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Monday, October 21, 2013

Scream insults or study facts, take your pick

Deciding what's right

Let’s look at two approaches for deciding controversial matters of public policy. Both are in vogue in Costa Mesa. One approach involves investigation, discussion, and debate – by Costa Mesans -- to decide what’s best for Costa Mesa. This method has the most supporters.

Another approach is illustrated by a Councilwoman’s comment:

I hope the feds send a strong message to the Council majority that the City cannot ignore the rules and just build the path, turn on the lights and make way for the parking lot and tot lot.”

So, she believes Costa Mesa can’t or won’t protect City property though our own procedures. She is insulting the ability and integrity of our Public Services Department and Director.

This is also an example of perceived locus of control – clearly she believes in committees appointed in Sacramento or Washington D.C., rather than Costa Mesans to best determine what is good for Costa Mesa.

Emotional not factual

Her remark is a bit short in the facts department, though. The path she’s talking about was in place for a long time and refurbished recently by citizens trying to improve the park. (The City Council ignored Park projects for several administrations so volunteers began maintaining some trails and fences at their own expense.) Just a matter of residents trying to help out when previous Councils didn't fund Fairview Park maintenance. (It's worth noting that only the Mayor and the Pro Tem were not involved in decisions to not fund Park Maintenance in the past.)

Further, the turnaround/parking was planned more than a decade ago and has just reached a funding stage; funding for study, that is. Hysteria about “paving the vernal ponds” was generated by a few folks with political agendas – again; unfounded and ridiculous warnings that have been done before. (1)

Lights are similarly being studied – and blamed on the Pro Tem’s enthusiasm for youth sports, ignoring the real arguments both for and against.

I'm mad -- I want the city to get fined 

The Councilwoman is rooting for the home team to lose, a curious stand for an executive. There’s the matter of loyalty, too. We started learning in Kindergarten to support our team. Some of us did.

So disloyalty in hoping for (if that’s all she did) her city to be “punished,” and attacking the knowledge and integrity of the Public Services Department, and distortions of facts – why?

Vindictiveness trumps integrity and loyalty

A key reason behind such silliness is personal vindictiveness. For example, consider a remark by a commenter after her post:

Steve is sort of a bully. Jim, a failed leader. Together they fund a lot of lawyers.”

This has no bearing on the subject, it’s just an ad hominem attack – which is most commonly used when facts supporting a position are sparse or haven’t been researched. And more such nonsense; a frequent theme for about five very vocal commenters is:

“Theft of public land is a Righeimer hall mark going back to his days working with Suncal,” an ad hominem refuted as far back as 2011. (See 2) 

Facts and priorities or name-calling and blaming

So, there’s the approach of debating the priorities and issues, on one hand. There’re ongoing studies and plans by a devoted and highly-effective Public Services Director and his staff to collect facts to fuel and support debate about priorities. This also involves soliciting citizen – not agitator – input.

And, then there’re emotional outbursts seeking to blame the current Council’s majority for failures by past City Councils. This involves recruiting out of town agitators.  Those who enjoy the emotional catharsis of screaming at Council and Commission members will continue doing what they enjoy. (3)

It must tire them out 

Seeing every project and event through the lens of “I hate Mayor Righeimer and the Pro Tem, too” must be exhausting. It doesn't require any effort for research or thinking though.

1) Paving vernal pools: Good summary of several issues: Here

Early article:  Here

2) Untrue and malicious, refuted here:  Here

3) Alinsky’s Rule 6 is: A good tactic (for manipulating public opinion without regard to truth) is one your people enjoy.”


  1. Think of how the city Staff must feel. I get it, I am among the enemy combatants on key issues, so I expect and understand when they come for me. But to berate members of our city Staff in the manner that she does is very uncomfortable and I am concerned that she has crossed the line and actions could result in lawsuits.

    Jim Fitz

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  3. I agree, Jim. Insulting devoted and very competent people to further your political agenda is despicable. But, I believe that speaking against your own city in spite, and obstructing and raising issues that you know are bogus about a beautiful park to further your own ends are equally devious and egregious.

  4. This is nothing new. In 2011 Genis took the time to trod over to neighboring Huntington Beach to implore the council there to not enter an agreement with Costa Mesa for helicopter coverage by the HBPD. She badmouthed Costa Mesa and warned HB that they didn't want to get involved in this fight. Wow. Threats to one city and badmouthing of your own city. And she is so "intellectual" and "highly respected". At least she lost that battle, wasn't too respected there apparently.

    1. Absolutely. Intellectually savvy, impressive grasp and retention of detail; but doesn't embrace the ethical and emotional lessons most learn in Kindergarten. On the positive side, it encourages all of us to check our sources -- the fact that someone has shown intellectual prowess doesn't indicate that they will demonstrate emotional honesty at any given time.

  5. The polarization of a group of detractors intent on changing our society into a socialist theorem is evident in the action from the dais minority.
    I seem to find similarities to Friedrich Engels works when I think of some of what has been happening in Costa Mesa in recent times...
    The snitching, undermining, organizing and contempt fits the proletarian pattern.....