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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, August 18, 2006

Who's To Blame For The Shootings?
Another shooting in Costa Mesa occurred the evening of August 17, 2006. At last report, one young man was injured by as many as five men who fired off seven or eight shots, then escaped. This is the fifth such shooting this year and is initially being called a gang-related event. Whether it is or not, it is certainly a reason to be concerned. The shooters, of course, are responsible for their actions, but what has caused this dramatic increase in shootings in this city?

I've given this a good deal of thought recently, because our young jailer/mayor and his supporters immediately leap upon each such event as evidence of rampant crime among the illegal aliens in our midst - even though there is no evidence that the shooters or victims are illegal aliens. Of course, you will recall the wildfire of criticism our mayor incurred last week with his callous, insensitive remarks following the murder of one young man and the wounding of four others in an attack apparently similar to the one last night.

An activist and huge supporter of our young jailer/mayor - who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor - is so in tune to these events that he somehow managed to post an entry on his blog less than 20 minutes after the most recent shooting. This means that he had to dash from his home several blocks away, observe the scene, dash back and pound out a blog entry in seventeen minutes. I know from his writings that he seems to consider himself some kind of a Superman, so perhaps he really can fly! In his blog report he mentions that the victim was bleeding profusely, but he didn't report whether he offered first aid or not, even though he was apparently among the first to the scene. My suggestion to him is to turn the scanner off and get some rest.

I find myself wondering what has changed in this town recently for there to have been so many shootings among the Latino population - all the victims in this series of shootings have had Latino names. Could it be that tensions are high within the Latino community because of changing circumstances? I wonder what those changes might be?

Let's see, now. Over the past eighteen months - since the current majority took control of this city - the following events have occurred:

After seventeen years serving the community, the Job Center has been closed, eliminating a model program for matching eager workers and needy employers. The majority of workers served by the center were Latino. Do you think that has caused heightened stress in this city?

The Human Relations Committee, which served this city well for nearly two decades as a place where issues between factions in this city could be hashed out and resolved, was unceremoniously dissolved by the council. Do you think it's absence has increased tensions in our city?

The activist in question, through his appointed role on the Redevelopment & Residential Rehabilitation Committee, orchestrated the reduction of funding for certain charities on the Westside of our city, many of which provide a support infrastructure for low income families - including a high percentage of Latinos. Do you think this caused an increase in tension in our city?

The city council passed a series of "revitalization" plans for the Westside of town which will eventually result in the demise of most, if not all, industrial businesses in that part of town. Those businesses employ a large percentage of Latino workers in good paying jobs. Do you think this might have increased the tension in the Latino community?

Last December the city council approved a plan to piggyback the plan the Sheriff's Department was developing which would permit the cross-designation of certain Costa Mesa Police Officers as immigration screeners. The objective of this plan, according to the mayor, is to remove dangerous felons from our streets. His avowed goal is to intercept previously convicted and deported criminals before they can prey again on our residents. However, the only way that can happen is through immigration sweeps. Demonstrations have been held, pro and con, regarding the mayor's plan. Decorum has broken down at city council meetings, with shouting matches occurring and our young jailer/mayor being repeatedly called a Nazi and worse. People have been arrested during meetings and have subsequently sued the city. Outside agitators on both sides of the issue have infested our city, attempting to influence public opinion with their rhetoric. Do you think all this turmoil and the specter of such sweeps has increased tension in the Latino community within our city?

For many months the activist mentioned above has been hounding the City Council to ban any kind of athletic activity in some city parks - raising the specter of serious injury to people in the parks from errant soccer balls. The majority on the council actually listened to that bunch of bull. This plan is obviously directed specifically at adult male soccer players - read that "Latino" - who gather from time to time to blow off some steam by kicking the ball around. Do you think this has increased tension in the Latino community?

All of the above actions and others have been part of a strategy on the part of some activists and elected leaders in this city to make life miserable for the Latinos among us. The theory, of course, is that if you make things difficult for them they will seek greener pastures elsewhere. The bigotry that underlies this plan ignores the fact that not all the Latinos in this city are illegal aliens, but every single Latino will be affected by this plan. Some of those affected are second and third generation Costa Mesans - immigrants to this country who sought and found a better life and have been hard-working contributors to our society. The narrow focus of intolerance that drives the plan to remove illegal residents prohibits the instigators from seeing or even acknowledging this fact.

The individuals behind the plans to expunge the Latinos from our midst must share, in large part, responsibility for the increased tension within the Latino community that may have contributed to this string of shootings. The mayor's mantra of wanting to make Costa Mesa a safer place to live is all well and good, but we didn't have this kind of lawlessness before he and his mob took over. It's obvious that something in this city must change. November provides an opportunity for that change.
8:20 am pdt

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Defending Stupidity and Westside Whiners
During their council member comments section of the City Council meeting on Tuesday, August 15, 2006 we got a clue about just what the campaign season is going to be like this year.

