Friday, June 04, 2010

Biggest Week In Costa Mesa's History? Maybe...

FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS
Next week is going to be a very big week for the City of Costa Mesa. In fact, it may be the biggest week since it was formed more than a half-century ago.


OFF TO SACRAMENTO AGAIN?
It all begins on Monday, when city officials may make yet another trek to Sacramento with the most recent iteration of their proposal to purchase the Orange County Fair and Event Center. As has been the case with previous trips, it is preceded by weeks of hard work, difficult, intense negotiations and countless hours put in by the city staff and their partner in this enterprise, Facilities Management West. As of late Friday afternoon no official word about a trip was available, but that is the most recent deadline established by the State... we'll see.

UPDATE: According to city officials at 5:00 PM Saturday, NO trip is planned to Sacramento on Monday. Seems there are delays on the State's end. I'll report more when I know more.

TRIP UNDER A CLOUD
This trip, however, will be under a cloud of apprehension. This time our negotiators will be presenting a proposal that, through no fault of their own, may be dead on arrival. Regardless whether the City presents an outstanding proposal to representatives of the State, there is a strong possibility that it will never see the light of day. And you can blame this directly on lame duck Mayor Allan Mansoor.

MANSOOR'S GAFFE
Following his recent pointless proposal to pass a resolution to declare the City of Costa Mesa a "Rule of Law City" - which passed 4-0, with Katrina Foley wisely absent from the dais - the effluent hit the oscillating device. As I predicted, members of the Latino caucus of the California legislature have stated openly that, because of that resolution, the caucus will do all in their power to block the sale of the Fairgrounds to Costa Mesa.

SALE HELD HOSTAGE BY LATINO CAUCUS?
Once there is a deal acceptable to the State, the legislature must pass legislation to name the Joint Powers Authority - which is currently just the City Council in a fancy dress - as the 32nd District Agricultural Board, replacing the current board. Without that legislation the deal cannot move forward. The Latino caucus doesn't really have to defeat such a bill, it just has to keep it locked up in committee - time is on their side. If it's clear that no bill is forthcoming it is logical to assume that the governor, through the Department of General Services, will open up the whole issue for bidding again.

"YES" ON MEASURE "C" MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
With this specter staring us in the face, there is even more reason to vote YES on Measure C, which locks in the current zoning of the Fairgrounds. That vote takes place Tuesday, June 8th.

BUDGET BLOOD BATH
And, on that date, the City Council will hold it's Budget Study Session, which promises to be one of the most heavily attended and most contentious in recent memory. Notices of layoff have already gone out this week to the full time and part time staff members on the previously published list. Legal noticing requirements prompted the full-timers to be issued the notices 30 days before they become effective.

CHANGE OF VENUE ANTICIPATED
It is anticipated that, due to the expected crowd for the study session, it will be moved from Conference Room 1A to the City Council Chambers, where there is ample seating. If that happens, the proceedings will be televised live on CMTV, Channel 24 (99 on U-Verse).

EVEN SMITH AND I AGREE!
Do you want to know how bad this budget issue is? Well, it's so bad that even Daily Pilot columnist Steve Smith and I actually agree on it! You can read his most recent pronouncement on it HERE.

FUTILE PRIORITIZATION EXERCISE
This year the City enlisted the residents in the process, providing a "prioritization" exercise to help guide the discussion on Tuesday. Council members were asked to participate, too, and the results of their individual sheets will, theoretically, be made public. I thought there might be a dozen or so residents who cared enough to actually go through the process and submit forms. WRONG! By last count yesterday, more than 250 forms have been submitted and compiled. You can read the staff report on this process and view the summaries attached to it HERE. Now, in theory this is a great idea. However, this year it will be an exercise in futility because ALL the items we were asked to prioritize WILL BE CUT, regardless the outcome of the exercise. And that only gets us half-way through our deficit. We still need to find another $8 million somewhere. As I said above, this is going to be a blood bath.

