Costa Mesans are so easy. As a politician in the city, all you have to do to draw attention away from a massive budget deficit is wave your illegal immigration saber.
The deficit news is bad. On May 12, the Daily Pilot reported that, "The city has heavily dipped into its reserves, using $35 million the past three years, and will for the first time experience a $2-million decrease in property tax revenues."
The next round of budget cuts could include 30 full- and part-time police positions.
So what is the big, bad City Council doing about the problem? On May 18, it decided to flex its muscles by approving, with Councilwoman Katrina Foley absent, a resolution declaring Costa Mesa a "Rule of Law" city.
Just what does that mean to residents? Nothing, unless you count the money wasted to process and present this nonsense to taxpayers.
The resolution does not create any new rules to reduce the illegal immigrant population, does not enhance enforcement on existing rules and doesn't state any new consequences as a result of residing in the city as an illegal immigrant.
But they sent a message!
Oh, yeah, the council sent a message all right. Here it is: We haven't a clue as to how to fix the budget, so we're going to get everyone riled up about something else.
The laughable part of this is that after all of the national publicity Costa Mesa has received due to its past talk on illegal immigration, four council members still felt the need to make this declaration. As if anyone would have thought otherwise.
Yet, there are Costa Mesa residents who support this type of bluster and get all puffy when they talk about how this city is so tough on "illegals."
The truth is that Costa Mesa is soft on illegal immigrants. Yes, that's right, soft.
When you separate the wheat from the chaff, when you separate the talk from the action, this is a great city in which to be an illegal immigrant.
1) If you are here illegally, your kids can attend a local public school for free.
2) If you are here illegally, you can work in Costa Mesa without fear of punishment because verification of citizenship is lax or non-existent.
3) If you are here illegally, you can hang out at any number of places up and down Placentia Avenue, trolling passing vehicles for tax-free day labor work.
Yes, it's great to be illegal in Costa Mesa. Supported by a council paralyzed by its own fear of doing anything meaningful, the illegal immigrants in town can laugh at this resolution, recognizing it for what it's worth: nothing.
So why don't residents demand more action? Because in Costa Mesa some residents have confused talk with action. They have confused sound bites with substance and patter with progress. Yes, sir, give a Costa Mesan a press conference announcing that you are going to announce something and you can write your own ticket to Sacramento.
Then, when you do manage to pass a meaningless resolution, you can list it on your resume as an accomplishment when actually you have accomplished nothing except wasting taxpayer dollars in the process.
One week after the resolution, nothing has changed. The children of illegal immigrants still go to our schools, their parents still work at their jobs, and the loiterers created by the lack of a strategic plan following the close of the Job Center four years ago (many of whom are suspected of being here illegally) are still hanging out at the convenience store at Victoria and Placentia avenues. It's a very convenient place to pick up work.
Even those who support raids on businesses or rousting suspected illegal immigrants from their homes should be getting fed up over the lack of any meaningful progress on the issue, but they're not. They are still in the gallery cheering the latest worthless talk.
The talk diverts attention from the deficit and that's all that matters to the four council members.
My own theory of the lack of a crackdown on illegal immigrants is that those four council members who approved this "Rule of Law" resolution are afraid that if they do something substantive, litigation will ensue and residents will be under the "Rule of Lawyers."
I'd really like to see them prove me wrong, but that means taking action and that's not their forte.