Friday, September 12, 2008

Mansoor and The Three Amigos

In an amazing twist of irony, Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Allan Mansoor's commentary in the Daily Pilot on September 11, 2008, "Three candidates will continue changes", HERE, appears in the same edition as the article by Joseph Serna entitled, "Costa Mesa
loses appeal in Acosta case", HERE.


According to Serna, the Orange County Appellate Court upheld the lower courts decision to dismiss the criminal charges against Benito Acosta because the prosecutor from Jones & Mayer had not been sworn in as a public prosecutor - an oversight that turned out to be a major gaffe.

Acosta was charged with the crimes involved only after he filed a civil action against the city for the events that occurred January 3, 2006, when he was dragged bodily from the courtroom by members of the Costa Mesa Police Department after he protested then-Mayor Mansoor's decision to forbid his friends from standing to show their support for Acosta a
fter having given Minuteman Grand Pooba Jim Gilchrist permission to do that very thing earlier.

I'm not happy that the city had to spend precious resources on this whole Acosta affair - the civil trial is still pending - and lay the blame directly at the feet of Allan Mansoor for his decision to attempt to
cross-designate every Costa Mesa police officer as an immigration screener. That move turned this city upside down and pitted Mansoor's supporters, including Gilchrist and other outside agitators, against the Latino population - roughly one-third of our residents. It also made Mansoor the poster boy for the anti-immigrant movement in this country and even got him anointed as an honorary Minuteman by Gilchrist and his mob. That notoriety made Costa Mesa look to outsiders like a teeming cesspool of illegal immigrants - not the kind of image one expects the mayor of your city to project to others.

Today t
his is a very different city than it was just three years ago. Because of Mansoor and his ilk, Latinos in our community walk the streets of this city in fear. Today we have men riding to work being stopped by the CMPD for riding an unlicensed bicycle and, if unable to provide identification, are hauled off to the jail and screened by the ICE representative for deportation. Three years ago this kind of stop was unheard of.

Now Mansoor, in his commentary, touts his three buddies in the city council race, Jim Righeimer, Eric Bever and Gary Monahan, as men who will "continue the change". Just what we need - more anti-immigrant moves fostered by the radical right!

Righeimer - a smart and very politically connected fella - moved to Costa Mesa at the beginning of Mansoor's re-election campaign just over two years ago and was given a plum assignment on the Planning Commission by Mansoor after residing in our city for seven months as pure political payback for the support Righeime
r's buddy, Congressman Dana Rohrabacker, gave to Mansoor and Leece during their campaigns. Righeimer is Rohrabacker's campaign manager this year.

Mansoor stepped aside as mayor early so his buddy, Bever, could assume that high-profile position to facilitate his re-election campaign. During Bever's tenure he has demonstrated that he's not big enough for the job many times over, including some precarious dances with Brown Act violations.

Monahan, to his credit, headed off Mansoor's original immigration screening debacle, but later supported his moves that have gotten us into this fix now. He and the Latino demonstrators have gone toe-to-toe at Monahan's restaurant not too long ago. If his bored, lack-luster performance at the first candidate forum is any indication, Monahan is simply trying to shove his way back to the municipal trough. His responses at the forum were half-hearted at best and more than a few of them showed that he was focused on two-year-old issues, not the current problems the city faces.

In his commentary Mansoor goes on to denigrate councilwomen Katrina Foley and Linda Dixo
n - the two highest vote-getters in the election four years ago who the Mansoor-majority literally shoved aside on the dais by juggling the seating arrangement to put them completely out of the picture when issues are discussed. Dixon, of course, has chosen not to run again this year. Foley, though, is running to retain her seat and certainly poses a great threat to Mansoor's pals in this election.

Mansoor also chose to disparage candidates Bill Sneen and Lisa Reedy. Mansoor must think Sneen - a business leader with strong community service credentials who has been working hard since filing his papers to get up to speed on the important issues facing us all - presents a threat to the stranglehold he plans to impo
se on our municipal government by getting his three amigos elected to join him and Wendy Leece to form a de facto junta.