EMPLOYEES WILL BE ASKED TO DO MORE - AGAIN
Employees will be asked to contribute more this year. The furlough program that was negotiated last year will expire in August. Without it being perpetuated, or without some other form of broad-based give-back program, the only alternative left to the City will be even more layoffs. I'm told that there seems to be much less willingness on the part of employees to expand their participation in this budget-balancing exercise this year. I find myself wondering if the relationship between it's employees and the management organization will be permanently scarred by this budget debacle. It seems likely...

WISDOM OF SOLOMON REQUIRED
Last year's budget deliberations were painful. This year the decisions our elected leaders will be faced with are Solomonesque - except they don't have the wisdom to pull it off. During the past year most of the flesh left on our municipal carcass was sliced off in the form of terminated programs and staff reductions. This year all that is left is the skeleton, so the City Council will be deciding which appendages are more expendable than others. Do we cut a finger or a toe? Do we cut both? Is amputation of the left leg below the knee more desirable than chopping off the right arm below the elbow? These are the kinds of decisions they face.

STUBBORN AS A MULE
And, of course, this situation is exacerbated by the history of this council when it comes to considering increasing fees and/or taxes. As a group, their knee-jerk reaction has always been a resounding "NO!" when requested to place an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax or Business Licenses on the ballot for the voters of this city to consider. Our city has not had an increase in significant revenue sources in 20 years! We rank at or near the bottom on every source. Our TOT is the lowest in the county, as are our Business License fees. Even though placement of the questions on the ballot doesn't guarantee passage, at least the voters of this city will have a say in the matter.

MANSOOR "LEADS" THIS IDIOCY
Mayor Mansoor has been the leader of this shortsightedness. His behavior, particularly recently with his bizarre political moves, demonstrates clearly to me that he really doesn't care what kind of a disaster he leaves in his wake when he moves on following this November's election. One way or the other - whether he is elected to the Assembly or not - he will leave a trail of destruction in this city akin to Sherman's March To The Sea during the Civil War. It's well past time for him to wise-up and realize that, all the political rhetoric aside, the City simply cannot provide even minimal services without new revenue sources. Now, I know he's not the sharpest arrow in the quiver, but even first generation American elementary school youngsters can do the math on this one.

COMMUNITY BUDGET WORKSHOP THURSDAY
And, on Thursday there is a community budget workshop scheduled to present information and answer questions for any and all residents who show up. Until last year only two or three people showed up for this meeting. Last year there were a dozen. However, since the budget study session occurs in an expanded venue a couple days earlier, it's likely that there will be another poor turnout this time again.

A LONG ROAD AHEAD...
It's going to be a long, tough week for the city staff. Following the budget study session they will likely have to revisit many of their plans in preparation for the final budget vote on June 15th.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 03, 2010

John Wooden

JOHN WOODEN HOSPITALIZED
Tonight, as I head for bed, I heard on the news of John Wooden's hospitalization, apparently in grave condition.

It saddens me deeply to hear that this wonderful man - arguably the greatest coach of all time, in any sport at any level - is near the end of his time on earth.

Stories about John Wooden abound, as do video clips on YouTube. He has been used as the example of coaching and life lessons and, at age 99 years, is still revered by men he coached a half century ago.

I close tonight with sadness in my heart, yet knowing that if John Wooden leaves us soon, he has most certainly left this world better for his presence. There is no better example of a life well-lived.

Please enjoy this recent clip of an interview with Rick Reilly to give you a clear view of this wonderful man.

Labels:

FISH FRY WEEKEND!


ONE MORE TIME
It's that time of the year again! Time to visit Lions Park for the 63rd version of the Lions Club Fish Fry.

WEEKEND OF FUN
Fun, games, rides, beautiful baby contest and, of course, that yummy "secret recipe" fried cod and french fries!

CELEBS?
Heck, you might even see some local celebrities deep-frying fish and fries if you look closely.
LOVELY GRUB
Members of the Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor Lions Club begin setting up tomorrow morning and will begin serving that lovely grub, as my father-in-law used to say, on Saturday at around 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Sunday the food will be served until around 6:30 or until they run out of fish.

