Sunday, June 29, 2008


I love my neighborhood! And, boy, do I love this time of the year - when "graduation season" rolls around.

I've mentioned my neighborhood before - it's a great place to raise a family. When my sweet wife and I moved into our house on the Eastside almost 35 years ago there were only six children in our block - and we were the "young couple" in the neighborhood. Those happy youngsters are now grown and gone and two thirds of them are raising their own little ones. But, their parents remain firmly planted in our neighborhood, so we get a chance to see this new generation flourishing as they return to visit.

Today there are more than 30 kids in our neighborhood, depending on how you choose to count those returning from college and the one we have "in the oven", so to speak. Today my wife and I are no longer the "young couple" and I've become the embodiment of "Mr. Wilson" from Dennis the Menace fame.

Four years ago we counted among our neighborhood graduates two student body presidents - one from Newport Harbor and one from Mater Dei. Those bright young people returned home last week, college diplomas firmly grasped in their hands, ready to change the world.

This year we had six, count-em, six young people graduate from Newport Harbor High School - a new record for our little enclave. Among them are athletes, actors and scholars - and all of them are great kids. They are smart, hard-working, attractive and respectful. I remember most of them being pushed around our neighborhood in their strollers many years ago. I've helped a few of them shed their training wheels and taught them the most important thing about riding a two-wheeler - how to stop.

I've watched the boys learn how to drive - sometimes too fast - and the girls learn how to flirt - also sometimes too fast. Over the years I've seen more trees in our neighborhood than I can accurately remember covered with enough toilet paper to serve the sanitation needs of a small country for a year. That's a display of affection I still don't fully understand.

We beamed with pride as our neighborhood hatched two more Eagle Scouts this year - that's three in the past few years. These young men have demonstrated that they have not only acquired a good education, but they're solidly-grounded in the life lessons that will help them excel in the future.

As original residents pass on - we had two lovely older neighbors leave us within the last year - a new crop of urchins are just about ready to join this world to replace them.

Later this week our neighborhood will celebrate it's second annual Independence Day block party, the food for which will be underwritten again by an extraordinarily generous member of the neighborhood who is about to become a father for the first time. It will be a day of fun, food, frivolity and fireworks. If last year is any indication, we will have a chance to meet and greet our returning college students, fresh from places like Berkeley, Chico, South Bend, West Virginia, Maryland, Idaho, Santa Barbara, Boston, Spokane and San Diego. We'll see those nervous kids who left home for college returning as confident, accomplished young men and women, beginning to flower. We know these young folks will soon take their turn at making our community and world a better place - we're going to be in good hands.

Did I mention that I love my neighborhood?


Friday, June 27, 2008

Judge MacEachern Bounced From Bench!

In a bit of news that is sure to raise some eyebrows in the land of Newport-Mesa, the Orange County Register reports HERE that Judge Kelly MacEachern has been removed from the bench by a judicial commission, apparently for falsifying expense reports and lying about it. She apparently plans to appeal the removal,
which will become permanent in 30 days, to the State Supreme Court.

Observers of all things Costa Mesa will recognize MacEachern's name as the judge who dismissed the criminal case filed by the City of Co
sta Mesa against Benito Acosta last fall because the prosecutor, Dan Peelman, had not been properly sworn in before he took the case to trial. I suspect there are smiles all around at the offices of Jones & Mayer, the legal firm which provides the City of Costa Mesa with City Attorney services in the form of Kimberly Hall Barlow and where Peelman also works. MacEachern's decision to dismiss the Acosta case is under appeal by Peelman - at the expense of Jones & Mayer, not the City of Costa Mesa.


It's unclear if MacEachern's removal from the bench will have any impact on the Acosta trial at this
point. Obviously, if her removal is upheld and Peelman's appeal of her decision on the Acosta case is allowed, another judge would have to hear the case. That would mean more dollars from our municipal coffers to try a case that should never have existed. And, of course, still pending is the civil trial Acosta filed against Allan Mansoor and the city. That case potentially represents more dollars - a lot more.

Who ever said things are dull around these parts just isn't paying attention!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008


Photo courtesy of Daily Pilot

Just a reminder....

Tomorrow, Friday, June 27, 2008, is the Grand Opening of Angels Playground, Costa Mesa's first universally-accessible playground.

Festivities begin at 3:00 p.m., rain or shine (according to the flyer Angels Charities Founder Doug Hansen sent to me).

The location is at TeWinkle Park, 885 Junipero Drive, Costa Mesa. For more information contact the Costa Mesa Recreation Division at 714-754-5300.

