Snapping Fingers, Monahan Lingers, Anti-Airport Wrath and A New Bike Path
You know, sometimes watching a Costa Mesa City Council meeting can be a little like watching someone riding the Tea Cups ride at Disneyland. The way some members of the council change their minds, you almost half expect them to dizzily stumble off the dais from all that spinning.
PLAN AHEAD? WHO, US?
As predicted, the Mansoor Majority on the Costa Mesa City Council decided Tuesday night to discard the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program, previously discussed here. Instead of taking a proactive position and proceeding with the plan staffer Peter Naghavi had proposed to establish guidelines for implementation of traffic solutions when residents bring them to their attention, the council majority - using it's obviously limited grasp of management principles - decided to require the staff to just keep on chugging away, handling one problem at a time.
I'm not surprised at this outcome at all. It just demonstrated for us all exactly how much control our young jailer/mayor has over his two lackeys on the dais with him. Both Eric Bever and Wendy Leece were enthusiastic supporters of Naghavi's plan when it was presented at the study session in January. All it took was for Mansoor to snap his fingers and they did a 180 on this issue. No good reasons were given for this turnabout by either of them. I guess they want to be sure their pal, the mayor, doesn't forget them when campaign time comes around. After all, he's still going around building his war chest, so he'll have plenty of bucks to pass around.
There was a moment of humor in this discussion, though. At the end - once the mayor moved to stop further action on the plan and to receive and file the report and it passed 3-2 - he asked the City Manager, Allan Roeder, to have a report prepared briefly discussing potential solutions for Eastside streets Flower, Raymond and Westminster. Others chimed in stating that all those Eastside streets, including Broadway - much beleaguered by speeders in the recent past - Magnolia and 19th Street should be included. Because the staff had already wasted lots of time, money and energy on the Traffic Calming issue, Roeder responded that he'd like to have that in the form of a motion, so they were sure of the direction the council was giving this time. After some hemming and hawing the whole idea was dropped because Mansoor apparently realized that he was asking for exactly the kind of information Naghavi's plan would have provided! Hoisted on his own petard! Ya gotta love it!
MAYOR FOR LIFE?
Another interesting event occurred at the council meeting Tuesday night. You may recall that in an entry at the end of March this year, here, I speculated about the probability of there being a movement afoot to propose the direct election of the position of mayor. Well, Tuesday night former council member and mayor Gary Monahan peeked over the speaker's podium and formally asked for the council to consider putting on the ballot a measure to provide a mechanism to do exactly that - directly elect the position of mayor of our fair city. This comes as no surprise to me - I've heard rumors about this for months. What surprised me is that the request came from Monahan and not the mayor. Of course, Monahan wants his old job back. I wouldn't be surprised if he thinks it could end up being a lifetime gig for him.
That whole idea brings with it many questions. For example, presently the mayor is selected from his peers on the council for a two-year term. I assume the directly elected mayor would have an automatic four year term. Also, would our current term limits regulations apply to that position? Maybe we should elect the mayor for only a two-year term... that would be fun.
Would this position be a full time job or a part time position like the current council seats? Monahan is already the only council member to qualify for a pension, which would be padded by his elected for, say, two terms of four-years each.
Also, even though the present position of mayor is largely ceremonial, the person on that throne does control the flow of debate to a very large extent and is in a disproportionately powerful position relative to his fellow council members. To put that much power in the hands of one person for as much as eight consecutive years creates a situation ripe for abuse and corruption.
This is going to be one issue that gets thoroughly vetted before it hits the ballot - maybe as early as the primary election early next year.
ALL IS NOT LOST
On a more positive note, among the other items considered Tuesday night, the council did pass a resolution opposing the use of the back nine holes of the Newport Beach Golf Course for parking and recommending using the current Bristol Street Mini Storage site as much-needed lighted playing fields.
They also agreed to fund a study to consider using the route along a couple flood control channels as a bike path across the city. This is another good move.