Friday, June 26, 2009

The Newport-Mesa Daily Voice Growing...

FINDING THEIR PACE...
It's been an interesting couple weeks for my friends, Tom Johnson and William Lobdell, since they announced the launch of their new venture, The Newport-Mesa Daily Voice.

"BORROWING" CONTENT
They've been busily snatching news for their online publication from other local sources - the Daily Pilot, Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times and a few others - and have included most of the Daily Pilot bloggers in their blog roll. Curiously, they've chosen not to link to Paul Anderson's very entertaining blog, Supplied To Anderson.

GROWING PAINS
They've generated some breaking news coverage on their own - to be expected from such seasoned newsmen - and launched their daily weather report using neighborhood kids giving a video weather report... very cute. They are making creative use of locally-generated videos, too.

TOO CASUAL?

They were interviewed on Fox News about this new venture. As I watched the video clip I found myself wishing they'd tried to be just a smidgen less casual. I suspect some of the national viewers wondered whether they had just come in from a morning on the golf course for the interview. Don't get me wrong - as any
one who knows me can attest - casual is just fine with me, but I kept wishing they'd worn a dress shirt and tie above their shorts for the interview...

WHAT HAPPENS IF...?

It's way, way too early to tell if this is going to be a successful venture, but it looks like it's got a shot. I keep wondering, however, what happens if local readers abandon the Daily Pilot for the Daily Voice - where will Johnson and Lobdell get their content if they drive their competition out of business? Just wondering...

"LOSING MY RELIGION..." IN 4TH PRINTING

And, it's been an even bigger week for Lobdell, who announced on his blog that his book, Losing My Religion..." is now in it's 4th printing. Way to go, Bill! I've read his book and found it to be a fascinating story of his journey to and from religion. And, since it's really a travelogue of his journey on that path and he's still got a whole lot of livin' to do, I suspect there could be a sequel somewhere downstream. If he, for example, decides Zoroastrianism is an interesting choice of theology, he might write about that. Regardless, Bill's book is worth a read.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Aztec Basketball League Given Provisional Approval

AZTEC BASKETBALL IN - DROP-IN PLAYERS ARE OUT
The Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission, at their meeting Wednesday evening, agreed to permit the Aztec Basketball League to use the Downtown Recreation Center on Sundays, displacing a few folks that have been utilizing that facility in a drop-in basis to play basketball and volleyball.

BIDDERS TO BE SOUGHT FOR NEW LEAGUE
The approval was on a provisional basis, month-to-month, while the staff prepares a Request for Proposals to create a Sunday Costa Mesa basketball league. Aztec Basketball would
be allowed to bid on that contract, but would not necessarily be the successful bidder.

COSTA MESA TEAMS INCLUDED

It was interesting to note that the Aztec Basketball League presently has four teams made up of Costa
Mesa residents, and could field two more except for space limitations. That kind of deflated the argument made by The Mouth from Mesa North about Costa Mesa residents being displaced.

ARMY VETERAN RUNS AZTEC
I'd would loved to have been inside The Mouth's head when the applicant, Rigoberto Bautista stepped to the podium to present his case in his "work clothes" - an Army uniform. Sergeant Bautista - a 16 year Army veteran - is a National Guard recruiter, who recruits in Costa Mesa. He's operated the Aztec Basketball League for nine years and has glowing references from his former landlords - the City of Santa
Ana. His program takes people from age 16 and up and creates a healthy, competitive environment in which they can play and develop basketball skills. The Mouth, as we all know, makes a bid deal of having been a Marine - among other things.

PROGRAM INCLUDES FEMALE PLAYERS
Sergeant Bautista tol
d the commissioners that he's more than willing to include more Costa Mesa teams if the facility is made available. Recreation Manager Jana Ransom told them that his program includes female players, too, and that we currently have no female basketball programs in the city. Bautista also indicated that he will give priority to new Costa Mesa teams if permitted to use the Downtown Recreation Center facility.

"THE MOUTH" BLOWS SMOKE
Undeterred, The Mouth stood and blew a smoke screen about potential parking problems and, since the Aztec Basketball League is a for-profit organization, wondered where the profit went - as if it's any of his blasted business!

STILLER PROVIDES VETERAN GUIDANCE
The only other resident to speak on the issue was former Parks a
nd Recreation Commissioner David Stiller, who made many good points and spoke in favor of approving the request.

A couple of sideb
ars to the proceedings last night...

