Thursday, February 21, 2008

Head Lice Ain't Nice & A Green Quandary

The news today brings us some interesting issues that made me smile.

First, my Google Alert system spit an article out this morning that caught my eye and made me chuckle. Having been called a nitpicker more than once in my lifetime, I thought I'd better read on. The headline reads:

Head Lice Removal Salon Opens in Orange County, CA Offering Free Head Lice Treatments One Day Only

With the dateline Costa Mesa, CA, February 21, 2008, the article tells us that Lice Control - described as "a leading head lice removal company and clinical salon" will open their second salon on Harbor Blvd. in Costa Mesa. You can read the entire article HERE.

I guess those self-anointed "improvers" are right - Costa Mesa is a "lousy" city. Now they have a chance to fix it and get their first treatment free! I nominate Your Neighbor to be first in line.

While you're scratching your head about that one, here's another:

Then, in keeping with the current movement in our city to Build Green, an article in the Orange County Register today seemed to be quite appropriate. The dateline is Sunnyvale, CA. The headline reads:

Neighbors wage legal fight over trees shading solar panels

It seems that Mark Vargas, a resident of Santa Clara, installed a batch of solar panels on the roof of his home. Unfortunately, trees owned by adjacent neighbors Richard Treanor and his wife, Carolyn Bissett, cast shadows on the panels. So, after six years of legal wrangling, the court ordered Treanor to cut down two of their eight redwood trees, basing the decision on what is described as an "obscure state law that protects a homeowner's right to sunlight".

According to Treanor, the Solar Shade Control Act means that homeowners can "suddenly become a criminal the day a tree grows big enough to shade a solar panel".

According to the article in question, the law requires homeowners to keep their trees or shrubs from shading more than 10 percent of a neighbor's solar panels between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun is strongest. Existing trees that cast shadows when the panels are installed are exempt, but new growth is subject to the law."

This law has the potential to make for some very strained relationships between neighbors and is certainly something to consider as Costa Mesa sprints down that Green Road.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Your Neighbor's Songbook of Intolerance

Costa Mesa resident, prolific writer and gadfly M.H. Millard - a man who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor - provided us with a view into his mind with his recent Mailbag contribution. ("Fix holes in city structure, not holes in the road," Feb. 20). You can read his comments HERE

Millard begins by cautiously praising the current council majority, Eric Bever, Allan Mansoor and Wendy Leece, for their efforts, then proceeds to criticize them for not doing enough to implement "structural change" in the city. He then provides them with a blueprint for that change, including reduction of industrial zoning, primarily on the Westside, removal of what he calls "barracks-style apartments", also predominantly on the Westside. He also suggests a change in the owner vs. renter ratio in Costa Mesa, which currently has 60% renter occupied housing and bemoans his perception that Costa Mesa looks more like Santa Ana than Newport Beach - literally.

Millard's message, as usual, is directed specifically at the one-third of our residents of Latino ancestry - and I don't mean only those here illegally. For nearly a decade he has been leading the charge to dislocate and cause discomfort to the Latinos among us. In addition to those subjects in his current column, the closure of the Job Center, his attacks on the charities on the Westside and his attempt to have the Orange Coast College Swap Meet shut down are among the many attempts he's tried to orchestrate to expunge the Latinos from our midst. His ideas of "change" in our city are anchored in changing the "complexion" of our residents - fewer brown faces, more white ones.

He has been trying to institutionalize intolerance in our city since the late 1990s, providing the song book for "improver" elected leaders and chiding them from the speaker's podium when they don't toe his line. It's clear that most are listening to him because they echo his comments from the dais frequently.

There may be no better example of the pervasiveness of this institutionalized intolerance than the comments uttered by former mayor, and current mayor pro tem, Allan Mansoor at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 19th.

Following the brief presentation by a representative of the Orange County Human Relations Commission - a group that tracks hate crimes and provides tolerance training throughout the county - which reported to the council recent activities in our city, Mansoor used part of his "council member comments" time to state categorically that he wasn't interested in hearing any further reports from the Commission. Apparently inflamed by unsubstantiated critical comments directed at the Commission by one Costa Mesa resident, he seemed angry that "some council member" invited them to speak. He wasn't any happier when told by the City Manager that, as a matter of practice, the Commission speaks before all city councils each year to report on instances of hate crimes in each city. Mansoor said that he won't support further reports to the city by the Commission, which tells me he is either ambivalent about hate crimes in our city or, even worse, supports them.

As distasteful as Mansoor's statement was, this is no surprise, since he led the move to unceremoniously disband the Costa Mesa Human Relations Committee not too long ago, ending nearly two decades of work done to mediate conflicts between factions in our city.

For nearly a decade M. H. Millard has been the source of racially intolerant views in this city. He is an articulate, persuasive speaker who rants before the city council and other official government bodies frequently. His local web log is widely read by many elected and appointed officials.

Millard has become an influential person in our city, a fact recognized by the Daily Pilot which has named him one of its 103 most influential persons two years running. He has been an insidious activist, wheedling his way onto important committees - like the 3R Committee, where he used his influence to attempt to de-fund charities on the Westside. In 2006, when his activities on that committee became widely known, he resigned under a cloud - apparently not wanting to hamper Mansoor's re-election campaign.

