Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Pre-Christmas Respite

FOR YOUR PLEASURE
From time to time this year as we head for Christmas I'll post a little YouTube video clip for your viewing and listening pleasure. Perhaps it will help you as you scamper around, trying to finish that last minute shopping or while you're catching up on emails.

THE FIRST OF MANY TO COME
This weekend I leave you with one of the most enduring classic Christmas songs in my personal memory - White Christmas, performed by Bing Crosby in the movie "Holiday Inn". Enjoy...


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Friday, December 04, 2009

Acosta Juror May Be Dumped

ACOSTA JUROR MAY BE BOUNCED
The Daily Pilot reports, HERE, that one of the jurors in the Benito Acosta trial may be dismissed because he was observed talking with a witness in the trial, former Police Lieutenant Clay Epperson, on Thursday. According to the report, choices before the judge are to dismiss the juror or proceed with the trial or declare a mistrial.

This is just one more interesting aspects of this case as it plays out before Judge David O. Carter and the 9-person jury.

UPDATE: The Daily Pilot reports just before 1:00 p.m. that the juror in question has, in fact, been dismissed from the trial and that it will proceed with 8 jurors.

UPDATE #2: Shortly after 8 p.m. tonight the Daily Pilot reports that the juror who was dismissed had approached witness Clay Epperson, retired Costa Mesa police Lieutenant, in the hallway and told him his jacket was not properly buttoned! I told you Judge Carter runs a tight ship! Obviously, Carter doesn't want there to be even the slightest hint of impropriety in this trial, so it will go forward now with only 8 jurors.


LEECE, FOLEY AND ROEDER TO SACTO
The Pilot also reports that Councilwomen Wendy Leece and Katrina Foley will join City Manager Allan Roeder on a trip to Sacramento Monday to meet with officials regarding the sale of the Fairgrounds. This is good news. If they can influence representatives to pass Jose Solorio's bill 1590 to quash the sale it will be money and time well-spent.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Acosta Trial Launched This Week

THE WHEELS OF JUSTICE MOVE SLOWLY
Well, I guess most of you know that the trial filed by Benito Acosta against Mayor Allan Mansoor and the City of Costa Mesa has finally launched this week, almost 4 years since the incident which resulted in Acosta being dragged from the City Council chambers and tossed in jail. You can read an account of recent events from the Daily Pilot
HERE.

PAST CHIEFS TESTIFY
According to news reports, two former police chiefs, Dave Snowden and Jon Hensley, have testified in this case so far.


THE VIDEO IS CLEAR TO ME
I've watched the city feed of this event plus the video available on You
Tube, below, several times. I watched the entire meeting that evening several times and have a pretty clear idea of what happened. Of course, others may view those events differently.

GILCHRIST GIVEN PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT
I saw Minuteman Jim Gilchrist stand before the council and, with the permission of Mansoor, use more than his alloted 3 minutes AND have his five dozen or so followers in the audience that night stand in a show of support for his views.


MANSOOR CUT HIM OFF EARLY

Thirty minutes later I saw Acosta take the speakers podium and speak in slow, measured tones and, about two minutes, twenty seconds into his time, ask those who agreed with him to stand to show their support - just as Gilchrist had done previously. At t
hat point Mansoor tried to stop him, told him his time was over (even though there clearly was 30 seconds left) and subsequently called a recess. Watch the video and form your own opinion.

ACOSTA DID NOT MISBEHAVE THAT NIGHT

I know that tensions were high in the council chambers that night. At the previous meeting Acosta had behaved very badly, including cursing at Mansoor. That behavior was unacceptable, but it was nearly a month earlier. Until Acosta was dragged from the council chambers his behavior was not out of line, as you can clearly see in the video.

COULD BE COSTLY

It's going to be very interesting to see how this trial plays out. If the jury finds for Acosta it could cost our city a lot of money at a time when we cannot afford it. If it finds for the city and Mansoor it would de facto approve Mansoor's inequitable treatment of Acosta that evening.

MY PREFERENCE
In my perfect world the jury will hold for Acosta but award him a small amount of money. I understand from friends in the know that if that were the case the city would still be liable for his legal fees and court costs.

JUDGE CARTER TOUGH BUT FAIR
It's my understanding that the judge in this case, David O. Carter, is a tough, but fair, man who will be sure the law is followed. We can ask no more than that. Let's watch and see how this goes...



BENITO ACOSTA, JANUARY 3, 2006

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Solorio Provides Hope

SOLORIO LAUNCHES BILL TO QUASH SALE
The Daily Pilot announced this afternoon that Assemblyman Jose Solorio has authored a bill to rescind the sale of the Orange County Fair and Events Center, HERE.



ASKED GOVERNOR TO CANCEL SALE, TOO

According to the article by Mona Shadia, AB 1590
was introduced by Solorio in a Special Session of the Assembly. According to her article, Solorio's staff also presented a letter to the governor's office staff requesting that he stop the sale.

HOPE?

