Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans, Votes and Vacancies

RECOGNIZING THOSE WHO SERVED
I hope you found a way to recognize Veterans Day today. I'm out of town in a place where it's a very big deal and was celebrated appropriately. Thanks to all those who have served our country through the wars and "police actions" that have taken so many lives and affected so many families.

LATEST ELECTION UPDATE
I just checked
the numbers at the Registrar of Voters site to see what kind of changes have occurred since the last update yesterday evening. For the most part the percentages have remained the same in most important local races.

SCHEAFER STRETCHES LEAD OVER SCHAFER

In the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Race Mike Scheafer has slightly widened his lead over current President Arlene Schafer.

FISLER'S LEAD SHRINKS

In the tight Mesa Consolidated Water District Race Jim Fisler's lead on Dan Worthington has diminished slightly, so it looks like we're going to have to wait for the proverbial Fat Lady to sing.


REPLACING VACANCIES

I note that the agenda for the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 16th, promise
s some interesting decisions. Perhaps the most interesting is the issue of how to replace Jim Righeimer on the Planning Commission and how to replace Katrina Foley on the City Council if she does, in fact, resign her seat on December 14th to move over to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. I covered what I thought might be some of the scenarios last weekend - scroll down to that entry if you're interested. You can read the council agenda item HERE.

CREDIT CARDS
I did notice that the last item on the Consent Calendar is an item having to do with the acquisition of Commercial Credit Cards. Now, if Jim Righeimer is intent on pushing the city into bankruptcy I supposed there's some wisdom in racking up lots of credit card debt that wouldn't have to be paid in a bankruptcy. Geez!

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Election Update and More Bullying

MORE THAN 50,000 VOTES STILL UNCOUNTED
I took a peek at the most recent election numbers this morning. As of 5 p.m. last night there remained just over 54,000 total votes to be counted.

SCHEAFER LEAD GROWS
In close local races, Mike Scheafer has extended his small lead over Arlene
Schafer in the race for the final seat on the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board. Scheafer leads Arlene by 359 votes.

FISLER HAS NARROW LEAD
I
n a much closer race, Jim Fisler leads Dan Worthington by 69 votes in the race for a seat on the Mesa Consolidated Water District Board. This had been a nip and tuck race since last week, with Fisler leap-frogging Worthington earlier this week.



COUNTING CONTINUES

It's unlikely th
at all the votes remaining will be counted until later in the month. They must be counted by the end of November. I'll check on them from time to time and report the shifts as they occur.

MENSINGER FLOGS ANOTHER APPLICANT
I had a chance to catch pieces of the Costa Planning Commission meeting last Monday evening. I confess I did not watch all of it being pre-occupied with Monday Night Football. However, I did linger long enough to watch commissioner Steve Mensinger, once again, bully an applicant before the commission. The applicant in question was seeking approval for some minor issues for a common interest development on Hamilton, near Harbor Blvd. She was planning to build 5 units although the property would accommodate six. Each was over 2,000 square feet and were nice units. Mensinger, however, didn't like the "look". He thought they should have been fancier - none of which is within the purview of his job as planning commissioner. He went on and on, berating this poor woman for a project that met almost all of the city's requirements, including building fewer units than she could have. Parking was not a problem, unlike so many projects presented in our city. And yet, on and on Mensinger went, complaining about such minutia as the "plain" paperwork used to present the project - he wanted to see glossy color slides, all of which cost much more money.

BULLY ON THE CITY COUNCIL?
I mention this because Mensinger's name frequently comes up as a possible replace
ment for Katrina Foley on the City Council. Mensinger is a smart guy, used to running businesses and is impatient with those who either don't respond to his "direction" immediately or present what he views as an inferior plan. He tries to micro-manage many projects that the Planning Commission sees. He's a guy who "gets things done", but he does so in an authoritarian manner, with no apparent interest in building consensus and negotiation. It's one thing to resurrect Estancia High School Football through sheer strength of personality, but it's entirely another when asked to be part of a city council team, working together for the common good of the city. I don't think a guy whose problem-solving technique is bullying is the right fit for our city council... just one guy's opinion.

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Monday, November 08, 2010

Final Election Results Still Pending

MORE THAN 63,000 VOTES LEFT TO COUNT
According to the Orange County Registrar of Voters web site, after 5:00 p.m. today there are still slightly more than 63,500 votes to be counted in the November 2nd election.

RACES OF INTEREST AS OF 11/8/10
As of that time, here are some current numbers in some races of interest:

COSTA MESA CITY COUNCIL
Righeimer and Leece far ahead, with relative percentages basically unchanged.
COSTA MESA SANITARY DISTRICT
Mike Scheafer 356 votes ahead of Arlene Schafer. Ooten and Fitzpatrick still lead

MESA CONSOLIDATED WATER DISTRICT

Shawn Dewane a winner. Fisler only 69 votes ahead of Worthington

68th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT

Mansoor well ahead of Nguyen
MEASURE "L"
"Yes" votes still ahead

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Busy Time For Overpaid Planning Commissioners

JOINT STUDY SESSION TODAY WITH PARKS & REC. COMM.
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission, led by lame duck Chairman Jim Righeimer, is going to have a busy week, starting with today. First, at 5:00 p.m. in Conference 1A at City Hall, it will hold a Joint Study Session with the Parks & Recreation Commission, then immediately move to the Council Chambers for it's regularly-schedule Planning Commission meeting at 6:00.

