Saturday, May 12, 2007

CM Unplugged Email

Costa Mesa Unplugged - our new column in the Daily Pilot - debuted on Thursday, May 10.

We've set up a new email account for readers to reach us. If you have news tips; the inside skinny on some tidbit of Costa Mesa politics, culture, entertainment, etc.; or you just want to comment on a specific column, write us at cmunplugged@yahoo.com

Friday, April 27, 2007

itchingpost signs off

itchingpost.com is signing off. We'll miss the banter. But we won't be far away. In fact, we'll just be in a different medium...ever ready with our box of rubber gloves to keep Costa Mesa government and those who serve us, shall we say, on their toes.

Here's the scoop. We've been asked by the Daily Pilot to rekindle our column writing...to bring back our trenchant and acerbic observations of the Costa Mesa government machinery.

We're happy to oblige. It's the Daily Pilot where we first took up the task of probing and lampooning the workings and foot soldiers of our municipal government in a column called Between The Lines. Later, we penned a different collection of thoughts under the Watchdog banner.

We don't know what this new column will be called...but, it won't hold any punches, and we'll call 'em as we see 'em.

The good news for us is that we'll again hold court before a larger audience, and we'll be a regular seat warmer at City Council, Planning and Parks Commission meetings. We're really pumped that we now have an excuse to dust off our collection of ball caps, which sort of became our brand back in the Between The Lines days.

In the meantime, we'll keep itchingpost.com live so past writings can be reread.

To all of our readers, thanks. And to our many sources, rest assured we'll always be available to hear you out.

Thanks for reading. Good night.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Small heads and the arrogance of power

Predictably - and with a deep sigh - the troika of shrinking heads on the Costa Mesa City Council last evening told Costa Mesa's police leadership that it didn't know what it was talking about where gang prevention and intervention is concerned. And, so, this city got a half-solution that's all stick; a methodology based in ideology that simply says beat the crap out of those gang bastards and eventually they'll go away.

Except that they won't.

Allan Mansoor, Eric Bever and Wendy Leece could not bring themselves to appropriate 65 grand for the retention of a CMPD administered gang interventionist specialist.

Mansoor rationalized his opposition with the claim that he has seen no evidence that gang prevention-intervention in the NMUSD-run ASK (Advocates Supporting Kids) program has materially reduced gang activity in Costa Mesa. He offered that the district should use part of its $8 million in federal grants to prove to the city that prevention-intervention works.

Mansoor's argument was stunningly ironic, if not unconvincing. Here's a guy who hasn't missed a beat tongue lashing the NMUSD for its failure to stem the district's truancy challenges. So then how does his dearth of confidence in the district where truancy is concerned translate to any sense of his that the district has the capability to prove that gang prevention-intervention works? It doesn't. And he knows it. His discourse was simply a gutless cover for his ideology.

We believe the mayor's rejection of the expertise and advice of the city's police leadership is cemented in his intractable ideology that embraces only enforcement, and which rejects any kind of socially based intervention as panty-waist liberalism. We'd have a lot more respect for the mayor if he'd just say that instead of peddling weak, shallow and patently disingenuous intellectualizations.

Bever's slapdown of the gang prevention-intervention component of the program struck us much more as a herculian flexing of ego, power and a self-annointed expertise in sociology based on his experiences as a tot in a "neighborhood where there were gangs." Dr. Bever theorizes, essentially, this: That tots growing up in a family where there is a gang member or members are lost causes and that not one plug nickle of taxpayer money is worth an attempt to divert them from a certain fate.

So then, Bever's gang suppression model goes something like this: Children growing up in families where there are gang influences will become gang members. This means we must prep ourselves for this inevitability, and provide ourselves the enforcement tools to remove the little bugger from society once he commits himself to gangbanging.

Bever's mental gearwork on this one is lubed with stunning arrogance and high-viscosity ignorance. Based nearly exclusively on his experiences as a youth long ago (and, of course, the times never change) - and ignoring decades of science that demonstrates prevention-intervention can be effective - sociologist Bever consigns tikes in gang families to a gangbanging fate and seems content to deal with them only after they've careened to the dark side.