This, of course, is terrific news and should give those of us who want to see the Fairgrounds remain as they are in the future some hope.



INVESTIGATION SHOULD CONTINUE, REGARDLESS

However, I agree with some of those folks commenting
on the article that some serious attention needs to be paid to just what happened on this issue. The investigation of the circumstances of the current Fair Board forming a non-profit to acquire the Fairgrounds and it's hiring (maybe illegal hiring) of former Senator Dick Ackerman to lobby Sacramento to get the Fairgrounds put on the block in the first place should continue. This whole thing reeks. How do we trust those folks in the future?

DON'T LET OUR GUARD DOWN YET

I'm sure this news will cause many who have been fully immersed in this issue for months to give a big sigh of relief. However, this dance isn't over yet. In my opinion, we must continue to keep our boiler fired up and be ready to pu
rsue the fight if Solorio's bill doesn't pass.

VAN TRAN, THE INVISIBLE MAN

It's curious that our assemblyman, Van Tran, has been virtually invisible on this subject since the hearing he hosted with Solorio. For him to take such a posture while he's planning his run for Loretta Sanchez' seat in the House of Representatives is curious, at least. I suspect the voters will be reminded of his lack of visible support as next year's election approaches.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

General Plan Amendment To Go On Ballot

COUNCIL UNANIMOUS ON BALLOT MEASURE
As anticipated, Tuesday evening the Costa Mesa City Council unanimously directed the staff to prepare a General Plan amendment for
the Orange County Fair and Events Center property and a ballot measure for the June, 2010 ballot reflecting that amendment to be placed before the voters.

SPECIFIC PLAN PREPARATI
ON TO PROCEED, TOO
Staff also indicated that it will proceed with a Specific Plan for the site, as well, but the ballot measure will reflect the General Plan amendment.

PLANNING COMMISSION TO REVIEW ON 12/14/09

City Attorney Kim Barlow reported from the closed session that the council directed staff to place on the December 14, 2009 Planning Commission meeting agenda a General Plan consistency review. She also indicated that the council may call another closed session meeting on December 8th and perhaps another meeting on the 15th. She also indicated that other meetings might be called later in the month as needed because of the pace of the State's process for selling the site.

SPECIAL LINK ON CITY WEB SITE

This process is really heating up now. The City has placed a special link on it's Home Page as shown on this image. This is a one-stop shop for all things related to the Fairgrounds sale. Notices about any future meetings and the results thereof will be posted on the site. At this time about the only thing missing from the site is the most recent addendum to the State RFP, but I suspect that will be posted soon. Unlike most months of December in recent memory, which tended to be snoozers, this December is going to be full of Fairgrounds-related activity and meetings. Stay tuned...

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Rhoades Out At Daily Pilot!

Yikes!

The Daily Pilot and the Daily Voice both report that Brady Rhoades is out as Editor of the Daily Pilot. Apparently, according to Pilot reports, Dan Evans is the interim editor until they can find someone to replace Rhoades.

This is a stunner! I have no idea what prompted his departure from the Daily Pilot, but my contacts with him were always positive. He worked hard at keeping the Daily Pilot the reliable, accurate and timely news source that it's been for a century. We here at A Bubbling Cauldron wish him well...

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Monday, November 30, 2009

"Fairy" Tales

Ah, the wheels of progress move slowly - sometimes.

UNUSUAL HASTE ON THIS ISSUE
Those of us following the potential sale of the Orange County Fair and Exhibit Center (Fairgrounds) were astounded at the rapidity with which The State bureaucracy moved in getting the ball rolling. To many of us it seemed like a blur, and we wondered what caused this aberratio
n in the normal method of doing business. Ben Franklin was right - haste does make waste.

RFP ADDENDA

When the Request For Proposals (RFP) was initially issued there were some elements
that needed much clarification. Thanks to an alert reader of this blog, who pointed out to me today that on November 10, 2009, officials from The State issued Addendum #1, which promised clarification on three points no later than November 23, 2009. Those items were:

State's Profit Participation Requirement

Auction Format
Purchase and Sales Agreement


On November 23, 2009 The State issued Addendum #2, which said, in part:

"Addendum No. 1 dated November 10, 2009 indicated that additional information would be
posted November 23, 2009. The posting of this additional information is herein postponed
indefinitely.


The additional information will be posted in a subsequent addendum which will also
include a revised schedule of Key Dates as identified on page 10 of the October 7, 2009
Request for Proposal.

While the November 23, 2009 dead
line for questions regarding the RFP has passed, the
Key Dates will be revised to include a new deadline for submission of questions pertaining
to the additional information.

All other aspects of the request for proposal remain unchanged."

I WENT TO THE HORSE'S MOUTH

So, concerned that important elements of the RFP would not be available by the deadline for bids - January 8, 2010 - I called Dave Kalemba at the Department of General Services in Sacramento for clarification. He's the fellow who wrote the RFP.

Kalemba acknowledged that the second sentence of the first paragraph above might be a little misleading - now, there's a surprise! - and that he probably could have found a better way to make that statement.