This wonderful facility, which has been in the works for several years, is yet another example of why Costa Mesa is such a terrific place to live, work and play. Thanks to the Hansen family, former councilman Gary Monahan and all those dedicated workers on the city staff who made it possible.

Please join the entire Hansen family and city representatives at this event tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Register Drops Another Shoe

The media, print and visual, is all over a story from the Associated Press published in the last 24 hours, which c
an be viewed HERE on the Sacramento Bee online site, that chronicles the plan for the Orange County Register to begin outsourcing the copy editing and page layout for one of their community newspapers to a company in India. This purported one-month trial isn't the end of the world, but is very likely an omen of things to come.

The Register has been under the gun, as have all print media outlets, to adapt or die in the current environment. Every local outlet has experienced layoffs and the situation is exacerbated in the case of the Los Angeles Times family of newspapers by the acquisition of The Tribune Companies - the Times parent - by Sam Zell
not too many months ago. Zell is busily squeezing that organization like a handful of Nutty Putty and will soon be selling off the pieces to pay down more than $13 billion in debt.

The Register's move - portrayed as a trial move to see how it works - makes me very nervous. It's yet another example of farming out important functions to vendors on the other side of the world. This has happened in our manufacturing businesses and service organizations, too. Today, instead of talking to a service representative in Sacramento or Harrisburg, PA when I have a problem with my internet service provider, Earthlink, I now speak first with someone in The Philippines and, if the problem doesn't fit their template, am referred on to someone in India to fix it. Seldom do the problems get resolved the first time aroun
d any more. It's very frustrating.


The pressure being brought on the "old" media by the "new" media - the electronic form of which this blog is a part - is tremendous. Mountains of resources are being spent to create and maintain an online presence to remain competitive. It won't be long, I'm afraid, until we see print media outlets drop like flies because their management have been unable to shake the old ways. This is not good news, in my opinion.

Such a catastrophe will leave those of us interested in current events at the mercy of bloggers. I mean, can you imagine having such biased publications as this one and the CM Press, for example, as your primary sources of "news"? Gad!

Quite honestly, I hope this little experiment of the Register's fails. I don't like the idea of farming out control of how the content is presented and edited to some guy in New Delhi. What makes our local newspapers so valuable to me is the local influence over the way they present the news. I fear that, if the Register's experiment is successful from a financial standpoint, this concept will spread throughout the industry and we will begin to lose control of our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press.

Time will tell....

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Remembering Tim Russert

On Friday, the 13th, NBC commentator and host of Meet The Press, Tim Russert, collapsed and died at his desk in Washington, D.C. I wrote about his passing briefly in my Father's Day entry last week.

In the ten days since Russert's passing there have been non-stop stories lauding him as a
great commentator, father, husband, son, friend and colleague. His memorial service at Lincoln Center in Washington was attended by thousands.

During the day on the 13th, as I was making what turned out to be a much-longer-than-expected drive north, I had the opportunity to hear many, many speakers comment on Russert. Many addressed his strong family ties and mentioned his two books, the first of which chronicled his relationship with his father, "Big Russ". Others spoke of his relationship with his son, Luke, who had just graduated from Boston College.

It is hard not to admire a man who has obviously touched so many people so positively. Those he interviewed with tough but fair questions praised him. Those who worked with him revered him. Through all these accolades comes the prevailing thought - Tim Russert was a good man.

The best piece I've read about Russert was published in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal on Saturday by author Peggy Noonan, a frequent contributor to the weekend pages. Her piece, entitled, " A Life's Lesson", spoke of the many other tributes paid to Russert over the previous week, and during his memorial service just a day before. To avoid the risk of mis-quoting Noonan, let me provide you with a couple excerpts from her column:

After Tim's death, the entire television media for four days told you the keys to a life well lived, the things you actually need to live life well, and without which it won't be good. Among them: taking care of those you love and letting them know they're loved, which involves self-sacrifice; holding firm to God, to your religious faith, no matter how high you rise or low you fall. This involves guts, and self-discipline, and active attention to developing and refining a conscience to whose promptings you can respond. Honoring your calling or profession by trying to do within it honorable work, which takes hard effort, and a willingness to master the ethics of your field. And enjoying life. This can be hard in America, where sometimes people are rather grim in their determination to get and to have. "Enjoy life, it's ungrateful not to," said Ronald Reagan.

Tim had these virtues. They were great to see. By defining them and celebrating them the past few days, the media encouraged them. This was a public service, and also what you might call Tim's parting gift."


