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.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Flag Is Up!
Well, the horses are in the starting gate... It seems quite fitting that on Flag Day, according to an article in the Daily Pilot, candidates for the two positions on the City Council being contested in November are now identifying themselves and will soon be jockeying for position.

To no one's surprise, our young jailer/mayor, Allan Mansoor, says he's going to try to hold on to his seat, so to speak. Although she was not confirmed as a candidate, it is assumed that his anointed running mate and his appointee to the Parks and Recreation Commission, Chairwoman Wendy Leece, will also make a bid for a position on the council.

Community activist and restaurant owner Mirna Burciaga says she's running. Even though there are rumors of a voter registration drive among the Latino population of this city, I doubt she can muster enough votes to be one of the top two in November.

Planning Commission Chairman Bill Perkins, an assumed candidate, has dropped out. This is good news, since he's a long way from being a prime time player. Planning Commissioner Jim Fisler is waffling and may not run to avoid vote splitting on the Mansoor/Leece ticket.

Major good news is the fact that Planning Commissioner Bruce Garlich and former council member Mike Scheafer have indicated they will run. These men, each with an outstanding background of leadership and community service, are precisely the type candidates we need to provide the mature leadership that has been missing for the past eighteen months. More on them as the weeks pass.

So, as of this date, it looks like we'll have Mansoor and Leece on one side and Garlich and Scheafer on the other - with Mirna Burciaga rattling around in the middle somewhere.

A man who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, posted a blog entry this morning in which he provides us with his take on the assumed candidates. He's fully behind Mansoor and Leece and is apparently willing to throw the full support of his racist position in their direction. That should speak volumes to those of you on the fence.

***

Much has been said about the issues this time around. Certainly, our young jailer/mayor's ill-advised scheme to cross-designate Costa Mesa police officers and jailers as immigration screeners will be right at the top. I also expect the whole "playing fields" issue to be a hot button item. It's scheduled to get a thorough flogging during the budget discussions at the council meeting on Tuesday, June 20th. Watch for large, focused crowds of soccer parents that night.

I'd like your help. Please write to me and tell me just what is important to you as you think about those candidates you will select to help guide this city over the next four years. Which issue, or issues, are important - for whatever reason. I'm very curious to see your viewpoints.

If you feel strongly about either, or both, of the issues I mentioned above and are willing to share your thoughts, I hope you'll do so. If there are others you feel are important, please let me know.

I will not identify you unless I ask first and you specifically give me your permission to use your name.

In the meantime, I hope you will begin to tighten your focus on the candidates - each one has a track record that is easy to analyze. Watch what they've done and what they do. That's much more important than what they say.

I look forward to your viewpoints. Thanks for helping.
11:23 pm pdt

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It's Time For Change
A recent mini-vacation provided several uninterrupted hours on the road and gave me time to engage in a little serious contemplation about the current condition of our fair city, about those who presently attempt to lead it - and those who may wish to do so come November. My sweet and patient wife helped guide me down this path of contemplation.

Those who have visited this site often know that I've been highly critical of our young jailer/mayor, Allan Mansoor, and his sidekick, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever. In my opinion, they and their small group of "advisors" have charted a course for this city that will not serve the residents well. It appears to me, as I've said many times, that they feel the Latinos among us are the root cause of much of what they think is wrong with our city. Their short-hand method of "fixing" that particular problem seems to be aimed at making life so miserable for that particular demographic group that they will leave the city. Our "leaders" have been urged (probably guided) in that direction by one particular activist in town - a man who makes no bones about his feelings about any group except those of us who are white as he writes extensive essays on extremist web sites and in his web log.

I asked myself if I've allowed the obvious influence of that one activist on the current leadership of this city to cloud my own views. With the help of some very provocative questions from my spouse, I stepped back and thought long and hard about this issue.

I do, in fact, think my opinions on the current state of leadership in Costa Mesa are affected by my perception of the influence that activist has on our leaders. I think he's found a fertile field into which he has deftly planted his seeds of intolerance and, using his considerable intellect and oratorical skills, influenced those who make up the ruling majority in our city and aimed them down the wrong road.

Our young jailer/mayor's susceptibility to such manipulation was obvious when Jim Gilchrist, co-founder of The Minutemen, praised him, embraced him and anointed him as an honorary Minuteman earlier this year. The list of examples of his poor judgment goes on and on, including his terrible plan to cross-designate all Costa Mesa police officers as immigration screeners (subsequently diluted by lame duck councilman Gary Monahan to parallel the Sheriff's plan and include only jailers and gang detectives). His latest snafu, the knuckleheaded idea shared with his probable running mate, Wendy Leece - to rip up part of the municipal golf course and use that space for playing fields - is every bit as contentious as his immigration idea.

So, I found myself thinking about Costa Mesa, and what might be wrong with it. This is a pretty darn nice place in which to live. Despite all the ranting by a few people about gangs and failing schools, it's still a great community. It's filled with hard-working, caring people doing the best they can. It is the home of a world-class performing arts complex and one of the finest shopping venues in the country. In any year, we can count the days of "bad" weather on one hand.

Despite the capricious nature of some politicians, we have an excellent city staff, headed up by a man who well may be the best City Manager in the county, if not the state. They manage to keep the municipal wheels turning regardless of the curve balls thrown to them by the elected leaders.

The desirability of Costa Mesa as a place to live is evidenced by the continuing escalation of property values and the willingness of buyers to purchase a nice, small home and tear it down and replace it with a nicer, large edifice.

Our city is served by an outstanding school system, which produces well-educated, well-rounded graduates. In our neighborhood, for example, the four young people who will graduate from high school next week are headed to places like Harvard, Berkeley, the University of West Virginia and Chico State in the fall.

Yes, the police department obviously has it's work cut out for it dealing with what appears to be a growing gang problem. With any luck, a new police chief will be in place within the next couple months and the direction that department will be taking can be clearly defined. Also, if wiser heads prevail, the mayor's bogus plan to cross-designate our police officers and jailers as immigration screeners will not come to fruition. The smokescreen the mayor uses as his avowed goal - to rid the city of dangerous felons - can be accomplished with our existing structure and laws.

Yes, some schools on the Westside of our town are performing below preferred standards. However, improvement has been made and a new Superintendent of Schools will soon climb aboard that throne and, hopefully, provide some insight and direction, too.

In the meantime, the mayor and his amigos - using the Latinos among us as culprits - keep flogging away at imagined problems, coming up with ethereal solutions that divide the city and have no chance of succeeding. Even the activist mentioned above - their puppetmaster - has criticized our young jailer/mayor for not just trying to "think outside the box", but for what he called "thinking outside the universe."

It's time to examine the track record of our current leadership and compare it to their rhetoric. It's time to say a resounding "No!" to the forces that are dragging this city down the path of intolerance. It's time for mature leadership in this city. November is that time.
5:16 pm pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West