Friday, August 29, 2008

Welcome to Costa Mesa Politics

As we prep
are to celebrate this long holiday weekend, and with the campaign season now fully launched, just a word of counsel to the newbies on the campaign trail.... Watch Your Step!


This is uncharted territory for four of them, and it's full of potential stumbling blocks
, trip hazards, quicksand and other hazards. They will have to rein in that adrenalin and walk this path carefully lest they get snagged.

One of the candidates has already learned this lesson the hard way. He, gentleman that he is, made the mistake of answering a telephone call from a person with a very specific agenda. He paid the price when that guy used the telephone conversation to skew his words and discredit him. It was kind of like accepting a bite from that Biblical apple.


Interestingly, reports have it that another candidate - also a naive neophyte - almost succumbed to a similar ploy and, even more interestingly, from a member of the same family of snakes.

This is how it's going to go this year. Members of the improver-supported trio running for council will likely be the beneficiaries of dirty tricks as the campaign goes on. While they may not participate, some of their more rabid supporters - those unburdened by ethics - will attempt to influence public opinion by fabricating issues, distorting candidates statements and defaming those they don't support. We know this will happen because it's happened in the recent past.


So, new candidates, when you answer that evening telephone call from someone you don't know who is eager to "help" you, proceed with caution. If you misspeak, or even answer questions straight out that can be manipulated and distorted, you may pay the price. Even if you are clever enough to avoid those pitfalls, certain elements in this city will still attempt to make you seem like Lucifer to the voters.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Costa Mesa politics. Watch Your Step!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Target of the Day

It certainly didn't take long for the "improvers" to decide just which candidate represents a threat to the stranglehold they have on the City Council.


Tuesday Daily Pilot Columnist Steve Smith - with whom I've had more than my share of disagreements - published a comm
entary about the recent Candidate Forum in which he praised newcomer Bill Sneen.

Almost before the ink was dry and the newspaper hit our driveways in the wee hours, the Mesa North Mouth jumped into this issue with both rear cloven hooves. He issued his "#467" a several times today. In the first version he simply ridiculed Smith and Sneen. In the second version he added a snide Obama comment. In the third version - after a comment thread began to form on Smith's commentary - he made a little telephone call to Sneen, apparently to find out if he, Sneen, was a closet Return to Reasoner.

Now, Bill Sneen is a neophyte in Costa Mesa politics or he would have known better than to take that telephone call. Anyone who has been paying close attention t
he past few years knows that the Mesa North Mouth has only ulterior motives in this kind of a situation. He sees a man with strong credentials who poses a real threat to his chosen slate of Monahan, Bever and Righeimer and is looking for ways to discredit him. It was like opening the door to a rabid pit bull.


Sneen, gentleman that he is, apparently took the call on face value - big mistake - and paid the price in the form of yet another revised edition of good old #467, which further ridiculed hi
m. Sometimes you just have to get some lumps to learn in politics.... Bill Sneen has a big goose egg on his cranium now - a lump he won't soon forget... and this is just the beginning!

Oh, yes - that comment thread I mentioned above... Much of it was generated by the petite "improver", Judi Berry, the smart half of the Judi and Mike Berry duo that frequently speaks before the council. She went after Smith for his support of Sneen in her own little old Southern Belle way. What she conveniently forgot to mention to Smith's readers is that she is Eric Bever's campaign treasurer this year. So, in one venue you have the Mesa North Mouth, frothing all over himself trying to tear Sneen to shreds and in the other you have the Westside Pit Yorkie yapping away, also trying to discredit him.

I don't know yet whether Bill Sneen deserves one of my votes in November. I do know th
at he's a pretty smart fella who appears to be trying to go about this campaign the right way - taking the high road. He's making the rounds of folks who play an important role in how this city runs and trying to learn from those who have been there before him. How quickly he gets up to speed on the important issues that face our city now and in the future, and what kind of solutions he sees for them, will help me make up my mind.


One thing is very clear, though. The self-anointed "improvers" who hold this city firmly in their grip must really be worried about Bill Sneen. That fact, alone, is enough for me to give his candidacy serious consideration.

A word of warning to Sneen and all the other candidates running against the "improver" slate... I've learned from personal experience that dirty tricks are to be expected from this group. There are no "innocent" questions from this mob - they always have an agenda. As was the case two years ago, they will misrepresent the facts about their opponents and resort to flat out lies to achieve their goals. Perhaps one day I'll write about my experiences with them... it will make for fascinating reading.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

City Council Candidate Forum Viewing Schedule

The schedule for the re-play of the tape of the Costa Mesa City Council Candidate Forum held live on Thursday, August 21, 2008, has been released.

The forum, hosted and conducted by Mesa Verde Community, Inc., will be shown on Costa Mesa TV, Channel 24 on Time Warner Cable at the following days and times through the month of September. Any future scheduling of this event will depend on whether other forums are available for viewing:

Here's the schedule beginning today:

Mondays - 4:00 p.m.

Thursdays - 9:30 p.m.

Saturdays - 5:00 p.m.

Sundays - 10:00 a.m.

Additionally, the nearly two hour presentation will be available for viewing on streaming video on the Costa Mesa site. It should be up and available Tuesday HERE. Simply click on that word, then look for the Candidate Forum under both the "City Council" heading and "Special Events".



One of the things we can expect to see during the next few month is bending of the truth, fabricating "facts" and outright lies presented as the truth by candidates and their supporters in an attempt to discredit and disqualify opponents.

A perfect example is the entry published today in the CM Press, his # 466. The Mesa North Mouth, in an attempt to whip up more anti-immigrant frenzy, quotes a year-old Orange County Register article on FBI crime statistics, which itself uses data from 2005 and 2006. I'm sure this bozo would use more current statistics - if they met his needs. They don't, so he won't.

