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, October 7, 2006

Shoveling Through The Blizzard
With a month to go until the elections, I fully expect to see some very bizarre things happen as candidates bump and shove their way down the home stretch. I won't be surprised to see attempted character assassination and dirty tricks before the votes are cast.

Today's mail brought with it the first of what will likely be a blizzard of campaign flyers. Included in this first barrage were two flyers that looked as though they'd been printed at the same place, using the same ink and same templates. Guess who they represented - that's right, our young jailer/mayor Allan Mansoor and his anointed running mate, Wendy Leece!

Lest anyone question whether they are running as a "slate", their respective flyers have photos of themselves with the other and echo each other's phrases. Poor Wendy. She apparently can't figure out how to run her own campaign, so she strapped herself onto Mansoor's hip and will just ride along, wherever he takes her.

In case you're wondering where her support comes from, the cover photo on her flyer tells it all. There she sits, hunkered down with Mansoor at his fundraiser this summer with Minuteman supporters in the background. On the back of the flyer, in bold letters, they tell us that "Wendy Leece is the ONLY candidate endorsed by Mayor Allan Mansoor." Well, duh!

What really cracks me up about Wendy's flyer is the statement "The Independent Voice for Costa Mesa", which is shown three times on the flyer. Give me a break! How in the world can she describe herself as "independent" when most of the phrases on her flyer are peeled word for word from Mansoor's? It proves that Wendy will just be an echo of Mansoor and his buddy, Eric Bever, if she is elected. She'll be able to just mail in her proxy at each council meeting.

Mansoor has some very peculiar comments on his flyer, too. For example, he is quoted as stating, "My background and experience working with all levels of government has given me a unique ability to cut through red tape and bureaucracy to obtain positive results for our City." Well, I've watched him in action for the past four years. What that comment means is, "I've got the majority locked up so I can ignore public input, expert opinion of the city staff - including the chief of police - and minority members of the city council and do any darn thing I please!"

If you don't believe me, just look at his record. He has consistently ignored the views of the last two police chiefs to the detriment of public safety in Costa Mesa. He's ignored the views of the two women on the city council to the point of rudeness. He's attempted to cut off their comments and those by members of the public when their opinions didn't agree with him. He's become a virtual dictator on the dais.

When you look at the list of endorsers on Mansoor's flyer you'll find only a handful of Costa Mesa residents - the rest are folks who cannot vote in our city. This is the same ratio found on his campaign finance disclosure forms recently - the vast majority of his dollars come from contributors outside the city - many of which are Minuteman members.

The Mayor and Ms. Leece both have track records in this community. They've both demonstrated that they lack the wisdom and skill to govern this city. They both have demonstrated that, rather than build consensus within the community, they choose to be tools of divisiveness and turmoil. Rather than be the voices of reason and leadership they allow themselves to be the mouthpiece for the forces of intolerance in this city. Rather than work for the good of all residents they allow themselves to be manipulated by a small group of self-possessed malcontents, intent on turning the clock back a half century.

Contrast the Mansoor/Leece flyers with the one also in the mail today from the folks at Return to Reason. This flyer is an open letter to the residents of this city, signed by former Police Chief Dave Snowden and former Mayors Joe Erickson and Mary Hornbuckle - true pillars of this community. Unlike Mansoor/Leece flyers, this flyer is not full of contrived, empty campaign phrases and rhetoric. It simply and clearly lays out why they decided to join Return to Reason and work to elect Bruce Garlich and Mike Scheafer to the city council. The list of supporters of that organization shown on their web site at www.return2reason.org is a virtual Who's Who of Costa Mesa residents - a broad cross-section of dedicated volunteers, elected leaders and ordinary folks who work tirelessly to make this city a better place.

The decision on November 7th is very simple. Just ask yourself whether you want to vote for someone who doesn't have the support of Costa Mesans, nor their public safety organizations. Ask yourself if you want to vote for someone who receives most of his financial support from people outside this city, including some far right wing radical organizations. Ask yourself if you want to place this city in the hands of a majority that takes their marching orders from one of the most controversial and overt racists ever to make Costa Mesa his home.

Or, do you want to return the governance of this city to the hands of dedicated, intelligent, mature leaders who have proven their concern for this city through decades of public service? Do you want this city to, once again, be known for it's dedication to the arts instead of being known worldwide as a haven for bigotry? Do you want this city governed by dedicated men and women who work to make this a safe place for all residents instead of pandering to a vocal, angry few?

