HOW TO BEGIN?
I'm almost at a loss as to how to begin this one. This was the nearly perfect sequel to the previous council meeting - which I described in the title of my entry about it as The Worst Meeting Ever. This one came close... too close.
A "SPECIAL" MEETING
The meeting of the Costa Mesa City Council yesterday, Tuesday, was a "Special Meeting", so they didn't have all the frills - Public Comments, Consent Calendar, Presentations, etc. In fact, they didn't even bother with the Pledge of Allegiance! This one was strictly business and only two items would be considered. And, since both those items had been discussed in the past, we knew this was going to be fun.
STAYED HOME FOR THIS ONE
And, no, I didn't attend this one. Doctor's orders. I did, however, watch every single second of it at home, where I was able to yell epithets at the screen as appropriate. There was a lot of that going on last night.
VOTING BY DISTRICTS
The first item - the third and final reading of the Voting by Districts issue - was first up. Assistant City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow
took the lead. Katrina Foley
asked Barlow about any contact she may have had with the attorney who sent the letter about whether adding the Directly-elected Mayor violated the settlement agreement. She said yes, and the answer was no. She also confirmed with Barlow that individual council members could write a position opposing this issue, but not as a council member.
NEARLY THREE DOZEN SPEAKERS
Thirty-four (34) members of the public spoke to this issue. Ten (10) supported the proposal being presented - six (6) council districts PLUS a Directly-Elected Mayor - and the remaining two dozen (24) opposed the plan. Some of those who supported the 6-Districts stated they did so because the other choices split College Park - which was NOT
true. Apparently someone circulated a form letter implying that falsehood, which was then used as a template for submission to the council. This is how things roll in our city these days.
THE "MERCURIO" SONGBOOK
It was interesting to note who some of the speakers were on this issue. Many of those supporting the proposal were buddies with the Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem. And, also Krissie Bogner
- one of the Costa Mesa Public Square minions who posts frequently - used her three minutes to tell us how she was so confused about the maps, that she didn't know where she fell in the scheme of things and it was all so confusing. That had a very familiar ring to it - it was straight out of the Julie Mercurio songbook from a couple years ago when she portrayed herself as a false-innocent and, gee, golly, can somebody help me understand! And then Bogner tells us that she knows that she wouldn't be in the area that includes Orange Coast College and was concerned about it. Which is it, girl? You can't have it both ways.
SMARTS DIDN'T RUB OFF
Another CMPS minion, Shannon Bales
, used his three minutes to spew false information, too. Folks tell me he was sitting in the chair I usually occupy... didn't help.. he didn't get any smarter.
TERRY THE TUNESMITH
graced the proceedings with another original tune, aimed directly at Righeimer. When he finished he mentioned that folks on the dais had been unhappy with him for using the word "ass" at a previous meeting. He told Righeimer that he promised not to call him a son-of-a-bitch, but he hoped when Righeimer got home his mother would run out from under the porch and bite him on the leg. It was a sign of how things would go last night.
MANSOOR - STILL NOT SMART
Another interesting speaker was former councilman/mayor/assemblyman Allan Mansoor
, who told us he was not in favor of district voting, but if we have to do it he favored the one that included the directly-elected mayor because it would give us more clout on regional issues. Katrina Foley asked him which district he lived in. Mansoor dodged that question and Foley speculated that he didn't actually live in Costa Mesa - an interesting issue if factual, since he's announced he's running for City Council this year and to do so he MUST be an elector residing in Costa Mesa. Maybe someone should hire an investigator to research Mansoor's domicile - we've heard rumors that he actually lives in South County. Anyhow, he demonstrated to us that he's not gotten any smarter since he last served on the city council.
STEPHENS GETS IT
spoke with great clarity, wondering what we were actually trying to do with this proposal. If the goal was to provide greater opportunity for the Latino segment of our community to be represented he speculated that the six-district option actually diluted that representation significantly, particularly when you fold in the directly-elected mayor.
Several speakers who had participated in the outreach process - the workshops and individual meetings with the demographer/consultant to help craft the districting choices - expressed disappointment and chagrin that their efforts went for nothing. Righeimer chose the six-district option even though not a single participant at any of the meetings expressed interest in that option.
A FEW ARTICULATE SUPPORTERS
A few of the proponents of the choice, like Janet Krochman
- a member of the Senior Commission - presented their views clearly. Others seemed not to have such a clear understanding.
BROWN ACT VIOLATION?
Former councilwoman and former member of the school board Wendy Leece
bemoaned what she described as the "fake outreach
" effort - the expenditure of more than $79,000 for a process that was ignored by the council majority. She also mentioned that she'd written to the Orange County District Attorney about what she perceived as a Brown Act violation at the July 5th meeting - the improper noticing of the issues discussed.
LATINAS SPEAK OUT
, a Latina Eastside resident who lives in District 3, had attended some of the meetings and got a lot out of the process. She will encourage her friends to vote against this proposal.
