Commissions Shuffled and The Author Returns
As I've said many times in the past, the Costa Mesa City Council shouldn't violate their rule about council meetings not going past midnight. That rule was implemented a few years ago because, almost invariably, decisions made after the witching hour turn out to be either hasty, ill-advised or both. And, parties interested in the agenda items that get stretched into the next day usually have gone home, depriving the council of their opinions, perspectives and passion. Last night was one of those nights, as the council decided to handle the final agenda item - the selection of commissioners - shortly after midnight. The meeting itself finished at 12:27, finally.
YOU WIN SOME...
As predicted HERE just before Christmas, the Costa Mesa City Council chose Colin McCarthy and Steve Mensinger from a long and impressive list of candidates for the two open slots on the Planning Commission.
POLITICS GUIDES THE CHOICES
There is no doubt that both men have solid credentials, but one gets the strong feeling that these two appointments had less to do with their qualifications than it did with their political orientation. McCarthy, a construction lawyer, is closely aligned with his very vocal Mesa North neighbor and seems to share some of his views if recent history is any indication. Mensinger will join his close business associate, Jim Righeimer, on the dais - something that will require some watching as the months move on. Both men are developers, which might normally be a good qualification. However, I'm more than a little uneasy with their business association - each runs a different arm of the same organization, the financially beleaguered Suncal Companies. On the positive side, considering the state of the economy, both Mensinger and Righeimer probably have plenty of time to spend visiting every site and do the homework necessary to perform these jobs well. We'll see...
HALL AND EGAN OUSTED
Even more disappointing is that, by making these selections, the council majority spit in the eyes of current incumbents Donn Hall and Eleanor Egan. Both Hall - a community activist for more than four decades, including a tour as mayor - and Egan have served this city for years and with distinction. Both have been active in "westside improvement" from the earliest days. It looks like the current council majority is more than willing to cast aside loyal compatriots for the sake of future political considerations.
...AND YOU LOSE SOME
I missed the call on the Parks and Recreation Commission. I had speculated that the council might select Rob Dickson, Jr. for one of the two positions. He was not even nominated. The council rejected nominations of athlete Brittany Koper and Eastsiders Marnie Primmer and Jeff Harlan and chose, instead, Jeff Mathews and Kim Pederson. Also not selected was incumbent Bob Graham and former commissioner Dave Stiller. Clearly, there is a "youth movement" afoot.
Kim Pederson is an employee of the City of Newport Beach, as is outgoing commissioner Mark Harris, and has a long history of involvement in Costa Mesa sports programs. Jeff Mathews seems to have no recreation or park management in his background, but does have strong academic credentials and what appears - on paper, at least - to be a solid management background. That will be a very welcome addition to the commission, which has been virtually leaderless in recent months. However, since I didn't really know much about Mathews, I decided to check a little further. It seems that he was Monahan's volunteer coordinator during the past election. And, both Bever - who nominated him - and Monahan - who seconded the nomination - received $1,000 campaign contributions from Mathews last summer. I guess we now know the cash value of a Parks and Recreation Commission seat.
MONAHAN'S BACK IN ACTION
With almost no one watching - at nearly 12:30 a.m. who would be? - Gary Monahan showed us that he's still a sneaky guy, willing to play fast and loose with the rules. At that late (early?) hour he asked the City Attorney if it was possible, at that time, to choose more candidates from this exceptional pool. One had the impression that he wanted to clean the slate and dump all the current commissioners and replace them with members from the group of applicants this time around. He was advised that he couldn't do that at this meeting because proper notice hadn't been made. One had the very clear impression that the days of the remaining three commissioners may be numbered - that the council may be asked to boot them all out and choose new folks very soon.
DON'T TURN YOUR BACKS...
Remember when I told you not to turn your back on these folks? This is precisely why... They will wait until almost no one is watching, then slip a "suggestion" into the works that has very significant impact on our city governance.
HE'S COMING BAAACK!
Here's some news for you... Former Costa Mesa resident, college professor, newspaper columnist and author of "Terror in the Barrio - The Rise of the New Right in Local Government", Dr. Humberto Caspa, is returning from Bolivia soon! I announced his departure for his homeland the middle of last year, HERE. I'm sure that will make one resident, prominently featured in Dr. Caspa's book, very happy. I expect there will be a red carpet rolled out for Dr. Caspa in the north part of our city upon his return.
WILL CONTROVERSY FOLLOW?
Dr. Caspa was an extremely active and vocal advocate for the Latino population in Costa Mesa. His views were found to be controversial by some, particularly those pilloried in his book. I don't know what his plans are for the future, but I do know that his activism provoked discussion of important issues that, in all likelihood, may not have otherwise taken place.