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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.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Angry Opponents Make Me Smile
Our young jailer/mayor's campaign to oust the Latinos from our midst by using a variety of tactics has resulted in some interesting differences of opinion around our town.

His most recent plan to certify Costa Mesa police officers to perform immigration screenings seems to have struck a chord, fanning the flames of the fire that Jim Gilchrist and his Minuteman Project cohorts started. Most Latinos are, justifiably, concerned about just how this plan will evolve. It appears that most fear that the mayor's pledge of no immigration sweeps will not be kept, and that people in this town with brown skins and Spanish surnames will be pulled over for minor infractions and deported.

Although 90% of the Costa Mesa residents who spoke at the recent council meeting were against the mayor's plan, it's hard to get a handle on how the Anglos in our community feel about the issue. Most of the supporters of the mayor's plan who show up to speak before the city council and be interviewed by the media are imported agitators from such exotic places as Compton and Los Angeles. It would be nice to know how our neighbors actually feel about the issue. I guess we'll find out in November.

An interesting sidebar, however, is the fact that one particularly vocal activist has managed to get angry with Mayor Mansoor and his buddy, Mayor Pro Tem Bever, even though he whole-heartedly supports the Latino expulsion. Seems they recently voted for a car wash/gas station in an area that this fellow thought was all wrong. So, he's used his blog to sternly warn the two of them that they'd better toe his line if they expect to be re-elected. There was nothing subtle about his message, either. He used the specter of the inept and ousted Chris Steel as an example of what happens to people he supports when they snuggle up to "the usual suck-up suits" and stray from his path once in office.

Of course, I've been chided in the past for portraying this particular fellow as a puppet master, pulling the strings of certain council members. I couldn't help but chuckle when I read his blog, because it proves my point emphatically. Did you ever notice how some "smart" people sometimes do some pretty dumb things? This is a perfect example. Does this man actually think threatening Bever and Mansoor will bring them back into line with his ideas? It will be interesting to see. We'll know soon enough if he's still calling the shots if they genuflect before him and follow his every word once again.

In the meantime, I'll just keep on watching, staying tuned-in to what's going on in this city, with my tuna-can antennae cocked at just the right angle so I don't miss anything, and continue to report my observations.
11:22 am pst

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Contentiousness Continues
Tuesday, January 17, 2006, saw yet another contentious city council meeting in our fair city. Once again, the plan by our young jailer/mayor and his cronies to have Costa Mesa law enforcement officers cross-designated to be able to screen for immigration violations was hotly debated during the public comments portions of the meeting.

Once again, the mayor chose to cut off the dialogue at 7 p.m. sharp so as not to inconvenience folks present to speak on agenda items. This time, however, he decided to complete the public comments portion following the last agenda item - which turned out to be 10:55 p.m. The meeting finally adjourned at 11:29 that night.

Some interesting numbers evolved from the public comments portion. 20 people spoke before the break. 13 spoke following the resumption at the end of the meeting. All but one of the speakers were there to address the immigration issue. Only the perky Judi Berry was there to address another issue. As a side bar, after "laying down the law" to the attendees about proper decorum during the meeting before the public comments section started, he allowed his pal, Mrs. Berry, to violate the rules and speak on a subject that was on the agenda later that night, apparently because she had "two more meetings to attend that night." Once again, our mayor demonstrated that he has no trouble at all applying a double standard when it comes to his supporters.

On to the numbers. Disregarding Mrs. Berry - as if that's possible - there were 32 speakers who addressed the immigration enforcement issue. 59% (19) spoke before the break and 41% (13) stayed around to speak between 10:55 and 11:29 that night.

Of those 19 who spoke before Mayor Mansoor cut off the testimony at 7:00, 52.6% (10) spoke in favor of Mayor Mansoor. 47.3% (9) spoke in opposition. Of those who stayed to the bitter (a very appropriate word) end, 100% (13) spoke in opposition to Mansoor's plan.

Only 31% (10) of the speakers were from Costa Mesa, but 90% of those spoke against Mansoor's plan. Of the remaining 69% (22) speakers who were not identified as being Costa Mesa residents, 41% (9) were in favor of Mansoor's plan, with the other 59% (13) opposing it.

All totaled, 69% of those who spoke opposed the mayor's plan. Just as was the case during the previous meetings, including the debates on the closure of the Job Center earlier this year, approximately 70% of the speakers opposed these ill-advised attacks on the Latino population in Costa Mesa.

