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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Snide remarks hide lack of understanding

A few commenters posted about a perceived conflict they saw in interviews with the Mayor and the Chief of Police. They want to see one as “right” and the other “wrong.”

Review of the use of statistics is in order. Two models:

Two Paradigms

First, a new grad is offered two jobs, one in Detroit and one in Austin. She notes the demographics of a younger population in Austin and anticipates a great nightlife and lots of single, active people like her. The demographics for Detroit suggest an older population, high unemployment, and a very high violent crime rate.

Would she be in more danger in Detroit? Probably, but that’s not proven. (For example, if she’s lived in Detroit she knows where not to go, what not to say, and how to reduce her risks.) The relative danger posed by Detroit is a reasonable assumption, although it may not be factual.

A young man also received two job offers, one from a firm in Palo Alto, and one from a firm in Long Beach. As he follows up with each he asks for a career projection; “where will I be in three years? What HR programs do you have to guide my career?”

So the woman used assumptions based upon demographic information to make a choice. The young man analyzed policies and statistics to get an accurate appraisal of the odds he faced in his “upward mobility.” They had different information needs for their decisions.

Mayor and Chief need different info

Similarly, the Mayor observed that, as both the early release of prisoners (through new sentencing guidelines and plea bargaining) (Release) and more-dangerous prisoners released from local jails paralleled  increased crime complaints in Costa Mesa. His responsibility as an executive is to anticipate needs for resources. He’s satisfied that the parallel increases, although not proof, indicate that increased resource needs are likely.

The Chief of Police needs specific data with clearly-demonstrated causes to plan solutions.  Declaring a “diagnosis” of the cause and developing the “plan of care” to address it would be premature if the cause is not proven. (Medical Problem solving)

For example, if the cause of a crime uptick turned out to be more homeless people in the City, task forces monitoring and addressing the early-release prisoners would be futile and a waste of resources. Or, if he discovered that increased violence resulted from timid officer contacts he could institute training to change officer image and behavior. He needs specific causes to formulate specific plans.

Getting the data

As more parolees are checked for compliance, more problem motels are inspected and more criminals are identified and arrested, he can analyze how many police contacts and arrests involved the locally-released dangerous criminals. He needs specific information to make specific plans.

Different needs, with Mayor Righeimer and Chief Gazsi both collecting and
using information appropriately for their needs.

Insults and snide remarks do nothing but define the commenter.(Insults define insulter)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quotes of note for today

Three verses from Psalm 37 (New International Version (NIV)) of David seem appropriate today.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;

for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Two old quotes from major Nazi (National Socialism) leader Heinrich Himmler apply today as well:

“Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA - ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State.” And,

“. . . Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don't ask for their love; only for their fear;”

If Citizens' access to guns is curtailed . . .

Using the same statistics that indicate the United States is near the top in murders throughout the World, we see that, if you take out Chicago, Detroit, Washington, DC, and New Orleans, the United States is 4th from the bottom for murder.  

These four Cities also have the toughest Gun Control Laws in the United States. Himmler would be proud of their progress if he lived today.

Hating a government-identified class of citizens

And a current quote: Bette Midler, upon learning that the Internal Revenue Service had targeted conservative groups, announced “I love the IRS,” four words that are certainly rare.

Conservatives are now being blacklisted in Hollywood according to some accounts. Certainly a chilling time for anyone who disagrees with the policies of the power elite. Anne Frank would recognize this era.

Cruelty updated to version 2.0

Perhaps cruelty is better expressed now in blacklisting, or in firing a stage director for advocating traditional marriage. Or, it may be exercised by conducting sit ins at businesses that are owned by people who speak politically-incorrect personal views.

One can't help but reflect that it was so much easier in the old days when you could recognize the bad guys by their black boots and Nazi armbands. Or their black hats.

Deal with the fear they generate

Another current quote (this one is Seth Godin's):

“The fearless person is well aware of the fear she faces. The fear, though, becomes a compass, not a barrier. It becomes a way to know what to do next, not an evil demon to be extinguished.
When we deny our fear, we make it stronger. . .

Pushing back on fear doesn't make us brave and it doesn't make us fearless. Acknowledging fear and moving on is a very different approach, one that permits it to exist without strengthening it.

Life without fear doesn't last very long--you'll be run over by a bus (or a boss) before you know it. The fearless person, on the other hand, sees the world as it is (fear included) and then makes smart (and brave) decisions.”


Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Good to remember right now.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Uninformed but loud -- as usual

There was a lot of fuss about Hoag’s decision to stop conducting abortions, but some of it was misinformed. Hoag has not decided to “deny the Constitutional Rights of Woman” as some assert.* Let’s review.

The Roe decision was the beginning

The Supreme Court issued its decision about abortion on January 22, 1973, with a 7-to-2 majority vote.

The Court found that abortion fell under the Fourteenth Amendment as a privacy issue. It acknowledged that abortion might also fall under the Ninth Amendment (powers not otherwise assigned belong to the people). 

The ruling subjected all laws against abortion to strict scrutiny. It did not establish a new “right to abortion; it established that abortion fell under the privacy protections.

Not a general womens' rights issue

The Court added that the primary right being preserved was that of the physician's to practice medicine freely. A specific note excluded the intent to address women's rights in general. 

The so-called “Constitutional right to abortion” actually meant that states and municipalities couldn't broadly legislate against abortion within the protections of privacy afforded by the Constitution.

Back to Hoag and agitation

That the “Rabble Babble Abatement Squad” from Hoag misspoke initially is clear. (Misspoke is a euphemism for “appeared to lie through their teeth.”) And, Hoag’s CEO could now be just an employee of a religious group that generates a lot of income by operating hospitals. Those points, embarrassing as they may be, are irrelevant.

As a business, Hoag had -- and has -- no obligation to sponsor or support any particular medical procedure. If their decisions are colored by, or demanded by, their associates and partners, that’s not much different from Ford’s management decision to discontinue the Edsel. We didn't hear any outcries that Ford was denying a “Constitutional Right” to people who like funny noses on their cars.

Just because you have the right  . . .

Those demonstrators and agitators were exerting their Constitutional rights to free speech and assembly. They, like Hoag, were free to make misguided statements ad lib, under their inalienable right to speak before they understood the question. Or, under their undeniable right to lie to the press in the hope that no one would notice.

Have you noticed that logical argument and noise level are usually inversely proportional?

*One commenter, for example, wrote: “Abortion is a constitutional right of women. The decision by Hoag, one of Orange County's largest community hospitals, to curtail this medical service for religious and or political reasons is an injustice and for all practical purposes a limitation of women's constitutional rights.”

Monday, June 24, 2013

Flaming in Costa Mesa

Let’s look at why people “flame: hostile and insulting interaction often involving the use of profanity or obscenity.” (The range of insults and the number of those insulted have decreased in Costa Mesa since the election.)

Three major influences could apply to local flaming. First, it may be attempts at propaganda; repeating a lie often enough to make it seem like the truth. Second, perhaps ignorance of facts and inability to reason effectively lead to accepting what another posts as gospel. Or the cause could be rooted in a psychological mechanism called “projection.”

Projection reduces anxiety

Psychological projection is a defense mechanism. It is a way to reduce discomfort from a secondary emotion:  A person feels hurt, and the secondary emotion,anger, follows. In anger he accuses whoever hurt him of socially undesirable behavior, such as racism and comforts himself, “at least I’m not racist.”

Or, a person who steals may believe that everyone is trying to steal from her, so she rationalizes she’s “just getting something back.” As described by Dr. Sigmund Freud, pathological projection is used to control personal guilt feelings.

Projection in comments

The projection in local blogs and comments that we’ll consider today is seen in the gratuitous attacks on the Mayor and the Pro Tem. Some of the attacks are “insider” based. Examples include using terms like “drinks the Cool Aid,” referring to blindly believing a leader (Google Jim Jones), Righeimer’s "lackeys," and labeling Pro Tem Mensinger a “bully.”

Since the attacks, per psychological theory, reveal attackers’ fears about themselves, we know one reason those commenters and bloggers insult Righeimer and Mensinger. It fits into the general area of their own jealousy, insecurity and low self-esteem.

Freud's theories of the subconscious

possible cause is hypothesized deep beneath consciousness. For example, one local blogger launches periodic hyperbole including “Deliverance-on-the-logfantasies. He uses speculation and creative labeling in a similar vein to attack other bloggers, attempting to discredit them or at least to annoy them. Some attacks appear as comments from pseudonyms after his post. The blog owner reiterates often and strongly, though, that he, and only he, is responsible for everything posted on his blog, even the comments.

Fear of personal aberrations figured in some of Freud’s early writings about projection.