"One of the greatest statements, the most piercing, was something Chuck Todd said when he talked on a panel on MSNBC. He was asked more or less why Tim stuck out from the pack, and he said, "He was normal!" In a city, Washington, in which many powerful people are deep down weird, or don't have a deep down, only a surface, Tim was normal. Like a normal man he cared about his family and his profession and his faith. Pat Buchanan later said they're not making them now like they used to, Tim's normality is becoming the exception. The world of Russert—stability, Catholic school, loving parents, TV shows that attempted only to entertain you and not to create a new moral universe in your head—that's over, that world is gone. He had a point, though it's not gone entirely of course, just not as big, or present, as it used to be."

Russert, a bear of a man, was devout, loyal, dedicated to his friends, family, profession and his beloved Buffalo Bills - a man any of us would do well to emulate. I cannot count the number of speakers and writers who, when bemoaning his passing, mentioned that the current political campaign season will not be the same without him.

I will miss Tim Russert, my Sunday morning companion who used his Meet The Press pulpit to gently strip away the pomposity and superficiality of many politicians, leaving them bloodied but somehow grateful for the shellacking they'd just endured. I will miss his unabashed enthusiasm for his job, his family and, oh yes, those Buffalo Bills. I will do my best to follow the instruction he frequently left ringing in the ears of his friends - "Go Gettem!"


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Budget Approved and "Tank Commander" Surfaces

Last night the Costa Mesa City Council - on a 4-0 vote with Mayor Bever absent again - approved the proposed budget, there
by authorizing the expenditure of $145,000,000 of your tax dollars during the 2008-2009 fiscal year. The approval was not unexpected - the staff had done their usual excellent job of preparing the budget based on the guidance provided by the council earlier this year.


Mayor Pro Te
m Allan Mansoor - running the meeting in Bever's absence - made a feeble attempt to derail the renewal of the $48,000 shopping cart retrieval cost, but didn't get support. His limited grey matter apparently caused him to forget that the contract as negotiated is subject to cancellation with short notice.

The council rejected the hastily prepared request to spend $300,000 for monument markers along t
he 55 Freeway - a good move, in my view. The city was being pressured by Cal Trans to fund the creation of the markers this year after nearly three years of delays from the original request by the city.

One speaker before the council l
ast night expressed much displeasure because the council was unwilling to follow his instructions to buy what he describes as "barracks-style" apartments, raze them and turn them into parks. He suggested using eminent domain and just "banking" the land for a greater use. He described these "offending" buildings as being similar to the barracks during his days as a Marine. He subsequently told us he had been a "Marine Tank Commander" - visions of Michael Dukakis in the tank immediately popped into my mind.

Fortunately, City Manager Allan Roeder - prompted by Katrina Foley - set the record straight on what can and cannot be done with land purchased by the city. Of c
ourse, the Tank Commander had been lying through his teeth, but Roeder cleared that up. The Tank Commander posted the same lies on his blog this morning - never letting facts deter him from his goal of expunging the Latinos from our midst.

During another rant about graffiti in the city he fabricated other "facts". Again, Foley requested clarification from Costa Mesa Police Captain Ron Smith, who cleared up that bit of misinformation.


I've throttled back my comments about the Tank C
ommander recently, but such overt manipulation cannot pass without being addressed. He stands before the council, criticizing and pontificating and manufacturing issues and "facts" as he goes. Fortunately, there is at least one person on the council smart enough to see through his bluster and willing to call him out. Good for Katrina Foley.

It will be very interesting to see where he throws his support this campaign season. He's undoubtedly unhappy with what he feels is the ignorance of the current council. You can define that as their unwillingness to follow his mantra like zombies. I suspect he will support more malleable candidates - those willing to follow his lead on issues. We'll see...

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Sad, Special Father's Day

With the unt
imely passing of NBC commentator Tim Russert last Friday - just two days before Father's Day - I've contemplated just what Father's Day means to me. Russert wrote and spoke frequently about the bond between him and his father, Big Russ, and with his own son, Luke. His honesty and passion came through loud and clear and have been repeated frequently over the past 48 hours as he was remembered by his friends and family.

I contemplated writi
ng about my father again, then re-read what I posted here last Father's Day and decided that I can't do better than that. So, I invite those of you interested to slide over to the Archives section on the right side of this page, scroll down to June, 2007 and work your way to the entry I wrote on June 14, 2007.

