Community & Clubs: Turkeys and Eagles fly over Costa Mesa

A turkey, as defined by the fourth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is "A large North American bird that has brownish plumage and a bare, wattled head and neck and is widely domesticated for food."

The slang definition for turkey from the same dictionary is "A person considered inept or undesirable." For the ninth year in a row, I deviate from the traditional Community & Clubs column format to present the Turkey Award, as well as the Eagle Award.

Let's review some Turkey history. Past recipients of the award included the confused Newport Beach political consultant Dave Ellis (2002); Armando Ruiz, the double-dipping Coast Community College District trustee (2004); Nativo Lopez, a member of the Santa Ana Unified school board and Costa Mesa City Council disrupter (2006); lawsuit-happy Allan Beek (2008); Great Park Hoax creator and Irvine City Council member Larry Agran (2009); Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his state budget tricks (2010); and Orange County Employees Assn. General Manager Nick Berardino, who tried almost everything in the union bible to attack and discredit the Costa Mesa City Council (2011).

This year's Turkey of the Year nominations include a previous winner: Agran, who was defeated in his quest to become Irvine mayor in the Nov. 6 election. The new council majority, which he does not control, now wants to do a forensic audit of the Great Park finances.

Costa Mesa politician Jim Fitzpatrick is nominated for his constant blogs and letters to the editor, and for setting up a press conference in front of the Council Chamber scheduled at the same time as police Officer Jess Gilman's retirement celebration.

But the 2012 Turkey is Chris Lanzillo, a Menifee investigator and former Riverside police officer who worked for an unnamed client to gather dirt on Councilmen Gary Monahan and Steve Mensinger, who were both running for another council term.

Lanzillo also made a 911 call accusing Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer of driving drunk after Righeimer left Skosh Monahan's. The Orange County district attorney is investigating the P.I.


Eagle Award

Blogger Geoff West suggested the Eagle Award in 2003 when he nominated current Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever, then a candidate for the Costa Mesa City Council.

Here are some other past winners: The 2004 award went to the men and women of our Armed Forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; the 2005 award went to late philanthropists Donna and John Crean for their support of the Newport Beach library at Mariners Park; in 2008, the award went to Gordon Bowley and the leaders of Costa Mesa United for their leadership for the new football stadium at Estancia High School and new pool at Costa Mesa High School; in 2009, it went to former Newport Beach City Manager Homer Bludau and his replacement, David Kiff, for their leadership to the city; in 2010 the Eagle Award went to Costa Mesa City Manager Allan Roeder for his dedicated service to the city for more than 30 years; and in 2011 it went to Bob and Nancy Johnston of Our Lady Queen of Angels for their dedicated leadership over many years to the annual Interfaith Hunger Walk.

The 2012 Eagle of the Year Award is a tie between the Costa Mesa firefighters and the Harbor Mesa Lions.

The firefighters agreed to a new contract that eliminates minimum staffing requirements, reduces retirement benefits for future employees and freezes pay until 2017. Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold brokered a truce between the Costa Mesa firefighters and the council — two groups who had bickered publicly for years.

The Harbor Mesa Lions deserve recognition for their involvement in the community. For 13 years, they have supplied first-graders in Whittier and Rea elementary schools with all the supplies the students will need to do their assignments.

They have supported the Boys & Girls club with wrapping their Christmas presents for their families and selves. They have held a Flag Day Program for Costa Mesa grade schools and a peace poster contest for area students who are 10 to 13 years old. They also hold a student speaker contest for high schoolers. This year, books are being donated to schools. Another new project involves reading to students at Whittier.

Congratulations to the Eagles, condolences to the Turkeys. And Happy Thanksgiving to all.

COMMUNITY & CLUBS is published Wednesdays. Send your service club's meeting information by fax to (714) 921-8655 or by e-mail to

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