Thursday, March 9, 2006
The Truth About ICE and Welcome Absence
Well, that does it! I simply have to find a way to sell tickets to our City Council meetings! They have drama and comedy.
They have mystery and intrigue. All they need are a couple big dance numbers and they'd have it all! They're the best show
1:33 am pst
Tuesday night, for example, we saw our own special version of democracy on display.
In an encounter that should have occurred in a study session way back last year, we saw our police chief, John Hensley, grilled
by the two women on the City Council, Linda Dixon and Katrina Foley, regarding our young jailer/mayor's plan for cross-designation
of certain Costa Mesa police officers for immigration screening. What we learned was very illuminating.
We learned that the chief doesn't support this plan. We learned that the estimated $200,000 cost of training is really only
the tip of the iceberg - that the training costs will continue on into perpetuity as officers rotate in and out of assignments
where cross-designation is a factor. We learned that we still don't have a clue about the Sheriff's plan - which we are supposed
to mirror in Costa Mesa. We learned that it's unlikely that the plan will actually do what our mayor says is his goal - to
remove dangerous felons from our streets. We learned that it might take an officer off the streets for as long as half a
shift for each individual he apprehends and "processes" under the ICE guidelines. We learned that our streets will
not necessarily be safer through the implementation of the mayor's plan. We learned that all the turmoil and dissension in
our city over the past several months might never have happened if the mayor had done his job properly and not gone off half-cocked.
We also learned that our young jailer/mayor, as one friend pointed out to me, has used his bully pulpit to become a bully
in the pulpit. Last night we saw him sink to his lowest point, decorum-wise, as he made a motion to receive and file the
chief's report while Foley was in the middle of a comment of the subject. She sharply, and appropriately, rebuffed his attempt
to stifle her comments and continued until she had said her piece. This, Mansoor's latest and most overt attempt at censorship,
is a perfect example of how little he regards any opinion except his own. It was precisely this kind of act that has our
city and our mayor saddled with an ACLU lawsuit.
During the public comments segment of the meeting we learned that more than 1,000 people have signed letters to the council,
presented in person at this meeting and an earlier one, expressing their disagreement with the mayor's plan. Obviously, these
are not the people the mayor means when he tells us that he proposed this plan because he "heard from members of the
public" about it.
We also learned that, regardless the side of the issue they represented, the most reasoned, calm views expressed by members
of the public from the speaker's podium typically were made by Costa Mesa residents. The belligerent, disrespectful, frothing
rants were, again, delivered by out-of-town agitators, apparently looking for face time on the 11 o'clock news.
It is becoming painfully obvious that our young jailer/mayor is feeling the stress of this situation he's created. Clearly,
he's not up to the task and our city is suffering because of his inadequacy. When you combine Mansoor's heavy-handed, inept
style and his buddy, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever's penchant for blurting out anything that comes into his head - a true loose
cannon - one cannot but feel anguish for the state of leadership in our city today.
An interesting sidebar last night was the absence of an activist who closely resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor.
For many years he has been a fixture at almost every public forum conducted in this city, offering his "wisdom"
and "guidance" to almost any issue. In fact, ever since he resigned from the 3R committee early last month he has,
for the most part, become "the invisible man". That's not all bad, believe me. Maybe he's decided to try that
old "tuna-can-taped-to-the-ears" technique that he created in a fictional character not too long ago to stay in
tune with city issues. If so, I've got some empties around here someplace I can send over to him.
Perhaps he's been spending his time fending off interview requests from the hoards of media folks that have descended on our
community over the past three months. Based on what I read in his current blog posting and his most recent internet essay,
it sounds like he's been approached for interviews by at least one reporter. It's not clear whether he charged her for his
time, but I wouldn't be surprised, since he frequently has demanded compensation for his commentaries in local publications.
Talk about an ego! Regardless the reason for his absence, I'm glad he decided to slither back under that rock. We all
can use a little rest.
Monday, March 6, 2006
Negative News and Imported Views
(A new edition of "Just Wondering..." has been posted. Just slide your cursor to the left and click on the link
to view this month's tardy questions)
10:10 am pst
Last week was another interesting week here at the old cauldron.
Our young jailer/mayor, Allan Mansoor, was hit with a lawsuit filed on behalf of Benito Acosta by the ACLU against the City
of Costa Mesa and our mayor for his part in the denial of Acosta's opportunity to complete his comments, being roughed-up,
dragged from the chambers and arrested on January 3, 2006.
The Los Angeles Times did a profile on Mansoor Sunday which quoted a few people interested in this issue, including the author
of this blog. At least this profile used a fairly decent photograph of the mayor, unlike the photo used by The Register on
the cover of their weekly supplement, The Current, recently. That one would scare small children sleepless.
Over the weekend representatives of the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) landed in our neck of
the woods to interview people for an article planned for their quarterly publication, Intelligence Report, that will address
the immigration situation here in Costa Mesa. Their web site says, "the Center is internationally known for its tolerance
education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups." The SPLC's "Intelligence
Project", founded in 1981 as "Klanwatch", tracks more than 700 hate groups throughout the country. A quick
Google search reveals that their headquarters in Alabama has been bombed and several attempts on the life of their leader,
Morris Dees, have been thwarted. Obviously, this group has found a way to make a few people very angry.
The author of this blog was among those interviewed so far, as well as others known to have opinions on Costa Mesa's immigration
situation. Having read some of their writer's previous work, I have no reason to think the finished product will be anything
but professional and accurate. However, I'm not particularly happy about having our city receive such potentially negative
notoriety. We can thank our young jailer/mayor for that.
This week brings us yet another city council meeting on Tuesday, which means there will likely be a cadre of speakers standing
before the council to address this issue again - and perhaps call for our mayor's resignation. That, of course, is not likely
to happen. He's on a mission and probably won't listen to a few angry residents and out-of-towners who disagree with his
decision any more than he pays attention to the female minority on the council. Of course, that's what got us to this point
- Mansoor listening to a small group of frightened, angry residents who think the solution to all their problems in life is
the expulsion of Latinos from within our city borders.
During a conversation with a friend recently we recalled a greeting card we'd both seen several years ago. It featured the
"Peanuts" character, Charlie Brown, and reminded both of us of our young jailer/mayor. On the front of the card
was was a drawing of Charlie Brown with one of his perplexed expressions on his face. Inside was the phrase, "There
is no greater burden than unfulfilled potential". Sadly, both the likeness and the sentiment seem quite appropriate
for our mayor, who appears to have been manipulated into his present untenable situation by those with a darker, broader agenda.
Only time will tell how much damage will be done to our city as this drama unfolds over the next few months. At this point
it has created a giant fissure between the Latino community and our city government. The negative press coverage over the
past three months certainly hasn't done our city's reputation any good. It's likely that this issue will "have legs",
and stretch, unresolved, into the campaign season before us. I wouldn't be surprised to see the November elections for the
two council seats available this fall devolve into a single issue contest - the mayor's truly bad idea. I do take heart,
however, as I think about potential candidates for those positions and realize that there are at least a couple who might
make a run that could bring much needed wisdom, maturity and level-headed leadership to the dais. We can only hope.