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.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Found Wendy, Lost "Your Neighbor" & Byron's Enlightenment
Well, part of the mystery is solved. At the end of day 4 of the "Where's Wendy" search, I've found her. Even though her campaign web site is still, appropriately, blank and her personal web log has gone stagnant, with no entry since September 5th (despite her promise on the page to update it every day), a quick check of our young jailer/mayor's campaign web site reveals a new link. The link says, "Help Mayor Mansoor Elect Wendy Leece to City Council. For Details Click Here."

When you click on that link it takes you to a pdf file, which turns out to be a Leece campaign brochure containing many of the same shallow campaign promises that appeared on her now apparently defunct campaign web site. It also includes a blurry blow up of one of Mansoor's fundraiser picnic photos - with the Minutechicks and their co-horts snuggled up to Leece, Dana Rohrabacker and Mansoor. It looks like she's abandoned her own campaign and has jumped onto Mansoor's back and will enjoy the ride to November 7th piggyback style.

So, the mystery of "Where's Wendy" seems to be solved. It appears that if you want to find Wendy, all you have to do is look for the mayor and she'll be clinging to him like a leech.

***

Byron de Arakal has made a very interesting posting on his Itchingpost.com web log about the mayor's campaign endorsers. I suggest you slide over to my Useful Links page and click on the link to his blog.

***

I find myself wondering about our old pal, Your Neighbor. His blog has seen little action lately. His last entry is simply a vehicle to repeat a recent column from Devvy Kidd, internet mistress of the radical far, far right. Perhaps he's sprained his ear listening to his police scanner, hoping for more of those "illegal aliens" to break the law in his neighborhood so he can write yet another inaccurate commentary about it. Or, since the fall is upon us, perhaps he's getting a head start on hibernation this year - isn't that what grumpy old bears do? Perhaps we'll see him out and about, foraging for grubs and worms, before he settles in for a long snooze.
11:47 pm pdt

Friday, September 15, 2006

Where's Wendy?, Endorsement Anxiety and Joe Bell
Where's Wendy? This is day 3 of the "Wendy Watch". As reported here first on Tuesday, the 12th, her campaign web site - which as recently as Sunday was in full flower, with shallow candidate statements and echoes of our young jailer/mayor's pronouncements. Then it first went into an apparent state of suspended animation, with several pages flagged as "under construction" - that probably should have been "under re-construction". Then, on Tuesday, the page shows only a blank sheet. Very strange.

Adding to the mystery is her personal web log - Pretty in Pink, as I call it - has as it's most recent entry a Candidate Statement and includes a promise to update the blog daily. That entry was dated September 5th, 2006.

Further, in an article in the Daily Pilot today announcing the endorsement of the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association of Bruce Garlich and Mike Scheafer in the City Council race, mention is made that Wendy was a no-show at the interviews conducted by that political action committee. Although she is quoted as saying she "welcomed a meeting with the firefighters" but she apparently hadn't received an invitation. Other sources tell me that she had, indeed, been invited. Maybe they just couldn't find her.

I've seen some strange tactics in local political campaigns over the years, but attempting to become invisible is a new one.

***

On the endorsement front, I guess we're all waiting now to see who the Costa Mesa Police political action committee will endorse for City Council, if anyone. I think they're in a tough spot here. Do they endorse Mansoor who, as a Deputy Sheriff is one of their own, even though he turned his back on them and campaigned vigorously for Prop. 75 a couple years ago and has consistently ignored the recommendations of two police chiefs in very important issues during this year? Will they endorse him although his plan for cross-designating some of them as immigration screeners - a plan not supported by any law enforcement leader in Orange County - will add to their workload at a time when the department is 10% understaffed? Or, will they endorse others in whom they might find a more sympathetic ear when issues important to the police department are presented for deliberation? As I said, they're in a tough spot on this one.

***

On a more positive note, on Thursday Daily Pilot columnist Joe Bell provided a very moving account of a family of his personal acquaintance who entered this country illegally, but who have subsequently attained "legal" status. Bell's story is told with the polish and precision we've come to expect from him and is well worth the reading. If you're interested, go to my Useful Links page, click on the Daily Pilot link, then over on the left side of the Home Page click on Columns and select Joe's most recent piece.

12:00 am pdt

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Word For Today - DICTATORSHIP
Good Morning, Class. The word for today is DICTATORSHIP.

My friendly dictionary provides the following definition of that word: "A form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or small clique."

Does that definition sound vaguely familiar to anyone? Well, it should, because that's the kind of government the City of Costa Mesa has been operating with for more than 20 months - ever since Mayor Allan Mansoor and Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever were joined by lame duck councilman Gary Monahan to form an unbreakable troika.

