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, June 23, 2006

Quaking Neighbor
A local activist, a fellow who resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, is using his web log to alert his readers - all half dozen of them - to what he perceives to be some kind of insidious plot being hatched in Costa Mesa. Apparently this fellow - a guy with way, way too much time on his hands - was rummaging around through the city records this week and "uncovered" the fact that a new committee has been formed and he is suspicious of the founder's motives. This group, which he tells us is called "Return to Reason", is headed by people with names unfamiliar to him, but, sleuth that he is, he has uncovered a major scoop - that the mailing address is the same for long time activist Bill Turpit. Oh, such intrigue!

Now, this fellow is a skillful writer and he's using that skill to attempt to rally his "troops" to be alert to this new "threat". He's obviously rattled by the very existence of an organization called Return to Reason. Although, based on his blog entries, he has no idea what this organization has in mind, he's apparently concerned that it might be to do as the name implies - return this city to reason.

I can understand why this fellow is worried. For the past several years he's done much to try to make this city a bastion of intolerance and, sadly, has had some success. He's managed to get two members elected to the City Council who are disciples of his beliefs and, with the help of a lame duck who may also have been swayed by his views, have turned this city in a direction that can only be described as down the slippery slope of intolerance.

I, for one, hope Return to Reason is what it seems to be - an organization intent on re-focusing this city and returning it to the days when it's leadership was proud of it's diversity and inclusiveness - a time when caring people with large hearts and open wallets were not vilified as somehow misguided and evil. If they have as a goal to take back this city from the forces of intolerance, I'm willing to listen to their message and consider their candidates.

Quite honestly, I hope Your Neighbor is quaking in his boots right about now at the thought of this city, in fact, returning to reason. I imagine the specter of this city governed by those he cannot bully and influence - those who do not share his racist views - makes him more than a little nervous. I'm just fine with that. We'll find out in November whether the voters of this city want to perpetuate his views or not.
11:01 am pdt

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Budgets and Boneheads
Tuesday night's city council meeting was great theater and very enlightening.

The main event, the discussion and eventual approval of the 2006/07 municipal budget, provided some very entertaining moments and some that left me more than a little concerned for the future of this city under what currently passes for leadership.

Perhaps the most fascinating and telling moment came about three hours into the proceedings when Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever was in the midst of trying to explain why he wanted his fellow council members to allocate the $12,000 they removed from the budget that had been earmarked for the hibernating Orange County Regional Airport Authority to the Costa Mesa Historical Preservation Committee, to which he is the council liaison. As Bever attempted to convince the council that they should provide that amount, which he apparently considered "found money", as "seed money" to the committee as an incentive for them to proceed with their plan to place markers throughout the city at the locations of important and/or historical sites, he got into a little conversation with his buddy, Mayor Allan Mansoor, who wanted to know the criteria for establishment of the markers. Mansoor's preference would be to have the criteria established and blessed by the council before any money was allocated to the project. Bever, in his own special boneheaded way, remarked to the mayor - in full view of the camera and very audible on the tape and in the chambers - the following statement: "I don't think they're planning on putting one where the Dyke March went." You could hear the gasps from the crowd as our municipal loose cannon once again tripped over his tongue.

The "Dyke March" to which Bever referred was the Orange County Dyke March, which was "celebrated" for a couple years in Costa Mesa after previously appearing in Garden Grove. It was celebrated in name only, since it was poorly attended both years. Of course, it did rankle many residents in this city - our now-mayor among them.

Some context is important here. Our young jailer/mayor found himself embroiled in controversy a few years ago when, while he was a member of the city's Human Relations Committee, he posted an article on the now-defunct Concerned Costa Mesa Citizens web site from Focus on the Family which was critical of the homosexual life style. That site was the focus of a three-part series in our local newspaper of record, the Daily Pilot, because it was the repository of some very controversial postings by some members of the community - including some from a community activist who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor. In fact, the Orange County Human Relations Commission got involved and very shortly thereafter the site folded up their tent, blocked it's more than 6,000 posting archive and basically disappeared from view like a cockroach scurrying away from the light.

A year ago Mansoor led the council in the move to close down the city Human Relations Committee - a group of volunteers that had served the city for more than 16 years. If you think you're seeing a pattern here, you're right. You can draw your own conclusions.

