtown area during construction. His suggestion was seconded by a subsequent speaker. It was good to see Bruce back in harness again, bringing his wisdom and insight to city affairs.

This workshop was the final presentation in Costa Mesa. There remains one more workshop scheduled - at the Sea Scout base in Newport Beach on April 10th, 5-7 p.m. After that meeting representatives of LSA, the OCTA and Cal Trans will assess all the options, use the comments presented to promulgate others and distill those down to 3-4, from which a course of action may be chosen. It is hoped that once those final choices are prepared the residents and other stakeholders involved in this process will have a chance to hear about them before the responsible government entities make their final selection.

Unclear is where the mountain of money necessary to fund any of the long-term options will come from. The current, funded and approved, plan to add one northbound lane on Newport Blvd. through the downtown area and one short southbound lane from 19th Street to Broadway will be constructed later this year. Other short-term solutions, such as signal synchronization, will be implemented in the relatively near future.

For those of you interested in reading some relevant contemporary articles on this subject, you can follow these links. Byron de Arakal published two columns in the Daily Pilot the past two weeks. The first is entitled, "Don't count on 55 Relief". The second is, "55 outlook grim at OCTA forum". Between those two commentaries the Daily Pilot published an article entitled, "OCTA asks for 55 Freeway input". In addition, you can go to the OCTA website for more detail, including charts and descriptions of the several alternatives proposed at this time.

Based on comments made by officials at the meeting last night, regardless which is selected, none of the longer-term solutions will begin for more than two decades. By then, most of the attendees will either be long-gone or will be residing is a care facility, concerned only about the traffic to and from the dining room.

In the meantime, the recently-energized cadre of citizen-activists promise to pay close attention to this issue and provide guidance to our elected officials - whether they want it or not. That's good news for all of us.

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