This is the same guy who gave you a "comprehensive" report on the candidate forum from last Thursday night, even though he left well before the forum had ended. He's never going to let facts get in the way of his opinions.

This is how it's going to be as this guy lobbies for your votes for his "slate" of candidates, Gary Monahan, Jim Righeimer and Eric Bever.

Separately, but on a similar issue, slide over to the link on the right side of this page and click on the CM TRUTH blog. The author has provided a very comical presentation using the Mesa North Mouth as a centerpiece.


Friday, August 22, 2008


Thursday night nearly 200 interested observers took the opportunity to see the nine Costa Mesa City Council hopefuls strut their stuff. No, they were not walking the runway at a strip club - they were lined up on the stage at the Neighborhood Community Center fielding questions from rookie moderator, former councilman Jay Humphrey.

The proceedings were cordial, with all the candidates acting almost like statesmen (and women). No cheap shots. No backhanded remarks. It was almost boring - almost.

I came away with some initial impressions of our candidates this year. First, the heavy-hitters - Foley, Bever, Monahan and Righeimer - provided the most thorough answers to the questions they handled. This was not unexpected. They all bring years of experience in municipal activities to the table. Because of the format chosen, not all candidates had the opportunity to answer all the questions.


Second, the newcomers, Nick Moss, Lisa Reedy, Bill Sneen, Chris McEvoy have a tough road ahead, as does 2006 candidate Chris Bunyan. Sneen has obviously done his homework on many important issues. Reedy demonstrated maturity when she decided to pass on a question she didn't know enough about. Bunyan appears to be willing to ride the Banning Ranch issue in this campaign, because he persistently found a way to fold the subject into questions where it was barely marginally relevant. Nick Moss showed up full of passion but unprepared to answer most of the questions. It's clear that he really doesn't have a grasp of how the city works.

The most pleasant surprise for me was the performance of high school teacher Chris McEvoy. Although he apologized at the beginning for a physical condition that affects his speech, I found it not to be a problem at all. He's going to run a bare-bones campaign, but was quite refreshing as he attempted respond to many of the questions. Following the forum he told me he's in this for the long haul and, if he doesn't get elected this time around he'll be back in 2010. I hope so.

Most of the candidates provided us with literature and some have prepared web sites which can be visited to review their qualifications and positions on important issues. I've decided, based on a suggestion by a loyal reader, to provide links to all candidate's web sites over on the right side of the page. A few of the sites are not yet operational, but I'll provide the links once they actually work. I'll provide the links through the election.

So, after the first week of the campaign season - and before some of the candidates are actually in campaign mode - here's my take on how they stack up:

Katrina Foley provided the best answers to most of the questions tossed her way. Clearly, she was the best prepared and was able to articulate her views the best.

Jim Righeimer, while only a resident of Costa Mesa for 25 months, showed strength on development-related issues. Of course, he should - that's his profession. When, in his wrap-up, he told the crowd that he planned to "live and die" in Costa Mesa I thought it was a little over the top. Personally, regardless what happens in November, I fully expect him to seek higher office when his buddies at the OC GOP decide it's his turn again.

Gary Monahan, as he certainly should, showed good knowledge of most, but not all, issues. I kept finding myself wondering why, after 12 years on the city council previously, is he back here again? Cynic that I am, I'm thinking that some issue that has percolated to the forefront - like the future of the 55 Freeway - may have prompted him to jump back into the fray to protect his business, which is located where the freeway currently ends. At one point he seemed determined to keep the open sore of illegal immigration festering in this campaign.

Eric Bever, despite his term on the council and on the Planning Commission before that, continues to demonstrate weakness, which he tries to cover up with ill-timed humor. And - in typical Bever fashion - in a response to a question about the possibility of a new library, he misrepresented the facts of the ownership of the land near City Hall that has been earmarked for the new library. Supporters of the library were fuming at that bit of misinformation following the forum. He won't get one of my votes this year.

Bill Sneen was the strongest of the second tier candidates. He's been making the rounds of city officials and staffers and former civic leaders since he filed his papers to run, trying to get up to speed on important issues. He's still got a lot of work to do, but his maturity and business leadership skills would certainly be welcome on the dais.

Lisa Reedy, with more than two decades of community activism behind her and solid business credentials, is just getting started in this race. She's willing to admit when she doesn't have an answer, but she's going to have to do some serious studying as the campaign moves forward if she hopes to be a factor in this race.

Chris Bunyan, if he expects to be taken seriously in this campaign, is going to have to broaden his platform. He will not be able to ride the Banning Ranch to victory - not with the slate of candidates he's facing this time around.

Chris McEvoy is a very refreshing change - a bright, young guy who has called Costa Mesa his home and who knows it's his town for the future. He likely won't spend much money on his campaign, so probably doesn't stand much of a chance when competing with the first four listed here. That being said, his presence in this campaign should help it from getting stale. I'm looking forward to watching him evolve...

Nick Moss, while young and passionate, really has no clue about how our municipality works and doesn't appear to have done much homework to find the answers. His responses were generally naive and, quite honestly, clueless. In my view, he should drop out of the race now.

Thanks to our good neighbors in Mesa Verde as represented by their homeowners association, Mesa Verde Community, Inc., for sponsoring and producing yet another fine forum. Thanks, also, to Jay Humphrey, for keeping the candidates focused and the agenda on schedule.

For those who couldn't attend, Costa Mesa TV was in the house, taping the proceedings for future viewing beginning early next week. The forum will also be available for viewing via streaming video on the city web site.

