Why This Blog?

The aim of this blog is to fit into the blogosphere like the bracingly tart taste of yogurt fits between the boringly bland and the unspeakably vile.

All comments will be answered if their author provides contact info.


I have no sponsoring group(s) or agencies, and I owe no allegiance to any candidate or group.

(C) Copyright 2012 DenRita Enterprises

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Six Decades of Costa Mesa 

It’s time to start thinking about Costa Mesa’s 60th anniversary. 

Our 50th   anniversary celebration was named “CostAmazing.” What should we call the 60th? There’s sure to be a contest, so let’s start thinking of a good name now. We’ll get some extra think-time in.

The City announced today that the committee would accept applications for the Costa Mesa 60th Anniversary Celebration Planning Committee. The committee will begin its work with members from (the):

Chamber of Commerce, Cultural Arts Committee, Historical Preservation Committee, Costa Mesa Foundation, Costa Mesa Historical Society, Conference and Visitor Bureau, South Coast Metro Alliance, City Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Senior Center, Sanitary District, Mesa Water, NMUSD, Vanguard Student Veterans Club, City staff appointed by the CEO and five members appointed by the (new) City Council – one member per Council member.

However, there’ll be lots of projects to develop and get working, so even if you don’t want to be a member of the committee (and attend a lot of meetings), you can apply just to get your name in the mill. Or, you can apply through the City’s volunteer program.

Opportunity to be seen

And, this might be a great time to start developing your organization’s contribution to the celebration. Whether it’s a sport’s booster club, a PTA, or a neighborhood homeowners’ association, there’s a place to promote Costa Mesa while giving your group a little public exposure.

The general (not specifically for this committee) volunteer application can be found:

There are lots of ways to get involved in making Costa Mesa a safer and more beautiful place to live. To paraphrase a hoary old saying, “Those who don’t get involved in their community get exactly the community they deserve.”

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mixed response to Righeimer's declaration 

Righeimer’s announcement that he would move to withdraw the remaining “pink slips“ generated controversy and interest.  First, Employees Union CEO Bernardino reached out to City government at the Council meeting offering cooperation in solving the City’s woes.

Few of Righeimer‘s supporters criticized his decision in blog or newspaper comments, although some expressed reservations and even disappointment privately. Most of them trust his judgment. That’s reasonable; they elected him to represent us.

Blogger Geoff and the Anti-M’s supporters, however, warn that “Riggy’s rolling over that easily” is suspicious, and the usual pundits have reiterated their mistrust of his motives. They believe he has some nefarious purpose behind his change of direction.

Cooler heads for the actual players

Fortunately Mr. Bernardino and many of the real players aren't tied up in these delusions. But, to be fair, what is it the anti-everything’s see? Perhaps we should look at Righeimer from a couple – or three different perspectives.

After all, as Sherlock Holmes said in The Bascombe Valley Mystery:

"Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing," answered Holmes thoughtfully. "It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different."

From this perspective he . . .

What if we assume he’s a dishonest, self-serving politician seeking self-enrichment through his power as a Councilman? After all, we know that all politicians are dishonest, right?

His behavior is hard to fit into this perspective; he just doesn't act self-serving. Anyway, under our laws, any proof that he used his power to enrich himself would lead to a jail sentence – and he has enough enemies who’d be happy to find such evidence.

In fact, we found no evidence of dishonesty during this election from Mensinger, McCarthy, or Monahan, either. We disagree with some of Weitzberg’s views and consider some of his arguments superficial – but he certainly appears an honest and honorable man.

So, four out of six candidates and one of two sitting Council members did NOT demonstrate lack of integrity during the last election. We’ll have to say, then, that “all politicians are dishonest” isn't true. And we see that this perspective just doesn't fit our observations.

If we had all-seeing vision we'd say he . . .

Next, let’s use the perspective of someone who assumes awesome insight. With this insight we can deduce Righeimer’s mental health, character, and integrity by examining his statements and direction as a Councilman. Then we’ll know if he deserves our trust.

When we look at his attempts to guide Costa Mesa toward solvency, we see consistency and purpose, not swayed by ethical or unethical pressures to change direction.

Viewing his reaction to being victim of illegal campaign activity last election, and to being victim of damage to his property, and to being victim of an unfounded but potentially embarrassing DUI complaint, we see a man of courage who stood his ground. He continued to work for what he believed best for Costa Mesa.

