Friday, July 16, 2010

Riggy's Running Again - No Surprise

ANOTHER TRY FOR RIGGY
As anticipated, Costa Mesa Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer, announced Friday that he will, in fact, soon pull papers to run for Allan Mansoor's soon-to-be-empty seat on the Costa Mesa City Council.

TUESDAY'S THE BIG DAY
Riggy told the Daily Pilot, HERE, that he and an entourage of 30 supporters will invade City Hall next Tuesday morning at which time he will pull papers. I find myself wondering if there will be a brass band and elephants and clowns, er, more clowns, too.

NOT A FAN OF HIS
We've discussed Righeimer here many, many times. You can do a site search to read all that stuff. It would be easy to guess that I'm not a big Riggy fan. I have been critical of him for many reasons over the past few years, beginning with his appointment to the Planning Commission by Mansoor after submitting his application after the deadline and after having lived in Costa Mesa for only a few short months. I've referred to him as a carpetbagger in the past - and probably will continue to do so for awhile.

HIS STYLE OVERSHADOWS HIS STRENGTHS
Righeimer has a real estate development background, which should be a great asset as a planning commissioner. However, he frequently oversteps the bounds of that role, trying to micro-manage projects being heard by the commission in matters beyond the scope of the planning commissions charter. And, sometimes he's been a bully while doing it.

POLITICAL INSIDER
Righeimer has been Dana Rohrabacher's campaign manager - most likely the reason he got the planning commission gig in the first place. He and old Dana were big supporters of Mansoor in his re-election campaign - his appointment was pure political payback to one of the Orange County Republican Party insiders. Riggy used to share a conference room with OC GOP head Scott Baugh, for goodness sake.

WHAT'S HE DOING THESE DAYS?
We don't really know what Riggy is doing for work these days. For awhile both he and his buddy and fellow planning commissioner, Steve Mensinger, ran separate divisions of SunCal Companies, during which time it had all kinds of financial difficulties, including bankruptcy filings. Since neither of them show those jobs on their current information, I guess Riggy is doing "something else". I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.

PERSONABLE, BUT PETULANT
I think Jim Righeimer is a very personable guy - a great schmoozer, for sure. I suppose that could be an asset as a councilman - maybe. He has shown us, though, that he doesn't handle rejection very well. For example, as the City was entering into exclusive negotiations with the State for the purchase of the Orange County Fairgrounds a few months ago, he threw a hissy fit and threatened to "blow up the deal" if he wasn't given a seat at the negotiating table. And guess what - he got it!

WHAT WAS HIS ROLE?
Curiously, almost the very next thing that happened was American Fairs and Festivals - the favored exclusive bidder - mysteriously suddenly became a pariah and was replaced by Facilities Management West. We may never know what happened, and what role he played in that huge decision, but it sure does make one curious, doesn't it?

CAN'T RUN AND WIN
Riggy has run for public office before, unsuccessfully. He ran for an Assembly seat but got whipped by now-State Senator Tom Harmon. He ran for Costa Mesa City Council two years ago, finishing fourth in the race for three seats behind Gary Monahan, Katrina Foley and Eric Bever - just over 1800 votes behind Bever. He almost doubled the tally of fifth-place finisher, Lisa Reedy.

BUDDIES APPOINT HIM
He has held several high positions - most appointed by his GOP buddies, including his current assignment on the planning commission. His term ends early next year unless he's re-appointed.

WATCH YOUR STEP TUESDAY...
As we head into this campaign season we will likely have many opportunities to hear Riggy's views about the future of our city. And, I suppose I'll have many opportunities to write about it. So, if you want to see the "big moment", when Riggy "pulls papers" on Tuesday, please go right ahead and visit City Hall... we don't know what time he and his posse will present themselves there, though. They may be having difficulty lining up enough limos. If you do go, step carefully - you sure don't want to get any elephant dung on your shoes.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's Fair Time Again!


