Friday, October 05, 2012

Not Plagiarism After All - Just Two Gaffes

OK team, earlier this week I wrote an entry, HERE, addressing the fact that councilman (and council candidate) Gary Monahan and somebody named Kent Mora submitted virtually identical commentaries to the Daily Pilot several weeks apart - and the Daily Pilot missed the similarities and published both of them.  I wondered whether this represented an overt act of plagiarism or what?

Simultaneously, Mora and I engaged in a comment thread on my recent commentary in the Daily Pilot, HERE, in which, after awhile, I invited him to contact me privately to set the record straight.  Eventually he did, but only after I reminded him that, without a proper explanation, he would be saddled with the reputation as an unrepentant plagiarist and folks would certainly be less willing to listen to his position on issues as a result.  Plus,
Monahan would probably be viewed as a co-conspirator. 

Once Mora provided me with an explanation I needed to confirm it with Monahan because he was a party in this little drama.  He and I are not on the best of terms these days - big surprise there - so getting him to reply to my inquiry took the intervention of others.  Eventually, after swapping a couple emails, he did confirm Mora's version of events.  So, here's what apparently happened.

Mora assisted Monahan with the composition of the original commentary submitted to the Daily Pilot, HERE.  This is no big deal - many people, especially politicians, get help from others crafting messages they wish to send to the populace.  Mora apparently then left town and Monahan submitted the item for publication.

Mora tells me that upon his return, not knowing that Monahan had already submitted the item and it had been published under his byline, pulled up his copy of the essay, tinkered around with it a little, then sent it to the Daily Pilot for publication under HIS byline.  That one is HERE.

Unfortunately - especially during a busy election season when the old Mailbag is jammed with submissions as is the case at the Daily Pilot these days - such submissions are reviewed by any one of a number of different editors depending on when they are received, so the person who reviewed Mora's submission had probably not seen Monahan's earlier commentary and just processed it normally.  As the saying goes - stuff happens.  Once the editors became aware of the duplication they did immediately include the following correction notice on Mora's submission:

This commentary features multiple passages that originally appeared in a Sept. 19 commentary written by Costa Mesa Councilman Gary Monahan. The similarities between the two commentaries were not detected during the editing process.


So, apparently what we have here is NOT an act of overt plagiarism.  Mora is off the hook in that regard.  Nor was it a conspiratorial plot to publish the same message twice by Monahan and Mora. It was a breakdown in communication - twice.  The first mistake was between Monahan and Mora.  Without that one the second mistake - in the process within the Daily Pilot - wouldn't have occurred.  In this case, two wrongs made... TWO WRONGS!

The end result is that Monahan's campaign message in the form of that commentary now lingers in the archives under two separate authors.  According to folks at the Daily Pilot, both will remain in the archives.  I'm OK with that because, quite frankly, neither version was very persuasive.

Will this change the way I feel about Monahan's candidacy?  Nope.  Even though he eventually gave me enough information to correct the record, I still will NOT support his candidacy for city council.  While I'm grateful to him for his public service - more time on the city council than anyone else in my memory - he has stayed too long at the dance.  He seems to be just too busy elsewhere to give proper attention to the responsibilities of the office, which he acknowledged when he stepped down as Mayor earlier this year.  He's got a large family that, understandably, requires a lot of attention and a business that has seen better times.  Heck, he even stayed at his bar to pour beer for patrons on St. Patrick's Day, 2011 when the tragedy at City Hall required his presence.  Those of us who pay attention to council activities have seen a very distracted Gary Monahan over the past couple years.  It's time to make a change.  Thanks for your service, Gary, but you won't be getting my vote this time.

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A Palate-Cleanser For You All

Remember the fellow who set a record by "flying" from Newport Harbor to Catalina last week?  HERE is the link to the Daily Pilot article about it. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Chang, Daily Pilot)

Well, a friend sent me the link to this six-minute YouTube video of folks using the same technology.  Watch it as a palate-cleanser - something to flush out all that nasty political crap we're dealing with - and a preamble to a wonderful weekend.  Trust me, you'll be glad you did.  Have a great weekend.

For best effect, click on the "full screen" icon (lower right corner of screen)


Thursday, October 04, 2012

Public Safety Appreciation Event

I attended the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce Public Safety Appreciation BBQ at the Orange County Fair and Event Center today.  What a GREAT event!

Members of the Costa Mesa Police Department, Costa Mesa Fire Department and other public safety support groups were honored by community members and leaders.  Rather than blather on and on, I'll just let the photos I took give you an idea of the event.  You can read Daily Pilot reporter Bradley Zint's coverage HERE.

 Artwork on the Kraft paper table coverings with messages from local school children thanking the public safety staff.

Legendary CMPD School Resource Officer Jess Gilman was an early arrival.  He's a big fella!