"THE MOUTH" RANTS AGAINST GALITISKI
First, during public comments, The Mouth stood and ranted and raved against Chairman Kurt Galitski for his comments appended to The Mouth's recent Daily Pilot commentary defending his position at the previous commission meeting. His demeanor was not just aggressive, it was down right threatening. It was clear that he was trying to bait Galitski into
making an inappropriate comment - which he didn't.

BRUMBAUGH BLASTS ME

Of more interest to me, personally, was the tirade launched directly at me by Vice-Chair Mike Brumbaugh for the comments I wrote - also on The Mouth's commentary - in which I suggested that the four commissioners turned
to lumps of stone when Galitski moved to approve this item last month. I suggested that they had been influenced by the comments made by The Mouth at that meeting. Brumbaugh didn't like my suggestions one little bit. I really can't blame him too much - no one in his right mind would want to be even peripherally associated with The Mouth.

HE CAN'T TAKE CRITICISM

Well, Mr. Vice Chair, that's just too bad. If you watch the tape, as I have - several times - you can see exactly what happened. The discussion was rocking right along, with no critical comments
nor concerns expressed by any of you. Then The Mouth spoke and four of you were struck dumb. Not one of you stepped forward to second Galitski's motion - even for discussion. Not one of you raised any concerns about the proposal - which would have been handled at the staff level and you'd never have had it presented to you except the staff felt you should sign on in the case of a program that would displace a few drop-in basketball and volleyball players on Sundays.

FOUR LUMPS OF STONE

Nope, when The Mouth presented his "hypothetical" scenario involving ex-convicts who might come to town to play basketball and terrorize our young children using the pool or library, the four of you reacted as though someone had torn your tongues out. If you don't care for my characterization of your performance - or lack thereof - simply don't read them.

IF YOU CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT, MIKE...

Brumbaugh criticized me for not attending meetings to express my views to them, and for not running for public office. Well, Mike old buddy, we each do what we can do toward making this a better city. Yours apparently is participating on the commission and, on occasion, being influenced by speakers before you to the extent that you are frozen in place. My contribution is to observe, assess and report. Criticism comes with the turf you bought into when you accepted the assignment as a commissioner. If you don't like it, maybe you made the wrong choice. Besides, I'm just one guy - what do you care what I think, anyhow?

CONCERTS IN THE PARK CANCELED

Finally, on Wednesday the city announced the cancellation of the first three dates - July 7th, 14th and 21st - of the annual Concerts In The Parks series and mention was made about the cancellations by Ransom at the end of the meeting. The remaining concerts might be retained if some sort of sponsorship arrangement can be made. It's too late for those early in July. This is very sad, indeed, because thousands of Costa Mesa residents look forward to the concerts each summer.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Costa Mesa Sanitary District

THE "SAN" DISTRICT
Remember the Costa Mesa Sanitary District? That's the organization that facilitates the flushing of your, well, you know, down into the sewer system. They maintain the "sanitary" system and keep things "flowing", if you get my drift.


ANOTHER RATE INCREASE? WHY?

At the last Costa Mesa City Council meeting perpetual councilman Gary Monahan made reference to yet another rate increase being proposed by the Sanitary District Board of Di
rectors. If memory serves, we just did that recently, didn't we?

A NEW MANAGER BEING SOUGHT
I wonder what this is all about? I did notice that the Sanitary District recently announced that long time Manager/District Engineer, Robin Hamers, has dropped the manager job and will concentrate on the technical side of things. There is an interim manager in place - Donald F. McIntyre - but my understanding is that the district is searching for a high-powered person to manage it's operations.


RATE INCREASE TO P
AY FOR A NEW MANAGER?
So, what does it cost us, the rate payers, to add another very senior manager to that organization? I
wonder if this proposed rate increase is due to the addition to another very highly paid manager?

BUDGET, IF THERE IS ONE, NOT AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW ONLINE
Normally, one might refer to the budget for the organization for some clues. However, the Sanitary District Board has not posted a link to their budget since the 2006-2007 fiscal year. Nothing is available for review for 07-08 or 08-09 and absolutely no mention is made of a new budget for the fiscal year about to begin in two weeks.

07/08 FINANCI
AL REPORT AVAILABLE
However, there are audited financial reports available for review. The most recent is for the year ended 6/30/08. The report for 06-07 is "in progress", whatever the heck that means. As I scroll down through the 07/08 financial report I found a very interesting paragraph listed as "Related Party Disclosures".

INTERESTING CONTRACT
Here's the text of that segment of the report:
"The District has entered into a contract with Robin B. Hamers and Associates, Inc., to provide management services and engineering services to the District. Robin Hamers, the owner of the Company, is paid a retainer and hourly rate to function as the General Manager and District Engineer. The Company provides other engineering services which are approved by Robin Hamers. The total amount paid to Robin B. Hamers and Associates, Inc. for all these services amounted to $523,105."

