Friday, July 10, 2009

Roeder Discusses Budget On City Talk

The Costa Mesa Municipal Budget is a beast that just won't go away this year. For months - actually, the best part of the past dozen months - the city staff, guided by City Manager Allan Roe
der, Finance Director Marc Puckett and his strong right-hand man, Budget and Research Officer Bobby Young - have worked diligently to find ways to trim expenditures in light of declining revenues.

Unlike most years in the recent past, this year the budget is a real work in progress. The staff presented the City Council with a balanced budget which was then pounded with a meat cleaver by Gary Monahan, resulting in unnecessary significant reductions in youth recreation programs. Some of those were restored in a subsequent council meeting thanks to the efforts of Katrina Foley and Wendy Leece.


The major elements of balancing this budget -
the cooperation by the employee unions and the assumed, but not confirmed, participation in an enhanced early retirement plan that probably won't come to fruition until the last quarter of this calendar year - are still pending. Foley recently announced that she thinks the city and the unions are very close to agreements.... we'll see.


There has been much confusion about the budget this year - probably because more people are aware of it, but have not taken the time to educate thems
elves about it. Believe me, I understand the problem.


However, res
idents may now take advantage of an excellent presentation by Roeder on Channel 24 and streaming video on the internet with his half-hour conversation with moderator Dane Bora. They recently sat in front of the City Hall and talked about many of the elements of this year's budget in terms that are easy to comprehend.

Here is the Channel 24 replay schedule for the City Talk segment - unfortunately numbered 666 for those of us with a Biblical orientation. I strongly believe that the residents of this city will get a much clearer picture of our curre
nt budget dilemma, and Roeder's perception of how we deal with it, by investing thirty minutes of their time to watch this show. As you can see, it's available every day of this month except the 22nd right through and including August 1st. I wouldn't be surprised if they extend it into the August schedule further.


As I said earlier, this is also available for viewing via streaming video on the city web site. I have a link to it over to the right of this page.

Additionally, the entire budget proposal is also available for download on the city web site. Puckett, Young and the staff do an excellent job of presenting this information - their efforts have resulted in an entire bookcase full of plaq
ues and trophies for excellence in budget presentation.


Take some time, watch this presentation and voice your opinion to your elected leaders. This game is far, far from over.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Some Things Just Don't Change...

With all the hoopla surrounding the Independence Day holiday and the budget issues swirling around, I neglected to mark the anniversary of this blog. Yep, 4 years ago today - July 9, 2005 - I launched this blog as a place to vent my spleen unedited. Today, with hundreds of posts, thousands of words and two blog hosts under my belt, I wish I had figured a way to get paid for each word. Yikes! $$$$$

As I do from time to time, I revisited my archives - you can do so, too, by clicking on the link on the right side of the page - to revisit issues. Sometimes things have changed, but most o
f the time they have not.

For example, a couple weeks after launching the blog I wrote the following entry bemoaning the demise of the Costa Mesa Human Relations Committee. Most of the players on the council then are the same today, except Wendy Leece has replaced Linda Dixon. I think you might find this entry of interest:


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Human Relations Committee - R.I.P
Well, the deed is done. As predicted, the Human Relations Committee is history.

When, during the council meeting July 19th, Mayor Mansoor used as part of his smokescreen for disbanding the committee the fact that no council member had volunteered to be the liaison to the group, up jumped
councilwoman Linda Dixon, who called his bluff. She volunteered not only to be the liaison, but to use her discretionary budget to fund the committee's activities if the council was reluctant to restore the funding it cut in June.

There was no stopping the male majority on the council, though. After councilwoman Dixon made a motion to not disband the Human Relation
s Committee and for the council to restore funding in the amount of $4,000 per year - a motion that was seconded by councilwoman Foley - Mansoor made a substitute motion to disband the committee. That motion passed, 3-2, with Foley and Dixon voting no.

So, after almost two decades of serving this city, the Human Relations Committee is gone. The Mansoor-led council, in the same callous style they used when they de-funded the committee in June without any advance notice to the members, cut this group loose without any kind of acknowledgment of their service - no "Thank You", no nothing. It was like they were trying to shake dog poop off their shoe.

