Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Visionary Next Door

One of the things that has bugged me about Costa Mesa - my home for more than half my life - has been the lack of vision by it's elected leaders for the past decade or more. With very rare exceptions, no elected leader, or any candidate for elective office for that matter, has stood before an assembled group of voters and articulated a clear vision for our city.

Yes, some have addressed "problems" with ideas to solve them, but that doesn't meet my definition of "vision". Most candidates for the City Council, for example, stick with the tried and true, "potholes and police" mantra.

Costa Mesa has visionary people - Henry Segerstrom, for example. His vision for the bean fields in the north part of town has created a retail and arts complex of world renown. His vision has been for his property, appropriately so, and we all should be grateful to him and his family for the good works they've done in and for our city.

Tuesday, in the OC NOW blog, Daily Pilot reporter Mike Reicher, provided a brief report on a fund raiser that Newport Beach City Council candidate Rush Hill held at his home, and included a 5 minute video clip. Hill will be competing with Ed Reno for the seat being vacated by Walkin' Don Webb. I hope you'll take the time to view that video clip now. As I said, it's short...

OK, are you back? Were you impressed with Hill's delivery of his vision and priorities for Newport Beach? I was. And, as I watched that clip, I couldn't help but think about how sad it is for Costa Mesa that we just don't seem to have folks with the vision and, for lack of another description, "command presence" of a Rush Hill running for public office.

Monday was the first day candidates for City Council could take out papers for the election in November. As I write this I have not heard of any candidates for Costa Mesa City Council who have actually taken that step. I understand that Wendy Leece will attempt to retain her seat and young Chris McEvoy will run again this year. I suspect it almost goes without saying that perpetual election loser Jim Righeimer will also run, hoping to snag the seat being vacated by Allan Mansoor.

With the likelihood of Katrina Foley being elected to the School Board in November and having to abandon her City Council seat, there's a chance for this city to place a new majority on the City Council - one not driven by a divisive agenda. Even if Foley loses her bid for the School Board, there are two seats up for grabs in November, so it is possible to select people to lead this city for most of the rest of this decade who have a more moderate, sensible view of how this city should be managed.

No, I didn't say "liberal", "progressive" or Democrat, just as I didn't say "conservative" or "Republican". I don't think folks at the extreme ends of the political spectrum are good for our town, as witnessed by the past decade when knee-jerk, far-right wing conservatives have called the shots. We need to push partisan extremism out of our local politics. I think it's important for us to select smart, well-educated, articulate, committed members of the community, regardless their political persuasion, to chart the course for our future - folks who can stand toe-to-toe and/or shoulder-to-shoulder with men like Rush Hill and help chart the course for our shared concerns - like the airport, for example.

I think it's important to elect leaders who actually understand that Costa Mesa is not an island, that it's part of a regional community of cities who share many common interests. In the case of Newport Beach, we share a common border, a school district and the impact of the airport, for starters. Instead of approaching every issue as an adversary, as has been the case in the recent past, we need smart folks who can grasp the importance of working together for the good of both communities. With the very obvious exception of Foley, none of our current crew seems to get it. We need leaders with vision - those who can look beyond the end of their noses and guide our city into the future.

So, we're off into a new campaign season. Before too long your mailboxes will be stuffed to overflowing with slick propaganda pieces designed to mislead you on important issues and misrepresent opponents views. It's up to us to find those good folks in our community with the skills to serve and convince them to give it a shot. We deserve much better than we've gotten lately.

To all you graduates of the excellent "Leadership Tomorrow" program I say, " tomorrow is today"! It's time to step up and demonstrate that training you received. It's time to lead our community - today!

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Anonymous Gary W. Craig, CPA said...

Well said Geoff. No more idealogues, its time for action.

I read that in Costa Mesa it costs approximately $50K to run for city council.

Can you break that down for us Geoff? Is that cash wrapped up in printing?

7/14/2010 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Gary, can't give you details, but my best guess would be that the bulk of the costs are in direct mail, consulting fees and yard signs, in that order. Most of the top finishers have used consultants to help plan their campaigns. Not all, though. Chris McEvoy and his father hand-painted their signs, for example. Thanks for the question.

7/14/2010 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Vern said...

Rush Hill was on the advisory board of American Fairs and Festivals by the way.

"Rush Hill, former Calif. Sec. of Education. Mr Hill would be an advisor to American Fairs on any and all eductational programs. In addition to his expertise in the education field, Mr. Hill is also an award-winning architect and will advise American Fairs on all its current and future infrastructure enhancements."

That is, if that deal hadn't got scuttled.

7/14/2010 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Vern, OK... and....?

7/14/2010 09:57:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Visionaries said...

You call that visionary? He isn't saying anything that hasn't been said about Costa Mesa. Continue to IMPROVE, financial responsibility within the municipal organization, the airport, improve property values, and clean up distressed areas, and a new civic center.

The difference, Geoff, is that you attack anyone who talks about changing anything in Costa Mesa, and you assign nefarious motives. If Rush Hill were running for Costa Mesa City Council, he would call out the substandard housing and schools, and demand that something be done. How visionary would he be then?

