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Weaving a Tangled Website in Brea

In a political season focused on international terrorism and the leadership of the Free World, it’s comforting to ponder a dispute in Brea over a website. It’s comforting because in a world that might implode and disintegrate into dust at any moment, people are still being people, with all their beautiful foibles and seemingly endless ways of irritating each other over practically nothing.

At least, that’s how I see a squabble between two Brea political activists and former allies, both of whom have their city’s best interests at heart but can’t seem to get out of each other’s hair. After talking at some length to both of them, and finding each of them affable and earnest, I don’t know who’s got the better argument.

More to the point, I don’t care. And by the time I lay out their arguments, I don’t think you’ll care, either.

And that’s the beauty of it.

Missing ammo supplies in Iraq? Stem-cell research? War and peace?

Too mind-numbing to contemplate on a daily basis. Much better to ask whether Richard Rios, in a fit of pique and/or politics, intentionally yanked the website of the Brea Citizens Committee, headed by Michael Macias.

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Rios once belonged to the committee but was exiled in a philosophical dispute over how far the city should go in enforcing its parking permit ordinances. Rios agreed that the city had been lax but thought the committee was overzealous in how far it wanted the city to go.

Although no longer welcome on the committee, Rios was the person who’d set up the group’s Web page through an internet service provider. He was the registered site owner, which meant he basically controlled it.

Macias wanted Rios to transfer control back to the committee. Instead of doing so, Macias says, Rios saw to it that the site went down on two occasions -- for a couple of weeks in August and for two more weeks this month.

Macias says Rios took the site down partly out of spite and partly because the committee was endorsing a City Council candidate in Tuesday’s election in which Rios also is running.

“He’s just disgruntled because he’s not able to be a member of the BCC,” Macias says. “It’s a group formed to serve the neighborhood he lives in and he’s running for council and he doesn’t have the backing.”

I probably should mention here that the BCC apparently consists of only four members, including Macias and his wife. He acknowledges it’s a fledgling group that hopes to expand.

Meanwhile, Rios says Macias is unfairly maligning him. He says that he has been more than willing to transfer site control to the BCC (and sent me e-mail memos to Macias indicating that) but that technical and accounting problems -- some caused by Macias -- have hampered his efforts. In recent weeks, he says, his time has been taken up with a lot of campaigning.

He categorically denies that, as an election gambit, he tried to silence the committee’s Web page. “It’s frustrating that someone would misrepresent the facts,” he says.

When he learned in October that the BCC site was down, Rios says, he directed its traffic to the personal website of the candidate that the BCC was endorsing. It just so happens, Rios says, that he agrees with that candidate on “99% of the issues” and supports him.

Macias says Rios is working an angle. Nonsense, Rios says. It’s Macias, he says, who’s being unreasonable.

You don’t care, do you?

Me, neither.

Much ado about nothing? In the grand scheme of things, that would be a fair conclusion. But the two gentlemen are adamant in arguing their positions and for their personal honor.

And for an hour or so, at least, I found the Rios/Macias debate much more heartening and appealing than another hour of Bush/Kerry.

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Dana Parsons can be reached at (714) 966-7821 or at dana.

parsons@latimes.com. An archive of his recent columns is at www.latimes.com/parsons.


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