By Geoff West
1:14 PM PDT, September 26, 2013
Re. "A kinder, gentler blog (Sept. 9): I hadn't really planned to respond to Bradley Zint's recent article about fairly new Costa Mesa blogger Dennis Popp, particularly since it gave me such positive press. I didn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth.
But the headline portraying Popp's blog as kinder and gentler implies that my blog, A Bubbling Cauldron, is cruel and harsh by comparison. And while it may be true, I'm not particularly happy about the portrayal.
I do admit, though, to being more willing than Popp to express my opinions of folks in charge in Costa Mesa. That may be because, despite the disclaimer that he has "no allegiance to any candidate or group," the stuff he publishes precisely tracks the party line of the men in charge.
Deep in the bowels of the article, Popp is quoted as giving me credit (blame?) for his political activism and writing. For that, I most sincerely apologize to all who attempt to read his work with any regularity.
Zint's article describes our similarities — we're both silver-haired septuagenarians with too much time on our hands. We're both Vietnam-era veterans and Republicans. And, if you stood us back to back, we'd probably make a pretty good pair of bookends.
That's where the similarity stops. He likes cats. I like dogs. He thinks he's right while I know I am.
Since I began writing on local issues in local newspapers a dozen years ago, and on my blog for the past eight years, I've been critical of local politicians, beginning with former Councilman Chris Steel and right through to Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) and the rest of this current bunch. I encourage opposing views in the comment threads of my posts and reject very few, generally those that cross the lines of decency.
I've recently required that every person who wishes to post comments on my blog register with me. I permit pen names so long as I'm given true identities and contact telephone numbers, which I have guaranteed to protect. I did that to sort out the gutless, anonymous cowards — the lunatics who post under the cloak of anonymity to screech obscene screeds.
Since the imposition of registration, the nastiness has stopped and, perhaps coincidentally, very few folks with opposing views have chosen to register. That offer is still open, and the confidentiality of their identities is still guaranteed. I do want my blog to be a place where all sides of important issues can be discussed.
I guardedly welcomed Popp to the blogosphere earlier this year when I finally discovered his blog. As accurately indicated in Zint's article, for the most part I find his posts boring and, quite honestly, more than a little obtuse. That being said, he apparently has become the darling of the current power elite in Costa Mesa government and is frequently linked to the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Assn. site — a mouthpiece for the Orange County GOP incursion into Costa Mesa — and the new "Friends of Fairview Park" Facebook page, an anonymously hosted stealth front for those who would pave over most of the park with boccie ball courts, soccer fields and baseball diamonds and provide illegal decomposed granite pathways to reach them.
One of the problems I have with the viewpoints expressed by Popp and his loyal readers is their vile disdain for any opposing opinions. They frequently refer to folks who disagree with them as "haters" but never cite any examples of "hate" in their criticisms. I was prompted to write this when I read the most recent entry on Popp's blog, published Friday and titled, "If it quacks like a duck, chances are ..." with the subtitle, "Local political groups may be cults."
As one wades through the supercilious pontification, it's clear that Popp is referring to Costa Mesans For Responsible Government (CM4RG), a group formed during the last contentious political campaign by folks on both sides of the political spectrum and in between. They have consistently opposed bad political decisions and offered well-reasoned alternatives.
Some of the members were also part of the organization responsible for successfully fending off the ill-advised scheme to sell off the Orange County Fairgrounds a couple years ago. Members take the time to do their homework, write opinions to the local newspapers, speak before the City Council and commissions, and participate in important political discussions in this city.
Some have been active in the community for years, and others are new to the game. The description of that organization as a "cult" is not just beyond propriety, it reflects the arrogance of the people currently in power in Costa Mesa, people who use the power of their bully pulpit to chide and vilify those who oppose them.
I really don't wish Popp well with his blog. It appears to be a conduit for like-minded folks to read what they already think and nod in agreement. It might be akin to a group sitting in a circle, eyes closed, legs crossed, forefingers touching their thumbs and voices softly humming "Ummmmmmmm." For his efforts on behalf of those in charge, Popp has been rewarded with a couple highly prized city committee assignments.
I don't think Popp is a bad human being, but I do think he's misguided in his blind allegiance to those currently in charge. Those of us who have been in this city for more than just a few years — I've lived here four decades — understand the damage his benefactors are doing to this community.
Perhaps he will also come to understand it when he's been around a little longer.
Eastside Costa Mesa resident GEOFF WEST publishes A Bubbling Cauldron, a blog largely about city politics.