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Tough economic times sometimes bring out the worst in people. As we drive our streets and highways, the endless lists of bad driving habits seems to grow during times of serious stress. From the person that cuts you off driving across a street or freeway lane to those that drive at over 100 MPH and weaving in and out of traffic. There seems to be a prevailing attitude and thought process that bad behavior is just a part of our environmental make-up. People in all vehicles and especially SUV’s and Big Pick-up Trucks that get on your rear bumper at high speed on highways and freeways and won’t get off. These are aggressive acts provided by both sexes and certainly make us wonder – what is going on in these people’s lives? The more subtle approaches include the endless array of phone texters crossing lanes and paying no attention to surrounding traffic. Bad driving is certainly – bad behavior and we sometime wonder why police that are eager to ticket someone for an expired license plate or an unfastened seat belt….aren’t busy busting those mean and angry drivers amongst us – which are obviously showing it!
The City of Costa Mesa is experiencing a self-inflicted mean streak. Those that happen to get regular television and stumble upon Costa Mesa City Council Meetings – are getting the idea that calling in the neighbors and friends, buying a case of beer and popping a mountain of popcorn while watching the latest Non Celebrity Apprentice version of City Government is the best entertainment in town. Jerry Springer lookout – you have competition. Somewhere along the way, the Costa Mesa City Council has lost their civility. Restrictive Speaker Rules, Tough Economic Times, Mean A Spirtied Political Agenda, a serious election year and you have trouble brewing, if nothing else.
Having been involved many years and attending various City Council meetings in Newport Beach – we too have had our moments. Contentious issues arise from time to time and emotions become exposed. Through a series of events our City Council through the years has also provided some “mean spirited responses” to various not so average citizens groups. The famous Sid Soffer called members of the Council – “Nazi’s”. Sid had unique way of expressing himself and even back in the 60′s was able to get the goat of almost anyone – with impunity. It got so bad, the City of Newport Beach filed charges with the District Attorney of Orange County to arrest Sid for the illegal parking of two classic Cadillac automobiles parked in front of his restaurant – without a name mind you, up on old Newport Road. It got so bad – that Sid escaped jail time by moving to Las Vegas! The City never relented and either did Sid. Sid past away without resolution and the old Navy guy that served in WWII – died as a “Wanted Man”! You can still visit “The Blue Beat” down by the 19th Street Pier in Newport Beach in Sid’s honor!
In light of these extreme types of behavior by both Citizens and City Council Members a variety of rules and changes were made by various editions of the City Council. Once they moved “Non-Agenda Items” – where folks could address the council on matters not scheduled for the evenings going on – to the end of the meeting. Then they quickly restricted the speaking time from 5 minutes down to 3 minutes for each person for each issue. There were lots of nasty remarks and unseemly attitudes by City Council Members at times. There were attitudes that included: dismissive behavior, anger, nasty remarks, acting as if the citizens were wasting their valuable time, personal attacks, having police officers preside to arrest anyone that went over their proscribed three minute proclamations and attestations.
The City of Costa Mesa wants to “Outsource” City Workers. They want to create a “Charter rather than a General Law” City. They want to take $4.4 million dollars and let Banning Ranch develop without concern. They want to deal with two new Toll Road Lanes on the 405. They also are dealing with the possibility of a Bankruptcy………sometime in the future. The City Council of Costa Mesa has been a divisive force recently. They seem to be using their power with impunity, so the coming election will be one which offers the citizens of Costa Mesa to make some new choices – if they want that.
The hardening of society always comes during tough economic times. We can see what happens in places like Africa, Greece, Spain and almost any place where economic times cause great pain to the populace. Perhaps the lack of civility is a normal course of events. Perhaps, in order for corrective action to be implemented the larger institutions have to wake up. The days of the 60′s and 70′s provided this hardening as well. From the top of National Politics to the literal bottom ….driving on a city street – the lack of civility is evident and growing.
We implore the City of Costa Mesa City Council to retrace their steps. Show some great forbearance – the tough exchanges are the one’s you are being paid for, by either having the ability to serve the public or to achieve your various agenda’s. This is what you get paid for – not be mean to the various citizens that take time out of their busy day to make their points known – to you - ”their representatives”. Citizens are not simply “ peasants with pitchforks”, but if you are not careful that can easily inspire them toward that regard. As you face the tough issues and battles ahead which impact your community, please be advised: You are being watched City of Costa Mesa and all of us want you to provide: a New Costa Mesan Civility! If you run into procedural issues you need resolved, several cities in the neighborhood can easily provide solutions with just a simple phone call.
A final brief note: Our deepest condolences to the victims of Aurora, Colorado and the terrible shooting at the midnight showing of the new Batman – Rises movie!