, a 20 year resident, used the services of the Spanish interpreter to address the council. She thought the 5 districts were enough. She lives in District 4.
RIGHEIMER LEAPS INTO ACTION
Almost before the last words were out of the final speaker's mouth Righeimer jumped in and made a motion to approve Option #3, the Six-districts plus directly elected mayor choice. Gary Monahan
- salivating over possibly being elected mayor for life - seconded the motion.
OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BOOBS
Righeimer then went on a twenty minute rant in which he told us he's not happy that we're being forced to do this "because we're racist
". He said people work very hard at putting blinders on when it comes to race and sexual orientation. He said he kinda doubted that the citizens would vote for this the first time, that we'd have to vote for it a second time or a judge will come up with a plan. He said "the issue here is more about culture than it is about race
". He also scolded the Latino population because they "don't turn out
", and that unless they do turn out there's no guarantee that they'll get that seat.
CRITICIZING LATINOS, BOGUS STATS
He told us, in his usual garbled fashion, that he asked people why they felt the way they felt about their position on this issue and he said it was "power
". He then relaunched into his scolding screed to the Latinos for not voting, not being involved in the political process and now want not only a position on the dais - a voice - but they now want a megaphone! And then he tried to compare Costa Mesa, with just over 110,000 residents, to cities like Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Ana - he actually mentioned Houston, too - where they directly elect a mayor. Apples and bananas, Mr. Mayor Pro Tem!
OVERLAYING HIS CORE VALUES
He went on and on about how he didn't like this system because it will "make us more divisive
" - meaning the city council that is elected by districts. He's said the same thing in the previous meeting when he referred to council members "bringing home the pork
" to their district.
He then gave us a primer on why district voting is bad, and that how we didn't want to do this and have been rushed into it. He belittled the participants in the meetings - "only 106
" - and that it cost us $745 per person for the meetings.
GENIS - ADMINISTRATIVE INTERFERENCE
said she wouldn't support the motion, but could have supported a seven-district option. She also corrected the record on the misstatements earlier about there not being a Latino majority in one of the districts. She also corrected the record about how directly-elected mayors actually worked in other cities. She also gave some history on Costa Mesa's form of government. She included mention about our code prohibition on "administrative interference
" - where council members are forbidden from interfering with staff members.
said she won't be supporting the issue. She also complained about the spread of misinformation on this issue, including Righeimer's screed. She told the audience that Righeimer had just basically told the Latino population of the city that they don't count. She exhorted the community to prove him wrong - to get out the vote. She said this is THE
most important election in the history of our city - that it could place the power in the city in the hands of Righeimer and Mensinger and whomever they chose to fill that third spot. She said it would likely be Mansoor, "and we all know how that turned out the last time
." She made a passionate appeal to the public to get out and vote.
MALE MAJORITY CARRIES THE VOTE
The council voted, 3-2, to place the issue on the ballot. Genis and Foley voted no. They then voted on the other segments of the issue with the same result. Then came the issue of who would write the argument in favor of the issue for the ballot and Righeimer said he would, and the vote was the same - 3-2, with Genis and Foley voting no.
UH, OH! RIGHEIMER'S ON HIS OWN!
Then Genis asked Barlow to affirm that no staff time would be used to write the arguments. Righeimer said NO!
, but as it turned out not only can staff time NOT
be used to help with this argument, but it may NOT
be used for ANY
of the previously approved arguments that Righeimer volunteered to author. I smiled.
They also voted, 3-2, to spend $8,400 dollars each for three mailers on this issue. Foley then asked CEO Tom Hatch for a breakdown of ALL the costs incurred on this initiative, including the costs with the settlement agreement.
BOGUS FAIRVIEW INITIATIVE
Following a short break they returned at 9:50 p.m. to address the second item on the agenda - the alternate Fairview Park initiative. Special Counsel Patrick Munoz
of Rutan and Tucker made a VERY brief staff report before public comments were taken. He told the council that the measure he had prepared was "pretty simple" - that it accomplishes two things: 1) any athletic field to be developed at Fairview Park would require a vote of the people and, 2) any other development at Fairview Park would go through the usual process. He said they defined what athletic fields are, and passive uses.
NOT ONE SPEAKER SUPPORTED IT!
