Thursday, July 02, 2015

Leinart Flag Football Gets Another Chance

THE WHOLE AGENDA LATER, BUT NOW...
I'll cover the entire agenda for the Costa Mesa City Council meeting scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 over the weekend.  However, on that agenda is the presentation by the Parks & Community Services/Recreation Division for the new Field Use and Allocation Policy (FUAP) AND the request for special status of specific youth sports organizations.  That agenda item is HERE.

NO MENTION OF BOTCHED VOTE LAST THURSDAY
I read through this document and the attachments a couple times and NO mention is made of the screw-up that occurred last week when the Parks and Recreation Commission DID NOT vote to extend Group 3 status to Matt Leinart Flag Football.  Despite what is VERY CLEAR in the video record of that vote, apparently the Contract City Attorney decided he knew what the commission meant when they voted - so he just decided that they HAD voted to extend Group 3 status to the Leinart organization.

BOYS BEING BOYS..
It's become abundantly clear that Matt Leinart Flag Football is the fair-haired boy.  City officials have bent the rules and cut them slack ever since they decided they wanted to come to town.  They've apparently just shrugged and gave it one of those "boys-will-be-boys" passes - kind of like Mayor Steve Mensinger's supporters always give him - "Oh, well, that's just Steve".

FAVORITISM AT WORK
I, personally, have NOTHING against Matt Leinart nor the flag football program that bears his name.  I don't know him nor any member of his family, although some neighbors went to school with him.  And, quite honestly, this isn't really about Matt Leinart Flag Football - it's about favoritism and applying the rules for everyone evenly.  That has NOT happened in this case, and it's very troubling.

THE RULES ARE FOR SOMEBODY ELSE
I am not surprised this has happened, though.  This thread of uneven application of the rules runs through city government as guided (tough to use that word in this context) by Steve Mensinger and Jim Righeimer.  They act like they know exactly what is right for the city and just won't let those darn rules get in the way.  The recent announcement of the relocation of Vans headquarters to the north part of town may be yet another example of that arrogant disregard for the rules - those rules put in place to protect the interests of ALL the residents of this city.

HAVE A SAFE HOLIDAY
So, on that happy note, I wish you all a very safe Independence Day holiday.  As the clock struck 1 p.m. while I'm typing this, three bottle rockets exploded somewhere close to my house.  Those safe and sane fireworks you bought to support youth groups are facilitating (and masking) those among us who also break the rules without regard to how it impacts the other members of the community.  Quite a sad commentary.  I'm not sure this is what our Founding Fathers had in mind.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Rob Sharpnack Sworn-in To Lead CMPD

IT'S OFFICIAL!
Today, before a nearly packed auditorium, the City of Costa Mesa made it official and  Rob Sharpnack was sworn-in as Chief Of Police.
A ROOM FULL OF SUPPORT
Friends, relatives, co-workers, city staffers, past chiefs, current law enforcement leaders from all over the region and a few residents gathered in City Council Chambers at City Hall to watch City Clerk Brenda Green issue the oath of office to Sharpnack as his wife and children stood beside him.  And, there were plenty of real photographers on hand, so you won't have to be satisfied with the marginal images appearing here.

DIEBALL ON THE GAME
CMPD Sergeant Clint Dieball ran the show today and it went like clockwork.  We were promised a short program and that's how it turned out.

HONOR GUARD
An Honor Guard presented the colors and Dieball led the Pledge of Allegiance
PLENTY OF DIVINE GUIDANCE
We had invocations by two chaplains - Rick Johnson and Mike Decker.
COUNCIL PRESENCE
We had a short speech by Mayor Steve Mensinger.   Katrina Foley and Sandra Genis attended and Jim Righeimer showed up only a half hour late.  There was no sign of Gary Monahan.
HATCH HINTS AT THE FUTURE
CEO Tom Hatch expressed his pleasure with the choice of Sharpnack as his new chief and gave us encouraging words about Sharpnack's goals for the department.
HISTORY
Dieball gave us a brief history of Sharpnack's background, including his baseball-playing days and summarized his two decades with the CMPD and his steady advancement to his role as chief.

