Friday, May 30, 2008

What The Zell Is Going On Here?!

Those of us watching the soap opera that has become The Tribune Companies since it was acquired by Sam Zell probably knew something like this was coming. We collectively held our breath as Zell punched and squeezed his media empire like a hand full of Nutty Putty. We suspect he will eventually begin breaking it up, selling off the pieces to pare down some of the mountain of debt he incurred for the purchase.

I'm referring, of course, to Daily Pilot Publisher Tom Johnson's column today, HERE, in which he announced dramatic changes at the Daily Pilot. I have to tell you that reading Johnson's announcement was like being punched in the gut.

First, he told us that 14 staff members of the seven newspapers that make up the Times Community Newspapers, including the Daily Pilot, were laid off last week. That explains the absence of some familiar bylines recently.

That was bad enough, but he followed that up by announcing that the Daily Pilot - the newspaper of record for the Newport-Mesa area for the best part of a century - will no longer be a daily newspaper! Nope, henceforth the Daily Pilot will be published Tuesday through Sunday, with Monday being a "dark" day.

It's not so much that we'll be losing "our" news on Mondays, but it's a statement about the condition of newspapers in general - they are living on the brink.


I'm disappointed with this turn of events. The Daily Pilot has been a big part of my life since we moved here thirty-five years ago. It's been even more so for me since I began writing letters and commentaries that appeared on its pages in 2001.


The Daily Pilot has provided a forum for discussion of important issues in our community, almost always covering issues accurately and without bias. It's given those of us with opinions a place to present them to our neighbors for their consideration. The editors have tolerated and presented views from their readers that others felt were repugnant. They have published opinions by writers who, with their next breath, offered scathing criticism of the editors and the Daily Pilot itself. The editors have accepted submissions from those of us with only the most marginal writing skills and made them better.


I hope these moves announced by Johnson are the last we will hear as Sam Zell goes about maximizing his investment. The Daily Pilot and it's sister publications have been the information anchor in their communities. For us to lose them would be to extinguish the bright light of public awareness on important issues being considered by our elected leaders.


I wish all the good folks at the Daily Pilot the very best of luck and hope these changes are enough to keep the wolf from the door.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


In his Daily Pilot column May 24th, "Martin has advantage of sheriff", HERE, Orange County Republican activist and carpetbagging Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner Jim Righeimer presents us with his views on the selection process for the position of Sheriff-Coroner of Orange County. As I type this the Board of Supervisors is going through an exhaustive interview process today with the final nine candidates - eight men and one woman - who made it through the initial cuts from the original 48 people who tossed their hats in the ring. They are now in the midst of a dinner break and will interview the final two candidates this evening.

Peggy Lowe, co-blogger at the Orange County Register's Total Buzz blog has been doing a masterful job of covering the interviews and providing an almost real-time report on the blog. You can read it HERE.

Long gone are such luminaries as the electrician from Garden Grove, the police chief from Duck, North Carolina and the Executive Director of INTERPOL. Also not making the final cut is Orange County Deputy Sheriff Erik Mansoor, brother of our Mayor Pro Tem, Allan Mansoor. I'm curious why he thought he could make the jump from jailer to sheriff. Another example of that "Mansoor judgment" in action, I guess. Eclectic doesn't even begin to describe the group from which our next Sheriff will have been chosen.

In his column Riggy makes some good points as he sorts the final candidates for us, distilling them down to a Final Four - apparently an homage to the recently completed college basketball season. Primary in his reasoning for his ultimate selection is that the person chosen by the supervisors to replace the disgraced and indicted Mike Carona must be able to be elected in 2010. He tells us that, in a contest between his final two, Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters and Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Commander Ralph Martin, the nod goes to Martin because he has been a lifelong Republican and Walters has shown some ambivalence about his party affiliation in recent years. As Riggy says, "This is an elected position, and politics matters. The supervisors do not want to have a sheriff with political trouble in two years. Therefore, in handicapping this pick, the advantage goes to Ralph Martin."

I'm trying to decide whether I'm angry at the system that creates this dilemma or at Righeimer for so clearly demonstrating why it's a problem, or both. I don't necessarily think it's bad that Walters, for example, has shown displeasure with his affiliation with the Republican Party. Who could blame him - except those in charge of the party itself.

The position of Sheriff-Coroner of our county is an elected position so the holder of that office will not be under the thumb of the Board of Supervisors - he will be beholden only to the voters of this county. I'm comfortable with that arrangement. However, in this situation, Riggy would have the supervisors select a person who passes muster with the hacks that currently control the Orange County Republican Party. He conveniently neglects to mention that Carona was one of "their guys", too.

In my view, the Board of Supervisors has a unique opportunity before them next week - one that transcends "politics as usual". From the remaining pool of candidates they may be able to select a person with impeccable credentials in law enforcement leadership - a person with a background of exemplary performance leading large law enforcement organizations - the kind of person with the command presence and leadership needed to rebuild the morale and reputation of our Sheriff's Department. And, they can do this without worrying about an election more than two years away.