This is just another example of where this council, under Mansoor's leadership, is taking this city. It loo
ks like they are intent on extracting from government any element that does not involve fixing potholes or public safety. It seems to me that they are methodically draining the heart out of this town. Don't be surprised if we next see a full-on attack on other, in their view, questionable functions - the Recreation Division, for example. They have already shown their attitude about that organization by chopping $100,000 from it's budget last spring.


As you can see, some things just never change. At that time I predicted an attack on the Recreat
ion Division and now, four years down stream, that's exactly what we've seen over the past month.


Some will recall that Allan Mansoor was a member of the Human Relations Co
mmittee before being elected to the city council. He was also the prime mover to first de-fund it, then disband it four years ago. Before his election, and while he was on the committee, he was a lightning rod for controversy when he posted an anti-gay entry on the the Concerned Costa Mesa Citizen's web site. That entry, and a few others by people with strong right-wing leanings - including The Mouth From Mesa North - provoked such a controversy that the Lolita Harper - then a crack reporter for the Daily Pilot - did a three-part series on the web site and the Orange County Human Relations Commission got interested and began monitoring the site. Very shortly thereafter the operators of the site shut it down and the most egregious posters on it scurried back under their rocks.


However, many of those associated with that site, including The Mouth, continue to be active in C
osta Mesa politics. Some of them were self-anointed Westside "improvers" - folks who have spent much of the last decade trying to "improve" that part of town. In many cases that "improvement" meant trying to make life miserable for the Latinos who live there although they represent the predominant ethnic demographic group in that part of town. By some estimates the Latinos represent 65% of the population of the Westside.


Several groups - city-sponsored and otherwise - were formed to address the concerns of the "improvers". They had various names - CRAC, WROC, etc. - but the efforts culminated in several "plans" to modify the zoning of segments of the Westside. One common element in each of them was that it would become much easier to facilitate a demographic change by implementing them. Had the economy not gone south it's very likely that we would have had developers standing in line to snap up some industrial land and turn it into residential enclaves.


So, I guess my message here is that the drumbeat of "improvement" continues throughout our city. Unfortunately, the definition of that word for the most part means "get rid of the Latinos". It pains me to see such overt attempts to cause discomfort to those in our community with brown skins. It really pains me to realize that the leader of the band in that movement, The Mouth From Mesa North, is an internationally infamous racist - a man whose essays have become rallying points for the radical right in this country. He's a favorite of David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan, for example. It's a very sad commentary on our city that so many of our elected leaders march to his tune - very sad, indeed.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009


We've been back for a couple days after the Independence Day holiday last weekend, have tossed a few logs under the old Cauldron and will be back up to full boil soon. In the meantime...


My anonymous amigo over at the presently-dormant CM TRUTH Blog is currently renovati
ng his site, but has asked to post something as a "guest poster" here on A Bubbling Cauldron.

For some perspective, the CM TRUTH Blog has been a source of facts about graffiti and gangs in our community and region since it's inception. It has provided credible information and photos to help us understand the real meaning of graffiti we see around town. It has been a very welcome counterpoint to the rants, raves, half-truths and spin generated at the CM Press. Although the CM TRUTH has been an excellent resource, the author promises a "new and improved" version soon.

That being said, the following is his submission. For clarity-sake I've highlighted his quotes from the CM Press in red and the remainder of CM Truth's text in blue. Please feel free to post comments to this post if you choose.



"The CM PRESS is getting reports from folks on the Westside about more Latino gang graffiti in the area."

There has been no increase of gang related graffiti on the West Side. There has been a few examples primarily from VFK and a couple from PVL. The most active gang graffiti wise in Costa Mesa at the moment is VFM in the Mesa North and most of that has been done primarily by one individual.

"And, at the City Council meeting this week, a Councilmember spoke about the "graffiti problem. With all due respect to the Councilmember, Costa Mesa does not have a graffiti problem. It has a Latino gang problem."

