Friday, October 15, 2010

Moorlach To Give Righeimer A Boost?

RIGHEIMER/MOORLACH DOG AND PONY SHOW
The Daily Pilot reports, HERE, that Supervisor John Moorlach - arguably the most respected active Republican politician in Costa Mesa - and council candidate Jim Righeimer will "stage a press conference" on Saturday (tomorrow) at the southwest corner of 17th Street and Superior Avenue at which they will apparently claim "potential voter intimidation violations by the Costa Mesa Police Department".

SITTING ON MOOLACH'S SHOULDERS
John Moorlach is one big dude, both in physical height and political sta
ture. Righeimer is the second Costa Mesa politician to stand on Moorlach's shoulders in the past several days. Municipal court jester Eric Bever jointly authored a commentary in the Daily Pilot addressing the current contract negotiations a few days ago. I guess they need a boost to seem credible. Note to them both - it ain't working! Note to Righeimer's campaign manager: Bring a step ladder.

THE IGNITION POINT
If you've been paying any attention at all over the past couple months you know that there is much friction between Righeimer and the Costa Mesa Police Association - the bargaining unit for the police officers. It began at the very first candidate forum last August - the one hosted by our friends of Mesa Verde Community, Inc. - at which Righeimer looked directly at the public safety folks in attendance and told the audience that he was going to go after the employee salaries and benefits because they are the cause of the city's financial difficulties. Things have gone straight downhill since then.

WHO IS BE
HIND THE PLAN?
At each successive candidate forum that animosity was apparent, including the one held Thursday night - the final one. It's become very clear t
o me that, just as Allan Mansoor used the specter of marauding illegal aliens to win his council seat twice, Righeimer is going to use the public employees of this city - and the police officers in particular - as his "illegal aliens". It's obvious to even the most casual observer that the OC GOP bosses have helped concoct a scheme to drag out the negotiations with the employee bargaining units so Righeimer - if he wins - can come riding in like some kind of a White Knight to save the city from those "horrid, greedy employees". Bever, with his refusal to attend negotiation sessions, has been a willing pawn in this little drama. Did you know he didn't attend the last closed session again last Tuesday? Yep, after making more of an ass of himself than normal during the discussions of the firefighter's generous proposal and having to be scolded from residents and fellow council members alike, he simply bugged out when they all adjourned to the closed session.

A CONVENIENT POLITICAL TARGET

In a tactical maneuver that is alm
ost beyond comprehension, Righeimer has attempted to turn the dedicated men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department into some kind of out-of-control outlaws, robbing the taxpayers of their hard-earned dollars by negotiating contracts with several iterations of city councils that Righeimer now doesn't like. He always fails to mention the fact that Mansoor, during his eight years on the council, has presided over many of those negotiations. If there is "blame" to be placed the finger should be appropriately pointed in his direction, not the rank and file of the CMPD.

ATTACKING MCEVOY IN DESPERATION

Righeimer actually has no
other planks in his campaign platform and, since the members of the police association have decided to fight back, he's getting desperate. Obviously, he's seen polling numbers that imply that young Chris McEvoy is closing in on him fast. There's no reason for his mob to be attacking McEvoy and threatening demonstrations against him otherwise. McEvoy has never spoken against Righeimer, except to disagree with his positions on issues.

EVEN HIS WIFE IS INVOLVED NOW
This campaign has gotten so nasty that Righeimer's beautiful, and obviously very patient, wife was seen at the past two candidate forums in heated conversations with the president of the police association, Allen Rieckhof. Actually, "conversation" is misleading because she was on the sending end and Rieckhof was trying to avoid any contact with her at all.


WHY THIS VENUE?

I find it extremely curious that Righeimer w
ould "stage" - great word - a press conference at one of the most complicated and congested intersections in the city. It seems to me that it could have been held on the steps of City Hall much more safely. Then I thought a little more about it and I realized that this is very likely an attempt to provoke yet another confrontation between himself and the CMPD. That thought made me step back a little and wonder to myself whether his confrontation with the police at the DUI checkpoint was an accident or a planned "staged" event. After all, most of us who are engaged in city activities receive the email notices of such checkpoints and, if we plan to be out and about near them, we plan a route to avoid it.