As I said, the decision is simple.
10:45 pm pdt

Friday, October 6, 2006

ICE Guts O.C. Plan
The Orange County Register reports this morning that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has disemboweled Sheriff Mike Carona's plan to train 200 deputies to be immigrations screeners. According to The Register, the present version of the plan will approve training of only 15 deputies to be trained do the screening in the county jail.

According to a Sheriff's department spokesman, Carona is "OK with it because it's consistent with what lots of other agencies are doing".

This, of course, blows our young jailer/mayor's plan right out of the water. Young Mayor Mansoor had planned to model his scheme for Costa Mesa after Carona's, including cross-designating jailers, detectives and gang detail officers for this work. As I've said many times in the past, that plan was ill-advised, at best. It would have taken highly specialized and skilled officers off the streets and made them de-facto baby-sitters as the bad guys they apprehended were escorted through the screening process.

For Costa Mesa, this turn of events is a good thing. If, in fact, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is approved and signed by the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff implements it, that will take the pressure off Costa Mesa. The suspected illegal alien criminals that are apprehended will be processed at the proper venue - the county jail - and our officers can stay busy doing the things they are trained for - scooping up those bad guys so they cannot prey on the Costa Mesa residents. For Costa Mesa personnel to perform this function would be, at least, redundant.

And yet, the mayor persists. He is quoted in the Register article as saying, "The city will keep working with federal officials because even a smaller program will help make the community safer." He just doesn't get it. If he plans to continue his attempts to have Costa Mesa officers screen apprehended criminals for their immigration status he is either irrationally stubborn or just plain stupid - maybe both. Short of having ICE officials stand in front of him and scream in his face, I'm not sure what it will take for him to understand that the screening process isn't a local, municipal responsibility.

The worst part of this whole scenario is that, since last December when he announced his bogus plan, this city has been in turmoil. Although the mayor denies it, this has become a city divided. His plan has paralyzed the Latino community and caused nearly two decades of good will and close working relationships with the Costa Mesa Police Department to virtually disappear. That change is on the mayor's shoulders - his responsibility - and has likely resulted in an increase in crime in this city. It's beyond me to understand how a man who has been a law enforcement officer for more than 13 years can be so completely out of touch with police issues in Costa Mesa.

One can only assume, since he's being courted by all the Orange County Republican Party mucky-mucks, that they must think he's prime material for higher office. As an Orange County Republican, that makes me want to puke! Mansoor is apparently willing to permit the safety of Costa Mesa residents to be placed in jeopardy for his own personal political future. What a truly sad commentary on the leadership of this city right now.

November 7th provides an opportunity for the voters of Costa Mesa to stop this insanity in it's tracks. This is a chance for the voters to say to the mayor and his anointed running mate, Wendy Leece, "Enough!" This is the opportunity for the good, decent voters of this city to elect candidates that will return mature, reasonable, intelligent, considerate governance to this city and toss aside the mayor and his self-serving, intolerant cadre of boot-lickers. Yes, it's time for that change.
3:38 pm pdt

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

It's Simply A Matter Of Trust
What are the real issues in the up-coming election?

During candidate forums and in letters to the editor we hear about a whole bucket full of things that each candidate thinks is important - playing fields, more police officers, crumbling streets, undergrounding utilities and - the 800 pound gorilla - illegal immigration. These items and others seem to occupy our collective consciousness and generate the most dialogue as we approach November 7th.

To me, this election is a whole lot simpler than that. In my view, this election is about trust.

For the past nearly two years - ever since Mayor Allan Mansoor and his majority took control of the city - we've seen them take actions that have proven to me that they are not trustworthy.

We've seen them blind-side the other council members and the public time after time on issues that are immensely important to this city. The list is almost too great to chronicle here, but I'll give you just a few items.