There are consistently more acts of vandalism attributed to graffiti and taggers, than that of gang related incidents period. This is in no way an attempt to down play Costa Mesa's gangs or perceived problem, they do that themselves. The majority of the "trouble makers" are in jail and have been for some time. This being done despite an inept council on dealing with gangs and can be attributed to a fine Gang Unit with an understanding of the who, what and why's. We as residents of Costa Mesa should be thankful our Gang Unit has been able to accomplish so much despite councils blatant disregard for the CMPD's recommendations thus far.

"We do not live in a Disneyesque world where inanimate objects have personalities and intelligence. No, the forks and spoons in your kitchen do not suddenly come alive at night and dance around the place. But, I digress. By not seeing the human element involved, successive City Councils have never ended the graffiti in this city. All the Councils have done is spend more tax money to rush out and cover up the graffiti which is usually replaced within a few hours."

It's simply foolish to think any city council can stop graffiti. Some on the other side like to rant and rave every chance they are given and look foolish in doing so since it shows just how out of touch they are with graffiti and graffiti writers. Neither Irvine or Newport Beach for that matter are graffiti free. Neither of those cities have Latino Gangs or a primarily Latino neighborhood, yet they both have graffiti and will continue to do so as they have for years and years. Irvine may not have a territorial Latino Gang but they do have gangs. Non Latino Gangs are not known for their graffiti styles where as Latino Gangs in Southern California have a unique style of graffiti that is recognized world wide and dates back many many years, in fact it dates back to before many of you were born. Why is this important? It's simple, many people like to ignore that fact and focus on Latino Gangs when talking about gangs in their city. The if you can't see it it must not exist notion. Originally traditional Latino gangs were started for protection purposes and marking their territory was a warning that their neighborhood was "protected". White gangs operate very differently and anyone who thinks or suggests Costa Mesa does not have white gang members who both live and commit crimes both petty and violent in Costa Mesa is sadly mistaken. County wide taggers account for the majority of graffiti offenses and one would be a fool to think only Latino youth paint graffiti or even primarily paint graffiti. As we have said before and will say it again, graffiti has no color lines and some of the top writers worldwide as well as many of it originators are white, and that goes for Orange County as well.

"Graffiti is the symptom. It is not the disease itself."

Considering most graffiti found in Costa Mesa is non gang related and committed by people of all ethnicities and monetary backgrounds the above statement is not even worth of comment.

"Rid this city of the gangs which, according to police reports, are almost exclusively Latino and which infest the slums on the Westside, Mesa North and Mesa del Mar and the graffiti will go away and our crime rate will drop."

Supposing Costa Mesa was to rid the city of gangs. According to CMPD gangs attribute for approximately 40% of the cities graffiti, are we to believe the other 60% would just vanish? This is nothing more than typical rhetoric from an ill-informed individual with ulterior motives.

"Just keep treating the symptoms and Costa Mesa will never be able to stop the graffiti or lower the extremely high violent crime rate in this city."

Again Costa Mesa will never stop the graffiti. Graffiti can at times be decreased but for writers, where there is a will there is a way and as one generation fades away another is there lying in wait to "get up". One of the most prolific vandals operating in Costa Mesa right now is a white individual not a Latino.

"As we've written many times, the way to proceed is as follows: 1. Have the CMPD prepare a scatter map (read, pin map) showing the locations where gang members live, where violent crimes occur and where graffiti is found. We believe the map will show just a few well defined areas where the problems originate. We also believe that these well defined areas will have rows and rows of barracks style apartment buildings that are functionally obsolete." There are many spots in Costa Mesa that are continually hit with graffiti far more frequently than any of the neighborhoods some would like you to believe. Over the last several months Shalimar Street has for the most part been graffiti free with a few exceptions here and there and 90% of those exceptions were non gang related examples. "2. Then, concentrate on thinning out the slum apartment buildings in those areas and in ensuring that the apartments that remain are not overcrowded. And, at the same time, step up policing in those areas. Thinning out the slum apartment buildings will give us long term relief, while the stepped up policing will give us some short term help with violent crime and graffiti."

We still are not sure why violent crime and graffiti are being lumped together when referencing Costa Mesa. If any graffiti in Costa Mesa has the potential to spark a violent offense it would be the work of the so called "graffiti vigilante" who obviously has a problem with graffiti and chooses to combat it with graffiti.

