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Sunday, March 24, 2013

I assume but do not know 

Let’s take another look at differences between what we perceive and what is factual. We’ll use the proposed charter that drew so much out-of-town money to Costa Mesa to defeat it.

All power in only three votes

During the last election we saw warnings about how the “charter puts all of the power in just three votes. . . “And also about how “it gives unlimited power to the Council.” A small local group identified the dangers they perceived, line-by-line.

It pointed out that many articles in the proposed charter said that all powers were being assumed whether they were specifically enumerated or not. The verbiage even went on to assume powers whether or not they had yet been defined.

One example was used to illustrate how the charter was supposed to give unlimited power to the Council. The statement appeared in the charter’s article concerning setting Council meeting times. So, the Council was absorbing all power allowed under state and federal law, to set the time and place of its meetings. It also reserved the right to change such time or place by ordinance or resolution.

Ordinance or resolution? Oh no!

The warnings went on about the dangers of allowing the Council to have the power to act any way it wanted by either ordinance or resolution. One caveat almost shrieked that ordinances could be modified by referendum. But, it cried, resolutions take effect immediately and couldn’t be reversed by citizen vote.

Again, that’s true in a limited sense. But resolutions are statements of position, not laws like ordinances. As such, they aren’t enforceable. A resolution might state that the Council favored Tuesday meetings because most meetings in the past were on Tuesdays. An ordinance would be issued to change a meeting date that conflicted with a holiday.

So, the Council’s preference for Tuesday meetings couldn’t be over ruled by citizen vote in a referendum? And the Council intended to use any power given it under state and federal law to set the time and date of its meetings? And we citizens of Costa Mesa should recoil in fear at such blatant grabs at absolute power?

Charters do that

A paragraph in a white paper from a California watchdog group, about Charters, reads:

What is in a Charter?

While a city charter is not required to have any particular provisions, a city will often reserve for itself the greatest amount of power it can when it adopts a charter. To accomplish this goal, the charter must include a declaration that it is the intention of the city to avail itself of the full power provided by the state constitution to charter cities.

Of course, no declaration by a Council or a city can overrule applicable state or federal law.

First learn how it works

We can overlook some of the hysteria as just a “lack of information flogged into hysteria.” But some of the diatribe led us to question basic understanding of government.  For example, consider the warning that “all power resides in just three votes.”

In a Town Hall government, such as that used in some New England villages, all of the business of the city is conducted at Town Hall meetings. The principle is laudable. Every village citizen is eligible to vote on every single matter of business. Thus, a new blade for the snowplow, or approving overtime for the marshal, requires a vote by the entire city, or at least as many as show up for the meeting.

In larger towns and cities, a representative government is used; in California an odd number of representatives are elected to conduct business. They vote on matters, such as paying for police cars, with the majority vote determining the outcome.

In Costa Mesa we have five Council members, and, sure enough, all ordinances and proclamations require at least three votes.

Because it's supposed to work like that

So, we heard, and will probably hear again as the City revisits a charter, that all power resides in just three votes. True; as an educational point, it works as designed and as codified in state law. As a hysterical warning of impending police state or Bell-like corruption though, it falls flat. And it sounds uninformed or even downright stupid.

Fewer groceries means fewer vegetables 

There’s a parallel in the current nonsense about “statistics show that fewer guns leads to fewer gun injuries.” That’s true if you remove the numbers of gun injuries that pertain to gang shootings and police shootings (presumably of criminals). If these “extraneous” numbers are included, the per capita shooting deaths and injuries is about the same. But, in these extremely-regulated gun areas, the per capita violent crime against persons is much higher although the number of legal guns is lower.

So, if guns and gun availability don’t cause violent crime, what does?  We don’t know!

We know links not causes

We do know that the higher the number of citizens licensed to carry concealed weapons, the lower-- greatly lower -- the per capita violent crime.

We know that nearly every shooter in the mass shootings in this decade was prescribed psychotropic medications with black box warnings about increased incidence of violence or suicide among those taking the medications.

Research links identified

An expert in the field of violent crime, police Lt. Jim Glennon has identified links to shootings. Remember, though, that links do not suggest cause and effect, they show that something is associated in some way. So, more research is needed to determine what the association might be. He shows research linking mass shootings to:

·         24/7 News organizations that create crises to remain relevant.
·         Uninvolved parents and broken family structure.
·         Media and video games.
·         Politicians and acters.
·         Mental health.
He ends his paper by saying,
“In my opinion the most vocal are: completely biased, using a tragedy to push an agenda, close minded, passing along wild misinformation, and are involved in massive hypocrisy.  . . Let’s start by having the discussions in the land of REALITY. Until we do, we are wasting time and possibly costing lives. . .

A difference similar to one in Costa Mesa 

A difference, according to Lt. Glennon, between what is said (and sometimes believed) and what is factual.

Some Costa Mesa citizens face a similar disconnect between their opinions and reality.

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