So, they're off and running. Now let's see who has the tenacity to make it around the first turn in this race. It will be very interesting to watch this race take shape as nine people compete for three seats. I fully expect Righeimer, Monahan and Bever to get the backing of well-heeled Orange County GOP officials and for them to put on a full-court press attacking Katrina Foley. I expect them to spend $100,000 each in that effort.... we'll see.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Time to Break This Game of Nine Ball!

OK, folks, one last reminder...

Tomorrow, Thursday, August 21st, the first Costa Mesa City Council Candidate Forum will be held at the Neighborhood Community Center at Lions Park. The event, hosted by our good neighbors of Mesa Verde Community, Inc., the Mesa Verde homeowners association, commences at 6:00 p.m. with an opportunity to meet and greet the candidates, followed promptly at 7:00 for the formal forum program. The moderator of the forum will be former council member Jay Humphrey, who still keeps his oar in the water on important civic issues.

This forum, which in years past has consistently been the best-attended, best-run and most enlightening, should be a worthwhile expenditure of a few hours of your time.

This year's field of candidates is very special and, in many ways, unique. There are three seats open this time around, those of Mayor Eric Bever and Councilwomen Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon. Dixon has decided not to run again, even though she is eligible for another four-year term. Bever and Foley will be fighting to retain their seats on the dais.

Joining them on the forum dais will be twelve-year councilman (and multi-term mayor) Gary Monahan; Planning Commissioner Jim Righeimer; Business executive Bill Sneen; Mesa del Mar homeowners association President Lisa Reedy; Hair salon owner Christopher Bunyan; Teacher Christopher McEvoy and Computer guy Nicholas Moss.

Of these, Sneen, Reedy, Moss and McEvoy are neophytes, having held no elective office that we know of. Bunyan ran previously in 2006 and finished last in that race.

Moss, McEvoy and Bunyan have apparently chosen not to provide a candidate's statement for the voter's pamphlet. It's hard to imagine anyone running a serious campaign choosing not to present their qualifications in the only document guaranteed to land in the hands of every voter.

Katrina Foley has served on the council since elected in 2004 and served with distinction on the Planning Commission prior to that, including a tour as Chair of the commission. She's a wife, mother of two sons, successful owner of a law firm and involved in so many community activities that it makes one's head swim just thinking about it. As a member of the minority on the dais with Dixon for the past four years, she continued to present positive initiatives even though many were guaranteed to fail for lack of support from the Bever/Mansoor/Leece majority.

A review of the candidate's ballot statements has proven to be interesting. For example, on Gary Monahan's statement he lists himself as "Father/Restaurant Owner", and goes on to list the name of his restaurant as, "Skosh Monahan's Family Steakhouse". When I visit the web site I find the name listed as "Skosh Monahan's Steakhouse and Irish Pub". I guess old Gary decided that the voters might get the wrong idea and not return him to yet another tour at the municipal trough if he listed himself as a pub owner. But, then, it's politics, where you're warned to believe very little of what you see and none of what you hear.

Similarly, Eric Bever's statement provides some interesting fiction, too. He tells us that he "initiated many continuing improvement projects." He begins with this statement: "Developing solutions for the SR-55 terminus and associated cut-through traffic." Well, that, of course, is hogwash. He and his buddy, Allan Mansoor, ginned up this issue so Bever would have at least one plank in his campaign platform. Nothing of consequence is going to come of this activity for a generation - if then.

He then takes credit for the Residential Remodeling Incentive Program (RIIP), which waved fees for home improvements and, he says, resulted in $35,000,000 in improvements since 2005. What he doesn't tell you is that it also resulted in a loss of revenue to the strapped city coffers of well over $1 million!

Then he takes credit for "plans to create a new 10 acre sports complex". This is also a bogus claim. He jumped the gun with a press release of a program initiated by officials in Newport Beach which has almost certainly made it more difficult for Costa Mesa to do business with our contiguous neighbor. There is an essential element of trust necessary between city officials - he violated that trust.

Bever then takes credit for the Westside overlay zones. What a crock! Those were the result of thousands of hours of hard work by several dozen residents, hammered out over nearly a decade by several city committees of which he played a tiny part! Again, truth is in short supply in a campaign.

Finally, he says he "increased residential street paving". Will someone please call me if they've seen our mayor out spreading asphalt lately?

One more thing... Bever lists several very recognizable people as those who endorse his campaign. Among them he lists past mayor "Hammet". I'm sure the honorable Jack Hammett would have preferred to have his name spelled correctly. Oh, yes... his web site link doesn't work, either.

Jim Righeimer presents us with a pretty generic Conservative statement, the cornerstone of which is his statement that he will "never raise your taxes". Riggy's statement is not a problem - his history is, though. He moved to Costa Mesa just 25 months ago and was, amazingly, appointed to the Planning Commission by Allan Mansoor a few months later in an obvious act of partisan political payback for the help Mansoor got from Dana Rohrabacher during the campaign two years ago. Riggy is Dana's buddy and is running his re-election campaign. In my opinion, Righeimer is just using Costa Mesa as a place-holder until a slot further up the Orange County GOP food chain opens up - maybe Van Tran's State Assembly slot, for example. He's a smart guy, but I'm just not comfortable with him using Costa Mesa as a temporary stopping point.

In his statement, Bill Sneen tells us he's a resident of Costa Mesa for more than 2 decades and a happy family man. He lists for us several organizations in which he has been active in our city since 1981. He also tells us about a career involving more than a quarter century of successful business leadership. His credentials are solid, but the competition is tough.

Lisa Reedy is a name familiar to many folks who have followed civic issues for the past couple decades. She is presently the President of the Mesa Del Mar homeowners association and has a long and diverse history of volunteerism in our city. She, too, is a successful businesswoman and would bring some much-needed maturity to the dais. Again, the competition is tough this time around.