Even a PhD-prepared psychologist wouldn't presume to do an analysis on such superficial information, so a perspective deducing that he is dishonest, sneaky, and abusive must be a view fueled by personal hatred.

If the viewpoint of Righeimer as dishonest and self-serving doesn't work very well to explain what we see him do, neither does the perspective that deduces character defects to make him a flawed Councilman.

If our perspective were . . .

What perspective might work? Let’s try looking at him as a sincere and idealistic man trying to discharge his responsibilities to the City in an honorable manner, even when doing so is personally costly.

From this perspective his remarks and behaviors ring true – it describes what we see and hear.

Righeimer has done what he said he’d do, and, as the situation changed, he changed his tactics. Right or wrong, he’s said what he believes, and tried to do what he thinks is right. (His behaviors also support an impression that he’s impatient, demanding, and persistent, aka stubborn.)

That in no way means he’s right – always, sometimes, or ever. That this viewpoint fits the evidence only means that he’s probably an honest man trying to meet high-level responsibilities in the best way he can. Whether he's right or wrong is open for discussion -- and multiple opinions!

If we adopt this viewpoint we don’t see his advocating revocation of the potential-layoff notices as betrayal in the battle against union evils, nor does it look like he’s “rolling over” easily. It looks like he’s ready to try new ways to get Costa Mesa solvent, growing, and more and more attractive to productive families who might move here.

We brand ourselves by what we assert

Regardless of the perspective we use, though, when we ostentatiously declare that we don’t trust him we say more about ourselves than about him. We just announce that we’re full of ourselves and that we don’t like Righeimer.

Perhaps more of us should follow the advice of Rebecca McKinsey in The Problem of Thor Bridge: “Don't become someone who doesn't think, just because you don't like him for some reason.”

Progress continues in a different manner

Meanwhile, people like Righeimer and Bernardino will go on to work out agreements and compromises that both believe will help Costa Mesa.

Beyond the movers and shakers are many others who help grow and improve Costa Mesa. The bloggers and commenters show they care about Costa Mesa because they face criticism and rancor from folks who disagree with them. Their courage helps the City grow and develop – and helps constrain the behaviors of those in power, whether they are members of government or of organized labor.

Costa Mesa needs them, and we respect them, even when they disagree with us.

Some flaming drones around, too

And then there are others who amuse themselves by flaming, insulting, and labeling. And there are those who burden us with their “brilliant” character insights (“liar”) and gut feelings (“I’m suspicious”). We are thankful that there are more we can respect than there are that we view with disdain.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We're sixty next year 

Costa Mesa will be celebrating 60 years as a city next year – we were incorporated in 1953! So for this blog we’ll interrupt our solemn (mostly) examinations of procedure and propaganda to effervesce a little.

A committee

The City Administration, under the direction of the City Council, will be soliciting members for a committee to guide, direct, impel, and stimulate celebrations throughout the year.  Although the budget won’t be unlimited, the scope of ideas will be – whatever you think might be a good way to acknowledge six decades of progress (usually!) toward today’s “The City of the Arts.”

According to Dan Joyce, Costa Mesa’s Public Affairs Manager:
Per the report and council direction, the immediate goal is to form the executive committee with the groups recommended.    As part of that process, 5 community representatives will be appointed by City Council before December 7th.    Based on this matrix, we will have 26 members of the community as part of the executive committee.

Once that committee is finalized, they will reach out to other groups to be part of the sub committees and to be volunteers for the event

Dan can be reached at the City’s CEO office: Ph.  714.754.5667, Fax 714.754.5330, or email         

Brainstorm it all by yourself

Don’t let inhibitions block your creative juices. Don’t let “can’t, they wouldn't let us, we've never” or other nonsense block your ideas. Avoid excuses:  “We stopped doing that (like the Lyons Park Fish Fry parade).”  

We've never done that (like a ‘second Friday of the month celebration and concert on the Fairgrounds -- every month). 

“We’d never do anything like that (form a City Council Water Polo team and challenge the Council of Newport Beach: “We’re sixty, we’re better and we’ll kick your tailbones. Better bring your water wings."). 

Instead of excuses, flood the committee with ideas. Or better yet, volunteer to make it all come together.

