Monday, June 01, 2015

A Sad State Of Affairs

For more than a decade I've written on this blog and elsewhere about Costa Mesa and the politics of this city.  During that time there have been many, many highs and certainly a few lows, too.  For example,

We've seen people like the chronically-inept Chris Steel elected to City Council after trying nine times before.

We've seen the political discourse driven, from time to time, by a notorious racist.

We've seen a Latino activist dragged from a City Council meeting and arrested.  The costs for the ensuing lawsuit continue to show up on Warrants to this day, ten years later.

We've seen a carpet-bagging political opportunist move to town and almost immediately be appointed to a prestigious commission in repayment for campaign support by a re-elected council member.  That provided him with the political platform to be elected and re-elected (barely) to the City Council.

He led a cadre of wrong-thinking individuals in a take over city government and attempt to "run it like a business", forgetting that a municipal government IS NOT a business - it exists only to provide services to the populace, not produce a product for profit.

That group immediately created chaos in City Hall by attempting to - illegally - layoff nearly half of the members of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association - the so-called Miscellaneous Employees.  That act resulted in one young distraught employee to leap to his death from the roof of City Hall and a lawsuit that remains unresolved to this day, more than 4 years later.

We've seen the two top elected city officials actually sue the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department, while gutting that once-proud department by imposing unrealistic staffing levels and spending hard-earned tax dollars filling potholes instead of providing public safety.  The toxic atmosphere they created caused experienced officers to retire early and/or seek jobs with other venues.  They forced the delay in replacing those officers, putting public safety in jeopardy by reducing staffing levels unseen in this city in more than two decades.

We've seen those same men create a list of unnecessary new committees and stack them with cronies as payback for political support.  These unnecessary committees sucked up thousands of valuable staff hours performing analysis and reports at a time when their skills were required elsewhere.

We've seen them attempt to change the basic structure of municipal government by jamming a Charter down our throats, only to have that scheme overwhelmingly rejected TWICE by the voters.

We've seen them vilify municipal employees because unfunded pension liabilities have created fiscal complications, but they refuse to take any positive steps to resolve that issue.

We've seen ordinances passed that dissolve protections for the residents in favor of greasing the skids for developers, who will build projects then never been seen again, leaving residents to deal with the aftermath of overtaxed infrastructure.

We've seen ordinances passed that penalize business owners for calling public safety organizations to receive protection from unsafe and/or illegal situations at their establishments.  The goal, as stated unequivocally by elected officials, was to force those business owners to take a more "realistic" view of the value of their businesses by pummeling them with fines to encourage them to sell out to developers.

We've seen ordinances passed that almost seem designed to turn neighbor against neighbor.  Simultaneously, they have created and implemented a smart phone app that encourages that same behavior.  In fact, one of our top elected officials may be the biggest proponent of this app and regularly snaps photos and reports folks who have allowed their lawn to grow too long and other similar minor infractions.

They created a cadre of special Code Enforcement officers outside the normal structure who report directly to the Executive Offices, and they've been used as a personal enforcement unit by the City Council majority.

During recent years we've seen political discourse sink to, perhaps, the lowest level in any one's memory.  We've seen critics increasingly step up during meetings to present opposing views, only to be chided by members of the City Council.  We've seen members of the public admonished and threatened by officials for speaking out.  We've had members of the public warned against speaking out by staff members.

We've seen Freedom of Speech placed in jeopardy by procedures implemented which are specifically designed to discourage participation by the public.  They have institutionalized stifling of dissent.

And, this stifling of dissent has spread beyond the walls of City Hall.  A social media site has been created that crows about being the "best source of news about Costa Mesa" and invites all-comers to join in the discussion.  Several elected and appointed community leaders actively participate in the discussions, expressing their opinions on important issues and openly criticizing opposing views.  But the out-of-town rabble-rousers - with no vested interest in the future of Costa Mesa - who administer it block dissenting voices by either refusing to admit them to the site or by ousting those already on board if they dare to express an opposing viewpoint.  In addition, they troll other competing sites and expel members from their site if they dare to post a critical comment.  And, despite their claim of being a superior news site, non-members may not even observe and read that "news", much less particpate in the discussions.  It is a site for insiders only, where like-minded individuals chatter back and forth, agreeing with each other and presuming their views on important issues are the correct views.  This kind of strangulation of public discussion reeks of WWII Germany.  It shouldn't be too surprising, since the aforementioned racist is a major driver of conversations on the site.  How very sad for those folks who joined up expecting more, only to find discussions framed by an internationally notorious Nazi sympathizer.

