Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mensinger On The Attack!

Last weekend a friend forwarded to me an email apparently sent by rookie Planning Commissioner Stephen Mensinger - an "Open letter to Council Members and Community Leaders" - in which Mensinger ripped Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece and the city staff for thei
r presentation at a recent council study session regarding a proposed tax on fireworks sales to fund the enforcement of our laws regarding illegal fireworks use in our city. Mensinger's epistle was nearly 700 words long and included the staff report from the study session - another 1800 words. The Daily Pilot will carry an edited version - just under 500 words - of Mensinger's rant in print tomorrow, the 18th. Here's the link to the online version.

Costa Mesa is one of only 5 of the nearly three dozen cities in Orange County that still permits the sale and discharge of so-called "safe and sane" fireworks. Each year for the past half dozen there has been public outcry against the sale of such fireworks, which in every case was overwhelmed by the response from the youth group leadership who benefit financially from the sale of fireworks. Many youth and school groups - primarily sports teams - receive much, if not all, of their annual funding from such sales.

Personally, I'm against fireworks - except those that are part of a professionally
-produced fireworks show. I think the "safe and sane" fireworks are neither and their sale and use in our city only encourages and camouflages the use of much more dangerous illegal fireworks. I acknowledge that I'm in the minority on this subject, including in my own neighborhood. That's OK. And, it's not really the purpose of this entry.


Mensinger's email amounts to a threat against Leece and any other person who opposes the sale of fireworks in our city. His sophomoric message - someone should introduce him to his spell checker - is full of invective, innuendo and just plain dumb statements.

For example, at the end of his second paragraph he says, " However, I oppose the use of smoke and mirrors to mas
k what does not exist." What?! How does one mask something that does not exist?

In his next paragraph he says, "For many years, Costa Mesa has str
uggled to find ways to keep our youth involved in our own city's youth sports organizations. Why? Well, simply put, our council spent more time on traffic timing and trip fees than they did on developing ways to attract and keep families in our City. Here we are again focusing energy on an issue that divides and is largely minority driven." What?! Minority driven? Do we have a little latent bias on display here? And, he's wrong! In recent years the City Council, staff and residents have worked tirelessly to develop more playing fields and youth sports venues, such as the Volcom Skate Park, adding lights to The Farm Sports Complex, Jim Scott Stadium and the new fields adjacent to the Fairview Developmental Center. The city recently spent a pile of money to acquire a school site adjacent to Brentwood Park and has plans to expand that neighborhood park. That sounds pretty darn family-friendly to me!


He goes on to say, "At the direction
of our staff, I watched with disbelief as Police and Fire put forth expenditures that were patently phony, simply to justify a tax. Candidly, I was ashamed!" Oh, really? Ashamed of what? Were you ashamed of the public safety organizations? Are you saying they were lying? It sure sounds like it. That's an interesting tactic - accusing those men and women sworn to protect and serve us of being liars.

He continued, "Under the logic presented in the recent study session, we will soon see restaurants and bars taxed for the cost of St Patrick's Day police overtime to identify and arrest people who choose to drink too much. When Fire claimed that having overtime with an additional fire truck saved a trash can fire from growing out of control, my contempt was complete. I can only conclude that those that serve us believe we are ignorant." Well, maybe not all of us, Steve, but they may have you pegged.


He goes on to say, "I will not only vehemently oppose any efforts to penalize those that use legal fireworks, I will organize and lead the effort to oppose
and remove elected and appointed officials who support these kinds of misuse of power." OK, Steve, we got it. You're PO'd at Leece and are sending a message to her that you'll oppose her re-election in 2010 if she doesn't shut up about fireworks. Could you be any more of a thug?


In his last two paragraphs Mensinger, apparently so filled with rage that he either cannot think clearly and/or type accurately, says, "I am reaching out to those like Council Person
Leece to put forth energy in solving the real issues in our community that affect all of us the other 364 days a year. For starters lets balance our budget and cut the waste. Then I would suggest focussing staff on our roads, infastrucuture and those issues that attract new families to our great City." So, Steve, are you saying that our public safety staff should just ignore violations on that 365th day? Should they just "phone it in" on July 4th?

He then closes with, "I believe the faithful day that an elected decided to once again address the wrong issue illistrates the need to choose our leaders more carefully in the future." And then signs it, "Respectly, Stephen Mensinger"


The point of my entry today is not fireworks, although I don't support them. The issue is Mensinger. As reported earlier, he has begun to demonstrate a tendency to bully people and this email is just the most recent example of that characteristic. In my opinion, bullies have no place in a position of power in our city, like the Planning Commission. I do agree with him, though, when he opines that there is a need to select our leaders more carefully. That certainly applies to those appointees, as well.


