Friday, April 06, 2012

Feet To The Fire Forum Festivities

If any of the candidates at last night's Feet To The Fire Forum expected to come away with only moderately warm toes they were in for a rude awakening. The fire was turned up to "broil" most of the night.
Those of you who chose to stay home last night and watch television, or go to the Claim Jumper so you could Tip A Cop, missed the best game in town last night as the irrepressible Barbara Venezia and her merry band of cohorts from local media outlets mercilessly grilled the three remaining candidates for the 74th Assembly District before approximately 150 of your friends and neighbors, including some local political royalty - the very honorable Marian Bergeson.

Venezia, a columnist for the Orange County Register, was joined by former Daily Pilot publisher Tom Johnson, who recently took over operations of the Register's The Current weekly supplement; John Canalis, editor, and Jack Wu, new "conservative" columnist represented the Daily Pilot; Roger Bloom, editor of the Newport Beach Independent and Norberto Santana, Jr,. Editor-in-Chief of The Voice of OC.
They teamed up to interrogate candidates Leslie Daigle, Newport Beach Councilwoman; Allan Mansoor, presently Assemblyman from a district in which he no longer lives due to redistricting and Bob Rush, a Newport Beach resident and freshly-minted Democrat.

Former Newport Beach mayor Evelyn Hart got things rolling as she led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, then we all kind of sat back, expecting a nice, cordial little chat about issues. Wrong! It only took about 15 seconds before the candidates lit into each other. What followed was terrific drama and a very enlightening evening.
Canalis led things off with one of the real hot-button issues when he asked the candidates whether they supported a bridge over the Santa Ana River at 19th Street in Costa Mesa. Rush and Mansoor promptly said "NO", but Daigle waffled and tried to give the "long" answer. What immediately followed might be best described as a dog fight, as the candidates nipped at each other and the panelists kept tossing red meat into the fight.
Because Daigle paused with her answer Mansoor suggested she just stay on the city council until she can make up her mind about the bridge. Daigle asked Mansoor why, as a member of the Orange County Transportation Authority, didn't he get the bridge removed from the Master Plan of Arterial Highways during his tenure. Rush suggested that the bridge was dead so they should move on. It sounds pretty civilized, doesn't it? Well, it wasn't, but it was a lot of fun to watch, though.

Let me pause here for a second. From the get-go it was clear that, for the most part, it was going to be the boys against the girl. Mansoor and Daigle have been taking shots at each other for a couple months and Rush has long-standing bad feelings about Daigle. And, interrogator Wu and Daigle have recently gone round and round about a recent commentary Wu wrote. As I said, it was fun to watch.

I'm not going to try to quote chapter and verse of the meeting. The 90 minutes just flew by - it was kind of like watching a boxing match without any breaks in the rounds. I'll try to give you a few more highlights and remind you that the event was recorded for later viewing by a combined team from Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Irvine. Dane Bora and Brad Long of CMTV will handle the post-production, blending the video from the multiple cameras in the room last night and distribute the finished product for viewing on each city's television channels. That will probably be available for viewing late next week and will also be available on streaming video. I'll let you know when I know the play schedules.

Santana braced Mansoor with a question about Costa Mesa finances, and wondered how he felt about the constant criticism being leveled by members of the current council against those that Mansoor was on, accusing them of being the cause of Costa Mesa's current financial dilemma. Mansoor denied responsibility, saying he voted against the issues that caused it, and Daigle questioned his leadership.

When questioned about his recent conversion from "decline-to-state" to becoming a registered Democrat just before he filed to run for office, Rush explained that his views were moderate - not in line with the current leadership of the OC GOP, and that, because he is pro-choice, he felt there was no place for him in the Republican Party. He felt he could be much more effective in Sacramento as a Democrat.

Both Daigle and Mansoor were questioned about how they would make a difference in Sacramento as a member of the Republican contingent - a toothless tiger in recent years as the balance of power swung left. Neither had good answers to the question. Mansoor has a track record of basically no accomplishment during his nearly two years as an Assemblyman.

One interesting moment came when the discussion turned to Daigle's very unfortunate encounter with a security guard at the Corona del Mar High School track a few years ago. She was accused of threatening to have him deported and, because he was a Latino, is reported to have said, "I bet you live in Costa Mesa". It was a nasty - and clearly unforgettable - event that will dog her throughout her political career. She didn't deny the incident and explained that sometimes things happen you would have preferred not happen. Then, though, she shifted the "anti-immigrant" focus to Mansoor, pointing out his incident with Benito Acosta when Mansoor had him removed from council chambers - a move that resulted in a lawsuit against the city.
Mansoor has heard this all before and, in years past, would attempt to explain that he was the son of immigrants. This time, however, he choked-up and appeared to be near tears as he told the story. He denied he was anti-immigrant, pointing out that his girlfriend is an immigrant and a person on his campaign staff is, as well. Both young women have Vietnamese ancestry. I don't doubt he felt that emotion, but that never has, and didn't last night, explain his animosity against the Latino population in Costa Mesa. It was "illegal aliens" that got him elected twice.