Mayor Pro Tem Eric (L'il) Bever chastised Councilwoman Linda Dixon for her recent commentary in the Daily Pilot. You will recall from a previous blog entry that Dixon shredded our young jailer/mayor, Allan Mansoor, for his insensitive, callous remarks following the tragic shootings a couple weeks ago in which one young man was killed and four others were wounded.

Bever, Mansoor's pal, said he thought Dixon's remarks were "unprofessional" and "absurd". He didn't say they were not accurate. Mansoor followed with his own rebuttal of Dixon's commentary, also calling her "unprofessional". You'd think they would at least try for a little originality! Mansoor went on to affirm his views, digging himself deeper into the hole he created for himself. He blamed the whole thing on the editors of the Daily Pilot, flatly stating that they misrepresented what he told their reporter. In fact, he quoted that reporter as telling him as much.

During his pitiful attempt to absolve himself of any wrong-doing, our young jailer/mayor once again beseeched residents to call him or send emails. He said he always returned calls promptly and replies to every email. Well, I'm here to tell you that he's telling a big, fat lie! Months ago I sent him a long email, asking questions that I thought needed answering. To date, the mayor has yet to reply to me. I guess he only responds to messages from his supporters, including the out-of-town agitators from the Minuteman Project.

Speaking of which, one of the Minutebabes that fawn all over him is a woman named Eileen Garcia - a Laguna Beach resident. She's been a frequent speaker for the mayor during city council meetings, entertained him at the recent fundraising picnic and blew the whistle on the Laguna Beach Day Labor Center. She let the state know that the center was on state land without a permit. That got resolved in favor of the center. However, she recently submitted a letter to the editor to the Daily Pilot which heaped praise on our mayor. So far, few actual Costa Mesa residents have written favorably about him... that tells me something.

Also at the council meeting Tuesday night, former mayor Sandra Genis stood at the speaker's podium and scolded the council for their behavior in the wake of the shootings. She spared no one, accusing both sides of pure political opportunism while the family of the dead young man grieves. She was near tears at the end.

This morning in the Daily Pilot there was a commentary by Westsider Christian Eric in which he praises our mayor and raves about how wonderful it is in his neighborhood since they put the utility wires underground and re-paved his streets. He talks about the revitalization plans that are being implemented as though they were unanimously approved by the Westside Revitalization Oversight Committee - which they were not. Bever quick-pitched the system eighteen months ago and proposed the current plans, which are not the plans submitted to the council by the WROC. The current plans meet the demands of only a narrow group of angry westsiders, including Christian Eric, instead of addressing the unanimously approved plans - those that had been hammered out over many months by the diverse group represented on the WROC.

As always with the group that calls themselves the Westside Improvers, it's all about THEM and what the city needs to do for THEM. They've refined whining to an art form when it comes to getting their way. Now that they've got two of their guys - Mansoor and Bever - on the council, all you see are smirks of self-satisfaction from them. Well, they'd better enjoy themselves while they can. November is sneaking up on us and change will happen.

12:41 pm pdt

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Spinmeister And A Reprieve For The Cross
First, some good news. The Los Angeles Times reports today that President Bush has signed a bill that makes the land on which the Mt. Soledad Cross sits (see above) federal land. This means that attempts to have the cross removed from that site will be much more difficult. This is great news for those of us who view the cross as a symbol of the patriotism and sacrifice made by the men and women who fought for our country and whose names and images are on display at the base of the cross. I've decided to leave my photo of the cross and the adjacent American flag on the header of this page for awhile - maybe a long while.


For more than a week, ever since our young jailer/mayor jammed both feet in his mouth when he uttered those insensitive, callous remarks following the drive-by shootings in the north part of Costa Mesa, a local activist - who resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor - has used his blog to attempt to deflect the criticism by criticizing the critics. Smart fella that he is, I'm sure he's aware that his "chosen one" made a huge gaffe and is in very real danger of actually losing his bid to retain his seat on the council.

It's amazing to watch Your Neighbor, who's stock in trade is bigotry and intolerance, attempt to accuse the critics of our young jailer/mayor of being racist. He's attacked councilwoman Linda Dixon, who wrote a scathing commentary about the mayor that was published in the Daily Pilot last week denouncing him for his recent comments. He used infantile references to her photograph in the Pilot as being "airbrushed". An interesting comment from a guy who uses his scowling photograph on the header of his internet essays - sometimes juxtaposed with a swastika - that spout such vile, intolerant stuff that it makes one ill just realizing the genesis of the comments - Adolph Hitler in the first third of the last century. In fact, speaking of airbrushes, with a little furry embellishment on his upper lip on that photo and he could pass for the former Nazi dictator.

