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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 30, 2006

The Symbol, The Scribe and Freedom
We're putting the old "cauldron" on simmer for a few days, but here's something for you to chew on as we approach July 4th - Independence Day.

Our good neighbors to the south in the San Diego area have been wrestling with a very troubling issue for the past fifteen years - the appropriateness of a large cement cross on the top of Mt. Soledad, near La Jolla. The cross, placed on the 822 foot summit in 1954, is the top piece - the exclamation point, as it were - to a memorial built to honor the more than 34,000 fallen Korean War veterans. That monument has subsequently been expanded to include remembrances of fallen men and women from all branches of service and from all wars.

In the late 1980s an atheist demanded that the cross be removed from the peak of Mt. Soledad because it was on public land - the peak is apparently owned by the City of San Diego. Since that time much litigation has taken place and battles much too complex to attempt to relate here have been fought over this issue. If you want the details, a simple Google search will provide that information in exhausting detail, from many perspectives. It appears that the fight will soon end. An appeals court judge has ruled, once again, that the cross must be removed by August 2, 2006 or the City of San Diego will face fines of $5,000 per day. Without federal government intervention, it looks like the days are numbered for the cross on Mt. Soledad.

I took the photo of the cross and the adjacent American flag you see here during a recent vacation to the area. It's difficult to describe what a moving experience it was to walk around the monument at the base of the cross, reading the plaques affixed to the walls to commemorate so many fallen men and women who served this country proudly and with distinction. Many familiar names were seen on those plaques - from General Black Jack Pershing to Bob Hope.

I've read much of the debate on this issue recently. I can understand the views expressed by non-Christians as they voice concern that this symbol, erected on public land, represents some kind of official religious preference. I do appreciate their concerns. However, this country was founded by men who firmly believed in the principles of Christianity. We still say the words, "under god", as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag and the phrase , "In God We Trust", is still embossed on our coins. The cross is still the predominant symbol of Christianity.

For more than a half century, for the thousands of travelers who drive past the base of Mt. Soledad at the confluence of two freeways and for others who see it from afar, the cross has been a constant visual reminder of the sacrifice the men and women in our armed forces have made for this country. In my opinion, it will be a sad day if the cross is removed from the summit.

At the risk of melting my email box, I'm interested in your viewpoints on this subject. Please go to my Share Your Opinion page, click on the email link and send me a note. As always, you will not be specifically identified if I decide to use your comments unless you give me your specific permission.


Speaking of warriors, Joseph N. Bell, our friend and Daily Pilot columnist for many years, celebrates his 85th birthday on July 4th. A member of what author Tom Brokaw calls The Greatest Generation - my parent's generation - Joe flew for the United States Navy in World War II and has been award-winning author for more than 60 years. Two remarkable milestones in his career are the interviews he conducted with woman who known as Jane Roe, of Roe vs. Wade fame, three decades apart. The resultant stories, the first when she became the subject of landmark abortion rights legislation, and the second thirty years later when she changed her mind on the issue, demonstrated not only Joe's skill and insight, but his stamina, as well. In his hey-day he covered Hollywood - the famous and near-famous - and has written a half dozen nonfiction books, including the acclaimed Seven Into Space - a story about the seven original Mercury astronauts. With that in mind, one might say he has covered the American experience from the lowest of lows to the highest of heights.

In recent years, following a second career teaching fledgling writers at the University of California, Irvine, Joe has been a regular fixture in the Daily Pilot, writing columns that informed and entertained us, occasionally angering many in this most conservative of California counties. Although he made some folks mad, he has always entertained us and made us think. He and I are far apart from a political philosophy standpoint, but I always appreciate his viewpoints and marvel at the skill with which he delivers them.

Happy Birthday, Joe - and thanks.


And finally today, as we approach Independence Day, I hope you will take a moment to look at the photo on this page one more time. Think about the flag and the cross. Think about the motivation of the founders of this wonderful country, and about the lives lost to defend the freedoms we all enjoy over the past 230 years.

Amidst all the political rhetoric and partisan criticism of our President regarding the War on Terrorism, please remember that he's doing what we hired him to do - to protect and defend this country to the best of his ability. At the end of this summer we will mark the fifth anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington in which nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in those cowardly, heinous acts of terrorism. I agree with those who say that we must defeat those who are obviously intent on killing us and destroying our way of life where they live, not where we live. To that end, I support the President as he directs the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan on our behalf. I served in the military during the Viet Nam conflict - Iraq is not Viet Nam. Defending our freedom is not an easy job. Please remember those who have fought and died to defend our freedom and support the President as he defends our country from those who would destroy us.
10:29 am pdt

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Two-Steppin' With The Minutechicks
Rumor has it that our young jailer/mayor, Allan Mansoor, just might be the beneficiary of a fundraiser to be put on in July by the ladies of the Minuteman mob. I never really know how to refer to them. Do you call them the Minutechicks, Minutebabes, Minutegals or what? And, while we're talking about the Minutemen, I have to tell you that I always chuckle when I hear their name. When I think of that misguided mob I don't think of them in the Revolutionary War context, I think of them in the "Desperately in Need of Viagra" context. Sorry, I just can't help it.

