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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, October 13, 2005

A Mugging in Conference Room 1A
I watched something yesterday that I never thought I would see - a complete breakdown of decorum during a city council study session - as Mayor Allan Mansoor and Councilman Eric Bever ganged-up on Councilwoman Katrina Foley.

During the meeting on Tuesday, October 11th, Foley and Bever got into it over Bever's recent allegation of impropriety by Foley earlier this year in the use of the discretionary funds allocated to her. I watched the streaming video of the meeting yesterday morning and came away shaking my head in disbelief.

In a meeting that lasted slightly over thirty minutes, Foley and Bever swapped heated remarks, allegations and innuendo. Bever, joined by his pal Mansoor, questioned Foley's use of funds in terms that Foley, rightfully so, found very offensive. Bever flat out accused Foley of violating state law, even though the city attorney specifically and pointedly commented that no law had been broken. Like a pit bull with a fancy coiffure, Bever wouldn't let it go. He waved "documents" around - study aids from conferences he attended using his discretionary funds - which purportedly supported his position. It's unclear whether any of those documents included the law to which he referred.

Both Bever and Mansoor made it clear through their comments and actions that they were "going to get to the bottom of this!" I interpreted that to mean that they were going after Foley with both barrels.

As if the inaccurate and unsubstantiated allegations were not bad enough, Bever admitted that he had requested copies of Foley's cell phone records earlier that day. Foley was rightfully peeved at this attempt to further defame her character. Since she is a lawyer, I wouldn't be surprised if Bever and Mansoor soon find themselves staring at legal papers because of their latest chicanery.

This petty partisan political attack is just the latest in a series of acts by Mansoor and Bever which appear to be designed to disenfranchise dissenting voices on the council. It appears to me that Mansoor, in his quest to raise his political profile - perhaps in anticipation of a run for higher office in the not-to-distant future - has attempted to turn this city into his own little dictatorship.

The shameful display on Tuesday was obviously an orchestrated maneuver, which makes me wonder who's doing the orchestrating. Personally, I don't believe Mansoor or Bever are clever enough to come up with this stuff on their own. They both need to tread very carefully because, in addition to possible legal action, it's this kind of behavior from which recalls spring. I've already heard that word mentioned around town recently. This latest fiasco will just add fuel to that fire.

In a previous entry I referred to Bever as our municipal loose cannon. Well, that description might have been too mild. Watching him in action during public meetings is a little like watching a Roadrunner cartoon, with Bever playing the Wile E. Coyote role. It's as though he's using the fuse on a stick of dynamite as a candle in a bunker full of explosives. You know that, if you watch long enough, the whole thing is going to blow up in his face

The issue of "guidelines" for the use of council member discretionary funds apparently will be discussed at a future council meeting. Hopefully, Gary Monahan and Linda Dixon, both of whom were absent from this study session, will make an appearance at that one.

These are sad times for our city. Of course, that's just my opinion.
9:28 am pdt

Monday, October 10, 2005

Scrutinizing Foley's Bucks
Recently our municipal loose cannon, Councilman Eric Bever, made a large point of criticizing how Councilwoman Katrina Foley had dispensed some of her discretionary funds this summer. He was apparently joined by Mayor Allen Mansoor in requesting this subject be discussed by the council with an eye toward establishing guidelines by which such funds can be distributed. The item was placed on the agenda for the council's October 11th regular study session.

In my opinion, this discussion really revolves around the definition of two words, "discretionary" and "judgment". One definition of "discretionary" in my trusty dictionary reads as follows: "Having or using the ability to act or decide according to your own discretion or judgment".

When you cast your vote for a council candidate you may have said to yourself, "I trust this person to use good judgment on my behalf as they go about doing the city's business." Part of that trust must, in my view, include how they dispense the dollars in our city coffers, including the discretionary funds allocated to each of them. The key here is judgment. If Foley, in her judgment - and in light of the fact that there are no specific guidelines and that City Manager Allan Roeder apparently advised her that there was no prohibition on the use of the funds - felt the use of city dollars for the purposes mentioned in Bever's complaint was an appropriate use of those funds, it provides the voters in this city one element by which to measure her performance as a council member.

The dollars in question are insignificant when compared to the total budget. Under other circumstances one might think that Mayor Mansoor and Councilman Bever are just being good fiscal watchdogs when they bring this question up. I suspect, based on their behavior since the last election, this may not necessarily be the case. To me this smacks of pure petty partisan politics. If a majority on the council feels rules for the use of each member's discretionary funds are necessary, I caution them to make those rules broad in scope and not try to micro-manage this issue. One never knows how their decision might come back to bite them. We are, after all, measuring their judgment, too.
11:53 pm pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West