EMOTIONAL ACCEPTANCE
Sharpnack gave an emotional acceptance speech, which caused more than a few lumps in the throat around the auditorium and included expressions of gratitude to many of the folks gathered there today for their support and influence on his life and career.
THE LIST OF LEGENDS
Former chiefs in the audience included Roger Neth - the second police chief in the city and the man who oversaw the time of greatest growth and technological advancement; Dave Snowden - who set the bar high as he led the department for nearly seventeen years before retiring, then heading up the Beverly Hills PD until he recently retired from that job;  Tom Gazsi, who led the CMPD for more than three years after a three-decade career at the Newport Beach Police Department, who retired last year and moved to the position of Deputy Chief of the Los Angeles Port Police, where he is currently Acting Chief of that department; Steve Staveley, the legendary law enforcement leader who was interim chief of the CMPD - twice - in recent years and Ron Lowenberg, who was the most recent interim chief whose steady hand was on the tiller as he filled the gap between Gazsi and Sharpnack.  My head began to hurt as I tried to calculate the decades of law enforcement leadership represented by those men.  The City has been very lucky to have each of them contribute to the leadership of the CMPD.  Each of those exceptional law enforcement leaders have left an indelible imprint on the CMPD, and on the City.
WHO ARE THOSE GUYS?
Recent retirees and colleagues of Sharpnack returned to wish him well, most of who showed up in the trappings of retirement - several days growth of beard, t-shirts and flip-flops.  We all smiled about that.
TOUCHING MOMENT
One of the highlights for me was when, as part of the ceremony, Sharpnack's son, Colin, affixed the pin to his father's shirt.  A truly great moment.
THE SHARPNACK ERA BEGINS
So, the Sharpnack era in the Costa Mesa Police Department has officially begun.  Based on the plans mentioned by Hatch, there are good days ahead for the department.  We hope those days include a serious re-assessment of the staffing level of the department and the refinement of statistical reporting so the residents can have confidence in the numbers as presented.  We are sure, under Rob Sharpnack's steady hand, all those things will come together.  We wish Chief Sharpnack and the men and women of the CMPD all the best as this new era for the department begins.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

And The Rockets Red Glare...

INDEPENDENCE DAY!
Tonight, as the bombs are already bursting in air, I want to remind you all that illegal fireworks are a major problem in our city and those caught using them are subject to fines or imprisonment.

ZERO TOLERANCE
The Independence Day holiday is fast approaching.  Today, June 30th, residents of Costa Mesa could begin purchasing so-called "safe and sane" fireworks from the many booster booths throughout the city.  Those sales will continue through 9:00 p.m , Saturday, July 4th.  Here is a flyer to remind you of the rules for using fireworks in Costa Mesa.  (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
 SAFETY TIPS
And here is a message from the Costa Mesa Police Department outlining more important information for this holiday. (Click on the image to enlarge it)
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEFS
And, here's a video message from our new Police Chief, Rob Sharpnack and our Fire Chief, Dan Stefano.


HAVE A GREAT INDEPENDENCE DAY!
Have a wonderful holiday.  Be safe.  Be respectful of your neighbors, their pets and those with military backgrounds for whom the explosion of illegal fireworks might cause significant discomfort.  And, remember what we're celebrating...

Happy Birthday, America


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Monday, June 29, 2015

City Attorney Perpetuates A Gaffe

EXACERBATING A MISTAKE
According to an article in the Daily Pilot by Brad Zint late this afternoon, HERE, today Contract City Attorney Tom Duarte apparently provided an opinion to the City of Costa Mesa that the mistake made with the vote by the Parks and Recreation Commission last Thursday night regarding the user status of Matt Leinart Flag Football was OK, thereby erroneously granting Group 3 User status to that organization for another year.  How does one completely ignore the actual video record and decide what the commissioners THOUGHT they were voting on?

CONFUSION ON THE DAIS
I wrote a lengthy report on that meeting and included my summary of what had happened when the vote was taken, HERE.  At that point in the meeting I suspect everyone in the audience was exhausted by the emotion of the issue, the history between the competing groups and passion of folks on both sides of the issue.  Chairman Kim Pederson almost took a break before the issue in question received a vote, and he may not have been the only person on the dais not paying attention.

ASKING THE QUESTION FIRST...
Again, BEFORE the vote was taken Commissioner Byron de Arakal asked a pointed question of Recreation Manager Travis Karlen.  He asked if Leinart remained a Group 3 user NOW.  He emphasized that last word because it was important.  He then read from the staff report for his motion, which included ONLY the permanent Group 1 users.  In fact, even de Arakal was off his game, because he failed to say "Group 1" - he said "group users".  The commission voted on that single issue, period!

