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.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Does Anyone Care?
In response to my last entry - now available for viewing via the link to archive 2005.08.14 at the bottom of this page - one person here in town who apparently shares some of my views dropped me a little note to comment on my observations. This person concurs with much of what I said, but wondered how many other people in our city know or care. Comments, taken directly from the email to me, are as follows: "Like you, I wonder if anyone notices and if so, do they care? By the time they care will too much harm have been done? Why is yours seemingly the only voice out there? Is it possible that a majority of the thinking people in this town agree with what's going on?"

That last question is particularly interesting. I find myself hoping the answer is a resounding "No!", but it's hard to tell. As the old saying goes, "The silence is deafening."

Here in Costa Mesa there is a small cadre of people who appear before the City Council or appointed commissions with any regularity. Having watched for the past few years, I estimate that fewer than two dozen people are "regulars", with an equal number appearing sporadically. Yes, many others appear and participate, but usually only when their particular ox is about to be gored.

That small group of people control the destiny of this city as they attempt to influence the decision-makers. Unfortunately, a few - too many, in my view - of this group are disciples of one particularly persistent and insidious activist - the "navigator" I mentioned in my last posting. The objectives of this person have become crystal clear over the years and he now has a City Council over which he can exercise much influence.

My correspondent and I are uneasy about the direction this city seems to be taking and are concerned that so few people seem to be aware of it, much less care about it. We both fear that, without more light being cast on this change in direction, the city may slide down this slippery slope to a point where retrieval may be impossible.

Here's a little quiz for you. See how many answers you can come up with:
What are the names of the current members of our City Council? When were they elected and when does their current term expire?
What are the names of their appointees on the Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission?

These fifteen people affect our lives every single day. They make decisions about how our streets are maintained, how many police officers and fire fighters are hired and how large a home can be built next door to you. They decide what kinds of trees will adorn our parks, who may use our playing fields and when. They establish the ordinances and policies that, for example, decide whether there will be a Job Center in our town, whether graffiti will be removed, whether abandoned shopping carts are to be retrieved and where you can park in this city. The list goes on and on. If you don't know their names, you should. Go to the city web site - a link is available on my Useful Links page - to find out the names of these people who so directly affect your lives.

The Daily Pilot, in their feature article last Sunday which discussed local bloggers, quoted me saying that if, by reading my blog, 50 more people in the community decided to get involved I would be a happy guy. That's very true. If you read these pages and are enticed, motivated or provoked to take a more active part in our community, my goal will have been met.

For those of you who read this and are curious, please find a way to begin following the activities in our city beginning right now. There are resources available to you on the city web site and in the archives of the Daily Pilot to help you get up to speed. You can attend the City Council, Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission meetings - there are usually plenty of seats available. Or, you can do as I usually do - watch the proceedings on our local cable television channel.

Of course, you could visit this web log frequently to see what I think about issues, but I don't recommend it as your only source of information. My opinion is only that - my opinion. It's based on my observations of conditions within our community. If you wish to include my opinions among the viewpoints available to you for consideration it's fine with me, but please cast a broader net and make your decisions based on an informed position. That same city web site mentioned above will also provide you a way to contact your elected and appointed officials directly - just in case you have an opinion to express.

To those of you who don't care, please feel free to jam your head back in the sand, cross your fingers and hope that I'm wrong. We'll find out soon enough...
2:26 pm pdt

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Missin' Chris Steel
A strange feeling has come over me lately. It's slightly humiliating and difficult to explain, but I'll try...

I've found myself missing Chris Steel. I know, I know - you're asking yourself, "How can you miss that guy?! Wasn't he the most useless excuse for a city councilman we've had in recent years?" Of course, the answer to that second question is "Yes!"

However, today I long wistfully for the days when Chris would show up at council meetings with absolutely no clue about the agenda items. I miss the evenings when he would forget to vote on an issue, or vote the opposite of the way he intended. I miss those evenings when I would yell at my television set as I watched the city council meetings because Steel, with that deer-in-the-headlights look on his face, tried to follow the proceedings with limited success. I miss the failed attempts I made to stifle a laugh as he would bungle procedural matters. I miss him because he was clueless, hopeless and mostly harmless.

Today, as I watch our city council in action, there is no joy in my heart - only trepidation. Sometimes I feel a little like a batter at the plate, looking for a looping curve ball, but only seeing sneaky fastballs being fired past me. I frequently check my pockets after watching a council meeting, to make sure they haven't snatched my wallet - yet.

Today, I worry about the direction this city is taking, who is at the helm and, more important, who is navigating the course. What is clear to me is that this city took a neck-snapping hard turn to the right last November when Eric Bever was elected to the City Council and he joined Allan Mansoor and Gary Monahan - who, after ten years on the council, has finally shown us his true colors - in absolute control over this city.

As each day passes it becomes more and more clear just who is providing direction to this ruling troika. It becomes obvious to even the most casual observer that one particularly persistent activist in this town has become "Edgar Bergen" to the council majority's "Charlie McCarthy", as they echo his words and move his own personal agenda forward. This activist is so far to the right that, compared to him, Barry Goldwater would look like a communist.

It's easy to tell that this city is in trouble, because this activist smiles a lot these days. Basically, if he's happy, the city should be worried.

Because of his obvious influence, I fear for the first generation Americans living predominantly on the Westside of town. I worry for them and for their parents as the majority on the council proceeds down their path toward the methodical expulsion of this ethnic group from our borders. I fear that Costa Mesa, under the "leadership" of this council, may be the first city in the United States to try to enact it's own foreign policy.

While this is happening, the vast majority of the residents of this town just cruise along in blissful ignorance, oblivious to the shift taking place. I find myself wanting to reach out, take each one by the shoulders, give them a good shake and yell, "Wake Up!"

These are precarious times for Costa Mesa.
11:00 am pdt

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Daily Pilot Exposes Bloggers Among Us
Many thanks to the editors of the Daily Pilot, and to reporter Elia Powers, for the terrific article today covering blogging and, specifically, a few of us bloggers here in the Newport/Mesa area.

For those of you who might be interested, the URL for that particular article is as follows:


I think it will remain available for reading online for a few weeks, after which it will disappear into the ether.
10:58 pm pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West