The new sheriff will have more than 24 months to demonstrate that he or she is the right person for the job. Just as interim sheriff Jack Anderson has done in his few months holding that "temporary" job, the new sheriff can jump in immediately and begin making the reforms so necessary to "fix" the department. This job requires a top cop, not a politically connected back-slapper who will immediately begin to ingratiate himself with the political movers and shakers in this county.

I read through all the application material available online for each of the candidates and was impressed by many of them. As a recruiter for most of my working life, I know that information is just the starting point, and that the interviews today will be the deciding factor in the process. Based on what we see in their background information, most of the remaining candidates could probably do the job. Deciding which one will be able to do it best is up to the supervisors.

The new sheriff will be under intense scrutiny, so his or her performance in the next two years will be much more important to the electorate than whose boots he or she is willing to lick to get elected in 2010. Regardless what Riggy and his pals in the Orange County Republican Party think, the supervisors should do the job we elected them to do and give us the best law enforcement leader available for the job of Sheriff-Coroner of Orange County. If they do that, and the person selected demonstrates the right skills over the next two years, the 2010 election will take care of itself.

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Monday, May 26, 2008


For many Americans the Memorial Day holiday means the official launch of summer. That extra day we tack onto the weekend today means that, under normal circumstances, tens of millions of Americans drive somewhere to en
joy the holiday. Few really take the time to contemplate what this holiday is all about.

This morning my friend and Daily Pilot columnist, Joe Be
ll, presents us with his take on Memorial Day, HERE. As usual, Joe does a great job of describing his recollections of "his war" and the reluctance of many who fought during WWII to tell their stories.

Joe is right. The generation that fought and won WWII - Tom Brokaw's "Great
est Generation" - are leaving us at the rate of around 1,000 per day. The pool of human spirit that locked arms and fought to defend our country, and later built it into the dominant industrial and economic power in the world, will soon be gone and with them may go many untold stories of heroism, valor and sacrifice that the rest of us really do need to hear.

The same can be said for those who fought in "my war" - the Viet Nam Conflict. That war - y
es, it was a war - cost us more than 58,000 young Americans and tore at the very fabric of our country for more than a decade. Unlike WWII, where most Americans pulled together to defeat the common enemy and later build our country, "Viet Nam" became a metaphor for derision and anger. The societal wounds opened by that war continue to fester to this day, more than thirty years following the end of hostilities.

My peers who
fought in that war have also been reluctant to talk about their experiences. The combination of the pure horror of war and the fact that the Viet Nam war was so unpopular have kept many of them mute over all these years.

I have a cousin who is a couple years younger than me. He came to California from his home in the Midwest to attend school while I was in the Army in the mid-1960s. When my tour of service ended I returned home and, when the semester ended, he went back home to continue his education at Kent State University. As fate would have it, he was drafted and became an infantry soldier in Viet Nam. He survived his tour of service and went on with his life. Desp
ite being part of a very supportive family, with three younger brothers and a sister, he never discussed his experiences in the war with anyone - not even his wife.

Then, a few years ago, we traveled to his home for the marriage of his daughter. After all the turmoil that surrounds such an event was over
and the kids were on their honeymoon my cousin and I sat at his kitchen table late one night, just kind of unwinding from the event, when he began taking about Viet Nam. Once he started talking it all just kind of poured out.

He spok
e of the three purple hearts he received for wounds sustained in battle. He spoke of the near-misses he'd experienced beyond those three injuries. For example, as he and his platoon woke one morning to head out on patrol, one of his mates accidentally stepped on my cousin's glasses, which he had placed carefully beside the leg of his bunk. Although my cousin was willing to go on patrol without his glasses, his platoon sergeant refused to permit him to join them and he remained behind until a replacement pair could be sent from Saigon. That morning two dozen men left on patrol. None returned. They were caught in an ambush and slaughtered along a dark jungle trail.

In another incident my cousin was on patrol when one of his compatriots discovered an unexploded LAWS rocket. That's a projectile fired from a disposable, light-weight launcher that some American and South Vietnamese troo
ps carried. His sergeant was furious about finding an unexploded round, blamed it on improper use of the weapon and told my cousin to pick it up and take it back with them to their camp where there would be a class about how to properly use it. My cousin refused because it was a "live" round and could explode any time. After a short argument the sergeant had another man bring it back with them.

The next day one of my cousins mates came to fetch him for the class, which was to be held in a bunker within the compound. My cousin told his friend that he wasn't going anywhere near that thing because it was still a live round. As he said those words they heard an explosion. The round blew up and killed or severely wounded 17 soldiers, including the sergeant and their platoon leader.

Listening to his stories that late night at his kitchen table I realized that my cousin's experience in Viet Nam was very similar to that of the character Charlie Sheen portrayed in the movie, "Platoon".

Those men, who served our country in an unpopular war, deserve our respect for their service, too. They deserve to have th
eir stories heard. The young men and women who volunteer to serve this country today in distant venues, like Afghanistan and Iraq, also deserve respect for their service and sacrifice. They, too, have stories to tell. We need to listen to them and thank them for their service to our country.


Today, Memorial Day, 2008, would be a good time to begin that process.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Something Smells Funny At City Hall

(photo courtesy of Daily Pilot)

Here's something to gnaw on this Memorial Day weekend.