ANGLING FOR A POLICE CONFRONTATION AGAIN?

Righeimer is a s
easoned politician - although a loser in every race he's run - but a skilled political tactician, nonetheless. With a little distance from the DUI checkpoint and all the intervening turmoil, and now this "press conference" - at a venue almost guaranteed to cause confusion at one of our busiest intersections - that will likely attract a police presence, it makes one just the teeniest bit suspicious about what the motives actually are for tomorrow. Is Righeimer actually angling again for a confrontation with members of the CMPD? Is that too wild a shot? Maybe...

YOU'RE ON YO
UR OWN ON THIS ONE
Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend this circus, so you and I will have to rely on the excellent reporting skills of the members of the media who actually received a copy of the press release for the details and results.

CHIEF SNOWDEN SPEAKS OUT

It is a great irony that the morning of this contrived event a Letter to the Editor by form
er Costa Mesa Police Chief Dave Snowden will appear in print on the pages of the Daily Pilot. (Snowden attended the final candidate forum last Thursday) It is available for viewing online HERE. Snowden, a man who headed the department for nearly two decades and, along with the many council members he mentions in his letter, was part of the senior management team that guided this city through it's greatest period of growth. He hired and trained many of the current senior members of the Costa Mesa Police Department and created and implemented many of the excellent policing policies in effect in our city now. In his letter he bemoans the decline of our city.. I join him in that angst.

MCEVOY SIGNS ON, TOO

On that same page you will also find a short note from Chris McEvoy regarding the campaign.

POLITICS... ARRG
GHH!
Have I mentioned lately how distasteful I find politics? At a time when we need statesmen, we are left to deal with politicians...

***

CHIL
LIN' FOR A FEW DAYS
I'm turning the old Cauldron down to simmer while my sweet wife and I take a few days off. I'll be checking in from time to time, but comments submitted will be posted with some significant delay. Thanks for your patience.

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Final Candidate Forum "In The Can"


THAT'S IT - NO MAS
Well, that's it! The final Costa Mesa City Council Candidate Forum is under our collective belts. And, thanks for the good work performed by my friends of the Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbor's Group, Inc., it was worth waiting for. My best guess is that around 160 -180 people attended the event at the Neighborhood Community Center - a good turnout.

STARTED ON TIME
A
fter a half hour of mingling and chatting, the meeting started on time at 7:00 as President Jeff McConville introduced his team, did a little fund raising and then handed it off to fellow Eastsider, Marnie O'Brien Primmer, to moderate the program. She did a great job.

MANAGED WITH PRECISION
The script was followed with precision, the questions were carefully crafted and each candidate was provided just enough time to give a complete answer. It ran so smoothly that when I looked at the clock at 8:30 as they wrapped it up I couldn't believe the time had flown past so quickly.

FIRST THREE QUESTIONS
Each candidate was give time to make an opening st
atement, then each was asked to respond to three questions:
1) How will they balance business and residential needs;
2) How will they vote if the Triangle Square LED lights issue comes back after the first of the year?;
3) How will they deal with the John Wayne
Airport expansion?

BALANCING BUSINE
SS AND RESIDENTS NEEDS
In response to the first question, Jim Righeimer suggested attracting high quality businesses. Sue Lester urged creating an environment to entice businesses. Chris McEvoy emphasized the need to promote small businesses and to maintain our Westside Industrial area. Chad Petschl suggested an aggressive marketing plan and Wendy Leece, citing Quality of Life issues, said residents must have priority over businesses.

LED LIGHTS AT TRIANGLE SQUARE
The second question was whether they would vote in favor of the LED lights a
t Triangle Square if that question was brought back for consideration in January, McEvoy stated emphatically he would vote NO if the issue was returned for consideration. Righeimer gave a history of the issue and closed by stating that we don't make such decisions without a public hearing. Petschl was a little vague on this one. Lester also danced around the issue a little before stating she would vote NO. Leece emphatically stated that she wasn't going to support it and that she "didn't need a public hearing to decide it!" That seemed like a curious - and incorrect from a legal standpoint - answer for her to give.

JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT GROWTH
Responding to the third question, about the growth of John Wayne Airport, Leece spoke of her current involvement with community organizations fighting expansion of the airport, but stated she didn't want to see any growth. Lester echoed those remarks. McEvoy also indicated he didn't support ANY growth. Righeimer reminded the audience that growth is already happening at the airport, citing the expanding new terminal, and that it's not just a local problem.

PETSCHL COMMITS HARA-KIRI
Poor Chad Petschl chose this question to display how comple
tely out of touch he is with local issues. It's understandable, considering that he's a very recent resident to the area. However, to say that he "shot himself in the foot" when he answered that he favored adding a couple more runways at John Wayne to generate more business would be a huge understatement. It's unusual to watch a candidate for public office commit virtual Hara-Kiri on the dais, but that he did. You could hear a few gasps when he suggested that we should emulate Las Vegas and encourage MORE flights to and from John Wayne.

NICE GUY - UNPREPARED
I spoke with h
im later and he acknowledge that his response was a mistake, but he stuck by the logic. He's a heck of a nice guy and I really hope he does stay involved in city business. He's enthusiastic and energetic but completely uninformed about almost every important issue in our city. He could have a future in local civic events if he does his homework and gets up to speed on the issues. Right now most 7th graders on the Eastside probably know more about the traffic and John Wayne concerns simply by overhearing their parents speak about it.

INDIVIDUAL QUESTIONS
The questions shifted at this point, with each candidate being asked two separat
e questions in a random fashion.

LESTER
Sue Lester was asked about Banning Ranch, to which she responded that she was not in favor of ANY development at that site. She was also asked about variances for high density development, to which she indicated a need to work with the Planning Department and said we need more affordable housing.

RIGHEIMER
Jim Righeimer was asked about Recovery homes and how to limit their numbers. He responded that if they are six or less residents we can do very little
. He indicated that some control can be exercised at the planning level if potential operators try to add a 5th bedroom - we require a 3-car garage, which increases the cost and affects the profitability of such places. He implied that if a "happy family" made application for that 5th bedroom perhaps the requirement for a 3-car garage would be overlooked. That one snapped my head around, because it sure did sound like he was saying he'd apply the rules differently, depending on the applicant. Makes me nervous thinking about what other rules he would apply so cavalierly. He was also asked about variances to the General Plan and kind of answered it with a mini-rant about lacking infrastructure, pointing to the Westside as an example. I'm not sure he ever actually answered the question.

MCEVOY
Chris McEvoy was asked about the 55 Freeway completion, to which he replied that he expects that the completion would resolve some of the cut-through traffic, also mentioning the Banning Ranch as a large negative influence on the Westside. He was also asked about the recent Orange County Register article that said Costa Mesa stood alone among OC cities by not turning a profit. He replied that he'd heard those numbers were incorrect and that the city had replied to it indicating that a profit, although small, had been made.

PETSCHL

Chad Petschl was aske
d for his take on the traffic issues in the Eastside, to which he began talking about Banning Ranch and bike trails. He had no idea what the question meant. He was also asked about a "pedestrian-friendly town center" - again, no bells went off in his head. He spoke in generalities, unable to nail down specifics. No cigar on this one.

LEECE

Wendy Leece was asked about visual blight, but indicated that she didn't have an answer for it. She did refer to our graffiti program. She was also asked about the noise battle from the Pacific Amphitheater and talked about the long legal fight, then referred to Triangle Square and the recent noise issues with the Sutra Lounge.

FINAL QUESTION - NUMBER 1 I
SSUE?
The interrogation wr
apped up by asking each candidate what they felt the number 1 issue would be that they would face if elected.

Wendy Leece led off by addressing the current condition of the labor contracts and indicated that the current contracts are a result of lots of negotiating by several different councils. While they need changing, she said we just can't "eat the elephant in one bite." She said we need to pay employees what they are worth.
Chad Petschl indicated he has only been here a few months
, but spoke of being the new guy and how he could bring fresh ideas, then referred to "washed up politicians", making a small gesture toward Righeimer, sitting beside him, then talking about needing to get the city humming again.

