Wednesday, June 06, 2007

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 Neighbor
hood 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 int
eresting 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.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous dvs said...

Do I understand it correctly that if Monahan is elected for a four year term he would have enough years as a city "employee" to qualify for medical insurance for life at the city's expense? If true, that is a pretty nice perk for a part time job.

6/06/2007 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

Geoff,

Thanks for a full-blown belly laugh!

Monahan "peeked over the speaker's podium."

That was one of the funniest things you have ever written! I can totally picture it! While normally not nice to poke fun at someone's physical features, that was a priceless visual! I am a regular at his restaurant, and known how tall he is.

I also have to hand it to Mr. Roeder - what an excellent and subtle way to put the mind changers in place. While I disagree with the traffic calming program, I do think Staff is there for a reason and should at least be able to perform the requested studies and present a proposal for review by the whole council. Otherwise, why have Staff in the first place?

I really think that aggressive enforcement will work and spare everyone the cost and inconvenience of traffic calming measures. They have historically NOT worked and have increased traffic and congestion as driver habits aren't altered by physical barriers. On that, the Mayor is correct - people will just avoid those streets. The best way to control driver behavior is with negative reinforcement.

Personally, I used to go about 35 mph on Orange between 17th and Flower or 18th. CMPD had an enforcement effort there, with motor officers continually present and writing lots of tickets. I know go 25 ALWAYS. Same with the beginning of the 55 heading inland. It was usually like some sort of drag race in the mornings, and I would speed on my way to work. Now they regularly have CHP motor officers in the turnouts on the right. I don't speed anymore. That is me, but I think that it could work, as the locals are doing the cut-throughs.

Thanks again!

6/06/2007 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

dvs, that's an interesting question. He already qualifies for a pension because of his 12 years on the council - the only council member to qualify. Council members are part-time employees. You need five years to vest a pension - his twelve "half-years" gives him more than he needs. I've written to Allan Roeder, asking about the medical benefits question. I'll post the answer if and when it is provided. That's just one of many questions some of us will have about this change. Our "pal" over at the CM Press is all over it this morning. I guess he might see this as a threat to his influence over city activities.

Rob, thanks... I doubt Gary will enjoy it much. As far as traffic calming is concerned - it's done for now. Of course, aggressive police enforcement is one answer. Studies have shown that most of the violators are residents of the communities where there are complaints. It's funny how a little speeding ticket can change your attitude, huh? I've had the same experience. We'll just have to see how this shakes out now.

6/06/2007 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

Geoff,

I think Monahan has a pretty thick skin and knows that in politics satire is perfectly acceptable. If he has a problem with someone poking fun at his height, when his stature in the city is pretty significant, then he should reevaluate his run for mayor!

As for the "perks" like a pension or life-time health care for part-time elected officials, I am TOTALLY opposed to them. If they exist, they should be repealed immediately. Let us know what Roeder says - because we should start bringing that up in letters and public comments. Citizens should NEVER pay for such things.

DVS, thanks for bringing this up!

6/07/2007 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger la femme wonkita said...

Some folks just can't seem to tear themselves away from the public trough. Monahan campaigned on a platform that included term limits, not to exceed two terms. Then, he went for a third term. Now, since he can't even do that, he is trying to get the Council to invent a new office that would not be affected by the term limits he said were so great when he first ran.
As to medical, a council person needs ten years to qualify and only gets it if they take the benefit at the time they retire from council. Due to term limits, no future council member will qualify and the benefit was only added a couple of years ago, which means there is only ONE council member, past or present, to qualify. Guess who.

6/07/2007 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Ah, La Femme Wonkita to the rescue! Thanks for the summary. It's basically what I'd been told by Mr. Roeder, although, since the directly elected Mayor is a brand new position, there will likely be discussion about compensation, including retirement and medical benefits, as this process moves on through the snake, as it were. He had provided me with only the most vague response to my question because that's all he has right now. It's a work in progress, so to speak.

I share the apprehension of The-Brain-Who-Ate-Costa-Mesa over at the CM Press about the speed with which this issue is being moved through. It's very reminiscent of a couple other Monahan moves - like the closure of the Job Center, for example. He must think no one is watching. I'll post more on the benefits issue when I hear more. In the meantime, don't blink or we might have a move proposed to create a monarchy.

6/07/2007 04:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

Curious how The-Brain-Who-Ate-Costa-Mesa over at the CM Press had no problem with the rapid introduction and approval of the Immigration cross-training proposal that Mansoor foisted upon the council back in 2005... Ah, hypocrisy!

6/07/2007 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rob, you're reading my mind. That's in my next post, coming up shortly.

6/07/2007 06:43:00 PM  

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