Last Tuesday,
May 20th, saw our City Council consider a request from the current owners of the derelict El Camino Plaza to extend for another year their entitlements to redevelop that blighted block smack in the middle of Mesa Del Mar. Their spokesperson was a sharp gentleman named Steve Sheldon, President of The Sheldon Group.

I watched the exchange of questions and answers and the public comments. I noticed that Mayor Eric Bever and Mayor Pro Tem Allan Mansoor were taking the lead in support of the request. I didn't give that too much thought, although I do recall thinking that Mansoor was taking a pretty soft position on a project that has been plagued by delays for years. Eventually, after Sheldon promised that the structures on the site would be com
pletely demolished by June 19th, the council agreed to the staff recommendations.

(A quick circumnavigation of that block late this afternoon showed all the structures still in place, but the entire block is surrounded with chain link fence draped with green tarp material to mitigate the v
iew of the blighted area during the demolition. This will be a short month because of the holiday, so one can only hope the developer is as good as his word.)

But something kept nagging me - it just didn't smell right - so I did some research and find that Sheldon's organization was a major participant in Mansoor's reelection campaign two years ago. If fact, just a year ago they helped him put on an event which was disguised as a fund-raiser for the Veteran's Memorial Project but was, in fact, a fund-raiser for Mansoor. I wrote about that in a post on this blog on May 30, 2007, which is still available for viewing in the archives over on the right side of this page.

Further nosing around has led me to some sources that indicate The Sheldon Group may be an active member of Eric Bever's re-election campaign.

Here's my question for you: Is it appropriate for a consultant, who supported (that means he was paid to support) Mansoor's re-election effort and subsequent fund-raising and may be currently involved in Bever's campaign, to stand before the council as a paid spokesperson for a project with lots of money to lose if the vote goes the wrong way? I know this probably doesn't meet the threshold for conflict of interest violations under our municipal code, but it sure does have a peculiar odor to it - especially when you consider the subterfuge of Mansoor's fund raiser last year. It seems to me that Mansoor and Bever should have excused themselves from the discussions and vote because they have a financial relationship with The Sheldon Group. What do you think?

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Caspa On The Radio and Mickadeit on White Supremacists

The day is still young and it's already very interesting. First, I listened to Dr. Humberto Caspa speak about his book and his view of conditions in Costa Mesa during a fifteen minute interview this morning on KPFK radio, public radio in Southern California. In an unfortunate bit of programming, his fifteen minutes of fame, literally, followed a prolonged rant by a rabid Palestinian supporter. I'm not sure how many people hung around for Caspa's interview - besides me, that is.


Caspa had the opportunity to expand on the thesis of his recent book, "Terror
in the Latino Barrio: The Rise of the New Right in Local Government". He emphasized the influence of one local activist, not only naming him, but spelling it for the audience to be sure they got it. I couldn't help but smile. You can hear Caspa's segment on KPFK HERE.


Then I grabbed my copy of the Orange County Register and began reading the headlines, looking for issues that interest me. I came across columnist Frank Mickadeit's contribution to the "Local" section of the newspaper - an entry entitled, "Racism, bullying top ADL agenda", HERE. I like Fran
k's work, which ranges from the politically relevant to flights of fancy, depending on his mood.

As I quickly scanned down the single column I came across the name of Costa Mesa Police Lieutenant Clay Epperson, so I jammed on the brakes, backed up and began reading more slowly from the top.

The focus of Mickadeit's column is a recent dinner hosted by the Anti-Defamation League in which the subject of white supremacists in Orange County was discussed. He quotes Kevin O'Grady, director of the local ADL office as saying, "Southern California does have more white supremacist activity than the rest of the U.S., and (within Southern California) Orange County has the most". Yikes!

His mention of Lt. Epperson was in the context that he and Orange County probation officer Lowell Smith were honored because they, according to Mickadeit, "independently did groundbreaking work studying, documenting and suppressing white racist gangs".

Mickadeit goes on to discuss what he describes as the local gang of greatest concern, Public Enemy Number 1, about whom the ADL has produced a 12 page brochure. He mentions that Orange County is the hotbed of PEN1 activity and includes Costa Mesa as one of the four cities, along with Anaheim, Garden Grove and Huntington Beach, in which it is flourishing.

Why do I mention Caspa's interview on the radio and Mickadeit's column on white supremacists in the same posting? Funny you should ask...

In our city there are those who deny the presence and influence of white gangs, focusing, instead on Latino gangs. Some of these same people - the guy mentioned by Caspa during his interview, for one - are also holocaust deniers. All credible law enforcement sources admit that white supremacist gangs -
with their violence, drug manufacture/sale/use and their identity theft activities - are a big problem in our city. During a sweep 18 months ago, when nearly 60 white supremacists were snatched up throughout Orange County, a third of them - 20 - were apprehended at 17 locations in Costa Mesa. To this date our then-mayor, Orange County Deputy Sheriff Allan Mansoor, has never uttered a public comment about that sweep - a fact made even more difficult to understand because one of the reasons for the sweep was because those miscreants had put out "hits" on law enforcement personnel, including sheriff's deputies and prosecutors! How do we explain his silence on this issue when, at the same time, he was jumping up before the media every time a person of dark skin was arrested for any kind of crime? How do we interpret this curious double standard?