Name it

The Celebration needs a name – so start thinking now. Who knows, there could be a prize for the best name. The committee will need lots of ideas about how to celebrate and honor our City. The success of the year-long celebration will be proportional to the amount of thought – and effort -- from the Citizens of Costa Mesa. What better way to have fun doing good things?


Two potential benefits that are obvious to start: people visit cities that are celebrating so we can recruit some adventurous and productive families to live in Costa Mesa – who wouldn't want to live in the City of the Arts, right? Especially if the folks in that City have a lot of fun, and, if truth be known, are kind of silly rather than full of themselves.

And, working together to celebrate the anniversary could help heal the wounds from the contentious election and build more, and better working partnerships. Why? Well,  to grow and beautify the City, of course. That’s the goal, a growing and ever more beautiful City. This committee, through the Sixth Decade Celebration, gives us a fun way to work toward the goal.

The influx of dollars into the City won’t hurt a bit, either.

Got to start now

Now for the bad news. There’s a short fuse on this committee. According to the initial presentation at the Council meeting 20 November, the plan is to start recruiting for the committee on the 26th, pick the members at the 4 December Council meeting, and get started.

So, the time is short. This blog is short. The exuberance is over.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

This blog's perspectives 

Now we know a little about who lives in Costa Mesa and where they work, so we can start from a common knowledge base. The next step is to understand the assumptions, or the world view, of this blog. That will help explain why we suggest a particular approach to a challenge in future entries.


For the purposes of this blog, the assumptions are basic and straightforward. First, most people want to do what is right and are good people. They try to tell the truth, and usually do. Fewer have flawed personalities, such as narcissistic personality disorder, and will distort what they say, support, and do in accordance with their disorders. They are ill, and mistaken, but not bad people.

Very few people are evil, although some folks seem evil when they try to benefit themselves while harming others. In the political arena supporters can become so focused on promoting their cause that they lose touch with reality. Then they view the world as “for us or against us.” They may be misguided, undisciplined, or even stupid, but they aren’t evil in spite of their obsessions.


Problems and challenges can be viewed from several perspectives, for example from the viewpoint of “what’s green is good,” or “conservatives favor low taxes so they’ll (love/hate) this proposal.” The perspective of this blog is that use of a business or military analysis will reveal a great deal about a situation and may suggest plans and goals associated with it. 


For example, we have a lot more homeless people in Costa Mesa than is warranted by our relative population size. That’s a fact, and no perspective change will affect it. A related problem is that the homeless population may hurt the City, and this lends itself to analysis. Differing perspectives affect how this problem is seen.

From a business perspective, a city attracts folks who feel comfortable in the city and find it enjoyable. Therefore, professionals living on a well-maintained street attract productive home buyers while a large homeless population will tend to attract folks who want handouts.

This is similar to the view of the owner of a restaurant; if he wants patrons who pay high prices for exceptional food, service and atmosphere, he plans and sets goals to offer that exceptional food, service and atmosphere.  Or, if he wants a volume trade he will tightly control costs and portions and speed the patrons through.

So, the business perspective suggests dealing with the homeless in Costa Mesa by reducing or eliminating the freebies that attract them to the City, and by insisting on fairness in the allocation of the people being released from custody – no more should be sent to Costa Mesa than our fair share. This perspective implies that soup kitchens, storage facilities, and such be limited to providing services to citizens of Costa Mesa—and to only a proportional share of outsiders. In other words, it favors limiting attractions.

A military perspective on this subject might view the crime nexus when homeless congregate as a key issue. It would consider increased enforcement and incarceration as means to reduce the numbers who congregate in Costa Mesa. Strong enforcement efforts would be focused on the recovery homes and on the congregation areas while acknowledging that sufficient support is necessary for those Costa Mesans who are just down on their luck. This would reduce the crime and make the City uncomfortable for those who steal and beg for their livings, reducing the homeless concentration as well.

Generally, our overall political -- and philosophical -- viewpoint is covered well in a 15 minute U-Tube clip: here

We won't use

A viewpoint that won’t be common in this blog is “niceness.” That perspective would suggest that we all “should” be kind and supportive toward those less fortunate. Most of those who espouse this view have two commonalities: they live far from the affected areas (such as in Newport Beach or in upper Eastside Costa Mesa) where the homeless don’t congregate, defecate and steal. And, second, and they work for wages.