I'm not surprised that the members of the Minuteman Project are going to offer financial support to Mansoor in his campaign for re-election. Earlier this year he was embraced by their co-founder, Jim Gilchrist, and hailed as a savior when Gilchrist pronounced Mansoor an honorary Minuteman. We've seen meeting after meeting when Gilchrist and/or members of his frothing posse stood before the City Council and praised our young jailer/mayor for his "courage" and "leadership". The way some of the women fawned over him, you'd have thought they were be lining up to bear his children, for goodness sake.

My understanding is that this little shindig is going to have a cowboy theme. It's probably going to be quite an event, with the gals twirling their lassos or whatever, trying to raise money for their own little cowpoke, the mayor. I could go on and on with witty little comments about "horsing around", rounding up the heifers, etc., but I won't - this is too serious.

You'll likely recall that I predicted this would happen when Gilchrist and his band of rabid right-wingers first descended on Costa Mesa. It looks like they are going to flood our city with Mansoor money in an attempt to perpetuate Costa Mesa's decline into the dark hole of intolerance. And, remember - our young jailer/mayor is not prohibited from passing off some of that abundant cash to any other candidate he might choose to join him on the ballot. It looks to me like Gilchrist and his Minuteman mob might just be trying to buy themselves a city.

This is how it's going to be this year. We've already seen our old pal, Your Neighbor, begin his attack against possible opponents of Mansoor, just as he did two years ago as he ramped up his effort to get Eric Bever elected. Expect more of the same.

This campaign will be unlike any before in this town, where well-healed outside interests will supply the support and cash for candidates on several sides. I'm not happy about all this outside interference with our city, but I hope the voters will see through it and sort out the wheat from the chaff. I hope enough of them will pay attention this time around and realize this is a tipping point for our city. If the electorate returns Mansoor to office and replaces Gary Monahan with another puppet of the forces of intolerance, our city is doomed. If we thought the past eighteen months was distasteful, just wait until the Mansoor/Bever crowd has another two years in which to dismantle any semblance of civility and compassion in this town.

I hope the voters in this city, regardless of their ethnic background, will vote with their brains and not their emotions. I hope they will see that there are clear distinctions among the candidates and realize that Mansoor and his crowd have only a very narrow focus in mind, and it's sure not fixing the streets. If you follow his roadmap you will take this city backward a half century, when intolerance was the norm. The voters of this city are better than that, and it's time to demonstrate that for our mayor.

More to follow...
3:56 pm pdt

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Pit Bull and Eminent Domain
At tonight's Parks and Recreation Meeting we got another dose of our favorite pit bull, Your Neighbor. He took the opportunity to speak before the commission a few times and was making lots of new friends as he advocated finding more playing fields in our city - one of the current hot-button issues that will drive the election this fall.

He was rockin' along, smiling - imparting his knowledge to the members of the commission - when he proposed that serious consideration be given to identifying apartments on the Westside that could be demolished and replaced by playing fields. His method of choice to acquire the property - the sledgehammer of eminent domain! This comes after him blathering for a couple years about "letting the market decide the use" for properties on the Westside. Not only is he a hypocrite, he's a devious, dangerous hypocrite.

Here it comes, folks. I've been waiting to see how long it would take for him to find a new method of expunging the Latinos from within our borders and, lo and behold, up pops this scheme. One must assume that, if our young jailer/mayor is re-elected and another "Improver" candidate is elected to replace termed-out Gary Monahan, this latest plot to disrupt the lives of those Spanish-speakers among us will move forward with lightning speed.

This move comes as no surprise to me. In a recent internet essay this yapping mutt advocated a single focus for candidates in local elections - illegal immigration. At one point he makes the following statement, "The attitude of citizens should be one of total focus on illegal immigration. If they see a strong candidate who will do something to protect our borders and help send illegal aliens back to their own nations, they shouldn't care if he or she steals candy from babies or trips old ladies trying to cross the street." Earlier in his essay, when addressing the type of candidates that should be considered he wrote, "Sure, those who we help get elected may not pass our smell test on every other issue, but right now the clear and present danger is illegal immigration and the invasion of America." I guess that should give you a pretty good idea of the kinds of candidates he will be supporting this year. He's already indicated he will support our young jailer/mayor and has implied he will also support Mansoor's anointed running mate, Wendy Leece.

So, all you ax-murders, pedophiles, peeping toms and bank robbers with political aspirations, the door is open for you. Our pal, Your Neighbor, will embrace you as a candidate - and probably use bullet voting to help get you elected - if you scream at the top of your lungs that you're against illegal immigration! Heck, if you wore a pointy white hood or sported a swastika he would probably manage your campaign.

