Some Budget Cuts Restored, Just Not Enough
As expected, the Costa Mesa City Council meeting was worth the price of admission, even though one of the potentially most contentious issues - the proposed tougher solicitation ordinance - was continued until next month. I guess they may have realized that their plan had some major holes in it - like the lack of a Job Center, for example.
ANTICIPATED FIREWORKS DO MATERIALIZE
The proposal by Katrina Foley and Wendy Leece to restore previously chopped programs to the budget generated many comments from community members and rancorous discussion between council members. Allan Mansoor set the tone for the evening's discussions when he launched into a tirade against Katrina Foley during council member comments for her behavior at the previous meeting nearly a month ago. He demanded an apology for being called "ignorant" by Foley at the last meeting. He didn't get one, and rightfully so. At that meeting he, Eric Bever and Gary Monahan displayed ignorance of family issues as they stubbornly voted in lock-step to chop family-oriented issues from the budget. I guess our young jailer/mayor (is he still a jailer?) has a heightened sensitivity to being called ignorant, for which I take some small degree of responsibility since I've reminded readers of his limited intellectual horsepower for several years. Since this was the first meeting which did not include the dinner part of the "dinner session", maybe Mansoor was just hungry. He really shouldn't miss any meals because his teeny brain needs all the nourishment it can get...
MONAHAN, THE MARTYR
As anticipated, Monahan again played the martyr, acknowledging that he knows he will get "beat up" for defending his position of nit-picking the little issues on the budget because the city is "in trouble". Well, duh, Gary - we all know that. Why didn't you spend your time massaging the big-ticket items in the budget? Maybe we should be asking the unions for a 6% pay cut instead of 5. Maybe he should be giving up his family health care plan - that would save a couple staff jobs. Oh, no.. he simply must use our current budget crisis to further oppress the less fortunate among us - those folks with brown skins. Honestly, I don't know how he faces those folks at church on Sunday...
SHOPPING CART ISSUE PASSED
The council decided to go along with the recommendation by staff regarding the shopping cart issue. Monahan recommended the threshold for the requirements be raised to 15 carts from 10. It will take several months to get the details sorted out and the store owners informed. Eventually, this plan will save the city $48,000 that it pays to have abandoned carts scooped up and returned to the proper stores. I wonder what it will cost us in goodwill with the stores in town, and how any potential merchants will feel about locating here with this measure in place. Oh, yes - the section of the ordinance giving the "developer majority" on the Planning Commission final say was included - lord help us all!
MASSAGE PARLOR MORATORIUM PASSED
The urgency ordinance requested by the Police Department to delay approvals of new permits and licenses for massage parlors and therapists was approved. Chief Shawkey told the council that he will use the 45 day moratorium to work with the City Attorney to craft tighter regulations for such businesses to help head off those that might be fronts for prostitution.
CONCERTS IN THE PARK RESTORED
Due to the efforts by Foley, Leece and others, the concerts in the park were restored. The Costa Mesa Community Foundation came up with $4300 and the Fire and Police unions donated $2500 each to help produce three concerts in the park. It is possible that a fourth concert will be salvaged if the community can come up with $1000 - Foley committed to contribute $500 of the $1500 necessary to produce that fourth concert. The council unanimously supported the restoration of the remaining concerts.
NEIGHBORS FOR NEIGHBORS, TOO
Leece moved that the Neighbors for Neighbors program be restored by using previously allocated funds from the Community Foundation. The vote was 4-1 in favor, with Monahan voting no.
MOBILE RECREATION PROGRAMS REJECTED - AGAIN
The Mobile Recreation Program was again rejected, despite the fact that the Costa Mesa Library Foundation and the School District both have participated in programs. Foley and Leece voted to reinstate it, but the three stooges on the council chose to take the short-sighted path and rejected it. Now the city will simply moth-ball the $82,000 vehicle and kiss off the opportunity to have a very positive impact on over 400 kids a month in our city.
TEEN AND YOUTH RECREATION PROGRAMS REJECTED - AGAIN
The Teen Program and the Youth Recreation programs were, once again, rejected by the men on the council. The council voted to receive and file the sister city and grad night programs, which means they remain unfunded in this year's budget.
IGNORANCE AND ELITISM
So, the men on the council demonstrated for their constituents one more time that they really have no clue when it comes to issues involving children and the importance of after school programs for them. Of course, we expect that kind of ignorance from Bever and Mansoor, since they have no kids that we know of. Monahan's insensitivity, however, is pure elitism - he can cover the cost of his children's private schools and all the after school amenities that goes with it by simply raising the price of a drink at his bar. The hardworking folks on the Westside that are the main beneficiaries of those chopped programs don't have that luxury. Monahan's "let them eat cake" attitude is disgusting, but not unexpected. I warned you about it last year during the campaign. Pay attention next time, will you please?
WHAT'S WITH BEVER?
By the way, is it my imagination or has Eric Bever decided to hibernate for the summer? His participation in the debates last night was nearly zero, and when he did speak he made no sense at all. If he plans to ride out the remainder of his term like this - basically phoning it in - perhaps someone should consider launching a recall effort so he can be replaced by someone who actually seems to be interested in city issues.
WENDY STANDS HER GROUND
And, finally, I must again commend Wendy Leece for standing up to the guys on the dais. She clearly has a much better grasp of family-oriented issues and, as an instructor at Juvenile Hall, she sees the end result of kids having little or no guidance and direction. I'm certainly not her biggest fan, but cannot help but admire her tenacity over the past couple months.