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Mailbag: Do not widen freeways in Costa Mesa

May 10, 2012

During the public comments segment at the Costa Mesa City Council meeting May 1, long-time resident David Kincaid stepped to the speaker's podium and used his allotted three minutes to plea for civility in the discourse of important issues in our city. He directed his comments to the council and, occasionally, looked over his shoulder at the audience too.

Kincaid, of course, was correct. Since this current council took office nearly 18 months ago, we've seen civility take a back seat to snide comments and vitriolic rejoinders from some members of the council directed at speakers and their peers on the dais, as well. And, a few speakers have strongly criticized members of the council, both as a group and by name specifically.

Following Kincaid's plea, some members of the council chimed in and concurred with his observations. However, it didn't take very long that evening for some of them to fall right back into their old habits of criticizing members of the public who dared to speak out against their actions, sometimes with a coarseness unbecoming officials theoretically providing leadership to our city.

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For example, Mayor Eric Bever — our part-time, part-time councilman and termed-out lamest of lame ducks — chided Councilwoman Wendy Leece for demanding accountability for the junket Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and Councilman Steve Mensinger are taking to Las Vegas this month by implying that she wanted a report on their "bowel movements." That kind of gutter language may be OK when you're tossing back a few cold ones at Councilman Gary Monahan's pub, or changing clothes in the locker room at the Costa Mesa Country Club, but it's completely inappropriate when spoken from the dais in a public meeting.

What we see from the dais is, in many instances, bullying in its purest form. Council members take advantage of their position of authority — their bully pulpit, as it were — to chide, vilify and castigate members of the community and other members of the council who express opposing viewpoints. Not only is this unseemly and rude, but it's just plain wrong, and it's providing the wrong example for those young people who attend the meetings.

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