Personally, I think the denial of the impact of white supremacist gangs in our city, coupled with the obsession about Latino gangs, is indicative of the influence one man has had on the leaders of our city. It's clear to me, and to Dr. Caspa based on his views presented in his book, that the emphasis on the Latinos among us is a racist effort to expunge men and women of color from our city.

This will be an issue during the upcoming campaign season, regardless who runs for City Council. Members of the current majority - Mayor Eric Bever, for example - and others that follow the drumbeat of intolerance in our city who chose to run for City Council, will be subjected to intensive interrogation on their position about race in our city throughout the campaign.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Gangs, Caspa on Radio, Local Bloggers and Tomorrow's Council Meeting

Over the weekend I finally watched my tape of the Co
sta Mesa City Council Study Session from Tuesday, May 13th. I'm glad I did, because if I had relied on the "report" from one local blogger about the proceedings I'd have had a very different opinion of what occurred.


CMPD Capta
in Les Gogerty provided a brief overview of the current gang program in Costa Mesa - a program that focuses on enforcement since the council rejected an element that would have addressed the intervention/prevention segment a year ago.

Deputy District Attorney Tracy Rinauro, whose full time job is working on gang intervention/prevention, did an excellent job of giving information on intervention activities in Anaheim and, quite
recently, San Juan Capistrano. Many of those program elements she discussed sounded like they might be effectively used in our city.


One thing is sure - Mayor Eric Bever and Councilwoman Kat
rina Foley continue to be flint and steel. The tension between them was palpable during the presentations by Gogerty and Rinauro. It was clear to me that Bever has no interest in doing more on the gang issue until results of the enforcement-only policy can be quantified. This is a typical response by him and his pals. Their solution to a gang problem is to rid our city of anyone who MIGHT become a gang member. You can translate that to mean anyone with brown skin. It was obvious that Bever was angry because Foley had requested the information that was presented to the council in the Study Session. It's one more example of how the so-called "improvers" want to control the information available to residents.

Costa Mesa resident Dr. Humberto Caspa, author of the new, hot-off-the-presses book, "Terror in the Latino Barrio: The Rise of the New Right in Local Government", will be int
erviewed Wednesday morning, May 21st on radio station KPFK, 90.7 FM from 8-9 a.m. For those of you able to block off that hour Wednesday morning I suspect you'll find Dr. Caspa's comments of great interest.

Speaking of local bloggers, I'm not quite sure what's going on over at the CM Press. I fear the poor guy who owns it may be showing signs of early dementia. Twice in the past month he has used duplicate numbers for his entries - number 330 and number 366 each had two separate entries using the same numbers. In the most recent edition of #366 he used a big chunk of his text to tell us all what a wonderful, interesting life he has had. I wonder if he did that as a memory jogger - because he's forgetting who he is these days.

New bloggers "Mr. & Mrs. John Smith" over at the CM Watchtower continue to post strange entries. Twice this month they've made claims of being the "Best Local Blog Around", yet provide no source for that acclaim. I ha
ve this mental image of them saying, "You're Number 1! No, you're Number 1!" I'm still not sure what their focus is - they seem to dislike almost everyone. Perhaps, as the campaign season approaches, we'll get a better idea of what they think will improve our city. I'm not sure just who these folks are, but I think I've got a good idea. More on that at a future date.


And, over on the SantaAnaCentric Orange Juice! blog, the infighting continues. In a H
erculean effort, they changed platforms over the past week or so. The new look is going to work, but it appears to be a much more labor-intensive effort. Time will tell. In the meantime, spats continue between their various contributors. Watching them argue back and forth, accusing each other of deleting comments and posts, makes me very happy that I'm a Lone Ranger here.

The City Council meeting Tuesday, May 20th, promises to be very special. Scheduled events include the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem by the All American Boys Chorus; presentation of Vanguard University's National Champion Women's Basketball Team; proclamations for both Killybrooke and Sonora schools for academic achievement and topped off by the recognition of city employees who reached 25 and 30 years of service. Whew! After that the remainder of the agenda will be boring with a capital "B".

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Son Of The TriTunnel Express

The Orange County Register, in an article by Ellyn Pak on Friday, reports that drilling in the Cleveland National Forest shows that it may be practical to bore a tunnel under the mountains b
etween Orange County and Riverside County to carry water from the Inland Empire to the near-coastal cities. It goes on to say that such further tests could determine if constructing a tunnel for vehicles is feasible.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, just think back a few years when the triple tunnel boondoggle called the Tri-Tunnel Express was being
foisted off on us as a way to resolve Orange County's air transportation problems. Yep, that's right - a series of tunnels to solve the congestion at John Wayne Airport!

