Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mansoor Panders & Later Shows His True Self

Well, last night's Costa Mesa City Council meeting was a real doozy! Sorry I'm tardy with this report. I began my day at the dentist's office and it went downhill from there...

First, Gary Monahan informed audience that there will be a special joint meeting of the council and the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority again next Tuesday, August 24th at 5:30 p.m. at which the Ground Lease between the City and Facilities Management West would be presented and voted on. City Attorney Kim Barlow promised that the lease would be available for public review by the end of the day on Thursday, August 19th.

Former mayor Sandra Genis, President of the Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society, expressed concern that the public may not have enough time to sufficiently review the document before it's adopted, but it seems as though the lease will be available as quickly as is possible. Tuesday's meeting should be very interesting.

Then Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece announced that she had appealed the lighting scheme for Triangle Square recently approved by the Planning Commission. That appeal will be heard at the first council meeting in September, on the 7th. Since that's the day following the Labor Day holiday weekend, we hope interested parties will come prepared with comments and factual data to refute the applicant's claim that there will be no spill-over into residential neighborhoods.

Later Paul Freeman - a man I've identified in the past as a "silver-tongued orator", apparently showed up with some tarnish on that silver tongue. He was unable to convince the council that a 4-5 story assisted living/dementia care facility planned by his client at the site of the old Glabman's Furniture store a good idea. Beleaguered residents of the neighborhood that immediately abuts the site showed up and spoke with passion against the project.

The most fun, though, was provided by Mayor Allan Mansoor, who demonstrated, from beginning to the end, that he is an unskilled politician who has developed pandering into an art form. First, he moved his proposal for a resolution naming June 19th each year as a day of remembrance for the Vietnamese soldiers who fought during the Vietnam War from the end of the meeting to the front of the line. Not only was he pandering with the resolution, but he expanded that pandering by not requiring the Vietnamese folks in the audience to wait in line for the issue to be addressed in turn.

He was at his most animated as he presented the resolution and was very deferential to those Vietnamese folks in attendance who spoke on the issue. I suspect he was less than happy that Phu Nguyen, his opponent in the 68th Assembly race, was in the audience and, according to reports in the Daily Pilot, wound up in photos with Mansoor and the Vietnamese freedom fighters. As soon as the resolution was passed he immediately called a 10 minute recess and practically sprinted from the dais to rub shoulders with the Vietnamese folks in the audience. He may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he knows he needs those votes in November.

Then, at the end of the meeting, his old nemesis, Dr. Humberto Caspa, rose to speak in favor of providing a fee waiver for a new soccer group in town that would provide organized soccer for Westside Costa Mesa kids. So called "Group 1 Users" traditionally have the fees waived because they provide recreation activities for a high percentage of Costa Mesa kids. This program would use school fields at three schools deep in the heart of the Westside, where mostly Latino kids go to school.

I knew this issue was in trouble with Mansoor because Caspa's recent book just shredded him - correctly so. At the end Mansoor demonstrated for everyone in the audience and watching at home just why Caspa wrote the book.

After much discussion, when it came time to vote on the issue, Mansoor didn't vote - he just sat there. After a long, pregnant pause, City Clerk Julie Folcik asked him if he had voted. He said "No". Here's the exchange:

Mansoor: Read the vote, please.

Folcik: Uh, did you vote?

Mansoor: No.

Foley: You didn't vote?

Mansoor: No.

Foley: You have to vote!

Mansoor: I do not!

Foley: You HAVE to vote!

Mansoor: I do not!

Foley: Ms. Barlow, doesn't he have to vote?

Mansoor: You've abstained from voting before.

Foley: Only if I have a conflict. You have to vote!

Mansoor: No, that's not true. You've abstained from the dais before.

Foley: Only if I have a conflict. There's never been.. Check the record. I have never abstained without a conflict.

Mansoor: Ms. Barlow..

Kim Barlow: Our code does require you to vote on any matters, unless you formally abstained.

Mansoor: OK, I'm abstaining.

Foley: Well, he can't abstain...

Mansoor: I can

Foley: On what grounds? On what grounds are you abstaining? You don't want to have a vote before the record? What grounds?

Mansoor: I've explained myself... sufficiently

Foley: Ms. Barlow, honestly, this is un.., this is not appropriate for him not to vote.

Barlow: Can I ask the council to go into a closed session. I need you to bring that item on the agenda to a closed session right now.

Foley: I would request a closed session

Mansoor: Alright. We'll go to closed session.

Barlow: I need a vote. I need a vote taken to go to closed session.

Foley: Well, but she can't close the board. She needs to record the vote that was taken.

Folcik: May I clear the board.

Barlow: She can close the board and we can re-take the vote after closed session.

Foley: But she needs to record for the minutes what happened here because otherwise it will not be reflected in the minutes.

Barlow: You can record that vote...

Foley: Can I have it read into the record, Ms. Folcik?

Folcik: That motion failed 2-2 with Council member Bever and Council member Monahan voting no and Mayor Mansoor abstaining.

Foley: Now we can clear the board for a motion to move into closed session.

Barlow: Clear the board, please. Is there a second? To the motion to have a closed session?

Leece: Second.

Bever: What are we having a closed session on?

Foley: Because it's important

Barlow: pending litigation...

Leece: Second

Mansoor: There's a motion and a second for a closed session. Call for the question.

Folcik: That motion carried 3-2 with Mayor Mansoor and Council member Monahan voting no.

They adjourned to a closed session for about 10 - 15 minutes. When they returned Mansoor was absent. Monahan moved to approve the request which Foley seconded. It passed, 3-1, with Bever voting no and Mansoor absent.

Foley asked why Mansoor was not there for the vote. Barlow said he "was unable to continue with the meeting". I had this vision of him pouting in a corner somewhere.

I watched this train wreck and could find no reason for Mansoor to act so childishly, refusing to take a position on an issue that had been passed unanimously by the Parks & Recreation Commission EXCEPT that he just couldn't bring himself to vote in favor of ANYTHING that will provide ANY kind of benefit to the Latino children on the Westside. This soccer league was aimed directly at them.

This clearly demonstrates how Mansoor lets his deep-seated prejudice against the Latinos of our community interfere with exercising good judgment while managing our city. We've observed this behavior for a decade, even before he was elected to the City Council. While no surprise, it always rocks me back because he's so flagrant about it.

And now, I find myself wondering how the Vietnamese and Latino voters in the 68th Assembly district will take this show of prejudice. His bizarre behavior was the strangest of more than a few city council meetings I've observed in 10 years of paying attention. We certainly deserve better than this. You can watch the whole sordid display via streaming video HERE. Drag the scroll bar over to about 3:45:00 for all the fun.

By the way, during the voting on the soccer issue Eric Bever reached around and pulled another stupid idea from some deep, dark place! He moved to deny the request for the fee waiver and, further, to yank all the fee waivers from all the Group 1 users! And who says we here in Costa Mesa don't have anything going for us. Heck, we not only have one village idiot, but two!

Tonight four of the five City Council candidates will debate important issues in the first forum of this campaign season. Festivities begin at 6:30 at the Mesa Verde United Methodist Church, 1701 Baker Street. See you there...


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