Similarly, he mis-characterizes the position Lisa Reedy holds on important issues. Reedy, president of the Mesa Del Mar homeowners association, has long been a community activist and has exceptional business and leadership skills. Again, these are threats to his favored troika on the ballot.

As the election season now swings into high gear you can expect Mansoor and his cronies to attempt to discredit any and all candidates by hook or crook - just as they did two years ago with Bruce Garlich and Mike Scheafer.

Each voter should ask themselves what Mansoor has to gain with his commentary. His term expires in two years, at which time his buddies in the OC GOP hierarchy may have big plans for him - something that might pry him out of his cushy job in the Orange County Jail.


If Mansoor and his pals are successful in achieving a 4 (or 5) person majority on t
he council they will have absolute control of the city. It won't be a council, it will be a junta. With four members in it's pocket will have a super-majority - the votes necessary to cast aside previously appointed commissioners, for example, and fill those slots with cronies.

The voters of our city deserve to have a city not controlled by the Orange County Republican Party, as will certainly be the case if any of Mansoor's pals are elected, much less all of them. The voters of this city owe it to themselves to make an informed choice when they step into the voting booth on November 4th.

I submitted a nearly identical commentary to the Daily Pilot the night I read Mansoor's, but I doubt it will see print. It's too long and too true...

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008


In case you didn't know, today is Patriot Day, not to be confused with Patriot's Day. You can read about it HERE.


On December 18, 2001 President George W. Bush,
following the passage (by a vote of 407-0) of a Joint Resolution of Congress that enacted Public Law 107-89 establishing September 11 each year as Patriot Day, issued the following proclamation calling on:

"(1) State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe Patriot Day with appropriate programs and activities;

(2) All departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States and interested organizations and individuals to display the flag of the United States at halfstaff on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001; and

(3) The people of the United States to observe a moment of silence on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001."

The complete text of the resolution can be found HERE.

"The United States loves life. We love death. That is the difference between us."
- Osama bin Laden

Last year I wrote a lengthy essay on this site, attempting to put September 11, 2001 and the War on Terror into perspective relative to other military actions in the history of our country. You can read it by sliding the cursor over to September, 2007 and, once there, scroll down to the entry dated September 10, 2001. I also began that essay with the same photograph and quotation from Osama bin Ladin

I think it's very important, especially in this election year, that we remember exactly why there are hundreds of thousands of young American men and women in harms way in the middle east today. I think it's important that we not lose sight of the issue at hand - that on September 11, 2001 - now 7 years ago today - nineteen terrorists hijacked four American airplanes and crashed them into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., slaughtering nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children. The fourth was headed for another target in Washington - perhaps the Capitol building or the White House - but was diverted when brave passengers attempted to take back the plane and it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

I thought it might help you remember by presenting a few photos of just a few of the nearly 3,000 people killed in those attacks. is maintaining a web site dedicated to the victims of September 11, 2001. There's a link to it over on the right and you can also reach it by clicking HERE. I've extracted a few photos from that site to help you remember. Please visit the site and look at those photos and read the tributes to the folks we lost that day.

Christine Lee Hanson was the youngest person to die in the September 11, 2001 attacks. She was two years old at the time and was vaporized, along with her parents, Peter Hanson and Sue Kim-Hanson, as United Flight 175 tore through the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

Andrew Abate and Vincent Abate were brothers who worked as bond traders at the firm of Cantor, Fitzgerald. They were two of more than 600 members of that firm that died in the terrorist attack while at work.

Barbara K. Olson, 45 at the time of her death, was a well-known television political commentator representing the conservative Republican point of view and the wife of Theodore B. Olson, Solicitor General of the United States. She was on the telephone with her husband as American Airlines Flight 77 dove into the Pentagon.

Jason Dahl was the 43 year old captain of United Airlines Flight 93, which was diverted by a heroic group of passengers who tried to re-take the plane before it could reach it's intended target in Washington, D.C. and crashed in a remote Pennsylvania pasture, killing all aboard.