This forum should be a very interesting event and will be the first time we, as voters, can calibrate the individual candidates and begin to form opinions about just which three of these nine will serve the interests of all Costa Mesa residents the best over the next four years. It will be a chance to sort truth from fabrications. See you there.

If you miss the forum, I'm told that the city will tape the proceedings for replay on Channel 24 on Time-Warner Cable. I suspect it will also be available for viewing on streaming video on the city web site. There's a link to it on the right side of this page.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Barking Dogs & Erasing Riggy's Shadow

Well, my friends, if you've got a neighbor who has a pooch that makes too much noise for you that problem is about to be solved. The Costa Mesa City Council, at it's meeting on Tuesday, August 19th, will have the second reading and probable adoption of a new "Barking Dog" ordinance - one
with real teeth in it. (Sorry, I just couldn't resist that one).

This subject has been under evaluation for months, ever since several residents complained about dogs in their neighborhoods that barked incessantly. At the time the County of Orange had just implemented an ordinance to address this kind of situation, so the council decided t
o ride it out for awhile, to see how the county ordinance worked out. I guess they are now satisfied that it works.

The new ordinance, which is modeled after the Orange County ordinance, defines what constitutes a "Barking Dog" and includes a fine schedule that is sure to get your attention. Depending on which alternative fine schedule the council chooses Tuesday evening, it will be possible for a police officer or animal control officer to levy a fine of $250 for the first offense and includes a sliding schedule up to over $400 for the sixth and subsequent offenses! Or, they might choose the alternative presentation, which starts at $100 for the first offense and jumps in two steps to $500! Yikes!! I guess the City Council has found a way to balance the budget after all!

The new ordinance adds language to Title 3 of the Costa Mesa Municipal Code by adding Section 3-8 to Chapter 1. The first part is reproduced here for your reading pleasure. I highlighted one section that may give you some apprehension, even if the remainder doesn't.

“Barking dog” means a dog that barks, bays, cries, howls or makes any noise audible beyond the boundaries of the property on which the dog is situated for an extended period of time to the disturbance of any person at any time of day or night, regardless of whether the dog is physically situated in or upon private property. Such extended period of time shall consist of incessant barking, baying, crying, howling or making of any noise for thirty (30) minutes or more in any twenty-four-hour period, or intermittent barking, baying, crying, howling or making any noise for sixty (60) minutes or more during any twenty-four-hour period. A dog shall not be deemed a "barking dog" for purposes of this article if, at any time the dog is barking, a person is trespassing or threatening to trespass upon private property in or upon which the dog is situated, or when the dog is being teased or provoked.

The remainder of the proposed ordinance can be viewed on the agenda for Tuesday's council meeting. Just click HERE, then select the agenda item for 8/19/08

Tuesday is your last chance to address this issue. If you have a noisy pooch, or if you have a grumpy neighbor who thinks you have a noisy pooch, perhaps you should let the council know how you feel on this issue. If you're concerned about this new ordinance you can communicate with the city council at
the following email address:


Before I forget, I recently received a telephone call from Jim Righeimer, wanting to set me straight on the "bankruptcy" issue.

In a blog entry recently I said, when referring to Righeimer, "Despite his recent pontifications about fiscal frugality, rumors of bankruptcy in his past continue to shadow him". That statement, as far as it went, was true... rumors of bankruptcy do continue to
shadow him.

Riggy clarified the issue, though, and following our conversation I dug deeper into this subject. It seems Riggy, like many developers in the disastrous 1980s, got into big financial trouble. However, instead of simply filing for bankruptcy and letting others carry the debt, Riggy sold off properties, including his home, to pay off every debt. It took him nine years. He feels the rumors were generated by folks unhappy with his sponsorship of Proposition 226, which would have given union members the right to decide whether they wanted any part of their dues to go to political activities.

I asked Riggy point blank if he had EVER filed for bankruptcy. His answer was an emphatic NO! Unless some skeleton comes flying out of a closet to re-kindle this issue, I'm satisfied with his explanation and will no longer mention it.

This doesn't mean I agree with his ideas for balancing our budget, though. Tapping the emergency reserve, as he has recently suggested, is a truly bad idea and I'm disappointed that he and Allan Mansoor even consider doing it.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008


Well, it's official now... According to the City Clerk, late-comer Chris McEvoy returned his paperwork just before the deadline yesterday and, barring a rejection by the Registrar of Voters for insufficient qualified signatures on his petition, he's now in the mix, joining the eight other qualified candidates for Costa Mesa City Council.

Not much is known about McEvoy, and it may stay that way since he has apparently chosen to not provide a candidate statement for the voter pamphlet. That seems like a peculiar tactic for a virtual unknown, but it does cost money to place the statement.

So, here are your candidates for Costa Mesa City Council:

Eric Bever - Incumbent mayor, former planning commissioner, long time self-professed "improver", buddy of Allan Mansoor and - if you watch him in action on the dais - a frustrated stand-up comedian. He used to advertise himself as a graphic artist, but now we're told he's dabbles in antiques.

Katrina Foley - Incumbent council member, former planning commissioner, including a tour as chair of that commission. She's a lawyer, a mother of two boys, wife of Casey Swanson and full of good ideas and boundless energy.

Gary Monahan - Former 3-term councilman, multiple terms as mayor and the only council member to qualify for a pension. Pub owner, father of 6 kids, he's looking to return to the public trough. Last year he tried to get the issue of a directly elected mayor placed before the voters, apparently hoping to fill the slot as "mayor for life".

