Friday, May 21, 2010

Trip Answers - Questions Remain

PRESS RELEASE ON SACRAMENTO TRIP
Late this morning the City issued the following Press Release dealing with the trip to Sacramento by City representatives, City Manager Allan Roeder, council members Katrina Foley and Gary Monahan and Guy Lemmon, representative of Facilities Management West, the exclusive negotiating partner now involved with the City for the purchase and operation of the Fairgrounds:

WHAT'S THE NEW TIME LINE?
Unanswered by this Press Release is any indication from the State as to what time line the City is on in this process. Specifically, what still needs to be done and by when? Is the State continuing to expect our negotiators to continue to run a marathon at a 100 yard dash pace?

WHAT ARE THE TERMS?
Also remaining unanswered are questions about the specific terms we are talking about with Facilities Management West. With the previous vendor, American Fairs and Festivals, we were told specific on the terms. I've heard a rumor that the deal with Facilities Management West includes a 55 year term, as opposed to the 40 year term with the previous group.

NERVOUS STAKEHOLDERS
Based on comments I've received since the announcement of the collaboration with Facilities Management West, the natives are restless out there. Many of the stakeholders are apprehensive about their future at a Fairgrounds managed by this new group.






APPREHENSION ABOUT "RULE OF LAW CIT
Y" RESOLUTION
Also causing some apprehension is Mayor Allan Mansoor's recent resolution declaring Costa Mesa a "Rule of Law City", because some folks think that may not set very well with a Democrat-dominated legislature - which will be required to pass legislation to facilitate the purchase of the Fairgrounds. How pathetically ironic it would be for Costa Mesa to go to all this trouble, spend all this time when the budget and other important issues should be dealt with, only to have Mansoor's personal political agenda cause us to lose our bid for the Fairgrounds.

MICKADEIT ON AMERICAN FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
In case you missed it this morning, you can read Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit's view on what happened with the American Fairs and Festivals venture HERE.


STAY TUNED...

I'll post more information as I receive it.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Views Of A New Library

WHILE HUMMING THE JEOPARDY! THEME...
While we're marking time, awaiting word from our emissaries to Sacramento to report the results of their trip, I thought I'd give you a little view of a very positive event from last Saturday.


MANY VIEWS OF A NEW LIBRARY
At a forum hosted by the Costa Mesa Library Foundation, architecture students from Orange Coast College displayed their individual views of how a new Costa Mesa Main Library might look on that chunk of grass dedicated to the facility on Fair Drive near City Hall. More than 20 presentations were made, each one accompanied by a video presentation, and were very impressive.

PHOTOS
I've included a few photos of some of the displays, to give you a feel for what these bright young people turned out.





















CMTV CAPTURED THE EVENT
Brad Long from Costa Mesa TV was there to capture the event for a future item on Channel 24 (99 on U-Verse).





CITY REPRESENTATIVES

Local dignitaries were in attendance - Wendy Leece, Tom Hatch, Bruce Garlich, Larry Weichman and many others.
















POSITIVE PROGRAM

It was a terrific, positive program and gives you an idea of what we might expect if the Costa Mesa Library Foundation. I'm hoping we might see some progress made on a new library, but suspect I won't see it in my lifetime. Unless we find a generous donor to launch this effort in these troubled financial times it's hard to see how enough money will be accumulated soon enough to make this effort a reality.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Fairgrounds Partner Announced


Just before 8:00 p.m Wednesday evening the City Manager's office sent out the following press release:


CHANGED CONFIRMED BY AMERICAN FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
Between the time it was distributed and the time I opened it - about an hour - a source sent me a note relaying confirmation from one of the participants from American Fairs and Festivals confirming that they were out and Facilities Management West was now in exclusive negotiations with the city to try to make a deal to purchase the Fairgrounds.

POSITION CHANGED
You may recall that Facilities Management West's original proposal was to purchase the Fairgrounds outright with no public involvement. Apparently, according to the press release above, that position has changed.

FINGERS CROSSED ALL AROUND FOR TOMORROW
Tomorrow, Thursday, representatives of the City will fly to Sacramento for an early morning meeting to try to keep this ball rolling. More later.

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Johnny "Ace" Palmer on Letterman Tonight!


FUN FOR ALL TONIGHT
Tired of all this "city" stuff? Need a little break? Have I got a deal for you!

A HUNTINGTON BEACH GUY
Tonight my good friend, Johnny "Ace" Palmer, World Champion Magician, will appear on David Letterman's show. I'm not sure exactly when he will be on, but the show runs from 11:35 to 12:37a.m.