 CMPD Lieutenants Bob Ciszek and Rob Sharpnack enjoying fresh-squeezed lemonade

Brad Long and Dane Bora preparing to cover the event

Council candidate Harold Weitzberg yucks it up with CMPD Sergeant Tim Starn - former A.B.L.E Commander

Costa Mesa Sanitary District President Bob Ooten, OC MarketPlace honcho Jeff Teller, Council Candidate John Stephens and Newport Mesa Unified School District Trustee Katrina Foley

Former Police Chief Roger Neth chats with current chief Tom Gazsi
More artwork.  Look closely at these images.
Honorees chowing down
CMTV interviewing Chief Tom Gazsi
Police Aides
John Stephens holds forth with Chamber President Larry Weichman and former council members Arlene Shafer and Mary Hornbuckle
CMPD's Kelly Vucinic, activists Cindy Brenneman and Sue Lester with Harold Weitzberg
More honorees
Sanitary District Director Jim Ferryman with Dane Bora

More chow

Brad Long on the job

City CEO Tom Hatch

United Neighbors Paul and Diane Hill with Ooten
Council candidates John Stephens and Sandy Genis
Assemblyman Allan Mansoor lost in thought
More honorees
Sergeant Vic Bakkila with Diane Hill
Sanitary District Director Jim Fitzpatrick and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer
 Councilmember Wendy Leece
Fitzpatrick enjoying dessert
Katrina Foley and fellow NMUSD Trustee Dave Brooks
Yes, indeed.  Thank you to all the members of the Costa Mesa Public Safety organizations for their tireless efforts to keep our city safe.  And thanks to the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce for hosting this wonderful event.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

What's Happening In Costa Mesa?

I'd intended to write this one earlier but the week just got away from me.  There are lots of interesting things happening in Costa Mesa over the next few days.  Here's the schedule of a few.

The Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce honors the brave men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department and the Costa Mesa Fire Department by hosting its annual Public Safety Appreciation BBQ at the Orange County Fair and Event Center from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.  Here's their flier.  Click on the image to enlarge it.

First Friday Roadshow
This is the most recent edition of this event, held on the first Friday of each month in the City Hall parking lot at 77 Fair Drive from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.  Here's their flier.  Click to enlarge.

Battle Of The Bell
The Estancia High School Eagles take on the Costa Mesa High School Mustangs in this annual football rivalry.  The game begins at 7:00 at Jim Scott Stadium at Estancia High School.  Prior to the game, at 5:00 p.m.,  Costa Mesa United is holding their pre-game family dinner, catered by the Newport Rib Company.  Here's their flier.  Click to enlarge.

Fire Department Open House
The Costa Mesa Fire Department is holding an open house at all six fire stations in the city from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.  Lots of interesting information will be available to promote family safety.  Here's the locations of the fire stations.  Click to enlarge.

Halecrest/Hall of Fame Chili Cook Off
After visiting one of the fire houses, stop by the annual Halecrest/Hall of Fame community chili cook off at Halecrest Park from noon - 5:00 p.m.  You're almost guaranteed to see some of our local politicians at this event and also have a chance to meet some of your neighbors and sample some GREAT chili.  Here's their flier and map.  Click to enlarge.


Community Safety Town Hall
Councilwoman Wendy Leece will host another in her series of public safety town hall meetings.  This one is designed to present information to our neighbors in the north part of town, but all are welcome.  It will be held at the Logos Building at Calvary Chapel from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  Here is their flier and map.  Click to enlarge.

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Makes Your Head Spin...

Where to begin?  For a meeting that was supposed to be short and painless, the Costa Mesa City Council meeting last night turned out to be neither.

Some general impressions.  First, There's nothing more unpredictable than a politician who is termed out with nothing to lose.  Eric Bever demonstrated that last night... more later.

Second, one just never knows what will come out of a politician's mouth when he doesn't have a clue about decorum and the rules of procedure.  Bever and Steve Mensinger demonstrated that.

Third, lock-step allegiance to a political agenda sometimes blinds politicians so they cannot adequately consider what is best for the community they serve.  Mensinger and Jim Righeimer showed us that last night.

Not unexpectedly, the subject of stolen political signs was a thread that stretched throughout the meeting last night.  Several speakers during Public Comments mentioned it and Gary Monahan, who says he had several large banners defiled or stolen, said there is a $1,100 reward for information leading to an arrest of sign vandals.  Curiously, Stacey Butler of Channels 2 and 9 and her cameraman were in the audience last night, apparently expecting to record some kind of major dust-up about signs.  I found myself wondering just why they were there - and whether perhaps the City PR apparatus alerted them.  Since nothing like that happened, I guess they left disappointed.  I do know they interviewed residents outside the council chambers.

During his "comments" time Mayor Pro Tem Righeimer took some of his time to gloat about the "great" numbers on the outsourcing spreadsheet being displayed on the City web site.  See my previous post.  He perpetuated the myth that actual dollars are being saved when nothing could be further from the truth.  It's amazing how these guys just fabricate "facts" to suit themselves and then deliver them to an unsuspecting audience like they were actually telling the truth.  Amazing!

