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, October 20, 2006

Elect Bruce Garlich and Mike Scheafer
Most of you folks who read this blog with regularity will not be surprised by today's entry. Even though the election is more than two weeks away, absentee ballots will be cast any time now. For that reason I sent the following email to friends and neighbors last night. The letter is self-explanatory.

Sadly, my bargain basement blog tool doesn't provide a method to embed "hot links" in the text, so you'll either have to cut and paste any of the links listed in the text below if you wish to view the site or visit my Useful Links page, where I've provided links for your use.

The message to my friends follows:

"Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As you know, the election is just around the corner. By now, those of you who normally vote absentee have probably received your ballots, scribbled your choices and mailed them in. I'm hoping that I've caught most of you before you did that, so I can make my own, personal pitch to you for consideration of two candidates for City Council that I feel deserve your support.

The past couple years in Costa Mesa have been filled with contentiousness and uncertainty - especially in some parts of this city. Actions taken by the current City Council majority - Mayor Allan Mansoor, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever and lame duck Councilman Gary Monahan - have divided this city and made it the poster child for intolerance around the country. I won't take up your valuable time here to list all the missteps they have made over the past nearly two years since they took control - almost dictatorial control - of this city. I invite you to read my views in painful detail on my web log, A Bubbling Cauldron, at www.abubblingcauldron.com if you want more information.

In my view, election of Allan Mansoor and his hand-picked running mate, Wendy Leece - a lightning rod for controversy during her tenure on the school board - will only perpetuate the divisiveness and fear we presently see in this city.

Suffice it to say, in my opinion, it is time for a change of direction in Costa Mesa. It's time to return the control of our city government to more rational, reasonable, mature leaders - those with a proven track record of dedication to Costa Mesa and the skills to provide essential leadership at this critical time.

I hope you will consider casting your two votes this year for BRUCE GARLICH and MIKE SCHEAFER, long time residents of this city and tireless volunteer leaders, who - for decades - have done good works on our behalf.

Mike Scheafer has spent virtually all his life here, runs a business here, raised his family here and has dedicated many of his waking hours trying to make Costa Mesa a better place to live, work and play. You can read much more at his web site at http://www.mikescheafer2006.com/

Bruce Garlich has lived in Costa Mesa for 35 years, raised his kids here and is a retired Aerospace Engineer and Executive. He has demonstrated his leadership and dedication to the city many ways and is currently on the Planning Commission. Part of his six year tenure was as the Chairman. Please read more about Bruce at his web site at http://www.garlichforcm.com/

Every vote counts in this election. Two years ago Eric Bever outspent every other candidate nearly 2-1 and managed to squeak out a 44 vote victory over Bruce Garlich for the final spot on the council. If twenty three people had changed their votes our city would not be in the turmoil we see today.

Both Bruce and Mike are supported by the political action committee, Return To Reason, formed earlier this year in an attempt to do just what the name says - return this city to the hands of reasonable leaders. Please visit their web site for more information and a list of our friends and neighbors who also support their goals at http://www.return2reason.org/.

I won't attempt to list all the groups that endorse Bruce and Mike as their choice for City Council - that information is available on their web sites. However, since public safety is such a hot-button issue right now, it's important to note that both the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association and the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association acknowledged that a change is necessary and have endorsed them for the two seats open this year.

For additional background and opinion on issues relevant to the election I also invite you to visit Itchingpost.com, the web log of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Byron de Arakal at http://itchingpost.blogspot.com/. Byron, a former Daily Pilot columnist and dedicated community activist, uses his prodigious skills to cut through the fog on important issues which may help you to make decisions that are critical to the future of this city as you cast your ballots.

Please take a couple minutes to visit Bruce and Mike's web sites. I think you will find important information, including lists of endorsers, that may help you make an informed choice as your cast your ballot.

I've gotten to know Bruce Garlich and Mike Scheafer personally over the past few years. They are men dedicated to Costa Mesa and will bring essential leadership, maturity and integrity to the City Council. I wholeheartedly endorse both of these fine men without reservation.

Thanks for considering my opinion. I hope you will join me in casting your votes for Bruce Garlich and Mike Scheafer for City Council this year."
12:24 am pdt

Finish Line In Sight & "Small" People In Big Jobs
Three down, two to go. Last night's candidate forum in the City Council chambers was the third of five to be conducted and the second - and last - to be televised. This one was broadcast live on Time Warner cable, Channel 24 and is also available on streaming video on the city web site. It will be replayed on Channel 24 several times, and on Channel 001, as well.