Todd M. Beamer was a 32 year old account manager for Oracle Corporation when he boarded United Flight 93 that morning, headed for San Francisco. He was the young father of two children, with his third born in January, 2002. Beamer will forever be remembered for his heroic exhortation, "Let's Roll!" to his fellow passengers as they charged the cockpit in an attempt to retake the plane from the terrorists.


As you look at those photographs and read those snippets of the lives snuffed out on September 11, 2001, please take a moment of silence to reflect on why we cannot relax and let up our guard for a second. Those people didn't simply die in their sleep - they were either instantly incinerated, leaped to their death to escape the flames or were shredded and turned to dust as the towers imploded. To this day, identifiable body parts are still being found at the site of this horrific tragedy. Osama bin Ladin and his followers have dedicated themselves to destroy our country. The beheading of Nick Berg and the murder of Daniel Pearl demonstrate their resolve. Re-read that quote from him at the top of the page and think about the choices we face in November.

According to all credible reports, The Surge initiated by General David Petraeus is working. Headway is being made in Iraq, but Afghanistan continues to go from simmer to full boil and back again. For my part, I think it's very important to have a President of the United States who understands the horror of war - someone who understands fully that we fight wars to win. Now is not the time for a trainee in the White House - a man with no executive experience, nor any military experience, at all.

However you decide to vote, please understand that the very future of our country depends on the wisdom and experience of those we elect to lead it. Above all, remember those innocent men, women and children who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and those brave young Americans who have volunteered to protect this country by serving in the military. We, and they, deserve experienced leadership.


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Study Session Report

The much-anticipated City Council Study Session yesterday afternoon provided less in the way of new information and much more on the collective attitude of our residents.

The session, held at the Neighborhood Community Center in anticipation of a large turnout, began about ten minutes late. It was
necessary to await the arrival of council member Katrina Foley so there would be a quorum. Apparently Mayor Eric Bever and council member Linda Dixon had better things to do.

In any event, the agenda included 4 items. The first, a presentation by a representative of CalT
rans on the landscaping and maintenance of their rights-of-way, was a real snoozer and took 40 valuable minutes. Even Mayor Pro Tem Allan Mansoor, the presiding officer at this meeting in Bever's absence, was fighting off yawns.

The second item was the hot button - the presentation by LSA Associates and OCTA on the winnowing proces
s of the options for possible improvements on SR-55, the Costa Mesa Freeway - as it clogs our "downtown" area. By the time this presentation began at 5:25 approximately two-thirds of the 150 or so seats available had been filled, about 60 of which by residents. The remainder were occupied by reporters and staffers from the consultants, OCTA, CalTrans and the city.

I was pleas
ed to see so many of my Eastside neighbors in attendance. The fledgling Eastside Neighbors Group was represented by no fewer than 17 individuals, each of whom is concerned about the impact of the decision - or lack of a decision - will have on cut-through traffic in their neighborhoods.


Among the residents present were city council candidates Chris Bunyan, Chris McEvoy and Bill Sneen. Counting Foley, that made 4 of the 9 candidates in attendance. Nick Moss and Lisa Reedy were not in attenda
nce. Eric Bever's absence was particularly curious, since this issue is one of his campaign platform planks. None of the "Big 3" - Bever, Gary Monahan and Jim Righeimer - made it to the presentation. This is also very curious in Monahan's case, since this is the very issue that got him involved in city politics almost 15 years ago and, considering the location of his restaurant, he has a very real vested interest in how this planning goes.

In fairness, I must tell you that Riggy - fresh from hob-nobbing at the Republican National Conventio
n - eventually made it to the meeting, but not until after the presentation and discussion had ended and the discussion of the third item on the agenda, the Library Master Plan, was underway. He must not have cared about that subject, because he chattered non-stop in the back row through the entire presentation and discussion.