You'll recall that I've frequently cautioned you to not turn your backs on Mansoor, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever and their buddies for a minute. This move by their puppet master is a perfect example of why my caution should be heeded. Maybe it will be your home slated for destruction or your safety violated next by these megalomaniacs.
11:00 pm pdt

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Your Neighbor, The Pit Bull, Attacks
Public meetings in Costa Mesa have been very interesting theater for the past few years. Monday night's marathon Planning Commission meeting was no exception.

The meeting started off with a bang when a local activist who resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, stood up as the first speaker in the Public Comments portion and read the riot act to the commissioners. He criticized them for meeting with developers to discuss the projects coming before them and made only marginally veiled accusations that there was corruption involved, actually using the word "bribes". This, of course, rankled more than one commissioner. Crusty veteran Donn Hall, a former mayor of this city, took this activist on - a joy to see - in a heated exchange.

This activist, who frequently stands before public bodies and yaps at them like a deranged pit bull, has a very transparent agenda. Last night it was clear to me that this is the first of many pre-emptive strikes at potential opponents of Mayor Allan Mansoor in the upcoming election campaign. He used his three minutes to intimate improprieties on the part of two potential candidates, commissioners Bruce Garlich and Jim Fisler. This activist was instrumental in getting Mansoor elected four years ago and frequently reminds our young jailer/mayor that he could get him un-elected, too.

Following his rant before the commission he apparently dashed home and fired off a blog entry outlining his "instructions" on how the commission should do it's job.

When this activist stands there, practically foaming at the mouth, I find myself thinking that he needs a few sessions with Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. As the summer wears on I fully expect Your Neighbor, the pit bull, to stand before any official body he can find and try to influence the election by defaming opponents of his chosen slate of candidates.

The remainder of the Planning Commission meeting was very interesting, too, because of the large number of contentious issues being heard last night. As I watched the proceedings until the bitter end, well after midnight this morning, I found myself grateful for the patience of the commissioners as they waded through the details of these projects, attempting to find reasonable resolutions, when it was clear in a couple cases that parties on at least one side of the issue were lying through their teeth.

Of course, commission chairman Bill Perkins - in his own inept way - attempted to overlay his values on the proceedings as he preached and pontificated to several applicants. He's a perfect example of what happens when an immature individual somehow manages to attain a position of authority. We can thank our lucky stars that three seats on that particular commission are occupied by mature, seasoned professionals who know how to keep the proceedings from going off the deep end.

Watching these meetings is very instructive as we begin the campaign season. It's going to be a very interesting few months. In the meantime, does anyone know a good dog catcher?
11:12 am pdt

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ficker's Slicker Plan
Our good neighbors across our southern border in Newport Beach continue to wrestle with the problem of where to build their new City Hall. Early-on in the dialogue, the city planned to simply rebuild on the site of their present City Hall, down on the haunches of the Balboa Peninsula. This site is no longer appropriate for many reasons, the most important of which is that it's difficult for many residents to reach - especially during the summer crunch of beach-goers.

In a recent article in the Daily Pilot, renowned local architect and world-class sailor Bill Ficker presented a plan for a lovely new edifice on property near the center of the city - at Newport Center, adjacent to the Main Library. This site was supposed to be reserved for a natural park, so every environmentalist in Newport Beach appears to be going into a state of apoplexy over Ficker's suggestion. The article has apparently generated a near-record number of letters to the Daily Pilot, including one of mine similar to this posting.

More than a year ago, on June 11, 2005, the Daily Pilot published a letter of mine in which I seconded an earlier suggestion by a Newport Beach resident to utilize the area Ficker suggests for his idea of an ideal City Hall. That site remains the best possible location for many reasons. Having such a respected member of the community as Ficker propose a workable solution only adds to it's credibility.

I read the article in which environmentalists decry the suggestion of using that perfectly situated 12 acres for the City Hall, preferring, instead, to keep it open and natural. I think, however, it's a matter of priorities and what's best for all the residents of the city. And, I don't think the views of each side have to necessarily be mutually exclusive.

I'm sure Ficker's plan for a single story facility would result in a wonderful, useful City Hall. I'm also sure the environmentalist's ideas for a natural "oasis in the middle of the city" would also be nice. I suggest a compromise. I suggest a multi-story City Hall be built immediately adjacent to the Newport Main Library, with much-needed parking to be shared by that facility. In the remaining portion of that twelve acres the natural park so desired by the environmentalists could be created immediately above the new City Hall, providing a slightly smaller but nonetheless appealing oasis.

Re-building the seat of government at it's current location makes no sense when more centrally located options exist. That land, or at least the portion not necessary for a new fire station, could be sold to the highest bidder for a more appropriate use. That sale would likely cover much of the costs of a new City Hall at Newport Center.

I hope a voice of mediation soon may be heard on this issue and that the good neighbors to the south can move forward with their City Hall in the most appropriate location - the center of the city.
11:00 pm pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West