The outpouring of love and respect for Tim Russert since his passin
g - a man who has written two best-selling books about his relationship with his father and with whom I shared most Sunday mornings - made me realize how lucky I've been in my life to have had my own father as a role model. I think of my father every single day. As I said a year ago, part of his place in my life has been filled by my neighbor, Wayne Stanfield, who - as he approaches 80 years of age - continues to set the example of a life well-led.

Today tell your father what he means to you. Don't let another day pass without re-affirming that bond.

Happy Father's Day to you all.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

2008-2009 Budget Workshop

Just about a year ago I wrote a little entry talking about the 2007-2008 Costa Mesa budget. At the time it seemed as though no one in our city cared
a whit about how much money was going to be spent on their behalf. Nor, it appeared, did they care about the way it was spent. Very few people showed up at the community budget workshop. "Very few" means 3 people!

Well, here we are, another year, another budget workshop and (yawn) no one cares! Thursday, June
12th, I attended the most recent iteration of the budget workshop conducted by City Manager Allan Roeder, Finance Director Marc Puckett and his strong right arm, Bobby Young. As in years past, it was sparsely attended.


Because of a strong marketing effort on my part (he says, tongue firmly implanted in his cheek) there were twice as many residents in attendance this year. Your friendly correspondent and long time resident and council-w
atcher Beth Refakes were there for the duration. Park and Recreation Commissioner and former council candidate Terry Shaw, busy guy that he is, arrived a little late and left a little early. Eastside residents Jeff Harlen and Jim Fitzpatrick, both of whom are recently-energized activists, attended, but had family commitments that forced them to depart early. That was it! In a city of over 110,000 souls, five of us cared enough about how our tax dollars are being spent to attend all or part of this excellent workshop.


To be entirely fair, a couple dozen residents attended the City Council Study Session on the 10th, during which the presentation was made to the council. Some asked questions and made suggestions. So, in actuality, fewer than 30 people cared enough about the budget to attend either meeting. What does that tell us?

Well, I think it tells us that most of the populace feel they are in good
hands when it comes to money management in our city. Others might say that most people just don't give a rat's patoot... I prefer the former. Having watched Roeder and Puckett in action for several years, I have a great deal of confidence in their ability to analyze the needs of the city and create solid financial plans to accomplish them. This year's budget is no exception.

Here are a few numbers for your consideration: This year the city plans to spent almost $145,0
00.000 on your behalf, up from around $131,000,000 the previous year - an increase of 10.57%. 80% of our revenue is derived from Sales and Property taxes - Sales Tax=43.67% and Property Tax=27.61%. The remainder comes from a variety of much smaller sources, the largest of which is the Transient Occupancy (Bed) Tax, at 5.34%.

48.27% of the Operating Budget will be spent on Salaries, 13.31% on Retirement benefits and 5.2
0% on Debt Service. According to a dandy little chart in the Budget at a Glance booklet available to all residents, for the fiscal year 08-09 the Median Residential Property Value in Costa Mesa is $600,000. Property Tax paid on that amount is $6000. Of that amount, $900 is distributed to the city. Of that $900, $504 (56%) goes to Police and Fire services.

The largest hunk of money typically spent in our municipal budget goes for the people employed by the city in terms of salaries and benefits. During the presentation City Manager Allan Roeder stated emphatically that he advised his management team that no additional staff will be authorized during the new fiscal year.


On the subject of Police and Fire services, most of us know that the City of Vallejo in the Bay Area
recently filed for bankruptcy, in great part because they were spending more than 80% of their total budget for Police and Fire salaries and benefits. Costa Mesa's budget shows slightly over 50% for the same line items.

Expenditures for the Capital Budget is up 41.35% this year. The city plans to spend more than $10,000,000 on road and infrastructure improvements during this budget year. That's a lot of pot hole repairs, street re-paving, bike paths and turn lanes to be installed.


This year the city plans to spend slightly more than $10,000,000 more than they will take in from
all revenue sources. "What?!", you say. "How can they spend more than they will take in? What kind of fiscal management is that?" Glad you asked. The short answer is that it's outstanding fiscal management. The even shorter answer is two words - Fund Balance. Remember that $131,000,000 they budgeted last year? Well, they don't just prepare a budget, then start writing checks until the money runs out. The city staff keeps their finger on the financial pulse of our city throughout the year. They spend the money when it's needed and don't when it's not. Fund Balance is what's left over from the budgeted number that has not been spent. This money has been taken out of the 07-08 pocket and placed in the 08-09 pocket to balance this year's budget. Slick, huh?