"The mistake the City is now making, in addition to thinking that graffiti is the problem and not just a symptom, is in thinking it can make nice with gang members and give them activities and freebies and the problems will go away."

Mistake? The mistake is thinking only gang members paint graffiti. Anyone who truly thinks that kids do not benefit from activities and after school programs is a fool. There are neighborhoods in Santa Ana that during the early 1990's were so bad SAPD seldom went in unless they had a reason. Thanks largely to outreach programs the same can't be said for some of those neighborhoods today.

"The City also wrongly believes that the functionally obsolete apartment buildings can remain and will somehow magically turn into places that will attract upwardly mobile people. This is nonsense. The functionally obsolete apartment buildings need to be razed."

The above statement basically sums up the real reason for the rant. We all know who lives in these neighborhoods. What needs to be done is the landlords need to be held accountable for maintaining their property. If you actually talked to the residents of Shalimar as opposed to being afraid of them you might find they actually don't like living in the conditions their landlords provide them either. You may also want to ask them why they pay more than do many residents on the East Side in nicer complexes. Like all ministers of propaganda, preying on the weak minded individuals who buy into their snake oil rhetoric. The only thing that should be "razed" is the bigotry, hate and uneducated rants coming out of Mensa North especially regarding gangs and graffiti. It also should come as no shock that the man who likes the public to believe he is just a concerned citizen when it comes to violent crime Costa Mesa made no mention of the recent injury involved shooting that took place in Costa Mesa. Could it be due to the fact those arrested do not fit the criteria? Could it be they don't reside on the West Side but in a meth ridden area on the East Side?

The best part of all this:


Give us a break!

Those are our opinions. Thanks for reading them.


By the way, have you noted that councilman Eric Bever has asked for the Aztec Basketball issue to be reviewed at the next council meeting? Is it a coincidence that he makes this request at virtually the same time the racist blowhard at the CM Press posted two entries on that issue? I think not, particularly when some Bever's comments were virtually echoes of those published by the CM Press. It continues to be a distressing fact of life here in Costa Mesa that a man with such virulent racist views has such an impact on elected leaders and some of those they've appointed.

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Some Budget Cuts Restored, Just Not Enough

As expected, the Costa Mesa City Coun
cil meeting was worth the price of admission, even though one of the potentially most contentious issues - the proposed tougher solicitation ordinance - was continued until next month. I guess they may have realized that their plan had some major holes in it - like the lack of a Job Center, for example.

The proposal by Katrina Foley and Wendy Leece to restore previously chopped programs to the budget generated many comments from community members and rancorous dis
cussion between council members. Allan Mansoor set the tone for the evening's discussions when he launched into a tirade against Katrina Foley during council member comments for her behavior at the previous meeting nearly a month ago. He demanded an apology for being called "ignorant" by Foley at the last meeting. He didn't get one, and rightfully so. At that meeting he, Eric Bever and Gary Monahan displayed ignorance of family issues as they stubbornly voted in lock-step to chop family-oriented issues from the budget. I guess our young jailer/mayor (is he still a jailer?) has a heightened sensitivity to being called ignorant, for which I take some small degree of responsibility since I've reminded readers of his limited intellectual horsepower for several years. Since this was the first meeting which did not include the dinner part of the "dinner session", maybe Mansoor was just hungry. He really shouldn't miss any meals because his teeny brain needs all the nourishment it can get...

As anticipated, Monahan again played the martyr, acknowledging that he knows he will get "beat up" for defending his position of nit-picking the little issues on the budget because the city is "in trouble". Well, duh, Gary - we all know that. Why didn't you spend your time massaging the big-ticket items in the budget? Maybe w
e should be asking the unions for a 6% pay cut instead of 5. Maybe he should be giving up his family health care plan - that would save a couple staff jobs. Oh, no.. he simply must use our current budget crisis to further oppress the less fortunate among us - those folks with brown skins. Honestly, I don't know how he faces those folks at church on Sunday...