Jim Righeimer said the budget was the number 1 priority, indicating that things in the city have changed and that he didn't know if we'd ever get back to where we were. He mentioned needing an ombudsman, then whined a little about being attacked by the police unions. He suggested a "bi-partisan" commission to assess the contracts. I thought at the time it was a strange comment, since our city issues are theoretically NON-PARTISAN.

Chris McEvoy also said the budget was number 1, choosing a "hunker down" approach, taking our time to get things sorted out. He said he preferred a simple community.

Sue Lester also said the budget was her top priority, stressing accountability and "sharing the load." She said something like, "If you want the same old thing, then vote for the same old thing", meaning the same old people.

TERRIFIC FORUM
All in all, I'd have to say this may have been the best forum of the series. Clear questions, with enough time to answer them, an excellent moderator and responsive candidates all contributed to the success.

WHAT DIDN'T HAPPEN
For me, one of the highlights were things that DID NOT happen. For example, neither the police union anti-Righeimer sign truck nor the threatened hooligans carrying booking photos of Chris McEvoy showed up. The former had been driven all over town and the latter was just an empty threat by deranged people.


KUDOS TO MY NEIGHBORS

My friends of the Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbor's Group, Inc., deserve a lot of credit for presenting an excellent candidate forum
. It's just too bad it couldn't have been televised. Oh, well..

OUT ON THE STUMP

Now the candidates will continue with the hard part of the campaign - walking the precincts, knocking on doors and telling your neighbors just why they deserve their votes.


MORE NASTINESS AHEAD

Sadly, I suspect we will see some more hi-jinks from the po
lice union and also those folks who recognize that Chris McEvoy actually has a chance to defeat Righeimer, so they are attacking him. Desperate folks do desperate things. This has been an extremely nasty campaign so far and, with a couple weeks to go, I don't expect to get any better.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Coast Community College District Forum PLUS Breaking Fairgrounds News

WAIT A MINUTE!
"What," you ask," another candidate forum? I thought you said the one tonight was it?" Yeah, well, almost. It was the final city council candidate f
orum, but there are actually other races being contested this year. Here's information about one of them.

ONLY CHANCE TO HEAR THESE FOLKS
On Monday, October 18th, from 5:30 - 6:30, the one and only opportunity for you to see and hear the four candidates for two seats on the Board of Governors for the Coast Community College District will be presented by the Orange Coast College Student Senate. Here's their announcement:
INTERESTING CHOICES
It looks to me like there are some interesting choices for those two seats. For the Trustee Area 1 seat you have a fresh face, Shana Jenkins, trying to unseat the incumbent, Jim Moreno. In the Area 5 contest you have self-styled "hanging judge" Lynne Riddle against retired Orange Coast College President, President of the OCC Foundation Board, retired crew coach and local icon, David Grant. I expect the candidate forum will be lively, to say the least.

I will not be able to attend this event, but hope some of you will take the opportunity to do so and give me some feedback.

***BREAKING FAIRGROUNDS NEWS!

I just heard from Eric Lamoreaux from the State Department of General Services. He told me that the bids for the Orange County Fair and Event Center submitted based on the second RFP - RFP II - will NOT be announced today, contrary to previous information.

Apparently the staff requires more time to evaluate the bids and hope to have information on Tuesday, October 19th. So, we will just have to twiddle our thumbs a little longer while we await word on the future of the Fairgrounds. I'm sure nobody is surprised that this deadline was missed...


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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Final Costa Mesa Council Candidate Forum Thursday Night

NEIGHBORHOOD COMMUNITY CENTER
Just a quick reminder that the final Costa Mesa City Council Candidate Forum will be held tomorrow, Thursday, October 14th at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue, Costa Mesa (Lions Park).

6:30 - 8:30
This event, sponsored by the Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbor's Group, will commence at 6:30 with a meet and greet opportunity, followed by the formal part of the program from 7:00 - 8:30. According to their most recent communication the topics to be discussed will include: Eastside Traffic Issues; Development and Density; Quality of Life and Much More.