RIDES
Rides begin Friday night from 6-10 p.m and run Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.

TRADITION
Come help renew this tradition and support the many good causes the Lions Club funds each year. Heck, you might even see the "Fishmeister", Mike Scheafer wandering around in his fish hat, below.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Senior Center & Fairgrounds

SENIOR CENTER AGREEMENT AGAIN HASHED OUT
At it's meeting Tuesday night the Costa Mesa City Council, after some contentious debate, approved the new agreement with the Costa Mesa Senior Corporation for the operation of the Costa Mesa Senior Center.

HEADED OFF DISASTER
Reaching an agreement last night was critical because without a signed agreement the line item in the budget cannot be approved. Without funding beginning July 1 the Senior Center would have had to close it's doors due to insurance reasons.

GARLICH SPOKE
Senior Corporation President Bruce Garlich amplified the view of the Board on the issue and it was clear that they had no interest at all in approving language they found unacceptable and intrusive in the operations of the Senior Center.

"FORENSIC AUDIT"
The main bone of contention was around the language proposed for a "forensic" audit. The staff report, prepared by City Manage Allan Roeder, provided a concise yet thorough definition of that term and, during the discussion, it was clear that a forensic audit was not what Mayor Allan Mansoor had in mind at the council meeting on May 4th when he modified the previously approved agreement.

POLARIZED BY MISINFORMATION
Back and forth the discussion went, with Katrina Foley and Gary Monahan clearly siding with the Senior Corporation Board, which rejected outright the proposal for any kind of a forensic audit and proposed, instead, a "financial" audit. Mansoor, Wendy Leece and Eric Bever seemed to be stuck on the forensic audit, following the lead of community activist and Senior Center sour-puss rabble rouser, Ernie Feeney, who presented exhibits out of context in an attempt to demonstrate fiscal mismanagement. Fortunately, her contentions were rebuffed.

CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE
In the end, Mansoor finally acquiesced and agreed to support Monahan's motion which simply authorized the city to request and pay for a financial audit if they so chose during the course of the contract - 5 years. He may have been thinking how difficult his life could be in the midst of a campaign if he alienated Costa Mesa seniors - a group that consistently votes in high percentages. Whatever motivated him, he made the correct call tonight. The vote was taken and only Bever voted no.

WITCH HUNT NOT OVER
However, it was clear from comments made by Feeney, Bever, Leece and Mansoor, that Wendy's witch hunt at the Senior Center is far from over. For some inexplicable reason Leece seems determined to insert herself into the day-to-day operations of the Senior Center - something not within the purview of the city council as a group and certainly not an individual council member. It certainly appears that she continues to lack the ability to sort out important issues from small ones - particularly those "issues" generated by one or two malcontents at the Senior Center. Bever, being his usual lamebrain self, refused to vote in favor of the agreement because, in his words, it lacked a "conflict resolution" element.

FAIRGROUNDS STILL MOVING AT WARP SPEED
Separately, Roeder gave a brief overview of the current condition of the Fairgrounds negotiations. He emphasized again that the negotiators were working long hours, trying to be able to present the next step to the State next Monday, although his reference to that date seemed a little muddy. One had the impression as he spoke that the State representatives may be having a difficult time keeping up with the City at this time.

NO MENTION OF "RULE OF LAW CITY"
No mention was made of the media firestorm surrounding Mansoor's "Rule of Law City" resolution from the previous council meeting. Latino members of the legislature have apparently vowed to block the sale of the Fairgrounds because of Mansoor's ill-conceived and ill-timed attempt to get free publicity for his campaign. Ever since he proposed his resolution his face and voice have been everywhere, attempting to explain his reasoning. You can read a story in the Orange County Register on this issue HERE.