Jim (Riggy) Righeimer - Currently a planning commissioner and recent columnist for the Daily Pilot. He's a big time activist with the OC GOP, campaign manager for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's re-election campaign and defeated state Assembly candidate. He moved to Costa Mesa from Fountain Valley just two years ago and, miraculously, just a few months later found himself installed on the Planning Commission by Allan Mansoor - who had received much help in his re-election campaign from the above-mentioned Rohrabacher. This was pure partisan political payback. Riggy has demonstrated a lack of patience, frequently flailing applicants before the commission and having to be reined in by Chair Donn Hall. Costa Mesa is just a stop along the way for Riggy, who obviously has plans for higher office. Despite his recent pontifications about fiscal frugality, rumors of bankruptcy in his past continue to shadow him. He and Mansoor both recently suggested tapping the city's emergency reserve to pay our bills - a truly irresponsible idea.

Lisa Reedy - Currently President of the Mesa Del Mar homeowners association, she's a long-time community activist. She works as a strategist for a local pet products company and has a diverse business background. She is an articulate speaker and always seems prepared when she speaks before the City Council.

William Sneen - An executive for a food products company, Sneen has a track record of success in business. Father of two boys, both of whom have excelled in the Newport-Mesa schools and are Eagle scouts, he's the husband of former School Board Trustee Linda Sneen. His business acumen and experience with school issues should be an asset as a council member.

Christopher Bunyan - Operates a hair salon in town and is a published author. Ran in 2006, finishing last. Has become active in civic affairs by participating on city committees. His recent focus seems to be saving the Banning Ranch from development - to the extent that he underwrote a recent workshop on that subject.

Nicholas Moss - Who the heck knows about this man? He's young, works in the computer business and ???

Christopher McEvoy
- Again, who is this guy? A Google search indicates that he might be an athlete of sorts, but doesn't turn up much else.

Let's hope all nine candidates show up next Thursday so we can get to know them, hear what they have to say on important issues.


On a personal note, thanks to all of you who took the time to help me mark my birthday today. In years past I would bounce out of bed, ready to spring into action. Lately it's more like stumbling out and checking to make sure all essential body parts are still attached and functioning!

Two years ago, on a REALLY BIG milestone day, I celebrated surrounded by several dozen friends and family members. Those folks, and others who couldn't make it to the celebration, are what make my life so special and fulfilling. As time passes and those folks begin to leave us it becomes increasingly important to acknowledge those you care about. So, to all of you who take the time to comment here - whether you agree with me or not - thanks! You're participation keep the juices flowing.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kent Treptow's "City of Lost Children"

Photo courtesy of Kent Treptow

Shifting gears from the simmering political stuff for just a little bit, I want to draw your attention to the absolutely wonderful series presented in our local newspaper of record, the Daily Pilot, by photojournalist Kent Treptow.

Kent made a couple trips to Mongolia a few months ago and returned with a wonderful, yet painful, story entitled "City of Lost Children", which provides a poignant account of children he encountered who live in manholes below the city streets of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital city.

You can find this very moving story HERE. Once there, bookmark it for easy return to the site - you'll be glad you did. Please take some time to read the text and view the narrated slide shows. Doing so will change your lives.

The next time one of your kids complains about being asked to take the trash out, or whines about not having enough cell minutes to fully participate in the texting confab being conducted by their friends, plunk them down in front of your computer, click on the link to this story and tell them to view Kent's slide shows.

Congratulations to Kent Treptow on an outstanding piece of photojournalism, and to the editors of the Daily Pilot for publishing it. It is rare, indeed, to find such an outstanding piece of work in any community newspaper, but the readers of the Daily Pilot have come to expect such excellence. Let's hope they continue to raise the bar despite the turmoil swirling around them in the post-acquisition chaos created by Sam Zell and his mindless mercenary minions.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Late Added Starter!

Well, now, this is interesting. I understand that another person has pulled papers to run for a seat on the City Council in November!

Yep, someone named Christopher McEvoy pulled papers this week and, in order to qualify to be placed on the ballot, must get the required 20 (or more) valid signatures and get all the completed paperwor
k back to the City Clerk by Wednesday at 5:00.


I guess that means we might be back to nine people competing for the three seats available. I told you this was going to be fun.


We've already had Allan Mansoor and Wendy Leece chime in with their preferences and - no surprise here - The Mouth from Mesa North has regaled us with his choices, too. Funny, but they coincide exactly with those of Mansoor and Leece. Hmmmm.... And, of course, it's interesting that they made their choices known before the filing period had closed.



A reminder, in light of the previous confusion about the time and date of the first candidate forum... The first one will be hosted by Mesa Verde Community, Inc., the Mesa Verde homeowners association, and will be held on Thursday, August 21st at the Neighborhood Community Center at Lions Park across from the library. There will be a meet and greet event beginning at 6:00 p.m. and the formal program will commence at 7:00 and is expected to run for a couple hours. Mark your calendars, because this is usually the best of the forum series.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Mansoor and Leece Jump the Gun - Name Choices

This morning, in their online version, HERE, the Daily Pilot reports that Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Allan Mansoor and his campaign barnacle two years ago, council woman Wendy Leece, have announced their choices for the three
contested seats in the November election.


To no one's surprise, they didn't choose Katrina Foley as one of their favorites. They did choose Mayor Eric Bever, former Mayor Gary Monahan and the carpet-bagger, Jim Righeimer.

Of even greater interest is the fact that they chose to make this announcement before the filing period has officially closed. Because Linda Dixon chose to "leave her seat open" ( a very unfortunate bit of headline writing on the part of the Daily Pilot), the filing deadline was extended until Wednesday at 5 p.m. It is still quite possible for other interest
ed parties to pull papers, acquire the required signatures, fill out the forms and return them.

It was a given that Mansoor and Leece
support Bever for re-election. Mansoor stepped aside so Bever could become mayor during this re-election year, providing him with a more visible platform from which to display his limited stand-up routine.