The council decided to go along with the recommendation by staff regarding the shopping cart issue. Monahan recommended the threshold for the requirements be raised to 15 carts from 10. It will take several months to get the details sorted out and the store owners informed. Eventually, this plan will save the city $48,000 that it pays to have abandoned carts scooped up and returned to the
proper stores. I wonder what it will cost us in goodwill with the stores in town, and how any potential merchants will feel about locating here with this measure in place. Oh, yes - the section of the ordinance giving the "developer majority" on the Planning Commission final say was included - lord help us all!

The urgency ord
inance requested by the Police Department to delay approvals of new permits and licenses for massage parlors and therapists was approved. Chief Shawkey told the council that he will use the 45 day moratorium to work with the City Attorney to craft tighter regulations for such businesses to help head off those that might be fronts for prostitution.

Due to the efforts by Foley, Leece and others, the concerts in the park were restored. The Costa Mesa Community Foundation came up with $4300 and the Fire and Police unions donated $2500 each to help produce three concerts in the park. It is possible that a fourth concert will be salvaged if the community can come up with $1000 - Foley committed to contribute $500 of the $1500 necessary to produce that fourth concert. The council unanimously supported the restoration of the remaining concerts.

Leece moved that the Neighbors for Neighbors program be restored by using previously allocated funds
from the Community Foundation. The vote was 4-1 in favor, with Monahan voting no.

The Mobile Recreation Program was again rejected, despite the fact that the Costa Mesa Library Foundation and the School District both have participated in programs. Foley and Leece voted to reinstate it, but the three stooges on the council chose to take the short-sighted path and rejected it. Now the cit
y will simply moth-ball the $82,000 vehicle and kiss off the opportunity to have a very positive impact on over 400 kids a month in our city.

The Teen Program and the Youth Recreation programs were, once again, rejected by the men on the co
uncil. The council voted to receive and file the sister city and grad night programs, which means they remain unfunded in this year's budget.


So, the men on the council demonstrated for their constituents one more time that they really have no clue when it comes to issues involving children and the importance of after school programs for them. Of course, we expect that kind of ignorance from Bever and Mansoor, since they have no kids that we know of. Monahan's insensitivity, however, is pure elitism - he can cover the cost of his children's private schools and all the after school amenities that goes with it by simply raising the price of a drink at his bar. The hardworking folks on the Westside that are the ma
in beneficiaries of those chopped programs don't have that luxury. Monahan's "let them eat cake" attitude is disgusting, but not unexpected. I warned you about it last year during the campaign. Pay attention next time, will you please?


By the way, is it my imagination or has Eric Bever decided to hibernate for the summer? His participation in the debates last night was nearly zero, and when he did speak he made no sense at all. If he plans to ride out the remainder of his term like this - basically phoning it in - perhaps someone should consider launching a recall effort so he can be replaced by someone who actually seems to be interested in city issues.


And, finally, I must again commend Wendy Leece for standing up to the guys on the dais. She clearly has a much better grasp of family-oriented issues and, as an instructor at Juvenile Hall, she sees the end result of kids having little or no guidance and direction. I'm certainly not her biggest fan, but cannot help but admire her tenacity over the past couple months.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Back At It With A...

now, we've all survived yet another Independence Day celebration and are ready to get back to work... So far, no information is available from the Costa Mesa public safety folks as to what, if any, kind of infractions or incidents they responded to during the holiday weekend. Preliminary word is that things were "OK" in our city. (Late report by Alan Blank in the Daily Pilot, HERE, tells us that 42 miscreants were cited for fireworks violations this year - a much larger number than in past years - and that 8 were cited for illegal fireworks, which carries a $500 fine.) I do know that, upon my return from an out-of-town excursion Sunday, there were still illegal bottle rockets being fired into the late-night sky... Oh, well. I know who was firing those off last night - apparently as a parting shot as he finally moves out of town. Adios, Brian... don't let the bottle rocket hit you in the fanny as you leave.

The Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday has all the earmarks to be one
for the ages. First of all, it's a full moon - never a good sign when our council meets. I suspect we'll see many "interesting" speakers tomorrow evening. One guy, for sure, is going to appear to be "howling at the moon" - as usual.