NO TELEVISION, SO BE THERE OR BE SQUARE
This event will NOT be televised, so you're going to have to be there live and in person to hear what the five candidates have to say. See and listen to Wendy Leece; Jim Righeimer; Susan Lester; Chris McEvoy and Chad Petschl as they tell you their view on issues important to you. See you there...

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A Meeting Beyond Belief!

ONE FOR THE AGES!
Tuesday night's brief Costa Mesa City Council meeting was one for the ages. The council chose, thankfully, to move the closed session to the rear of the meeting, so the open session proceeded very shortly after 6:30 p.m. The council had just finished two hours of ethics training with the Parks and Recreation and Planning Commissions, so they looked a little worse for wear. They must have been, because they completely forgot the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag at the beginning of the meeting.

BARLOW'S REPORT - FINALLY
City Attorney Kimb
erly Hall Barlow was first up with her long-awaited and much-anticipated report on the Jim Righeimer/DUI Checkpoint incident on September 16, 2010. There was not staff report available to us - or to the council, as I understood it. Here's how that went:

BARLOW'S OPENING STATEMENT
Here is the text of my tra
nscription of Barlow's opening statement. I've deleted the many ums, ahs and uhs for the purpose of brevity.

"I was asked to conduct an investigation into the events that occurred at the DUI checkpoint. I have completed that investigation and it is my conclusion that there was no basis to conclude that Mr. Righeimer engaged in criminal misconduct, although officers at the scene did perceive that they were being directed by Mr. Righeimer to stop the DUI checkpoint. I cannot conclude that Mr. Righeimer intended to misuse his position, although he did introduce himself that way, that is common for public officials to do. He was asked to identify himself. I would be happy to offer the council some alternatives if they are not satisfied with my report. We have been asked to by a number of people to release the report. That is up to the council to determine whether to do. It is your privilege in terms of releasing it. We typically do not release investigative reports without council's approval. In addition if, certainly are many other possibilities. We could refer the matter to outside counsel for evaluation. The matter could be referred to the District Attorney's office, or even to the Attorney General's office if you believe that is necessary. And so, at this point, I am asking for your direction."

WHAT?! COME AGAIN?
Now, I'm confused. She says that Righeimer didn't engage in "criminal misconduct". OK, but is that the only standard we're using here? If he abused his authority, is that a crime? She acknowledged that the officers present "perceived" that Righeimer was directing them to shut down the DUI checkpoint. What do you call THAT behavior? What do you call it when a government official attempts to exercise authority he doesn't have? We heard the tape. We heard him threaten to call the Police Chief. We heard him tell them, "This is not gonna happen anymore." We heard him demand a meeting with one of the officers on the scene the next day. What do you call that - youthful exuberance? As they say on ESPN, "C'mon, man!"

NO STATUTORY SECTION DEFINING THE STANDARD!
Katrina F
oley, a lawyer herself, asked what is the statutory section Barlow relied on with regard to the legal standard she used to determine if there was any violation. Barlow replied that there is no statutory section which specifically calls out what the standard is for use of one's title to influence a position. It went south from there.

LEECE WANTED TO "CONTINUE" IT - NOPE!
There was much discussion among the council members about how much information, if anything, to release to the public. During the discussion Wendy Leece indicated that she hadn't read her emails on the subject and moved to continue the item, with Foley seconding. That vote failed, 2-3. The shortest version of events is that Allan Mansoor moved to "receive and file" the report, Gary Monahan seconded it and the motion passed, 3-2, with Leece and Foley voting no. Leece attempted to abstain from voting, citing being unprepared for this issue. She was reminded that unless she can cite a conflict of interest she must vote, so she did - she voted no.