As for Wendy Leece...well, we're not sure what she really thinks. At times during the discussion she seemed to lean toward an understanding of the prevention-intervention component. But, as lemmings go, she toed the mayor's line. Independent thinking, it seems, is not among her skill sets.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A manifest lack of judgment

When Jane Garland - Newport-Mesa Unified School District's director of outreach and advocacy - advocated in the April 7 edition of the Daily Pilot for a daytime curfew to help stem the district's truancy challenges (here), the community immediately offered support and opposition to Garland's essay in the Pilot's on-line blog feature.

Two of the participants in the dialogue were Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor and Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever. And in their comments, both men displayed a manifest lack of judgment that - not for the first time - underscores a cavalier, blast-from-the-hip style that is not in the city's best interests.

Mansoor, in his post, wrote: Ms. Garland, with all due respect, I believe it is parents, teachers, and the school board who need to reduce the 222 unexcused absences per day. The "it takes a village" approach is not the answer. If the 222 unexcused absences per day were under the jurisdiction of the city, there would be a line a mile long at public comments. Where is the demand from the parents for results from the school board? It seems to me that the school district itself has an unexcused absence on this issue.

A couple of observations, here. One might argue that the troika of parents, teachers and the school board the mayor cites indeed comprises, on some scale, a "village." But, beyond that, it's the mayor's undisciplined urge to publicly tongue lash the school district and one of its officials - and even the parents of school children, presumably many of whom voted for the mayor - over their "unexcused absense on this issue."

The problem is, Mr. Mayor, the NMUSD is an autonomous legislative agency empowered by the State of California, not the City of Costa Mesa. Costa Mesa has no authority to compel the district to tie its shoe (or issue "unexcused" absences), let alone mandate how it should police truants. Nevertheless, the NMUSD is a partner with Costa Mesa - most notably and in writing through the JUA governing the use of NMUSD property for the recreational needs of the community's youth and adults.

This is to say that the City needs the NMUSD far more than the NMUSD needs Costa Mesa.

Don't think so? Well, the district doesn't need the CMPD to enforce truancy laws, since it is perfectly capable under California law of establishing its own law enforcement agency not unlike the Los Angeles Unified School District (and perhaps it should do so). And it certainly has no legal obligation to provide recreational fields for Costa Mesa's youth and adults after school hours. Nor does it need the City's money; it has every authority under the law to ask voters for money via some tax or another (and it's proven to be effective at that).

In this context, the mayor would do well to bridle his tongue against undisciplined and reckless commentary that has the potential to damage the City's partnership with the NMUSD.

For his part, Bever posted this entry aimed at the district:

"The CMPD does deal with truants currently. What they don't do is send the kids through the courts for ditching school. They generally drag them back to their schools. From there, the school's job is to use their system to address the problem. I recall reading about the school's get-tough policy on truants a year or two ago, and it sounded like they had some effective measures and practices in place (SARB). What seems to be lacking is a commitment on the part of the schools to use the tools they already have in place. "

Bever's remarks were a bit more disciplined than the Mayor's. Nevertheless, he should recognize that bitch slapping a government agency that Costa Mesa needs to work with if the city is to improve is not conducive to a productive partnership in achieving said improvement.

C'mon, boys, grow up and shut up. And if you have something to say to the district, use the proper channels.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Email shows Leece requested seating change

itchingpost.com has obtained from a confidential source a copy of an email that indicates Costa Mesa City Councilmember Wendy Leece in early February made a request to City Manager Allan Roeder to change seats with Councilmember Linda Dixon.

In the email from Leece to Roeder dated February 7, 8:19 p.m., Ms. Leece writes: "Hi Allan, I would like to request to be moved on the dais to be seated between you and Eric. I have discussed this with the mayor and he concurs. Thank you, Wendy."

Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor is listed as a cc on the email.

The email appears to directly contradict statements made by Leece to Daily Pilot staffer Alicia Robinson in Robinson's March 19 report on the Seating Chart fiasco (here). In that story, Leece told Robinson, "I don't remember how that did come up."

While the email makes it clear that Leece hatched and discussed the seating switch with Mansoor, it's not clear if either councilmember discussed it with any of the other councilmembers (a potential Brown Act violation). No other member of council, including Dixon, is listed as being cc'd on the email.