As employees, they tend to see the solution as a matter of influencing others (or forcing others) who have authority to provide what they believe is needed. For example, they’d have city government provide more food and shelter for homeless persons. And they’d hire more police to deal with the increased crime.

They strongly resist having the soup kitchens move to their neighborhoods. They may, though help out by dishing out food in a homeless camp on occasion, then returning to their safer neighborhoods.

It's my responsibility

Another viewpoint that will be uncommon here is, “they” should do something about that. We believe that “we” are responsible for the direction, beauty, and attractiveness of Costa Mesa, and that “we” act through our representatives. The representatives aren’t responsible for the fixes,” we” are; they only execute our will.

Finally, to end this soapbox harangue, we believe in trying to collect facts and use reason to address problems. We seek to define a problem, collect and analyze information about it, and to use logical analysis to develop and evaluate solutions, usually from a business or military perspective. We’ll remain open to other perspectives that address the issues. We’ll appreciate hearing about it if (or better, when) we have our facts mixed up or our logic stinks. 

We will continue to identify and discuss propaganda techniques on occasion, too, since their use surely hasn’t ended with the election.

How Costa Mesa fits into the 

State and County 

After that brief look at Costa Mesa’s history, let’s see where “The City of the Arts” fits in California demographics

Costa Mesa’s population is above the average; 117,178 compared to 66,735 for the average California city. Most cities average 101:1 ratios of residents to city employees, compared to our 155:1. So, we have a higher than average population and a lower than average ratio of citizens to city employees.

Costa Mesa earnings

However, the average city employee’s wage in California is $57,429, while Costa Mesa’s employees average $71,379; remember that these are salaries without including the value of benefits, which can vary widely among cities and job classifications. About 20% of the City’s employees live in the City.

Our Police Department has 257 employees out of 753 total; that is, about 34% of the city employees work for the CMPD. The average wage of PD employees is $90, 307, compared to $71, 379 for all City employees. We pay about $459 per resident – man, woman, and child – for CMPD, a total of $23,209,020 each year.

Income and age gaps influence policies

California has increased the income gap (high-income and low-income growing more than the mid-income groups). This may be influenced by the dot com billionaires and movie stars that grace our state.

Our “aging affluents” are becoming an important constituency in the State. (Note that growth and schooling tend to be less important to aging affluents.) In Costa Mesa, though, only 9.2% are aged 65 or older and 28% 19 or younger. About half of the rest is between 35 and 44.

On the other hand, we Californians have 12% of the nation’s population, but 33% of the national welfare cases. And, as a state, we have the 47th lowest science education scores for high school students.

The top eleven employers (in number employed) in Costa Mesa are: Experian, Coast Community College District Foundation, Orange Coast College, Coast Community College District, Fairview Developmental Center, AAA of Southern California, First Team Real Estate, Pacific Building Care, IBM, FileNet, and Hyundi Corporation.

Buy, rent or camp in their home

Not everyone residing in Costa Mesa owns or rents their home; we have a lot of “homeless” folks, too. In fact, far more than our population would warrant. Some of the inequity probably resulted from transition planning discrepancies. Many prisoners and parolees and probationers released from custody were being dropped off in Costa Mesa. Some folks call Costa Mesa the “dumping ground” for vagrants and prisoners when they are released from County Jail.

Another factor could be the number of recovery programs (“halfway houses”) in Costa Mesa, which is also way above the norm for cities in Orange County.

And, part of the numbers may be the result of effective “recruiting” by several homeless assistance charities. Executives earning over $120,000 per year keep their jobs, and get raises, based upon the number of needy that they serve. They actively recruit homeless and needy people to use their services.

These three factors increase the concentration of homeless, undocumented, sex-offenders and other released criminals, unmedicated mentally ill, and persons just “down on their luck.” How many fit into these categories is impossible to specify although the Homeless Task Force and Vanguard University have studied and counted for two years. How many have any tie with Costa Mesa other than residing here at the moment is disputed.

Don't know how many there are

A survey of visible homeless (sleeping in parks, etc.) shows a range of 60-120 on the count dates, with 82% previously jailed (by their admission), and 43% specifying daily alcohol use. As a matter of interest: sex offenders with an address must stay away from schools, libraries and parks where children play. Homeless sex offenders don’t have the same restrictions.

