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Friday, September 28, 2012

Catching up for the weekend 

Charter, again and more

We've discussed how a Charter can be developed before, but the wave of nonsense seems to return. A charter is an initiative, and, like all initiatives, can be proposed by citizens (a percentage of registered voters agree it should be on the next ballot) or by the City Council. Then we, the voters, decide.

How it was developed

Charters, like most important documents, are usually developed by a single person or a small group of people passionate about the subject, then tested, modified, and finally subjected to the final authority. In the case of marriage contracts, purchase agreements, and most any legal document, pieces are “cut and pasted” to get the best out of all the work others have done before.

So the breast beating chants of, “it was cut and pasted…it’s the work of one man,” and such are disingenuous at best. That’s how the Declaration of Independence was written, and tested and improved until it was finally issued. We don’t know if Jefferson was called as many names as Righeimer has been (called), but we are sure that he used paper rather than data strings to paste together the best ideas available for his document.

It matters not

In any case, who cares? The Charter’s designed to give Costa Mesa control of her money. Almost everything the city does will continue exactly as before, same laws and penalties and procedures. A few items, that are inimical to union officialdom, do change. So the dangerous Charter, AKA “the monster under the bed,” is just a dust bunny to Costa Mesa’s citizens, and we need to move on.


Three candidates assured us they were not supported by big labor, but the endorsements by AFL-CIO give lie to their assurances. These are the “nay-sayers” who have proposed little except opposition to the progress we've made in budget, transparency, and governing. That is, Genis, Weitzberg, and Stephens.

Three were endorsed by the Orange County Register as having viable plans for dealing with Costa Mesa’s problems and improving her infrastructure. These three are Mensinger, McCarthy, and Monahan.

Identified, then promised

One candidate published an open list of what he believes Costa Mesa needs, what dangers she faces, and how he proposes to deal with both the needs and the dangers. This is Mensinger.

His opponents are crying, “No to the Three Ms, No to the Charter, No to outsourcing” – but to retain at least a little credibility they agree that a Charter is probably needed, but “not this one,” and “not one made this way.” And they agree that transparency is needed but it “should cover everything” that anybody talks about, but they have no practical suggestions. They just oppose, vilify, and protest.

Know the ropes or learn. . .or not

Monahan, of course, is very well versed in matters concerning City government. At coffees and Candidates’ forums he, and Mensinger, and newcomer McCarthy demonstrate a good grasp of the issues and intimate familiarity with the massive studies done so far on outsourcing, labor negotiations, and Charters, and with the processes necessary to get stuff done.

Two of the nay-sayers, Genis and Stephens, admitted during the Feet to the Fire forum that they weren't familiar with the studies or background information and would have to read up on the studies (which have been conducted over the past two years and are readily available). I guess it's not surprising that they oppose instead of propose -- needs less research, less thinking.

Repeated instead of developed (ideas)

Genis reminds us she didn't cause all the City’s problems when she was mayor, years ago, and Stephens reminds us he’s a lawyer and he has an office in Newport Beach and he’s an active supporter of Fountain Valley sports. And he opposes the Charter as very dangerous (like organized labor says it is).

The other nay-er, Weitzberg, wants to shout down people who disagree with him and wants Costa Mesa to limit the number of marijuana dispensaries – somehow.

Summing up

So, we can sum up the political situation going into the weekend as:

Some people; don’t like the way the Charter was developed (that is, like the Declaration of Independence), so they urge us to vote against it. “Let's teach ‘em a lesson; we'll eat worms!”

The unions will lose excess power and the organizers will have to work harder to collect political donations under the charter. Not much else will change.

Three of the candidates, AKA the Three Ms, are well-informed, have solid plans, and, two of them have a record of remarkable accomplishments on the Council including award-winning transparency and a balanced budget with increasing reserves. Both recognize that they've made mistakes, and, in Mensinger’s case, have struck people as being abrasive in his one-way, “get it done” approach.

One candidate out-yells opposition and supports medical marijuana through local dispensaries; one is a lawyer and knows what good law is. And one is pretty and pert and even giddy, but she didn't cause the City’s problems while she was mayor.

Supporters define their candidates 

Supporters of the nay-sayers complain, ascribe motives, and call Council Members names at just about every meeting I have visited. They flash distracting and insulting signs and sometimes obscene gestures at the Council members during meetings and during forums. These are the supporters of Genis, Stephens, and Weitzberg.

Supporters of the three-Ms, McCarthy, Monahan, and Mensinger, sponsor coffee meetings to explore issues with the candidates, compliment the Council members and City staff when they make their citizens comments at Council meetings,  and address supporters and opponents alike with respect in the meeting halls.

What am I missing

I must be missing something here. It shouldn't be that clear-cut. Perhaps one of the anti-everything folks or a (probably dyspeptic) angry blogger will be able to set me straight.

Until then, that’s how I see it.

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