Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Model Flyers Agreement Threatened?

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION MEETING
Thursday, April 24, 2014 the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission, guided by the steady, confident hand of my friend, Byron de Arakal,  will hold its monthly meeting beginning at 6:00 in council chambers at City Hall.  You can read the agenda HERE.

HSS AGREEMENT RENEWAL
Right off the top is Old Business Item A, the Renewal of the User Agreement with the Harbor Soaring Society, HERE.  A casual observer might think this would be a no-brainer and that it should pass with little controversy.  However, not everything is as they appear to be in Costa Mesa these days, particularly when it involves Fairview Park.

A GOOD COMMUNITY ASSET
Harbor Soaring Society (HSS) has been using a small segment in Fairview Park to launch and fly their model aircraft for more than three decades.  It is  a highly-rated organization which provides each member flyer with $2,500,000 in liability insurance.  From all reports it has been an excellent tenant in Fairview Park, a good custodian of the area assigned to it and provides community outreach beyond the terms of the current agreement.

WHY TINKER WITH THE AGREEMENT?
A year ago the Parks and Recreation Commission extended the agreement, but just for one year, not the five-years requested.  This year it looks to be the same - one-year instead of the 5 requested by the HSS so they can make longer-range plans for infrastructure improvements.

RESPONSIBILITY WITHOUT AUTHORITY?
In addition, this time around it appears that the City - through the Parks and Recreation Commission - is trying to ask the HSS to accept more responsibility for behavior of individuals who are NOT members of their organization without the authority to enforce the rules.  I'm trying to figure out the wisdom of this move and am coming up short.  Read the redline version of the proposed new agreement - Attachment 3 to the staff report - and those items will jump off the page at you.

IS THERE A PLAN AFOOT?
It has been widely assumed that certain members of the City Council covet opens spaces at Fairview Park for playing fields.  Members of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee appointed by the council have made it VERY clear about their desires to create a sports complex within the 208 acre boundary of the park.  I presumed that the reluctance to approve a longer-term agreement is because there is a plan afoot to oust the HSS at some point in the not-too-distant future.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out tomorrow evening.

NEW FIELD USE AND ALLOCATION POLICY
Also on the agenda is the new Athletic Field Use and Allocation Policy for the commissions consideration.  The staff report is HERE.  The new document, modified to reflect the new reporting relationship since the creation of the new city department - the Parks and Community Services Department, headed by brand new Assistant Chief Executive Officer Tamara Letourneau - also contains some very significant changes in policy,not just appearance.  Please read the redline copy of the new document for quick reference to some of those changes.

NEW DEFINITIONS AND PRIORITIES
For example, in the wake of the controversy surrounding the Friday Night Lights Football program and the Matt Leinart Football program - which apparently cost former Recreation Manager Bob Knapp his job - some re-definition of various user groups has taken place, particularly defining organizations that pay an executive staff.  Pages 3 and 4 begin to reflect those changes.  I noticed one line, standing alone on page 5, that appears to be redlined out of existence.  That line reads as follows:

Priority use of fields will be given to traditional primary season sports and by priority grouping.

What do you suppose that's all about?

WILL ANYBODY SHOW UP?
I have no idea what kind of a turnout to expect for those first two items tomorrow, but I imagine many youth and adult sports groups will attend and, perhaps, address their concerns.  We'll see.

AND TREE REMOVALS, TOO
There are also two tree removal requests on the agenda at the end, HERE and HERE.


Labels: , , , ,

Small, But Focused, Crowd For Charter Hearing

CURIOUSLY SMALL CROWD
Last night a small crowd - around 50 souls - turned out for the first public hearing on the latest iteration of a proposed Charter for the City of Costa Mesa.  What it lacked in size it made up for in focus and participation.  Perhaps the turnout was small because the meeting was televised live and also available live on streaming video.  The City did a miserable job of publicizing this meeting - maybe that's part of the plan.  Don't tell anyone so it can be passed under the cover of darkness.

