Community Commentary: Mensinger's right; cities cannot do it all

I got a chuckle — in a good way — out of City Councilman Steve Mensinger's column in the Daily Pilot this week in which he tells how he spent his own money and time, and along with a couple of other volunteers, fixed up City CEO Tom Hatch's office ("Community Commentary: Setting the record straight this time," April 14).

Now, I barely know Mensinger. We've nodded in passing, and that's about it, but I'm becoming a fan.

Back when Mensinger's name was being thrown around to be appointed to the City Council, I had no idea who he was, so I asked someone in the know. That person said Mensinger was always doing things and never taking the credit.

If something needed to be done, he just did it. Not a lot of talk or discussion. If a nail had to be pounded in, some people might talk about doing it for hours. Mensinger would just pick up a hammer and, bam! Job done.

I like that.

I like people who are self-reliant and who are goal-oriented. I like people who get things done without bragging about what they're going to do or what they've done. I like doers. I like people who don't mind rolling up their sleeves and getting dirt under their fingernails.

And I especially like people like that in government, who still have that attitude of self-reliance, who just get the job done.

In my view, Costa Mesa needs more people like that, and I think the City Council is now moving us in the direction where more people will take more care of their own needs instead of waiting for the city to do it for them.

Take street sweeping, as one minor example. I've gone to City Council meetings in the past where people would whine that their tiny cul-de-sac street was dirty and wasn't being swept often enough. Could the city please fix that, they asked.

I wondered, rhetorically, why these people didn't just clean the street themselves. I see people in other neighborhoods doing that all the time.

But, I really knew the answer to my own question. Some people expect the city to do everything for them. And, over the years, the city has been happy to build a costly empire based on doing everything for people.

Dirty street? We'll clean it for you. Baby sitting? We'll do it for you. This, that and the other? We'll do those for you, too.

And, naturally, the city had to hire more people to provide all those services that people came to expect.

I don't think Mensinger is alone in his attitude of self-reliance. I think we actually have a majority on the council who feel this way, but Mensinger especially stands out right now because of how he fixed Hatch's office just by doing it, and by the fact — so far at least — that he seems to have been able to become part of government while not losing his common sense and by not being forced into a Kafkaesque bureaucratic mold.

No requisitions in triplicate. No long meaningless discussions. No endless meetings. He just went out, plunked down his own money, and fixed the problem. End of story.

Well, it would have been the end of the story except for the fact that some people started spreading false rumors about an expensive remodel of Hatch's office.

It's hard for those used to government doing everything for them to understand that we still have some self-reliant people in Costa Mesa who just get the job done. Bam!

M. H. MILLARD is a resident of Costa Mesa and publishes the CMPress, a blog.

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