A Bubbling Cauldron
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Welcome to A Bubbling Cauldron, a blog dedicated to the observations and opinions of this writer. Most of the time the subject will be local politics and politicians - those issues and/or people affecting the lives of those of us in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. Occasionally, I might write about something obscure that interests me. Or, I may just launch off into some philosophical rant if the urge moves me. I might even include comments by others from time to time.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Judi Berry and the Smokescreen
Judith Berry, vivacious activist and self-appointed budget watchdog in this town, has become a fanner of the flames that produces the smokescreen initiated by the male majority on the city council.

In her Mailbag contribution in the Daily Pilot today she demands that those of us who write letters stick to facts, then fails to do so herself. She accuses those of us who point out the testosterone tilt on the city council, so evident in vote after vote, of trying to set back the emergence of women by attempting to portray Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon as, in Mrs. Berry's words, "weaklings". I agree with Mrs. Berry when she states in her letter, "Councilwomen Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon are very strong, independent, intelligent women. They can stand up for themselves against the best of them -- men or women." Anyone who has spent any time in proximity to those women will tell you that "weak" is not a word that fits either one. I've neither heard nor read about them being referred to as such. What they are, though, is outnumbered. That's a fact.

Mrs. Berry, based on her own words, would much prefer to have the men be referred to as "conservatives" and the women referred to as "liberals". Yeah, that's a whole lot better, Judi. Let's just label everyone with whatever tag we think is appropriate. What's next, Mrs. Berry? Do we begin using the dreaded "D" word - Democrat? Does she prefer us to allow the civil discussion of divergent viewpoints to degenerate into a school-yard name calling contest?

It is a fact, like it or not, that the arguments and opinions of the two highest vote-getters in the last election- two women - have been rendered inconsequential by the majority on the council - three men. Short of a gender transformation by one of the men, that imbalance will remain - at least for the next sixteen months, when the voters once again have a chance to be heard.

The fact is, under the guise of being "conservative", the three men on the city council have begun to disassemble much of the social fabric of this community. It is they, in fact, who will turn back the clock not the 30 years Mrs. Berry mentioned, but a half century - to a time when oppression and bigotry was rampant in parts of this country. Mrs. Berry, with her southern heritage, should certainly understand what that will mean.

The editors of the Daily Pilot hit the nail right on the head when they pointed out in their editorial on July 24th the distressing trend in Costa Mesa toward relegating local government to simply fixing potholes, fighting fires and catching bad guys. I suspect most of the residents of this city expect more - much more - from our city leaders.

Mrs. Berry and "the guys" can continue to blow smoke. Some of us will continue to find ways to see through it and speak out. That's a fact.
11:02 am pdt

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Political Irony and Unfulfilled Expectations
Those of us who pay attention to such things got a clear view of one of the interesting ironies in local politics at the Costa Mesa City Council meeting on July 19th.

A long time activist - a woman who meets the definition of "seasoned citizen" by any stretch of the term and who, for years, has fancied herself "housemother" for the Westside - presented herself before the council during the Public Comments segment and proceeded to rip the members for not doing enough for her part of town. She singled out for special condemnation Mayor Allan Mansoor and Councilman Eric Bever - two men she had supported during their candidacy.

I found myself wondering just what it will take to make this woman happy! The Westside has absorbed a disproportionate share of municipal funds over the past few years for street improvements and undergrounding of utilities. It has benefited by an increase in law enforcement and code enforcement presence. Bever's quick pitch of the process that ended up applying a residential overlay over the industrial Westside has made it possible to evict those industrial businesses she has complained about for years. The Job Center, which has been stuck in her craw for a long time, is on it's way out. What is she expecting next - for buses to line up on 19th Street, waiting to load up the "illegals" in her neck of the woods to be transported back across the border? I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

Perhaps she's frustrated by the failure of her "chosen" candidates to live up to her expectations. First there was Chris Steel - arguably the least competent elected official in this city for decades - who took up valuable space on the council dais without making any discernible contribution during his tour the first four years of this decade.

Now she watches as Mansoor and Bever attempt to turn the council into a body devoid of compassion. Their definition of local government apparently starts and stops with fixing potholes, extinguishing fires and catching bad guys, period. A measure of their compassion was the recent de-funding and subsequent disbanding of the almost two decades old Human Relations Committee - a committee organized specifically to help bridge issues between diverse constituencies within the city.

This activist was one of the people behind the controversial Concerned Costa Mesa Citizens web site a couple years ago. Mayor Mansoor was an active participant for many months. That site, while it was up and running, opened a window into the minds of many Westside activists as they posted rant after rant, many of which were laced with racial intolerance. However, once Daily Pilot reporter Lolita Harper cast light on it in her excellent three-part series and the county Human Relations Commission stuck it's unwelcome nose under the tent, the door was slammed shut. Despite much "progress" being made on the Westside it seems impossible to satisfy this activist and some of her cronies. She may, in fact, precisely represent the attitude of many of the "Westside activists" who appear eager to return Costa Mesa to the days when it was known as Goat Hill - when English was the primary language of most residents.

***

Thanks to the Orange County Register for publishing my comments on eminent domain in The Current, a weekly supplement distributed in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, on Friday, July 22nd. That letter was an abbreviated version of the first entry on this blog - dated Saturday, July 9th - if you wish to refresh your memory.

***

Those of you who watched the brief July 25th Planning Commission meeting had a chance to see Chairman Bill Perkins display his complete lack of leadership on the dais once again. Perkins, who as "mini-me" to Mayor Pro Tem Gary Monahan, demonstrates in meeting after meeting just how ill-prepared he is for any kind of leadership role in public life. Although he seems like a nice enough young man, Perkins continues to demonstrate his immaturity as he blathers on and on, apparently seeing no need to filter his thoughts before he blurts them out. If the Planning Commission is the de facto "prep school" for a shot at a spot on the City Council, Perkins needs to enroll in several remedial courses before trying to take that giant step.
2:52 pm pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West