Ignorant and unthinking by choice

Next, some of the commenters may be parroting terms and ideas without thinking about their likely truthfulness. For example, how likely is it that a man with a strong religious faith – practiced – who’s a contributor of time, money, and effort to helping those less fortunate, is using the Mayor’s title to steal from City coffers directly or through bribes from contractors? Or that the Pro Tem who has taught and modeled sportsmanship for many years is likely to bully people?

Finally, some of the comments are probably just knee-jerk efforts at propaganda – trying to change opinions through appeal to emotion instead of by logical arguments using facts.

What else? 

There may be other reasons for the ill-mannered labels and accusations. 

Please let me know what you think they might be.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lighting opposition; some rational, some . . .

Another example of “it’s not always what it seems.”

Criticism of the proposed parking lot lighting for Fairview Park at the last Council meeting included rational argument. The Daily Pilot carried a summary of the arguments (Lighting article ).

One could reasonably argue that the money could add more safety to the Park if it were spent on other projects since the main argument for the lights was based on safety. Or temporary lighting as needed, while wasteful, could be compared. Those responsible for allocating resources, the City Council, agreed to fund the lights 3:2. 

One article-commenter noted that the lights are being addressed now because of a failure to adequately plan before the main parking lot was built without lights. (That might be one of the reasons the Fairview Park Advisory Committee was formed: improving planning and coordination.)

But . . . not all of the opposition was what it seemed

A speaker quoted in the Pilot article said that parking lot lights would “ruin the nature of the Park experience.” Another speculated that the Park would become a sports complex, while simultaneously demanding documentation about safety concerns.

The park experience would presumably be ruined only in the parking lots and only during the dark hours just before the park closed. That’s where and when the lights will show. The Park will remain closed at night, and the lights will be focused on the parking surfaces.

Further argument: Risk that the Park would become a sports complex was accepted as a danger without any further evidence. Kids running through an unlighted parking lot would not be accepted as a danger without documentation of injuries in the past. 

That is, unsupported conspiracy theory trumped anticipating consequences.

Thinking is optional before commenting

It’s not what it seems; not all opposition is rational.

One of the more outspoken article-commenters presumed that someone's ". . . campaign coffers will enjoy some hefty contributions as a result of this vote." She didn't mention any theories about secret communications with space aliens or mind control exerted through Meet the Mayor visits, though.

A good idea or not

Are parking lot lights a good idea? Maybe, maybe not but the proposal passed and it’s time to move on.

Criticism of the lights: some was rational and reflected different opinions. Some was not so rational.

It’s not always what it seems.

It’s not always what it seems.

The Sanitary District received a seemingly impressive transparency award. According to its press release June 17th,  the award was from the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF).

This turned out to be a lobbying association with appointed (not elected) directors, including some from other similar associations, and some from an insurance company that sells risk management services to special districts, such as our Sanitary District. (We didn’t look for the name of our district’s insurance carrier.)

To earn the award Costa Mesa’s Sanitary District showed it had complied with state law in some areas, including filing timely reports. It also showed that it published meeting agendas and its budget on its website. And, it proved that it had distributed information to its customers.

Their press release looked impressive. (PR Letter) But, considering the source of the award, it’s not what it seems.

One is reminded of students receiving awards for hanging up their coats and for staying in their seats most of the time. Gold stars in school, certificates at the Sanitary District.

There was no word in the press release about the deficiencies found in their latest audit. And there was no explanation for its non- competitive trash contract. The “transparency” award must have been only for publishing its policies and turning reports in on time.

The award wasn't what it seemed.(In the Pilot)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What's in a Charter

Costa Mesa’s Charter Committee is about to meet. Let’s see what they'll write into our charter

A charter sets the governing process: it is the template for the specific rules that guide the organization.

Costa Mesa governance is controlled by federal and state laws and by City laws, called ordinances. Some aspects of operations are presently regulated by State law, although they would be regulated by the City itself under a properly-written charter.

Other laws govern us, regardless

Other aspects, such as bankruptcy rules, will be governed by federal law whether Costa Mesa becomes a Charter City or not. Bidding and contracting procedures that are designed to prevent graft and corruption will also apply regardless of whether a charter is adopted or not.

(Thus, the warning that “no-bid” contracting – actually, non-competitive contracting – will follow charter adoption is disingenuous at best. It’s already forbidden by State and City law.)

Don't reinvent it 

The easiest way to write a charter is to copy from some other organization’s document and then change it to fit the new organization. 

Many of the provisions in last year’s proposed Charter were “cut and pasted” to the charter, then refined, vetted, debated, changed and finally incorporated.

