Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Commission Pushes Back On Task Force

As reported earlier, last night the Costa Mesa Planning Commission, or the remaining four members of that commission since Jim Righeimer was elected to the City Council last month, addressed the request from the staff to recommend to the City Council that a task force be assembled to study and recommend solutions to the growing homeless problem throughout the city and specifically in Lions Park.

Assistant City Manager Tom Hatch, the point-man on this project, made a brief staff
report, then stood back to be pilloried by commission member Steve Mensinger. Instead of simply acknowledging the size and complexity of the problem, then voting to do as suggested, commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick, as Sancho Panza to Mensinger's Don Quixote, became very agitated, jumping around in his chair and pushing for the commission to "take action". Mensinger was equally irritated and batted Hatch around like a punching bag, challenging his description of Lions Park as a "safe park" and inviting him to join him there immediately after the meeting. One got the impression that Mensinger and Fitzpatrick were ready to leap out of their respective chairs, dash over to Lions Park and begin dragging the homeless offenders off to some undefined location.


I doubt anyone will suggest that we don't have a major problem at Lions Park. The staff report chronicles the offenses. I wrote about it last weekend, HERE, which includes a link to the staff report. When you read through that report you will come away with your head spinning. I certainly understand why Mensinger and Fitzpatrick - and others - might be more than a little frustrated with the situation. It was clear from their comments that they didn't think "studying" the problem for six months was giving it proper attention and action. Both men think of themselves as "men of action". I have no problem with that, either. However, since one of those men may end up on the City Council next month, it's important to note that neither of them is particularly burdened with patience. Mensinger, in particular, demonstrates in his personal and professional life that he is, indeed, a man of action. He's used to being in command, ordering underlings to get things done and letting them feel his wrath when they are not. We could see that person in his interaction with Hatch last night.


Eventually the Planning Commission begrudgingly voted unanimously to recommend to the Ci
ty Council the creation of a task force, but also recommended "action" to address the problem sooner. So, the council will likely address this issue at it's first meeting in January and the task force will be created sometime that month. It's unclear just what "action" will be taken, if any, in the meantime. The Planning Commission has no authority to unleash enforcement staff to flush out homeless offenders and dispense with them - which seemed to be the short-term solution Mensinger and Fitzpatrick were looking for.

In my opinion, a position on our City Council requires not only dedication, tenacity, passion and intelligence, but patience, as well. Coaching a young linebacker to rush the quarterback with abandon, without regard to injury that might be done to both players, may work on the football field, but approaching a serious, and multi-tentacled, municipal problem the same way will only result in more lawsuits for our city. Mensinger makes me nervous because his approach to problem-solving is dictatorial - he says "jump" and expects you to be levitating instantly. This characteristic is unacceptable as a municipal leader. With Mensinger this characteristic sometimes manifests itself in bullying behavior with staff and applicants before him. And Fitzpatrick seems to have fallen under his spell, rapidly becoming Mensinger's loyal sidekick - his Sancho Panza. He, too, has developed a heavy hand when dealing with staffers.

A month from now the configuration of the City Council, Planning and Parks &
Recreation Commissions will be resolved. It's very likely that Mensinger and Fitzpatrick will hold influential positions in the new regime. I hope they will find a way to temper their burning desire to "do something" with patience and civility to staff and residents alike. That will be a welcome change.

Labels: , ,


Anonymous kagatha said...

Lions park and the community center library have become so gross I won’t take my kids there. Last time we were at the library my son complained about a half naked man shaving in the bathroom and making him so uncomfortable. My wife told me another time she saw a guy clipping his finger nails at a reading table in middle of the library. A prior time I saw a homeless man sleeping on the beanbag chair in the kids reading section (The one the kids love to jump on when they visit the library).

At Lions Park, my kids have heard foul language, seen people passed out (laying face down in middle of the grass field looking dead), and we found beer bottles all along the edges of the park. A few times bottles have been smashed in the cockpit of the playground plane so kids couldn't use it. This is not a family oriented destination.

12/14/2010 07:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Just wait until Mensinger gets onto City Council. He will be bullying people in front of a full auditorium instead of an empty Planning Commission. It will be sad to see. I think he lacks the temperment to be on our Council. Oh, by the way, have we figured out if he's employed? I heard he lost his job last year and has been unemployed since.

12/14/2010 08:02:00 AM  
Anonymous ROFL said...


I think you are spending too much time worrying about Council members and what they do on their personal time. How about focusing on Costa Mesa and what you could do to make it better.

"Oh, by the way, have we figured out if he's employed?"

Ok Mr. Creepy...

12/14/2010 08:43:00 AM  
Anonymous jokerman949 said...

All I needed to know about Mensinger was revealed when he made a point of telling an audience at a PC meeting how much time and money he'd spent promoting EHS football. It showed me that he was not doing it for the program, but for himself.

12/14/2010 08:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Mesinger's employment status is just as relevant as all the other stuff he and his cronies attacked Chris about in this past election; renting, reckless driving arrest, etc. Fair is fair! I happen to believe our elected leaders should be employed. Oh yeah, right, he won't be an elected leader.

12/14/2010 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

Geoff, I always love reading your blog; I enjoy it most when I have to get out my Thesaurus.

Good luck with the hopeless... uhhhh, homeless. They will be with us always.

It's like fighting the Iraq/Afgan wars; a religious war can never be won; so it is with the homeless. A small percent (smaller than one may imagine)are homeless due to mental illness. The majority choose to live as they do; yes some because of addiction, but that is a choice.

Until the government leaders either lock all homeless up in an institution or give them a shovel, some seeds, 2 goats and a cow; and move them to San Clemente Island... out of sight, out of mind.

It worked for England... for a while.

12/14/2010 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous ROFL said...


Which of those you mentioned did Mr. Mesinger bring up? Was it Macevoys renting or reckless driving arrest?

I think you're unfairly putting words in his mouth that were never spoken. But that doesnt matter to you does it? Just like Geoff's one sided reporting you maintain a childish them vs us mentality. Get over it!

12/14/2010 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

But,but,but ROFL they started it.

Also, Geoff absolutely reports one sided, there is only one side to the truth.

12/14/2010 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous ROFLMAO said...

Geoff's "truth" is his perception, which is often far from reality. Sad but true.

"Tim" I thought the unions learned their lesson from the election. I guess I was wrong.

12/14/2010 07:14:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home