Saturday, May 08, 2010

Budget Calamity Has Arrived

THEY WERE RIGHT!
Remember that advice folks used to give you, "Hey, quite worrying about it, because things can always be worse!"? Well, neighbors, things just got worse - a whole lot worse.

RUMORS OF STAFF REDUCTIONS
Late Friday afternoon a rumor was passed my way indicating that several members of the City of Costa Mesa staff had been told that, due to severe budget constraints, their jobs will soon be eliminated, and that all City divisions will be holding meetings Monday to discuss the current budget situation with the staff.

"THE ELEPHANT" PUSHED THE DOOR OPEN
Most of us who pay attention to things going on in our town have been very distracted by the activity and controversy swirling around the attempt by our city to acquire the Orange County Fair and Events Center and all the ancillary drama associated with that process. Some of us, though, knew that the real elephant in the room was the budget - this year's budget that's about to expire and the 2010-2011 budget that is about to be formulated. Well, the elephant finally forced the door open for us all to see - and it ain't a pretty sight.

ROEDER WAS RIGHT - BAD TIMES ARE HERE
For more than two years City Manager Allan Roeder and his top staffers have been warning us that, unless something dramatic from a revenue standpoint happened soon, the City of Costa Mesa would be in for some very difficult times and that residents could expect to see serious reductions in service as a result. Those times have arrived.

CREATIVE EFFORTS HELPED 09/10, BUT NOT ENOUGH
During the current 2009/2010 budget year Roeder and the staff created a plan to try to keep us solvent by juggling union contracts, service requirements, enhanced retirement benefits to encourage early retirements and a full array of other solutions to the budget problems we faced. Even with the amazing cooperation by the employee bargaining units and creative, flexible plans by the staff, we will still end up falling $9 million short the way it looks with about six weeks to go.

BAD NEWS TO BE DELIVERED ON TUESDAY
On Tuesday, during the scheduled Study Session, Roeder and Budget and Research Officer Bobby Young will present to the City Council the truly bad news about the 2010-2011 budget. The staff report for those items is available for review on the City website. I'll try to give you a few direct links to some important segments of their presentations below.

BUDGET DOWN ALMOST 1.5%
In a nutshell, the City budget for the year beginning July 1, 2010, will be down almost 1.5% from last year. You can read about it HERE. An attachment to that report which displays a list of vacant full time positions not budgeted in fiscal year 2010-2011 can be read HERE. There are 71 vacant positions that will not be included in next year's budget. Young's revenue projection commentary can be read HERE for the details. All sources of revenue are down dramatically.

PRIORITIZATION OF SERVICES REQUIRED
Part of the plan this year is the need for the City Council to prioritize city services - to make the hard, painful decisions required by the abysmal financial condition we find ourselves in. The staff report on that process can be found HERE. Attachment B of that staff report is entitled, "Programs/Service/Facility Impacts from Recommended Reductions" and can be found HERE. I strongly suggest each of you take the time to read through this document and it's companion, Attachment C, "City of Costa Mesa Prioritization of City Services", HERE.

LIST OF PERSONNEL REDUCTIONS
Perhaps the most painful document you will read is Attachment D, "List of Recommended Personnel Reductions", HERE, which outlines in agonizing specificity, just which positions will be either reduced to Part Time or eliminated completely. Of the 77 positions mentioned, 51 are Full Time slots, 47 of which will be eliminated and 4 will be reduced to Part Time. The remaining 26 positions are Part Time jobs that will be eliminated. This is in addition to the 71 currently vacant unbudgeted positions mentioned above.

HOW SERIOUS IS IT?
How serious is this situation? Well, let's just look at public safety as an example.

FIRE DEPARTMENT REDUCTIONS
In the case of the Fire Department, thirteen (13) positions are on that list of vacant slots that will not appear in the 10/11 budget PLUS another six (6) Full and Part Time positions on the list of recommended reductions for a total of nineteen (19).