Costa Mesa has 23% of the (drug and alcohol) recovery home beds and 32% of the facilities for the County. Some of the “drop outs” from the homes rotate to the street and back, giving fluidity to the homeless count. Most of the calls for service from the CMPD in the Lyons Park area involve the homeless and alcohol or drugs.

Coming up in Costa Mesa:

Costa Mesans who would like to see the New Year in can register for a Block Party New Year’s Eve at the Fairgrounds. Visit or call 714.708,1500.

Snoopy House display of Peanuts characters has been a Costa Mesa and Orange County holiday tradition for 46 years. The Snoopy House, which features holiday scenes populated by "Peanuts" characters, is open from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly from Dec. 14 through Dec. 25. And Santa visits from Dec. 13 to Dec. 23. Children and their families can get free photos with Santa.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A bit of Costa Mesa history 

A bit of history and demographics might provide a good background for understanding present day Costa Mesa.

Way back

A classic adventure novel was published in 1840, Two Years before the Mast, by Dana. It was the story of a youth who “went to sea” as a common seaman in a commercial sailing vessel in 1834. It included tales about the (cattle) hide trade in the “distant, exotic land” of Southern California. Dana includes descriptions of riding horses and loading hides around present day Capistrano.

He may well have ridden into the Costa Mesa area, and may have stayed with the cowboys in what is now the museum in Estancia Park. This little adobe building was about six Spanish leagues northwest from Capistrano; a Spanish league being about 2.6 – 3 miles or what a person or a horse could walk in an hour. So at that time what is now “The City of the Arts” was part of a cattle ranch.

Call it Costa Mesa

A town around the area of 18th and Newport Blvd, called Harper, changed its name to Costa Mesa (Coastal Tableland) in 1911. In 1953 the city was incorporated, with a population of nearly 17K. At that time the City Council – Manager Form of government was chosen. (Costa Mesa adopted the slogan, “The City of the Arts” in 1999.)

And now

It retains the same form of government, now governing a population (in 2010) of about 110K. Much of its governance as a General Law City is by laws and regulations from the State Legislature. Costa Mesa’s rules, then, are significantly influenced by lobbyists in the State Legislature. Some of the city governance is strictly the domain of the City Council, though.

Our average home has 2.6 residents, and 55% of our jobs are in services and trade, while 9% are in government; one unconfirmed report shows about 18% of the City’s employees live in Costa Mesa. Our single-family dwellings typically sell for $47.77 per square foot of home area, with about 40% occupied by the owners and the rest by renters.

The median (middle of the range) income (in 2010) per household in Costa Mesa was $65K, with about 28% of households earning over $75K and 20% earning $25K or less.

A bigger neighbor earns lower income

As a comparison, Anaheim City had a population of 341K in 2011, with 50% of the homes occupied by the owners. The median income in 2009 was $55K with 24% of households having incomes $30K or below, and 33% with incomes of $75K or more. It uses Council-City Manager organization like Costa Mesa, but has a Charter, giving it more local control of its operations.

And a smaller one earns more

And, Newport Beach, another Charter City, has a 2011 population reported at 86K, with a median household income of $103K. About 9% have household incomes below $25K and 63% above $75K.

Representative government

In representative forms of government voters select a group of citizens to govern the city. One representative form of government, the council-manager form that is found in these three cities, uses a City Council, elected by the voters.

The Council is responsible for establishing policy, passing local ordinances, controlling finances and developing an overall vision for the City. (Remember that an ordinance is a law that is enforced by the courts and police. We have two hearings on any ordinance, then a thirty-day period during which voters can call for a referendum on the law.)

The City Council appoints a professional manager to oversee the administrative operations, implement its policies and advise it. The city manager’s position is similar to that of a CEO in a corporation, and the Council is comparable to the corporation’s Board of Directors.

The “Mayor” position is largely ceremonial in this form of government; first among equals. He or she keeps meetings going and controls debate in accordance with Council rules, which are often based upon Robert’s Rules of Order or the U.S. Senate protocols.

At the Council meeting

Here are a couple of points that we’ll see again as we discuss how Costa Mesa works. First, at a Council meeting, the audience has the right to express an opinion about almost anything, but the Council members are forbidden from directly responding to their comments. And the audience does not have rights in the debates, although members can express opinions about the agenda items before debate.

Audience members are limited to three minutes to address the Council unless the Council, usually led by the Mayor, grants a longer time for the benefit of the Council. This usually involves an extended and prearranged presentation.