OH BOY! OH BOY! OH BOY!
Just a quickie this evening to remind you that the latest edition of the Orange County Fair begins tomorrow, July 16th and runs Wednesday through Sundays through August 15th.

FREE TOMORROW, IF YOU'RE LUCKY
If you're quick and lucky tomorrow, parking and admission is free from noon to 1 p.m. After that you pay full boat!

A PREVIEW
Here's a little clip I found from opening day last year to whet your appetite for deep fried Twinkies, turkey legs, corn-on-the-cob that tastes so good going down and all the rides that will let you taste all that stuff again on the way out!



HAVE FUN! THAT'S AN ORDER!
Have a wonderful time at the Fair and remember why so many of your neighbors have been fighting to protect it for the future. HERE is a link to the Fair web site with schedules of events and all that other fun stuff.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Visionary Next Door

VISIONARIES MISSING
One of the things that has bugged me about Costa Mesa - my home for more than half my life - has been the lack of vision by it's elected leaders for the past decade or more. With very rare exceptions, no elected leader, or any candidate for elective office for that matter, has stood before an assembled group of voters and articulated a clear vision for our city.

POTHOLES AND POLICE
Yes, some have addressed "problems" with ideas to solve them, but that doesn't meet my definition of "vision". Most candidates for the City Council, for example, stick with the tried and true, "potholes and police" mantra.

SEGERSTROMS
Costa Mesa has visionary people - Henry Segerstrom, for example. His vision for the bean fields in the north part of town has created a retail and arts complex of world renown. His vision has been for his property, appropriately so, and we all should be grateful to him and his family for the good works they've done in and for our city.

WATCH THIS VIDEO
Tuesday, in the OC NOW blog, Daily Pilot reporter Mike Reicher, provided a brief report on a fund raiser that Newport Beach City Council candidate Rush Hill held at his home, and included a 5 minute video clip. Hill will be competing with Ed Reno for the seat being vacated by Walkin' Don Webb. I hope you'll take the time to view that video clip now. As I said, it's short...



WERE YOU IMPRESSED?
OK, are you back? Were you impressed with Hill's delivery of his vision and priorities for Newport Beach? I was. And, as I watched that clip, I couldn't help but think about how sad it is for Costa Mesa that we just don't seem to have folks with the vision and, for lack of another description, "command presence" of a Rush Hill running for public office.

WHO WILL RUN?
Monday was the first day candidates for City Council could take out papers for the election in November. As I write this I have not heard of any candidates for Costa Mesa City Council who have actually taken that step. I understand that Wendy Leece will attempt to retain her seat and young Chris McEvoy will run again this year. I suspect it almost goes without saying that perpetual election loser Jim Righeimer will also run, hoping to snag the seat being vacated by Allan Mansoor.

VOICES OF MODERATION NEEDED
With the likelihood of Katrina Foley being elected to the School Board in November and having to abandon her City Council seat, there's a chance for this city to place a new majority on the City Council - one not driven by a divisive agenda. Even if Foley loses her bid for the School Board, there are two seats up for grabs in November, so it is possible to select people to lead this city for most of the rest of this decade who have a more moderate, sensible view of how this city should be managed.

EXTREMISTS NEED NOT APPLY
No, I didn't say "liberal", "progressive" or Democrat, just as I didn't say "conservative" or "Republican". I don't think folks at the extreme ends of the political spectrum are good for our town, as witnessed by the past decade when knee-jerk, far-right wing conservatives have called the shots. We need to push partisan extremism out of our local politics. I think it's important for us to select smart, well-educated, articulate, committed members of the community, regardless their political persuasion, to chart the course for our future - folks who can stand toe-to-toe and/or shoulder-to-shoulder with men like Rush Hill and help chart the course for our shared concerns - like the airport, for example.

LEADERS WITH VISION
I think it's important to elect leaders who actually understand that Costa Mesa is not an island, that it's part of a regional community of cities who share many common interests. In the case of Newport Beach, we share a common border, a school district and the impact of the airport, for starters. Instead of approaching every issue as an adversary, as has been the case in the recent past, we need smart folks who can grasp the importance of working together for the good of both communities. With the very obvious exception of Foley, none of our current crew seems to get it. We need leaders with vision - those who can look beyond the end of their noses and guide our city into the future.

