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A kinder, gentler blog

Costa Mesa Politics and Personalities aims for civil discourse, but critics say it's a mouthpiece for the City Council.

September 09, 2013|By Bradley Zint | This post has been corrected, as noted below.
  • Dennis Popp, 71, writes the Costa Mesa Politics and Personalities blog. The site that began about a year ago is civil and more about attacking ideas, not people - much in contrast to Geoff West's popular blog, A Bubbling Cauldron, which names names and is very critical of the City Council majority.
Dennis Popp, 71, writes the Costa Mesa Politics and Personalities… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

Dennis Popp's first interaction with Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer was framed by a loaded question.

"I've been reading that you're trying to be emperor of Costa Mesa," Popp recalled asking him. "Where's your crown?"

Popp had just stepped in front of the politician, who was walking. By Popp's account, a startled Righeimer looked at him and replied: "Well, it wore a bald spot up here, and I left it at home."

In the two years since that small showdown, Popp has dug into the political scene and found himself often in agreement with the mayor and his supporters. He puts his sentiments on his blog, Costa Mesa Politics and Personalities, which marked its first anniversary in August.

The website's stated goal: "To fit into the blogosphere like the bracingly tart taste of yogurt fits between the boringly bland and the unspeakably vile."

Though critics call him a mouthpiece for the Righeimer-led City Council majority, Popp said he doesn't always step in line with that group. He's even had "heated arguments" with nearly all five council members.

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"I look at politics this way: No one is trying to overthrow the city and raze it," Popp said. "What we're trying to do is improve the city, and we don't agree about how that should be done. I have never had any hint that I was error-free, so I could be wrong. People who yell, scream and argue with me are helping me learn."

On the blog, he aims to keep things civil. He doesn't name-check people or groups, instead taking a more philosophical approach on a web page that's reminiscent of late-'90s Internet design trends, complete with gentle blue colors and a background containing all the dignified swirls of Victorian wallpaper.

Despite the attention he gets, Popp maintains a humble attitude about his hobby.

"There are people here who make the Segerstrom Center work," he said. "There are people who perform there, there are people who run the city, there are people who run the Police Department, there are people who are actually influential with all of these people, and I'm just writing a blog."

Popp's online journal stands in stark contrast to A Bubbling Cauldron, a more widely read blog published by Eastside resident Geoff West.

West's page, which started in 2005, offers "a few facts and a lot of opinion" and takes a more combative tone with government types than most anything found on Politics and Personalities.

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