Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Transparency? Bah, Humbug!

My plan was to put off any political rhetoric for the holiday season, but the City of Costa Mesa threw me a curve ball that requires me to let you know about something that will be sprung on you at the first City Council meeting of the year, on January 5, 2016 - something that was sprung on me today, two days before Christmas and less than a day before everyone at City Hall takes off for the holiday and is therefore unable to answer questions about it... I've been trying for a couple hours.

At the very end of the agenda, which has some other interesting things on it as well, is this little piece, New Business #1 at the very end of the agenda, misleadingly titled, "Changes To The Temporary Sign Code/Policy", which you can read in it's entirety HERE.

The Staff Recommendation paragraph reads as follows:
Provide direction to staff as to any changes City Council wishes to make to the existing Sign Code or policy as it applies to all temporary signs, including political campaign signs. Also direct staff on their participation in filming/video production of candidates’ forums and inclusion of such forums on the City’s website.

So, without any reference to it in the title of this staff report, a solicitation for direction on filming/video production of candidate forums is stealthily included in this item.

The staff report goes on and on at great length discussing why changes need to be made to our sign policies, primarily due complications with campaign signs.  I agree that this is something that needed to be tightened up considering all the turmoil around campaign signs, including the bogus arrest of employee Steven White, who was tried and found not guilty of that crime - stealing signs worth maybe $10!  So, yes, let's clarify and tighten up the rules, by all means.

However, tucked way, way way down at the end of the staff report is this part of the staff analysis:
As to filming of candidate’s forums, staff and the City Attorney would also recommend that City staff be directed to not participate in the filming or video production of any candidates’ forums and that such forums recordings not be placed on the City’s website. Staff feels that with the new technology available today there are many alternatives and options available for City residents to view the various forums without involvement of City staff.

Let me tell you that this reeks!  Our City government pontificates constantly about how "transparent" it is - citing all the frills and do-dads of transparency, while failing badly where the rubber meets the road.  There can only be ONE reason for this recommendation - certain politicians don't want the public to be able to see them in action in public campaign forums!  During the last few campaign seasons we saw around 300 people attending the most popular forums - in a city with more than 50,000 registered voters.  Thousands of others certainly watched the taped replays provided on CMTV during the run-up to the election.  If the politicians have their way, those thousands will be shut-out of the process.

That staff recommendation refers to "new technology available" and "many alternatives and options".  Really?  Just what would that be?  I'm presuming they mean the likes of Barry Friedland's Costa Mesa Brief coverage, in which old Barry may choose to edit to his little heart's content and edit out objectionable (to his partisan pals) segments.

...OR ME!
Or, you always have your old pal here at A Bubbling Cauldron, who tries to attend every such event and report what he sees for your consumption.  Certainly you DON'T want me to be your only source of information, do you? 

So, carve out a few minutes to write to City CEO Tom Hatch (just click on that name for the email address) to let him know how you feel about this.  If you feel you're getting shut-out of information regarding the upcoming campaign season by the implementation of this action, let him know.  Personally, I think it's yet another example of how those currently in power are choosing to decide for you what you will see - just as they try to control what you can say.  Don't let them get away with it!



Anonymous zennymoon said...

I call. B.S...Friedlan films all the Tea party soirees, and on many occasions edits OUT anythjng detrimental to the boys. How do I know this Because when i attended and was treated rudely and then our mayor stormed off, this complete segment was DELETED, poof! This compromising of the residents rights needs a review by a civil rights attorney. They know they are in deep doo doo in 2016. Then we must speek out, let others know they are trying to muffle free speech and information from flowing to the residenrs. I REPEAT, I CALL BULL SHEET!

12/23/2015 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Wasn't it just 4 years ago that the not so esteemed councilmen changed the sign regulations during the election season, throwing a curveball to some candidates who already printed signs in different sizes?

Then there's the old trick of calling in an anonymous code violation on a desirable location and then "helping" the victim with the nasty code and hinting that a campaign sign would be appreciated. Just a rumor, but it certainly seems possible.

12/23/2015 08:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

That simply encourages us to attend and bring our own video cameras. Oh and we will. We can cover way more area with Facebook and such than anyone covers on the city website.

Last election saw Righeimer supporters pulling up Humphrey signs and replacing them with Righeimers along Wilson and Harbor. Oh yeah, let's get tough with the sign ordinance. Doubting they are going to take their own advice.

12/23/2015 09:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Like so many before him, Barry has OCGOP bootpolish on his tongue.

12/24/2015 06:16:00 AM  

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