DISAPPOINTED
To say I'm disappointed with this outco
me is an understatement. What we know now that we didn't know before is that Kim Barlow took Righeimer's version of events over those provided by multiple members of the Costa Mesa Police Department, period. No indication was given by Barlow as to the extent of her investigation - the number of people interviewed, including police officers and any civilian witnesses. No indication was provided to the public about the availability of other recordings of events. She earlier released three, two of which were useless. We are asked to take on faith that Barlow heard testimony sufficient enough to convince her that Righeimer's version of events overrode the reports by multiple officers on the scene - those officers who are trained to manage situations and citizens under stress, as Righeimer obviously was. We're asked to accept that Barlow took Righeimer's version - one that he had a couple weeks to construct - over the real-time, recorded version by multiple police officers.

THERE IS ONLY ONE "TRUTH"
If Righeimer was telling the truth, then the police officers (and the tape recording of the event) were lies. Were any officers disciplined for their transgressions? No? Why not? We, the residents of this city, have a right to know whether officers who have sworn to protect and serve us are a bunch of untrustworthy liars or not. We also have the right to know whether an appointed official, running for elective office in our city, is a man who can be trusted to tell the truth. Without more information we are left to continue to speculate about the events of that evening, with the only "truth" we know being the recorded version of events - and that testimony is crystal clear.

UNSATISFACTORY RESOLUTION
There are many potential satisfactory outcomes of this investigation. This was not one of them.
Barlow could have satisfied me if she had provided legal footing for her decision and also provided some numbers - how many tapes, how many witnesses, etc. We need to know why she chose to believe Righeimer over the police officers at the scene. What was it that made his story, concocted well after the event, more viable than the tapes and testimony of the officers?

THIS REEKS OF COVER-UP
R
emember, many of us have heard the tape. Barlow's decision, sketchy as it was, doesn't track with what we all heard. Barlow has pronounced herself investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury in this case. Personally, without more information, I think the public has been poorly served by her "investigation" and report. Since the three members of the council who voted to simply receive and file this report - and effectively sweep it under the rug - are close political allies of Jim Righeimer, this has the stench of cover-up all over it. I'm not satisfied and I suspect many members of the public will share my view.

UPHILL FROM HERE? WRONG!
So, I thought to my self, that w
as a real downer, but the next item on the agenda will be uplifting. It's a proposal by the Costa Mesa Firefighter's Association - a voluntary proposal, by the way - to help the city attempt to weather our current financial storm. The CMFA was not obligated to make any effort to help the city - they have a firm contract. However, they have chosen to work with the city staff for months to hammer out a "side letter" to the current agreement to provide some relief. That relief is $633, 400 in annual savings - at least - for the city. Maybe more, depending on how #7 below works out. You can read the staff report HERE.

In a nutshell, the CMFA side letter inclu
des:

1) Extension of
the term of the original MOU from 2013 to 2014.

2) Agreement to suspend the salary adjustment scheduled for September 1, 2011.

3) The City will adjust salaries based upon total compensation effective September 1, 2013.

4) CMFA agreed to meet with the City for the purpose of discussing a reduction of the employee compensation if any other represented employee association is requested to reduce employee compensation or agrees to a reduction of compensation for the 2011-2012 year. (See the report for more details)

5) CFMA employees shall contribute 5% of the employee's PERSable earnings towards their employee retirement contribution beginning October 24, 2010 for 26 pay periods from that point forward.

6) If the City and oth
er Employee Associations mutually agree to suspend the Retirement Health Savings Plan during the term of the agreement, CMFA agrees to apply the 1% employee contribution (that would otherwise have been returned to the employee) towards the employer retirement contribution.

7) The City ag
rees to request an RFP from the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) for contract fire/emergency services. CMFA agrees to initially fund the cost of the proposal. If the City subsequently contracts with OCFA for services the City agrees to reimburse CMFA half the actual proposal cost. If the City chooses not to contract with OCFA there will be no reimbursement of proposal costs to CMFA.

8) All remaining MOU provisions remain in effect.

GOOD DEAL, RIGHT?
"Wow", I thought to myself, "This is a pretty good deal! The firefighters volunteered to help the city out in a way that works for everyone. Cool. Who could disagree with this?" I was about to find out...