POLICE DEPARTMENT REDUCTIONS
In the case of the Police Department, seventeen (17) are on the vacant list and another twenty-nine (29) members of both the sworn and civilian staff, Full and Part Time, are on the list of recommended reductions, for a total reduction of forty-six (46) staff members .
(Two above photos courtesy of Daily Pilot)

GOT YOUR ATTENTION?
Does that get your attention? Similar draconian cuts are spread throughout the city staff, all of which will result in dramatic reductions in programs and service levels. Things are bad, folks - really bad!


PRIORITIZATION PROCESS - PUBLIC INVITED TO PA
RTICIPATE
The staff has provided the mechanism for the City Council to prioritize services and staff reductions and also asks the public to perform a similar exercise using the tools provided. The results of both council and community input will be compiled to help the council make the final, difficult decisions when the final budget is approved next month. The deadline imposed on the submissions of these prioritization forms is May 25th.

NO MEAT LEFT ON THE BONES
It has been clear to me for the past nine months that all the flesh had been scraped from the carcass of our city government - that the only thing left was the skeleton. We will now begin the tragic process of dismembering the skeleton, deciding just which appendages can be sacrificed, all the while hoping to retain enough of the framework of our city so it can continue to function.

PAINFUL DECISIONS IMMEDIATELY AHEAD
Over the next few weeks our elected leaders and the City staff will face what will certainly be the most difficult decisions they've had to make during their careers in public service. Some of them are almost too painful to contemplate.

LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE TOT AND BUSINESS LICENSE TAX
However, some of this pain might be avoided if they chose to place two issues on the November ballot - an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and the Business License Fees - both of which have been historically at or near the bottom of the list state-wide. No one wants to see tax increases - I sure don't - but the council should give the voters of this city a chance to voice their opinion on these two issues via the ballot. We are being asked to participate in the prioritization process - we should be given a voice in November, too.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Just Wondering About Eric...

JUST WONDERING..
Did you ever have one of those "just wondering" moments? Me, too. I had one today that I'll share with you.

WHAT'S UP WITH ERIC?
Today I was wondering what Costa Mesa councilman Eric Bever was doing on the dais during the deliberations of the purchase of the Orange County Fair and Events Center last Tuesday night?

ANOTHER INFANTILE MOVE
You may recall that, in one of his typical infantile fits of pique, on April 23, 2010 he authored an "Open Letter" to his peers on the City Council with copies to the Daily Pilot and the City Manager stating unequivocally that he was withdrawing his "support for continuing on the current path with the State of California."

WHINING ABOUT TIME
In his letter he whined about the short time-frame the State imposed on the City - his word was "excruciatingly short" to describe the time alloted by the State.

HE SAID HE'S OUT!
He went on, blah, blah, blah, and ended by stating, "Last Tuesday I reluctantly agreed to support this process however, given the new timeframe we are new expected to meet in naming a "partner", I cannot in good conscience continue to support this process." If you really want to, you can read the whole pathetic letter HERE.

WE GOT IT, ERIC
OK, Eric - we get it. You don't want to be a party to a process you feel may fail. You clearly didn't respect the hard work and long hours being performed by the Costa Mesa team in an attempt to make this process work. You felt so strongly about it that you just had to jump up on your soapbox and tell the world you were bailing out of the proceedings instead of simply expressing your concerns privately to the council. Nah, you had to go with the grandstanding approach instead. We know you can't help yourself - it's a character flaw that you just can't control.

SO, WHY WERE YOU THERE?
So, what the heck were you doing taking up oxygen on the dais last Tuesday night? Why didn't you just excuse yourself when the item came up at the end of the meeting and head home for an early night's sleep? You certainly didn't contribute anything of consequence and, quite honestly, having you out of the loop would have been wonderful as things turned out. The vote to place the "new sets of eyes" - including Righeimer - onto the negotiating team would have failed without your vote. Thanks for nothing!

CHRONIC CHARACTER FLAW ON DISPLAY
I guess it takes more character than you have to stand by your opinion. But, then, that's really too much to expect from you, isn't it? What a hypocrite!