First, the mayor's bogus plan to cross-designate all Costa Mesa police officers as immigration screeners, which brought with it start-up costs of $1.4 million - unbudgeted dollars, by the way. That proposal was headed off by Gary Monahan's alternative that would train fewer officers and cost "only" $200,000 to launch. Neither plan will work because they take highly trained, specialized officers off the streets to basically baby-sit apprehended suspected felons as they shepherd them through the administrative process. No municipal law enforcement leader in Orange County, including the two most recent past chiefs of police in Costa Mesa, support the mayor's plan because they know it won't work. Additionally, this would be redundant if the Sheriff's Department consummates their deal with ICE. The residents of this city, including the other council members, received no advance warning, nor did they have a chance to discuss it in a study session - standard protocol for important issues in this city.

Another is the half-cocked plan proposed by the mayor and his hand-picked running mate, Wendy Leece, to rip up a quarter of the municipal golf course for playing fields instead of simply lighting more fields at The Farm Sports Complex. That one never made any sense and caused them appropriate levels of embarrassment.

One of the most recent examples of the mayor's shoot-from-the-hip style is the press conference he called - unannounced to other council members - to tell the world he planned to request the council to authorize the payment of a reward for information that led to the apprehension and conviction of the shooters involved in recent drive-by attacks. If he'd done his homework he would have found that the police chief already had that authority. Instead, once the issue was discussed before the City Council, he ignored the recommendation of his police chief - who preferred to wait until his detectives were out of hot leads - and called for the reward anyhow.

That was the second time, at least that we know of, in the past few months when the mayor and his majority ignored their law enforcement leaders. It's no surprise to me at all that the two major public safety organizations have chosen not to support Mansoor and Leece in the election. Why would anyone, much less the folks we pay to protect our lives, support someone who has so little regard for the opinions of true law enforcement professionals?

Further back, shortly after taking control of the city, Mansoor and lame duck Gary Monahan supported Eric Bever's quick pitch of the system when he proposed a much more wide-reaching plan for the revitalization of the Westside than was proposed - and unanimously recommended - by the Westside Revitalization Oversight Committee, who had worked diligently for a year coming up with their plan. That was a bellwether of things to come, as this majority disregards broad public input and expert opinion and, encouraged by fawning radical outsiders, uses only the gripes of their little cadre of malcontents to create city policy and direction.

Under the current "leadership" we've seen Costa Mesa become an isolationist city, alienating every other city with whom we share a border. Costa Mesa does not exist in a vacuum. We need leaders who recognize our role and responsibilities in the broader, regional issues and work to arrive at a reasonable, workable consensus with our neighbors - not continually spit in their eye.

The list goes on and on. Suffice it to say that the current majority, led by Allan Mansoor, has done little to engender the trust of the electorate. The actions they have taken pander to the dark side of human nature and use fear as the motivating factor. Their control is so absolute that it is dictatorial in nature and certainly not in the best interests of this city.

Then, today, the mayor filed his campaign finance disclosure (Form 460) for the three months ending September 30th which shows - according to a posting on Byron de Arakal's Itchingpost.com blog - that more than two-thirds of his contributors for that period (67.7%) have addresses outside the city limits. Those outsiders accounted for 65% of the cash contributed to the mayor's campaign. For the full story please go to Byron's blog. There's a link on my Useful Links page that will take you right to it.

It's time to return the governance of this city to men and women who have demonstrated their concern for our community through decades of public service. It's time to return this city to the hands of reasonable, intelligent people who have the welfare of all residents and business owners in this city in mind instead of pandering to the grumblings of a few frustrated, fearful folks and the whims of outside agitators, who stroke the mayor and play him like a violin. It's time to cast aside the mayor and his divisive campaign of fear and return confidence and trust to City Hall.

7:59 pm pdt

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Lancing The Boil & The Mayor Reaches A New Low
Last night, during the Public Comments portion of the Costa Mesa City Council meeting, a couple of the "usual suspects" spoke, criticizing members of the council - Mayor Mansoor specifically. This has become a regular, and distasteful, ritual most of this year.

However, one speaker - long time Costa Mesa businessman and occasional speaker, Tim Lewis - stood at the podium and related a story of a Costa Mesa resident and customer of his who recently told him he may have to move his family to Mexico. When Lewis, aghast, asked why in the world he would consider that move, his friend told him his wife - an undocumented resident of this city - felt it was no longer safe in Costa Mesa.

Lewis decried the circumstances that have created such an atmosphere in Costa Mesa, then asked the following questions of the council: "What devil amongst us has stolen the soul of Costa Mesa? Who of this council are responsible for tearing this city's heart out? And will this failure to respect every person as an equal member of one human family become the tragedy trophy of Costa Mesa?"

