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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.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Challenging "Your Neighbor"
Once again, the Costa Mesa City Council meeting provided for some interesting entertainment on our local cable channel last night. I found myself wondering just what that group of Boy Scouts present thought about the spectacle they observed.

As has become a recent tradition, activists on both sides of the plan our young jailer/mayor proposed a couple months ago for the cross-designation of police officers to become immigration screeners used the Public Comments segment of the meeting to vent. Once again, there were more speakers than the allotted time could accommodate, so the mayor split the segment, with two thirds speaking before the cut-off and the remaining third speaking at the very end of the meeting.

Of the 29 speakers who addressed the mayor's plan, 72% spoke against it. 69% of the speakers were from Costa Mesa and 70% of those were against the plan. As has been the case every time this issue has been discussed, the vast majority of Costa Mesa residents making themselves heard on the subject reject the plan.

In my opinion, the opponents of the plan hurt themselves by permitting some of their group to engage in raucous chanting outside the council chambers, disrupting the business of the council at that time.

An interesting highlight of the meeting last night were the presentations of a couple of the early speakers, Humberto Caspa and Chris Blank. Both men, highly educated and articulate professional gentlemen, used their three minutes to point out to the council that they felt the presence of a man who bares a striking resemblance to my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, on a very important city committee is absolutely inappropriate. For the foundation for their opinion, each used examples of the racist rants this man publishes on several far, far right-wing internet sites. Specific quotes from some of those essays were used to emphasize their points. They demanded that he be removed from the committee. I've read many of the hundreds of essays this man has posted on the internet and, take my word for it, Caspa and Blank carefully selected from some of the more benign entries for their presentation in a forum where children were present.

Later, the man in question apparently leaped off his couch after watching those presentations on television and sprinted to the council chambers to defend himself, more or less. He brushed aside the criticism and told the council "I don't think it's the correct thing for a city council to, to, look into people's religions, people's world views, ah, to take things out of context in things they have written." You'll note this is a direct quote from his little speech, hence the hemming and hawing. At no time did he deny that he wrote what the men read to the council, commenting only that they took them out of context - which they hadn't. Quite the contrary, he waved his three books around in the air and suggested that he might autograph them if the men wished to buy them. He arrogantly thanked them for the additional publicity, stating, "no publicity is bad publicity."

That's a perfect example of this man's cockiness now that he has a majority on the City Council that he can manipulate. He sure acts like he's not worried about being ousted from the committee in question, probably because he's calling the shots for at least two of the council members. Last night's performance demonstrated that, loud and clear.

As if that were not enough, he posted an entry on his blog today making light of the situation at the meeting last night. In that entry he tried to deflect the criticism of his views as some kind of a First Amendment violation. Of course, that's pure garbage. No one refutes his right to compose his incendiary, racist drivel, and to make whatever money he gets for having it published. That's his right, disgusting as his views may be to many people.

He has every right to adorn his internet essays with the swastika, which he has done in the past. We have every right to renounce him for the use of that vile symbol and all it represents.

We, the voters of this city, do have every right to know the kind of person our elected officials consort with and appoint to important, influential committees. We have every right to know who's lurking in the shadows, behind the curtain, and whistling the tune to which our elected officials dance. We have every right to demand that he be expelled from participation on that committee.

Whether the council majority chooses to do anything about it is another matter. If they do not, we can logically assume they share his view that the growing presence of minority groups in our society and resultant interbreeding is diluting the gene pool and resulting in what he has called in his internet essays a "Tan Everyman" - a race of genetically inferior beings.

If the majority on the council refuses to remove him from the committee assignment, how do we, the voters in this city, interpret that action except that they agree with this man, embrace his views and support his positions? It's as though they have embraced Adolf Hitler himself and placed him on a committee that recommends the distribution of grant funds to charities which provide support to our Latino community. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house!

So self-assured is this man that in his blog posting today he shrugs off the criticism and goes on to state, "Oh, by the way, I've now applied to be on another committee, and, time permitting I may apply to be on even more." That sure sounds like he's confident that the members of the council won't dare do a thing. He's previously threatened them with non-support (sounds like a marriage gone bad, doesn't it?) because they didn't follow his direction and voted to permit the installation of a gas station/car wash at a location he felt was inappropriate.

Think about this: After years of conniving, he's finally gotten a council in place to carry out his plan for the expulsion of the Latinos among us. He's orchestrated the closure of the Job Center and the elimination of the Human Relations Committee. He facilitated the potential re-zoning of the Westside bluffs to eliminate industrial businesses which provide jobs for Latinos and reduced funding to charities in town through his influence on the 3R (Redevelopment and Residential Rehabilitation) Committee. He has sucked up valuable staff time chasing ghosts - "illegal soccer players" at Paularino Park - under the guise of them (if there ever were any) being a danger to the public, and tried to shut down the Orange Coast College Swap Meet - a venue for low end commerce and social interaction to large numbers of Latino residents of this city. The man is smart, persistent and dangerous - even more so now that he has the power in this city on his side.

It saddens me that our city is in such turmoil these days. With each passing council meeting you can see the split in this city widening. At a time when we yearn for mature leadership, our most senior council member is seen taunting speakers from the dais and - it's been reported - swapping intolerant epithets with picketers at his restaurant. At a time when we need statesmanship we, instead, get childish petulance and watch as our mayor is embraced by - and made a member of - the radical Minuteman Project. At a time when we need our council members to use all their personal intellectual resources to manage critical issues we, instead, get pandering to some of the most intolerant among us.

Although they attempt to go about their jobs as the true professionals they are, we see the spirit being drained from city staffers as the atmosphere of rancor and discontent envelopes them like a dense fog. This is a time when the city needs some mature leadership - new voices before and on the council that can save this city from crashing on the rocks of divisiveness and intolerance. We need true leaders to step up and head off the disaster before us.

Sadly, I see no solution until November, when there is an opportunity for this city to be returned to sanity. Until then we can only stay alert, speak out and hope...

11:47 pm pst

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West