In it's fina
l iteration before the web site was folded up and all mention of that fiasco ceased, it was proposing to drill three, count 'em, three 12 mile-long tunnels a couple thousand feet below the peak of Saddleback Mountain in which cars and trucks would matriculate between Orange and Riverside counties to a mythical new commercial airport at the old March Air Force Base. Then came the big "OOPS!" - someone forgot to ask Riverside County if they actually wanted a commercial airport at March! When that idea bombed the so-called planners of that project were scurrying around, trying to figure a way to make a sharp left turn mid-mountain to take the traffic to Ontario. That one didn't fly, either. (can't resist the pun)

One of the really fun parts of the Tri-Tunnel Express was the combination of elements in that project. It was planned to shuttle the aforementioned vehicular traffic through tunnels that also carried gasoline pipelines and a electrical transmission lines - through a mountain that has four active earthquake faults running through it! As I said a few years ago when it was first proposed, this is a sure recipe for disaster. A little shaking and slipping along the fault lin
es rupturing those gas lines and exposing the fuel to the handy ignition source along side and we'd be seeing Saddleback Peak launched toward Catalina Island!

Water lines - a way to actually make such a project feasible - were added late in the game. Hence, the evolution of this new scheme.

Adding to the joy of the old Tri-Tunnel Express scheme is the fact that the guys who were lining up to manage it are the same guys who gave us the 73 Toll Road, a project that's
hemorrhaging money like the proverbial stuck pig.

The Register
article talks about the 10-12 foot "water tunnel" costing between $680 million and $770 million and would take more than seven years to build. The Tri-Tunnel Express - in which each of the three tunnels was to be three times the size of this new proposal - was initially projected to cost around $3 billion, but that grew to $6 billion within a few months. That was a few years ago, so I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers were over $10 billion now. Don't expect this new project to be less than a billion - maybe two - by the time, if ever, the first shovel hits the dirt.


All this horsing around with pie-in-the-sky "solutions" is a huge waste of time and intellectua
l resources. We should be moving forward RIGHT NOW with plans to double-stack the existing right-of-way on the 91 Freeway and get serious about making Ortega Highway the high-speed traffic mover it should be. Expanding those roadways is faster, cheaper and much more practical than any tunnel project will ever be.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hoping for a Quorum, Expanding The Forum and Acosta Decorum

I hesitate t
o mention this for fear of jinxing another City Council Study Session. That being said, this afternoon the Costa Mesa City Council will attempt to hold another study session. The April session was canceled because they didn't have a quorum. Let's hope that at least three members show up today.


Once again, members of the Costa Mesa Police Department will attempt to present their ideas
on how to manage the gang problem in our city. The staff report is skimpy, to say the least, but I imagine their plans will include a prevention/intervention element to it in addition to the enforcement segment. Let's all hope the council will listen to them this time around and fund an intervention segment. Last year they blew it off, despite a very credible presentation by the Police Department about how essential a prevention/intervention element is to any successful gang control plan.


There are those in o
ur community that rant and rave about the gang problem in our city, yet completely reject what the Police Department feels is a very real threat - White Supremacist gangs. According to reports made previously, those gangs are vicious and clever. A sweep not too long ago throughout Orange County snatched up nearly 60 White Supremacist gang members - including 20 at 17 locations in Costa Mesa. Those thugs had put out "hits" on law enforcement members and prosecutors. They infiltrate financial institutions, steal sensitive personal information and use it to engage in identity theft crimes to finance their drug businesses. Since the police consistently present facts to back up their position, one can only assume those who reject the very existence of this threat must have a vested interest in it being ignored. I wonder what that might be? I also wonder why, to this very day, the elected leaders of this city - Allan Mansoor specifically - has still not mentioned that sweep and it's results. It's all the more curious because Mansoor is a member of the Orange County Sheriff's Department - a deputy who spends his work day hunkered down in the jail.

A couple new anonymous bloggers in town, CMTRUTH and CM WATCHTOWER, seem to be having an impact on our town. As we approach the campaign season it will be very interesting to see what positions they take on the candidates. What makes this campaign season especially interesting is the
speculation - fueled by his own not-to-veiled comment - that a guy who calls himself "Mr. U-Know-Who" might actually run for City Council. I've said repeatedly that I don't think that's going to happen - it would open him up to so much personal scrutiny and criticism that I doubt he could handle it. Heck, he has a tough time handling criticism now!

The Benito Acosta trials continue to reverberate through our city. In case you were wo
ndering, as of the end of March the civil trial - Acosta is suing the City of Costa Mesa for his arrest during a council meeting - the cost of defending that suit is over $136,000 according to sources at the law firm representing the city, Jones & Mayer. The criminal trial - the one that was dismissed - has also cost the city over $130,000, but Jones & Mayer is handling the appeal pro bono. I should hope so, since it was their error that caused the dismissal! So far that effort has cost them almost $20,000.

I don't k
now how most of you feel about this - I suspect I'll hear from a few of you - but it's my view that this whole thing never would have happened if then-mayor Allan Mansoor had used good judgment and let Acosta finish his presentation to the council that fateful night. I've watched the tapes of that event and agree that Acosta was rude, but the situation only got out of hand after Mansoor refused to let his supporters stand and be recognized - as he had permitted Minuteman Grand Pooba Jim Gilchrist's followers to do earlier - then cut Acosta off short of his alloted three minutes.


