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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, December 16, 2005

The Beat Goes On...
Indeed it does. Since the now-infamous city council meeting on December 6th, during which the plan by our young mayor to certify every field officer and jailer in this city to be able to enforce immigration laws was debated - and partially rejected - the response from both sides has been overwhelming. There have been dozens of letters to the editor published in the local press on both sides of the issue. Commentaries have been printed covering the gamut, including a doozy of double-speak by our young mayor himself. Former councilman Mike Scheafer signed in with his assessment of the situation - which was right on the money, by the way.

Two local newspapers have published editorials against Mayor Mansoor's plan and the modified version Gary Monahan proposed. Both our young mayor and councilwoman Katrina Foley appeared on national television to give their views of this situation.

Sheriff Carona's plan is apparently moving forward and, based on a snippet of a news interview with him that I heard recently, is broader in scope than some anticipated. Based on what Carona told that particular news interviewer, he plans to have hundreds of field officers certified to perform immigration screenings in the not-to-distant future. Of course, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see our municipal "leaders" jump right on that bandwagon and also expand the scope of Costa Mesa's operations to include all field officers, not just the gang detail, detectives and a couple civilian jailers.

It looks to me like this pot will continue to boil throughout the holidays.

With the closure of the Job Center looming - December 31st is the closure date - our police officers will now be expected to be especially vigilant in the enforcement of our solicitation ordinance. That ordinance was created coincident with the Job Center's establishment 17 years ago as a method to "encourage" those seeking day labor to use the center instead of congregating in parks and convenience store parking lots around town. The plan worked so well that it became a model for other communities facing similar situations. Those were the days when adults were in charge of the city - the men and women who used their intellect, not their emotions, to assess the problem and come up with a solution that worked. Our current municipal "leaders" seem determined to turn back the clock to darker times.

I know the presence of illegal aliens places a huge burden on our economy as we educate their children, treat their illnesses and apprehend the criminals among them. It also puts a comparably large strain on our society as we debate this issue. The subject was very clearly outlined in a recent Daily Pilot editorial.

However, many of those self-same immigrants pick our produce, wash our cars, clean our buildings, tend our children, cook the food served to us in restaurants, wash those same dishes, mow our lawns, staff our factories, build our homes and on and on and on. Without the labor they willingly perform our economy wouldn't slow to a crawl, it would slam to a stop as though hitting a brick wall.

Enforcement of our federal immigration laws is a matter for the federal government to handle, not local police. This should not become a tool in the hands of a narrow-minded few to expunge Latinos from our community. This is like putting a loaded gun in the hands of first graders - they lack the common sense and maturity to handle it safely.

Mansoor and his tight-knit group of angry and vocal supporters will deny that there is anything racist about this move, but recent history proves them wrong. The impetus behind this movement has clearly been provided by one member of this community - a man who very much resembles my theoretical character "Your Neighbor" - who has spouted his racist venom in online essays for years, and has been the prime mover of most efforts to cause discomfort for the Latinos among us. Our young mayor and his cronies may deny association with this particular person, but their actions certainly speak volumes and refute any such denial. Like it or not, you are known by the company you keep.

Let me quote the final few lines of "The New Colossus", the poem by Emma Lazarus that is inscribed in the base of the Statue of Liberty:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Have we, as a society, become so calloused that we will turn our backs on those among us who clearly meet the definition of those described above? Will we rush to arrest and deport those among us simply because we don't like the color of their skin, the sound of their music or their language, leaving behind their children - American citizens, just like Mayor Mansoor and me? Will we slam shut that "golden door" through which so many of our own descendants - including our young mayor's own parents - arrived on these shores to create new lives for their families? Will we topple our economy by yanking out the labor which forms it's foundation just to satisfy a few angry, mean-spirited individuals among us? Will we in Costa Mesa now undo nearly two decades of progress, when a more enlightened municipal leadership recognized a problem and created solutions to resolve it?

If we do, it will be a truly sad day for this city. We will have affirmed that the dark forces of hatred and intolerance have taken control of our community. None of us will be the better for it. We will no longer be known as the City of the Arts. We will become known far and wide as the City Without a Heart. If the majority on our City Council does not come to it's senses and proceeds with their plan, perhaps artist Richard Serra's recently-commissioned piece of art for the Performing Arts Center should be a burning cross, perpetually aflame to remind residents and visitors just what kind of community this will have become.