One of the more entertaining moments of the evening came when the light finally went on in the cranium of our young jailer/mayor and he realized that he had absolutely no way to stop the funding for lights at The Farm Sports Complex from being retained in the budget. Even though Councilwoman Katrina Foley had left the room during the discussion because she lived close to The Farm and therefore had a conflict, Mansoor apparently didn't realize that it took a majority vote to remove the light funding from the budget - and he didn't have three votes. Had the council voted, the resultant 2-2 tie would have meant that the item remained in the budget and would be part of the overall approval vote later. The look he had on his face when he finally realized he was trapped was reminiscent of former incompetent councilman Chris Steel - that old "deer in the headlights" look that we saw all too frequently. I loved it. The Farm lights were not voted on separately, saving Mansoor and Bever some additional embarrassment. Too bad, because they deserved to have their noses rubbed in this one.

Lame duck Gary Monahan resurrected some ten-year old plans for a skate park at Lion's Park and attempted to ram through funding for that location to become the site of the second skate park in the city. Apparently, no one on the dais had a clue he was going to pull this one out of his hat. One speaker criticized him for attempting to cement a legacy for himself before he is termed out the end of this year. He and Foley had a couple of heated exchanges about this site - she apparently feeling it wouldn't accommodate a large enough park and he with his teeth firmly clenched on his plan. It was like two pups tugging on a sock.

After all was said and done we have an approved budget - a couple million dollars richer than the staff recommended, which means dipping into the old "fund balance" to make it work. The mayor got his couple hundred grand to fund the currently approved cross-designation scheme, assuming the Sheriff's plan is approved and we do, in fact, piggyback that plan.

Foley got her gang elimination plan funded - a good thing, for sure. Councilwoman Linda Dixon got funding to light the Bark Park, which is also probably a good thing.

At the end, Bever floated down again from whatever planet he's living on and attempted to have a million bucks allocated for more asphalt, despite rational, well-reasoned explanations by the staff about why more consideration is needed before such a move should be considered. He just doesn't get it!

So, dear fellow residents, you can breath just a little more easily now. The funding is there to keep our ship of state afloat for another year. Hopefully, by the time the next budget is presented next year there will be a different mix of players on the dais and this process will be much less a soap opera because the adults will be in charge once again.

11:42 am pdt

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Mayor's Disinformation and "Traitors" Among Us
Mayor Allan Mansoor has, either through ignorance or intentionally making false representations, attempted to mislead his constituency in many of his public pronouncements and published commentaries.

For example, in his commentary published in the Daily Pilot on June 17th, our young jailer/mayor responds to Steve Smith's assertion that immigrants are not a drain on our economy with the following statement: "Smith then says illegal immigration is helping our economy. Wrong again -- there is plenty of documentation that shows a net loss. Hospitals have closed, wages are suppressed and billions are spent in California alone to incarcerate illegal-immigrant criminals. This is only a partial listing of the costs to the American taxpayer."

Today the Wall Street Journal published an editorial entitled "Immigration Consensus" that refutes the mayor's myth. That editorial quotes an open letter sponsored by the Independent Institute to President Bush and Congress last week in which more than 500 prominent economists, including five Nobel laureates, proclaim that "immigration has been a net gain for American citizens." Later, this letter adds that "while a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to the economy, including lower consumer prices. As with trade in goods and services, gains from immigration outweigh the losses."

Apparently, according to the editorial, one of the striking aspects of this letter is that it is "signed by economists from different fields of research, political affiliations and ideologies." Further, the editorial states, "It is possible that no other issue in the economic field, with the exception of the benefits of free trade, inspires such unanimity of professional opinion as immigration does."

The editorial goes on to quote a survey conducted by the Cato Institute of past presidents of the American Economic Association and past chairmen of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. In that survey, the editorial reported, eighty percent agreed that immigration has had "a very favorable impact on the nation's economic growth." It went on to state that 70% of those surveyed indicated that even illegal immigrant workers "have a positive economic impact." The editorial went on to state that "These experts agree that on balance immigrants don't displace native workers, depress wages or abuse welfare. If only these economic facts could break through an immigration debate that is dominated by emotion and political fear."

Obviously, our young jailer/mayor has either been getting bad advice from his cadre of cronies, is too busy or lazy to do the proper research or just doesn't understand the information available to him. My guess would be all of the above.

This is important to consider as we watch the campaign unfold this summer and fall. It's important to know that he appears willing to fabricate "facts" to suit his own purposes. This is certainly something to consider as you decide if this is a man you can trust with the future of our city.