Although no one to my knowledge was hauled out of the chambers and arrested this time, there was plenty of rancor to go around. We heard our police chief compared to Hitler a couple times - a completely inaccurate and malicious portrayal. We saw lame duck Councilman Gary Monahan heckle a speaker as he left the dais after the speaker delivered a stinging rebuke to the majority on the council. Monahan waved as he taunted the man with the words, "bye-bye, see ya later, bye-bye". That's certainly not the kind of decorum we expect from our elected leaders, but I guess it's what we will likely see from Monahan as he limps to the end of his less-than distinguished twelve year career on the council. We saw the council warned that they had better wise up and realize that the Latinos are the future of this region, so they had better find a way to work with them.

One particularly articulate speaker presented a request to the City Attorney for an investigation of Mayor Mansoor's conduct at the last meeting, citing violations of specific sections of the municipal code, and threatened to take the matter to the Grand Jury. Oh, it was a fun evening.

I was uneasy because a few of the speakers required a translator. Each of them purportedly had been residents of this country for more than 10 years, yet had no command of the English language. In my opinion, hereby lies one of the real difficulties facing the Latino population in this battle - their apparent unwillingness to assimilate and communicate. They only know what they are told by translators. Conversely, we only know their opinions as translated for us. I know a little Spanish, so I realize that some of the speaker's words were neither completely nor accurately translated last night. This is a big problem.

One note of interest for me was the appearance of several black speakers, - apparently imported from such exotic locales as Compton and Los Angeles - to support our mayor. One of these was the ubiquitous Ted Hayes - the self-styled homeless activist - who praised the mayor for his courage. Hayes said that the immigrants were taking jobs from "his people" - meaning the black population - because they were willing to work for "slave wages". Funny, I sure don't remember any demonstrations by blacks, eager to pick our lettuce and strawberries, mow our lawns, wash dishes, etc. What a crock! Hayes should take his rastafarian hair-do and cruise on back to "help" the homeless in Los Angeles and stop trying to foment civil strife between the blacks and Latinos. What's next - Jessie Jackson muttering banalities on the steps of City Hall?

It was very interesting that all of Mansoor's supporters somehow managed to speak before the break, when the media was present and their faces were almost certain to make the ten or eleven o'clock news. Those who spoke at the end of the meeting four hours later were obviously there because of the passion they felt for the issue - not to get their photos spread all over the news. Of course, we realize their efforts will be ignored by the mayor and his majority, whose minds are made up and no facts will change them.

As each such meeting passes it's becoming very clear that our young jailer/mayor is in way, way over his head. He demonstrates no leadership skills as he fumbles and stumbles through the meetings, permitting his supporters to bend the rules, but holding the line with those who don't share his viewpoints. He's the perfect example of what happens when we elect small people to big jobs - they just can't handle them. Worse than that, they are easily swayed by others with an agenda of their own. These weak leaders have the power and have demonstrated that they will use it for personal political gain.

Such is life in our city today. The actions of our leaders have made Costa Mesa appear to be the worst case example of a dysfunctional city, displayed by a voracious media for the world to see. What a shame.
12:18 am pst

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ask And Ye Shall Receive - Almost
Wow! That didn't take long! In my posting dated January 13, 2006 entitled "What Do The Police Think?" - which can be viewed by clicking on the link 2006.01.08 at the bottom of this page - I wondered how our police chief, John Hensley, felt about the current scheme proposed by our city council regarding the potential cross-designation of Costa Mesa police officers to perform immigration screening. Then, this morning, the Orange County Register published an interview with Chief Hensley on this subject.

In the interview Chief Hensley, recently elected as President of the Orange County Police Chiefs and Sheriff's Association, gave us a little peek into his opinion of this new challenge for the men and women of his department. He expressed concern that some victims of crimes might be reluctant to report the crime to the police for fear of being deported. He specifically used as an example a woman victim of spousal abuse being reluctant to report the crime because she and/or her husband might be deported. The chief assured us that such would not be the case - that the crimes for which the immigration assessment would be triggered are the 28 crimes identified as "aggravated felonies". He went on to explain that he didn't think the Costa Mesa police officers "actually know which crimes will be aggravated and which aren't. We'll have to make sure they learn. Our mission is to protect everyone. We only go after those who commit crimes." After reading that comment I felt both comforted and apprehensive at the same time. I felt comforted because the chief's on top of the issue and apprehensive because it sounds like there is a lot training of necessary before his crew can take on this expansion of their duties.