Developing a new version is likely to proceed similarly: pick the best parts from other charters, adjust and refine, debate, and incorporate.

Probably will have: 

The new charter is likely to include the following nine points:

1.     Name of the organization.
2.     Aims or goals of the organization (sometimes known as ‘objectives’)
3.     Powers
4.     Management Committee; this sets up the City Council form of government, and refers to State law for most details. For example, term limits, maximum compensation, requirements and procedure to become a candidate are well covered in state law. This way the article or paragraph would remain current.
5.     Officers; in a City Charter this will probably overlap the Management Committee.
6.     Meetings
7.     Finance; this aspect will probably refer to ordinances in our City Charter since our procedures and rules are covered in great detail. City Law is not superseded in most cases by a charter.
8.     Dissolution; this aspect is governed to a great extent by State law and to some degree by federal law.
9.     Amendments; amending a City Charter will require an election: the majority of the voters have to approve any changes. So, a charter should not be written so specifically that elections must be called (and paid for) frequently. A good example would be specifying an audit frequency; when guidelines change, the procedure should be easy to change without calling an $85K (minimum cost) election.

Consider the consequences

Like a constitution, the charter governs how the organization conducts its business, and it lives on long after its authors are gone. So, it should be written with a lot of attention to the consequences of what it decrees. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Information sources

There’s a lot of information available to anyone who looks. There’s even more misinformation available.  

Sometimes there’s a shortcut to the needed information, such as a link from a newspaper article. Sometimes using exact words from an article in the browser may help.

Whose ox is being gored 

The major caveat about news sources, such as newspapers, is credibility. Today’s news media includes a lot of advocacy journalism, which isn't identified as opinion like the editorials used to be. The same five questions we use when evaluating political claims can help tease out bias in “news” articles:

  • ·         Who does this point of view (POV) benefit?
  • ·         Why is it proposed now?
  • ·         What supporting or conflicting data is reasonably available?
  • ·         Does the data look “cherry picked” (selected to prove a point)? And most important,
  • ·         Is the article supported by facts and/or logical argument? (“Everybody knows,” and self-quotes aren't factual or logical support, of course.)

Cherry picked data is usually evident when the data all points to a specific conclusion or is suspect in its application.


One Register article, for instance, noted that “police” supported gun control measures. Actually, an organization of large-city Chiefs of Police announced their organization’s support of a few of the proposed measures. And, it was announced immediately after their visit to Washington, D.C. seeking grant funds. However, a large-scale survey of the rank and file, especially of the street cops, revealed that the overwhelming majority of cops believed the proposed gun control laws would be useless in combating crime. This was not mentioned.
We see similar data cherry picking in reports of $500K PR programs (Mesa Water) or excessive spending on infrastructure such as road repair (Costa Mesa City).

All use it to convince

Propagandists appeal to emotion, agitators divert attention to irrelevancies, and both cherry pick their data. Unfortunately, Advocacy Journalists use cherry picked data as well. Ask the five questions!

Some user-friendly sources

Very good, if sometimes clunky, access to “everything you ever wanted to know about Costa Mesa government” is available on the City’s website: . Transparency is real on the website, but the data file is enormous. So it is important to understand and define exactly what is wanted.

Some relevant articles and commentary (remember advocacy journalism) are available from the Daily Pilot:

For subscribers, a wider variety of news can be found (with the same caveat) in the Orange County Register at:

And more obscure. . . 

There are weekly newspapers, both print and online that feature Costa Mesa, as well as blogs that focus on some aspect of the City of the Arts. Caveat emptor, though, if credible information is the goal. We have found one, or possibly two, well-researched news sources among all of them. 

This blog is not a news source.

Everybody has an opinion, only a few have the facts.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Are we being manipulated?
Discussion and persuasion are critical in business and politics.  Sales are made and opinions are changed and votes are promised when people are persuaded. Citing facts in a logical argument is persuasion.

But, most of us have fallen into the clutches of a stereotypical used car dealer. Or, we’ve been subjected to persistent, annoying attention from someone insisting that we join their group or buy their cosmetics. We've experienced manipulation.

Propaganda popular in the '30's 

In the political arena, one form of manipulation is propaganda. The masters of propaganda developed guidelines during the 1930’s for influencing people without using facts or logic. Adolf Hitler said: Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.

How many times do we hear the refrain, “we need more police to reduce crime?” We've seen that it’s probably not true, but it is repeated through newspaper commentary, at Council meetings, and on blogs and Facebook pages. Perhaps it will seem true if it’s repeated enough.