Oh, yes. In case you're wondering, the Emergency Reserve is around $14,125,000, just about the sa
me as last year.

"OK, Pot Stirrer, you've got my attention", you say. "How can I find out more?" Glad you asked - again. The city has prepared budget documents for every level of interest, beginning with the aforementioned Budget at a Glance pamphlet. Between that and the full-blown budget document there are two others - the Budget Study Session workbook and the Proposed Operating and Capital Improvement Budget Summaries - which will provide more information than most of us will ever need. Copies can be obtained from the Finance Department.


Additionally, the budget is available online for download - don't try it without a high speed internet connection - it's a couple hundred pages of pdf file! If you want to see some of the Powerpoint and Video segments you can go to the city website - there's a link on the right of this page - and follow the links to
Costa Mesa TV, then to the Archived Videos. There, via streaming video - also requiring high speed internet - you can view the June 10th Study Session, which includes the entire dog and pony show presented to the City Council.

Tuesday, June 17th, the City Council will consider and adopt the final 2008-2009 budget. That session starts at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. You can view the proceedings live on CMTV, Channel 24 and also on live steaming video on your computer. The meeting will be replayed during the week at various times.


So, neighbors, once again the city staff, led by Allan Roeder, has managed to keep us out of financial quicksand through diligent attention to the management of this city and the preparation of a sound budget. There is a display case in the Finance Department lobby full of awards bestowed on The City for the preparation of budgets in previous years. Thanks to all of them for continuing excellence in the performance of their duties for our city.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mr. U. Know-Who Is Right - For Once

I suppose I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I've agreed with The-Brain-Who-Ate-Costa-Mesa over at the CM Press. Although I've never failed to acknowledge that he's one smart dude, his views on most subjects are diametrically opposed to mine - and we both state that emphatically as we go about trying to influence the hearts and minds of Costa Mesans.


However, today in his CM Press #391, he points out an article written by Leonard Kranser, my old nemesis in the El Toro Airport fights, which ran in the Orange County Register today. You can read Kranser's article HERE.

Our Neighbor over at the CM Press is right on this issue. Of course, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. He is correct that we should be pursuing the creation of an intercontinental airport on the grounds of Camp Pendleton that could serve both Orange County and San Diego to bleed off the overwhelming traffic from both airports.

While we still have several years until the agreement that imposes the existing caps on flights expires, it's clear to anyone paying attention that John Wayne Airport is gearing up for more, more, more. This is not good news for any resident of either Costa Mesa or Newport Beach because the impacts of any "logical" expansion will decimate our neighborhoods. Of course, those of us on the Eastside of Costa Mesa will share the greatest impact with our good neighbors over in the Dover Shores area of Newport Beach, who already feel the impact of the flights most severely.

So, I agree with our pal at the CM Press that we need to get moving on an alternative to the expansion of John Wayne Airport to meet our growing air transportation needs. We were bamboozled out of the perfect location - El Toro - by a bunch of organized South County whiners, with Kranser leading the way. That place could still become the airport we need, since virtually no progress is being made on the "Great Park" and the important infrastructure still exists.


The Costa Mesa City Council has said they are going to work closely with their counterparts in Newport Beach to fend off John Wayne expansion. So far, all we've heard is talk. Those that think everything is hunky-dory because the cap agreement is still in place are living in a fantasy world. Those years will zip right past and we'll find ourselves reading tail numbers from 500 feet away before too long.
We cannot afford to let any time pass before serious work is done finding an alternative. Camp Pendleton seems to be the right choice.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Madame Sheriff and Audio Caspa

Well, on
a split vote, 3-2, the Orange County Board of Supervisors have appointed retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Division Chief Sandra Hutchens as the next Sheriff of Orange County. The appointment is provisional, which is required by state law until psychological testing is completed.

Congratulations to Sheriff Hutchens. I was amused by the comments on the Red County/OC Blog following the appointment. Talk about sour grapes! They wanted Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters appointed in the worst way. Hmmm, maybe I should try
to find a better description, huh? :-)

Actually, I don't understand the hub-bub about Hutchens appointment. Her background demonstrates excellence throughout her career. She's worked in a very large, very politically-charged environment and did well. We'll see if the "good old boys" here in Orange County try to sabotage her in the couple years before she must run for election in 2010.


I had a chance to hear Humberto Caspa on the radio this morning as he spoke with Larry Ma
ntle on KPCC, FM 89.3 discussing his book. The interview was informative, especially so when a caller who identified himself as "Robert", from the Westside of Costa Mesa told the audience that he didn't want a barrio in Costa Mesa. Very interesting and illustrative of the attitude of too many Costa Mesans. It was demonstrated very clearly on another local blog this morning.