MOST COMMITTEE MEMBERS  PRESENT
Several members of the Charter Committee attended the meeting.  Ron Amburgey, Andrew Smith, Lee Ramos, Bill Fancher and Tom Pollitt huddled together on the far right (appropriate) side of the room.  Gene Hutchins arrived a little late and was alone on the other side of the room.  Mary Ann O'Connell and Harold Weitzberg were also in attendance.  I did not see  Brett Eckles, Hank Panian, Kevin Tobin, Kerry McCarthy nor Tom Graham.  Facilitator Pastor Mike Decker attended, too.

STAFF REPORT AND NO PLEDGE
Following the introduction of the issue by Mayor Jim Righeimer, father of the Charter rejected by the voters less than two years ago, attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow of our contract City Attorney's office, provided a brief reading of the staff report, HERE.  As an aside, there was no Pledge of Allegiance to the flag at this meeting - a special City Council meeting.  I thought it was curious, especially in light of the fact that every meeting of the Charter Committee included not only the pledge - the only committee to do so - but a moment of silence demanded by member Tea Party Tom Pollitt.  Last night they faked it - no pledge, no prayer, no silence - no hope.

BARLOW, THE STAFF REPORT
After Barlow delivered her brief monologue council members asked a few preliminary questions, often referring to the draft Charter, HERE.

GENIS, CONTRACTS
Sandra Genis wondered about the status of a recent change in state law on Prevailing Wages and was told by Barlow that seven cities have challenged it.  Genis referred to section 700 of the Charter, Public Contracting and mentioned the Public Contracts Code.  Barlow said the Charter uses General Law as a fall back position.  Genis wondered what this Charter contains that we don't already have - a dominant question throughout the evening.  Nobody really answered the question.

LEECE, OUTSOURCING AND REVIEW
Wendy Leece wondered about section 802, Outsourcing, and asked if the current limitation of $49,999 applies before council approval is required and was told yes, but the council could change it by ordinance.  Leece also wondered about section 800, Charter Review.  She wanted to know if the council could change the Charter on it's own and was told by Barlow that every change to the Charter must be voted upon by the people.  Mention was made of the arbitrary threshold of 2,500 voters required for a petition to place recommended changes on the ballot.  Quite honestly, this process is more than a little bit fuzzy.  Every time they tried to resolve it they missed the mark.

"COIN" CAST IN CONCRETE
Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger inquired about Section 602, Civic Openness In Negotiation (COIN).  As you will recall, that is his baby and he wants her kept alive at all costs.  He wondered how it might be changed under the Charter.  Barlow told him that the way the section was worded, even if a future council decided to delete it entirely, COIN was there in perpetuity!  If the Charter goes forward as proposed and is passed by the voters, COIN is there to stay, period!  Mensinger smiled.

MORE ON "REVIEW"
Another discussion took place about the Review Process.  As I mentioned above, the issue was murky from the start.  The conversation bounced back and forth about a Charter Review Committee and/or a Commission, elected by the voters.  The process - under the best circumstances - seemed vague and cumbersome.

WE DON'T NEED IT
Committee member Harold Weitzberg led off the Public Comment segment with a brisk, three-minute presentation in which he immediately affirmed that he didn't think the City needs a Charter, discussed the process the committee went through, then provided color-coded slides demonstrating just why we don't need a Charter.  Far and away the greatest number of segments of the proposed Charter are for issues that we can already manage.  He told us this Charter doesn't change anything.

STACKED DECK
James Bridges described the recent effort by the committee as a wasted opportunity, alluding to the stacked deck the committee appeared to be. (My term, not his).  He also mentioned that Tustin recently revoked all compensation for council members and it seemed to be working out just right.

EMINENT DOMAIN?
Melissa Abraham wondered about eminent domain and later was told that eminent domain is controlled by state and federal law and the Charter doesn't change that.

OUTREACH AND CELL PHONES
Chris McEvoy expressed concern about future advertising mailers that will be biased in their presentation of the issue and suggested he didn't want his tax dollars advocating for a charter.  He veered off-course and criticized council members for cell phone use and thought maybe a prohibition should be placed into the Charter.

MEASURE V FAILURE
Greg Thunnel, among other things, reminded the council of the major failure of Measure V at the last election.

UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY
Committee member Gene Hutchins - one of the nicest men you'll ever meet - thanked the committee members, then told us that the Charter will "save the city a lot of money" - but didn't say how.  He, to the surprise of nobody who has observed the committee in action over the past year, brought up the Unfunded Pension Liability - but the Charter will have NO impact on it.  He mentioned that it requires a 2/3 majority of the voters to increase any post-employment benefits.

