Costa Mesa is a newspaper editor's dream. The town is engaged (and sometimes enraged) in the political process in a manner that defies Orange County's supposed political apathy.
The Nov. 6 election in general, and the Measure V charter proposal in particular, has invited more letters to the editor, commentaries, online comments and phone calls than any issue I can recall in my time running the Daily Pilot.
I've never seen a political fight of this magnitude sustain so much intensity for so long. If Costa Mesa politics were a sporting event, it would be a strange hybrid that combines the endurance of the Tour de France with the can't-look-away spectacle of mixed martial arts.
But despite all of the discourse, the news stories, the commentaries and the near-daily letters, I received an email recently from an earnest reader saying she didn't understand Measure V. She just didn't know what it would do or how to vote. Could someone just explain it?
Here's her chance to learn a little more. Two ideological opposites plan to sit down for next week's Feet to the Fire Forum to argue in favor and against passing Measure V. My sense is that either Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, who drafted the charter, or school Trustee Katrina Foley, who vehemently opposes it, can persuade the undecideds whether to vote this measure up or down.
Foley and Righeimer both know their way around an argument and are equally committed to their polar political ideologies. I cannot think of two people better to argue for and against Measure V, which would make Costa Mesa a charter city with some of its own laws rather than a general law city that relies on state guidelines.
And I cannot think of a better group of journalists to help keep the two debate opponents on point for 60 minutes than my fellow panelists on the Feet to the Fire Forum team: Orange County Register columnists Barbara Venezia and Frank Mickadeit, Pilot columnist Jack Wu, Newport Beach Independent Editor Roger Bloom and Voice of OC Editor Norberto Santana Jr.
We all met recently for dinner and went over the game plan for the fifth forum in our ongoing political series. We all know the Feet to the Fire Forum crowds — we had close to 300 in attendance the last time — make tough and demanding audiences, and we hope our upcoming session is informative.
The forum isn't scripted. There are no boring opening or closing statements. No prepared questions on little blue cards. We mostly wing it. The goal, as always, is getting the candidates to speak openly and candidly, to move away from talking points and toward that truth.
We hope to get to the bottom of Measure V, and though we know many voters have made up their minds, we're doing this forum for those like the woman who wrote me, the undecideds on the fence, the people who want to separate the truth from the noise.
So please join us from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday in the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Center, 1845 Park Ave. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
For those who cannot make it, we'll stream the event live on our new website. Costa Mesa TV Channel 24 plans to tape the event for later broadcast.
JOHN CANALIS is the editor for the Daily Pilot. He can be reached at (714) 966-4607 and firstname.lastname@example.org.