City Life: The truth is often relative

Everyone knows the truth is what you believe and everything else — everyone else's version of the facts — is mistaken at best or at worst a lie.

Try these three issues on for size.

A few days ago, Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, a candidate for the 74th Assembly District, linked Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, Costa Mesa's former mayor, to the city's financial problems. Is Mansoor partly responsible or is this just campaign rhetoric?

Second, is Costa Mesa's charter ready for a June vote or should it wait until November? Here, there are three sides to the story. One side believes that the charter is a good idea right now, another believes it is a good idea for November, and a third thinks it's a bad idea altogether. Who's right?

Finally, ex-school Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard said in an interview with the Daily Pilot that "he never broke any laws and paints himself as a victim of a vindictive previous employer, the Beverly Hills Unified School District, and overzealous prosecutors whom he believes willingly ignored key facts that would exonerate him." So was the verdict just?

There is no shortage of the truth, particularly in an election year. It is at this time when we have to be skeptical of all statements and make sure that we do our homework.

In the case of Mansoor, he bears some responsibility for the city's fiscal woes because he was on the City Council, but the fact is that he was one of five votes, so if he is going to be accused of fiscal mismanagement, his colleagues are also guilty.

The charter decision need not be the gut-wrenching, emotional issue that all three sides are claiming.

In this case, there are 120 examples of the truth in existence in California, represented by the cities that have chosen charters as the basis for their governance. No doubt, some have succeeded and some have failed.

It would seem both easy and logical then to find the charter cities closest to Costa Mesa's demographics and finances and see how the charter is working for them.

Then there is the mysterious case of Hubbard, who protests his innocence, despite a powerful slide in the prosecution's closing argument titled, "Who's telling the truth?" The slide showed Hubbard on one side with his version of the events, and four people with a different version on the other side. In that case, 12 jurors decided that four trumps one.

Those jurors did not come to their conclusion by whim. They listened to more than a week of presentations and testimony from both sides.

The jury set an example for all of us to follow. They had the patience to sit through many sleep-inducing courtroom hours, but more importantly, because they were not allowed to speak, they were forced to listen, which is something we need a lot more of around here.

STEVE SMITH is a Costa Mesa resident and a freelance writer. Send story ideas to

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