ONE-SIDED COMMUNICATIONS
Susan Shaw, Terry Koken and Perry Valantine spoke - the latter reminded the council that any communications sent out by the city must NOT be one-sided - it must present both sides of the argument on the Charter.

RIGHEIMER'S THE PROBLEM
Cindy Brenneman stepped up and stated categorically that we don't need a Charter, and reminded everyone that we still have not heard why we should have one.  Then, responding to an earlier Righeimer admonition that the crowd should not clap following speakers because folks are intimidated, told Righeimer that HE is the one  who intimidates speakers - that he has worn people down.  She referred to the speaker's podium as a "sacred place" where residents should feel safe to speak to their elected leaders, but that he intimidated and discouraged them. She told him the "dirty dozen" - regular speakers - will NOT be worn down.  When the crowd cheered Righeimer called a ten minute break and scampered out of the auditorium, talking on his telephone.

LOCAL CONTROL - OF US!
Following the break Tamar Goldmann told the council that the only "local control" she saw coming from this Charter was more control the three of them - the council majority - would have over us!

"..JUST TOURISTS"
Then up stepped committee member Ron Amburgey, who promptly told the audience that he'd lived in Costa Mesa his entire life and the rest of us were just tourists!  Nice, huh?  From a guy who's running for a seat on the Mesa Water District Board... nice style.  He went further - after being heckled by the audience to "speak to the council" - something Righeimer has frequently reminded other speakers in the past but seemed to ignore in the case of his supporter, Amburgey, who told us that previous councils had led us astray and "hurt us".  He didn't mention whether he included his father in that indictment.  He told us "the unions spent a half-million dollars to defeat the last Charter."  The crowd reaction to that was predictably unappreciative of that observation.

COST ANALYSIS
Sue Lester suggested that a cost analysis be done to determine the potential savings of a Charter.

SAVE MILLIONS?  HOW?
Tea Party Tom Pollitt, also a committee member - you'll recall his blow-up at a meeting earlier this year when he went into the break room, slammed the door and pouted for a few minutes in a fit of anger - said he supported the Charter, said it would save millions (but didn't say how) and would give the council more flexibility (but didn't define what kind of flexibility).

DON'T NEED IT
Anna Vrska told the council we didn't need a Charter.

WHY? NOT ANSWERED
Former councilman Jay Humphrey said he was disappointed that no determination had been made as to whether we actually did need a Charter, and why.  He suggested that answers to all the questions asked last night be provided in a form of a memo on the city web site so all residents could read it.

MEASURE V NUMBERS
Karl Ahlf, a life-long resident and former council candidate, reminded the council of the resounding defeat of Measure V, and gave the percentages .

MAKING IT UP...
Resident Phil Morello stepped up to support the Charter, stating several times that he was a "physical conservative" - we presume he meant "fiscal".  Then he said, "Why do we need a Charter?  Get a clue!"  He said the city is $260,000,000 in debt - pulling a number out of the air, or from somewhere.  He then, in response to Brenneman's comment above, said "this isn't a sacred place, it's politics!"

COMMITTEE BALANCE AND OUTREACH
The 19th and final speaker was Robin Leffler, who observed that the configuration of the committee did not represent  the configuration of the voters, no matter how you tried to manipulate it.  She said whatever planned community outreach should not be a "sales pitch" like the last time.  We need to be given options and the costs.

74% AGAINST
Of the nineteen speakers, only four - Amburgey, Pollitt and Hutchins (committee members) and Morello spoke in favor of the Charter.  One person - Abraham - just asked a question.  All the remaining speakers spoke strongly against the Charter.  Of course, Righeimer and his majority will completely ignore those numbers.

GARY SHOULD HAVE REMAINED SILENT
First up among the council members was Gary Monahan, who showed up nearly 20 minutes late, but at least he showed up this time.  He acknowledged that he'd been fairly quiet in recent months, but that he'd make up for it last night.  As it turned out, he should have remained silent.

