Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Finally, A Budget Framework...

OVERPAID PLANNING COMMISSIONERS PROVE MY POINT
Before I forget.... the Costa Mesa Planning Commission, at their meeting Monday night, exceeded my expectations - kinda. As I earlier predicted, their one-item meeting was going to be a quickie - I speculated that it would be finished in a half-hour. Well, I was wrong, but not by much.
The meeting began promptly at 6 p.m. and concluded at 6:27, so the boys did themselves proud. And, since they will only be meeting once a month through November, that means the good taxpayers of Costa Mesa paid them what amounted to more than $800.00 per hour for all their "hard work" on Monday. Don't you feel good about that?

*****
FULL STUDY SESSION AGENDA
Today was a busy one for our City Council. As mentioned yesterday, they had a full agenda, with a Study Session packed with interesting items - including Wendy Leece's proposal to sanctify the City Council chambers with a plaque carrying the motto, "In God We Trust". Since the session was not televised live I have no idea how that played with the remainder of the council members.

PAINFUL REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY REALITY
Then they adjourned to the council chambers for a meeting of the Redevelopment Agency - the council in a different dress. That was a quickie, during which they made decisions protecting the city in the event the state successfully snatches redevelopment dollars from us.

MUSICAL CHAIRS
Then the lights were dimmed and the council played musical chairs and swapped name tags and re-convened as the city council to consider one item - the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between the Costa Mesa Firefighters and the city.

FIREFIGHTERS OFFERED MORE THAN WAS ASKED...
To summarize, the questionable areas that existed a week ago have been hashed out by the negotiators on both sides and an acceptable proposal was presented for the council to consider. Presentations by senior city staff with, added input by the leaders of the firefighters association, made clear that this was an acceptable proposal. In fact, the firefighters actually presented more savings than the city originally requested.

STUBBORN OR STUPID?
It was very frustrating, but not unexpected, that Mayor Mansoor just couldn't grasp the numbers no matter how many times it was explained to him. Of course, this is who he is - a man with very limited intellectual resources being asked to comprehend what began as some complicated issues. In the end, though, I think it was just stubbornness on his part. Led by the solid discussions by Katrina Foley, Wendy Leece and Gary Monahan, the proposal as presented was passed on a 3-2 vote, with Mansoor and Bever voting No.

BEVER'S CONTRIBUTION? ONE WORD...
It was interesting to note that, despite all his bluster on the Daily Pilot blog over the past few days, Bever said only one audible word all night. That was when he said "second" to Mansoor's substitute motion to delay voting on this issue until the next council meeting on the 18th. That motion failed. Bever offered not a single word - not even any of his occasional grunts - during the discussion. He asked no questions, posed no alternatives - it was as though he was asleep. In fact, he may have been for all we could tell. One might have thought someone had cut out his tongue, for goodness sake.

THE BERRYS BLUSTER

Maybe Bever felt the tag-team of his neighbors, Mike and Judi Berry, said enough so he didn't have to. Believe me, I thought they said more than enough, but at least Judi didn't whine about cutting the Mutt Mittens from the budget this time around. And who knows what Mike said?! Sometimes it seems as though even he doesn't know what he's saying.

PETTINESS ON DISPLAY

When the final vote was taken Mansoor, clearly peeved, abruptly said, "That's it. We're adjourned."

NOW LET'S MOVE FORWARD

This budget process has been taxing for all concerned. City Manager Allan Roeder, Steve Mandoki, Marc Puckett, Bobby Young and the rest of the senior staff did a masterful job of presenting the council with workable solutions. Some of those are still dependent on a certain level of sales and property tax dollars. However, with the passage of the issue tonight, they now have a skeleton on which to begin adding muscle and bone. So now the city staff can move forward unless other curves are thrown our way. They can begin to plan for the potential early retirements they anticipate this fall and they can begin to manage the 104 unpaid furlough hours each employee - except the firefighters - will be expected to take between now and the end of August next year.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL FOR A JOB WELL-DONE

Congratulations to all involved for a job well-done. To the employees of our city, thank you all for understanding the extent of the problem and for your dedication in working together with the senior staff to resolve the problems. The firefighters, in particular, are to be commended for presenting a workable solution with some very sticky service issues that had to be addressed.

MANSOOR AND BEVER UNWORTHY OF OFFICE

I cannot close this post without observing, one more time, just how ineffective Mansoor and Bever have been in this process. It seems as though everything is black or white to them. Their inability to grasp - either through stubbornness or denseness, or both - the intricacies of this process demonstrates just what happens when the electorate is wooed by a one-note samba during a campaign. Mansoor and Bever used the fear of your dark-skinned neighbors to win their seats, which concealed the fact that neither man has the grey matter necessary to do their jobs. That is certainly something to keep in mind in the future as one or both may seek another elected office.

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