Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Newport Blvd. Widening Dedication Ceremony


GLORIOUS DAY FOR A GREAT EVENT
On a more than typical glorious Costa Mesa afternoon today Costa Mesa city officials, other dignitaries and a few
just plain old residents gathered on the plaza of our municipal oxymoron, Triangle Square, to dedicate the completion of the Newport Boulevard widening project and the placement of the historical plaques around town.

A NECESSARY STOP-GAP PLAN
This much beleaguered project - viewe
d by some as unnecessary and a waste of taxpayers money - was designed as a stop-gap measure to attempt to relieve some of the traffic pressure on Newport Boulevard as it transits from the terminus of the Costa Mesa Freeway to the Newport Beach city limits at 16th Street.

KEEP 100,000 CARS A DAY MOVING
The major thrust of the project was to add on complete outbound - northeast bound - lane for the length of the project and a
short, but very necessary, southbound lane adjacent to Triangle Square. Other improvements included intersection enhancements and signal synchronization.

SMOOTH AS SILK

Before the dedication today I
drove the length of the project northbound in the new, right-hand lane. Wow! The traffic moved smoothly and the project looked great! When the landscaping is completed and grows just a little bit this stretch of highway will be one of the best in our city.

LEECE PRESIDED
Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece presided over the festivities, with City Manager Allan Roed
er carrying the ball most of the time. He thanked Peter Naghavi, Public Services Director, for his patience and tenacity on this project. I spoke with Naghavi briefly and he reported that virtually no complaints had been registered with the city during this project - due mainly to the fact that almost all the work was done from 10 p.m. - 6 a.m. And, as Roeder and Leece pointed out, this project came in on time and UNDER budget - no mean feat these days.

MOORLACH LANDS A ZINGER
Other speakers included Supervisor
John Moorlach, a Costa Mesa resident and big fan of this project, who took the opportunity to zing the absent state officials about the budget; Councilwoman Katrina Foley; Ed Fawcett, representing the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce and Margaret Johnson, representing the Costa Mesa Historical Preservation Committee - the group responsible for the creation and placement of the historical marker plaques in the "Old Town" section of town adjacent to Triangle Square and elsewhere. Representative of State Senator Tom Harman and Assemblyman Van Tran also spoke and presented proclamations to the city on this project.

GARLICH ALSO ACKNOWLEDGED

Also honored w
as my friend, Bruce Garlich, for his leadership on the Downtown and Eastside Ad Hoc Committee, which generated the first kernel of the idea for this project. Garlich, (shown here on the left with long time Westside activist Tom Egan), is a former Planning Commissioner and two-time City Council candidate and heavily involved in many community organizations - the Boys and Girls Club and the Costa Mesa Senior Center, for example.

OTHERS ON THE PLAZA...

I will certainly miss some of the other folks in
attendance, but I did briefly see former mayor and current President of the Orange County Transportation Authority, Peter Buffa, Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Kurt Galitski (Shown with Recreation Division Manager Jana Ransom) and commissioners Terry Shaw and Jeff Mathews and a full cadre of city staffers who worked on this project. Also in attendance was long time Eastside resident and activist Beth Refakes (Shown with videographer Brad Long).

THE DAILY VOICE COVERED THE EVENT
It was interesting to note that two Johnsons, Lana and
Tom, from the fledgling online newspaper, The Daily Voice, were there to cover the event, but I didn't see anyone from the Daily Pilot in attendance. Tom Johnson is the co-publisher of this new venture with former Daily Pilot editor and Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Lobdell. Their offices are right across the street, so they just skipped across Newport Boulevard to make the event.

FINE FOOD

Great grub was provided to the attendees by the good folks from The Yardhouse and Chronic Taco.

PROJECT ON TIME AND UNDER BUDGET!
In these difficult financial times - we still don't know how we will be able to balance the budget due to the malfeasance of our buddies in Sacramento - it was a real pleasure to see a project like this one get completed in such a timely manner and well within the projected budget.


KUDOS TO ALL - ESPECIALLY ROEDER AND NAGHAVI
Congratulations to all concerned, and especially to Allan Roeder, Peter Naghavi and the staff for their hard work and persistence that got the job done. Every Costa Mesa resident should be proud of this project.