A Board of Directors, not powerful rulers

Second, the Council is forbidden from taking part in City operations. Like a Board of Directors, it must act through its CEO, which is the City Manager. So, if you want to sell the City your product or service, friends on the Council can’t help much. Your bid is processed by City employees in a specified procedure that is governed by law, and a recommendation of the City staff is developed. The City Council can only agree to fund the purchase or not, and is held responsible for making prudent financial decisions.

That’s a good start on background; soon we’ll move into how different parts of the City work.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post election, the plan is . . 

We've learned a lot about political campaigns in Costa Mesa, and discussed some of the propaganda techniques in use. The election is over, so the effects of both propaganda and rational discourse are known.

The next question this blog will address, is how does city government work, and who is involved in making it work. We'll also post information about upcoming meetings, events, and plans of interest to Costa Mesa voters. There's so much to know. And much of what we'll discuss is specific to a situation; so it may work out differently next time. We'll look at why it worked that way, and we'll collect a little information about who affected what was done.

The posts will be approximately weekly, and more frequent when needed. The blog will help keep track of important meetings, hearings, and ceremonies to help keep everybody's calendar straight.

As always, comment and controversy are invited; it's possible that I'm misinformed sometimes and I'd like to learn the accurate version of what I think I know.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The campaign ended, 
but the aftermath can be bitter 

We’re about done with the widespread acrimony, name-calling and accusations of perfidy in Costa Mesa. At least for a couple more years.

Some good from it
This election has been productive in several ways. For one thing, more people have become passionately involved in issues concerning the City. The use of social media, internet and email has made research and publishing much faster and easier. The battlefields have expanded to cyberspace.

The battles fought through letters to the editor and columns – with the comments flocking in like a swarm of starlings, have identified new ways to communicate. We can surely use what we've learned to become better citizens – involved, passionate about our City (or school, or organization) and committed to its improvement. We have developed our ability to use the tools through our electioneering.

It’s been fun to identify single (rare) and mixed propaganda techniques in the election. There’s been a great deal of appeal to emotion (especially fear), and some appeal to logic and facts.

Some attempted cruelty
There’s also been propaganda that is intended to hurt – as one of Alinsky’s 12 Rules for Radicals demands. And we've seen a lot of comments from some who insist on branding others, labeling others, and attacking others for their body habitus or employment status. There have been an uncountable number of comments accusing others of nefariousness such as lying.

Commenters self-identify
The ease of publishing one’s views has identified some good debaters, and some vile, hateful people who insist on substituting personal attacks for debate. The speed of getting one’s opinions into the public view has identified folks who forget to read their missive, and to use spell check before launching it.

And it has clearly identified a few commenters who spew only hatred and anger, using name calling, and labeling, and accusations. We have followed the comments of some of these pained people and rarely seen legitimate debate, or intelligent discourse – just hatred. They seem to be very unhappy people, and we hope that their insults and diatribe aren't taken seriously by those they seek to hurt.

One thing we've noticed is that property records for some of the biggest accusers are sparse. A libel judgment can’t confiscate the libeler’s primary home or retirement fund, so a few feel free to falsely accuse others of illegal and unethical acts; their lack of assets protects them. They know that no one they defame wants prosecute an expensive libel suit against them; they can’t pay the judgment. They don’t face punishment for their irresponsibility, so they eschew responsible behavior.

And threaten
We've seen threats; “I know where you work . . . Would your boss be surprised to know . . .?” And we saw vindictive use of law enforcement, and vandalism and violence – and threatened violence.  

Internalizing propaganda as truth
Most of Costa Mesa’s propaganda varied from presenting selected truths, through promoting a distorted perception, to outright lies. Believing and internalizing the slogans is misguided and foolish, And, it just blocks progress toward friendly neighborhoods and a productive City.

We received a communication that carried a very inflammatory label for a person not even involved in the subject matter – just slapped in as if by slamming and defaming someone else, the writer’s own missive was more credible. That’s not just self-defeating, it’s wrong.

Some people will no longer speak to each other and won’t watch out for threats to each other’s’ property because of campaign slogans and belittling personal labels. There will be people who are no longer neighbors, or even friends, because they've absorbed campaign slogans and political positions into their psyche as truth and reality.