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Government By Ambush


AN APPROPRIATE TERM
Yep, that's what my friend, David Stiller, calls it. He coined the phrase a few years ago when he thought there was insufficient notification on an issue to be heard by the City Council. Last night's council meeting was the perfect example of what he meant.

SENIOR CENTER CONTRACT
New Business #3 - which the council very kindly moved from the back of the agenda to the front to accommodate the many seniors in the audience - is the agreement between the City and the Costa Mesa Senior Corporation regarding the operation of the Senior Center for another 5 years, plus the possibility of extending the agreement for three more five-year terms.

RESULT OF TASK FORCE
The staff report originally posted online represented the hard work over many months by the special Senior Center Task Force, formed to address the renewal of the contract and some specific issues that had arisen over the past couple years. Mayor Allan Mansoor and Councilman Gary Monahan were on the task force, which also included Senior Center members Arlene Flanagan, Judy Lindsey; Senior Center volunteer Anna Kozma; Chamber of Commerce nominee Patty Mason and community member, former mayor Mary Hornbuckle. Senior Center Executive Director Aviva Goelman and Costa Mesa Recreation Manager Jana Ransom were non-voting members.

ORIGINAL CONTRACT UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED
This task force worked diligently over nearly a year, addressing the boilerplate issues of the official agreement and ancillary issues and, earlier this year, produced the document to be considered last night. That document had already been approved unanimously by the Task Force and the Senior Corporation Board of Directors.

LATE ADDITION
However, at the very last minute - late last Friday night - "someone" requested that an additional paragraph be inserted into section 8, Programs and Services. This addition only appeared in the staff report at that time, with no prior or subsequent notification to the Senior Corporation Board. The additional paragraph reads as follows:

TEXT OF THE ADDITION
"Tenant has the right to reasonably control disruptive behavior at the Senior Center, but recognizes that the Senior Center is a public building and place of public accommodation. Tenant shall not discriminate against qualified users of the Senior Center on the basis of their first amendment protected activities or on the basis of their viewpoint."

USURPING AUTHORITY
In the view of many who read this quick-pitched entry into the previously-approved version, this seemed to be a clear attempt by someone - I suspect Wendy Leece - to usurp the management authority of the Executive Director of the Senior Center and her bosses, the Senior Corporation Board.

ANOTHER MANSOOR SNEAK ATTACK
Then, during the deliberations, Mansoor attempted to slip into the agreement a requirement for the Senior Center to submit to an audit whenever the whim struck the City Council - another item that had not been approved by the Task Force nor the Senior Corporation Board.

"A SOLUTION IN SEARCH OF A PROBLEM"
President of the Senior Corporation Board, Bruce Garlich, addressed both issues. During his presentation he explained that the Task Force had worked for many months on the agreement and the Task Force and the Senior Center Board unanimously approved it as presented. He said the proposed amendment (above) has had no review by the Task Force and seemingly little review by the city staff. He called the timing of it's inclusion "suspicious and disrespectful to the Task Force and the Senior Center staff". He said it was "a solution in search of a problem."

NO RECORD OF FIRST AMENDMENT VIOLATIONS
Garlich went on to say that, "to the best of his knowledge, at no time had the Senior Center staff been made aware of any complaint from any Center user that their first amendment rights had been discriminated against." He explained that, if such an event occurred, there is a protocol to resolve it via the Executive Director and the Senior Board. He reminded the council that, if it chose to include the added language it would be in violation of Section 9 (d) of the agreement, which states in part that "Tenant is and shall act as an independent agency and not as an officer, employee or agent of the City."

NO ADDITIONAL AUDIT NECESSARY
Garlich also objected to the language Mansoor tried to insert during the discussion dealing with an audit. Section 9 (c) provides for an audited financial report requirement, which, in Garlich's view, should be sufficient.

TASK FORCE NEVER CONSIDERED AUDIT
Mansoor was part of the Task Force and, according to sources familiar with their deliberations, the issue of yet another audit - a "forensic audit" - was not discussed nor approved by the Task Force. In fact, there has been no definition of exactly what a "forensic audit" is supposed to be - that was a term tossed out quite casually by Leece during the council meeting. Springing this on the Senior Corporation Board without notice is just another example of "Government By Ambush", and a pretty crappy way to do business.