Daily Pilot publisher Tom Johnson, the moderator of the event sponsored by Time Warner Cable, The Daily Pilot and the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce, ran a tight ship last night. The event started at the stroke of 6 and wrapped up precisely at 7. Each candidate had a chance to respond to each of eight questions posed by questioners Valerie Starn of Time Warner and Editor S.J. Cahn of the Daily Pilot. Respond is a good word, since several candidates never did really "answer" the questions posed - they just folded in their favorite pet peeve, whether it was relevant or not.

Long shot candidate Chris Bunyan came across, once again, as refreshing, yet clearly not quite ready for prime time. He made a point of mentioning that his parents had made it to every one of the forums so far, driving down from Bakersfield for the events.

With Mirna Burciaga "calling in sick" for this one, that left the serious conversation to the two opposing factions on the dais - Allan Mansoor with Wendy Leece and Bruce Garlich with Mike Scheafer. The results were predictable.

Garlich and Scheafer came prepared and answered the questions posed. Mansoor and Leece basically ignored many of the posed questions and provided, instead, answers to questions unasked - those that fit their personal agendas. For example, once again they flogged the municipal dead horse - 1901 Newport Plaza condominiums - implying inaccurately that they shouldn't have been approved. It's just another example of Mansoor and Leece attempting to fabricate an issue where there is none.

I watched with eagerness to see if there would be the return of the bobbleheads this time. You'll recall that during the first forum Leece would nod her head as Mansoor spoke and vice versa. Not so tonight. No, tonight brought us an even more interesting display of self-serving team politics.

Because there was a little time left at the end, each candidate was given the opportunity to ask any other candidate a question. Most of us - including the hosts - hoped for some hard-hitting, down and dirty, tough questions. Instead, Bunyan used his question to ask Mike Scheafer for an insurance quote. Scheafer, in turn, asked Bunyan - as a new guy in this process - what he thought about it. Nice touch, which gave Bunyan a chance to shine a little.

Then, in the spirit of what the moderators intended, Garlich asked Wendy Leece a tough one about her position on lighted fields versus property owners rights. As usual, her answer fell far short of a reasonable explanation, since there really is none.

Then it was Mansoor's turn. In a contrived bit of political manipulation, he asked Leece for her position on illegal immigration - which, of course, is his position on illegal immigration - so her answer sounded as though it was read straight from the mayor's campaign flyers. She prattled on with his party line on the subject. Then came Leece's turn to question a candidate. Instead of posing a tough one to Scheafer or Garlich, she returned Mansoor's favor by asking him his position on traffic conditions in the city. He used that as a springboard to, once again, gripe about the 1901 Newport Plaza condo project. It was very obvious during this exchange that the Mayor and his campaign barnacle, Ms. Leece, had contrived this little scheme as yet another way to manipulate the process.

Actually, this was a very good example of what we've seen since Mansoor took over control of this city. He disregards important questions and answers only the ones he chooses. If he doesn't like a question, he just answers a different one. Hopefully, those folks who had a chance to watch this event will understand just how ill-prepared our young jailer/mayor is for the responsibilities of his job on the city council and how little he can be trusted to fulfill his duties to the benefit of all residents. Ms. Leece, of course, brings nothing to the dais except an echo of Mansoor's position.

***

As an aside, Tuesday night's council meeting brought us another example of pettiness by lame duck councilman Gary Monahan. Monahan, who will leave the council this year after serving for 12 years, will have the distinction of being the only councilman to earn enough credit for a pension.

During public comments, businessman Tim Lewis spoke again of his displeasure with the current regime and "fired" Mayor Mansoor by displaying a bright red wide ribbon which stated "Fired!" in bold letters. When he had finished Monahan asked if Lewis continues to reject opportunities to provide equipment and services to the city in protest. Lewis responded affirmatively, indicating he had recently refused to bid on a chance to provide lights for playing fields. So, in a mini-fit of pique, Monahan said that contractors at his home and business will boycott Lewis' business in, to use Monahan's words, tit for tat.

This is only the most recent example of how Monahan has overstayed his welcome. Even since he joined Mansoor and Eric Bever as an unblockable majority he's acted like he answers to no one. Rather than be a statesman as his career on the council winds down he has chosen to become vindictive and petty. I hope the voters will remember this when they vote for candidates for the Sanitary District Board - a position he is seeking this November.
1:49 am pdt

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Intimidating Voters & Melting ICE Proposals
Two big stories broke in Orange County today that may effect how voters approach the polls in three weeks.