It is at least curious to us that Leece - assuming the email substantiates that she initiated the chair swap request - was unable to remember her initiative when interviewed by the Daily Pilot earlier this week.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I forget...sort of

On the eve of the Costa Mesa City Council Seating Chart pimple coming to a head, Daily Pilot staffer Alicia Robinson reports today (here) on just how poisoned the council chemistry has become over this one.

Apart from the surrealism that city staffers have had to spend any time refereeing this spitball dustup (about $120 worth, according to the Pilot), two things emerge from Robinson's piece.

First, Mayor Allan Mansoor is fast becoming the poster boy for blameless autocraticism. Remember the ICE initiative? No study session. No opportunity for public input prior to the issue showing up on the agenda. The mayor simply piloted the thing on to the city's frontyard without warning. Recall, too, the mayor's unannounced zephyr to dismantle part of the Costa Mesa Country Club's Mesa Linda course to make way for soccer fields.

Now we learn, according to Robinson's story today, that Mansoor never approached Dixon about the potential seat change. But never mind that. He's the mayor and it's not his fault that this has become an issue.

So then, who's to blame for this lawn-dump, Mr. Mayor? "The Daily Pilot is turning this into a huge issue when it's not." Ah...of course.

The other curiosity we learn about is that Councilmember Wendy Leece is prone to hazy recollection. As to how the seating squabble came to be, she tells Robinson: "I don't remember how that did come up."

Well, sort of. In nearly the same breath, Leece says that "it's been a challenge where I've been sitting, so I think I brought it up to the mayor that it would be helpful to get some answers during the meeting."

Hmmm. Okay.

We conclude with a suggestion: The seating chart doo-dah is scheduled as the last item of business on the council's March 20 agenda. And given that the political math guarantees Councilmember Linda Dixon will be moving, we urge the council to move the item to the lead of all other business.

After all, the city's business is far too important to abide the "challenge" confronting Ms. Leece. Costa Mesa will benefit if she begins receiving the counsel of City Manager Allan Roeder as soon as possible.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Colorless crime update

We pick up on yesterday's post on colorless crime - our argument that certain Costa Mesa voices want to look at violent crime in our city only through a prism - with a Daily Pilot brief on the March 14 stabbing of a Newport Beach lad over on Costa Mesa's troubled west side (here).

According to the Pilot report, Costa Mesa Police are on the hunt for a mascara-wearing 19- to 20-year-old male approximately 6-feet-2, and 170 pounds with blond hair and a powder-white face. The other perp is described as a 17- to 18-year-old, 5-foot-10, 150-pound male with black, slicked-back hair and a partial goatee.

The vehicle used by the perps is described by the victim to police as a silver Honda.

Can we expect a hue and cry from our city's leaders and improver citizens about the proliferation of white, gothic gangs? Afterall, two months ago county and city badges rounded up a bunch of white supremacists within Costa Mesa. This second event could mean Costa Mesa may be trending more like Boise, Idaho instead of Newport Beach.

Perhaps not. Over at the CM Press today (here), we're treated to a quaint history reminding us that Zorro was really an Irish soldier of fortune named Bill who ultimately hung himself before the Mexicans could toast him at the stake for knocking up the wife of the Spanish Viceroy of Mexico.

Here's the deal. We don't give a rat's ass about the color of folks who commit crime in Costa Mesa. Just get them off the street. All of them.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Colorless crime

On the occasions when violent crime occurs in Costa Mesa, we have come to expect - as we are sure the sun will rise - that certain voices within the community will want to know one thing: Is it gang related? And if it is they'll quickly announce - eyes flickering with rage - that the perps are most assuredly of Latino or Hispanic heritage, and that our city's leaders must act swiftly, decisively to rid our little municipality of these unseemly agents and the social heroin that attracts them.

We won't bother to remind regular readers who the source(s) is/are of the predictably assumptive, above-the-fold editorials that follow such events. We'll just say that according to their theory, violent gang-related crime is brown crime. And there is no other.

Or, at least, no other worth mentioning.