POWER AND "MARY JANE"
He launched off into a tirade by stating that the Charter would give NO MORE power to the Council - clearly refuting what members of the committee who crafted it had said.  He said, "This Charter does not give any more power to anyone."  Then he made mention, again, of Medical Marijuana - a curious comment, just as was his previous one last Tuesday.  Could it be that he wants in on some of the anticipated medical marijuana action that is being hinted about in town?

"CRAZY IDEA"
Monahan suggested that Lester's idea about a cost analysis was a great idea, then went almost apoplectic on the subject of council member compensation.  To say he came unglued would be a major understatement!  He refuted Bridges suggestion that council members work for free, indicating that he's putting in 50 hours a week on his council duties (I don't believe that for one second, by the way), and that it "almost kills me".  He suggested that "900 a month and health insurance won't keep me on the job, but it helps."  He then said "I think you're nuts!" and that it was a "crazy idea!"  As I said, he should have remained silent.

CELL PHONES AND MALAPROPS
He also commented on speaker Chris McEvoy's observation that there should be a ban on cell phones on the dais by citing examples of why they should have them - emergencies, like "a kid getting hurt".  As he ranted he made a very interesting malaprop.. he said the word "hiper bowl".  I suspect he had a script and was trying to say "hyperbole".  It was very peculiar.  As I said, he should have remained silent.

SAY, WHAT?
Then, in perhaps the most bizarre comment of his entire rant, as he wrapped up he said, "Don't say you don't want it on the ballot because you don't like it!"  Really?  Why not?  Is that not a good reason?  It was VERY clear that most of the speakers before them last night had a MUCH better idea of what was in the draft Charter than Monahan did.  With each passing meeting it is becoming clear that he has "stayed too long at the dance".  Unfortunately, his term doesn't expire until 2016.

UNFETTERED POWER
Sandra Genis pointed out what I feel is the stake in the heart of this Charter - section 104, Powers.  The way the committee worded this section it appears to give virtually unlimited power to the city council.

PREVAILING WAGE
Wendy Leece corrected a misstatement made by Pollitt earlier, then discussed Prevailing Wage, using Oceanside's failed Recreation Center project as an example.  She also pointed out the need for tighter financial controls, using the 60th Anniversary debacle as an example.  She also mentioned a runaway contract for computer support that ended up more than double the original proposal and nobody was watching.  She also mentioned that company was a campaign contributor to certain council members.

ARROGANCE
Steve Mensinger addressed "all the folks at home", mentioned that the Charter holds folks accountable - but didn't say how.  He repeated the question, "Why do we need a Charter?", then answered "Why wouldn't we?", smirking.

Genis observed that the differences between this Charter and  General Law are insignificant.

"COMPLETE CONTROL"
Then it was Righeimer's turn - and it was worth waiting for.  He concurred with an earlier speaker's observation that 75% of California cities are NOT Charter cities, then said, "But, 80% of the people live in Charter Cities.", as if that somehow justifies Costa Mesa becoming one.  Then he said, "Once you do a Charter you have complete control!"  He then said, "If you have a simple Charter you can go ahead and do those things."  Why, thank you, Mr. Mayor.  The LAST thing I want to give you is "complete control" over anything, much less my city!

BONDS
He talked about the Vista case and mentioned that's what Bonds are for.  Yikes!

BLAMING "THE UNIONS"
In response to McEvoy's question, "What are the first fifteen things you'd do with a Charter?" he said, "Make a list."  He then launched off into a tirade about how "the unions" refused to let the city do any outsourcing - citing at first the "little old guy in an apron who printed our business cards."  Geez!

JAILERS 1ST IN LINE...
He then brought up the fact that our Jail operations are in the process of being outsourced and told us that the guys that work in the jail really want to be cops, so they take the job as a jailer so they can be close to cops.  He then said "Put jailers 1st in line to be a police officer."!!!  I guess Chief Gazsi will be happy to know that the mayor has his recruitment problem all solved for him.  Good grief!

MEA CULPA
Then Righeimer did the unanticipated - he actually apologized for the way he handled his Charter two years ago.  He said, "The last time was the wrong way to do it."  He said it was a "humbling experience" going from door to door, talking about the Charter and having people tell him they were not against a Charter, just against HIS charter.  He actually apologized several times.  Cue the violins, please.