This weekend, though, we may have seen the bar set at it's lowest point.  It has been widely reported that during what has historically been the City's favorite family event, the Lion's Club Fish Fry at Fairview Park, two prominent members of the public - one a former elected and appointed official and the other an activist and former candidate for City Council - got into a heated disagreement that ended with one spitting in the face of the other after being mocked about his disability.  The other man then retaliated with what was described as a "sucker punch" to the face.  We are told that it ended at that point.  To our knowledge, although there apparently were several witnesses to the event, no charges have been filed.

From what I know of this situation, there likely was fault on both sides and was the result of long-simmering animosity between the two participants, but there is no excuse for that behavior.  Unfortunately, this only further demonstrates how the political process and attendant discourse has declined in our city during this current regime.  The incivility on social media comment threads, including the threads on our two local newspapers, seems to have emboldened bad behavior on both sides of the important issues facing our city.  That bad behavior finally manifested itself in physical confrontation this weekend.  It's a sad, sad commentary on political life in our city.

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Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

I see a pattern of OCGOP minions having issues with teachers:

For some, teachers must have been the ones who tried to help them, but couldn't.
So as adults they want to blame a teacher for their adult shortcomings.
Sad indeed.

6/01/2015 02:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the "puncher" get all red faced with bulging veins popping out of his forehead like he did when he threatened the senior citizen ladies back at the May 2014 cc meeting?

6/01/2015 02:46:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

The way the article began I feared you were signing off for the last time. Glad to know that's not the case.

For balance I believe it's fair to mention that certain morally (if not legally) corrupt members of our police force attempted to set up our council members for extortion. (Emphasis on the word "certain", not all.) That must be included as an all-time low.

6/01/2015 03:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Sadly Pot Stirrer, the things you mention above are but a scratch on the surface. You didn't even mention the joke of a presentation they made of the budget. Not even close to reality. People are not paying attention, but when the well runs dry, they will. Then it will be too late. Sandy attempted to get the attention drawn toward the budget, but it goes over peoples' heads.

Carrie, yes, that Righeimer/Mensinger supporter would be one and the same. He, and his daughters, took off as fast as he could right after the event. He is a mere bully, just like those whose boots he licks. Wish we could make "bully sticks" out of all three of them.

Yes, this city has suffered a major blow since 2010. No, its not better off now. Crime is skyrocketing, drugs are easier to get than a hamburger, property crimes are horrific. And now, the letter is out, Costa Mesa is the "go to" city for heroine. Where does it stop?

Now, we have these ugly high density developments that we will forever have to look at. The constant reminder will be the loss of any street parking in almost every neighborhood. The developer money going to Righeimer and Mensinger is sickening. They don't even try to hide it anymore. These men have no ethics.

Sad, very sad. Can't wait to vote them out and attempt to get this city back on track.

6/01/2015 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Super thorough post, I agree with you completely.
Clearly, someone needs serious medical help.
His friends and family should be intervening and doing something TODAY.

6/01/2015 05:04:00 PM  
Anonymous It has to be said...

Duuuuuuude... that really harshes my mellow. What kind of loser makes fun of someone's disability?

Someone needs a toke... chill out...

6/01/2015 08:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

David, can you tell us who those police officers are that hired the PI to do a DUI on the mayor? We'd sure like to know because the judges found differently. You are either terribly uninformed or are drinking their koolaid. Either way, you're WRONG!

6/01/2015 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

David, at this point there is no evidence presented that confirms what you are saying. Yes, we heard of banter between a couple cops, but certainly nothing actionable. I'm willing to let this drama play out and let the chips fall where they may. I hope you will be, too. I readily admit to being pro-cop... my best friend was a cop for more than 3 decades and I have MANY friends in law enforcement. However, I recognize that they are people, too, with the same foibles as most of us. They are - and should be - held to a higher standard of behavior. As I said, I'm willing to wait for the outcome.

6/01/2015 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Great writeup, thank you.

I knew about the incident,knew it began when BOMOPS
approached 'SRN' ( shall remain nameless)
while SRN was in line to get a burger and argued with him,
all the while BOMOPS' young daughters were watching.
Great parenting- NOT! Again with the using his
kids as human buffers.
I did NOT know BOMOPS mocked a disability.
That is something even I thought was beneath him, but
clearly I am wrong.
BOMOPS has hit a new low if that is possible.
Mocking those who have disabilities is something skin heads,
members of the Aryan Youth or related groups would do.
BOMOPS is now in that category.
And to think he once held a position in our city government.

6/01/2015 08:37:00 PM  

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