BEVER WOKE UP A LITTLE
Eric Bever's "contribution" to the discussion was to gripe about there not being any language in the agreement that dealt with what he called "dispute resolution. He said, "Our only option was to say, 'Ok you guys, you're fired'". He asked the City Attorney to provide him with a list of options for the council to consider. That will be considered at a future date.

DELAY MIGHT CREATE BIG FINANCIAL PROBLEMS
The upshot of this debacle was that, because of the requirement for the amended agreement to be, once again, considered by the Senior Corporation Board, there 's a good chance that it might not make it back through the system in time to be approved before the budget is approved to go into effect July 1. If that's the case, no checks may be issued to the Senior Center until the agreement is completed and approved.

PETTY GRIEVANCES CREATED TASK FORCE
I'm not a Senior Center insider and don't have personal knowledge of all the circumstances that led to the launching of the Task Force in the first place. I do know what has been public knowledge. A small band of malcontents - some of whom were not members of the Senior Center - decided that they were not getting their way so went to Leece and griped about it. She, unable to sort important issues from petty grievances that should have been resolved under the roof of the Senior Center, began a witch hunt. As a result, the Task Force was created and did a terrific job of sorting out the issues and making their recommendations.

DISRESPECTFUL BLINDSIDE
The blindsiding of the Senior Corporation Board with these items as the council was about to vote on them reeks of petty politics and, as Garlich stated a couple times during his presentation, is disrespectful of the Task Force and the Senior Center management.

BACK TO THE SENIOR BOARD
Fortunately, the council voted to approve the original agreement without the offending language but did add a few words requiring the ability for the City to pay for a "forensic audit" during the term of the contract. This hiccup will now require the entire agreement to be re-considered by the Senior Corporation Board and, depending on how their deliberations go, may delay the final approval of the contract.

INTELLECTUAL AND ETHICAL SHORTCOMINGS
This disregard for the process they established caused more than a few observers to lose confidence in some members of the council. It's a miserable way to do business and demonstrates the intellectual and ethical limitations of some of our elected leaders. It's a shame.

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Marathon Meeting Ends With A Thud

WHAT POLITICAL INFLUENCE BUYS IN COSTA MESA
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...

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Daily Voice, Adieu & "Mansoor's A Liar", Too

DAILY VOICE BECOMES "INDEPENDENT"
Well, it's official, I guess. Today Tom Johnson announced in the Newport-Mesa Daily Voice that his fledgling publication is no more. It will morph into the Newport Beach Independent. Although we covered this story almost two weeks ago, HERE, you can read Johnson's official announcement HERE. A print product will begin publication on June 4th - one day a week on Fridays.

COSTA MESA ABANDONED
With the launch of the Newport Beach Independent Johnson and his Firebrand Media partners will abandon Costa Mesa for the time being. Quite honestly, unless there's another Police Department scandal, every day is going to be a slow news day for Johnson and his team. In the past couple years Costa Mesa has generated far more newsworthy stuff.

TOUGH CALL FOR JOHNSON
I suspect this is going to be a very big deal for Tom Johnson. Ever since he took over the Daily Pilot as publisher he has been deeply involved in Costa Mesa. He has been a true civic leader, involved in many charities over many years.

GOOD LUCK, TOM
We do wish him well in this most recent new endeavor.

MANSOOR'S FIRST LIE THIS CAMPAIGN SEASON
Yesterday I received my sample ballot for the primary election next month and with it I hold in my hands the evidence of the first big lie told by Allan Mansoor during this election season. Well, maybe not the first, but the only one in print that he authorized that I know of.

HE'S NO LONGER A DEPUTY SHERIFF!
Yep, next to his name on the ballot it shows his designation - Mayor/Deputy Sheriff. Funny thing is, he's not a Deputy Sheriff any longer. According to his pal, Jim Righeimer, Mansoor left the Sheriff's Department as of 12/31/09. He alluded to no longer being a Sheriff Deputy at his press conference last week, too. The ballot language had to be submitted by March of this year, which means that our mayor intentionally lied about who he is on the ballot - probably hoping nobody would notice. Ha! Fat chance of that, Mr. Mayor.

