Sunday, July 12, 2015

Marking A Milestone

Thursday afternoon, July 9th, my sweet and very patient wife and I slipped quietly out of town for a couple days of very much needed decompression.  We had intended to make this little journey to our favorite place on the Central Coast for the Independence Day holiday, but the traffic was so thick - it took us 4 hours to travel a mere 90 miles - that we chucked that plan and returned home to the war zone known as Costa Mesa for that weekend.

And, because we decided to resurrect our plans this weekend, a special milestone slid right past me, so I'll mention it now.

Ten years ago - July 9, 2005 - I launched this blog using another host.  From that date until November 1, 2006 I published my little rants unimpeded by comments because that host didn't accommodate that function.  You can find all those entries HERE.

Here's what that very first entry looked like:

Saturday, July 9, 2005
The potential redevelopment of Westside Costa Mesa got a whole lot more interesting recently. On June 23, 2005 the United States Supreme Court ruled in a Connecticut case that eminent domain can be used to force property owners off their land so another entity can replace it to generate more tax revenue. However, the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution states, in part, "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation". In this case that term, "just compensation", is just another way of saying, "way below market value".

If I were a business property owner on the Westside of Costa Mesa I would be shaking in my boots about now. It was bad enough when the residential overlay was approved for the entire area that will permit a willing industrial property owner to sell to a developer and facilitate the integration of residential units in the present industrial area. This recent ruling makes it a whole new ball game. Now eager developers can sweet talk our City Council into using the sledgehammer of eminent domain to oust even the most reluctant of property owners. Do I hear the jingle of campaign finance coins in the air?

You're probably saying to yourself, "Nah, our council members would never do that." Well, don't be too sure. It takes lots of money to successfully run for public office. Eric Bever, for example, managed to round up over $50,000 for his war chest in his slim victory last November. He and his pal, Mayor Allan Mansoor, seem likely to run again - Mansoor in 2006 and Bever in 2008 - so developers with jingling pockets will probably start showing up on their doorsteps pretty soon with plans for the "mansionization" of the Westside.

Ambitious Mayor Pro Tem Gary Monahan, who theoretically is termed out of a council seat after his current tour, might be looking forward to higher office - perhaps County Supervisor. I imagine he will have his ear cocked for the sound of jingling coins, too.

Lest you think the ladies on the dais will be left out, I suspect Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon can expect the developers to come calling, too.

If you're thinking to yourself that this won't affect you, think again. If you own a one of those little, old homes on the Westside in an area that falls under the shroud of the residential overlay, you might be getting a queasy stomach right about now. If you had a cocky smirk on your face a couple months ago when the Westside Redevelopment Oversight Committee's recommendations were usurped by Bever's sleight of hand that put the residential overlay over virtually the entire Westside because you thought it would rid you of obnoxious industrial neighbors, think about this: As I understand this ruling, it would be entirely possible for a residential property owner living in a redevelopment zone to be forced to sell his home for "just compensation" so a new, larger one could be built that would generate more property tax. If your little bungalow just happens to sit on a sliver of land that might be a key acquisition for a larger development, we could soon be seeing your taillights as you head out of town, because you sure won't be able to afford another place in Costa Mesa with the proceeds of your "just compensation". 

Are you nervous yet? You should be - especially in this city, where the ruling troika on the City Council has already demonstrated a smug willingness to play fast and loose with the rules.

I, for one, expect to have more than a few sleepless nights about this issue.
2:48 pm pdt

There's been a lot of water under the bridge since that time.  A lot has changed in Costa Mesa since then.  The governance has devolved from the inept bumbling of Chris Steel and the deer-in-the-headlights incompetence of Allan Mansoor to our current condition, with the devious, manipulative, ego-centric, heavy-handedness of the carpetbagging political opportunist, Jim Righeimer and his faithful sidekick, Steve Mensinger.  About the only constant has been Gary (What's in it for me?) Monahan.

