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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Oops: Two ways to get your way

Political skills are critical to get your way. Blatant power and mis-applied science work too.

During the last City Council meeting Councilwoman Genis Leece, the Council's liaison to the Senior Center, demonstrated one political maneuver. And, she capitalized on the Mayor’s drive to complete Council meetings in a rapid and orderly manner.

 Genis Leece nominated three people at once for positions on the Costa Mesa Senior Corporation Board of Directors. With an immediate second the nomination moved to vote.

Not according to Hoyle this time

Leece chose to present the Council with” three names, take them all.” (Or else take time to deal with the openings on the board one at a time.) Her maneuver avoided the risk of losing control of the nomination. As the Council's liaison to the board she could control the nomination this way.

Leece apparently mustered support early since the motion was seconded immediately. Genis’ Leece's nomination passed 4:1 with Pro Tem Mensinger voting no. Her maneuver left two candidates out: they weren't nominated nor discussed, whether that was good or bad.

A Mayoral maneuver 

In another level of political maneuver at the same meeting, Mayor Righeimer eloquently explained his resolution against a South Coast Air Quality Management District, or SCAQMD, decree.  His resolution passed unanimously and his argument was recorded on TV.

The Mayor used his position to promote resistance in the City and in the county to the misuse of political muscle. SCAQMD is using crappy science and cherry-picked numbers to weigh in on a political issue by redefining it as a health issue. This is becoming a popular way of influencing laws and regulations.

Same technique in State venue 

An example is the proposed ban on lead bullets because “they cause endangered wild condors to die of lead poisoning.” The assumption is that the condors eat bullets when they feed on offal of game killed by hunters. In reality, most of the lead that kills condors comes from ingested wheel weights and solder drops (from outhouse vents). Some of it may originate in the carcasses they are fed, since the dairy cows’ diets can be high in lead products.

Further, the condors are a wild population only by twisted definition. They are unable to sustain a population without considerable food support which must be trucked to their habitat.

The real goal isn't condor health. It is probably banning hunting, but that goal isn't politically or tactically acceptable.

Phony health concern

Similarly, SCAQMD’s concern about the health of seashore residents rings phony. The particulate matter increases when there are fires on the beach, no surprise there. Does it approach the normal everyday levels on I405? No. Does it stay concentrated long in the onshore breeze? No. But, using health as an excuse will help SCAQMD help Newport Beach ban beach fires – and force other cities to do the same.

Both ways work

Deft political maneuvering can help a Council member achieve her goal. Brute power and dishonest statistical support are less savory ways to impose personal preferences on citizens. Sometimes both techniques work.

This post erroneously listed the nominator as Genis; it was Leece. Sorry to Genis and Leece and to the readers. See the meeting video to watch the nomination at about 1:47:06.

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