At one point Johnson, attempting to get the candidates to explain how they expected to accomplish anything in Sacramento, used Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger as examples of guys who "get things done" - he referred to them as "bulls in a china shop" - a truly accurate description. Rush's answer was "Send a Democrat to Sacramento". Mansoor said something about "taking special interests out of Sacramento" - like that has a snowball's chance in Hades of ever happening. Daigle said it will take someone willing to work on both sides of the aisle. That's a nice theory, but the Republicans just don't have the numbers to make that work.

The discussion of Newport Beach's proliferation of rehab facilities generated some heated discussion. Rush became politically active because his neighborhood in West Newport became overrun by rehab facilities. He blamed Daigle's vote on the issue for opening the floodgates and mentioned his role in getting Newport's stricter regulations that have now squeezed many rehab venues out of town - and straight into Costa Mesa. He mentioned that a rehab facility can generate $250,000 per month - it's like printing money. Mansoor said he has legislation in the works, but didn't go into specifics. None of the three bills he authored during his term have passed.

Rush was asked at one point just why he got into the race, because some figured he was there to siphon off votes that might be cast for Daigle, who is a much more moderate Republican candidate than Mansoor. He claimed that he's in the race to win, not to be a distraction. We'll see. We do know he's committed $100,000 of his own money to the campaign and, he tells us, he's raised another $30,000 in the past couple weeks.
And on and on and on we went. Finally, Venezia wrapped things up with some very specific one-word-answer questions. She polled each candidate on them and demanded that they just give one-word answers. On Medical Marijuana, both Mansoor and Rush supported it and Daigle did not. Daigle and Rush are pro-choice and Mansoor is pro-life. Mansoor and Daigle oppose gay marriage and Rush supports it.

Last night's forum was much better than previous versions. The questioning was relentless, the exchanges between the candidates back and forth and with the interrogators gave you a pretty good picture of the styles of the individuals and the strengths - and lack thereof - each brings to the race. Venezia and her team are to be commended for putting on a great show. Personally, it was great to see Tom Johnson back in the mix again. His fingerprints are already all over the "new" Current and he was clearly ready for this experience. You can read Joe Serna's summary of the evening in the Daily Pilot, HERE.

I didn't do any official polling of the audience members. There were many partisans in the room, there to support their favorite candidate. Shown here are GOP Central Committee members Jeff Mathews and Allan Bartlett. It was my gut feeling that Daigle had the fewest supporters in attendance last night. I must say, though, that the audience seemed to be quite attentive and energized. Grumblings could be heard throughout the evening as candidates attempted to present their views.

Several acquaintances and I discussed our impressions immediately after the forum. Most of us agreed that Bob Rush looked and sounded the best. He was prompt and unambiguous with most of his answers, tended to stay out of the spats and generally looked much more polished. Mansoor continues to be, well, Mansoor. He's not a polished speaker, just as he is not a consensus builder. He's not quick on his feet and some of his answers were clearly scripted. Even so, most thought he was second last night. Daigle looked the least comfortable and had the hardest time presenting crisp answers to the questions - most thought she finished last. Those were my impressions, too.

As I looked around the half-filled room last night I saw many Republican operatives. Righeimer and Mensinger were in the room, for example. The only prominent Democrat I recognized - keeping in mind that I don't hang with those guys - was Orange County Employee's Association General Manager Nick Berardino, shown here on the left with fellow Fair Board member (and Barbara Venezia's husband), Stan Tkaczyk.
According to Venezia at the end, the only other candidate forum before the June 5th primary election will be held in Newport Beach on May 9th.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Anonymous We said...

We think Mansoor did best, then Rush, then Fabio. We will be voting for Mansoor because we like his anti illegal alien policies while being pro immigration, a combination that we think is needed in America. We will be sending a donation to Allan and we will be walking precincts in Irvine. We believe Allan to be the best of the bunch and we think Fabio is to full of himself and we think the comment to the Latino about being deported shows Fabios true colors, a "do you know who I am" personality. We know who you are but what are you?

4/06/2012 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Mansoor is in the pocket of the OC GOP, like our four councilmen. There is no independent thinking or action, it is scripted from the start and Scott Baugh has the reins. Just look at their collective track records, they follow a set pattern- union busting, privatizing everything they can and attempts to outsource city jobs.
If you want Scott Baugh controlling our district, Mansoor is your guy.

4/06/2012 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

btw, what's with calling Daigle "Fabio" by 'We said' and calling Rush "Hill" in Serna's article?

4/06/2012 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

That's just the Baugh/Mansoor mob doing their usual infantile act. Serna corrected the mistake... I can understand it - Bob Rush - Rush Hill... kind of gets stuck in my skull.. expect to make the same mistake, too.

4/06/2012 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Concerned Taxpayer said...

