The Price Of A Municipal Heart?
A couple days after the Monahan Massacre at the Costa Mesa City Council meeting last Tuesday night the blood splatter has begun to congeal and the impact of the changes to the proposed budget are being assessed.
MAKING HIS MARK
Although the city staff had presented the council with a balanced budget, Gary Monahan apparently felt it was necessary for him to put his mark on the process by recommending what he initially said would be $600,000 in budget savings. He didn't even get close! When council members Eric Bever, Wendy Leece and Katrina Foley rejected his proposals to chop 1 animal control officer and 2 code enforcement officers from the budget - correctly so, in my opinion - that blocked more than $300,000 of his "savings". That left him with only a few other items that amounted to any significant savings - and not very significant, at that.
Based on the postmortem of the massacre, it appears that all that shouting, name-calling and angst netted a budget dollar savings of around $100,000 - and $36,000 of that came from the city council budget itself by cutting out things like training and meals for the council, commissions and staff before their regular meetings.
THE BODY COUNT
The long term affects of Monahan's mayhem Tuesday night will take a longer time to assess. By cutting out the Mobil Recreation Van - a new piece of equipment, by the way - the city will lose 4 staff members. By cutting out the Teen Center at the Downtown Recreation Center we will lose 3 more. If Monahan's proposal to contract-out the operations of the Neighborhood Community Center and the Downtown Recreation Center are successful, that will mean the loss of 5 full time and 20 part time staffers.
I was among the many residents of this city that sat with our jaws dropped as Monahan, and his willing accomplice, Allan Mansoor, went about hacking away at an already professionally trimmed proposal. The blood they leave on the floor is that of the youth of this city - mainly the Latino youth on the Westside of our city. By eliminating so many of the successful programs for the youth of this city it leaves those children with few opportunities for positive activities in the afternoons. This opens the door for gang involvement, graffiti "tagging", vandalism and more. You can thank Monahan and Mansoor for that...
CUTS WON'T AFFECT HIS KIDS
I guess I can understand how Mansoor and Bever, who supported many of the cuts, can be so clueless about anything dealing with the children of our city - they don't have any. I couldn't understand how Monahan, with six children of his own, could be so heartless until a friend reminded me that all his kids go to private school and won't be affected by any of these program cuts he enforced. Reflecting on the proceedings Tuesday night, I recall him making statements that implied that parents should be paying for programs - a reference, I guess, to his situation. I guess if it's good enough for Monahan, who splits his time between his bar and two municipal troughs - the city and the sanitary district - then it should be good enough for everyone!
"GOVERNMENT BY AMBUSH"
Because Monahan's draconian recommendations were not specifically "noticed" in the staff report there has been some concern within the community that there might have been a Brown Act violation. According to city sources, that's not the case. The "budget" was noticed and everything is on the table at budget time. While that may be true from a legal standpoint, it still reeks of what a friend refers to as "Government By Ambush". You can bet the farm that if members of this community had been made aware that Monahan was planning to decimate our youth after school and recreation programs there would have been a packed house of unhappy parents to speak against his move.
A HEARTLESS CITY
I agree with councilwoman Katrina Foley. With these cuts Monahan and his heartless majority have torn at the very fabric of our city. He even tried to de-fund our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), for goodness sake! Their actions will almost certainly cause young families to think hard before moving to our city. This city's motto may be, "The City of the Arts", but it will never be considered a city with a heart - Monahan took care of that last Tuesday night.
HE DEMONSTRATED HIS UNTRUSTWORTHINESS
Monahan, early in his presentation, speculated that he was going to make some people angry. Well, Gary, you did that - in spades! You demonstrated to many of those voters who were suckers enough to return you to the dais last fall that you are not to be trusted with the welfare of our city. You've proven, once again, that you are a devious politician, looking out only for his own political future. I hope the voters of this city remember last Tuesday - I'll remind them, by the way - when you trot out your plan for a directly-elected mayor (without term limits) again. Few in this city want to see you anoint yourself as "mayor for life"...
THE PRICE OF A MUNICIPAL HEART...
With the carnage Tuesday Monahan has provided us with the answer to the question, "What is the price of a municipal heart?" The answer is $100,000, give or take a couple bucks.