First look in the mirror
It might help to examine one’s own conscience and see if the neighbor we now hate has actually changed. Perhaps we changed when we started to believe a label or an accusation of perfidy.  Then we are diminished, not our neighbor.

If our neighbor has become a pariah, is it because we have internalized propaganda?  
Time to become a better neighbor

Perhaps this would be a better time than Christmas to drop off a fruit or cheese basket. We’re still neighbors, regardless of the election’s outcome.  

         Cop bucks  

We’ll revisit the issue of police pay vs. police value today, in spite of the fact that a concrete answer is impossible. But we citizens control the checkbook so we have to make a “guesstimate.”

First, what is the value of a cop’s service to a citizen of Costa Mesa?

Police are sworn to run to, not from, an emergency that may threaten their life – or ours. How much is that worth? Not much if you don’t end up in a life-threatening crisis. Value beyond measure if you are.

Hold back the barbarians

Cops form the bulwark that protects the rest of us from criminals, violent and larcenous. They’re pretty good at it but not perfect. We citizens have to make some effort to protect ourselves, too. And we have to pay our cops for serving and protecting us.

CMPD cops are effective; the “white supremacist” gangs were rampant in Costa Mesa, but their influence has diminished to minimal. This was a matter of good police work, not governmental actions. They didn't need a draconian ordinance that would have eroded citizens’ rights.

The cops enforced the laws already on the books to force miscreants to comply or to leave Costa Mesa. They protected the City through hard, persistent police work.  Our PD has a record of excellent and effective – and efficient police work.

Most PD’s have experienced a decrease in sworn officer strength during the downturn; CMPD has adjusted schedules, hired non-sworn personnel, and just worked smarter to continue to serve and protect Costa Mesa. Our cops are efficient.

Lives on the line daily

Their lives are still on the line every shift – and, considering gang threats, every day whether they are on duty or not. They still run toward the danger in order to serve and protect the citizens of Costa Mesa.

So, we have some great, professional street cops, who do a very good job. And it appears that we have a chief worthy of them and worthy of trust from Costa Mesa citizens. Are they all “good guys?” Of course not. Out of 130+ sworn officers there’s likely to be some bad apples.

Bad apples different here and in Chicago

But what makes a bad apple in CMPD? We have little to none of the PD graft or corruption seen in other cities. In some cases we think misdirection makes some cops look like bad apples. That brings us to police unions, or associations, as they prefer to be called. A bit of background for full disclosure:

Organized labor is the reason coal miners have livable wages and healthcare. My grandparents survived because the unions demonstrated, thumped heads, and made change happen, in the early 1900’s. Unions are the reason my father had a job that gave him pride and a decent living – and a reasonable retirement. The Teamsters’ union demonstrated and threatened – and thumped a lot of heads -- in the 1930’s and 40’s to make his job worth having – and his kids’ lives better than average.

By the late 1900’s, though, union intimidation, threats, and violence had become ineffective and often counterproductive, except as a temporary expedient.  Negotiation toward shared goals, PR, and education started prevailing in labor strife, whether in mines or on 18-wheelers.

Cops serving and protecting -- whom

CM PD’s association encouraged some unethical behavior, and their law-office advisers advocated a highly-adversarial, out-of-date approach to dealing with the City Council – their bosses – and with the citizens who paid them to be cops. Some cops may have been misled into thinking they are on duty to serve and protect their association instead of Costa Mesa citizens.

The association prevailed for a while. But the Council’s new majority – Mensinger, Monahan, Bever, and Righeimer, stood up to the association, in spite of personal – and often illegal attacks on them. That’s not to say the Council Members acted like knights coming to save the citizens. They were more like a kid who stands up to schoolyard bullies; confrontational, determined, and often loud and brazen.

How much should we pay them

Soon we Costa Mesa voters are going to determine how much a cop is worth to us. It’s hard not to discount all cops because of the outdated and ineffective tactics of a few. But it’s not useful, nor fair, to punish most of the force for the behaviors of a few misguided cops. Perhaps we’d be better off if those few left CMPD.

Fortunately, the city has a lot of qualified applicants anxious to replace them. We suspect that the quality of the department is as big a draw for most of them as is the generous pay and benefit package they’ll receive. That doesn't mean we’re paying them enough, already. Nor that we aren't.