As mentioned yesterday, he will continue his book signing tour with two appearances at Libreria Martinez in Santa Ana this month. The first event (English) will be Thursday, June 12th at 6:30 p.m. The second (Spanish) will be on Sunday, June 22nd at 1:30 p.m.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

An Interesting Day In Costa Mesa

A few interesting things will happen here in our little neck of the woods over the next 24 hours.

Tonight, during its regularly scheduled meeting, the Costa Mesa Planning Commission will consider how to deal with the numerous bootleg buildings around our town. This pimple of an issue festered to a head recently when a neighbor on Costa Mesa Street was planning to remodel his home. His property included an outbuilding
constructed in the 1960s without the benefit of permits. Apparently this is not the only such structure in our town. Big surprise!

Our city, established in 1953, was a collection of communities before it was incorporated. It was remote enough from the county seat in Santa Ana that, when a guy whose property backed up to a bit of agricultural land, decided he wanted to build a shed for his tractor or tools or his model train set he just built it.

Progress has created a whole new cadre of scofflaws - usually older folks who have lived in their home for 50 years or so. Now those folks are moving on - one way or another - and younger folks are buying those big lots with bootleg buildings tucked back into a corner hoping to build the home of their dreams. Unfortunately, they're going to
have to deal with the building before building their castle.

Based on reading the staff report, it looks like you'll finally be able to get even with your neighbor - just call Code Enforcement and report a "problem" with your neighbor's outbuilding. They'll be over lickety-split to cite your offending neighbor and require him to "fix" the problem.

I find myself wondering if there are not many more important things for our municipal bureaucrats to be worrying about. You can "credit" carpetbagger Jim Righeimer for this one - he wants to make Costa Mesa look like Irvine and getting rid of the bootleg buildings is a good place for him to start.

Dr. Humber
to Caspa will appear on radio station KPCC (FM 89.3) with Larry Mantle Tuesday, June 10th at 10:30 a.m. to discuss his recent book, "Terror in the Latino Barrio: The Rise of the New Right in Local Government". He will also appear in person at two events at Libreria Martinez in Santa Ana this month. He will appear on June 12th at 6:30 p.m. (English) and on the June 22nd at 1:30 p.m. (Spanish).

It is assumed by those who are watching this situation closely that tomorrow, Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors will finally select a new Sheriff to replace the disgraced and indicted Mike Carona. The nearly 50 candidates have been distilled down to tw
o - Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters and retired Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Division Chief Sandra Hutchens. This is going to be very interesting. Walters has the local profile while Hutchens has a resume and command experience in a very big department that was second to none among the candidates. Some folks in Santa Ana are already lining up to find a Latino replacement for Walters, feeling that the predominant demographic group - 75% of Santa Ana residents are Latino - has not been fairly served for the more than two decades Walters has been their top guy.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

It's Budget Time In Costa Mesa

Just a reminder to you all that this week is budget time in Costa Mesa. On Tuesday, June 10th, the City Council will receive a presentation on the 2008-2009 budget by the Finance Department Staff in a Study Session at 4:30 in Conference Room 1A. This meeting is open to the public and limited public comments will be permitted.

Thursday, at the same location, from 6:00 - 8:00, there will be a budget workshop held for members of the public during which the city staff will present all, or at least most, of the presentation they made Tuesday to the council. I've attended the past several such workshops and found them to be very enlightening. Unfortunately, they are usually very sparsely attended - there were only a couple of us at the most recent two. Typically, no members of the City Council are present at the workshop.

The city staff members who participate in this presentation are patient and very informative. They have won awards for many years for their budget presentation - there's a large bookcase in the Finance Department filled to overflowing with plaques and trophies for their budgets from prior years.

The several documents they prepare - there's one for just about every possible level of interest, beginning with their excellent Budget-at-a Glance booklet - will answer most questions residents will have. For those inclined to nit-pick the details, there are a couple other publications available providing line item detail for your review. Each of these documents are available for download on the city web site - there's a link to that site over on the right of this page.

This is an excellent opportunity for residents of our city to learn about the budget and the overall financial condition of our city. I encourage any of you interested to join me at the workshop on Thursday evening to find out why our city is in such good financial condition - unlike places like the City of Vallejo, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Leece Doesn't Get It!