During that time we've seen the economy tank and force our municipal leaders to make some difficult decisions.  Fortunately, under the steady hand of City Manager Allan Roeder, they had laid the groundwork in the form of cautious, conservative fiscal management, so there was enough money in the kitty to help the city survive those difficult time.  Everyone in the government pitched in to help.

Today, though, it's a different story.  Those leaders are being vilified by the current leaders for building up excessive reserves, and for making careful, thoughtful decisions regarding staffing to help bridge those tough times.  We've gone from a time when the employees and the leadership worked as a team, working together to find solutions, to the current situation where the elected leaders consider the employees their adversaries.  They've tried to layoff - illegally - more than 200 employees and the two top elected leaders have sued the men and women charged with keeping us safe - the CMPD.  They've created such a toxic atmosphere at City Hall that several dozen employees have opted to retire earlier than planned or have left to work at other jurisdictions. 

Today we don't have enough police officers to effectively protect our city.  Crime statistics are up dramatically.  Today we see political opportunism interfere with the implementation of a new fire department deployment model that would dramatically improve that part of our public safety equation and save us a lot of money at the same time.  We see a government willing and eager to put potholes before public safety.  We see leaders willing to change the rules and create ordinances with which to bludgeon long-time businesses so they will reevaluate their operations with an eye to make it easier for their developer-friends to snatch up those beleaguered properties for pennies on the dollar.

And, of course, those current elected leaders don't take criticizm very well, so they've found ways to insitutionalize the stifling of critics by bifurcating public comments and barking chiding remarks during and after they speak.  They interrupt and intimidate speakers who offer an opposing viewpoint.  Free speech is an alien concept to them - except when applied to themselves.

Their actions have resulted in legal challenges unheard of in decades past.  Through those capricious and sometimes malicious acts the City Treasury has been forced to squander millions of dollars on legal fees - money that could have been used to rebuild public safety, for example.

And through it all we've been here, trying to present our views of these issues for your consideration.

I didn't begin to count the entries at the beginning, but the current blog host does that for me. This will be my 2,715th entry on this site and we've generated almost 2.3 million page views.  Thanks to all of you for that.  And, along the way other organizations have recognized the meager efforts here.  The OC Weekly has named A Bubbling Cauldron as it's Blog Of The Year a couple times and the Daily Pilot has recognized our efforts in their DP 103 list several times.  We are very grateful for that.  In hindsight, I should have figured a way to get paid by the word...  Oh, well...

My goal when I began writing this blog was to get a few more folks in the community interested in what was happening in their government.  I think it's safe to say that we've met that goal - and then some.

So, off we go on our second decade.  Thanks, again, to all of you who take the time to read what appears on this site, and especially to those of you who have taken the time over the years to offer your opinions and/or suggestions.  I'm not sure how much longer the old Cauldron will continue to boil - events involving friends and neighbors continue to remind us that life is short and to make every day count.  But, as long as we think it makes a difference, we'll just keep throwing logs on the fire and continue to stir...

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Blogger Cindy Lou Who said...

Thank you for your Calder, perspective and for keeping it REAL alls these years Geoff. You and Jon Stewart are where I get my real news!

7/12/2015 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger OC Public Square said...

Geoff you DO make a difference. You are the glue that holds us together. Because your old school accurate fact-based reporting covers the entire event or meeting, we as residents are privileged to know what's really going on. You defend our rightsxand encourage us when were ready to give up. We still can't see behind closed doors but your tireless efforts increase our transparency into city hall. Thank you for your persistent questioning of motives and for calling them out over and over. Thank you for enduring the long meetings and writing your blog while we're sleeping. Your role in taking our city back is key and we all hope you stay healthy until our city is safely back in the care of council members who put the welfare of the residents before their own. Thank you Susie too for your patience and support. We love you both. Enjoy your vacation.

