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Monday, October 1, 2012

Where are we now 

We have six viable candidates, three open Council seats, a proposed Charter; and the campaign is heating up. What is each candidate saying to promote himself or herself and earn our vote?

Big Labor Endorses 

Let’s start with the three that are endorsed by Labor: Weitzberg, Stephens, and Genis.

Weitzberg focuses on opposing, promoting, and shouting. He opposes the Charter, for the “reasons” preached by the Labor unions: it wasn't prepared by a citizens’ committee, it leaves various “powers” unstated, and it’s dangerous in case greedy Council members get elected and give contracts to their friends.

(Unfounded fears but repeated a lot, as we've discussed before. However, we’re going to hear these complaints over and over, since they represent the Union’s position. In reality, the monster under the bed they’re warning us about is just a dust bunny.)

Weitzberg promotes City regulations that will allow medical marijuana dispensaries, AKA “head shops,” in limited numbers. He wants a “kind of" monopoly for a few dispensaries. His wife ran one in the past.

He prides himself on out-shouting opposition, having done so during a presentation at a City Council meeting.

My personal contacts with him have yielded little except repetition of the views of his sponsors, and he’s even told me I didn't understand an outburst I observed at a City Council meeting – he wasn't there but he had the facts from his sponsors and supporters, some of whom were involved in the outburst.

And also

Stephens has promoted himself as a lawyer with an office in Newport Beach and a youth sports support history (including scraping cheese out of a cooker) in Fountain Valley. He is against the Charter for the same reasons, and has the same endorsements by Big Labor.

Stephens not only opposes the Charter, he opposes the “M candidates.” He opposes outsourcing until he has read the studies made over the last two years, and thinks he would like more studies.

There’re two, fairly-well defined “I’m opposed to it” candidates. I haven’t discovered any of their plans for improving Costa Mesa, except to negotiate in good faith with the unions.

And finally

The third candidate opposing most everything is moving to a “grey man” position. That’s Genis. She’s easing away from the support group (called CM4RG) with their protest songs at Council meetings and signs and gestures during meetings and forums, and she’s avoiding taking any firm positions.

During training of Elite military units, such as  Navy SEALs and Army Rangers, the cadre zealously  tries to identify and remove the “grey man,” the one who does just enough to get by, to slip through. The one who is “nice but you can’t remember his name,” according to one of the instructors, or "Black Hats", in a long-ago Ranger selection and training course. “They don’t look out for anybody but themselves … aren't committed for the long haul . . . just punching a ticket. No substance, just appearance, only a roster number (name).”

Sandra Genis fits the bill. People recognize her name, so, as long as she doesn't get pinned down on any subject and arouse opposition, she may be able to coast into the Council. (She caught flak for opposing lights on a playing field in another city.)

She’s opposed to the Charter, (same Union endorsement and same Charter warnings), and, with the other two, has promised to try to negate the Charter if the citizens vote for it... And she’d like to hire a grant writer to bring more money in to Costa Mesa. Problems? They didn't start on my shift (as mayor, long ago). Plans? Bring in grant money, somehow.

Locally endorsed are

Three candidates are endorsed by the local newspaper, the Orange County Register.

Mensinger published his Contract with Costa Mesa outlining his ideas about the problems the city faces, the infrastructure the city needs, and his plans for meeting both needs. He supports the Charter.

Monahan has supported Costa Mesa in elected office for around 16 years, and he survived serious and illegal harassment by some police officers during recent negotiations with their union. He supports the Charter as a way to get control of Costa Mesa’s spending and to keep the city out of bankruptcy.

Mensinger and Monahan sit on the first Council that truly balanced the budget -- and without depleting the reserves. They developed an openness and transparency in City government that has received awards statewide and praise nationwide. They've demonstrated the ability to make a plan, and then make the plan work.

McCarthy has been on the Planning Board, demonstrates a good grasp of the problems facing Costa Mesa during Candidate forums (and at coffees I've attended), and he supports the Charter as one of the only chances the City has to improve infrastructure and attract families to Costa Mesa.

Know where they're going

All three have presented and debated their goals for Costa Mesa and their plans to get us there. I've questioned all three: I found that each has well-articulated, seemingly-viable plans for protecting and developing Costa Mesa. I haven’t agreed with all of their arguments or plans, but each supports their position with data instead of slogans.

Charter gets us there

The Charter, as presently written, won’t change much; same rules, same regulations, same audits, and checks and balances and everything. It will take control of some expenditures that Sacramento now decrees and fold back a little of the public employees’ Union’s powers.

It’s probably not the best possible Charter, but it’s good enough and it’s workable and we can improve it all we want as we go. In my opinion it’s needed now.

Costa Mesa's situation is like being in a boat 500 yards offshore. The oars aren't racing quality, and they weren't hand-crafted over many years by a team of oar carvers. But they work.

The Antis want us to throw the oars overboard because they don’t like how the oars were carved.

The Three Ms want us to pick up the oars and row.

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