RECORD IT OR WATCH IT LIVE
So, set your DVR, VCR or, if you're a night owl, stay up and watch one of the very best up-close magicians you'll ever see.

HE'S THE BEST!
To learn more about Johnny "Ace" Palmer check out his web site HERE.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Are Fair Negotiations Breaking Down?

"WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED HERE?!
That's what one speaker asked the City Council during public comments tonight. She was frustrated and angry about being blindsided by the report from the closed session that a major change has occurred in the Fairgrounds negotiations - Facilities Management West, the second bidder, was included in the mix and the City negotiating team was charged to negotiate with them as well as the previously exclusive bidder, the American Fairs and Festivals partnership.

IT'S A NEW BALL GAME
According to City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow, the council voted in closed session 4-1 (Eric Bever voting "No") to authorize the negotiating team to enter "exclusive negotiations with either American Fairs and Festivals or Facilities Management West". My head spins....

SAW IT COMING
I must confess that I saw this coming when, during the two minute preamble to the closed session at approximately 5:15 - when no one else was in the auditorium - City Manager Allan Roeder asked the three council members - Allan Mansoor, Wendy Leece and Eric Bever - for a unanimous vote to change the agenda for the study session and add Facilities Management West as a negotiating party. Apparently Katrina Foley and Gary Monahan were still in negotiations!

NEGOTIATIONS IN TROUBLE
It's obvious that the deal with American Fairs and Festivals is in trouble. Roeder explained during council member comments that, even though negotiations have been going on practically around the clock, recent events (meaning late this afternoon) required them to broaden the scope of negotiations to include Facilities Management West.

HOW WILL THEY DO IT NOW?
Since the negotiating team will board a plane to Sacramento before dawn on Thursday to present our proposal to the State, I have no idea how they will manage to finalize a deal with the approximately 30 hours they will have from the end of the council meeting until they leave. I've seen Roeder pull rabbits out of hats in the past, but this just doesn't seem possible now.

COUNCIL FORMS JOINT POWERS AUTHORITY
Retaining hope that the process will, somehow, be successful, the council - wearing both hats as the council and the public finance authority - voted twice to create the Joint Powers Authority. Lamebrain buffoon, Bever, voted "No" in both cases.

A CLOUD OF GLOOM DESCENDS...
I can tell you that I came away from this meeting with much apprehension about the Fairgrounds deal. Adding this new element at, literally, the last minute in the negotiations seems to practically guarantee our plan will fail. Couple that with Bever's persistent negative votes and Mayor Mansoor's on-going expression of concern for the process, I just can't shake the feeling of doom.

COSTA MESA - A "RULE OF LAW" CITY
At the end of the meeting, to no one's surprise, Mansoor's resolution to declare Costa Mesa a "Rule of Law" city passed 4-0 - Foley had long since departed from the chambers. As former and future council candidate Chris McEvoy said at the speaker's podium, this is just pure political posturing on Mansoor's part, making sure he gets free press - he pointed to the media present. McEvoy couldn't be more correct. And, sadly, this is just the beginning if you believe Mansoor's words quoted in an early edition of the Orange County Register as reported in my earlier post.

RIDING BIGOTRY TO VICTORY
Remember the turmoil and legal difficulties of 2006? Get ready - it's going to happen again this summer as Mansoor attempts to ride the backs of the Latino population of our city to yet another election victory. Without the brown faces in our city he would have no campaign platform at all.

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Fairs, Fireworks, Finances and Falsehoods

LABOR NEGOTIATIONS AND FAIRGROUNDS DECISIONS
Another important day for the Costa Mesa City Council. First, in the closed session segment, they will have a conference with City Manager Allan Roeder and Administrative Services Director, Steve Mandoki about possible negotiations with the city bargaining units. Then they will hear from Roeder on two items regarding the Fairground purchase. Thursday is the day Roeder, Katrina Foley and Gary Monahan fly off to Sacramento with the City's proposal.

ORANGE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS AUTHORITY
Later they will adjourn the meeting and open a joint meeting with the Public Finance Authority (the city council wearing another beanie, to form the Joint Powers Authority - the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority. Two separate resolutions will be considered.

WEARING MANY HATS
As an aside, the city council is kind of like municipal mad hatters - they wear many chapeaux, depending on the event. They are 1) the City Council, 2) Redevelopment Agency, 3) Public Finance Authority and 4) the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority.