During that time we've seen Mansoor attempt to ram his views down the throat of the city without the opportunity for significant debate of issues. We've seen him attempt to cut off debate on the dais as opposing views were being stated. We've seen him ignore his top law enforcement officials - men with decades of law enforcement leadership experience - and push forward an agenda which is doomed to failure.

We've seen this ruling majority undo relationships within the city that took years to forge and cause fear and mistrust to permeate large portions of this community. They have shown themselves as isolationists, willing to alienate neighboring cities and render any attempts at negotiation of common interests impossible.

We've seen this trio pander to the darkest side of some residents of this city, to the detriment of the city as a whole. We've seen our top elected official embraced by the radical right, made an honorary Minuteman and hailed as a hero as he made our city the subject of derision and scorn throughout the civilized world. He's allowed himself to become a pawn in the illegal immigration debate and dragged the good name and reputation of our city with him. We've seen his actions result in the infestation of our city by outside agitators, intent on influencing the lives of all Costa Mesans.

The question voters in this city must ask themselves is, "Do I want to perpetuate the misguided, ill-advised policies of the current majority?" If the answer is "yes", then the solution is simple - just vote for Mansoor and his anointed running mate, Wendy Leece, on November 7th.

If, however, the voters choose to return this city to the governance of mature, reasonable leaders, they must reject Mansoor's bid for re-election and send him back to his day job as a jailer in the bowels of the Orange County Jail and send Leece back to baby-sitting her grandchild.

It's time to reject this dictatorship, break up the troika and return Costa Mesa to the reasonable, representative form of government to which we are entitled.

***

A quick note. As I posted this entry Wendy Leece's web site is still a blank page. Searching for information, I went to her personal web log. There I found the most current entry, dated September 5th, which included a promise to update the blog daily. Oops! Maybe she meant "weekly" - or "weakly". Whatever - I'll just keep looking for information on her position on issues and let you know if I find any.

***

On a much more positive note, candidates Bruce Garlich and Mike Scheafer have received the coveted endorsement of the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association. After a series of comprehensive interviews with candidates, the CMFA apparently decided that these two men represent views that are best for the future of our city.
12:48 pm pdt

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Chief Snowden's "Reason" & Wendy's Disappearing Web Site
Former Costa Mesa Police Chief Dave Snowden, now the Chief of Police for Beverly Hills, wrote a commentary in the Daily Pilot last weekend in which he attempted to define the role of the political action committee, Return to Reason, which has been much maligned in letters to the editor recently. His description of the group, of which he is a member, was clear and accurate and should have left no doubt in any reader's mind about the group's intended mission - to return Costa Mesa to governance by mature, reasonable leaders.

As anticipated, one controversial activist who bears an amazing resemblance to my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, has made a full frontal assault on Chief Snowden on his web log, decrying Snowden as an "outsider" and questioning his motives. Of course, Snowden served this city with distinction for most of two decades, during which he was part of a group of leaders that took on significant problems and solved them. He was, for example, part of the group of civic leaders that recognized the problem of loitering day laborers and created the Job Center and implemented a non-solicitation ordinance to encourage the use of the Job Center. That idea was far ahead of it's time, worked without a single hitch for seventeen years and became the model for other such facilities all over the country until the Mansoor majority pulled the plug last year.

Chief Snowden certainly has reason to feel some pride of authorship for many of the progressive policies in this city. He spent more than 16 years building an effective police force and developing a sense of trust throughout the city, and within the Latino community in particular. Additionally, he has family living in this town, so he has a very real vested interested in how this city is governed.

Your Neighbor is the inspirational leader of our young jailer/mayor and his band of malcontents, providing them with tactics and strategy and is the builder of their philosophical underpinning that has led the council majority to follow his tune and attempt to expunge the Latinos from this city. He attacks anyone or anything that will threaten the current majority on the council and, consequently, his influence on city issues. One only has to read his internet essays to fully understand his underlying philosophy - racial purity.

Our young jailer/mayor will deny any relationship with this man, but history proves the association. I guess the voters of this city will tell us in less than 60 days whether they also go along with a philosophy of intolerance and bigotry.

***

More on Wendy Leece's web site. This morning I attempted to visit it and found only a blank page - no note about it being under construction, nothing. I know they were working on it, to try to make a more appropriate campaign statement - something that would more accurately reflect her platform and state her views. It looks like they've accomplished that.