Mayor Eric Bever recently suggested opening a new, improved Job Center as a method of "fixing" the problem of loitering day laborers around town. Gee, that seems like a good idea, since the previous Job Center did precisely that for almost two decades before the City Council, of which Bever was a part, decided to close it a couple years ago.

Bever wants to tighten up our municipal ordinances that cover solicitation and also tighten up the requirements for "clients" of the new Job Center - using the recently enacted rules implemented in the City of Orange.

I've read those ordinances and the rules for use of their Resource Center. It seems to me that they can create significant legal problems for our city if enacted. It's my understanding that they are currently being reviewed for legal challenges.

One thing is sure - at least one of our council members doesn't understand what Orange is doing. Wendy Leece - in a response to a question by the Daily Pilot editorial staff - indicated that Orange requires CITIZENSHIP for any workers hoping to register for work at their Resource Center. This is FALSE! Orange requires a valid ID and documentation verifying the applicant's authorization to work legally in this country - which DOES NOT require citizenship.

Sadly, this is so typical of her comprehension of issues that it's almost scary.

In an interesting sidebar, only she and Allan Mansoor responded to the question, with Bever, Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon choosing not to respond to the question for whatever reason. It doesn't surprise me that Leece and Mansoor responded. They've been practically inseparable since their "conjoined twins" campaign two years ago when they surfed the wave of brown bodies in Costa Mesa to victory.

As this issue moves forward let's keep our fingers crossed that Leece will study the subject a little more closely before making such blatantly inaccurate statements. Homework, after all, is part of the job.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Election, Predictability, Cows, Budgets, Heart and Gas Attacks

Well, in case you
hadn't noticed, yesterday there was an election in these parts. I say it that way because, according to the the final returns today by the Orange County Registrar of Voters, of the 1,566,951 registered voters in this county only 274,541 (17.5%) chose to exercise that precious opportunity and of those 172,525 (62.8%) chose to vote by mail. The remainder of you just blew off this election.

"So what?", you say. "The Presidential Primary was held months ago, so what's the big deal?"

Well, for one thing, this election gave you a chance to express your views on Propositions 98 an
d 99, which took separate stabs at what I've referred to in the past as the sledgehammer of eminent domain. According to recent news reports, it looks like Prop. 98 was crushed and Prop. 99 will probably carry. If you didn't vote I don't care what your opinion was on these measures. In Orange County it looks like Prop. 98 carried by a thin 3,000 vote margin, while Prop. 99 held a greater than 30,000 vote margin affirmatively.

If you didn't vote you missed the chance to have a say in which judges will be seated. If you didn't vote you missed the chance to be one of the 7,489 votes cast for Allan Mansoor for a seat o
n the Republican Central Committee. You Democrats should be giggling - and we Republicans should be shuddering - at the specter of Mansoor having a voice at the table deciding the future of the Orange County Republican Party. Who would have thought that he could ride this far on the backs of brown-skinned immigrants?

Last night's Costa Mesa City Council meeting was almost over before it began. About a third of the meeting was spent on p
roclamations and presentations - all well-deserved. They had to do a tap dance for a few minutes, stalling until the magic hour of 7:00 arrived so they could begin with public hearings. The whole thing lasted about 90 minutes.

As predicted, one local guy stood before the council and yapped about what a bad idea it would be to place one of the new red-light cameras at the intersection of Harbor and Baker. Appar
ently he makes several runs each day through that intersection - I wonder how many times he blows the light? - and thought it would be unsafe for there to be a red-light camera placed in that location. Well, my friend, what's good for the goose.... What a cry-baby! I was pleased to see that the council ignored him on that issue.

Curiously, in yet another example of him ignoring the recommendations of senior law enforce
ment staff, Mayor Pro Tem Mansoor voted against the motion to place the new cameras. I guess he might have been distracted about the election and the possibility of winning the seat on the Central Committee.

Or, maybe, he was worried about his future with the Orange County Sheriff's Department. News earlier in the day told us that the Board of Supervisors had just distilled the candidates for our new Sheriff down to two candidates - Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters and retired
Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Division Chief Sandra Hutchens. Both these candidates know that the situation with the Orange County Jails is a nightmare and needs prompt, decisive action. Mansoor and his brother have been growing mold in their jobs as jailers for several years. I suspect Mansoor is worried about actually having to go out into the field and, for the first time in his 14+ year career, actually be a law enforcement officer.


On the positive side, we found out that we will be having another cattle drive in conjunction with this year's Orange County Fair. The route was announced - it's the same one as last year.