Like homeowners, citizens of Costa Mesa have to balance their expenditures to their income. We have a long-term liability that we have no means to pay at this time. But pay it we must. We can slow, or stop the growth of that debt by changing the benefit schedules for new hires. (Our agreements with the existing officers are promises, so current officers will enjoy their contracted pay and benefits.)

Prioritize expenses and divide resources

So, how much can we afford to pay cops? How much do we need to spend maintaining and upgrading Costa Mesa to attract productive families and give them the schools, and parks, and youth sports, and libraries – and cops -- that they deserve? How are we going to retire the long-term liability?

Select our representatives and give them the tools

During this election we’ll choose the people to represent us in making these decisions. We know the plans of the “3M’s” because they've published them. They want the Charter as a tool to help them.

Their opponents are in the first three slots on the ballot. They have no concrete plans; their program is opposition (to just about everything).

Need a slogan to remember in the voting booth? “3Ms and V, just skip the first three” will work.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Liars and other folks  

A brief skim through the comments after the columns and letters in the OC Register and the Daily Pilot suggests that everyone in Costa Mesa must be a liar. Over three-quarters of the comments reviewed during the last five days complain of lies told by the opposition or else brands the opposition liars.

The liar's punishment is, not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.”
― George Bernard ShawThe Quintessence of Ibsenism

Perhaps Mr. Shaw nailed it for Costa Mesa during this election. Liars cannot believe anyone else, especially not their opponents, so they are vigorously branding and labeling and accusing others of being liars. Branding and labeling are propaganda techniques we've discussed.

What is a lie

But, what is a lie? According to Wikipedia, it means to deliver a false statement to another person which the speaking person knows is not the whole truth, intentionally.  This includes the contextual lie in which one states part of the truth out of context, knowing that without complete information, it gives a false impression.  We discussed quoting out of context in an earlier blog (2 Oct.).

Quoting out of context was illustrated with candidate John Stephens’ mailers quoting a couple of phrases from a piece in a Wall Street Journal article. The quote implied that some California cities face bankruptcy because they are Charter cities. 

Out of context lie

The article actually suggested that the cities, adopting a Charter with input from unions, accepted provisions that benefited the unions but drove them to bankruptcy. Mr. Stephens wants to write a different Charter for Costa Mesa with more input from stakeholders. (It should be noted that he is supported and endorsed by labor unions, which probably represent stakeholders in his mind.)

Others' views on lies

Religion weighs in on lying, too. The Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible both contain statements that God cannot lie and that lying is immoral. In the Qur'an those who lie destroy their souls. "For a liar who has violated the one law (of truthfulness) holds in scorn the hereafter, there is no evil that he cannot do.”

Be bad, but at least don't be a liar, a deceiver!” 
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Somewhat or mostly lies

Some examples of mendaciousness in Costa Mesa’s elections don’t involve complete lies, but rather, selected truths. For example, one City Council candidate assures us she’s in favor of youth sport activities and even wore a high-school sports T-shirt to show her support. And, she assures us she’s been an avid supporter of the City for over 25 years.

What she doesn't say, is that she opposed lighting a sports field because it would bring noise to her quiet neighborhood. She suggested instead that the kids walk or ride a couple of miles (through traffic) to another, more crowded, but lighted field. Parents were outraged, but she has no children and perhaps didn't consider the dangers of traffic to youthful sports enthusiasts.

And, she made a very “cute” presentation to another city’s City Council, warning them against partnering with Costa Mesa to save expenses. She suggested that Costa Mesa couldn't be depended upon to keep its promises. (Another Quote from the Bard is suggested here: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”)

Are her statements lies? Probably not complete lies, at least according to the Wikipedia definition. There may be a different answer, though, from those who define mendacity from Biblical or Muslim scriptures.


So, we can summarize and say that liars tend to consider everyone liars, and there are many ways to sidestep the truth. And, we cannot really call someone a liar based upon a single false or misleading statement; it could be a simple error.

On the other hand, we should be particularly alert to attempts to manipulate our opinion by those who brand others liars. That is, we should suspect propaganda and investigate much more thoroughly any statements from them.

It’s election season in Costa Mesa: don’t get fooled by labels (like liar) or other attempts to manipulate your opinion by arousing emotion. That’s just propaganda. Instead, decide to support candidates and propositions based upon logic and facts.

I've decided to vote for Mensinger, Monahan, McCarthy, and to vote YES on Measure V.