I'm also not surprised that they will support Monahan's quest for yet another turn at the trough. In the last couple ye
ars of his last and hopefully final term he shifted gears and joined Mansoor and Bever to form an unsavory majority. Gary has demonstrated more than once that he's in it for himself first, most recently when he proposed that the city directly elect the position of mayor. We assume he saw himself akin to Idi Amin Dada - Mayor For Life. Re-electing Monahan would not be in the best interests of the people of Costa Mesa although it would certainly enhance his pension and benefit package. You will recall that he's the only council member to ever qualify for a pension.


And then there's Riggy... This one was a slam dunk for Mansoor and Leece. Two years ago Congressman Dana Rhorabacher and OC GOP honcho Scott Baugh provided tons of support for Mansoor's candidacy and he dragged Leece along for the ride. She ran virtually no stand-alone campaign of her own. Mansoor began the payback process when he appointed Righeimer - who had lived in Costa Mesa only a few months - to the Planning Commission, rejecting long-ti
me "improver" foot soldier Paul Bunney three times. Supporting Righeimer - Rhorabacher's re-election campaign chairman, by the way - for a council seat is just more payback for the support that got them into office.

Electing Bever, Monahan and Righeimer to the council along with incumbents Mansoor and Leece would be disastrous for our city. There would be no divergent viewpoints on the dais - no way to keep them honest. I firm
ly believe that, before Mansoor and Leece's terms expire in 2010, we would see eminent domain imposed to grease the skids of redevelopment on the Westside, despite the fact that Mansoor has adamantly proclaimed he was against it many times. No, an absolute majority of "improvers" would turn our city into one governed by a virtual junta and guided, at least in part, by the ravings of a White Supremacist cave-dweller from the north part of town.

On that happy note, I will remind you that the first of what is expected to be several candidate forums is scheduled to occur next week. Mesa Verde Community, Inc., the Mesa Verde Homeowner's Association, will again host what has historically been the first and best of the forums on Thursday, August 21st at the Neighborhood Community Center at Lions Park near the library. The event begins at 6:00 with a brief "meet and greet" opportunity, with the formal program beginning at 7:00. This will be your first chance to meet with the candidates and to see them as they present their platforms for your consideration. Unlike Mansoor and Leece, I'm eager to hear what ALL the candidates have to say before anointing any of them. As they say, be there or be square.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008


Jeff Gross/Getty Images


I don't know about you, but I was mesmerized by the opening ceremonies at the China Olympics Friday night. In my lifetime I've never seen such a display of precision as was demonstrated in the choreography of those events. I was particularly impressed by the 2008 drummers who, regardless the camera angle used, were in sync, on beat and simply magnificent. It seemed at times as though the sweat was falling from their brows in unison!


Those displays of excellence go
t me thinking about what is possible when you get people all pulling together toward a single goal. It's certainly something I'm going to be giving a lot of thought as we now launch into our campaign season. I'm going to be interested to observe the various candidates to see which ones, if any, come across as true consensus builders. There has been so much rancor on the dais for the past half-dozen years that electing persons who will work hard to provide solutions to the many issues we face that meet the needs of all our residents, not just a favored few, will be important to me. I'll write more about that later.


In the meantime, we'll all just hold our collective breath to see if anyone else comes out of the woodwork as a late added starter since the deadline has been extended a few days because Linda Dixon chose to leave the dais next year.

Several months ago I provided a link to La Femme Wonkita, a blog authored by former mayor Sandra Genis. Following a very moving initial posting, she's provided new entries only sporadically. However, over the past week or so she's returned with a vengeance. I encourage you to slide your cursor over to the right side of this page, scroll down to her link and take a peek.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Dixon Bails - Eight Ready to Rumble

From afar I contacted the Costa Mesa City Clerk's office shortly after the witching hour of 5:00 p.m. today - the time when all potential candidates were required to submit their nomination papers. As of that time, eight of the nine people who had pulled their papers earlier had returned them. Only Councilwoman (and former mayor) Linda Dixon failed to meet the deadline.

Because Dixon is an incumbent, her decision to not seek re-election this time around means that the filing date is extended until 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 13. She is not eligible for the extension. That means that there is still time for someone to pull papers, get the petition signatures required and return them by Wednesday. Considering the number of candidates currently on the ballot, I don't really expect to see any added starters this year, but you never know.

So, unless something is amiss with their papers, the candidates from which Costa Mesa voters will select three council members in November are, in no particular order, Katrina Foley, Eric Bever, Gary Monahan, Nicholas Moss, William Sneen, Lisa Reedy, Christopher Bunyan and Jim Righeimer.

This campaign season will probably be the most interesting in more than a decade, made particularly so because of the experience available for the voters to assess. Bever and Monahan have been mayors of the city, with Monahan serving 12 years on the council and the only council member in the city's history who is eligible for a pension. Foley has served with distinction for nearly four years after a stellar tour on the Planning Commission. Moss, Sneen and Reedy are newcomers and Righeimer is a seasoned politician and an integral part of the Orange County GOP hierarchy. Yes, this is going to be fun.

This will give you something to chew on over the weekend. More next week.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Mouth Fights Back - Kinda

This morning, as is my practice, I scanned the various blogs, trying to see what pearls of wisdom they might be casting before us swine. Seldom am I disappointed, because at least a couple of them have timely, topical issues for us to consider.

As I clicked on the CM Press, the blog authored by a person referred to here variously as "Your Nei
ghbor", "Mr. U. Know-Who" (His name for himself) and, yesterday, "The Mesa North Mouth", I noted that his entry, #448, published at 9:00 this morning is a long one. Since he's such a superior writer, I settled in to see how much goo he managed to squeeze out of his Mensa-mind for us this morning. I've linked it HERE so you can do the same.