Second, this is t
he first "foodless" council meeting - they chopped the pre-meeting meal budget, so expect to hear lots of growling stomachs and see some very grumpy council members as the meeting goes on and on and on. I suggested someone arrange for a "roach coach" to materialize in the back parking lot at City Hall around 4:15, to allow famished staffers and council members to grab some nachos or a day-old burrito before the council meeting. Yummy!


The agenda alone makes this one worth the price of admission. Right off the top, following t
he consent calendar, is Public Hearing #1, which deals with a proposed new ordinance requiring vendors around town to implement new systems to insure that their shopping carts do not leave the boundaries of their parking lots. I've gone through the entire proposed ordinance and suspect many vendors will be less than happy with it. I find myself wondering just how many will show up at the meeting, though.

For example, Section 15-19 deals with Appeals. Section F tells us that the Planning Commission is the final authority on these issues - no appeal to the City Council is possible. As I contemplate having Jim Righeimer, Steve Mensinger and
Colin McCarthy be the final authority on ANY issue I get chills down my spine! This is a very bad idea, so we'll have to see how it shakes out.

That item is followed by Old Business #1, the request by Katrina Foley and Wendy Leece to reverse the draconian budget cuts proposed by Gary Monahan at the
last meeting. Those items, specifically, are:

a. Neighbors for Neighbors
b. Sister City Program
c. Grad night contributions
d. Mobile Recreation Program

e. Teen Programs - TeWinkle School/Downtown Recreation Center
f. Youth Sports programs
g. Concerts
in the Park.

Since Monahan had the votes last time, it's going to take a serious community turnout to change Mansoor, Bever and Monahan's minds on these issues.


Next comes New Business #1, the request by the Police Department for
an urgency ordinance imposing an immediate 45-day city-wide moratorium on the approval of any business license, use permit or any applicable application related to Massage establishments and/or practitioners. The Police Department apparently feels those kind of establishments are fronts for prostitution and want everything to stop immediately so they can get a handle on this situation in our town. This 45-day moratorium is more likely to become much longer - maybe two years...


New Business #2 is a request by staff for the City Council to authorize the City Attorney to cooperate with the League of California Cities in litigation challenging the constitutionality of the State to seize the city's street maintenance and
Redevelopment funds. This year that would represent around $1.8 million from Costa Mesa.


Finally, at the end of what promises to be an action-packed agenda, we find New Business #3, which is simply entitled "Solicitation of Employment, Business, Contribution from Streets". This issue deals with a proposal to follow the lead of the City of Orange in it's efforts to manage day laborers in their city. Costa Mesa presently has a non-solicitation ordinance - passed by a very enlightened City Council mor
e than 20 years ago - to control day laborers around town. When it was passed the city also opened up the Job Center on the Westside, to provide an alternative to gathering helter skelter around town. It worked extremely well until the angry little knot of self-proclaimed "improvers" - guided by one particularly virulent racist who doesn't even live in that part of town - decided they didn't like all those brown faces in their part of town. They thought the closure of the Job Center would make them sufficiently uncomfortable that they'd move out of town - maybe to Santa Ana. It didn't and they didn't.


Some will recall that Gary Monahan, as has become his style, stealthily had the subject of the Job Center placed on the agenda, the result of which was that is was summarily shut down. You will also recall that was the beginning of massive protests on our streets and at council meetings, one of which resulted in the arrest of Benito Acosta who's lawsuit against our young jailer (is he still one?)/mayor is still pending and will be heard in October.


This item has gotten virtually no press, so I doubt many people will be in the audience tomorrow evening to address this issue. That's too bad, because this issue has the potential to severely restrict the freedoms we all have on our city streets, even though it's specifically directed at Latino day laborers.


So, listen for the growling of empty stomachs over the shouting tomorrow night. I think, if these kind of agendas are going to be the norm, the city should consider charging for admission and make council meetings a profit center to help in our current budget dilemma. I think I might borrow a costume from one of the guys at Anaheim Stadium and cruise the council chambers aisles around 9 p.m., selling bags of peanuts and hot dogs to the starving masses.

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