Millard's prolific writings on far-right wing web sites have been embraced by such notorious racists as David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan, who publishes and praises Millard's work on his own web site. The New Nation News web site archives hundreds of his repugnant essays written over the past decade. Millard has been tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a purveyor of hate for a decade - ever since one of his essays bemoaning the dilution of the American populace through racial interbreeding, creating what Millard referred to as "Tan Everyman", was widely denounced. I've read many of his essays - they make you want to puke.

I wonder how many of the residents of this city are comfortable knowing their elected leaders not only follow the drumbeat of intolerance as practiced by M. H. Millard, but seem eager to actually institutionalize the practice in our city. It's as though they've become willing pawns in Millard's plan to recreate our city into someplace found in the deep south during the middle of the last century, when intolerance was a way of life. What a sad commentary this is about our city - that we would elect leaders so easily led by the intolerant among us.

Remember when your parents used to caution you about hanging around with "the wrong people"? They were concerned that those "wrong people" would lead you astray and get you into trouble. Someone should be warning our elected leaders similarly.

One can only hope that most voters will see through the veil of Millard's rhetoric, understand the underlying motives and repudiate them. One way to demonstrate this repudiation is at the ballot box next November.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mansoor's Self-adoration And Deception

Our young jailer/former mayor, Allan Mansoor, scratched out an opinion piece for the Daily Pilot which was entitled "Improvers living up to namesake" and was published in print on Sunday, February 17th. It can be read in all it's glowing entirety HERE. After I finished reading it I feared for Mansoor's well-being. I mean, how is it possible to pat one's self on the back like that without getting at least a cramp or pulled muscle?

As you read it you'll see that Mansoor is obviously setting up Eric Bever's candidacy for re-election in November. Such obvious political posturing is laughable.


No one can deny that some good things have happened during Mansoor's tenure on the City Council. Much of that would have happened if he wasn't there - like the improvement of many of our major thoroughfares, for example. He does go to great lengths to quantify the "accomplishments" of his cadre of buddies - the self-anointed "improvers". And, it appears that he's coined Bever's new campaign slogan, "Action taken, results delivered". I suspect that in the summer we will see signs all over town in stunning red, white and blue bearing Bever's name and that little bit of political tripe.

Mansoor attempts to explain the genesis of the "improver movement" by telling us that, "
..there is no organized group with some type of official membership." Hogwash! Like much of what he has tried to tell the residents in this city over the years he's been an active politician, it's untrue. There have, in fact, been many official groups attempting to "improve" the city - mainly the Westside - well before he became a politician. These dated back into the late 1980s, when the Wallace Area Improvement Group was formed. In the late 1990s the Westside Improvement Association was formed, which included many current familiar names - Mike and Judi Berry, Christian and Kathleen Eric, Eleanor Egan, Paul Bunney and our very own mayor, Eric Bever.

Very shortly thereafter Janice Davidson split from the group - apparently in a disagreement about it's direction - and formed Citizens for the Improvement of Costa Mesa. As part of that activity the Concerned Costa Mesa Citizens website was created, on which many activists vented about ways to improve the city, including Allan Mansoor. He, in fact, precipitated the demise of that web site when he posted an anti-homosexual entry he ripped from Focus on the Family. That got the folks from the Orange County Human Relations Commission snooping around. The site quickly shut down and the participants scurried back under their respective rocks.

One of the most prolific posters on that site will be a name familiar to most who read these entries. He's the fellow in town, who doesn't live on the Westside, by the way, that has his own blog and has recently referred to himself as "Mr. U. Know-Who". I refer to him as "Your Neighbor". While the site was still active I logged on and had a chance to read many of the archived 6,000 posts. Some were boring, but many - especially those by Your Neighbor - were enlightening and provocative. It was my encounter with those posts that got me curious about his other writings and subsequently discovered his closet full of racist rants as published on many far, far right-wing sites throughout the World Wide Web.

Other organizations have also existed with the avowed intent to "improve" our city. Among them are the Latino Advisory Committee the Latino Business Council, Latino Business Network, the Coalition of Auto Repair and Service Professionals and Bob Graham's 19th To The Beach group. And this doesn't count the official, city-sponsored groups - CRAC and WROC.

If you wish to review some entries from the Daily Pilot archives that address the activities of these various groups you can find articles and letters to the editor HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.


So, Mansoor continues to deceive the populace - there were plenty of identifiable, organized groups with membership lists and agendas in place that have, in fact, formed the nucleus of the so-called "improver movement".

With few exceptions, under the guise of making our city "better", the thrust of the "improvement movement" has been to harass and displace nearly a third of our population - the Latinos. The closure of the Job Center, the disbanding of the city's Human Relations Committee, the attempts to defund and dislodge charities on the Westside, the failed attempt to close down the Orange Coast College Swap Meet and the pervasive drumbeat of criticism of the impact the Latinos are having on our school system are clear examples of this Latinophobic attempt to "improve" the "look" of our city.

And, of course, the music and lyrics for this little opera have been written by Your Neighbor. This council majority and many other "improvers" echo his writings and comments with regularity, including in Mansoor's commentary.

Yes, many good things have been accomplished in this city during Mansoor's tenure, but most of those were unanimous votes by all the council members - not just the "improvers" among them. We're going to see this kind of shameless political posturing from now until November as the "improvers" try to perpetuate their stranglehold on the city and their relentless move to "de-latinize" Costa Mesa - ironically, a city with a Latino name. Maybe we should just rename the city "Nobrownsville" and be done with it.

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