LOOKING FOR BETTER CANDIDATES
So, we're off into a new campaign season. Before too long your mailboxes will be stuffed to overflowing with slick propaganda pieces designed to mislead you on important issues and misrepresent opponents views. It's up to us to find those good folks in our community with the skills to serve and convince them to give it a shot. We deserve much better than we've gotten lately.

"LEADERSHIP TOMORROW"?
To all you graduates of the excellent "Leadership Tomorrow" program I say, " tomorrow is today"! It's time to step up and demonstrate that training you received. It's time to lead our community - today!

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Foley Announces On Facebook That She's Running!

IT'S OFFICIAL - FOLEY IS RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD
Well, it didn't surprise me at all that Katrina Foley got up before dawn and was among the first people at the Registrar's office to pull papers to run for the District 2 Trustee seat on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board in November. She's not one to let any grass grow under her feet on any issue! She announced this move on her Facebook page early this morning. Planning Commissioner Steve Mensinger has been attempting to draft Katrina for this slot for months.

COLLIER AND SNEEN TO RUN?
Katrina will probably face incumbent Michael Collier and, rumor has it, former Board member Linda Sneen. Should make for an interesting race.

HOW MANY BALLS CAN SHE JUGGLE?
I asked Katrina when the rumors first came up a few months ago just how she would manage her responsibilities to her family, her business, her role on the City Council and the School Board simultaneously. At the time it was unclear that, if successful in her run for the School Board seat, she would be required to give up her council seat. Gary Monahan currently holds both a seat on the City Council and on the Sanitary District Board. Another Facebook friend asked the same question today. Here is Katrina's response: It is my understanding that I could not do both. But, that decision is for a later date, because I would have to win first and then resign from my council seat. I feel that improving our schools and in many instances--the reputation of our schools-- is so critical to the overall health of our city, I am willing to leave my seat given that my Trustee Area election will not come up again until 2014. Let me know what you think...

So, there you have it... if she wins in November she will resign from the City Council.

WHO WILL DECIDE ON HER REPLACEMENT?
As we launch into the campaign season this year, her decision creates some interesting scenarios. If she wins in November and resigns from the City Council, that will leave a council of Gary Monahan, Eric Bever and, potentially, two new members to appoint her replacement. It's very unlikely that the council would call for a special election. We assume Wendy Leece is running again, but her re-election is far from guaranteed. We also assume that perennial candidate Jim Righeimer will run again and get the assistance of a full-court press by the OC GOP. Heck, he might even win this time. Then, again, he might not. Some folks may still not trust him for his attempt to kill the Fairgrounds deal. We'll see.

WHO MIGHT FILL FOLEY'S SLOT?
Who, then, might a council of Monahan, Bever, Leece and Riggy appoint? Riggy's buddy, Mensinger? Fellow planning commissioner Colin McCarthy? Will they do what many would consider the correct thing and simply appoint the third-highest vote-getter in the November election. This is going to be fun.

FUN ON THE SCHOOL BOARD
And, speaking of fun, I keep trying to imagine Katrina Foley on the School Board and a big smile breaks out on my face. I think it's safe to say that her presence on the Board will make for some lively discussion of important issues. Some would say "it's about time!".

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A Busy Week Ahead

PLANNING COMMISSION WILL DISCUSS - ????
Chairman (and assumed City Council candidate) Jim Righeimer will lead the Planning Commission in it's monthly meeting on Monday, July 12th at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers. I'd love to tell you about the agenda, but something is amiss with the link on the City web site. If I hear more during the day I'll post an addendum to this segment.