IS THIS A GOO
D DEAL? HOW WOULD WE KNOW?
This sounds very much like the arrangement the City of Costa Mesa has with the law firm of Jones & Mayer for contract a City Attorney. However, since we have no budget to review for the past couple years, it's difficult to see how this "consulting" arrangement is working out. I wonder, for example, what those "other engineering services" are that Mr. Hamers' organization provides. I looked at the 06/07 Budget worksheet - the only thing available - and found an astounding lack of detail in that report.

DID HAMERS TAKE A CUT?
And, the ques
tion hanging right now is, "Has Robin Hamers taken a pay cut since his job has been cut in half?" Seems like a good question to me. Perhaps some concerned citizen could ask the members of the board about it at their next meeting.

NOBODY CARES...

Speaking of which, Monahan implied that no one shows up for those board meetings. Nice - no one paying attention to how our taxes are being spent. No wonder he wanted a seat on that particular board!

FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY BEING MET?
I guess I'm very curious about exactly how well the Board of Directors of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District are fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to the tax and rate payers of our community. No budget for two years and counting seems curious - and more than a little irresponsible - to me.

NO AGENDAS NOR MINUTES FOR MEETINGS THIS YEAR

I noticed that there is no information at all about the agendas or minutes for any board meetings this calendar year. I could find no information about how frequently the board meets, where and at what time of the day. It seems like much of their work, if it's being done at all, is not done in easy view of their constituents.

TOO MANY QUESTIONS - ASK THE BOARD
This sure does seem like sloppy management, at best. Since there are so many questions, maybe someone should ask the Board members. The Sanitary District web site shows the following names:
Arlene Schafer, President; Robert Ooten, Vice President; Gary Monahan, Secretary; Jim Ferryman, Director and Art Perry, Director. The mailing address is: 628 W. 19th Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. HERE is a link to their web site for more information or, perhaps, more questions.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Aztec Basketball League Is Back!

THEY'RE BACK!
Well, well, well.... it seems that the Aztec Basketball League is back!

DEJA VU
At their meeting on May 24th the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission will, once again, be requested to
consider granting a permit to the Aztec Basketball League to use the Downtown Recreation Center each Sunday beginning June 20th.

GOOD FISCAL TRADE-OFF
If granted, they would displace fewer than two dozen casual, walk-in participants who use the facility for pick-up volleyball and basketball games. The city would lose roughly $3,430 in fees from that use and would, in exchange, be paid an annual revenue of $43,000 - actually, the city would realize just over $20,000 for the initial 6-month period that is being recommended - by the Aztec Basketball League.

FOUR LUMPS OF STONE

Some will recall that, at their previous
meeting, the commission completely botched this issue. When Chair Kurt Galitski recommended approval the other four commissioners turned to stone - not a second to his motion, no discussion, not a mutter, not a substitute motion - nothing! The proposal died.

"THE MOUTH" AS SHEPHERD

Interestingly, this stony silence came in the wake of one Costa Mesa resident speaking on this subject - our old grumpy buddy, The Mouth From Mesa North. He - internationally notorious racist that he is - jumped to the speaker's podium and raised the specter of ex-convicts and pedophiles invading our city on S
undays under the guise of playing basketball and molesting our children. Apparently, the sheep on the Parks and Recreation Commission fell for his tripe.


ONE MORE TIME...

So, now we get a second shot of providing another revenue source for our city in these trying times. It will be very interesting to see if The Mouth gives an encore performance at Wednesday's meeting, and whether any other resident of this city stands to recommend the plan....

ALWAYS AN ADV
ENTURE
One thing is for sure - it's never a dull meeting when The Mouth tries to overlay his racial views on activities in our city.

"THE MOUTH"
- AN EXAMPLE OF A WASTED LIFE
And, speaking of
The Mouth, he took the opportunity on Father's Day to post on his blog a peculiar self-assessment of his own failures as one. Since he's been looking a little sickly of late, and because he seems now to have only fleeting interest in local events - choosing, instead, to sprinkle his pathetic blog with his views of international events and his warped views on race and the purity thereof - I suspect he might be more than slightly off his game. Who knows, this may be signs of early onset dementia. That, of course, is very good news for the rest of us who would prefer our city not be guided by the ravings of a racist loser. Perhaps he's finally stepped back and looked at his life and now realizes that he has managed to squander his prodigious intellect on hopeless racial rants instead of actually using it to make the life of those around him better. How very sad for him - and them.

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