I think Steve Mensinger is a loose cannon. If he remains on the Planning Commission he will create difficult situations for our city. Now that he's gotten a little taste of the power he has on the dais it looks as though he really likes it. He has a history of abuse of power, HERE, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if his behavior leads the city into yet another legal quagmire down the road. In my opinion, he should be asked to step down from the Planning Commission and, if he refuses, the City Council should remove him.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great " blog " Geoff, The council woman and Mensinger have gota' go. I'm not going to say more because I am so fed up with these type of problems that keep comming up in both Costa Mesa and Newport. I hope our citizens read your detailed reports that are accurate and informative.

3/18/2009 06:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geoff, just a polite reminder that many Costa Mesans who have no involvement in youth sports also passionately defend our fireworks tradition.

Mr. Mensinger is entitled to his opinion, and I applaud the Daily Pilot for printing his letter. I happen to agree with him on that a fireworks tax is a terrible idea. I have also spent hours on the 4th watching illegal fireworks go off everywhere, with NO police or fire response, and I live right off 17th Street.

As I have stated previously, it is highly beneficial to the community at large to have our elected and appointed representatives express themselves publicly on municipal issues. Doing so provides a very valuable insight into their thought processes and personal priorities.

3/18/2009 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Hi Geoff,

This blog entry is a blatant case of Bruce Baiting if I ever saw one! :)

That you and I are on opposite sides of the fireworks debate is old news.

The new news is the plan to tax children in Costa Mesa. What makes this all the more delicious is the fact that Leece and Mansoor are so dead set against increasing the TOT.

So, let's be careful not to tax out of town visitors and businesses, but let's stick it to the kids.

Yep, that makes sense!


3/18/2009 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rob, I know that we are on different sides of the fireworks issue, but that's not the point of this post. I've expressed myself, and provided a platform for you and other to express yourselves, on the fireworks issue in the past and I might decide to jump in again this year. Mensinger is certainly entitled to express his views in public and private, as is any resident of this country. You don't have to be a citizen to be protected by the free speech provisions of the Constitution. The point of this entry is his aggressiveness to the point of bullying Leece and this pattern of behavior that will almost certainly cause problems for the city as he "expresses" himself as a planning commissioner.

3/18/2009 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bruce, see above... :-) :-)

3/18/2009 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I hear you - I was just pointing out that not only the youth sports lobby defends fireworks. And, I know that you weren't objecting to Mr. Mensinger voicing his opinion - just how he did so and what he said.

All of the concerns you have with his letter and message are probably shared by others in teh community. I am simply saying that his candor and willingness to stray from a canned PC script is good for the community (even if one chooses to agree or disagree). Anytime someone in politics or government lays it out for all to see, it is a good thing!

Whether the community is paying attention is another matter.

3/18/2009 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

He does strike me as a bit of bully, but I like his passion on an issue that resonates with a lot of people. I'm pro-fireworks (legal ones, that is), and live around the corner from where the 'trash can fire' mentioned was last 4th (as does Mensinger). But I think Mr. Krochman really hit the nail on the head - let's tax kids instead of out of town visitors with the TOT (majority of which is probably paid by corporations that are paying for hotel stays for employees on business travel - who even looks at the TOT tax when booking a vacation?).

But fireworks in CM have been a way of life for me for most of my 40+ years here, and I would hate to see them go, especially since the athletic programs that my young children will be entering in the coming years are supported by their sale.

3/18/2009 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

OK, folks, go ahead and make this a discussion of fireworks if you wish. I'm not going to re-state my views on that in this comment thread.

I, too, admire passion on issues - we need more people who feel that passion to step up and speak out.

I DO understand the passion of those of you who don't want to lose safe and sane fireworks. In addition to yourselves, I've had other very smart, passionate folks flog me mercilessly on the subject. That's OK.

3/18/2009 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

"Mensinger is president and chief operations officer of Arnel Management Co., one of Southern California's largest apartment owners. The company is owned by Argyros, an Orange County developer..." states the link you posted. EGAD, how in the world did such a person get appointed to the Costa Mesa Planning Commission. I see blatant conflict of interest here!

And, this creep had the gall to call the stewardess a "dumb blond" on top of his taking her picture with his cell phone and ranting about getting her fired. Not only is he a creep--he's a male chauvinist bully! Did Mensinger get called on the carpet for his assinine behavior? And now he has Wendy Leece (for him, another dumb blond?) in his sights.

3/20/2009 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Flo, he's now the President of a division of SunCal Companies, which is in deep financial trouble based on recent reports. Yes, he spent many years working at Arnel. By the way, his pal, Jim Righeimer, is President of another SunCal division...

3/20/2009 10:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephen Mensinger and Steve Mensinger are one in the same?

3/21/2009 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

kilch, yep...

3/21/2009 10:59:00 PM  

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