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Commentary: Councilman fails to justify need for charter

September 05, 2013|By Charles Mooney

Re: "Bell-Costa Mesa comparison is irresponsible," (Aug. 19): Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger's unprovoked comment about community organizer Saul Alinsky seems to be an attempt to distract the reader from the fact that he did not directly address the similar patterns and events associated with the problematic charter city of Bell and Costa Mesa's charter efforts.

These similarities were described in my Aug. 12 letter to the Forum, "I see shades of Bell in Costa Mesa," and included the events and patterns of unpopular cost-cutting tactics, inadequate checks and balances, evasion of democracy and the illusion of local control.

Rather than addressing the issues raised in my letter, Mensinger attempts to attack my credibility and to intimidate the Daily Pilot by criticizing the editors for publishing my letter. This seems like an obvious attempt to inhibit my freedom of speech and that of the press.

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Mensinger claims that there are many worthwhile issues to debate in Costa Mesa, but amazingly, he doesn't list the city charter as one of them. The charter is the most critical, risky and nearly irreversible decision that the city will make in the near future, and perhaps ever.

As a result, the residents need to know all of the pros, cons and risks associated with a charter. However, because the council majority hasn't provided all the cons and risks, residents must learn these for themselves, just as I did.

Mensinger implies that there is no similarity between Bell and Costa Mesa because Costa Mesa has active and informed residents, and there is robust public participation. However, remember that much of the community's input is routinely ignored by the City Council majority.

Take the charter as one example. Well over half of the people speaking at several council meetings said they didn't want a charter. This was ignored, and after it was clear that the council majority was proceeding anyway, numerous suggestions were offered to improve then-Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer's charter. Again, almost all of these were ignored.

The charter was defeated in November by 60% of the voters. However, without clear justification, this year the council majority again pushed for a charter over much of the community's objections.

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