An old sports saying goes like this: "We went to a fight, and a hockey

match broke out." Lately, it seems, the same could be said for Costa Mesa

City Council meetings.

Last Monday was the most telling example of this. Some 200 people

packed the council chambers, normally the kind of civic participation we

want to see. But the pack quickly turned into a pack mentality as the

crowd hooted down comments it didn't like, including from council

members, and cheered when their position -- motor homes should not be

restricted from parking on city streets -- was reinforced.

That isn't how council meetings are supposed to work. It's not a

daytime talk show, it's our local government. It's where the business of

this community gets handled.

Yes, emotions will run high when people are passionate about issues.

But there has to be restraint. Healthy debate is one thing. Heated

confrontation is something entirely different.

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