With those three direct questions Mr. Lewis has pierced the festering boil that has infected this city for several years - the treatment of the Latinos, legal and illegal, among us.

For several years I've flogged this issue in commentaries published in local newspapers and on the pages of this web log. Most of my thoughts on this subject can be found as you scroll through the archives. To summarize my views as concisely as possible, I offer the following comments: I firmly believe, based on my observations of some city leaders and certain activists for most of this decade, that there has been an orchestrated movement in this city to expunge the Latino population from our borders. Players in this drama have been elected officials and activists with an agenda that reaches far beyond the borders of this city. I think the current majority on the council has been a willing tool of this scheme as proven by their systematic destruction of financial infrastructure, facilities and policies that have provided support for more than 30% of the residents of this city in the Latino community.

I encourage each of you who read this blog to re-read Mr. Lewis' questions, and to try to answer them for yourselves.

***

Near the end of last night's council meeting Mayor Mansoor astounded even me, a guy who watches his movements with a critical eye and had thought he'd seen it all. Not so - last night was a new low. Last night, in the most arrogant, self-serving act I can remember, the mayor requested to change the meeting date of the regularly scheduled November 7th City Council meeting so he could go out and party with his supporters on election night!

Over the strenuous objections of Councilwoman Katrina Foley, and despite the fact that it will mean placing an extreme strain on the staff to prepare for a meeting on that date, the male majority on the council went along with this move and voted to re-schedule the meeting to coincide with the Study Session/Joint meeting with the Redevelopment Agency on November 14th. I wasn't surprised that Gary Monahan went along with this idea - his gin mill will be jumping on November 7th and he admitted that he probably wouldn't be at the council meeting because his bar would be too busy.

This is just one more example of how Mansoor puts himself ahead of the welfare of the city and one more reason to throw him out of office. It is my fervent wish that he is forced to use this time on November 7th to cry in his beer about having lost the election. What poetic justice that will be!

12:54 am pdt

Monday, October 2, 2006

John Wayne Airport - Common Ground for the Common Good
Among the first items that should be discussed by the new Costa Mesa City Council following the November election is the possible expansion of John Wayne Airport. Lest you readers think I'm going to try to resurrect the dead carcass of the El Toro International Airport, rest easy. That issue is dead, buried and moldering in it's grave. That idea has become manure with which to fertilize the biggest boondoggle in Orange County history - The Great Park. But that's a story for another time.

No, I speak of the tenuous situation regarding the flight caps at John Wayne Airport, which is apparently being overseen exclusively by our good neighbors in Newport Beach. Sadly, we've managed to alienate them any number of ways recently, particularly on annexation issues, where our current leaders posture and pontificate despite the fact that Newport Beach holds all the cards. However, we share with Newport Beach any impact of expansion of John Wayne Airport, so I would hope our elected leaders would at least attempt to work with their peers in Newport Beach to present a united front when it comes to fending off any further expansion.

You will recall that we missed a chance to have our municipal voice heard on the El Toro issue when our then-mayor, Libby Cowan, maneuvered us away from that confrontation with her employer, the City of Irvine - all the while claiming she had no conflict of interest. Ha! No conflict, my fanny! She knew exactly what would happen if she led the charge for an airport at El Toro - she'd be looking for another job. We'll never know if it would have made a difference.

The current "leadership" in Costa Mesa doesn't seem to be able to find a way to work with Newport Beach on most issues, much less offer any assistance and support we can provide in their nearly solitary battle against the pressures of airport expansion. The November election provides us with an opportunity to place more reasonable, responsible, mature leaders on the dais so progress can be made on important issues of mutual interest which demand resolution. This is an opportunity to elect leaders who understand that Costa Mesa does not live in a vacuum - that it is part of a broader regional community in which mutual interests and concerns need to be fully vetted, debated and resolved to the mutual satisfaction of neighboring cities. That is not possible with the isolationist position the current majority on the council takes on almost every issue.

Perhaps the future of John Wayne Airport can be a starting point for our new leaders - a bit of common ground with Newport Beach from which each side can begin to build the appropriate working relationships with the other. The Newport Beach City Council may have several new faces following the election and, with any luck at all, Costa Mesa's will have two new faces, as well. This is the time for fence mending and teamwork on a common goal - fighting off any future expansion of the airport.