Alinsky in the '60's

In the 1960’s, Alinsky built on propaganda techniques with a series of rules to achieve political and social ends. He acknowledged that truth was not necessary, or even desirable, in these efforts, so facts and logical analysis were not valued.

Instead, his advice emphasized attacking the opponent personally. He advocated changing the debate to distract the opponent into defending himself. And he encouraged letting followers do the things they enjoyed most, such as attacking those they disliked.

Recently we saw the Mayor’s letter praising Costa Mesa’s CEO attacked as “ignoring the contributions of others.” That’s irrelevant, but it gave the writers a chance to attribute intent and apply labels to the Mayor, which they evidently enjoy doing.

Commenters tried to divert attention to “violations of the Brown act” although they aren't lawyers. (Lawyers responded that it wasn't ) That distraction has failed to prompt defensiveness, so far.

Lackie, Dammeier & McGill in 2012 

In 2012 A law firm (Lackie, Dammeier & McGill) that specializes in advising Police unions developed a Playbook” for manipulating government bodies. (It quickly disappeared from the net when it was scrutinized by the public.) Their advice to Police unions includes:

  • ·         The public could care less about your pay, medical coverage and pension plan. All they want to know is “what is in it for them.” The message should always be public safety first. You do not want wage increases for yourselves, but simply to attract better qualified candidates and to keep more experienced officers from leaving.

  •  ·         Get your members to apply for jobs at a large local police agency. This triggers personnel background checks from that agency. It sends a strong signal; “your officers are going to leave.”

Are we being manipulated

It’s up to us. If it’s not a logical argument based on facts, why should we pay attention? We can't be manipulated by what we ignore.

Manipulation should not be effective in 2013 in Costa Mesa.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Against everything especially the Mayor

The focus of the anti-everything folks is: personalities.

(They're anti- lots, including Huntington Beach desalination and Newport Beach’s cooperation with Costa Mesa, and they're anti- the charter and most Costa Mesa committee appointments and City projects.)

Things worth opposing

There are unsavory aspects about Costa Mesa agencies that deserve some anger.

The Sanitary District has an “evergreen” contract, automatically renewing without competition. An audit revealed that the contractor, CR&R, is not providing enough information to demonstrate that their pricing is “the best,” as guaranteed in the contract. Trash customers pay an extra fee to sort out recyclables from the trash, but the company will provide no information about how much the recycling is worth. (Audit)

There are also local school boards that have issued bonds which will cost taxpayers up to 35 times the face value, called Capital Appreciation Bonds, or CABs. The banks that issue and sell the bonds provided the political expertise to get the bonds passed. That’s supposed to be illegal. (Bonds)

Give contracts to friends. . .

Some local school districts issue a contract without bids and have the favored contractor sue the city. A judge’s default order follows which forbids further opposition to the contract. This gets around laws against “sole source” contracts. (Contracts) (About Cheating)

Do naysayers object?

What have the naysayers said about the non-competitive trash contract? Nothing. What about the sole source contracting for schools? Nothing. How about the misuse of school bonds by skirting the law, the sole-source  . . . No point in going on, the complainers we hear from so often did not speak out against any of these travesties.

What arouses naysayers?

What are these naysayers opposing right now?

Costa Mesa’s Mayor wrote an accolade for the City’s CEO. But he didn't mention that other City employees are doing without an automatic pay raise, and are contributing more toward their own pensions

Somehow that equates to a sub-rosa attempt to fool the voters and malign the employees. Specifically, he says: (Commentary)

. . . The answer is simple: politics. Righeimer is hoping everyone is asleep at the wheel so he can create Tom Hatch as some shining beacon of sacrifice for the city when the reality is all Costa Mesa employees have made significant concessions. Be careful you don’t choke on Righeimer’s smoke screen.”

His point seems to be that other employees have contributed to the City, too, so the Mayor is “dissing” them by not commending them, too. The whiner insists that other employees’ weren't recognized in the Mayor's letter, as if that diminished Mr. Hatch’s contributions or negated the Mayor’s praise.

The nay-sayers aren't for open and honest government as they claim; they are against the Mayor personally. They don't oppose probable impropriety in government; they oppose the Mayor and the Mayor Pro tem.

CM4OE covers them

We might call them the “Costa Mesans for opposing everything Mayor Righeimer or Pro Tem Mensinger say or doCM4OE for Costa Mesans for Opposing (almost) Everything.” It would be an accurate description of their focus.