Monahan Mangles The Budget - And His Reputation
What The... Heck?! (I thought better about using that "other" word, although it was certainly more appropriate!) Just when you think you've seen it all, the Costa Mesa City Council provides you with a slap in the face!
RIPPED THE HEART OUT!
At last night's City Council meeting, during the budget discussions, twelve-year councilman Gary Monahan reached right in and ripped the heart out our city! As I predicted earlier, he just couldn't be satisfied with the balanced budget presented by City Manager Allan Roeder and his staff. No, he had to nickel and dime what was left of the budget, much of it coming from the Recreation programs. And the ignorance of the programs that Monahan, Allan Mansoor and Eric Bever displayed was astounding! It's as though they lived in another city!
A NICKEL HERE, A DIME THERE...
Apparently not caring what the residents of this city think, Monahan started off his "surgery" by convincing the other guys on the council to shut down the very successful Neighbors to Neighbors program - which didn't affect the budget one penny because it comes out of Community Development Block Grant funds. He moved forward by recommending defunding all training for the city council - saving $10,000. He also canceled the dinner meeting meals for the council and both commissions and the staff. There's another $12,900 in "savings"! He ignored the fact that many of the staff members that work the council and commission meetings go directly from their work desks to the dinner meeting, then to the council meeting - some of which last 5-6 hours - like last night's for example. I found myself wondering if that move will violate any state labor laws...
SOME MOVES REJECTED...
As he took his meat cleaver on down through the budget some of his most egregious moves were rejected as Bever joined Katrina Foley and Wendy Leece in voting against them. Among those were his plan to fire one of the three animal control officers - a move that very obviously ticked off Police Chief Chris Shawkey. Monahan also wanted to fire two code enforcement officers - another move that was rejected.
CERT PROGRAM SAVED
In a truly ironic move, he suggested folding up the CERT Program - our Community Emergency Response Team. I say ironic because there was an excellent article in the Daily Pilot yesterday that outlined the activities of the CERT group. That was rejected, too. Another boneheaded move was his proposal to attempt to combine unrelated youth recreation programs, even though those he was suggesting be combined were not even slightly related in scope and activities. Fortunately, Bever, Leece and Foley blocked that one, too.
MORE NICKEL AND DIMES...
He also was successful in cutting out funding for Grad Nite, our Sister City Program and youth basketball, flag football and cheerleader programs.
CHANGING PLANNING AND PARKS COMMISSION SCHEDULES
As he kept on rolling, he made some motions for future actions for the staff - those that will be left, that is. Among those was the proposal to consider having the Parks & Recreation Commission meet every other month and the Planning Commission meet only once a month. That followed the proposal that the two commissions be combined into one entity... that item is not dead.. yet.
MICRO-MANAGING THE COPS
He also proposed that the Police Department keep the Patrol Division fully staffed, regardless what other cuts in the department might occur - ignoring all the hard, time-consuming staff work done by Chief Shawkey and his team. I suppose micro-managing is not unexpected by Monahan, if you get my drift.
HE DOESN'T GET IT!
Basically, Monahan - who has 6 kids - seemed not to understand at all how cutting all those recreation programs would significantly negatively impact entire neighborhoods in our city. He tore the fabric of our town to shreds last night. He acknowledged before he began shredding the budget that he might make some people mad. Well, he certainly accomplished that last night. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if his antics don't cost him some business at his pub.
FOLEY AND MANSOOR - TOE-TO-TOE
One of the highlights for me was the heated exchanges between Foley, Mansoor and Monahan. Foley, obviously very frustrated by the flat out stupidity of some of the motions, didn't hold her tongue. In fact, she and Mansoor got into it so often - yelling at each other - that Mansoor later demanded an apology. He didn't get one.
WHAT'S LEFT OF THE RECREATION PROGRAMS?
So now the city staff, and Recreation Manager Jana Ransom, must try to figure out what is left in their budgets and find ways to move forward. Last night's budget debate - if you can call it that - demonstrated why it's important to elect people to the city council that are smarter than your average bear. The combination of ignorance and stubbornness demonstrated by Mansoor and Monahan last night made me fear for the future of our city. If things move forward as directed last night, this town will become a much less family-friendly place. That's a shame.
MANSOOR'S PANDERING ACCOMPLISHED
In other earlier actions, Mayor Mansoor got his resolution about the Vietnamese flag passed. This was accompanied by speeches by several Vietnamese-American politicians and activists and ordinary members of the Orange County Vietnamese community speaking, including a couple members of Assemblyman Van Tran's staff. Did I mention that Mansoor is running for Tran's seat in the Assembly? Don't get me wrong. I really don't have a problem with the resolution that was passed. It just seems very "convenient" for this to come up now - immediately after Mansoor declared his intention to run for Van Tran's seat. It's pure political pandering...
GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS
The good news is that the Orange Coast College State Champion baseball team was honored by the council. Their performance - especially in this year, with it's own special adversity - was a wonderful accomplishment. All in all, it was a sad night for the residents of Costa Mesa. It demonstrated, once again, how important it is to pay attention when you're voting for elected leaders. Even though Mansoor's term expires next year, the bad news is that Monahan may be destined to be there forever! Watch him try to resurrect the "directly elected mayor" scheme next year about this time - without term limits. I think he wants to be mayor for life - kind of like Idi Amin (Dada)...