Seriously, your agenda is old and tired. Instead of a wealthy politician, we have real citizens who have run for council and been elected. Chris McEvoy and Bill Sneen are great examples of those who reaaly acre and have put their money where their mouth is. They are there because they care - that includes Eric Bever, Allan Mansoor, Wendy Leece and Gary Monahan - as well as Katrina Foley.

7/15/2010 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

CM Visionaries, none of those you mentioned - except Foley - have recited for us his or her vision for the city. Mansoor's "cleaner, safer" city mantra is not a "vision", it's a mindless echo. What's he going to do, campaign for a dirtier, more dangerous" city? None of them have shown us a goal nor a road map to get to that goal. The definition of "change" in our city for the majority on the council has been expunging the Latinos from our midst.

The "brains" behind it continues to yap about "draining the swamp" and "bulldozing the slums" to improve the city. If there was ever any question about his underlying philosophy, the postings on his blog for the past several months removed all doubt. His screeds have been predominantly anti-black, anti-brown, anti-anything but white rants and links. His advocacy of the A3P party - a white supremacist mob disguising themselves as a political party - shows us just who he is. The saps on our council follow his rantings without asking why... weak minds are easily-influenced.

Most members of the current council quite simply don't have the intellectual horsepower to grasp many of the important issues before them and certainly don't demonstrate the skills necessary to craft their position on them.

Chris McEvoy has stayed engaged in the process since the last election - Sneen has been virtually invisible. Neither stands a chance if they don't run a stronger campaign. Their presence - if they run - may force the "moneyed" group to answer some tough questions. I guess we'll see.

Tell me - what is YOUR vision for this city for the next decade? Do you have a goal? Do you have a road map to get us there? Share your "vision" with us, please.

7/16/2010 12:24:00 AM  
Anonymous juan said...

We need more diversity in costa mesa. Elect latino councilmembers they will get the job done right.

7/16/2010 08:05:00 AM  
Anonymous wsneen said...

Hi Geoff…I only read a couple of blogs these days and not frequently. I did catch this one today and wanted to address your comment about me being “virtually invisible”. I am not sure how deep your networking goes beyond watching Council meetings from your home and the Daily Pilot articles but I am still very passionate about the future of our City and personally took your comment as an insult.

During the campaign process I took pride in being the most informed candidate. I even felt on some of the issues I did my homework better than the incumbents that ran for re-election. Aside from addressing some of the issues which I felt were not at the core of the City’s problems I was very candid about my vision for the city. As a matter of fact my campaign slogan was “Costa Mesa First”. I also publically announced if elected I would donate 100% of the income paid to Council Members to Costa Mesa Non-Profit Groups and I did not need the health benefits so that too was a non-issue for me as far as what my true motivation was for becoming a member of City Council. In addition, I did not have any hidden agenda for a future in politics. As a matter of fact to be very clear during my campaign that the office was a non-partisan position I changed my political affiliation to Decline To State. That was probably the main reason I did not get elected because we all know that campaign financing and aligning your self with the Republican or Democratic Party is a huge advantage.

This is getting a bit lengthy so let’s get back to my “invisibility”. Right after the election I met with the City Manager and reviewed my original list of objectives that I wanted to address if elected and even prioritized the list given possible budgetary concerns. I also donated the remains of my campaign funds which was approximately $450.00 to the Senior Center. In addition, I have attended several Council Meetings when I had the time and I have continued to network with people in the community and some staff from the City and our Police Department. I have also been involved in several fund raisers that benefit our schools. And as you know most recently; I was in attendance with you and a handful of other concerned residents at the Budget Meeting which if you recall had no other past City Council Candidates present.

Oh, I almost left out one small detail…for almost a year now I have had several meetings with one of Orange County’s most respected Political Watchdogs who has helped me draft an ordinance for “true” campaign reform in Costa Mesa which we had planned for this years ballot but ran out of time given the required signatures and the published deadline. Hopefully it will be on the ballot for 2012.

So, in closing I will remain without a Face Book account and won’t be calling the Daily Pilot with any personal news. I will remain invisible.

7/18/2010 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bill, sorry you feel insulted by my observations, but a couple months following the 2008 elections you dropped off the radar. Clearly, after receiving fewer than 5% of the votes cast last time around, something has to change.

I did not say you've not been involved in community activities, just that you were not visible to the general public while doing whatever you were doing. I don't know if you plan to run again this time around. If so, it's going to take a different kind of effort to succeed. There are only two seats available and one will be contested by an incumbent who obviously is planning a full-court press in the media because it's already started.

I will be interested to hear what you think are the most important issues this time around - things have changed dramatically in our city since 2008.

I won't presume to tell you how to conduct a campaign if you do run again - that's entirely up to you. I do know that Chris McEvoy has remained engaged in civic activities for the past two years and has stayed a visual presence before the public.

7/18/2010 11:33:00 PM  

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