Incidentally, a loyal, valued reader took me to task for my reference to Leece as "Grandma Wendy". That term was not intended to be taken as a pejorative reference and I apologize if others took it that way. It was simply a way of identifying what appeared to be her main qualification for the office she seeks. I'll try to be "nicer" in the future.
2:09 pm pdt

Monday, September 11, 2006

Grandma Wendy
As promised, this is another in the examinations of candidates for Costa Mesa City Council this year. In this edition we will discuss Parks & Recreation Commission Chair Wendy Leece, a mother of five and grandmother of one, who has jumped aboard Allan Mansoor's campaign wagon and is holding on for dear life.

I had a chance to watch Grandma Wendy at the recent candidate forum, and to hear what she had to say on the issues. Actually, I could have saved myself a lot of time if I just listened to our young jailer/mayor, Allan Mansoor, then penciled in the word "ditto" when it came to listening to Leece. She seemed to have no original thought. In fact, she and Mansoor seemed to be sharing a song book, because their utterances were echoes of each other.

I recently visited Grandma Wendy's fledgling web site to see what new information I might glean. I was looking for something that might persuade someone to support her candidacy. I came away unfulfilled.

Her site greeted me with a photo of herself with Mansoor and Dana Rohrabacher at the Minutechick-sponsored picnic fundraiser for Mansoor this summer. On this page, where one might expect to find some catchy phrase that grabs you and makes you want to know more, she gives us the following words to live by: "This is what I am for: A safe Costa Mesa where all residents can walk on our sidewalks or stroll through our parks and be safe."

Well, now, if that's not a barn-burner of a credo I don't know what is! I found myself thinking of the line from the movie, "Forest Gump" - "Simple is as simple does."

So, in search of more enlightenment I clicked on the "Contact Wendy" page and found a most over-used, trite phrase staring back at me, "Together We Can Make A Difference". Give me a break! Following that inspirational phrase I read further and found that she's concerned about rising crime and is dismayed to learn that three sex offenders found in Costa Mesa were here illegally and that not all illegal aliens are deported after serving their jail time. Wow! She went on to tell us that she supports Mayor Mansoor's proposal and is the only candidate endorsed by him. Let's see, now, Wendy... do you mean his original plan or the one the council approved?

She continued by telling us that traffic congestion, street repair, youth sports fields and good schools are important to her. Oh, and by the way, she is against eminent domain. Well, duh, Wendy - every other candidate is, too.

I then clicked on her "The issues" page and found a rehash of the above plus her perpetuation of the lie she and Mansoor are trying to sell about the $1.5 million in fees provided to the developer of the 1901 Newport Plaza development. It amazes me that a person who says she's strong on education fails to do her homework and just blathers on about an issue which she obviously doesn't understand. It amazes me, but doesn't surprise me.

I've watched Grandma Wendy attempt to conduct Parks and Recreation Commission meetings during the months she has occupied the Chair. She has demonstrated no skills for that job whatsoever. It is very difficult to describe the depth of understanding she has on most issues - because she doesn't have any. It's clear from watching her in action that she operates purely on emotion and makes extremely bad decisions as a result. She has shown us that she's willing to place the complaints of a few residents above the needs of all residents of the city time after time.

Some will recall her tenure on the Board of Trustees of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, during which she was a lightning rod for controversy. Supporters might describe her as a maverick, but detractors will tell you that they didn't like her attempts to overlay her personal religious views on the decisions of the board. There is no reason to think she won't try the same tactics if elected to the City Council.

She's a strong supporter of one controversial activist in town (you know who I mean) who speaks frequently before her commission and for whom she apparently has high regard. She's deferential in his presence and follows his lead on every issue. For that reason alone her candidacy should be rejected.

The only way Grandma Wendy gets elected is if she gets a firm grip on Mansoor's belt and hangs on. Her performance at the forum demonstrated that, once on the council, she would become an echo of Mansoor and Bever - a rubber stamp for their bogus ideas. She, like Mansoor, looks for simple solutions to complex problems - perhaps because those are the only kind they can understand.

Grandma Wendy is not the solution to problems in Costa Mesa - she is part of the problem. To elect her would perpetuate the divisive, intolerant atmosphere initiated by her benefactor, Mansoor. This city deserves much better than that.

Just before posting this entry I re-visited her site and found, much to my amusement, that every page except the Home Page is now "under construction". I assume that means they've found a ghost writer - maybe that activist mentioned above - to help her craft a message that comes close to making sense. We'll check back at a future date and let you know.

***

For those who have not yet seen it, please go to my Useful Links page and click on the "Byron de Arakal's Itchingpost.com" link to view his excellent commentary on 9/11/01. It's a brief, painful, very appropriate reminder of that day.
11:23 pm pdt

Sunday, September 10, 2006

September 11, 2001
Once again we mark the anniversary of September 11, 2001, one of the most tragic days in the history of this country. In my view, the events of that day rank with December 7, 1941 as a day that should be burned into the memory of every American.