The first is a report that a letter on the letterhead of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), has been mailed to recently registered Latino voters which may constitute voter intimidation - not an unfamiliar tactic in Orange County over the past couple decades. The following is an English translation of the letter as provided on the Orange Juice! blog this afternoon:

"Greetings,
You are being sent this letter because you were recently registered to vote. If you are a citizen of the United States, we ask that you participate in the democratic process of voting.
You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time, and you will be deported for voting without having a right to do so.
At the same time, you are advised that the government of the United States is installing a new computer system to verify the names of all new registered voters that vote in the October and November elections. Anti-immigration organizations can ask for information from this new computer system.
Unlike Mexico, here there is no incentive to vote. There is not a voter registration card in the United States. Therefore, it is useless and dangerous to vote in any election if you are not a citizen of the United States.
Do not listen to any politician that tells you the opposite. They are only looking out for their own interests. They only want to win elections without any regard to what happens to you.
Sincerely,

Sergio Ramirez"

I saw reports that indicate the CCIR might not be the source of this letter and the blog world is rife with speculation about who is actually responsible.

It doesn't surprise me that the CCIR, and the woman who runs it, Barbara Coe, are suspected. Ms. Coe has been a frequent speaker before the Costa Mesa City Council, where she lauded our young jailer/mayor for his "courage" on the immigration screening issue. She was among the crowd who embraced him when right-wing radical Jim Gilchrist anointed Mayor Mansoor an honorary Minuteman several months ago. At times, Coe makes Gilchrist look like a voice of reason. These are the folks who form the core of support for the mayor in his campaign for re-election.

The second item is the announcement that the Orange County Board of Supervisors has approved a watered-down version of Sheriff Mike Carona's ICE proposal, which apparently will authorize up to two dozen jail personnel to be cross-designated as immigration screeners. I find myself wondering if our young jailer/mayor will be among them. If so, I'll probably have to refer to him, at least temporarily, as our young jailer/mayor/screener. With any luck at all we can drop the "mayor" part on November 8th.

Speculation in the local news media is that this will now provide the motivation for Mansoor and his majority to attempt to move forward with a proposal to ICE of their own. However, it took the Sheriff two years to cobble together an acceptable proposal and, based on the news coverage recently when ICE scaled it back, it appears unlikely that they will approve a local police department to handle those responsibililities - correctly so, in my opinion.

It will be very interesting to see just how these two situations unfold over the next couple weeks - and how they will affect the Costa Mesa City Council race.

***

A reminder - the next candidate forum will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, October 18th at the City Council chambers at City Hall at 6 p.m. My understanding is that this forum will be televised live on Costa Mesa TV, Channel 24 and will also be available for viewing on streaming video. The schedule calls for only one hour, which my sources tell me will be a tightly run event, with moderators ready to ask a handful of tough questions of the candidates. I recommend that you try to either be there to watch the event in person, or catch the action on television or streaming video.

5:18 pm pdt

Monday, October 16, 2006

"Your Neighbor" - A Break Dancing Fool
And the beat goes on, and on, and on...

It's three weeks until the election and the vitriol continues. One persistent activist in town - a man who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor - continues to spin issues in this election like the Tea Cups ride at Disneyland.

In his blog this morning he uses his "little newsletter" to jeer a letter published in the Daily Pilot today by a resident and business owner on the Westside that rejects Mayor Allan Mansoor's on-going accusations during the campaign that if Bruce Garlich and Mike Scheafer are elected they will not adhere to the plans approved for the Westside revitalization. The letter-writer states in very clear terms that he, and the group of business-owners he represents, fully intend to support the revitalization plans as presently approved, period.

However, the activist mentioned above - doing his version of literary break dancing - uses his blog to basically call this man, and Garlich and Scheafer, too, liars. I guess he must feel, since he and his slate in this election - Mansoor and his campaign barnacle, Wendy Leece - don't hesitate to fabricate facts, that their opponents lie as well. What a sad, telling assumption.

Through his influence on our young jailer/mayor and his cadre of malcontents, this activist has twisted facts 180 degrees and has appealed to the darkest side of human nature in this city for years.

The last line of his current blog entry is right on the money. He states "It is people who make a city what it is." That's very true. Costa Mesa is a vibrant, wonderful city, full of hard-working people trying to make it a better place to live. This man, with his racist rants and divisive rhetoric, has helped make this city a benchmark for intolerance.

One sure way to make this city a better place would be for this guy to move. I suggest somewhere in Idaho, where his vision of the perfect city might exist - a place with only white faces. I'll buy his ticket.
9:45 am pdt

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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West