So far, Mansoor's bad judgment has cost the city over a quarter million dollars in legal fees and has the potential to dip deeply into the city coffers if the civil trial is found in Acosta's favor. The costs incurred so far could have funded a couple more police officers and a gang intervention element. All this to perpetuate and enhance the political future of an inept city councilman - a guy who has used the turmoil he created in Costa Mesa as a springboard to higher office. He's on the June ballot for a slot on the Orange County Republican Central Committee.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Does Bever Want The Job Center Back?

The Daily Pilot this morning brings us an article by Alan Blank that discusses a forum in which Costa Mesa Police Chief Chris Shawkey participated that apparently addressed the subject of day laborers. The article, HERE, doesn't tell us who the other participants in the forum were, but quotes Shawkey and Ma
yor Eric Bever extensively - Bever and Wendy Leece attended the forum.

According to Blank, Shawkey apparently told a story about an email he recently received which complained about loitering day laborers and used a bogus photograph - one taken years ago - to illustrate it's point. Shawkey is quoted as saying, "People are out there trying to generate issues that aren't even there."

Gee, no kidding, Chief! I've been saying that for years. There is at least one "activist" (that word just seems too benign when describing this guy) in our town who has a long and dark history of fabricating issues to
inflame residents against our Latino population. "Marauding" soccer players at Paularino Park comes to mind. Although I don't know this reference by Shawkey was about him, I sure wouldn't be surprised.


Further bolstering that
thought is his blog entry, HERE, published at the crack of dawn this morning which leaps to solicit current photos of loitering day workers as specific locations around town. He was in such a hurry to pound out this entry and use "Return to Reason" as an epithet that he mis-identified the author of the Daily Pilot article as his father. Methinks thou doest protest too much... Beware of skulking "improvers" with cameras as you stop at your local 7-11 lest you be recorded for posterity as a "loitering day worker"!


The Daily Pilot article, as you will read, also carries an interesting quote attributed to Eric Bever. W
hen addressing Costa Mesa's approach to managing day laborers he is quoted as saying, "Our strategy is lacking some regards. Closing our job center detracted from our ability to enforce," If that quote is accurate, Bever is acknowledging what I've said since the closure of the Job Center was first proposed - that it provides an effective method to manage and control the day laborers in our city. It solved a problem back when it was opened in the late 1980s and became a model program other cities followed, including our neighbors in Laguna Beach.

So, Mayor Bever, are you REALLY saying that we should open the Job Center again? That will certainly make for an interesting plank in your re-election campaign platform.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Mansoor, Money and Whining Wendy

The Costa Mesa City Council meeting last night provided us with some more interesting insights into the minds of those sitting o
n the dais.

Mayor Pro Tem Allan Mansoor demonstrated, once again, that he's not about to let facts interfere with his opinion. During the
discussion of the Community Development Block Grant distribution for the Costa Mesa Senior Center he interrogated Executive Director Aviva Goelman, who had referred to an article in the Daily Pilot that morning the headline of which read, "Senior funds could be cut". Mansoor, admitting that he had not seen the article in question, called it "sensationalism and speculation". It was obvious to those observing that Mansoor was on another of his frequent "anti-Daily Pilot" rants. When Mayor Eric Bever leaned over and pointed out that funding for a Senior Center program was, indeed, being reduced, Mansoor persisted with his "sensationalism" comments.

The council voted to f
und the Senior Center programs as recommended by the 3R Committee, which included a reduction of $2,000 in a food distribution program.

An interesting sidebar to that issue can be found in the Daily Pilot online. In the comment thread of the article mentioned above, the first comment is by resident, f
ormer Daily Pilot columnist and college instructor Flo Martin. It reads as follows:

Flo Martin wrote on May 6, 2008 9:43 AM:

" I am constantly reminded of how stingy the average Orange Countian is. Our rate of charitable giving ranks among the lowest in the nation. Let's dig into our wallets and support the Costa Mesa Senior Center. I'm going to call the Center this morning and chip in the $2000 difference between last year's city funds' allocation and the measly sum the Costa Mesa City Council plans to consider tonight. Who will join me? "

Well, a little bird told me that, true to her word, Flo Martin jumped off her couch, dashed to the Senior Center and delivered her check for $2,000 to supplement the shortfall anticipated by the council action. Way to go, Flo!


During the deliberations regarding the Senior Center funding councilwoman Wendy Leece, who has recently been skulking around the Senior Center, digging through the trash, interrogating the staff and listening to a couple malcontents, defended her actions and said that, if anything, her recent up-close-and-personal inquisition at The Center caused her to consider the funding recommendations more closely. If you say so, Wendy, but you've still created turmoil and discontent among our seniors at a time in their lives when they need peace and harmony - and adequate food. That same little bird that told me about Flo Martin's response to the funding reduction told me that, as a direct result of Wendy's unwelcome interference and the Daily Pilot article about the funding reduction, some other generous benefactors immediately stepped up and dropped a couple sizable checks on The Center.

Oh, by the way, the council also later voted to follow all the 3R Committee recommendations for funding other worthy causes. The "book" provided to the council which included the reference material must have weighed 10 pounds! Thanks to the good folks on the 3R Committee for their good work.