As we get further down the line from 9/11/01, and success in the conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq seems at times to be slipping from our grasp, I think it's very important to remember just what happened five years ago in New York, Washington, D.C. and in the sky over the rolling hills of Pennsylvania that morning.

I hope you'll take a minute to reflect on the events of that day 1,826 days ago. Think of the two commercial jet liners - Flights 11 and 175 - that crashed into the World Trade Center Towers with virtually full fuel loads and hundreds of passengers aboard. Remember the images of the fire balls as those flying bombs sliced through the towers, instantly killing all the passengers. Recall those towers imploding, vaporizing most of the remaining occupants of those buildings almost as quickly as it takes me to type this sentence.

Remember Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, snuffing out the lives of the passengers and dozens of workers in that building. Remember the bravery of the passengers of Flight 93, as they successfully diverted that plane from it's intended target in our nation's capitol and sacrificed their lives to save countless others when they fought the terrorists to take back the airplane and crashed in that field in Pennsylvania.

Remember that more than 3,000 lives were taken that morning, and the lives of thousands of friends and families that were torn apart forever by the loss of their loved ones.

Remember the turmoil, apprehension and uncertainty those acts have caused in this country and abroad in the intervening years.

I recently found a memorial site created by CNN which lists every person who lost their lives during that terrorist attack on 9/11/01. I've placed a link to that site on my Useful Links page, if you care to visit it.

As I scrolled down the lists, viewing the photographs, reading the names and ages and the companies for which they worked, I felt an angry lump form in my throat. I read name after name of people who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and Marsh & McLennan, companies who lost virtually their entire staffs in the attack. I read names of people who worked at Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of one of the towers - dishwashers, waiters, bus boys and cooks - who worked hard every day to scrape out an existence for their families, only to ride the debris of the collapsing building to a horrible death.

I thought of a friend who, as a retired executive of Marsh & McLennan, lost more than 100 close personal friends that morning. I thought of another friend, a systems specialist with the Twin Towers as his territory, who watched from a tug boat evacuating him and others to Brooklyn as the towers imploded, knowing that he was witnessing the death of hundreds of friends and clients. I thought of yet another friend who, in his office in a building adjacent to the towers, was knocked off his feet by the second airplane crash and watched the fireball boil past his window as he tried to regain his feet.

I read the names of more than one hundred military men and women who died in the Pentagon, never knowing what hit them as Flight 175 tore through the building and exploded.

The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred just four months after I was born. My parents helped me celebrate my fourth birthday on the day Japan surrendered - August 14, 1945, VJ Day. I have no personal recollection of World War II except "playing war" as a child, but I've learned much about it. I know of the sacrifice my parent's generation made to defend and protect our liberty and to, literally, save the world. I remember how this country helped rebuild our vanquished enemies, Germany and Japan, which allowed them to become two of the most successful nations in the world.

September 11, 2001 is my Pearl Harbor. It is a day that people my age and the next generation will never forget because those video images of airplanes crashing, buildings burning and imploding and people throwing themselves to certain death to escape the flames have been seared into our brains forever. The threat to our liberty and freedom - and to the future of mankind - by those terrorists who attacked our country and who have vowed to destroy our way of life, is very real.

As you read the newspaper and magazine accounts from the battlegrounds in the middle east, and watch the news reports of our young men and women fighting for our freedom against enemies who don't care about their own lives or those of their children as they continue to perform acts of terrorism, remember the bravery of our noble young warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one drafted them to fight, and sometimes die, in those hot, hostile middle eastern deserts - they volunteered. Despite the persistent negative news coverage, and rules of engagement that sometimes prohibit them from effectively dealing with their enemy, they proudly stand their ground and try to help rebuild the infrastructure while dealing with insurgent terrorism every day.

There is no "good war". War, by definition, means the destruction of your enemy. We did not start this conflict - the cowardly terrorists of 9/11/01 who launched their attack that bright, sunny morning did. It's up to our leaders, and the citizens of this country, to find the resolve to finish this war. If we do not defeat our enemies on their turf, we will fight them on ours, again and again and again.

I encourage you to take a moment to look at the photograph at the top of this page. That cross and flag stand atop Mt. Soledad in La Jolla as a monument to men and women who fought for our freedom in past wars. Please use these symbols as a reminder that those freedoms are worth the sacrifice. Do not turn your back on the men and women who serve this country with bravery, dedication and patriotism as they do their very best to keep this country safe from terrorism. They deserve your support because they earn it every day with their sacrifice and blood. Please don't let them down.
11:59 pm pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West