Marathon Meeting Ends With A Thud
Well, at 11:35 Tuesday night we saw just what political influence will buy you in the City of Costa Mesa. Last night it bought Jim Righeimer a place at the negotiating table with the City team trying to put together a deal to buy the Fairgrounds.
ONE OF A TRIO OF "SETS OF EYES"
Righeimer was one of three men proposed by Gary Monahan to provide unpaid consultive expertise during the negotiations - to add more "sets of eyes" to the process. The other men were Costa Mesan Rick Kapko and Newport Beach resident David Ball.
FOLEY CONCERNED ABOUT RIGHEIMER
Although the need for any more "eyes" in this process is not clear to me - we're already paying a consultant to represent our interests - Righeimer's presence on the list was fraught with controversy. Questions about possible conflicts of interest were raised and dismissed. Finally, as it appeared that the vote was about to be taken and after apparently exhausting all other avenues available to her, Katrina Foley let the council and the members of the public in attendance know what was really on her mind - why she opposed Righeimer's nomination.
A BOMBER IN THEIR MIDST
Foley told the council and audience that Righeimer had, in private communication with her, expressed such disappointment at being excluded from this process that he felt like "blowing up" the whole deal! As if there were not enough complications in this process already, having an active participant who has openly expressed a willingness to destroy the plan seems just plain stupid to me. It's kind of like inviting Timothy McVeigh to the table!
PURE POLITICAL PAYBACK
To me, having that knowledge and still moving ahead with the authorization to retain Righeimer as an unpaid consultant certainly calls into question the wisdom and motivation of at least a couple council members. Allan Mansoor, for example, was quick to leap to the defense of Riggy's choice. This is the same Jim Righeimer who is Dana Rohrabacher's right-hand campaign guy. Rohrabacher has supported Mansoor in his last two elections and the payback for that support was the appointment of Righeimer to the Planning Commission despite being a Costa Mesa resident for 7 months and submitting his application after the deadline.
NOW IT'S UP TO FOUR "SETS OF EYES" - MAYBE
Foley offered the council the opportunity to move forward with the other two gentlemen, dropping Righeimer from the list, but that was rejected. Finally, clearly outnumbered, she suggested adding another player - the Segerstrom's Barney Page - to the mix. That may have been her attempt to show just how capricious this process was, but the council went along with it. She still voted "no" when the vote was taken and infuriated Mansoor.
ONE POSITIVE PITCH BY AMERICAN FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
This was a disappointing end to an otherwise positive presentation about the Fairgrounds acquisition process. Following City Manager Allan Roeder's presentation on the process so far we heard a very positive pitch from one of the two remaining entities negotiating with the City to become a partner in the Fairground process, American Fairs and Festivals. Their group includes several current vendors at the Fairgrounds, so they certainly bring institutional knowledge about operating successfully at that venue. No position was taken by the council on either of the remaining groups.
MORE MIDNIGHT OIL
The clock is ticking on this process. Roeder indicted that a special council meeting will be called next Monday to further discuss the Fairgrounds. The City must present the State with it's proposal by the end of this month. More midnight oil ahead for the staff...