ADDENDUM: OK, got the confusion (on my part) out of the way. Tonight the Planning Commission will have a fairly normal mixed fare of issues to consider, beginning with a Code Enforcement Update. Following 5 public hearings, a couple of which may be continued to a future meeting, they will hear Staff's request for direction on three separate items that will take more than 4 hours of staff time to complete. Council policy requires such items to be specifically approved by the council. If the Planning Commission approves the request for direction these items will be bucked up to the City Council for it's decision.

THE CITY COUNCIL WILL BE VERY BUSY ON TUESDAY
The City Council will have one very busy day on Tuesday. First, they hold a Study Session beginning at 4:30, during which they will discuss four items:
1 - Maintaining the Standard of Care in Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
2 - Proposed Municipal Code Revisions and Code Enforcement Priorities
3 - Street Sweeping Services Analysis
4 - Central County Corridor Major Investment Study Report

The first item recommends a fee schedule for EMS services.
The second, which is covered in a 38 page staff report, deals with temporary signs (banners on commercial properties; storage of inoperative vehicles on residential properties; a Pilot Neighborhood Enforcement Program and the possible reassignment of supervision of Code Enforcement to the Assistant City Manager.

The third provides a report showing our current street sweeping procedures are the most cost-effective method as opposed to turning it over to private contractors.

The fourth is simply a briefing.

POTENTIAL RDA LITIGATION
Then, following the Study Session, the council will morph into the Redevelopment Agency for a joint meeting of the City Council/Redevelopment Agency beginning at 6:30 or thereabouts. From the agenda report, it looks like most of it will be a closed session to discuss what appears to be four Affordable Housing Agreements that have gone sour.

SHIFTING BUCKS
In open session they will meet as the Redevelopment Agency to approve an additional budget item of nearly $150,000, which is simply shifting dollars from the City Budget to the RDA budget for certain items having to do with the Downtown Project fund.

LABOR NEGOTIATIONS REPORT
Then, at who-knows-what-time, the City Council will meet in a closed session to discuss labor negotiations with the bargaining units. This could be a long evening, with most of it not available for public viewing because of the nature of the issues. The fate of our municipal budget depends on the success of those negotiations because we don't really have enough cash left in the Fund Balance to balance the budget.

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THE BEAT GOES ON, AND ON...
And, as you've likely read in the press, the theme for this year's Orange County Fair is, "The Beat Goes On", which I like very much under the circumstances. And, the controversy about the Fairgrounds Sale also "Goes On".

FIRST INSTALLMENT, AGAIN
I gave you a link previously to crooner Vern Nelson's first installment of a multi-part series on the Orange Juice Blog involving his investigation into the fairgrounds sale deal and who the players are. You can read that one, "The Great Fairgrounds Swindle: How Allan Mansoor sold us all out to his Campaign Contributors", HERE.

GAS PAINS GUARANTEED
The second installment, The Great Fairgrounds Swindle pt 2: Meet the Pirates!, can be read HERE. If you were a little uncomfortable with the first installment, you'd better start chomping some TUMS because this second one is going to give you some serious gas pains. I'm not going to paraphrase either installment - they are best read in their original form, without editorial observations. Since Nelson and his amigos hope to quash the sale, I will remind them that if this deal fails the State may simply decide to enter into a long-term lease similar to what the City is proposing with Facilities Management West. If that happens, and the title to the land doesn't change, all bets are off on the uses that a lessee might consider. The City zoning and Measure C would be moot. Be careful what you ask for...

STILL WAITING ON THE STATE
And, we're still waiting to hear from the State about the legislation necessary to make this deal work. The legislature is about due to take a vacation - from what I have no idea - and if the issue is not addressed before that time the delay is going to put a real crimp in the purchase timetable.

BEAZLEY: "THIS WILL BE THE BEST FAIR EVER!"I must confess my admiration for Fairgrounds CEO Steve Beazley and his staff for continuing on with all the turmoil of the sale swirling around them. Beazley has told me that it's their goal to make this year's fair the best one ever, and that every member of the staff is dedicated to doing just that. This year's fair opens July 16th and runs through August 15th, so I guess we'll know in a little over a month if they accomplish that goal. You can find out all the information on the fair HERE.

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