ONLY THE FIRST OF WHAT MAY BE MANY
Now, this might not be the very first lie Mansoor has told, but it certainly is the most flagrant. Of course, following right on the heels of those whoppers he told at his press conference last week, it's not really a surprise. You remember those lies, right? When asked if his immigration scheme announcement was in any way a result of the new Arizona law he said "No." When asked if it had anything to do with his campaign for Van Tran's Assembly seat he said "No." So, that's three lies in less than a week. I supposed we should really start counting them now.

POLLY WANT A CRACKER?
Speaking of counting, let's play a game while watching the City Council meeting tonight. Every time the mayor says, "These are complex issues", shout out the number. The first time shout out "One!" The second time he says it, shout out "Two!", and so forth. That's the phrase implanted in his skull by his political handlers for when he gets into trouble. He, like a parrot wanting a cracker, just repeats the phrase instead of answering the question. All together now, "Squawk, these are complex issues." "Three!"

HE MAY BE THE "PERFECT" ASSEMBLYMAN
So, dear neighbors, that's what you're going to get with Allan Mansoor - fabrication of issues for political expediency and flat-out lies. Come to think of it, he might just fit in perfectly in Sacramento. He's a guy with no leadership skills, limited intellectual capacity, no history of accomplishment and a liar, to boot. Perfect!

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Monday, May 03, 2010

More Light Shed On Fairgrounds Acquisition Plan

A VERY LATE AGENDA CHANGE
Very late Monday night, tonight, the City issued a new, updated agenda for Tuesday's City Council meeting which contained a new staff report for New Business #2 dealing with the acquisition of the Orange County Fair and Events Center. I'll try to summarize this document for you, but you can read the whole thing HERE.

TIGHT TIME LINE REQUIRED CREATIVITY
The report, authored by City Manager Allan Roeder, begins by providing a brief history of the process to this point and emphasized the extraordinary nature of this negotiation. As mentioned by Councilman Eric Bever when he went into his pouty sulk recently, there didn't seem to be time to properly address all the complex facets of this process based on the time constraints imposed by the State.

TASKS COMPLETED BY FIRST DEADLINE
Here are the tasks completed by the initial deadline of April 21, 2010:

1. Preparation of proposed Terms & Conditions for the Sale & Purchase Agreement;
2. Legal research regarding options and authorities for City purchase of the OCFEC;
3. Detailed review of OCFEC finances, lease commitments, capital investment and operating expenses;
4. Review of options to acquire the property without financial obligation or risk to Costa Mesa residents; and
5. Solicitation of private sector proposals to operate the OCFEC on a contract basis.

That's an astounding amount of work to be completed in such a short time.

NORMAL "REQUESTS FOR PROPOSAL" PROCESS
Roeder explained that, under normal circumstances, the process of drafting an appropriate "Request for Proposals" for a private sector operator would take a minimum of six months. Accordingly, the City contacted all the firms who previously submitted bids - certainly not a standard practice by any means.

FOUR BIDDERS EXPRESSED INTEREST
Of the firms that made proposals in the early negotiations with the State for the purchase of the Fairgrounds, four responded to the City's RFP - Craig Realty; American Fairs and Festivals, Inc.; Advanced Real Estate Services, Inc. and Facilities Management West, Inc. Craig Realty eventually withdrew. Advanced Real Estate Services went into partnership with American Fairs and Festivals and Facilities Management West remained interested.

TWO ENTITIES INVITED TO MAKE PRESENTATIONS
Both of the remaining entities were invited to make fifteen minute presentations to the council Tuesday. Only American Fairs and Festivals/Advance Real Estate Services accepted. Facilities Management West declined and submitted a written proposal. You can view that as an attachment to the staff report. In a nutshell, it DOES NOT anticipate public ownership of the Fairgrounds. Their organization would purchase the property and run it.