Further on Allan Mansoor... Yesterday my voter pamphlet for the primary election on June 3rd arrived in the mail. As I perused the pamphlet and carefully checked out the "Republican" section - where I will be marking my ballot - I scanned down the list of twelve candidates for "Member, County Central Committee, 68th Assembly District"and found a familiar name - "Allan R. Mansoor"! Yep, lest there be any doubt about just how immersed our young jailer/politician has become in Orange County Republican politics, this entry confirmed it.

I guess riding the backs of immigrants to re-election a couple years ago has provided him with enough notoriety within my party - he was anointed "Local Elected Official Of The Year" by the party not too long ago - that some actually think him worthy of a seat at the big table of power. Geez, is that depressing! I guess all it takes to attain a leadership position in my party these days is a big, vacuous smile, half a brain and the willingness to oppress members of the minority community in the city you are elected to govern. It makes one understand why smart folks like my pal, Byron de Arakal, chose to become a "decline to state" voter.

And, as part of the normal programming, one local blogger vented his spleen a couple times before the council, accusing them of not doing the job. This is the same guy who recently posted his campaign platform on his blog and ranted almost uncontrollably today. I guess he's ticked off because he's obviously losing his grip on the council majority. Some would say he's losing his grip, period. It's just too delicious! We here at A Bubbling Cauldron would welcome his candidacy for a council seat in the fall. But, as we've said in an earlier post, we doubt he has the "package" for such a campaign. It would permit us to expose him, so to speak, for what he is and give us a peek into his otherwise secret personal life. We'd find out where he gets his money, including the stipends paid for his racist rants on right-wing web sites, like David Duke's web page, for example. I'm salivating like Pavlov's Dog just contemplating it...

Just another normal evening at the best show on TV...

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Terror or "Error"?

As promised,
over this past weekend I read Dr. Humberto Caspa's new book, "Terror in the Latino Barrio: The Rise of the New Right in Local Government". It's been 50 years since I've done a book report, so I'm not going to try to give you all the gory details. I'll just give you my opinion of the book. If you really want to try to find out if your name is in it you'll just have to shell out $17.00 or so at the local bookstore later this month or order it on Amazon. com.

Let me start right off by telling you that in my opinion Dr. Caspa, whom I consider a friend, did not write a great book. He wrote a good book, full of authenticated facts, plenty of names, a pretty good time line of events and a lot of passionate opinion. He wrote a book that chronicles events in Costa Mesa over the past few years and draws conclusions from his analysis of those events. In most cases I agree with his conclusions.


Unfortunately, although he holds a PhD, Dr. Caspa still has some difficulty with the nuances of the English language - don't we all? And, there are just enough typos and malapropisms sprinkled throughout the book to make his critics - particularly those of the Mensa persuasion - salivate about ways to use them to reject the premise of the book. That won't work, because his premise is rock-solid and amply documented.


One example of an entry that brought a smile to my face is on page 76, where Dr. Caspa addresses the loitering day-workers at Lions Park. In his attempt to provide his readers with an image of Lions Park in their mind he includes the following description: "On one corner of the park, there is a barbed-wired baseball field on which city administrators organize softball and baseball tournaments." I'm sorry, but while this is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, the mental image of our kids playing softball in a field surrounded by barbed-wired cries out for comment. He, of course, probably meant "chain link fence", not barbed wire. I suspect you're smiling, too.

Dr. Caspa's critics will certainly try to refute some of his allegations - that's to be expected. He did a good job of documenting statements on which most of his opinions are based. There will be those who will attack his work as fiction - it's not. He headed off those critics with thorough documentation and attribution. Some will reject the title of the book, saying there is no "terror" in Costa Mesa. Those folks will likely not be members of the Latino community in our city, who today walk the streets very carefully for fear of unwarranted apprehension and deportation. This fear was exemplified by a young woman who raised her hand during Dr. Caspa's recent presentation at OCC to say that she never leaves her home without her green card for fear of being stopped for some minor infraction and summarily deported.

Throughout the book Dr. Caspa attempts to provide the reader a chronology of events and introductions of main players in this little drama that we call Costa Mesa. He has done exhaustive research toward that end, all of which is footnoted for your reference. Quite honestly, while the information is there, I sometimes found the flow of the book a little herky-jerky.

Dr. Caspa discusses the various organizations, groups and individuals that have come and gone in the quest to "improve" the Westside of our city. He names names, lists accomplishments and those events for which some of the players should receive credit or blame. Many of the names will be familiar to those who follow city politics - Mansoor, Bever, Leece, Monahan, Steel, Robinson, Davidson, Egan, Bunney, Elmore, Garlich, Scheafer, Dixon, Foley, Roeder, Morello, Turpit, Burciaga, Johnson, Dodero, Berry, Snowden, Hensley, Acosta... the list goes on and on. Heck, he even mentions me a couple times.

Dr. Caspa discusses in detail the events of the past couple years, ever since Allan Mansoor attempted to deputize all Costa Mesa police officers as immigration screeners, including the unfortunate arrest of Benito Acosta. He does a good job of laying the groundwork so the reader can understand the evolution of events that set the stage for Mansoor's actions.