OUT OF THE LITTLE CAR CLIMBS ERIC BEVER
First up was our municipal clown, Eric Bever. You will recall that Bever had sworn to boycott any further negotiations with bargaini
ng units because he wants to shove the negotiations out until after the election so his pal, Righeimer, can get some of the credit for solving the budget if he's elected.

MATH WI
ZARD HE AIN'T
So, right off the bat Bever begins to try to demonstrate his math wizardry. Now, those of who have watched him over the years understand that he normally uses the other side of his brain - math is not his long suite. Some of us wonder, in fact, if he actually has a long suite, but that's another story.


NOT ENOUGH!

He begins to chip away
, pulling numbers out of the air, trying to add apples and oranges and coming up with kumquats. He eventually gets around to telling us that, even though the firefighters have come up with a plan to save more than $600,000 dollars, it's just not enough! Nope, with his twisted math and even more twisted logic, he decided that they were not ponying up a sufficient percentage - not carrying their weight in the budget distress. He thought they were well over a million dollars short. I looked around the room at the few members of the audience in attendance. There were lots of slack jaws and heads shaking in disbelief.

LET THEM DRIVE JUNK!
Bever was not without a solution, though. He suggested that we gin up a scheme to transfer money from the vehicle deferred maintenance pot to make up the difference, since, according to him, most of that goes to repairing fire fighting equipment anyhow. Unbelievable!

MAJOR FOOT IN MOUTH EVENT
He also m
ade an oblique remark about how the firefighters stepped up, but the other bargaining units had not. Big mistake!

LESSON IN MANNERS FROM GENIS
Much to my delight, Bever got batted around like a shuttlecock in a badminton game by his peers on the dais. But first, former mayor Sandra Genis stood to speak during the public hearing, reminded the council that in her day on the dais this was not how they did things and suggested to Bever that, when someone who is not required to do so offers you a gift, it is customary to graciously say "Thank You", and move on.

ABSENCE DO
ESN'T MAKE THE HEART GROW FONDER
That was followed by reminders to Bever by three council
members - Mayor Mansoor, Mayor Pro Tem Leece and Foley - that if he had attended the meetings he had boycotted he would KNOW what has been going on with the other bargaining units. The discussion got so heated that, at one point, when Mansoor was shouting at him to be quiet because he didn't have the floor, I thought someone might just slap Bever... one can only hope. By the way, it should be pretty easy to tabulate just how many meetings Bever has missed this year. We should run those numbers and bill him for unearned pay.

BE
VER AND MANSOOR VOTED "NO"!
After all the discussion and fireworks on the dais the item passed, but only 3-2. Bever and Mansoor voted no. As is always the case, Mansoor could give no reason for voting against this proposal. The only thing one might suspect is that he and Bever are part of a plot to delay employee agreements until after the election, so Righeimer can be part of the process. There can be no other explanation for Mansoor's vote since he didn't give us one.

NOVEMBER 2ND MEETING CANCELED

Finally, they got arou
nd to the suggestion of canceling the November 2nd council meeting. There was much discussion about who could or couldn't make alternate dates for the first meeting in November because the regularly-scheduled meeting falls on election day - the Monday before or the Wednesday following were tossed out for consideration but Monahan said he couldn't be there due to prior commitments. So, in order to not cramp anyone's election parties on the 2nd, the meeting was simply canceled. The vote was 3-2, with Foley and Leece voting no.

WHAT ABOUT THE NEGOTIATIONS?
This leads us to more speculation - the employee agreements are still pending. Canceling that meeting just plays right into the Righeimer faction's hands - stretching out the process until the end of November, maybe. We'll see.

FRUSTRATING NIGHT

All in all, I must say that last night's meeting was among the most frustrating
I've seen. We saw transparency in governance take a major hit with Barlow's pathetic report and observed Bever establish a new low-watermark for city council member performance the same evening. He actually made me miss Chris Steel, for goodness sake!

KUDOS TO THE CMFA!
The b
right spot of the night was the willingness of the Costa Mesa firefighters to step up to the plate and try to help with our budget dilemma. It's just too bad that some members on the council are too stupid or too stubborn to appreciate it.

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