Bulldog Bob Graham Strikes Out - Again
Sometimes watching city meetings can be a little tedious. Occasionally a city council meeting might run well past the designated midnight witching hour - the time when the council is supposed to, literally, call it a night and move the remainder of the agenda to another meeting. History shows that, once the council begins working into the next day, they seem to have a collective lapse of judgment. Fortunately, that doesn't happen too often.
PLANNING MEETINGS DRONE
Sometimes a Planning Commission meeting will drone on and on about a specific proposed development or issue that is so laced with acronyms and specialized terminology that it's hard to keep one's eyes open. Fortunately, Jim Righeimer usually provides eye-openers in the form of his interrogation of applicants or by angering Chairman Donn Hall, who bats him back in line.
AND THEN THERE'S BOB GRAHAM...
And then there is the Parks and Recreation Commission... Over the past couple meetings, well-intentioned commissioner Bob Graham has set a new low water mark for stubbornness. He's put his quest to build a bridge over the Santa Ana River at 19th Street on hiatus, but he's found a new cause - a proper entrance to Fairview Park at Canary Drive.
"BULLDOG" ON THE CASE - AGAIN
At their previous meeting in June, Graham - bulldog that he is - presented yet another request for the "user-defined" entrance to Fairview Park at the end of Canary Drive to be upgraded to a proper entrance. Presently it's just a steep, dirt path leading from the sidewalk up into the park. (See image above) He went on and on about how dangerous it was, that seniors couldn't make the climb up and, once there, were in real danger of falling when they left down the hill. He showed photographs ad nauseum of the muddy slope following a rainy day.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR, BOB
Finally, in frustration because it was clear the commission and staff were not on his side on this subject, he suggested that the access to the park at that point be walled off, prohibiting entry. It was clear that he didn't really mean it, but the commission took his suggestion and ran with it. They directed staff to return at the next meeting - last night - with an analysis of closing that entrance, which they did.
NAGHAVI - "TOO COSTLY"
Predictably, Graham was not happy when Peter Nagahvi, Director of Public Services, advised the commission that it was not fiscally prudent nor technically feasible to close off that entrance to the park. It would require a 12 foot wall with a fence on top of that, which would almost assuredly become a canvas for graffiti and wouldn't keep kids from climbing it to reach the park.
ROBINSON TO THE RESCUE
Graham, even more frustrated than at the earlier meeting, just kept on pounding away at this issue. He attempted to maneuver the discussion back to creating a proper entrance, but that train had left the station last month. It was improper to address it at this meeting - it was not an agenda item. Many speakers stood and spoke on the issue. Finally, former mayor and current judge Karen Robinson - a resident of that neighborhood - took the speaker's podium. In the vernacular, she "took Graham to the woodshed" on this subject. Her anger was evident as she chastised Graham for wasting so much staff time on an issue that would not be resolved until the Fairview Park Master Plan is re-opened - something Graham just couldn't accept. Watching Robinson verbally slice and dice Graham made me happy I've never had to encounter her on the bench.
CAN'T SPIT IT OUT
Even after that, Graham wasn't finished. As Robinson stepped away from the podium he muttered something about "Maybe the Mesa Verde Homeowners Association should buy that little piece of land and take responsibility for it." Poor, clueless guy...
GRAHAM - DEDICATED, BUT CLUELESS
One thing is sure in this city... even the most ponderous of meetings can provide some great theater. Unfortunately, this little drama Graham produced only served to waste valuable staff resources and commission time. I doubt Graham will be considered for re-appointment to the commission following the next election. His passion has overwhelmed his judgment too many times.
GALITSKI WEAK LEADER
Part of the problem last night, and on previous occasions, was the weak leadership provided by current Chairman, Kurt Galitski. He's been in the Big Chair for a few months now, so one expects that he might have a better grasp on the format and procedures by now. That's not the case, unfortunately. In fact, this particular iteration of the Parks and Recreation Commission is more passive than active. I never thought I'd see the day when long-time commissioner Mark Harris would be the one to keep things pointed in the right direction, but that's the case these days. The men on the commission need to step up and tighten their focus on the issues before them.