As a concerned taxpayer attending the event in person, the blog above is a very accurate potrayal of the debate. Daigle could not answer any question presented in an articulate manner and could not even answer simple yes or no questions. She was disruptive to the panelists and other candidates. Mansoor could not defend his horrible record in Costa Mesa and offered nothing in the way he would help California. Bob Rush was articulate, humorous, and self deprecating and answered questions succintly and honestly. The real vote for me - "Who has actually created a job" in their lifetimes. The only candidate to answer yes was Bob Rush, a small business owner and CPA. Daigle and Mansoor are career bureacrats who could not even answer yes to one job creation. We do not need more career politicians in government.

4/06/2012 03:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Voter in OC said...

There is no place in politics for a racist like Leslie Daigle. The incident with the Hispanic worker and references to Costa Mesa show her true colors as holier than thou Newport Beacher out of touch with the working class.

4/06/2012 04:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Meltdown said...

Oh, now I understand why our own Weathervane Wendy has endorsed Daigle. Seems birds of a wacko feather flock together.

Listening to Daigle's melt down, and rambling comments made me think I was at a Costa Mesa Council meeting.

If only Daigle had quoted a poem we could have called them twins.

4/06/2012 05:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Troll Patrol said...

Why is CM's "other" blogger (posting as meltdown) insisting on spewing garbage here instead of his own silly blog? Let me guess- his mom had to wash his confederate flag underwear, pajamas, and bedspread today..

4/06/2012 06:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Get out of the writing BIZ Tom said...

Regarding Tom Johnson's article...
How insulting to the views of the Costa Mesa residents with opposing views to suggest their way would result in the city to go BK and disappear forever.
Why is it that the people who write about what is happening in Costa Mesa are the most clueless? Or is there something else at play? Way to go Tom Johnson. You left out so much. How about a suicide, employees leaving left and right, one most likely getting canned because of rushing things, claiming it's all about pensions then turning around and bringing in just weeks before the new pension reforms go into effect 2 of their friends at the highest pension formula at a salary of $150K? They could have waited just a couple of weeks and brought them in under the reformed less pension formula if this really was about pensions and of course don't forget the dancing mayor in a leprechaun outfit. Sadly is that the best you can do with your endings. But I get it. An ending with negotiations and employees once again stepping up, as they have everytime in the past when asked to help solve the problem, with no suicide, no mass exodus and no dancing mayor wouldn't be good TV. SADLY it isn't even good in reality.

4/06/2012 08:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Theory said...

Just a second ... we we we WE WE we weeeee

Thank you. Throat clear and that otta drive that Laffler crazy.

Here's my question. Has anyone actually seen Daigle or 4-1 Leece in the same room together?

Me neither. How do we know they are not actually the same unstable leader?

4/07/2012 07:03:00 AM  
Anonymous yippie! said...

troll patrol is spewing the usual infantile prose of the anti council people. "get out of biz" thinks Clerk might lose her job for "rushing"? Quite the opposite happened, she MISSED a deadling, hardly rushing at all. Simple email could have filed it. Sabotage.

4/07/2012 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous just be honest said...

Yippie shows his dishonesty proudly. The clerk in at least alerted the Registrar because the timelines she knew this was going to be close. The Registrar knowing this was tight actually extended the deadline for arguments. Council was still holding meetings right up until March 6 just 3 days before the deadline. Yippie knows all this and just shows what type of person he is to be so deceitful about these facts. I agree she missed the deadline and is partly responsible but only a dishonest person would claim rushing aspects of this had no effect. Yippie is a.dishonest person also evidenced by his many other comments.

4/07/2012 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

Re "concerned taxpayer" 's comment: I asked Barbara afterward about missing the opportunity to rank Mansoor about his closing the jobs center here in Costa Mesa -- it would really have stirred up the s**t. She pleaded a reluctance to be so mean... a positive for her, in my opinion. I guess there is some compassion in both politics and journalism, after all; neither of the other candidates brought it up, either. Wish we could say the same about Alan, though.

Indeed, Rush came across on top on the jobs creation issue...

4/07/2012 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Get out of the writing BIZ Tom said...

Did you see how Yippie avoided responding to all the main comments of my post? Reforming the employees pensions by working with them. If this was about pensions why did they hire 2 of their friends at these unsustainable pension formulas when had they waited just a couple of weeks they could have saved the taxpayers money on future pensions and shown real leadership? After all that is what Tom Johnson's badly written little piece was about unsustainable pensions that will bankrupt the city and make it disappear. Unless of course super hero Riggy is successful. Yippie is a tool people. LMAO!

4/07/2012 01:35:00 PM  
Anonymous yippie! said...

correction: i am a tool FOR the people. and why would i comment on your post? you did not adress me, unless you are also "just be honest" which you are. you need to keep it straight under which name you post what or i end up ROFLMAO greg. clerk missed easy deadline, most likely sabotage

4/08/2012 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Get out of the writing BIZ Tom said...

Yippie, not only did you respond to my post you also referred to me in your post. So not only do you prove you are a tool you also show you will lie at will. Anyone can read your previous post and see you even included part of my name. You really are dishonest as the other person claimed.

4/08/2012 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous yippie! said...

I'm just a pony boy for Master Riggy!

4/08/2012 03:21:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home