Beer Hall Politics

Is Costa Mesa being putsched to the right?

At council meetings, Steel and Mansoor spend much of their allotted time railing against the job center or grilling city staff about such pressing matters as whether vendors at the Orange Coast College swap meet are legal residents. Meanwhile, Monahan has nothing to say. He fidgets and yawns, staring blankly or rubbing his eyes. If a fellow council member, staff adviser or member of the public speaks continuously for more than five minutes about any given issue, he starts to drift into a sleep-like semiconsciousness.

In short, Monahan's a guy who seems more comfortable behind a bar than behind the council dais. And while he describes himself as a conservative, he says he has a "very different philosophical bent" than either Mansoor or Steel. Monahan credited both his right-wing colleagues' electoral victories to a sense of frustration among many Costa Mesa residents who are fed up with crime and gang activity on the city's west side.

"There's a lot of feeling that the council hasn't been doing anything about it," he said. "Chris [Steel], Allan [Mansoor] and Martin [Millard] have all tapped into that. I don't have an ideological agenda like Allan and Chris. Chris is kinda whacked out there, and Alan is much more reserved and knows the limitations of what government can and cannot do. But we definitely have some big philosophical differences."

While he refused to elaborate, Monahan spoke disparagingly of Steel. "There's no love lost between him and me," he said. But Monahan said he gets along with Millard "at arm's length."

"There are things that he has a reputation for that I would not buy into at all," Monahan said. "If you talk about rounding up brown-colored folks and shipping them off to a desert island, you won't have a lot of support for that."

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