Friday, January 13, 2006
What Do The Police Think?
Continuing on with this bag of snakes our young jailer/mayor has dumped on the floor before us - the question of training
and authorizing Costa Mesa police officers to become immigration screeners - there is a question that has been rattling around
in my head. That question is, "What does our police chief and his senior staff think about this plan?"
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One would have thought that, as a responsible leader, Mayor Mansoor would have polled his police chief and his staff on this
issue at the very beginning as part of the vetting process. One would have thought that he would have seen the wisdom of
holding a study session during which some of the more potentially contentious parts of this plan could be hashed out before
a decision was to be made - to give the public and the other members of the council a chance to contemplate the ramifications
of this plan before voting on it. Of course, our mayor either didn't have the wisdom to take that approach or had already
made up his mind and didn't care what anyone else, including the chief, felt about it. I'm betting on the second choice.
I find myself wondering how Chief John Hensley feels about this issue. I wonder if he feels this plan will actually make
the streets of Costa Mesa safer. A speaker before the council on January 3rd asked that question, but there was no response
either from the mayor or the chief.
It's important to know whether our police department is behind this plan, or if they have misgivings about it's potential
effectiveness. It's important to know whether the chief feels this is a good way to spend the money it's going to cost.
If the real professionals in law enforcement, like our chief and his senior staff, feel this plan is a good one and it will
make our streets safer, then it's something to seriously consider. We already know that former chief Dave Snowden - a man
who served this city with distinction for nearly two decades before moving on to head up the Beverly Hills Police Department
- doesn't support the idea, because he recently wrote a commentary in our local newspaper of record, the Daily Pilot, telling
us as much.
Chief Hensley is in a tough spot on this one. He does, after all, work at the pleasure of the City Council through the City
Manager. I suppose it would be possible, if he spoke out in opposition, for the Mayor and his majority to demand he be fired.
Considering the arrogance of the current majority on the council, I could see that happening.
Still, I wonder how he feels about this whole thing. I also wonder how he feels about having to take his marching orders
from a deputy sheriff who has chosen to be a jailer - a place where rookies typically start their careers before moving on
to broader, more demanding assignments. It seems to me that a heavy dose of working in the jail, where you are exposed to
the worst among us, might tend to warp one's perspective on the real world. Mansoor's heavy hand on this, and many other
issues, tends to support that hypothesis.
In the meantime, Mansoor's face is all over the media and he's become the darling of those radical citizens of this country
whose idea of immigration reform is to slam the door shut, mine the border and sweep all those among us with Spanish surnames
from our land without consideration for the economic, social or moral consequences of that action. His supporters include
those hot-heads whose idea of debate is trying to shout you down with a bullhorn or to sing/scream the words to "God
Bless America" at the top of their lungs at a city council meeting. These are the people who have made Costa Mesa the
tip of the spear in their misguided battle and who have made Mayor Mansoor the poison on the tip. These are the people that
have embraced our young jailer/mayor and who will likely carry him on their shields to higher office.
Such is the sad condition of our city today.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Idolizing, Vocalizing, Chastising and Proselytizing
Mayor Allan Mansoor's plan to train Costa Mesa police officers for immigration interviewing continues to boil. Our young
jailer/mayor continues to lift his profile as he finds himself all over the media these days. The Minuteman Project founder
and many of it's functionaries have made him the poster boy for their get-tough-on-immigrants stand. So enamored are they
with him that I half-expect some of the Minuteladies to offer to bear his children!
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I recently had a chance to view a video of a portion of the council meeting January 3rd that was shot by a spectator in the
audience that night. This five minute segment showed the speech by the young man who was subsequently cut off short of
his allotted time and removed from the chambers by the police and arrested. The segment clearly showed that the police used
significant restraint dealing with him - until the situation appeared to be getting out of control. At that point Chief Hensley,
wisely, instructed his men to remove the young man from the chambers. The city feed stopped when he was told to stand down
from the podium. The video I watched continued, to show what happened later. After the young man was dragged from the chambers,
his supporters became an angry, unruly mob, shouting at the police and council members. One young woman sang "We Shall
Overcome" with passion and conviction, and was later "sung down" by a resident who belted out his in-your-face
version of "God Bless America" at the top of his lungs. He needs to keep his day job. As decorum broke down, Westside
activists could be seen and heard on the tape chuckling among themselves. After that raucous display, it's easy to understand
why it took more than a half hour to reconvene the meeting.