As I read through his piece I found myself continually thinking how fascinating it was that he provided us with an amazingly candid bit of self-analysis. I mean, the kind of self-assessment he was laying on us usually comes from years of therapy, for goodness sake. Only as we near the end of his piece, which described him to a "T", are we told that he thought he was describing someone else! Me, maybe? Excuse me while I
continue chuckling...


You will recall in my previous entry that I commented that this guy goes on full attack when folks t
ake umbrage with his views. Well, it took less than 12 hours for that little bit of prediction to come true. Thanks to The Mouth for proving me right once again. He's so darn predictable...

Oh, yes, I find myself wondering why this guy - who portrays himself as some kind of a crusading reporter, out to fight crime in our city - has failed to mention the big sweep that snatched up WHITE biker gang members in Costa Mesa yesterday. Maybe it's the same reason he failed to mention the county-wide sweep of White Supremacists that snatched up 20 miscreants in Costa Mesa alone a couple years ago. I think he needs to crawl back into his cave, re-tune his police scanner and adjust his rabbit ear antenna so it picks up something other than purported Latino crimes in our city. What a hypocrite!

Uh-oh, do you think he'll be unhappy with this entry? How long will it take him to strike back? I'm betting he just tacks another comment on his current entry instead of generating a whole, new numbered post... let's see...

As of noon on Thursday only one candidate, Bill Sneen, has returned his nomination papers to the City Clerk. There are still 8 potential candidates out there with those
petitions and papers clutched in their little hands, waiting to return them. The deadline is close of business Friday - tomorrow - unless one of the incumbents decides not to run after all, then it's extended five days. The clock is ticking!

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"The Mouth" Chimes In On Riggy

Well, it didn't take long for Your Neighbor, The Mesa North Mouth, to sign in on the fact that old Riggy - carpetbagging Planning Commissioner, Jim Righeimer - has pulled papers to run for Costa Mesa City Council. Nope, that yapping hyena jumped right in with a posting on his blog outlining just how effective his "improvers" have been in getting marginally qualified candidates elected to the council over the past decade.

Yes, he tells us that Chris Steel - arguably the least competent elected official in Costa Mesa history - was their first "accomplishment". To me, that's a lot like taking credit for the plague. What he neglects to mention is that, once Steel realized that he was being manipulated by him, he turned his back on The Mouth. To Steel's credit, his greatest accomplishment while in office may have been rejecting the influence of The Mouth. It cost him re-election (if we're to believe previous gloats by The Mouth) and may have, in fact, put his personal well-being in jeopardy if you believe the rumors floating around.

The Mouth continues to take credit for Mansoor (twice), Bever and Leece. Now, there's a proud legacy if I ever saw one! In Mansoor you have a career babysitter/jailer who can't cut it as a real cop and who became a pawn of the radical right and a tool of the OC GOP. With Bever you have a guy who never met a Brown Act violation he couldn't make and obviously still aspires to a career as a stand-up comedian when his illustrious career in politics comes to an end - hopefully in November. And then there's Wendy Leece, who rode Mansoor's coattails to victory two years ago and, apparently unable to find worthwhile work to do, made it her goal to persecute the seniors in our city. What a team!

It looks to me as though The Mouth is not all that happy about Riggy deciding to take the plunge this time around. Obviously, Riggy has a different set of masters in the form of the OC GOP hierarchy, including his buddy Dana Rohrabacher (for whom he acts as campaign manager), and Scott Baugh - the current kingmaker in the OC GOP. No, The Mouth certainly will not be able to call the shots as far as Riggy is concerned.

Old Riggy is a "get-it-done" kind of guy - long on action, short on patience. In that regard, he's similar to The Mouth. I get the feeling that, if Riggy's elected, you'd better not blink or "things" will happen - things you may not wish to have happening. One thing is certain, he's got more brain power, business acumen and real political moxey than those other three combined.

It's very amusing that The Mouth sees a threat to his influence on the council in the presence of Jim Righeimer. As those of know who have been, and continue to be, the subject of his wrath, he's not a guy who takes rejection easily. Those who read his blog regularly know that recently he's been frustrated by his inability to identify the author of the CM Truth blog. He continues to try to flush him out, I assume to be able to attack him directly as he does with me several times each week. Expect to see him go on the attack if he perceives a threat to his plans. In the meantime, I'll just keep chuckling at his frustrated, feeble attempts to chide and belittle those of us who disagree with him.


In an earlier post I mentioned former Los Angeles Times and Daily Pilot staffer Bill Lobdell's new blog, postulating that it will be interesting to watch. Well, boy, was I right! Slide over to the link on the right and click on it. It's been up for less than a week and it's smokin'!

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Riggy And Bunyan Make It Nine!

In this
wonderful game of musical chairs we play every two years, Planning Commissioner Jim Righeimer and businessman Chris Bunyan today tossed their hats into the Costa Mesa City Council race this fall, to make it a nice, uneven 9 candidates for the three seats available. This might change if some folks who pulled papers earlier fail to return them by Friday. And, of course, there's still time for more candidates to surface. Until then, we now have three times the number of fannies than seats available.

The way it stands right now, incumbent council members Katrina Foley, Linda Dixon and Eric Bever have pulled papers, along with former three-term council member Gary Monahan, who will look like an incumbent to many voters because of his previous long, long, long tenure on the council. That gives us three current or former mayors in the mix.


Additionally, newcomers Lisa Reedy, William Sneen and Nicholas Moss will be joined by 2006 also-ran Chris Bunyan and Righeimer (if you can actually count him as a "newcomer" with a straight face) in the race for a seat at the big table in November.