LONG AND INTERESTING MEETING GUARANTEED
As I said in my previous post, Tuesday's council meeting may be a long one and it most certainly will be an interesting one. I don't recall in recent memory a meeting with the potential to have so many "meaty" discussions in one sitting. We'll report on it later.

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Another Fun Council Meeting on Tuesday

IT COULD BE A LONG ONE
Tuesday's Costa Mesa City Council meeting has all the earmarks of being another of those long, controversial events.

LOTS OF CLOSED SESSION STUFF
First, it will likely not get started at the scheduled time of 6:00 p.m. because there are four items on the Closed Session agenda that will take a lot of time. They are two separate lawsuits by medical marijuana dispensary operators; a lawsuit on behalf of day laborers and a meeting with the negotiators for the purchase of the Fairgrounds. I'm guessing that, unless they begin the closed session earlier than normal, we probably won't see the council's smiling faces on the dais until 6:30 or later. But, then, one never knows... You can read about a recent judges decision to reject a temporary restraining order request in one of the above cases in an article from the Orange County Register, HERE.

MANSOOR MAY ASK FOR STUDY SESSION ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
Once those get vetted the open session will commence. During the Council Members Comments section I fully expect Mayor Allan Mansoor to ask the council to place on the agenda for the next study session on the 11th his bogus scheme to resurrect the illegal immigration issue. Based on his recent press conference, that could make for an interesting study session. The anticipation of Mansoor's probable action may conjure up many folks for the Public Comments segment, too.

FIREWORKS COME EARLY IN THE MEETING
Then, the very first item under Public Hearings addresses Gary Monahan's request to extend the hours of sale for fireworks on July 4th and to approve the renewed sale of handheld devices. That should be interesting and may generate much community response.

CDBG FUNDS - MORE FIREWORKS
The next items on the agenda will deal with the distribution of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to organizations within the community. I expect that an angry old fellow in a black shirt will stand before the council and rant about how the funds are distributed - again. Giving funds to organizations that provides services to Latinos in our community doesn't fit his template for "improving" the city. His philosophy is, "If it ain't white it ain't right. If it's brown, throw it out of town."

SWEETENING THE RETIREMENT POT
Under Old Business #1 the council will consider sweetening the retirement pot for Firefighters, from 3% at age 55 to 3% at age 50.

CITATIONS AND CONCERTS
They will also vote to modify the administrative citations procedure and authorize steps necessary to provide staff time for summer concerts.

RENEW BIA FUNDS
Under New Business things get interesting. Item #1 will re-authorize the Business Improvement Area (BIA) funds.

FAIRGROUNDS - FINANCING, OWNERSHIP AND CONSULTING
Item #2, for which there are no staff reports available on sections (a) and (b), deals with the potential acquisition of the Orange County Fairgrounds. Item (a) is a presentation of Ownership and Financing Strategy and (b) is a Fairgrounds Management Proposal. I'm very disappointed that no staff report is available on these items. It's difficult to be an informed voter when such things are kept behind a veil until the last minute. They might get a staff report ready by meeting time, but that won't help those of us who prefer to observe via television or streaming video.

WHAT'S THE PROBLEM HERE?
Segment (c) deals with the modification of the Standard Professional Services Agreement to accommodate three volunteers who hope to provide "expert advice and consultation". You'll be happy to know that those three fellows are Costa Mesa residents Rick Kapko and Jim Righeimer and Newport Beach resident David Ball. Apparently all three balked at the standard agreement and the first cut at modifying the agreement. It will be interesting to hear what this is all about.

SENIOR CENTER AGREEMENT SHENANIGANS
Finally, probably well after the normal bedtime for most seniors, the council will hear about the agreement hammered out over several months for the operation of the Costa Mesa Senior Center. This will be especially interesting because of a clause added to the agreement at the very last minute Friday night. The Senior Corporation Board, the entity that operates the Costa Mesa Senior Center, had not seen the added language and, naturally, had not approved it. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few members of the Senior Center speak up on this issue. That may make what one might expect to be a pretty routine vote take on a more heightened intensity.

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