Recently Costa Mesans For Responsible Government (CM4RG) invited me to be a guest speaker at a dinner, to provide them with a brief summary of what I think are important events I covered as I wrote hundreds of commentaries on these pages and on more than 3,400 posts on my blog, A Bubbling Cauldron, before I retired it last summer.
Without humility, we spoke briefly about the awards the blog has won — twice named the Best Blog in Orange County by OC Weekly and eight times being named to the DP 103 list. We also acknowledged the award presented by the three Costa Mesa city employees for our support of their efforts.
We provided historical context about the Westside Improvers, a group of residents who, 15 years ago, were interested in "improving" that part of town by, basically, finding ways to reduce the number of Latinos on the Westside. Toward that end, the effective and efficient Job Center was closed and the Human Relations Committee was unceremoniously dumped.
We spoke about the Benito Acosta event, where, during Mansoor's watch as mayor, the Latino activist was dragged from City Council chambers by a half-dozen officers and arrested. That event was bogus and cost the city thousands of dollars in legal fees.
We spoke of the seventh anniversary of the day, St. Patrick's Day, when young Huy Pham leaped to his death from the roof of City Hall after he was informed he was to be given a layoff notice, along with more than 200 of his fellow employees. That date, and the weeks that followed, were dark times in our city. The mayor, Gary Monahan, refused to leave his bar to console grieving employees. Instead, he chose to remain there, celebrating the day and pouring beer for customers. That event, and the response by our leaders, drew unwelcome negative attention by the national news media.
We gave our opinions about the change in the course of our city directed by a couple developer-friendly elected leaders and the negative impacts of decisions they made and policies and ordinances they fostered. We talked about two failed attempts to change our form of government to a charter city, and the quashed attempts to plow under large chunks of Fairview Park for playing fields. We addressed how that action and the now-infamous decomposed granite trail have caused the U.S. Fish and Wildlife folks to question our stewardship of that land.
We discussed other blogs, some that were obviously created to compete with mine, which have come and gone, and how some social media sites — I referred to them as "anti-social sites" — have come to prominence lately with the same purpose. We had to speak about resident and far right-wing blogger Martin Millard and his negative influence in our city for decades, and how the Daily Pilot used to publish his opinions next to mine on the same page. And we spoke about his diminished influence in recent years.
We spoke about many of the issues facing our city today. We talked about homelessness, the proliferation of rehab homes and the emergence of marijuana businesses in in the north part of the city — a kind of "circle of life" thing. We addressed our understaffed police department and how it will take more, not fewer, cops to properly protect our city as the old challenges are compounded by new ones.
We talked about the instability at the top of the CMPD. Since we moved to Costa Mesa in 1973, 10 men have held the position of chief of police — some twice — beginning with Roger Neth and Dave Snowden and right up to this date, where Rob Sharpnack leads the brave men and women of the department.
We also spoke of the departure of experienced officers due to the work environment created by a couple elected leaders over the past decade and their ill-advised decision to abandon the ABLE helicopter program.
We talked about the importance of the November election, where council members will begin to be elected by district and a directly elected mayor will be chosen by the voters for the first time in city history. We reminded folks how every single vote counts, refreshing memories about the close recent election results, where fewer than 50 votes decided a couple of races and significantly impacted the course of our city.
We also spoke about the many positive things that exist in Costa Mesa, among them the Fish Fry, the Snoopy House, the concerts in the park and the tireless volunteers who serve on committees and commissions so important to our governance. We addressed the good works CM4RG does, serving the community by educating the populace about important issues like measures Y and AA during the last election.
I'm grateful to CM4RG for the opportunity to share my reminiscences of the past 15 years and hope it provided some perspective as they continue to try to move our city forward and away from the days of rancor and divisiveness. My blog remains open, but inactive, and can be visited by going to www.abubblingcauldron.com.