7/12/2015 07:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Geoff, you absolutely do make a difference. This page is the only place we can find out what is going on in all venues. Albeit, with opinions supplied, they are right on. You cannot imagine the service you provide. Thank you immensely for the late nights, early mornings, and hours and hours spent at the keyboard.

7/12/2015 08:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

Bubbling Cauldron makes a huge difference. Please keep on truckin'.

7/12/2015 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

On another note, did you see the video circulating of Righeimer at the Tea Party meeting? He said our budget is balanced. No mention that the self-insured fund is 5 million in the red. Where did that money go? It went to another account to show as a reserve. He is attempting to pull the wool over everyones' eyes. I also heard him on that same video indicate that all policemen retire at 50. Huh? Righeimer also said that they have not laid off any employees. It only took a lawsuit to halt his 500 pink slips, as he did try. And it gets worse.

I encourage everyone to go look at that video, and bring your waders and a shovel.

Its about time our firemen/medical personnel are able to drive the medic units that WE purchased. Instead we must use CARE Ambulance because its one step closer to privatization so Rig won't let it go. So it costs the taxpayers a huge pile o' money every year, rather than use the units that would pay for themselves in order for him to keep that foot in the door for privatization.

7/12/2015 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger G. Ridge Studio said...

Thank you Potstirrer. You have time and time again proved to be the most valuable resource in gathering a view on what's happenijg in Costa Mesa. And we all know,...there's always something happening in Costa Mesa and it's usually ridiculous.
Keep em coming!

7/12/2015 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

When the history of Costa Mesa is written, there will be two lists: Those who helped, and those who sold out. Thank you Geoff, for always helping and never selling out.

7/12/2015 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

As I read the accolades, I looked for areas that nobody else had praised. I can't add anything.

Just in case I missed something, I will say that you are just plain all around excellent.

Keep strong!

7/12/2015 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

I used to read the Daily Pilot and The Register almost every day. The last few years it has been here. The archives you have are just a trove of historical information.
Agree or disagree on politics, I believe I know where you are coming from most of the time.
It may be time to travel while you have the means and opportunity Geoff, I believe we are headed for a difficult cultural period ahead.


7/12/2015 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

Many thanks to you, Geoff, both for reporting facts and putting them in perspective. I rely on your Bubbling Cauldron every day that you post. And reading the comments is helpful, too. May you keep stirring the pot for many years to come.

7/12/2015 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Thank you for giving your time and for enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fools. Keep up the good fight.

7/12/2015 05:06:00 PM  
Anonymous breaking bad said...

From Barbara Venezia a couple of years ago. "His blog methodically dissects issues affecting Costa Mesa, which is why many locals and politicos read it religiously.

While blogger's opinions previously weren't taken too seriously, times have changed. These days, many take Geoff's opinionated blogging posts very seriously. So much so, he finds himself a bit uncomfortable as PR people like Larry Thomas for Facilities Management West and OC Fair Board Chairman Dave Ellis start courting him.

"Feels like I'm getting a Brazilian wax job from PR firms," he jokes. He was a bit surprised when invited to lunch by Ellis. He'd never met him before the Feet to the Fire Forum. Geoff insisted on paying for his own lunch."

Thanks Geoff for being "that guy" when the city needed "that guy". For providing a place to get information and provide information and for your future efforts!

7/12/2015 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

To all who commented above... you leave me speechless.... well, almost speechless... :-) Thanks very much for the kind words. We'll just keep on plowing along as long as there's gas in the tank. To those of you actually in the trenches.. fighting the good fight for the good of the entire community and not just special interest groups... thanks for all YOU do. Keep it up.

7/12/2015 09:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin Leffler said...

Dearest Pot Stirrer - no one can stir it up like you! BIG THANKS!

7/13/2015 03:25:00 AM  
Anonymous And So It Goes said...

Geoff: keep up the good work! You are a treasure. Your dedication to CM is unmatched, you are fearless, and provide an incredibly valuable service. Wishing BC many more birthdays!

7/13/2015 09:24:00 AM  

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