Just a reminder, next week the City Council will hear the presentation of the new city budget at their study session on Tuesday, June 10th at 4:30 in Conference Room 1A. Public attendance and comment is invited. Later that week, on Thursday, June 12th at 6:00 a public budget workshop will be held in the same venue, but withou
t the attendance of the council. I've attended these presentations for the past several years - I've been among the two or three of us who did so. It's a great way to get some understanding about how "your" money is being managed. In years past the excellent city staff - they've got a whole trophy case full of awards for their budget presentations in past years - has patiently gone through their presentation and, because of the small size of the group, answered any and all questions. We really do have a chance to influence the budget process in this workshop - the final budget will be voted on during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 17th. Put the workshop on your calendar. I'll remind you again next week.


In case you don't subscribe to the Press Releases from the City of Costa Mesa, here's a link to one that just came in over the transom regarding the city's new Public Access Defibrillation Program. I won't re-state the information - it's clearly presented if read the release, HERE.


The Daily Pilot online is reporting this afternoon that the much-delayed demolition at El Camino Center in Mesa Del Mar was halted today when a demolition worker punctured a natural gas line. Several neighboring homes were evacuated for fear of an explosion. Geez, will we ever get that place leveled?! Check the Daily Pilot for updates.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Red-Light Cameras, Paranoia, Nosy Leece and a Female Sheriff (Maybe)

No doubt tonight's Costa Mesa City Council Meeting will provide us with some blog fodder. There appears to be nothing particularly earth-shattering on the agenda, but one never kno
ws what kind of controversial rabbit the members of the majority will pull out of their hats these days.

One item on the agenda is the vote to add red-light cameras a more Costa Mesa intersections. Although some think it smacks of "Big Brotherism", I'm for the red light cameras. As a society we seem to have gotten much too lax when it comes to driving intelligently, particularly during rush hours. Costa Mesa has some of the busiest intersections in our county. If the red-light cameras can rein in the inconsiderate among us, that serves u
s all well.


On that subj
ect, another Costa Mesa-based blogger doesn't think it's a good idea. Of course, these new lights being proposed are mainly in his end of town. One can logically assume that this fellow is among those inconsiderate jerks who regularly run red lights as he scampers from crime scene to crime scene in his "pressmobile". Snagging him a few times with a red-light camera would have the added advantage of bringing a smile to my face.

Speaking of him, which I don't do much any more, he seems to be going off the deep end these days. Several of his most recent posts reflect a man with a whole lot of paranoia going on. Now he complains of being stalked, for goodness sake! I assume he is feeling the pressure brought on by the challenge by another relatively new blogger, CMTRUTH, who takes none of his bullying and guff. Perhaps he'll be feeling better tonight when, as
is his practice, he sits on his "Perch of Pontification" back in the last row of the council chambers and awaits his sycophants to pass and offer homage to him while he waits, like a hawk atop a pole, to swoop down to the speaker's podium and attack whatever issue, person, council member is his victim du jour. One can only feel sad for this fella - who seems to be in early-onset dementia.

Speaking of older people - I can do that because I am one myself - it seems that councilwoman Wendy Leece continues to harass the staff of the Senior Center with her little nit pick in hand. Some have said that Leece
should just keep on nosing around the Senior Center, stirring up controversy where none exists. Horse Manure! That's not her job! Her job as the council liaison is to be just that - a liaison between the City Council and the Senior Center Board of Directors. They, the board, are the ones responsible for running the show at the Senior Center, NOT Ms. Leece. Her role is a NON-VOTING role. She seems unable to distinguish important issues from those brought up by one or two disgruntled patrons of the center. Rather than help things at the Senior Center, her actions have been the cause of much strife and that certainly doesn't serve the patrons well. My suggestion to Leece is to get a life, woman!

Finally, I noted today that the county Board of Supervisors has winnowed the candidates for Sheriff from nine to two, with Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters and retired Los Angeles Sheriff's Dep
artment Division Chief Sandra Hutchens left standing as the final two. Looks like Riggy's prognostication about Ralph Martin and Walters being the final two is only half-right - pretty good for Riggy. As I've said before, on paper and as a result of the interview process, Hutchens looked like the strongest candidate. Do I think a woman can fix the Orange County Sheriff's Department? Well, not ANY woman, but I think THIS woman can. Everything in her background demonstrates that she has the kind of intelligence and leadership that it will take to get the job done. I don't care about the "political correctness" of this situation - I want the best person for the job, male or female, period. Let's see what kind of cojones the Board of Supervisors have on this one...

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