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.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tottering Along
As the clock continues to tick I found myself at a major milestone in my life earlier this week. Following a much-needed nice, little vacation that took my sweet wife and myself to our favorite California city, San Diego, and included a few days at another favorite place on the Central California coast, we returned home in time for my scheduled appointment Monday at - ta da! - the Social Security office!

After a brief, efficiently-conducted interview with a helpful young woman, I was out of there in fifteen minutes flat and am now poised to join tens of millions of other American geezers bellied up to the trough of Social Security and Medicare. I confess that I haven't yet untangled the ball of snakes that is Medicare Part D - the prescription drug program. That will come soon.

As I head on into this summer, which brings with it a major milestone birthday, I find myself having some very strange urges. Meandering through the aisles of my local drug store I find myself slowing as I pass the Ensure display, checking out the flavor choices. I feel my pace quicken as I approach the aisle where the Depends are stacked neatly on the shelves, unwilling to even consider that particular requirement for the time being.

Is it my imagination, or are my ears getting bigger? And what's with those hairs? Nobody told me I'd eventually have foliage sprouting from every orifice in my head! I used to joke about those nose hair trimmers from The Sharper Image and Brookstone, but if I didn't tend to my ears and nostrils you'd think I was wearing earmuffs and growing a mustache!

I find myself glancing over my shoulder from time to time for fear of being trampled by the hoard of baby boomers who begin turning 60 this year and thunder into geezerdom, demanding more and more services and spending money like drunken sailors - just as they've done throughout their lives.

All this is very disconcerting. When I look in the mirror as I shave each morning I still see that "kid" who has smirked back at me for more than five decades as I scraped off the stubble, applied styptic stick and toilet paper to the nicks and slathered on the Old Spice. He has gotten a little more pudgy and his hair has gone from blond to brown and back to blond again. Well, not really blond - more like silver, but I tell myself it looks kinda blond in the right light.

Even though I love the senior discounts at the movies and restaurants and carry a Golden Age Passport to national parks, I still have a tough time when someone in their forties calls me "sir".

All this has given me a little mid-life crisis (don't I wish!) and I find myself wanting to run out and buy a sports car. The only problem is, something in my aging cranium keeps whispering "Buick"! Arrgh!!

3:04 pm pdt

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mansoor's Stealth Launch
It was interesting to find, upon returning from a short vacation, that as-yet-unannounced candidate for re-election, Mayor Allan Mansoor, has apparently launched his campaign. What else would you call his little speech during the "council member comments" portion of the last City Council meeting on May 16th and his Community Commentary in the Daily Pilot on Sunday?

Without yet officially announcing his campaign, the mayor has used his bully pulpit to get a running start on the field as he regaled us verbally and in print about his accomplishments during his tenure on the City Council. He should be extremely grateful to the editors of the Daily Pilot for their decision to publish his commentary, which was obviously ripped right from his pending campaign brochures. That kind of publicity would have cost him some big bucks if he had already announced his decision to run again.

In his commentary Mansoor took exception to Parks and Recreation Commissioner Byron de Arakal's recent observation in the Daily Pilot that the up-coming election would be a one or two- issue race - the lighted fields and immigration. The mayor went on to take credit for many things during his tenure that were already in the works when he was elected in 2002. He referred to the term "improvement", which is straight out of his Westside Improver's handbook. You know The Improvers, that knot of angry, frustrated westside residents that gave us Chris Steel in 2000, Mansoor in 2002 and Eric Bever in 2004.

Mansoor cites as an "accomplishment" the closure of the Job Center - a facility that served the needs of this city well for nearly two decades after is was created by a cadre of city leaders who really understood what it means to serve the entire city, not just a vocal few.

Mansoor neglected to mention his ham-handed attempt to cross-designate Costa Mesa law enforcement officers as immigration screeners among his "accomplishments". No wonder. His plan, which no law enforcement leader in Orange County thinks will do the job, has ripped this city apart and has made it the poster child for intolerance. His re-election will likely result in more of the above.

Neither did he mention his recently rebuffed attempt to saddle the property owners of this city with a billion dollar price tag to place all utilities underground throughout the city. His willingness to place that kind of burden on our neighbors and their children doesn't surprise me, since he apparently is no longer a property owner himself. It's that old "if it doesn't hurt me, it can't be bad" attitude that comes through in so many of his decisions.

His position against lighting two more fields at The Farm Sports Complex is not surprising. While most rational, involved people are attempting to find adequate playing fields in this city, including lighting two at The Farm, Mansoor and his cronies are working the other end of the equation. Obviously, their idea is if you get rid of many of the soccer-playing kids (read that Latinos), then we won't need more soccer fields. Hence, the mayor's plan to have the CMPD trained by ICE as immigration screeners.

I thought it was interesting that Mansoor chose his commentary as a place to launch an attack against Planning Commissioner Bruce Garlich, an assumed candidate for City Council in November. I suspect he chose Garlich as a target because he came within 44 votes of defeating Mansoor's pal, Bever, in 2004. Of those individuals assumed to be running in November, Garlich is far and away the strongest candidate. His record of public service, community involvement, proven leadership and a clearly-demonstrated track record of working across a broad constituency to make Costa Mesa a better place in which to live, undoubtedly makes Mansoor and his anointed running mate, Wendy Leece, more than a little nervous.

I will not attempt to speak for Garlich on the issues Mansoor posed. He's certainly more than capable of doing that himself, at a time that suits his campaign best. I will say this, though. Presently, based on Garlich's qualifications, experience and maturity, there is no better candidate poised for the race. His presence on the City Council will return some sanity to the process and help insure that all stakeholders in our city - property owners, residents and business owners alike - will get a fair hearing and fair treatment by the city government.

In the meantime, I fully intend to keep my eye on Mansoor and his pals. They've shown us through the use of what one observer calls "Government by Ambush" that you can't turn your back on them for a minute.
5:51 pm pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West