MISLEADING
He went off in a stream-of-consciousness rant, talking about "if you want to change the Charter later all you have to do is elect a Charter Commission."  He neglected to mention that under the proposed Charter the city council gets to decide when elections are held - if ever.

NEXT MEETING JUNE 3RD
Then the council addressed the next Public Hearing.  Originally it was supposed to be May 20th, but the date of this first meeting slipped, which required shifting the subsequent one.  Now, according to the information last night, the second - and final - public hearing on this Charter will be on June 3rd, during the regular council meeting.  As the discussion ensued Righeimer, unilaterally, told the group, "Don't mess with the dates!"  Gee, who made him king?  Oops, I guess we did, huh?  Then, the first meeting of July - the 6th was mentioned - the council will vote on whether to place the Charter on the ballot.  Because this meeting slipped a little, the fudge factor City Clerk Brenda Green built into the process got a whole lot tighter.  We all recall what happened two years ago when a "clerical error" cost then-City Clerk Julie Folcik her job.

OUTREACH CONFUSION
There was a great deal of confusion about public outreach and the timing, cost and message to be sent on any communications to the community.  CEO Tom Hatch was not helpful with that process.  It was clear from most speakers who addressed it that they felt whatever the city communicates on this Charter should not be biased one way or the other.  That should be very interesting, because the last time around the communications coming out of City Hall were basically sales brochures, hawking a flawed product with glossy mailers.

STRANGE...
I came away from the meeting last night with a strange feeling of deja vu.  We'd been here before, but this time there was not as much energy in the building.  The crowd was smaller, but those who spoke were passionate.  Interestingly, as many speakers pointed out, this Charter as currently written gives the city very little that we don't already have as a General Law City, but if implemented it does remove some very significant protections from abuse that we currently enjoy.  And, there are a couple areas that make it completely unacceptable because it leaves the door wide open for mischief by this or future councils.  It will be interesting to see what happens at the next hearing, since no member of the council offered up anything significant in the way of changes or additions.  The clock is now ticking...

WATCH IT YOURSELF...
So, that was it.  Watch the streaming video of this two-hour plus meeting, or watch it on replay on CMTV.  Form your own opinions.




Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Broader View Of Dictators

THE "JOURNAL" IS THE BEST
The Wall Street Journal is the best publication I read on a daily basis.  It provides a breadth of national and international coverage and the best commentaries and editorials, period.  Those of you who also subscribe will likely agree with me on this.

STEPHENS ON HUNTINGTON
Today columnist Bret Stephens published a column titled, "What Samuel Huntington Knew", which can be read online HERE if you spend the bucks to subscribe.  Learn about Huntington HERE.

DICTATORS
Of course, I'm not going to attempt to give you the whole story, but it deals with the fall, and subsequent apparent rise, of dictatorial forms of government around the world, using contemporary venues and players as examples.  It's quite excellent and, as you probably suspect, got my attention.

WHAT IF...?
Stephens tells us that Huntington, whom he describes as "the great Harvard political scientist", asked the question in 1991, "What would happen if the American model no longer embodied strength and success, no longer seemed to be the winning model?"  He tells us that the world seemed to be embracing democracy, capitalism, etc.

"THE PEOPLE" WANTED DICTATORS
Then he describes the resurgence of dictators, citing middle eastern and Europeans as an example.  And he folds in Russia, too, and indicates that "the people" seemed to want it that way.  He goes on to describe the ebb and flow of government models and - here's my punch line - includes this paragraph near the end:
"At some point the momentum will shift back. That, too, is inevitable. The dictators will err; their corruption will become excessive; their cynicism will become transparent to their own rank-and-file. A new democratic wave will begin to build."

AH, HA!
I read that paragraph and the light went on.  Then went back and re-read the entire essay again.  As I did so I found myself contemplating parallels to some of the dictatorial behaviors described to some of the circumstances we find ourselves facing here in Costa Mesa.

SIMILAR
No, "our" dictator hasn't killed millions of people, but neither have most of the rulers described in the essay.   He does share many of the authoritarian characteristics of those men, though.