It's assumed that the new candidates understood that Foley, Dixon, Bever and Monahan were running, but I find myself wondering if Righeimer's presence will cause any of the newcomers to reconsider their candidacy. His high-level connections in the Orange County GOP will certainly make him anything but a run-of-the-mill newcomer. He's a seasoned politician, has access to lots of potential big donors and is a pretty smart guy. I suspect there's no chance of him entering the race unless he seriously thinks he can win one of the seats available. A loss in this race might make his viability for future higher office suspect.

With Riggy in the mix now, along with Foley, Dixon, Bever and Monahan, it seems to me that there simply are not going to be many votes left for the new folks. All of these experienced campaigners have solid name recognition, a record of accomplishment (whether you agree with it or not) have access to big campaign bucks and know how to run a campaign. Of these five, Bever is probably the least proficient campaigner... After spending around $50,000, he edged out Bruce Garlich by a mere 44 votes when they ran in 2004.

In fact, this may be another of those campaigns where the incumbent mayor gets knocked off - just as Allan Mansoor did to Linda Dixon not too long ago. So formidable is this field that it's entirely possible that Bever could be left without a place to sit when the music stops in November.

So, friends, Friday we will know if all these fine folks will actually stay in the race. If any of the incumbents fail to return their papers by that date the filing period extends into next week for any non-incumbent candidates to make their decisions. Then the door slams shut and the games begin.


The first candidate forum will occur around the 20th of August. I've heard conflicting dates, so I'll get back to you on the actual time and date - which is when all the fun begins.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Demise of Print Journalism

Those of us living here in sunny, shaky Southern California have been living with a fairly new phenomena - watching the print media around which many of our lives revolve disintegrate before our very eyes.

The entire industry is undergoing a cataclysmic shift, and not for the better. Electronic media, including blogs, have replaced the inky print media as the choice of many - especially younger - readers when they are actually looking for real news.

Here in Orange County we find the Orange County Register undergoing significant cutbacks as that fine, old newspaper struggles like most others to make a profit these days. It's a serious issue.

Of even greater concern to me is what's happening to the Los Angeles Times and it's subsidiary local newspapers in the Times Community Newspapers group, including our very own Daily Pilot. The Times is part of the Tribune Companies, which was purchased by Sam Zell last year. True to form, Zell and his minions are systematically going about some cosmetic trimming of the component assets before trying to unload the pieces for more than the sum of the total. It's a business model that has worked elsewhere in the past, but it's going to fail this time around.

Zell, whose name rhymes with a place he's very likely to end up if you believe current and former Times staffers, tried to sweet-talk staff members in the early stages of his purge. It didn't take long, however, for his ham-handed cutting to take off. The Times newsroom - editors and reporters - is attempting to operate with half the staff it had a year ago!

I wrote in a recent entry about the departure last week of Daily Pilot publisher and General Manager, Tom Johnson. He walked away from a job he'd held for 15 years, 17 if you count a couple years as Associate Publisher. He was the heart and soul of the Daily Pilot and the six other newspapers he managed. His absence has left the remaining staff reeling.

I was recently directed to a brand new blog by former Los Angeles Times newsman Bill Lobdell, who also was the editor of the Daily Pilot for many years. In his initial entry on the blog - "Lobdell's OC", HERE, he provides insight into the Los Angeles Times situation with the perspective only an insider can bring. I've also linked to Lobdell's blog over on the right side of this page, because I suspect his body of work is going to be "interesting", to say the least.

I agonize for my friends at the Daily Pilot and hope the slashing of staff will stop soon. Through all the turmoil that has been swirling around for many months they have continued to soldier on, trying to provide the best news coverage possible. In most cases, they have succeeded.


In my opinion, we need a strong, vibrant print news media, supplemented by innovative electronic siblings. If the print media just fades away we will be left with blogs like this as your source of news - a truly bad idea! Let's hope someone reads Lobdell's blog and decides that his ideas have merit - and moves forward to salvage what's left of the Times and others before they are gone for good.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Jeff Overley on Banning Ranch in OC Register

Jeff Overley, an
Orange County Register beat reporter for the Newport-Mesa, had a good article on Banning Ranch in that newspaper today. You can read it HERE. He did a good job of covering the positions of the opposing sides regarding the use of that 412 acre oil field and open space.
Overley, usually a thorough and accurate reporter, did drop the ball on this one, though. Except for a solitary mention of the location of the meeting hosted by activists who oppose development of Banning Ranch, no other mention was made of Costa Mesa or it's stake in this issue.
No mention was made of the fact that half the residents at this "Costa Mesa" kick-off were from Newport Beach. No mention was made of the fact that, with the exception of Newport Beach City Councilman Keith Curry (who's running for re-election this year), no other city official or staffer from either Costa Mesa or Newport Beach was present at the meeting.


Yes, the fight for the future of Banning Ranch is being waged by environmentalists who want to preserve it and the developers who want to put 1375 homes and retail operations on the site. However, the cities of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa are also adversaries on this issue.


Presently, the Banning Ranch is an unincorporated part of Orange County. But, the city of Newport Beach has tossed a one-foot wide noose around the land, which makes it all fall under it's sphere of influence. Costa Mesa, on the other hand, would certainly be the recipient of many of the negative elements of development - specifically, traffic on 19th Street, 17th Street and, possibly, 16th Street. Overley made no mention of this point in his article, which really does a disservice to the residents of Costa Mesa. He did mention an additional 14,000 daily auto trips that would be generated by the development, but doesn't mention that Costa Mesa would be expected to carry the bulk of that burden.

It's clear that the fall elections in both Costa Mesa and Newport Beach will include the future of Banning Ranch as a campaign issue. Residents of both cities would do well to measure the views of candidates in their cities on this issue as the season moves on toward November.