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Friday, March 29, 2013

Man bites dog

Journalism School teaches that one way an item is considered newsworthy is if it is unusual: Dog Bites Man isn’t newsworthy, but Man Bites Dog is. Using that criteria, Meet the Mayor, during which Mayor Righeimer explains plans and progress and answers questions from the audience is just normal. For Costa Mesa, anyway.

For the news media, the Costa Mesa Mayor sharing City operations and concerns with residents may seem boringly normal. The Mayor explaining and promising and making his promises happen is expected – now. To the citizens of most other Orange County cities, it would be newsworthy. They don’t enjoy such committed Mayors.

Openness expected here

Other cities don’t expect such openness; in fact, many cities throughout the State won’t release much information without an official application. In Costa Mesa, folks enjoy award-winning transparency through the City’s website, and they can ask questions of commissions, committees, or City Council at scheduled meetings and study sessions.

Or they can ask the Mayor or Mayor pro Tempore about nearly anything that concerns them at “Meet the Mayor” events every month, or during early morning walks several times every week. (By the way, Mensinger's “Walk Every Street in Costa Mesa” is well planned, with maps, GPS, and staging areas. One might think the pro Tem’s goals are serious, and are pursued seriously.)

No word from the negative herd

You might assume that the folks who are so accusative at Council meetings, who ascribe underhanded motives to the Council, and who simply vent their hate in newspaper remarks, would take advantage of the chance to confront the Mayor or pre Tem face-to-face. Not so.

Last night there was a homeless advocate, a couple of Commissioners, the Mayor and Mayor pro Tem and the City CEO at Meet the Mayor. A few committee members and a few interested folks from the area filled the rest of the chairs in the upscale appliance and furnishings store. Where was the press? Not at Fixtures Living.

Remember the Eastside home owners association that actively promoted their favored candidates? The ones asking questions extracted from their candidates’ platforms? Not present last night, either. Apparently they had no questions for the Mayor, pro Tem, or CEO. No questions for the Commissioners.

What about the “anti-everythingcomplainers, the name-callers, the whiners? Well, suffice it to say that there were no TV cameras. So, no one could make repetitive trips into the limelight. No tweets, “I was just on TV and told them what I think” or less printable announcements. Just face time – and answers if they wanted answers.

Getting attention vs. helping the City

The main interest of the negative folks may be the opportunity to speak their piece to a TV camera. Fixing and growing and beautifying Costa Mesa? Not much interest shown from the “anti’s” last night. Not much interest from them at the previous Meet the Mayor, either.

Fixing Eastside/Westside without input from the HOAs

Righeimer outlined a schematic of a lot of improvements that are starting on the Eastside right now. He described how high-end auto seekers had to drive well away from the dealers’ lots to find smooth enough roads to experience the car’s suspension. The roads have been neglected for many years, but now they’re being fixed.

He talked again about the options for ridding Costa Mesa of the crime niduses and for developing the Westside’s potential. Both need some changes in the General Plan so that folks who want to make good changes happen can do so. The General Plan is being studied, now. City government is working well; our representatives are doing their jobs – that would be newsworthy in Bell or Los Angeles. It’s normal in Costa Mesa, and we should be proud.

About the worker bees

The CEO answered questions about the progress of plans. The Mayor praised the Planning and Parks Commissions. He said the City Council members are working together better and better, and that newly-returned member Genis is doing a lot of homework – and becoming a solid team member.

The Mayor briefly outlined the interactions of the Planning and Parks Commissions with the City Council. He mentioned the need for involved citizens on the Fairview Park Advisory Committee. Altogether, he painted a picture of multiple teams working hard in their individual areas and coordinating to make Costa Mesa better. A beautiful picture, albeit idealized.

No Nay-Sayers bothered to show

No one was present to call Council members names or to ascribe avarice, greed or power-seeking. No one was there to try to try to sell their viewpoint in an intricately-worded question. It seems like the complainers don’t want to bother unless they’re getting wide public exposure.

That explains a lot about the comments at Council meetings and in the opinion sections of the newspapers.


So, in summary: if you want your face on TV, speak at Council meetings. If you want attention for blindly accusing public officials of corruption, append your view in the newspapers.

If you want to help Costa Mesa grow bigger and better – get involved. Walk the City starts early in the morning three to five times a week. Meet the Mayor is held the last Thursday of every month. The City needs thirty-six people who care to serve on advisory committees in Costa Mesa.

Welcome aboard. You may even get a hat if you ask a question! 

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