OUR "CHANGE" CANNOT WAIT...
Stephens punch line is that things change, and that it might take five years - or fifty.  I choked on that last part.  Our change needs to happen now - this year - by sending "our" dictator packing and replacing him with those who can actually govern this city with an even hand and not a personal political agenda.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Apology...

LAST WEEK'S EVENT
Last Tuesday night, just about an hour into the meeting during the Council Member Comments segment of the Costa Mesa City Council meeting at City Hall, Mayor Jim Righeimer closed his portion of that segment with a scathing diatribe against me, and four other individuals, because of a comment I made on Facebook - not on my Facebook page, but on a thread generated by another person.  I wrote about it early the next morning, HERE.  He demanded an apology from me and the other four people - whose only "crime" was clicking the "like" button on my comment.

ZINT'S PIECE, PLUS VIDEO CLIP
Bradley Zint wrote about it in the Daily Pilot, HERE, and included a video clip of Righeimer's rant.  Please go there, watch the video clip and read Brad's article, then come on back here.

ANGRY, FALSE ACCUSATIONS
As you saw, Righeimer begins by saying he's angry about something I wrote on my blog.  Well, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt because he's peeved, but what he's angry about did not occur on my blog at all.  As I said above, it happened on Facebook.  He's mad because I observed that he acts like a dictator - which he does.  He complained that he doesn't watch "the blogs" and doesn't go on social media, yet he immediately posted two separate comments on HIS Facebook page accusing me of "an unthinkable smear against my wife and children" and, referring to me, "We need to pray for him to soften his heart, He knows not what he is saying."  Of course, that's horse manure.  I NEVER talk about his family, but he frequently uses them as shields this way.

PICK YOUR DICTATOR
Righeimer spews that I compared him to someone who was responsible for "killing 6 million Jews" - Adolf Hitler.  Yes, I did compare him to Hitler, although not by name.  Actually, you could compare him to just about any dictator you choose - Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Pol Pot, and on and on.  Of course I don't think he's responsible for killing Jews.  I DO think he behaves very much like those dictators, and have outlined why before.  In fact, he demonstrated that behavior several times during that meeting, including shouting down councilwoman Wendy Leece a few minutes later and right at the very end, when he tried to shout down speaker Anna Vrska during her 3-minute comment because she said she agreed with my freedom of speech rights.  He failed because Vrska refused to be bullied.  Watch that segment HERE.  Scroll down and click on the segment at the end titled "Continued Public Comments" - the screen will "jump to" that segment and the counter will read 02:45:07.  Watch the exchange between Vrska and Righeimer.

OF MOLE-HILLS AND MOUNTAINS
It's been an interesting few days since this dust-up.  My blog entry about it, above, racked up a couple dozen comments.  I also posted a link to it on my Facebook page, which resulted in 105 comments and counting.  The Daily Pilot story has two comment threads going that have totaled over 100 comments until some peculiar folks began to take their comments down, including one in Morse Code, for goodness sake.  The point is, Righeimer took what was a fairly insignificant comment on an obscure Facebook thread - only a few people had read it at the time - and created a giant controversy  out of it.  The page views on my blog tripled in the immediate aftermath of his rant and the number of "likes" on the original thread doubled, too.

PURE POLITICAL POSTURING
There is really only one explanation for Righeimer to have done what he did - publicity.  He's entering a campaign season that is very likely going to turn out to be the most contentious, most expensive in the history of this city.  One of his tactics in the past has to been to try to discredit opposing voices, in this case, MINE.  He's tried it before and failed.  He has unilaterally changed the format during meetings to bifurcate the Public Comments segment, permitting only 10 speakers at the beginning and forcing others to wait until the very end of the meeting - as was the case with Vrska last Tuesday night - to address grievances or to offer compliments and constructive criticism to their elected officials.  In this case, as in other instances in the past, he created a controversy, claimed he was a victim and whined about how abused he and his family are because of it

SHAMEFUL FAMILY SHIELD
This time, as he has done in the past, he throws up his family as a shield against criticism.  What kind of a man does that?  He's chosen to become a politician and with that choice - as I've said many times - comes criticism.  Well, he's demonstrated almost since the day he set foot in town, carpetbag in hand, that he just doesn't like criticism and will spit back whenever he feels unfairly criticized.  He needs a much thicker skin if he plans to continue as a politician.  And, he needs to quit using his family as a shield - shame on him!