Remember how, two months ago, Costa Mesa made national headlines (here) when our city's police department - in collaboration with the Orange County Sheriffs Department - busted a handful of white supremacists allegedly part of the Public Enemy No. 1 gang? The sweep was an orchestrated law-enforcement initiative that broke up a ring which was, allegedly and alarmingly, poised to murder cops.

Strangely, only tumbleweeds rolled and crickets chirped from within the confines of the usual community sources who are ready to run the Mexicans out of town whenever a gun goes off or some grafitti shows up on a wall.

Most recently, there is this troubling event as reported today by Orange County Register staffer Kimberley Edds (here). According to Edds' report, a 17-year-old Newport Beach youth was stabbed March 14 while walking on Placentia Avenue near Shalimar Drive.

According to CMPD Sgt. Mike Ginther, the perps were dressed in Gothic clothes (not exactly your standard dress for Latino or Hispanic gang members). Too, the assailants reportedly asked the young man - prior to the stabbing - if he liked "to kick it with Hispanics."

Apparently, the victim gave them the wrong answer (his girlfriend, according to the OC Register report, is Hispanic). And so, naturally, they cut him.

So we cup our ear and tune our gain waiting to here the outrage from the bleachers where the pontificators hold season tickets to Costa Mesa's disintegration. Again, nothing. Crickets and tumbleweeds.

Now then, if the crime-is-rampant crowd in this community - certainly those who regularly spew or hold press conferences and offer rewards whenever a crime smells of a gang orientation of a certain tint - hope to have any credibility when it comes to actually snuffing out crime and gangs in Costa Mesa, we'd better hear them singing whenever events likes these occur. Regardless of color.

Otherwise, shut up.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Musical chairs

We hated musical chairs back in the hey. The Costa Mesa City Council's latest calliope-accompanied doo-dah reminded us of this. When the match gets down to the last, coveted chair - in this case adjacent to City Manager Allan Roeder - booger munchers tend to get really snotty.

And so it was on Tuesday in the hallowed chamber halls - err, Big Top - of Costa Mesa's civic center.

It went down like this: To wrap up his council comments, Mayor Allan Mansoor thought it would be really swell if the new kid in class (Councilmember Wendy Leece) could sit next to the teacher (Roeder). Afterall, the teacher is really smart and all and the new kid...well, she's got kind of a big learning curve in front of her, ya know. A little extra help might bring her test scores up. And we know how important those are to home values and helping us be more like Newport Beach and less like Santa Ana.

But there was a problem. Councilmember Linda Dixon - who's been in class awhile - likes sitting next to the teacher. And she thought the mayor was trying to put the unpopular kids together 'cause they're kind of weird and everything and they never have the right answers. But neener-neener, Mr. Mayor, you're not the boss of her. And your mother wears Army boots.

The Mayor, seeing how he wasn't going to get his way, pulled the bully card and decided to make the musical chairs game an agenda item at the council's next meeting. Think of that...high-level city employees developing a staff report on the critical subject of where our city's councilmembers should park their butts. Ehhh, those staffers are slackards anyway. They gotta have something to do.

The teacher just rolled his eyes and thought about his pension. In the meantime, the seating chart remains the same.

As we noted to Orange County Register staffer Jeff Overley (here), all of this reminds us of a bunch of goober-flinging grade schoolers fighting for swings on the playground.

We guess Costa Mesa really doesn't need a Youth in Government program. It already has one.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

On Anonymity

The last round of posts on itchingpost.com sparked a wave of comments from folks without the stones - or with too much at stake - to reveal their identity or, at the very least, come up with some dopey moniker to tack on to their opinion.

At itchingpost.com, we're not big fans of anonymous posters. And we won't post opinions from the nameless.

So, here's a suggestion. If you want to share an opinion with us - or inside news - but are spooked that your identity may be found out (in which case you figure you'd need someone to start your car for you in the morning), email us directly at byron@bdacommunications.com. If you need confidentiality, we'll give it. But not on our comments pages where we have no ability to verify who you are or corroborate the information you provide (and that's important, as we're finding out bloggers can be sued just as readily as the New York Times).

Now, if you think we're peeing in your shall-remain-nameless pool, just come up with some catchy name tag when you post your comment. Chances are, it'll get posted.

If you don't have dogs in the hunt - or your butt on the line - but still insist on submitting anonymous comments, find another blog.