Who knows - it might lead to a civilized, cordial, professional relationship between our two cities. That might be too much to expect, but we can always hope.
9:41 pm pdt

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Returning from a relaxing weekend away, I made the rounds of web sites of interest to see what I've been missing for the past couple days.

It's of no surprise to me that an activist who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, has been up to his old tricks again. This time he's posted a couple entries on his "little newsletter" - now blog - that spin recent events like he was riding the Teacups at Disneyland. The man has no shame!

In his most recent entry he attempts to bury the truth in pure piles of verbiage, publishing what amounts to his version of a chemistry text book in an attempt to discredit the candidacy of Bruce Garlich - arguably the candidate most likely to foil his plans for a Mansoor/Leece tandem win in November.

He rant and raves about the pollution of his precious Westside (he lives in the north part of town, several miles from the Westside), and invites readers to visit a particular web site and enter the zip code 92627 to find out just how polluted our city really is - so I did. That's my zip code, so I wanted to find out what kind of jeopardy I've been living in all these years.

Guess what? The site only breaks down the pollution by counties, with no individual numbers regarding my zip code or any other! I suspect our pal, Your Neighbor, didn't expect anyone to actually accept his invitation to visit the site and call his bluff.

While at the site it clicked on the link to see just who the biggest polluters are in my "community" (county). Since this guy rants and raves about this all the time, I figured there must be at least a half dozen Costa Mesa companies fouling our air. I scrolled down the list of the top twenty polluters in Orange County. Nope, way down near the bottom of the list is one Costa Mesa company, at number 19. In fact, Costa Mesa is tied with Huntington Beach, Buena Park, Irvine, Tustin and Aliso Viejo with one company each on the list of the 20 worst industrial polluters. So, who leads the pack, you ask? Well, there are some familiar names on the list. Fullerton has two of the top twenty. Santa Ana has three. Anaheim, a city I thought might be the leader, has four - 20%. But, leading the pack with 5 companies - 25% - is The City of Orange.

Figuring I must be missing something, I dug further into the data on this web site. I found another table that lists 96 companies in Orange County by the amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment. I thought, with nearly 100 companies on this list, certainly a large percentage would be from Costa Mesa, since Your Neighbor seems so adamant about it. Guess what? Four companies from Costa Mesa were listed - one in the top 20, (the same one mentioned above) two others in the top 50 and the remaining company way down at number 87. The two lowest have shown a DECREASE in excess of 99% in the release of the chemicals for which they were cited for the period of 1998 - 2002.

Some might remember that, not too long ago, this same activist and a few others of his Westside buddies were so agitated over this "pollution" issue that they demanded, and received, an assessment by the AQMD for the Westside of town. Guess what? The AQMD gave that area a clean bill of health. Never one to let facts get in the way of his plans, Your Neighbor continues with his scare tactics, knowing full well that most voters won't take the time to do any fact-checking on his information. When his case is weak, as it is in this instance, he just buries you with words - piling them on like he was shoveling manure. (I apologize for that painfully accurate metaphor)

He continues to conjure up smoke screens - pardon the pun - to try to confuse the residents of this city about pre-fabricated issues, hoping to sway the voters to vote for his chosen pair, Allan Mansoor and Wendy Leece. Their platform is so weak and full of bogus claims and innuendo that Your Neighbor - smart fella that he is - realizes that their campaign is on shaky legs. Nothing he will say or do over the next month or so will surprise me. He writes so much fiction that it eventually becomes the truth to him. What a sad, pathetic life he leads.

This week, Tuesday, brings us another City Council meeting and another opportunity to see our "leaders" in action. There's no doubt in my mind that Wendy Leece will show up to speak on one issue or another - even though she usually has no clue about what's going on. No doubt the Mayor will congratulate the police department for their apprehension of the alleged murders of Israel Maciel last week - even though his "reward" strategy was not responsible for their capture. No doubt the mayor will utter some completely inappropriate political comment from the dais. That's just the way things go these days.

On November 8th I'm going to be one happy guy. First, all this political effluent will have been flushed from our daily lives and, second, our young jailer/mayor will be able to return to his full time job in the bowels of the Orange County Jail and Ms. Leece will be able to spend more time with her grandchild. We all deserve that outcome.
11:50 pm pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West