Perhaps the most telling comment from the chief was his answer to the question, "Did you take a position on the city ordinance?" Chief Hensley is quoted as saying, "No, I did not. I wasn't asked my position by the council." Of course, while I was disappointed, that reply didn't surprise me. The majority on our council had already made up their minds and obviously didn't want any credible opinions expressed by our city's top law enforcement officer to clutter up their decision.

So, we still don't know how the chief feels about this scheme, only that he's apprehensive about the application of the ordinance and the possible reluctance of victims to report crimes for fear of deportation. We don't know if he feels it will make the streets of Costa Mesa safer. We don't know if he feels this is a good use of public funds. We do know that he feels much training is necessary for the police department members that will be charged with the implementation of the plan. We do know that he's making plans to implement the plan - whichever plan that turns out to be.

During the interview the chief went on to state that he doesn't see the cross-designation happening before the fall. He mentioned that, as part of the process, the city would have to request permission from the Board of Supervisors to train with the Sheriff's Department, then apply to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Bureau.

In the meantime, this issue has divided the community and partisans on both sides continue to posture for the press, apparently trying to sway public opinion in their direction. As far as I can tell, the mayor's plan is favored by most of those willing to share an opinion.

One thing seems clear to me at this point. Since this issue looks likely to drag out until the fall, it will continue to be a hot topic for those candidates running for election in November. Like it or not, each one of them will have to stake out a position and be able to defend it as the year moves on.
4:27 pm pst

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Who's Legal and Who's Not?
Well, the dew wasn't even dry on the morning newspapers before that fellow who resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor (aka The Smartest Man In Costa Mesa), posted a blog entry attempting to refute the well-reasoned letter to the editor by Planning Commissioner Eleanor Egan published in the Daily Pilot this morning. Mrs. Egan, a lawyer by training, provides us with some clarity on what actually constitutes being in this country illegally. She also assures us that the current plan proposed by Councilman Monahan and ratified by the male majority on the council "applies only to persons arrested on a charge of committing a felony. The arrest must be based on probable cause to believe the arrestee has committed a felony -- a serious crime such as grand theft, robbery, burglary, rape or murder. Investigation for unlawful presence will not be triggered by a misdemeanor -- a less serious crime such as drinking on a public street -- nor by a civil infraction, such as jaywalking or exceeding the posted speed limit". We assume this means that people detained or cited for violating the city's solicitation ordinance, for example, would not be subject to immigration screening.

Our old pal, Your Neighbor, has apparently used his prodigious intellect to memorize the entire federal legal code, because he provides his version of who is "legal" and who is not on his blog. Naturally, his version is different from that provided by Mrs. Egan. Since he frequently makes up "facts" to suit his own personal bias, I'm taking Mrs. Egan's word on this one.

Sharing the page with Mrs. Egan today was yet another excellent commentary by Byron de Arakal under the Watchdog banner. He, correctly, points out the problems inherent with the militant stance taken by several of the Latino activists who have spoken recently before the city council. Because the majority on the council already have their minds made up that some form of immigrant screening will be done by Costa Mesa officers - whether the city piggybacks the county sheriff's plan or not - the Latino population is faced with some very difficult times ahead unless public pressure can be brought on the council to reverse that decision. Without the sympathy and support of the broader community, it's not likely that it will happen. In the wake of the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday, Tuesday brings us yet another council meeting with the probability of more contentious demonstrations and heated public comments. Let's hope cooler heads prevail this time around. Let's also hope that the imported agitators will fail to show up. This is a Costa Mesa issue and we have enough wild-eyed proponents of our own on both sides of the issue without the deck being stacked and perspectives skewed by outsiders.

You've obviously noticed that my pledge to avoid the hog wallow with Your Neighbor was short-lived. I apologize for that, but there seems to be no one else willing to provide a counterpoint to his rhetoric right now. Since I last mentioned him he's continued down his chosen path, spewing misleading "facts" and attempting to defame officials who disagree with him. He also gave us a very amusing bit of comedic fiction in which he attempts to justify the viewpoints expressed for years in his essays on right wing web sites. I'm still chuckling. So, until someone shows up to accept a lateral, I'll just continue to carry this pigskin for awhile. That's enough "pig" references for right now. In the spirit of the moment, I hope Your Neighbor has a very special Martin Luther King holiday.
10:57 pm pst

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West