The common thread throughout the book is the reference to one local activist and his pervasive influence on people and events in our city. This person has been called "Your Neighbor" on this blog and has named himself "Mr. U-Know-Who" on his own. Caspa makes very clear, unequivocal references to him by name throughout his book, pointing out in great detail what he perceives to be his unmistakable footprint on politics in this city for nearly a decade. Mr. U-Know-Who will not be a happy camper when he reads the book. That, alone, is enough to bring a smile to my face.

One interesting sidebar is that Mr. U-Know-Who implied in a very recent blog entry that he's upset with his hand-picked city council majority - he says they don't have the "gonads" to get the job done quickly enough - and indicated that he just might run for city council this year. He
provided his list of goals should that happen. Apparently he feels HE has the testicular fortitude to get the job done. Many of us would relish having him in the race, but I doubt he has that equipment he seeks in others to do it.

Is Humberto Caspa's book worth reading? Absolutely! Much of what he says will come as no surprise to folks who have been following events in our city since the late 1990s. In fact, much of what Caspa says in his book has been chronicled on these pages since I launched A Bubbling Cauldron nearly three years ago - and before that in letters to the editor.

As I said, I agree with much of what Caspa says in his book - particularly his reference to the influence and impact of Mr. U-Know-Who on contemporary events in our city. Those of you who doubt such influence will have, in the form of Caspa's book, all the reference material you need to validate it as fact.

Buy the book or go to the local library and check it out. I'm sure there will be folks who deny Caspa's thesis. I'm looking forward to hearing what they have to say. This blog can be a forum for that discussion if they choose to avail themselves of it.

I admire Humberto Caspa for having the passion and courage to write this book. It took uncommon courage, for a lot of reasons, to present this view at this time in our city. I think it is a chronicle of an important time in the evolution - some might say regression - of our city and should be required reading for all those seriously concerned about the future of Costa Mesa.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008


Here we are again, only a couple months from that most American of celebrations, Independence Day. It's a wonderful time to celebrate the birth of our nation, to be thankful for the freedoms provided to us and remember
the sacrifices made by the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Adams.

It's a day when w
e usually draw together as families and neighbors to share good company, good food, good weather (usually) - and fireworks. It's also a time when most of us adults hold our collective breath while our young ones play with safe and sane fireworks and, in some neighborhoods, some older ones fire off some that are neither safe nor sane.

We silently pray
that none of those glorious bottle rockets and roman candles end up igniting a neighbor's roof. As M80s rock our homes, we hope that no one loses an eye, hand or worse as they fire off that pseudo-military ordinance and flail around with those ubiquitous sparklers that I enjoyed as a kid, but that are now illegal. We hope our neighborhood pets don't suffer long-range emotional trauma from the explosions.

We hope that everyone act
s like an adult as they use the fireworks, but it's not always the case, as witnessed by this lunatic at a local fireworks celebration last year. Strapping a helmet with a fireworks launch-tube attached and running around with the fireworks flaring away is hardly responsible activity. It is amusing - unless his pants catch fire or he ignites a neighborhood tree.

Every y
ear at this time the folks who are dead set against fireworks in our city rally their forces and try to point out the dangers. Every year those who support fireworks in Costa Mesa jump right up and defend the practice, saying that to outlaw them would be unpatriotic and would significantly deter youth sports organizations from raising funds for their activities. Every year our good friends a couple blocks away in Newport Beach skulk across the border into our neighborhood and shoot off their stash of fireworks, leaving our neighborhood streets a mess for someone else (us) to clean up.

A few years ago w
e almost lost our home as a result of the careless use of fireworks, when a neighbor boy accidentally burned his garage down. Only the quick thinking of other neighbors headed off the conflagration before it reached our garage and home. At the risk of alienating every one of my neighbors, I must state that I'm one of those guys who thinks the City of Costa Mesa should abandon the sale and use of so-called safe and sane fireworks and replace it as a fund raising event including a municipal fireworks extravaganza. At the same time we should pull out all the stops to apprehend and punish those who use illegal fireworks in our city.

Many people in town
feel strongly that we should be allowed to continue to shoot off legal fireworks. They make eloquent arguments on the subject. They say we would be punishing the majority of folks who use fireworks safely for the transgressions of the few who don't. This issues is almost like trying to discuss religion... most people have their minds firmly made up and can't be swayed. I think there simply must be alternatives to the urge to explode things and raise funds for the kids. 90% of the cities in Orange County managed to do just fine in both areas without selling or permitting the use of fireworks within their borders.

I love a good, professional firewor
ks show - I think most people do. Perhaps Mike Scheafer and his pals at the Lion's Club would re-schedule their Fish Fry for the July 4th time frame, hold it at Orange Coast College - with the rides and games and food - and have it topped off with a huge municipal fireworks display at the stadium. Proceeds from the events could be distributed to all the youth organizations presently benefiting from fireworks sales. This year, for example, with July 4th on a Friday, it could be a long-weekend event, with fireworks at LeBard Stadium on both Friday and Saturday nights. It's just a thought.

I'd be very interested in hearing your views,
whether you agree with me or not. As always, I expect courtesy when expressing a viewpoint and I will not publish anything submitted as "Anonymous" - pick a name, any name.

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