READ THE QUESTIONS...
Let's be absolutely clear.  The following is an image of the section of the staff report in question.  Item 1, dealing with the FUAP, was voted upon by the Commission on a 4-0 vote, with Don Harper abstaining - as he inexplicably did several times that night. (Click on the image to enlarge it)


THE QUESTION, THE VOTE, THE RESULT - NO DOUBT
Then, de Arakal asked Karlen if they needed a vote on number 2, the "user group" question.  The response was yes, but Pederson apparently didn't hear it and proceeded to call for a break.  de Arakal reminded Pederson that they needed a vote, to which he stated that he "thought it was included".  THEN de Arakal asked his pointed question about the Leinart status, and when Karlen affirmed that it had Group 3 status NOW, de Arakal stated his motion.  He read the first sentence of item 2  verbatim, but DID NOT include the second one about the Group 3 status of Leinart.  There is NO DOUBT about that.  The commission voted, 5-0, on that issue.

CONFUSIONDuring the break it was clear that confusion reigned on this issue.  Karlen was on the phone with CEO Tom Hatch, letting him know that there were issues with the vote and apparently looking for guidance.  At one point the discussion at the well - the front of the chambers where the staff sits -  I heard a comment by someone saying, "Well, what do we do now?  Everybody has left.", meaning that all the interested parties in this issue had departed the council chambers.

SHE GOT IT WRONG
When Harper asked the clerk to read back the minutes he was told by her that the actual minutes were not available - they needed to be transcribed.  She then tried to RECREATE the motion from her memory - and GOT IT WRONG!  She included the Leinart sentence.

DUARTE PERPETUATES IT
And now Duarte perpetuates the mistake, obviously ignoring the video record of the event.  How does one make this kind of a mistake?  It befuddles me.

WHAT WILL THE COUNCIL DO - IF ANYTHING?
So, now the City Council will hear the issue of the FUAP  sometime in July, but it's unclear to me if the assignment of Group status for those organizations, including the Leinart organization, will be part of their review.  Even if it is, the Leinart group has received preferential treatment for more than a year and, some say, it is highly favored among certain city officials.  One might suspect that this error - major screw-up, actually - will permit them to continue this preferential treatment and cost the city thousands of dollars.

TWO MORE QUESTIONS REMAIN
Remaining to be answered is whether the Leinart group can, 1) become a legitimate non-profit instead of using the ruse it's been following for the past year? and, 2) can it prove that it has the necessary ratio of Costa Mesa residents to qualify for Group 3 status?  If the answer to 1) is "NO", it will pay higher fees.  If the answer to 2) is "NO", it automatically will default to Group 5 status and lose priority in field assignments.

HOPING FOR COMPETENCE
One hopes for better from those in positions of responsibility in our government.  One would hope our commissioners would pay attention during the meetings.  And one would hope for better decisions by members of the senior staff.  It's not too much to ask, is it?

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Citizen Group Calls For Initiative On Development


QUALITY OF LIFE
The Costa Mesa citizens group, Costa Mesa First, today announced the first steps in the initiative process to place on the ballot the question of whether residents of this city should have the power to decide if major changes in allowable land use is worth the impact on their quality of life.  You can read the entire press release below.  (Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading)

IN THE HANDS OF CITY ATTORNEY
The text of the initiative is presently in the hands of Costa Mesa City Attorney, Tom Duarte, who will provide the title and summary necessary to proceed with the next step.

GATHERING SIGNATURES FOR NOV. 2016 BALLOT
At some point in the very near future, depending on how the rest of this process moves along - probably near the middle of July - the proponents of this initiative will begin collecting signatures to authorize the placement of the initiative on the General Election ballot in November, 2016.  According to the information provided to me, collection of signature may take up to 180 days.  The proponents will need at least 5,000 valid signatures according to City Clerk Brenda Green.  The proponents will likely try to gather 7,500 signatures, just to be sure.

CONTROVERSIAL AND CONTENTIOUS
This initiative is similar to Newport Beach's Greenlight measure - one of the most contentious measures in the history of that city.  This one has the probability of also being controversial, since it potentially has the capability of slamming the brakes on "excessive development" throughout the city.  We'll know more when the actual initiative is available for reading.

HEADS, NOT FIREWORKS, EXPLODING
I can hear developer-oriented politican's heads exploding all over Mesa Verde as folks become aware of this initiative.  And you thought they were only M-80s!

OH, BOY...
It's going to be a very interesting summer and fall.

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