***

Our old pal, Your Neighbor, has taken an interesting tack in his blog today. He launches off with a quote from Roman Senator Cicero. After that he implies that those in Costa Mesa who don't agree with him and his pals are traitors. I suspect he will present his scowling countenance at the City Council meeting tonight and attempt to influence the budget discussions. It's worth the time to watch just to see his views rejected. Never has a person been more deserving of a standing NOvation. I'll be sure to have my tuna can antennae adjusted just right so I don't miss a second.
3:59 pm pdt

Sunday, June 18, 2006

In The Shallow End With The Mayor And An Imaginary Playmate
Once again, our young jailer/mayor, Allan Mansoor, found his way to the Forum page of the Daily Pilot yesterday. Once again we saw his face smiling out at us from the page as he attempted to impart some of his "wisdom" - this time in rebuttal to a recent column by Pilot columnist Steve Smith. Once again, he demonstrates for us the lack of depth in his thinking.

After taking a little shot at assumed council candidate Mirna Burciaga, he proceeds to complain that, to quote our erstwhile leader, "when people like me advocate securing our borders and upholding the law, we are called racists and bigots." Well, Mayor Mansoor needs to understand that he's not being criticized for advocating the tightening of our borders and upholding our laws. He's being criticized for advocating an ill-advised plan that usurps federal immigration law enforcement authority and, based on the opinion of real law enforcement leaders, will only make it more difficult for the Costa Mesa police personnel to actually do their jobs. His plan will require street officers to spend more time on administrative minutia with each apprehension of an assumed illegal felon. That will keep those highly trained, specialized officers and detectives off the streets. The laws we have and the procedures available will accomplish his avowed goal.

Mansoor states, "In Costa Mesa, I am advocating that if an illegal immigrant commits a major crime, he or she should be deported after doing time, and that if that person returns, we need to be able to clearly identify him or her before he or she commits another offense. There is no focus on victims or sweeps." Well, Mr. Mayor, how - precisely - would you go about identifying those returning criminals without sweeps? Do you have a plan to implant a locator beacon on each one before they are returned to their home country following release? Or maybe a tattoo on the forehead, so we can identify them wandering down the street? What's the plan?

In his commentary our young jailer/mayor lists his priorities for "a secure America." His number one step is "securing our border." You'll note it's singular - border, not borders. He's obviously only concerned about our southern border, not defending our country from ragin' Canadians. I agree, we need secure borders before we attempt to implement other measures involving illegal immigrants among us.

As he goes on to list his other steps he displays a naivetÈ that's extraordinary, even for him. At one point he says, "If there really is a demand for jobs, then let folk come here in a legally accountable manner..." Give me a break! What does he suppose those estimated 11-20 million illegal immigrants are doing? According to every, single credible estimate, they are performing jobs, many of which are foundational to the stability of our economy. Without the labor performed by many of those assumed to be here illegally our economy would halt.

Mansoor's steps two through five are: enforce employment laws; deport all illegal immigrants who are breaking the law; increase the number we allow to come here legally and, finally, have the president encourage Mexico to do it's part - whatever the heck that means.

Our young jailer/mayor continues to look for a simple solution to an issue that is anything but simple. He continues to display an amazing inability to understand the complexities of leadership in our city today. I'm sure he will provide us with many more reasons to consider not returning him to office in November as the campaign season moves on.

***

On a related note, our old pal, Your Neighbor, has provided us with some more fiction to consider. He tells us in his blog that there exists a Mystery Improvement Candidate (MIC) for the Costa Mesa City Council election in November. In his original announcement he called this person a "mystery improver candidate" - a little telling slip he amended with the word "improvement". In a recent posting he quotes this person in a lengthy get-tough statement. Well, I have to tell you that the quote sure sounds like Your Neighbor himself. So, I'm betting he's made this character up, just for fun and to provoke controversy and speculation. It might even be the alter ego he created for some of his racist essays - who knows.

I guess we'll now have to refer to this character's character as "Manufactured Imaginary Candidate" (mic) - the lower case letters in the acronym intended. It will be very interesting to see if anyone actually emerges from this fictional shroud. In any event, it's nice to know that Your Neighbor has a friend, even if it's one he created for himself.

We also wish to thank Your Neighbor for the helpful haberdashery hints in a posting last week. What would we do without him? I'm sure the link to those lovely, stylish aluminum foil chapeaux will come in handy.
7:14 pm pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West