I agree with Costa Mesa United's decision to cancel its candidates' forum, but not for the reason given: that two of its directors are also council candidates. If there was to be any "unfair advantage," it would have been against those of us who are not directly involved in youth sports, given that "all the planned questions pertained to youth sports issues."

That the two board members, Councilman Steve Mensinger and Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy, as well as candidate John Stephens, all appear to have exemplary credentials in serving our youth over many years, that should not be discounted. They have worked hard and deserve a lot of credit for their ongoing efforts.

No matter our individual backgrounds, we all want to see healthy alternatives to gangs and drugs, and youth sports may lead the pack. There are also many other intangibles, such as developing leadership abilities and learning teamwork.

And the list of wonderful attributes goes on.

Given that Costa Mesa United is a youth sports advocacy organization, it certainly has every right to direct some of its questions toward youth sports, but there are many other important issues facing our city that also deserve attention.

Perhaps next year the organization will chose to join the other forums in being more open-ended in the questions and issues discussed.

I feel that the main prerequisite for a council member is to exercise good judgment in representing the interests of the majority of citizens covering a broad range of issues.

There are parents of children who are not athletically inclined, there are senior citizens who are now empty nesters, there are residents who are not blessed with children, and there are pet owners whose pets are traumatized by our city's fireworks policies, which appear to be the progeny of the leaders of the youth sports movement over many years.

The sale of fireworks provides needed funding for youth sports activities. For the past two years, the discharge of fireworks in Costa Mesa has been permitted on each of the three days leading up to Independence Day. This was done to ostensibly increase the volume of fireworks sales.

Yet up and down the coast of California, from San Diego to Newport Beach, to Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara and San Francisco, and countless cities in between, the discharge of fireworks (never mind the sale of fireworks) is banned. And those communities have youth sports organizations that utilize alternative methods (albeit not as lucrative) of raising the needed funds.

One of the problems is that the use of so-called "safe and sane" fireworks appears to serve as a magnet for the illegal stuff that many folks enjoy. But this is disregarded, and we have our children and their parents engaged in an activity that indirectly causes collateral damage.

How about teaching our young people some old-fashioned values? How about teaching them to respect their elders and become good citizens who are sensitive to the needs of their neighbors and the neighbors' pets? How about teaching them that are more important things in life than the almighty dollar?

AL MELONE, a retired accountant, is running for Costa Mesa City Council.