Bever, our main man on the planned I-405 expansion, discussed his recent presentation before the Orange County Transportation Authority.  The OCTA Board was unable to reach consensus at the last meeting, so the issue will be taken up this month.  Bever, in his own, special, immature way, took the opportunity to bad-mouth the Board - a strange tactic, since he's supposed to be trying to persuade them to go with Alternate #2.  We all can be VERY happy he's termed out this year.

Speaking of which, during the discussion of the political signs, he violated the rules by talking about his candidacy for a seat on the Mesa Consolidated Water District Board, then joked about it.  He's running for the seat held by current president, Fred Bockmiller - a real engineer and expert in water issues.  One can only hope the voters understand that by electing Bever to that seat they will be getting a petulant, arrogant divisive man with poor work habits and only a political agenda guiding his candidacy.


After all council members had their chance to speak CEO Tom Hatch gave his report, responding to many of the concerns expressed by members of the public on Sign Theft, Homelessness, the new Fire reorganization and the current infestation of coyotes city-wide.

Then, in a violation of procedure, Bever launched into another stream of consciousness commentary addressing many of the issues Hatch had just covered.  It was during this little rant that he dropped his bombshell for the evening - his request for the staff to investigate ways to put the Soup Kitchen and S.O.S. out of business.  He compared those social service entities to a rowdy bar that was closed in years past as a public nuisance, indicating that the negative impact of those two entities is much more wide-reaching than a simple, noisy neighborhood bar.  He had everyone's attention when he stopped talking.

After that, I kind of thought we might be home free.  The evening was still early - a little after 7:00 p.m. - and we only had a couple fairly uncomplicated issues remaining.  Wrong again!

They launched into the Consent Calendar and reached #5, the consideration of accepting $160,000 in grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety for DUI and Special enforcement activities for the year beginning October 1st.  As several speakers opined, this seemed like a no-brainer, but never underestimate how lock-step allegiance to a political dogma will impact events in our city.  Sergeant Greg Scott made his presentation and, to the surprise of many in the audience, he was grilled by Mensinger and, later, Righeimer.  All of a sudden it became clear that Mensinger and Righeimer were willing to reject this grant - money we had already qualified for - because Mensinger didn't want to be in debt to the Chinese!  This from a guy who has had difficulty adding 5+2 on the dais!  Righeimer inquired of Hatch how much "contingency" money we had left and was told that we'd only committed to spending about $100,000 of the $1 million - Righeimer wanted to use that money for this program. It took the calm demeanor and steady hand of Police Chief Tom Gazsi to prevent a calamity.  This fiasco demonstrated very clearly why you cannot trust these guys with our city, and especially if Jim Righeimer's Charter is passed in 5 weeks.  Since Monahan had to recuse himself because he's a bar owner, a 2-2 vote would have killed the issue.  Eventually the council voted 4-0 to accept the money, but only after extorting from Gazsi an agreement to look at ways to do the same work without "Chinese" money.  What schmucks!

The evening eventually wrapped up with a clear presentation by Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz on why the staff was recommending a "receive and file" on the report on the Street and Storm Drain Services RFP.  A reorganization and complete lack of respondents to the RFP proved it was preferable to keep this activity "in-house".  One speaker, former councilman Jay Humphrey, stood and chided the council for wasting time and creating angst on the part of the employees - who have had layoffs hanging over their heads for nearly 18 months - when a series of simple telephone calls over a year ago could have resolved this back then.  He, of course, was right.  So, the council voted to receive and file and to rescind five layoff notices to the remaining staff in that group.

Before I went to the meeting last night I had lunch and read my Wall Street Journal.  I found an article on the Opinion pages by Alan S. Blinder, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University titled, "The Case Against a CEO in the White House".  His thesis was that a successful top officer in business or industry does not necessarily make for a superior performer in government, and particularly not as President of the United States.  I found the following paragraphs from that article to be especially interesting:

Nolan Bushnell, the highly successful entrepreneur who founded both Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, once observed that "Business is a good game—lots of competition and a minimum of rules. You keep score with money." That's virtually the opposite of being president of the United States: The president has no direct competitors (though he does have opponents), must abide by numerous rules and certainly doesn't keep score with money. 
The differences between business and government are manifold. Start with democracy, the preservation and strengthening of which may be a president's first duty. Not many successful companies are run as democracies; benign dictatorship works far better. All the checks and balances that characterize American democracy would drive a hard-charging CEO, accustomed to getting his own way, crazy....

....Which brings us back to keeping score. Top business executives focus single-mindedly on "the bottom line," meaning profits. Among the reasons why so many smart business people fail in politics and government is that there is no bottom line—or perhaps I should say there are so many bottom lines that the search for a single one is futile. 

I sat there, munching a taco, and read and re-read those lines and couldn't help think how much they applied to our current situation in Costa Mesa.  As I've said MANY times before, we have members of the current City Council that just DO NOT LIKE RULES, PERIOD!  And, they seem bound and determined to "keep score" with money.  Please take a minute to re-read those three paragraphs again.

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