Fairgrounds, Huscroft House, Skosh and God
Here's my question for the day... Is there any resident of Orange County who actually wants the Fairgrounds to be sold? Other than the current Fair Board, that is... Based on the recent public meetings held in Costa Mesa, I'd say the answer is a resounding NO!
FOLEY AND LEECE LEAD THE WAY
Last night the Costa Mesa City Council, following an outstanding presentation by Councilwoman Katrina Foley and Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece, heard dozens of residents and other stakeholders present their individual views on this subject. Heck, they were even serenaded by blogger Vern Nelson, who appeared in a red, hooded cape, and sang "Tainted Sale" to the music of "Tainted Love", which brought down the house. Even Mayor Allan Mansoor cheered him when he finished.
HISTORY AND PLANS OUTLINED
Foley and Leece outlined the history of this sale scheme and gave the audience the time line that we face if the sale is to be stopped. They also presented the steps the City is taking to slam the door on potential buyers. It was announced that, during their closed session meeting, the council had agreed to proceed with plans to make a bid outright for the Fairgrounds and authorized spending $250,000 dollars of staff time toward that planning.
The upshot of the meeting was a three-pronged motion presented by Foley. To quote Foley, "The first part is to prepare a letter to all Orange County legislators and Speaker of the Assembly requesting that they put forth legislation to cancel the sale. The second part to prepare a letter signed by all of the city council members to demand that the governor terminate the sale. And, thirdly, to authorize member Leece and myself to personally communicate our city's position to the governor, state elected and local officials and representatives to work with the City Manager in making it our top priority to stop the sale." The motion passed unanimously. Now the hard work begins because the time constraints and holidays will severely tax a staff thinned by budget constraints.
FAIR BOARD TO BE INVESTIGATED?
One interesting issue was broached by one speaker - that of the possible illegality on the part of the Fair Board and their hired representative in the sale of the Fair. As mentioned in an earlier post, R. Scott Moxley at the OC Weekly, HERE, indicated that the county attorney was pursuing legal action. The Orange County Register, HERE, further reported today that the State Attorney General declined to investigate because he is the legal counsel for the Fair Board. The buck has been passed back to the county, where District Attorney Tony Rackauckas will be asked to investigate this allegation. It was also suggested that Federal authorities take part in this investigation.
WHERE WAS RIGGY?
Another question arose as I watched the proceedings on television tonight - where's Riggy? Costa Mesa Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer has been omnipresent at every other meeting on this subject and had begun his own effort to place the subject on the ballot. He's been taking a lot of flack over the past week or so for his censoring of comments on his Save The Fair web site and, reports have it, that he's had at least one toe-to-toe heated discussion with a member of the public who questioned his motives.
HE'S STILL A CARPETBAGGER...
My opinion of Riggy has not changed over the past couple years. I've referred to him as a carpetbagging political opportunist, who used his GOP connections to get himself appointed to the Planning Commission after helping get Mansoor re-elected two years ago after having resided in Costa Mesa for only a few months. I don't like his heavy-handed approach on the Planning Commission, which is now made all the more onerous because he's been joined by Steve Mensinger and Colin McCarthy - all three have strong developer ties. To me, that's like asking the fox to be housemother in the chicken coop.
A NEW LOWER PROFILE?
I was suspicious of his motivation with his Save The Fair scheme and the passage of time has done nothing to change my opinion. Hopefully, the council action last night will eliminate any need for him to insert himself into this process.
A GIFT THAT KEEPS ON TAKING...
A sidebar at the meeting was the concern expressed by several residents about the evolving sale of the Huscroft House on Bernard Street. After the city bent over backwards helping the buyer of that derelict building in the form of financial incentives and relaxation of zoning issues, it seems the owner has sold the place to an outfit that plans to use if for a recovery home! Actually, it sounds like it's a series of recovery homes, to stay within the 6-person-per-house rule.
This has created much angst among residents along that street, several of whom have purchased homes in an adjacent development assuming the Huscroft House would remain an owner-occupied dwelling and be an anchor of a revitalized section of the Westside of town.
THANK YOU, LINDA DIXON
This whole deal was bad from the beginning, but then-councilwoman Linda Dixon carried the torch for that ramshackle building and the council at the time got snookered. When will we learn? The City Attorney will investigate to see what, if anything, can be done. They shouldn't hold their breath, as our friends down in Newport Beach can tell you.
MONAHAN WAS CITED AND FINED
On the subject of councilman Gary Monahan's illegal banner on his pub, city officials tell me he was issued a citation late last week and has 30 days in which to pay the $75.00 fine and remove the banner. If he fails to do so he will be cited again, this time with a $200.00 fine and another 30 days to take the banner down. If he continues to thumb his nose at the city he will be cited a third time and fined $500.00. If he doesn't remove the banner after that citation the issue will be turned over to the city prosecutor for disposition. We all remember what a bang-up job he did with the Benito Acosta criminal trial, don't we? He dropped the ball and the case was dismissed.
ABUSE OF POWER
I expect Monahan will continue to rack up the fines and write them off as a cost of doing business. The time line above will take him through the football season. However, I fully expect to see another similar illegal banner in March, advertising March Madness, and the process will begin all over again. As I've said before, Monahan seems more than willing to abuse his position on the council for his own personal gain and ignore any rules he doesn't like. Thanks to all of you who voted him back into office after a dozen years of these kinds of shenanigans.
IT'S OFFICIAL - "IN GOD WE TRUST"
Oh, yes... at the end of the council meeting, after many impassioned speakers on both sides of the issue, the council agreed with Wendy Leece and voted, 5-0, to hang the motto, "In God We Trust", in bold brass letters on the wall behind the speaker's dais. Of the many excellent presentations we heard on this issue, Byron de Arakal's suggestion struck me as the best compromise. He thought, if we really had to have a patriotic phrase hanging behind the council, it should be the first three words of the Constitution- "We, the people"... I agree.
A WORD OF CAUTION
I encourage the city staff to use great care when placing that motto on the wall behind the Mayor's chair. We sure don't want Mayor Mansoor to look like the motto is running through his head - even though it would likely find no obstruction to impede it.