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New Basketball League - YES, Aztecs - NO

NEW BASKETBALL LEAGUE APPROVED
It was no surprise to me that the Costa Mesa City Council approved the contract with a new basketball league to use the Downtown Recreation Center, initially for six m
onths, with a possible extension of a second six months period. Eric Bever's attempt to derail this contract was defeated on a 4-1 vote - Bever, of course, voting no.

MANSOOR'S ANTI-LATINO BIAS ON DISPLAY
What did surprise and disappoint me that our mayor, Allan Mansoor, was so willing to display his very obvious anti-Latino bias. During his motion Mansoor indicated that the contract would be between Rigoberto Bautista to manage the "Costa Mesa Weekend Basketball League" on Sundays.


FOLEY PRESSED FOR CLARIFICATION

Katrina Foley pr
essed Mansoor for a clarification because it seemed like Mansoor was requiring Sergeant Bautista to change the name of his business, Aztec Basketball League, as a condition of approval of his request to rent the facility. Mansoor dodged that question several times and never did answer it question directly, but it was clear to all present what he was doing. In fact, he refused to even say the words, "Aztec Basketball League".

BLATANT BIAS
This was the most blatant example of anti-Latino bias I can remember being displayed by a sitting Costa Mesa council member, much less a mayor. It was obvious from his discussion that he wouldn't even consider an entity called "Aztec Basketball League" in our city.

FESTERING BOIL

I suspect this i
s a deep-seated bias - one that has been made more obvious by Mansoor's legal difficulties with Benito Acosta. I think the legal action with Acosta is a festering boil for Mansoor and anything that reminds him of it is going to get short shrift during deliberations.

NO SURPRISE - "THE MOUTH" ATTACKS

One speaker, The Mouth From Mesa North, again tried to fan the flames of intolerance on this issue. He also took the opportunity to blast Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Kurt Galitski - a man who has demonstrated that he won't take any of The Mouth's crap.

WHAT WILL MANSOOR'S MINORITY CONSTITUENTS THINK?

Mansoor is in full campaign mode now, gathering cash for his run for Van Tran's 68th As
sembly District seat. As I watched him in action last night I found myself wondering how the various minority factions in the District will react to his clear bias. Will they have second thoughts about his assembly candidacy?

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Hoop Dreams To Retirement Schemes - We've Got It All


It looks to me as though the City Council meeting tomorrow night will be full of fun.

BEVER'S ANTI-HOOPS DREAM

The first public hearing will be Eric Bever's dredging up of the Aztec Basketball League issue. I
guess, based on his public pronouncements, old Eric is worried that a paying customer like this league will inflict unnecessary wear and tear on the basketball floor and other elements of the Downtown Recreation Center. Geez, that's what it's for, Eric! Right now it's severely under-utilized on Sunday and this contract resolves that issue. Do you think it's possible that, because Benito Acosta has taken an Aztec name, Bever doesn't want that word associated with anything in Costa Mesa?

MESSIN' WITH THE PLAN

Then the council will tinker with the Mesa West Bluffs Urban Plan. This one makes me nervous because this particular council has demonstrated some strange behavior in the past on Westside issues. It doesn't make me feel any better knowing that our municipal racist laureate, our old buddy, The Mouth From Mesa
North, will most likely be there, fanning the flames and telling the council to get off their butts and get things changed on the Westside NOW!

CHANGING FILMING REGULATIONS

Then they address permits for outdoor filming in our city... One must assume this was generated in response to the recent Trinity Christian Center dust-up... Passage of t
his amendment would preclude any organization that has already received a conditional use permit from the requirement of a specific permit to film on a specific date.

SHOPPING CARTS

Under "Old Business" the council will give second reading to an ordinance requiring all vendors who provide 15 or more shopping carts
for their customer's use to install a method of guaranteeing that those carts don't stray from their parking lots and litter our neighborhoods with lost carts. Presently we pay a contractor to round up any stray carts to the tune of $48,000 per year.

SWEETENING THE RETIREMENT POT

For the grand finale tomorrow night the council will consider an amendment to our contract with CalPERS to facilitate the proposed early retirement option that is part of the ten-point plan to balance this year's budget. I suspect this item might generate some interesting discussion. It's my understanding that the city hopes that 50 of the 145 people eligible for early r
etirement under that plan will do so, and that approximately half of those positions would not be filled. I think they may get a much bigger positive response to this plan, which may make life more than a little complicated for those department managers trying to maintain satisfactory service levels.

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