NEBULOUS ANSWER
In any event, he told me it is his intention to provide the clarifications mentioned above as soon as possible - which he hoped would be within a couple weeks. He acknowledged that bidders must have the information to appropriately assess this process and to make a proper bid.

THE "STOP" ORDER MUST COME FROM GOVERNOR
I asked him who has the authority to stop the sale at this time. He said that any direction to take the Fairgrounds off the market must come from the governor's office. It is my understanding that representatives of city government hope to get an audience with the governor to specifically request him to do just that - take the Fairgrounds off the market.

COUNCIL TO CONSIDER THE PURCHASE
The Costa Mesa City Council, at it's meeting Tuesday, December 1, 2009, will again consider two Fairgrounds issues. First, in a closed session that will begin at 4:30 p.m., they will consider the purchase of the Fairgrounds.

LAND USE DESIGNATION AND BALLOT MEASURE
Later, in the last item on the agenda, they will consider options presented by staff regarding the zoning of the property and the creation of a ballot measure for the June, 2010 election. We expect there to be some significant progress at that meeting since it is the final regularly scheduled meeting of the year except for the Study Session scheduled for December 8, 2009. According to the agenda report now available, the staff will recommend that the council consider a General Plan amendment to revise the land use designation of the Fairgrounds property and, once adopted, include that designation as part of the ballot measure. Any future changes to that property would then require a vote of the people.

STAFF CHOICE: OPTION 4
I found the language of "Option 4", the choice of the staff, to be interesting. It states as follows:

"OPTION 4: Prepare and adopt a General Plan Amendment and Place on Ballot
Given the deficiencies of Option 1, staff recommends that the "Fairgrounds" land use designation as described in the 2000 General Plan be appropriately amended to further define permissible land uses for the property in a "broad" sense and to recognize the City's land use authority as such time the Fairgrounds is no longer owned by the State.

Staff believes that this amendment can achieve the "certainty" that both Council and the community desire for the property, while retaining the appropriate degree of flexibility in administering future land use decisions and permits. As with the specific plan, the amendment will require public hearings before both planning Commission and City Council prior to adoption, as well as preparation of the necessary environmental documentation. However, staff believes that this amendment can be processed within the necessary time frame."

"BROAD" NEEDS EXPLANATION

I'm curious about the term "broad", above. Just how "broad" are we talking about here? I think we need some clarity on this one, don't you? I wonder how many interested parties will show up at the council meeting tomorrow night? The decision the council makes on this issue will be critical to any bids submitted on the property, including any such bid the city might put forth.

POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE

I'm led to believe that "thousands" of postcards to the governor were signed at the Orange County Marketplace over this past weekend. It would be nice if those city representatives hoping to speak with him could lug those cards with them for presentation to the governor as reinforcement of the strong views held about the Fairgrounds sale down here.

VOCALIST VERN
By the way, just in case you missed the performance by Huntington Beach blogger and activist Vern Nelson at the last council meeting, here he is via YouTube with his rendition of "Tainted Sale".


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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Local Suspect Shot Dead

INK-STAINED FINGERS
One of the things I usually do
upon returning from a vacation is try to give a quick scan to my accumulated newspapers because, even though I try to stay abreast of local items of interest while away, invariably I'll miss something online that later catches my eye in the print version. Such was the case this weekend.

SUSPECT SHOT DEAD
On November 20th the Daily Pilot ran a little blurb entitled, "Fashion Island suspect is shot dead", HERE, in which crime beat reporter Joseph Serna tells us that 18 year-old Dalton Rahman was shot to death by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's SWAT team after he wrested a gun away from one of them during an arrest.
At the time he was shot Rahman was driving a stolen car in which were found a bulletproof vest and other police equipment.

WHY DO WE CARE?

This is important to us way down here in the best of all worlds because Rahman is suspected of being the individual who escaped capture a couple months ago in Fashion Island when he and two buddies were observed
by a resident acting suspiciously. The other two youths were carrying a bag full of guns. I wrote about that episode HERE.

INTERESTING TIMING
Ironically, on November 23rd Serna posted a blog entry, HERE, which asked, "Do you feel safe?" and cited a study which identified Newport Beach as the 28th safest city in the state, with Costa Mesa following at No. 103.

WE DODGED A BULLET

Today, with the economy still in dire straits, it's likely that we will see more desperate people turning to criminal act
s to make ends meet. I have no idea what might have happened had the episode involving Rahman and his two accomplices at Fashion Island not been stopped. It has been speculated that the trio were planning a robbery spree, and were certainly armed to accomplish that. It seems that we, literally, may have dodged a bullet.

BE ALERT!

I guess the message here is that we need to be constantly vigilant - aware of our surroundings, especially when out and about doing Christmas shopping for the next month. Be alert for suspicious persons as you carry packages to your car. When in doubt, return to the store - don't become a victim.

I'M BACK...

On that happy note, I'm glad to be back and hope you all had a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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