Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Era of Bever Begins - Egad!

Sometimes the antics of the majority on the Costa Mesa City Council leaves the mind reeling. Tuesday night was one of those times.

To start with, watching our new mayor, Eric Bever, try to run a meeting is amusing at best and
painful at worst. Between his tenure on the Planning Commission and his three years plus on the City Council one would expect him to be pretty comfortable on the dais and, at the very least, know how to operate the timer! Nah, that's too much to expect. He consistently mumbled and fumbled his way along and reminded more than one observer of the perpetually inept Chris Steel. And then there are the potential Brown Act violations when he and his pal, former mayor Allan Mansoor, engage in prolonged whispering on the dais while other council members are speaking. It's not only rude, but anything they have to say on the dais should be said for all to hear. Otherwise, don't say it!

The majority continued to demonstrate their inability to think about issues in terms of the greater good for the entire com
munity, choosing instead to be swayed by a few vocal community members. Of course, that doesn't really surprise me, considering that it was a disgruntled, vocal minority within the community that got them elected - the self-anointed "improvers".


It was truly ironic that the council meeting began with acknowledgment and recognition
of representatives from our sister city, Wyndham, Victoria, Australia who are in town as part of the educational exchange program and then ended with the council majority declining to establish a committee to coordinate and give structure to our end of the sister city program. As stated by former mayor Allan Mansoor, he thought it was more appropriate for the school district to carry the ball - to "do some of the work", as he so ignorantly put it. Watching the deliberations, one can easily come to the conclusion that the majority chose to reject this proposal because it was put forth by Council Member Katrina Foley. These deliberations and others made it clear that the council majority will take any opportunity to discredit and rebuff Foley in anticipation of the elections in November.

During the public comments segment on the possibility of placing small "pocket skate parks" in some of our many parks around town Bever demonstrated a very cavalier attitude with the time clock. As one speaker presented his views the clock went off at the end of three minutes. He kept on talking and
Bever turned the buzzer off and just let him ramble without comment. Now, I know this is no big deal - the speaker was an expert on skate parks and his insights are valuable - but this is the kind of thing you can expect from a Bever-led meeting. He will just make up rules to suit himself as things progress. Fortunately, on this issue they decided to consider four neighborhood parks for possible placement of pocket skate parks - in-ground facilities on a reduced scale.

During the discussion of Foley's request to rehear the previously rejected bike trail along the Paularino and Delhi Channels we saw the classic Eric Bever convoluted thinking in play. After a long
discussion which included many negative comments by residents contiguous to the channels in question and brief, off-the-cuff comments about potential costs, Bever launched into one of his adventures in outer space. He told the council and audience that, while the council was deliberating the issue, he had been doing some math. As those words came dribbling out of his mouth I knew we were in trouble because math calculations require the use of a side of his brain that usually doesn't get much work. I was right. He arbitrarily plucked random numbers from the discussions as one might pluck apples, oranges, bananas to make a fruit salad, jammed them into his cranium, shook it like a cocktail shaker and poured out something akin to prune juice. When pressed, Transportation Manager Peter Naghavi - a highly skilled and respected professional in his field - estimated the project might cost between $1 million to $1.5 million, but cautioned that his estimate was premature because there were too many variables undecided. Bever, with his marvelous math mind, pulled a number of $25 million out of the air! This guy just makes it up as he goes along!

As you might expect, the upshot of this shoot-from-the-hip discussion was that the bike trail rehearing was rejected hands down.


In a night filled with gaffes - former mayor Allan Mansoor tried to usurp Bever's authority a couple times in a reflex born of way too much time at the helm - perhaps the most egregious one occurred near the end, just before the discussion of the creation of a committee to shepherd the sister city program. Bever opened the prior subject to public comment, observing that it was "non-existent"
, to which his buddy, former mayor Mansoor observed that Mr. Smalley (Thomas Smalley, General Manager of the Wyndham Hotel and President of the Costa Mesa Conference and Visitors Bureau) was there and he wasn't non-existent. Bever responded that, "he's not a member of the public, he's a groupie!". Will Bever ever understand that he doesn't have to regurgitate every single thought rattling around in his head? I guess not... It's like watching a teenager - I half-expect his voice to crack when he speaks!

I have strong mixed feelings about the next several months. On one hand, it's clear that nothing has changed. The Mansoor/Bever/Leece troika still holds the power and they still disregard substantive issues proposed by Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon. This will undoubtedly continue until the election in November. On the other hand, with Bever at the helm every meeting promises to be worth the price of admission. You don't dare blink for fear of missing another mistake, fabrication of "truth"or procedural violation. If it wasn't so darn important it would be comical.

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