Back to the SR-55. If attendees had gone to the city web site and reviewed the P
owerPoint presentation ahead of time, as I did, they would have received very little new information. Basically, the choices have been distilled from the original 8 or 9 down to four. Those are:

1) No Bui
ld - Baseline - This choice would basically do nothing, leaving Newport Blvd. through downtown clogged like a plaque-filled carotid artery, although elements of Number 2 would be anticipated. Costs would be nearly 0.

2) Transportation Management Systems - This leaves everything as-is except the city would collaborate with OCTA and CalTrans to utilize advanced planning techniques - signal phasing, etc.- to smooth out the traffic flow. This does nothing to re-direct the traffic, it only massages the pig through the snake and might cost over $10 million.

3) Terminal Enhancement - This plays with both ends of the problem a
rea using fly-overs and similar traffic manipulation devices to tinker with the flow of traffic at both ends and could cost between $50-100 million.

4) Cut and Cover - This digs a trench down the middle of Newport Blvd. in which the through traffic would flow and puts a lid on it - a street on which the local traffic would matriculate to it's destination. This plan might cost more than $300 million.

5) Phase II options (1-4) may evolve into hybrids of more than one of them in the final planning. Costs are unknown.

Options discarded from
consideration were the following:

1) Bored Tunnel, which would cost too much and be a problem with ground water and utilities. The relatively short span of this project makes the use of the machine - 350 feet long - impractical;

2) Reversible Lanes, which were deemed to be inappropriate for this site;

3) One-Way Couplets, another concept unworkable here;

4) Parallel Routes, which are impractical because the options (Superior and Irvine) are too far from the congestion area.

During the discussion the moderators advised that the same presentation would be made to the Newport Beach City Council on September 23rd, then would be taken to the OCTA Highway Committee on t
he 29th and eventually be presented to the OCTA Board on October 10th.


City Manager Allan Roeder requested that the full study document be made available to the city and interested residents immediately, so they could have a chance to review the deta
il that made up the study. Katrina Foley requested that another workshop similar to those held earlier this year be conducted for residents to consider and comment on the remaining choices BEFORE any final decision is made by the OCTA Board. She also requested that this item be placed on the agenda for the October 7th City Council meeting, to provide the council a chance to consider the details of the report and interested residents to speak to this issue. She expressed much frustration with the slow pace of this process.

Once the discussion of the SR-55 was completed at 5:55 the room emptied like a flushed toilet.

A scant dozen or so residents remained to hear the discussion about the possibility of a Library Services Master Plan being funded. It was painfully obvious that way too few of Costa Mesa residents care, or even know, about
how deficient our city is in library space. It was clear during this discussion that Allan Mansoor was not interested in preparing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the creation of a Master Plan - which proponents were requesting for the next budget year - this far ahead. It's kind of a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" situation. Supporters want the RFP issued so they can get bids from consultants so they know how much to request in next year's budget, while Mansoor thinks we should wait until the next budget cycle before doing anything. This is typical of him - never think ahead or plan - just react to the moment.

Once that subject was flogged the remaining item - recommendations for Employee of the Month - took about 30 seconds. At that time the meeting was closed and the regularly scheduled meeting of the Redevelopment Agency was called to order. That entire meeting took 5 minutes, including the staff presentation which recommended tinkering with the formula for our First Time Buyers Program to make it more available to more people.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Reminder - SR-55 Freeway Extension Presentation on Tuesday

Just a brief reminder, neighbors, that the Costa Mesa City Council will hear a report from consultant LSA Associates and representatives of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) regarding the progress on the study of the possible extension of SR-55 from 19th Street to the Newport Beach city limits at their Study Session Tuesday, September 9 2008 (tomorrow).
Festivities begin at 4:30 p.m., with the presentation on SR-55 anticipated to commence at 5:00. If normal study session rules are followed, only 15 minutes TOTAL will be alloted for public comments on ANY agenda item, so the long-winded among us will be disappointed.


Following the OCTA presentation there will be a staff presentation on the proposed library near City Hall.


And, after all that - around 6:30 the council will morph into the Redevelopment Agency and conduct it's regularly scheduled meeting. Whew!