Saturday, May 03, 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, May 02, 2008

"Terror in the Latino Barrio"

Thursday evening nearly 100 people and representatives of a local Spanish language television station attended a presentation at Orange Coast College by Dr. Humberto Caspa, a professor at UCI and former Daily Pilot columnist, as he spoke about his new book, "Terror in the Latino Barrio: The Rise of the New Right in Local Government".

Photo courtesy of Daily Pilot

The book, which I acquired following Dr. Caspa's presentation, is his account of the past couple of tumultuous years in Costa Mesa and the events and players he feels are responsible for the turmoil. He focuses on the events that led to an ICE agent being assigned to the Costa Mesa jail - the players and events that have created great unease within the nearly 37,000 member of Costa Mesa's Latino community.


I skimmed the book when I got home and will give it a more detailed reading over the weekend. Based on my cursory scan, I'd say he came pretty close to the mark when he describes people and events over the past decade or more in our city. He covered the so-called "improver movement" and some of the major players in that group. I'm sure of one thing - more than a few folks around town are going to be very uneasy if they read his work.

In a nutshell, Caspa targets "right-wing politicians" and identifies one specific person in our city as the nucleus of the anti-Latino sentiment that has been pervasive most of this decade. I didn't see that person, a local blogger of ill repute, in the audience, but one of his offspring stayed throughout the presentation and the Q&A session that followed - sitting in exactly the same location that his father sits in during City Council meetings.... must be in the genes.

The guy in question has taken umbrage with the coverage of Caspa's book provided prior to the event by the Orange County Register's Yvette Cabrera. Ever the gracious guy, his most recent blog entry makes no bones about how he feels about her interpretation of the book - and her writing skills. He even discusses personal family matters in her life. He also, today, is critical of the administration at Orange Coast College for permitting Caspa to make a presentation about his book.

So, kudos to Dr. Caspa for his brave effort. I suspect this may not be the last we hear of his book. As I make my way through it I'll provide more feedback.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More Questions About The New Guys

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

BREAKING NEWS!- Irish Eyes Are Smilin'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, April 28, 2008

Latinos Score - Critics Muzzled

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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