CHILLING DEMAND FOR APOLOGIES
Righeimer demanded an apology from me, and the other four people he felt slighted him with their "likes" of my comment.  Every single person in this city should be chilled by that demand.  For the mayor of our city to sit up there on the dais and call out - by name - individuals who have had the audacity to criticize him will certainly have the effect he wanted - to stifle their free speech.  Theirs, maybe - but not mine.

SCANDALS
I agree with the mayor that an apology is in order - FROM HIM to the people of our city for abusing his position and for potentially frightening them out of speaking up when they have concerns about how he and his majority are running their city.  On his watch we've seen scandals unlike anything in the past - the 60th Anniversary Celebration cost overruns and the now-infamous Decomposed Granite trail fiasco, just to name two.

PREDICTED RULE-BENDING
I predicted that he would play fast and loose with the rules, and he did.  I anticipated his attempt to destroy our city by putting potholes ahead of public safety, and said so.  And that's what he's done.  I joked a little over three years ago, when he and his majority violated city rules and issued more than 200 layoff notices to city employees, that Righeimer's idea of a perfect City Staff would be CEO Tom Hatch and a handful of contract administrators to manage all the outsourced functions.  You recall - it was St. Patrick's Day, when young Huy Pham jumped to his death from the City Hall roof and then-mayor Gary Monahan couldn't be bothered to come to City Hall, choosing to stay at his bar and sell beer.  Well, that joke turned out to be on me, since that's the way we're headed.  The actual working elements of city government have been decimated and the "Executive Offices" have increased staff dramatically, adding party planners, public relations staff and special code enforcement officers to do their bidding.  I mean, what city our size actually needs a "Chief Executive Officer", two Assistant CEOs and a Deputy CEO?  He and his cronies have created such a toxic and litigious atmosphere at City Hall that we've had to hire another Deputy City Clerk to just handle public records requests!  These are NOT signs of a healthy organization and you can trace the malady DIRECTLY to Righeimer.

DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THE DEPTH OF VINDICTIVENESS
Although I thought I understood the depth of Righeimer's vindictiveness toward the members of the Costa Mesa Police Department, I didn't think he would actually go so far as to put the public in danger by gutting that organization and refusing for more than a year to let Chief Tom Gazsi begin recruitment to attempt to reach even the new, lower staffing levels.  Our specialty units have been disemboweled and skilled, trained officers have taken early retirement and/or left for other jurisdictions, where their contributions are valued.  You know, a place where the mayor and mayor pro tem have not sued the men and women of the police department.

STAFF SHORTAGES CITY-WIDE
And that kind of micromanaging of the organization extends well beyond just the Police Department.  There are more than sixty (60) vacancies throughout the city today - nearly 15% of the authorized staff!  Instead, we've got expensive contractors doing the work without a vested interest in the long-term well-being of our city.

ASTRONOMICAL LEGAL COSTS
I'm sorry I didn't have the foresight to anticipate that the Righeimer regime would be marked by record legal costs, much of which has been brought on by the way he's running this city.  We're spending nearly $500 per hour on lawyers just working on the lawsuit filed by the Costa Mesa City Employees Association in the wake of the bogus layoff notices, alone.  For the 2012/2013 Fiscal Year we spent right at $2.5 million on legal fees and, for the first half of this fiscal year we've spent more than $1.1 million.  Heck, last week the council approved a Warrant that contained more than $230,000 in legal fees!  This is unprecedented in the history of our city.  Then, again, it may be what Righeimer meant when he said he wanted to run our city like a business.

MY APOLOGY...
For my part, I DO have an apology of my own to make.  I apologize to the employees of the City of Costa Mesa and to the residents, business owners and visitors to our fine city for not doing more to fight Righeimer's takeover and destruction of this town.  Although I thought I did my best, I should have done more when he ran for City Council four years ago.  I feel responsible for not doing enough to keep Righeimer from being elected and two years ago, for not doing enough to break his majority.  For that I sincerely apologize to this community.  I WON'T MAKE THAT MISTAKE THIS TIME AROUND!

CHECK THE WEATHER REPORT FOR HADES...
As to an apology from me to Righeimer...

 





Labels: , , , , , , ,