The Fairgrounds Beat Goes On.. And On..
OK, the Costa Mesa City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to direct the staff to research the issue of placing the Fairgrounds specific plan on the ballot... no surprise there.
WHICH CHOICE IS BEST?
Despite a lot of conversation it's still not clear to me whether having the council, of it's own volition, place the issue on the June ballot is a better idea than Jim Righeimer's citizen initiative to accomplish the same thing.
GENIS: CITIZEN INITIATIVE MIGHT BE BEST
Former mayor Sandra Genis opined that there may be a difference between the two choices when it comes to the ability of a future council to undo the decision. Her thought was that a future council may not be able to make changes to the results of the initiative if it was citizen-generated, but may be able to change it if this council had it placed on the ballot. We hope the City Attorney will consider that element among all the others as they go about doing their due diligence.
And, we still don't have a clear idea about any legal liability the city might incur by placing a restriction on the use of the property on a June ballot when the bids must be submitted by January 8th. It seems to me that this is where the rubber meets the road with our contract City Attorney group. We hope they are up to the task. Ironically, the same day of the public hearing Allan Mansoor will be in Federal Court, being defended against charges filed by the ACLU on behalf of Benito Acosta.
"THE MOUTH" BLUSTERS
We didn't hear many negative voices - except for that blowhard, The Mouth From Mesa North. He was in full-pontification mode tonight and managed to anger a couple council members - at least - to the point that they felt it was necessary to rebut some of his bluster. For example, early in the proceedings he was berating the council for deciding to choose a Huntington Beach vendor for some service and included in his rant the fact that every stitch of clothes he was wearing, including his glasses, were all purchased in Costa Mesa. His thought was that if it was good enough for him it ought to be good enough for the city. He had to be reminded that the city is obliged to accept the lowest bidder on our purchases - to save the city money and follow the state law! Incidentally, those clothes he was wearing have not changed in many, many years. You can go to the city archives and find that very same black shirt draped on his racist back years ago. I guess that 99 Cent Store stuff really lasts.
"DIRECTION", NOT ACTION
Earlier we were told the council "gave direction" but took no action on the closed session items, one of which appeared to involve planning for the purchase of the Fairgrounds.
LOTS OF GROUPS...
So, the beat goes on. We have the City Council instructing the staff to research the ballot issue. We have Jim Righeimer trying to generate enough interest in a citizen-generated ballot issue under the name of "Save the Fair". We have another flock of folks trying to get the whole thing killed under the name of "Derail the Sale". And, we have a lot of other people running around, wringing their hands and moaning about the sale of the Fairgrounds but accomplishing not much. Somehow these groups need to start pulling together - soon.
SOLORIO/TRAN HEARING MONDAY
Next Monday we have the Solorio/Tran public hearing in which the panelists might outnumber the folks in the audience. Fewer than 50 people had RSVP'd late Tuesday.
TOO MUCH SPEED?
It seems to me that the pace of this process may create problems. Remember Ben Franklin's old homily - "Haste makes waste"? Well, I'm just a little worried that we're being rushed to make a decision that might come back to bite us. If, for example, we do manage to place an issue on the June ballot that restricts in perpetuity the uses of the Fairgrounds property to only those specific uses that exist today, that is potentially going to prohibit the city from taking appropriate actions in the future if the opportunity presents itself. We could be painting ourselves into that proverbial corner.
WOULD THE FAIR LEAVE?
For example, say the City and/or County do find a way to acquire the land. There really is nothing to keep the Fair at that site if a better offer comes along - like from The Great Park, for example. This is the tack The Mouth was taking tonight, and he may be correct. The Fair is at it's current location because the State owns the land. If that changes, what keeps the Fair at this site? Nothing, as far as I can tell. Then what?
WHO MANAGES THE PROPERTY?
If the property is sold, who manages it? Right now the Fair Board - all political appointees - make the decisions. But, their responsibilities are for the Fair, not the Fairgrounds if sold to another entity. It would be completely appropriate for them, in the administration of their fiscal responsibilities, to consider other options.
LOOK BEFORE WE LEAP
I think our elected City officials better be sure there's a net before jumping off this cliff. Otherwise, we might have the Fairgrounds but no Fair.