Costa Mesa resident, Latino activist, college professor and former Daily Pilot columnist Humberto Caspa appeared on the local
Al Rantel radio program on January 9th to talk about this issue. As hard as Caspa tried, Rantel wouldn't let him present
his message his way, which was not unexpected. As a result, Caspa was verbally flogged mercilessly by Rantel and, later,
by callers to the program. One caller, for example, commented that it looked like the Cal State University system was picking
up their professors from the parking lot at Home Depot - a clever, but totally inappropriate characterization. But, then,
that's what you hear from some of the screamers on talk radio these days.
Also on the 9th, during the Planning Commission meeting, commissioner Jim Fisler jumped up on his soapbox and tried to convince
his fellow commissioners to issue a proclamation supporting the recent decision by the city council regarding immigration
interviewing. Fortunately, the representative from the City Attorney's office kicked the box out from under him by reminding
him that such a proclamation is appropriately the venue of the city council, and that the Planning Commission is charged with
land use decisions, period. Some may recall that Fisler was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission by ousted incompetent
councilman Chris Steel. The Planning Commission was his next step up the political ladder, when he was appointed to that
body by his Westside pals last year. Now we hear it is likely that he will be candidate for a council seat in November.
It looks to me like he's climbing on the brown bodies of Westside immigrants to get a toe-hold for his campaign. I guess
we can look forward to similar such grandstanding by some potential City Council candidates as we progress to the November
elections. Fortunately, not all potential candidates find it necessary to fan the flames on this issue, apparently choosing
instead to let others spout rhetoric like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist".
As we move along toward the campaign season I imagine there will be opportunities to point out accomplishments, or lack thereof,
by potential candidates. There's plenty of time for each of you to watch them in action and form some valid opinions about
their qualifications and competence. I'll try to help with that process when I can. It's going to be an interesting year.
Sunday, January 8, 2006
Shifting Focus, Muddy Pigs and Disappearing Viewpoints
A couple of people whose judgment I trust recently commented to me about the literary tit-for-tat going on between a man who
very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, and your humble correspondent. Their suggestion that my energies
and observations might be put to better use by not engaging this character in a blog free-for-all has caused me to pause for
a little introspection. One friend reminded me of the old homily that says, "If you roll around in the mud with a pig
you both get dirty, but the pig enjoys it." So, I've decided to try my best to avoid the hog wallow - at least for the
time being. I reserve the right, however, to comment in the future when I feel it's appropriate.
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Besides, the way the Costa Mesa City Council is going about our business these days, there will be plenty of things to write
about - at least until after the next elections in November.
In a follow-up, the day after my last posting a potential source of "enlightenment" disappeared. The blog created
by Westside activist Don Elmore is gone - poof! - into the ether. I don't know the circumstances, but the link that worked
on Friday now takes you to a blank, blue page that contains only the notation that the URL is no longer valid. So, we bid
a fond adieu to the writings of First Sergeant Elmore and his small cadre of supporters. We'll miss his attempts at the education
of Costa Mesa residents on the illegal immigration issue so close to his heart. This is curiously similar to the way the
old Concerned Costa Mesa Citizens web site folded up it's operation a few years ago shortly after then-Daily Pilot writer
Lolita Harper wrote a three-part piece on it and the Orange County Human Relations Commission stuck it's unwelcome nose under
the tent. I guess that's the way it goes with these folks. When they venture out into the sunlight and receive a little
unanticipated attention they just slide back into the shadows, where they lurk and sulk. We hope they will decide to come
out and play again soon.