FINAL FIREWORKS VOTE
Then they will vote on the new Fireworks ordinance... no comment here...

HERE COMES BARRETT-JACKSON!
One of the really positive things that will happen is the resolution designating the event route for the 2010 Barrett-Jackson Road Rally this summer.



WHAT'S A "RULE OF LAW CITY"?

Then they will consider the biggie. Mayor Allan Mansoor will present his pitch for declaring Costa Mesa a "Rule of Law City", whatever the heck that is! This man is absolutely shameless! First, he uses the City Council Chambers for a "news conference" - it was really a campaign stop - to announce his plan for a crackdown on illegal immigrants. He denied that the timing of his event had anything at all to do with his candidacy for the Assembly or the recently-adopted law in Arizona. He must really think the electorate is stupid!

NEW LAWS/FEWER COPS
Now he presents this resolution - an obvious campaign ploy - a few days before the June 8th primary election. In an article in the Orange County Register he is quoted as saying, "I want to bring something forward in the next couple of months to start looking at some new policies. No doubt, we're busy with a lot of things. I'm trying to approach it in a manner that's not going to overburden anyone. I've done a lot of research on my own. And I'm going to bring it forward in a manner that's doable."

SELF-SERVING OPPORTUNISM
Talk about opportunistic timing! He's going to be looking at some new policies at a time when the city will make drastic cuts in the law enforcement organization! What a schmuck!

PHOTOGRAPHIC FALSEHOOD
And, to further tick me off, yesterday I received a campaign flier from him in which he appears, with that big smiley face, in a uniform of an Orange County Deputy Sheriff - which he no longer is! This is obviously an old photo, since he still has his "sheriff" haircut in it. He's just perpetuating the lie that is on the ballot - that he's a Deputy Sheriff. At some point his nose will grow to such a length that he won't fit in any photos!

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Budget Prioritization Exercise

PRIORITIZATION EXERCISE FORMS AVAILABLE
As announced at a recent city council meeting, the City now has available for download the worksheets for the Budget Prioritization exercise. This tool was created to assist the City Council in prioritizing elements of city government that have been recommended for elimination. That's actually a coarse way of saying which jobs will be eliminated.

MAY BE IRRELEVANT
I like this exercise but, and it's a big but (no wisecracks, please), I'm afraid it will be an exercise in futility and frustration for anyone - including the City Council - who participates in it. The reason I say that is because it may be irrelevant.

REPRESENTS HALF THE DEFICIT
The list of 86 items on this list has already been determined by the City Manager, based on input from his staff members, to be items that he recommends for elimination. The total dollars represented by this exercise is $8,365,072 - about half of the projected $16.4 million deficit for the 2010/2011 fiscal year budget. If you participate in this exercise your input will be included in a compilation representing the community's choices - it's priorities - as a bit of information for the City Council to use when considering the budget.

BITS OF INFORMATION
The council will theoretically go through the same exercise, the results of which will be also compiled and provided to them as yet another tool. It's my understanding that the individual prioritization sheets prepared by the council members will also be available for public review.

REVIEW ATTACHMENTS "A" AND "B"Even if you do not participate in this exercise, reviewing attachments A (Instructions) and B (Program-Service-Facility Impacts) will be helpful to you in understanding just what kind of painful decisions the council and staff must address as they try to balance this years budget.

LOCATE FORMS
To find the information, go to the city web site, HERE, and go down to the box in the middle of the page that lists issues. At the bottom of that list you'll find the link in magenta entitled, "Prioritization of City Services". Click on that and you'll find a box that looks like this one:


TWO WORKSHEETS
You'll see each of the attachments listed. In addition to A and B, mentioned above, two items "C" are also listed. These are the forms to be used to complete the prioritization exercise. One is a pdf. file that may be downloaded and printed out for completion. The other is a Excel worksheet that can be completed online and emailed directly to Assistant City Manager Tom Hatch.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
At the bottom of both forms is a place for any other comments you might choose to make. I know, based on my conversations with them, that Hatch and other senior staffers are looking for input from the community about the budget - this is the place to do that.

ATTACHMENT "B" GIVES PERSPECTIVE
Whether you fill out the form or not, please look over attachment B to understand a little more about this process.

MEETING SCHEDULES
There will be a budget study session on June 8th and a community budget workshop on Thursday, June 10th. The council will make its final budget determinations on June 15th, the final council meeting of the month unless circumstances require special meetings to be called.

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