This guy attempts to put so much spin on the facts that you can get dizzy just reading it. In his most recent posting this deluded fella tells us that the upcoming council elections will be about one thing - taking the city back from the out-of-town industrialists. That - to use a pet phrase of our young jailer/mayor - is a bunch of baloney.

This election will be about returning control of this city to the clear-thinking folks who care about all residents, not just that angry knot of frustrated, frightened residents who turn the pages of Your Neighbor's songbook while the mayor and his majority on the council sing the verses. It's about taking it back from those who pander to and are embraced by the radical right - those who wish to drag this city back to the dark times of the middle of the last century, when intolerance and bigotry were widely accepted in parts of this country.

This election will be about returning reasonable, responsible, intelligent citizens - who actually understand and practice strong, compassionate leadership - to the helm of our ship of state. It will be about installing leaders who can manage the multiple complex issues facing this city and not dwell on the one-note-samba of illegal immigration that seems to have obsessed our young jailer/mayor and his cronies. This election will be about returning reason to the governance of our city.
4:30 pm pdt

Monday, August 14, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me
When I began publishing this blog over a year ago I included the disclaimer at the top of the page that sometimes I might veer from the path for something just a little different. Today is one of those times. Instead of commenting on hot issues in this city - of which there are plenty - I'm taking a different tack, for today.

Today is the 65th anniversary of my birth. Some folks think that's a reason to celebrate - others are likely "booing" at the top of their lungs about now. OK, I accept that - right back at ya.

Yesterday - on a perfect summer evening - several dozen friends, neighbors and family members helped us celebrate this day a little early. We met, hugged, talked, ate, and were entertained by the best up-close magician you'll find anywhere - our friend Johnny "Ace" Palmer. In the background we heard music of "my" era - the 50s and 60s - and enjoyed that little trip down memory lane. We looked at old photographs, recalling the days they depicted, and watched the children laugh at us as our images changed over more than six decades. We had fun.

The best part of that celebration, and the preparation for it, was thinking about the old friends who would be in attendance - and some who wouldn't. It reinforced for me just how important friends are in my life. Among the assembled mob were a few people I've known since elementary school, including my high school senior class president, with whom I have had a standing lunch engagement for the past 20 years or so. He and I started in kindergarten together. Another old friend - we're all old now - is the woman who was our prom queen. She's still as lovely and vivacious as ever.

My "baby sister" and her husband joined the party. She's now a grandmother twice over. Some of our friends drove more than 100 miles to attend, then turned around and drove back home that night. I'm grateful for that.

Other attendees have known me for shorter periods of time, but have been equally important to me in my life. There is no adequate way to describe the joy I feel when I think about how they've affected my life. They've included us in their lives as they had children, then grand children. We marvel at the wonderful job they've done raising their kids to be upstanding young adults and parents. We're grateful to have been included along the way.

The world has changed since I was born. I was just about 4 months old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the victory over Japan is celebrated on my birthday - VJ Day is August 14th. Now, three generations later, Japan is one of our best friends and greatest trading partner. Who knew?

Today the world is similar, too. Today we face yet another challenge to our very existence as we battle an enemy who doesn't seem to worry about dying - or having his family die - as long as they can drive our way of life to extinction. This enemy, though, is more amorphous than were our enemies during World War II. Fighting this enemy is a little like trying to hold onto a handful of jello - you just can't get a grip on it. I'm confident, though, that our leaders will find the solution.

I'm amazed at the changes that have taken place since I was born. For example, the city in which I live, Costa Mesa, didn't exist at that time. It was the location of the Santa Ana Army Air Base, a training site for World War II flyers. Many of those young men who trained here and survived the war returned to this idyllic location to make their lives. Some became civic leaders and launched Costa Mesa as a city in the early 1950s and shepherded it through the early years.

Today this city, with a population nearing 115,000 people, is a vibrant hub of commerce and culture for Orange County. It's not without it's problems, as those of you who read this blog with any frequency know, but is still a wonderful community.

The technology that has developed since I was born has changed the world several times. Television, video recorders, digital cameras, cell phones, personal computers and on and on and on.... Advances in agriculture now allow us to feed most of the world's population when permitted to do so by their governments. On the flip side, "advancements" in armaments now make it possible for us to eradicate all life on this planet if we choose to do so.

Through all these changes, over all these years, nothing is more valuable to me than my friends and family. So, a big Happy Birthday to me. I'm grateful for the gift of friendship that I receive every day.
9:42 pm pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West