Eighteen (18) members of the public spoke to this issue. Not a single one spoke in favor of it. Many were suspicious of the intent, since this initiative restricts "athletic fields
" from the park, but nothing else.
was first up and immediately challenged the staff report as it addresses - inaccurately - elements of the initiative created by the Fairview Park Preservation Alliance, specifically issues involving ADA compliance.
told the council if they had done things right in the first place we wouldn't be here today. She also asked about things like basketball courts - wondering if it is an end-around to the process. She described it as a "gigantic load of crap
Dr. Richard Mehren
- the Father of Fairview Park - complained about the staff report, too. He worried about changing operating hours for a "dawn to dusk park
wondered why they were doing this. Why waste money on this issue?
began her three minutes by sighing, "So, again, we have a counter initiative that defies the express wishes of the residents." She described elements of this initiative as being false and misleading and accused Righeimer and Mensinger of abusing their power just to keep it.
walked through the construction of the initiative and brought up the specter of Mile Square Park and all the features of that park. He said this was a horrible initiative, full of loopholes. He said it's a terrible law, hastily-crafted and an insult to the people that collected those 7,135 signatures. He told them to listen to the people.
told the council the initiative is misleading, then gave examples of prior municipal misdeeds within the park, including "Steve's Trail" through the vernal pools.
closed the speakers by addressing Representation. Mensinger interrupted her. He refused to give her time back. Foley moved to re-start her time. Genis seconded. The vote on that issue was 3-2, with Mensinger and Righeimer voting no. Cheers from the crowd. Leffler continued, talking about the costs of mailers - she said "nine grand
" - they cost $8,400 each. She used the story of Bre'r Rabbit and the Briar Patch.
Righeimer then moved the first two issues and launched into another rant about how he was not elected as a populist - doing whatever someone who runs up to the microphone wants. He chided the folks that circulated the initiative for signatures. His exact words were: "If you can't get signatures to save a park, you can't do anything. I mean, that's like Idiot Number One can't get that deal done!"
JUST WHO'S IN CHARGE? SUSPICIONS CONFIRMED!
An amusing moment occurred when, as Righeimer was continuing with his condescending rant, Mensinger interrupted him by saying, "Mr. Mayor, Ms. Brenneman just flipped off, once again, the dais. I think that's inappropriate. I just want to note that. Go ahead
." Unbelievable! Is this junior high school? I love the brain burp he exhibited by calling Righeimer "Mr. Mayor
". Or, maybe he's right! Sure seems like Righeimer's running the show.
"LOST MY TRAIN OF THOUGHT"
Then, as Righeimer continued to attempt to rant folks in the audience called out and he lost his train of thought. In exasperation he said, "You know what, it's amazing some people that have no life.
Foley interrupted him, saying he's saying the same thing over and over and over. Righeimer said he's losing his train of thought so it's taking him longer to do it. In frustration he called for a break.
FOLEY FILLS THE GAP
Interestingly, when Mensinger called the meeting back into order Righeimer was absent so he gave the floor to Foley. She then inquired about language in the new initiative regarding ADA bathrooms and the potential loss of $800,000 in OCTA grant dollars. City Engineer Bart Mejia
responded that it was grant funding to rehabilitate an existing trail/road. During her questioning of Mejia Mensinger interrupted her, telling her to not characterize his answers. It was a petulant, inappropriate misuse of his position and showed what a feeble leader he is.
Foley continued to address lawyer Munoz, asking about things like tennis courts, racketball courts, putting greens and go-cart tracks. He responded that all those could be included in the measure.
I did notice an amusing comment from Munoz. As they spoke about ADA issues he was searching for words and apologized for not "being familiar with your normal folks that come and speak
.", then referred to Terry Koken, "the gentleman that likes to sing
." So, there you have it! Despite what Righeimer tells us, the folks who come to speak are "normal". Knew it all along!
GENIS - ABUSE OF POWER
Genis then addressed the motion, wondering "What's the plan?
" She then described specific incidents of Code Enforcement harrassment of the folks gathering signatures. She described an incident where the Code Enforcement officer was sent to observe their activities because Steve Mensinger called her boss and told her to go observe. This is pure political intimidation and Genis was concerned about the misuse of tax dollars for this purpose. She said there's something wrong when we use tax dollars to create this politician-initiated initiative." She said flat out that this is an abuse of power.
After clarifying with lawyer Munoz that those other elements, hardcourts, golfing venues and a go-cart track, would be included, they voted, 3-2 to place the item on the ballot.
Before they voted on item #3 Foley asked Hatch for a complete summary on the costs of this issue. Righeimer petulantly that he wanted costs incurred when Foley didn't show up for the police contract. You could almost see his nose growing as he spoke. What an infant!
RIGHEIMER AND GENIS WILL WRITE THE ARGUMENTS
Then they had a major argument about who would write the arguments. It finally ended up that Righeimer would write the argument for and Genis would write the argument against. That passed, 5-0. And then the ever-contentious issue of spending money to produce 3 informational mailers was addressed. That passed, 3-2.
Mensinger closed the meeting at 11:15... what a night!
I apologize for the tardiness of this report. A combination of my little health issue and the fact that my primary computer is in intensive care slowed the process down. I'll try to do better as I, and my computer, heal.
NOT THAT I'M COUNTING, BUT...
Just a note.. this is post number 3,000 on this host. Whew!
Labels: Bart Mejia, Fairview Park, Fairview Park Preservation Alliance, Gary Monahan, Jay Humphrey, Jim Righeimer, John Stephens, Katrina Foley, Sandy Genis, Steve Mensinger, Voting by District