I feel like I am back in school doing homework.
The subject: politics and politicians.
I've spent the last two Thursday nights cramming for the upcoming Feet to the Fire Forum, a Newport-Mesa candidates' debate organized by Orange County media.
My study buddies are Orange County Register columnists Barbara Venezia and Frank Mickadeit, Newport Beach Independent Publisher Tom Johnson, Independent Editor Roger Bloom, and Voice of O.C. Editor Norberto Santana Jr.
You couldn't ask for a better group of journalists — or people. My partners know and deeply care about these two cities.
We all compete, sometimes rather fiercely, but we're joining forces for what we hope will be a unique look into the folks who want to serve — or continue serving — on the Newport Beach and Costa Mesa city councils.
We expect each of the candidates in contested races to attend. We did not invite unopposed incumbents.
The goal here is to give voters as much relevant information as possible, so they can make good decisions.
Our forum is going to be different than the usual suits-behind-a-podium presentation in a sleepy auditorium. Venezia, who is doing much of the heavy lifting in organizing the event, described the setting well in a recent letter she sent to candidates. She has TV experience and it's going to come into play.
"The forum will be a talk show format," she wrote. "The stage will be dressed more like a living room situation with everyone seated in comfy chairs. There won't be a dais, as you probably are use to in other formats.
"We're asking you to dress casual and comfortable. No ties. Ties will be snipped off. We want the audience to view you in a casual setting, see you interact and think on your feet.
"Since your interviewers are journalists, there will be questions and conversation. Just relax. No notes or paperwork will accompany you to the stage."
Once the candidates are relaxed, we hope to wake them up with some hard questions — and a decent amount of humor.
I can't share the questions, but we're going to cover expected topics, such as the Orange County Fairgrounds sales, Banning Ranch, John Wayne Airport and illegal immigration policies, as well as the unexpected.
But we can't think of every good question. That's where the community comes in.
We're not going to let readers submit questions or topics the night of the forum, but you can submit them to the Daily Pilot and the OC Now websites. Just post your questions, and whom they are for, in the comments section below this column and we'll consider them.
The deadline to post a question for consideration is 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The debate will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave. doors open at 6:30 p.m. The event is free.
See you there.
JOHN CANALIS is the editor for the Daily Pilot, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. He can be reached at (714) 966-4607 and firstname.lastname@example.org.