10:28 am pst

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Lurking Turkeys and Immigrant Pursuits
First, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever's latest commentary in the Daily Pilot on December 8th continues to perpetuate the myth that Katrina Foley did something wrong with the distribution of the discretionary funds. She did not. Bever and his cronies, like Paul Bunney, just keep shaking this issue like pups with an old sock. Sometimes it makes you just want to swat them with a folded newspaper and say, "No! Bad Dog!" This has been a dead issue for weeks, yet they refuse to let it go - much to their discredit.

Bever has me feeling a lot like Dr. Frankenstein these days. When he stepped aside more than two years ago so Mike Scheafer could be appointed to the City Council I wrote that it was a "selfless act of citizenship", and speculated that perhaps the wrong person had stepped aside. With the benefit of hindsight, I readily admit that I was wrong - boy, was I wrong! Unlike Scheafer, whose lifetime of leadership and public service in this community is a benchmark for which others might strive, Bever has proven to be an erratic councilman, at best. His cavalier disregard for the rules of conduct as a councilman - most recently reflected in his commentary, as he made light of the now-infamous note passing incident - have revealed him as a man not to be trusted. The willingness with which he and his pal, Mayor Allan Mansoor, so deftly ignore the will of the people should make every single resident of this community uncomfortable. When I praised Bever I thought "what I saw was what I got". I didn't see the real Eric Bever lurking below the surface until after he was appointed to the Planning Commission and his true self began to emerge. Columnist Jim deBoom was right to name him as a recipient of his Turkey of the Year award. I find myself thinking that the turkey is much too majestic a bird to be compared to Bever. Perhaps the now-extinct Dodo is a more appropriate characterization.

I stayed up and watched the City Council meeting to the bitter end last Tuesday (Wednesday morning, actually). I heard every word spoken by the parties involved in the discussion of Mansoor's immigration enforcement scheme. I saw rational discussions expressed by people on both sides of the argument. I also saw wild-eyed fanatics representing each side, too, including the young man who professed Native American status who cussed out our young mayor not once, but twice, before he was escorted out of the auditorium. I heard people representing so many acronyms - LULAC, MALDEF, OCCCO and ACLU - that I felt like I was observing a Scrabble tournament.

I saw former mayor Gary Monahan, like Mighty Mouse, come flying in to rescue what was clearly an incendiary situation. I could almost hear him sing, "Here I am, to save the day!" Although, as Councilwoman Katrina Foley suggested, this issue was more appropriately a subject for a study session at which members of the Sheriff's Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau, local law enforcement and activists representing the Latino community and others could present viewpoints before formal consideration by the council, we were long past that point at the council meeting. Monahan's solution, which actually smacked of statesmanship, seemed to toss water on the embers of discontent for the time being. Since his plan piggybacks the Orange County Sheriff's much-debated and negotiated plan - still unfinished at this writing - and he used a two month-old draft of the plan as talking points, there may be time for city leaders to mend some fences smashed by our young mayor before it is implemented. It will also provide some time for some of the very important, yet unanswered, questions to be resolved. Since more than 70% of the speakers that night and early morning opposed both Mansoor's and Monahan's plans, there is obviously much work to be done.

This weekend, on Saturday, our young jailer/mayor presented us with another rambling discourse describing his reasons for bringing up this whole subject in the form of yet another commentary in the Daily Pilot. He attempted to convince the readers of the wisdom and purity of his intentions. I suspect he only had marginal success.

In my humble opinion, Mansoor tossed this proposal out for consideration without sufficient preparation. This is precisely the kind of hot-button issue that should have been discussed first during a study session, as recommended by Foley. This is yet another perfect example of how Mansoor and his pals plan to run this city. They take an issue, make up their minds about it before consultation with the public, then attempt to ram it down our throats. This happened with the WROC report earlier this year, and again when the Job Center closure was first proposed and, then again, when they blind-sided the members of the Human Relations Committee when they disbanded it without so much as a thank you to the volunteers who had served this city. They discourage public participation, apparently because they think they and their disciples know what's best for this city. How arrogant!

So, Mansoor, Bever and their cadre of angry, narrowly focused buddies continue their blizzard of rhetoric via the local newspapers, hoping to influence people beyond their inner circle to hop aboard their buckboard to the past, when racism was a core element of life in parts of this country. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jim Gilchrist trotted out to add venom to Mansoor's discourse any time now.

We have learned, once again, that you can't blink or turn your back on the ruling troika in this city for one minute. It might be your rights trampled the next time.

11:38 pm pst

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West