MANSOOR TRYING TO QUASH FAIRGROUND SALE?
Vern Nelson over at the Orange Juice Blog - the number 1 political blog in Orange County - wrote a scathing piece on this issue today, HERE. As you can see, he teased us with "more to come", regarding carpetbagger Jim Righeimer and his role in the Fairgrounds issue.

DETERMINED TO LEAVE ASHES IN HIS WAKE...
Mansoor seems determined to leave a trail of scorched earth behind him as he moves on to Sacramento. Won't that be a terrific legacy?

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, May 31, 2010

Remembering A Dear Friend

BARBARA JUNE STANFIELD
August 18, 1928 - May 27, 2010
On this glorious Memorial Day holiday weekend, as most of us stop to pay our respects to more than one million fallen men and women who served our country proudly in many wars in far away places and made the ultimate sacrifice, I also pause to remember a dear neighbor who passed away last Thursday afternoon.

FRIEND AND NEIGHBOR FOR DECADES
Barbara June Stanfield has been our neighbor ever since we moved to our current home almost 37 years ago. She and her husband, Wayne, have been the best neighbors you could wish for over all these years. We met them the first time on the very first day we were in our new home. I had a clogged shower and interrupted them as they were about to embark on a Model "A" ride to borrow a ladder so I could try to unplug it. Three hours later Wayne - a plumber by trade - had unplugged the drain and launched a great friendship between our families.

BANNING BORN AND BRED
Barbara was born in Banning on August 18, 1928 and attended public schools in that community. An outstanding student, she graduates high school at age 16 and briefly attended the University of Redlands. She met her future husband as a child and they were sweethearts since age 13. They married on May 4th, 1947, recently celebrating their 63rd year of marital bliss.

LIKE TWO TURTLE DOVES
As I looked through old photos for her family it was almost impossible to find one of her alone. Practically all of them were of her with Wayne, which is not surprising, since they've done EVERYTHING together throughout their married life.

SHE WALKED THE WALK
Barbara was a devout Christian who led her life by example, demonstrating to all around her a life of faith, patience, persistence, loyalty and love. Throughout her lifetime she was known as a fun and loving woman, with a quick wit, a luminous smile and a spirit that made you feel welcome, whether a family member, neighbor, friend or simply a stranger.

MADE EVERYTHING AROUND HER MORE BEAUTIFUL
With the skilled eye for detail, scale and perspective of a person with an early desire to be an architect and a tireless work ethic, Barbara created a beautiful home for her family and guided friends and neighbors with their own interior design and landscaping challenges.

READY FOR ADVENTURE
Always ready for a new adventure, Barbara loved outings with Wayne, their family and extended family of friends and neighbors - including my wife and myself. She and Wayne traversed the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in a wooden dory; explored Lake Powell during the time it was filling for the first time; discovered far away adventures in their motor home and loved touring the desert back-country in their dune buggy with a gaggle of friends in tow.

LAKE HAVASU/COSTA MESA
For more than half-century she helped operate the family business, Stanfield Plumbing Company, in Costa Mesa. Her husband and their son did the plumbing and she did the books. Upon their retirement Barbara and Wayne spend much of their time at their vacation home at Lake Havasu, Arizona, where they enjoyed a quiet, yet full life helping neighbors and turning their little getaway home into a showplace. In recent years they returned full time to their home in Costa Mesa, where temperate climate and the embrace of their family awaited.

A LOVING CLAN SURVIVES HER
In addition to her devoted husband, Wayne, Barbara is survived by their son, Wayne Kent Stanfield (Theresa) of Santa Ana, daughter Cathy Binnquist (Bruce) of Costa Mesa, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

WE WILL MISS HER
We will miss our friend, who welcomed us into their family and provided us with much joy and wise counsel over the years. We will miss the twinkle in her eye and her example of a life well-lived.

EIGHT DECADES OF LOVE AND DEVOTION
Barbara passed away at age 81 at Hoag Hospital Thursday afternoon after a short stay. A celebration of her life will be held at the family home in Costa Mesa on June 2nd. Private inurnment services will be held in Banning at a future date.

Labels: