A Bubbling Cauldron
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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, March 17, 2006

Open Letter to Mayor Allan Mansoor
The following letter was emailed to Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor on this date:

Dear Mayor Mansoor,

I write to you today as a three-decade resident of Costa Mesa. I write to you as a man who, for most of that time, was quite content - the proverbial "fat, dumb and happy". Today I am not happy.

For most of my nearly 33 years in Costa Mesa I felt our city was in good hands - that our elected leaders and city staff would keep us on the straight and narrow. I felt that the growth of our city would be managed, the streets would be paved and would be safe to walk any time of the day or night. I felt that our city was in the hands of competent leaders - adults, with only the welfare of all residents in mind as they went about the job of governing. Times have changed.

When we first met during your campaign for city council I thought you were a nice, sincere young man - eager to help make our city a better place. I watched as you struggled to get your footing as a councilman, hoping you would gain traction and, in fact, help accomplish positive things for this city. Even though you had been the source of some controversy with the postings on the old Concerned Costa Mesa Citizens web site, I held out hope that your intentions were good and that you could facilitate positive change in this city. I was wrong.

I became uneasy when Eric Bever was elected and even more so when Gary Monahan decided to join you to form an unstoppable alliance. This was the beginning of some very troubling times for this city. Sadly, I predicted this would happen a couple years ago when I speculated about the result of the "Improvers" gaining a majority on the council. I didn't think it would happen this quickly, but when Monahan turned his back on reason and joined you, the handwriting - maybe I should call it graffiti - was on the wall.

Although you deny it, the pattern of your actions clearly show that your goal is to expel Latinos from our community. You have closed the Job Center, de-funded and disbanded the Human Relations Committee, reduced funding for charities and, with the help of your trusty sidekick, Bever, manipulated and corrupted the hard work of the WROC committee to produce a plan for the Westside that will eliminate businesses and the jobs they provide. That corrupted version of the WROC plan satisfies only your small knot of angry supporters.

With your most recent egregious move - the plan to cross-designate Costa Mesa police officers as immigration screeners - you have divided this community. Curiously, you - as a law enforcement officer - have chosen a path rejected by every police chief in Orange County. I find myself wondering what you see on this subject that nearly three dozen highly trained and experienced law enforcement leaders are missing. I suspect it might have to do with the vantage point from which you view this subject. They, the chiefs, have the perspective provided by years of leadership and the clear understanding of the impact of such a plan. Your limited perspective comes from much further down the food chain and is likely hampered by your inexperience. It's also probable that you've received some guidance on this subject from people with a very sinister agenda.

Your actions have encouraged radical outsiders from both sides of this issue to invade, demonstrate and defile this city. Your plan has produced angry demonstrations before the council, including times when you were cursed from the speaker's podium in language normally only heard in locker rooms. I understand that anger, but don't support anyone, on either side, using those kinds of epithets - no matter how accurate they might have been. I've cringed as you and Chief Hensley were compared by speakers at the podium to Adolf Hitler. Certainly, that characterization is inaccurate and unfair to the chief, who appears to be trying to do the best job he can of managing this basket of snakes you tossed in his lap.

During your term as mayor you have managed to undo almost two decades of bridge-building with the Latino community accomplished by previous councils and members of the Costa Mesa Police Department. You have used fear as a tool of government, not unlike other authoritarian regimes around the world. Not only have you made the Latino residents of this city distrustful of government, but many members of the broader community are also anxious about your motives and tactics - it's like waiting for the other shoe to drop.

You constantly tell us that you are responding to "residents" who talk with you about these issues, but ignore much of what is said to you while on the dais, including comments from some of your fellow council members. It's obvious to those of us who pay attention that you already have your mind made up on many issues and just don't care to hear opposing views. It's also obvious to us that the stress of this situation - that you created, by the way - is getting to you and interferes with your ability to manage the responsibilities of your office.

We've seen you embraced by the media, both local and national, as you were hailed by the far right as some kind of a savior - that you, alone, will be responsible for saving our country from the illegal immigrants among us. We've seen Jim Gilchrist, founder of the radical Minuteman Project, clap you on the shoulder, tell you what a great leader you are - then anoint you as an honorary Minuteman.

Mr. Mayor, today I tell you that Gilchrist's praise is far from justified. You have proven to be a "leader" of only your small cadre of angry Improvers, not the broader community. Your "leadership" has been divisive and destructive to this city. You've turned Costa Mesa - my home for half my life - into the subject of derision and a metaphor for intolerance.

I have no idea why you've chosen this path - perhaps your "day job" as a jailer, where you deal with the worst among us day in and day out, has given you a warped perspective. You may think your intentions are good, but your actions are misguided and just plain wrong.

Few will disagree that the issue of illegal immigration is serious and needs to be addressed. This, however, is not within the purview of local law enforcement - it's a federal government responsibility. It is an unwise move for any municipality to take on the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Until we have secure borders, any move by our officers to deport violators is futile and a waste of law enforcement manpower. You say you want to take dangerous criminals off our streets - a worthy goal, for sure. Your plan will not do that. Quite the contrary, it diverts precious police resources from their real tasks.

Today, I ask you to step back and look at what you are doing to this city. I ask you to withdraw your plan, even though that will cause you some personal discomfort. Yes, I want you to turn your back on the accolades from the radical right and the praise of the intolerant few and make a difficult personal decision for the well-being of this community. I am not asking you to resign, although others might. I'm asking you to see the error of your ways and correct it. I'm asking you to do that now, before further damage is done to this city.

Geoff West
10:57 am pst

Monday, March 13, 2006

Declining Civility, Scowling Cranks and Shooting Blanks
It looks like Mayor Allan Mansoor's plan for the cross-designation of certain officers on the Costa Mesa Police Department has led to the decline of civility within our community.

It appears that we have a de facto war of demonstrators going on now. Opponents of Mansoor's plan have begun demonstrating on Friday nights in front of the pub owned by Gary Monahan - lame duck councilman and the swing vote on the council. Now we hear that Jim Gilchrist and a pack of his frothing Minutemen demonstrated in front of the Westside restaurant owned by activist Mirna Burciaga last Friday night as a counter move.

We can lay this chaos right at the feet of our young jailer/mayor. If he had used even the slightest bit of good judgment on this issue at the end of last year we might not be in this situation. Now, outside agitators on both sides are turning Costa Mesa into a battleground. While they look for more face time on camera to advance their own agendas, Costa Mesa has become the wall on which they are scrawling their mural of discontent. I, for one, wish they all would just haul their fannies back home and let Costa Mesa citizens - those of us with a vested interest in this community - sort this problem out. In the meantime, I hope the Costa Mesa Police Department will do what is necessary to ensure public safety at both locations.

***

On another unhappy note, just when you thought it was safe to go out and play, the activist who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, has re-emerged from under his rock - with a vengeance. After pouting for almost two weeks following his resignation from the 3R Committee, he's back at it, publishing his putrid web log and gloating in his vile online essays. I guess that means the brief, welcome respite we've had has come to an end and we will, once more, see his scowling face before public forums as he provides "guidance" to the easily-led members on the council over whom he exercises significant influence. What a shame to see such a formidable intellect squandered on such unsavory subjects.

***

Our City Council continues to shoot blanks in the border wars with Newport Beach. After relinquishing West Santa Ana Heights at their last meeting, hoping that move might grease the skids for possible annexation of a large part of the Banning Ranch - bluff-top property that actually has ocean views - it should come as no surprise when officials from Newport Beach summarily rejected that move.

With the current televised poker craze, I'm thinking it would be fun to play poker with our council - at least some of them. They don't just have a "tell" - a little signal that gives you a clue about what kind of hand they are holding - they just flat out tell you! By publicly announcing their intentions and strategy they leave our neighbors in Newport Beach no choice but to call their hand. After all, they hold all the cards - and know it.

Costa Mesa leadership, where art thou?
10:32 am pst

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West