HOMELESS, HOMES AND TREES
At the Study session Assistant City Manager Tom Hatch will make a presentation of the staff r
eport which is entitled: Update on Impacts from Homeless Issues within Lions Park. You can read that staff report HERE. Planning Commission Chair Jim Righeimer will discuss the recently-conceived Pilot Residential Neighborhood Enhancement Program. You can read the staff report HERE. Parks & Recreation Commission Chair Mike Brumbaugh will make a presentation on tree replacements.

CODE ENFORCEMENT, BANNERS AND FENCES
At the Planning Commission meeting, following a Code Enforcement Update, the commission will discuss an amended city ordinance on the use of Banners on Private Property and another dealing with an amendment to the city ordinance for Fences and Walls.




BIKE TRAIL CONNECTOR AND RECYCLING FACILITIES
Then, following a full platter of public hearings on individual sites, they will discuss the Bicycle Connection between Santa Ana River and Upper Newport Bay Trail Systems and a couple ite
ms dealing with Recycling and Collection Facilities.

JOINT MEE
TING WITH CITY COUNCIL TOMORROW ON SOBECA
Tuesday they will participate in a Joint Study Session with the City Council to discuss the future of the SoBeCa Urban Plan Objectives. That meeting will be held in Conference Room 1A beginning at 4:30 p.m.

SPECIAL MEETING ON THE 15TH

Then, next Monday, November 15th, the Planning Commission will hold a special
meeting to discuss five items. Those are the plans for Mesa Verde Center; Expansion of the Waldorf School; a Master Plan Amendment for the Wyndham Hotel on Avenue of the Arts; a conditional use for a property on Airway Ave. for a specialized physical therapy facility for spinal cord injuries and former mayor Peter Buffa will put on his dancing shoes again and present another pitch for his client, Triangle Square in which he will apparently ask for a change in he Master Plan to amend the Conditional Use Permit regarding shared parking and to permit a 54,000 square foot health club in the basement.

P
LANNING COMMISSIONERS ARE OVERPAID
Lest you feel sorry for the Planning Commissioners, please remember that they are the most highly compensated such group within our local cities. They receive $400 per month, regardless how many meetings they attend. Recently they've only had one regularly schedule meeting each month as opposed to two when business was booming. In September 2009 Wendy Leece proposed, based on a survey of local cities, that they receive $75 per meeting. Places like Newport Beach pay their planning commissioners $65 per month, regardless of the number of meetings! Nah, said the council! They just "received and filed" the suggestion and kept on paying them $400 per month and permitted them to only hold one meeting per month. Funny that this never came up in the discussion during the campaign, huh? Talk about a double standard!

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Sunday's Election Recap...

RIGHEIMER AND LEECE STILL LEAD...
Most of the races of local interest stayed about the same. More votes were counted over the weekend and, except for a couple races, the ratios stayed the same. Jim Righeimer still leads the Costa Mesa Council race with more than 11,800 votes. Wendy Leece a solid second with just over 10,500 and Chris McEvoy is third with nearly 9800 votes. Susan Lester and Chad Petschl trail.

...SO DO FRANCO AND FOLEY
Katrina Foley and Judy Franco still have commanding leads in their School Board races - Franco received nearly 60% of the votes at this point over Loretta Zimmerman and Foley leads incumbent Michael Collier with nearly 55% of the votes cast.

OOTEN AND FITZPATRICK WILL WIN - THE THIRD SEAT IS CLOSE

In the Costa Mesa Sanitary District race, incumbent Bob Ooten is on top by a wide margin, holding over a third of the votes cast, with Jim Fitzpatrick solidly in second place. My friend, Mike Scheafer's lead over current Board President Arlene Schafer slipped Saturday but has bounced back up and he now holds a 346 margin.

DEWANE WINS, FISLER AND WORTHINGTON BATTLE IT OUT

The two races for seats on the Mesa Consolidated Water District Board couldn't be more different. In the Division 5 race, board president Shawn Dewane has 67% of the votes cast over contender accountant Peter Meuter, while in the Division 2 contest appointed incumbent Jim Fisler, trailing by a few votes since the election, has jumped ahead of Dan Worthington and now holds a 54 vote lead. Art Perry trails in that one.

MEASURE "L" LOOKS SOLID

Measure "L" looks like it will, indeed, pass. "Yes" votes have 52.5% of the total.

NEXT UPDATE MONDAY AFTERNOON

The next update will be at 5 p.m. Monday afternoon. We should be getting very close to the final numbers by then.

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Chess Moves Ahead...

MAJOR DECISIONS TO BE MADE
In the next few weeks the Costa Mesa City Council will have some critical issues to deal with beyond the normal course of business. For example, who will replace Katrina Foley on the City Council and who will replace Jim Righeimer on the Planning Commission? How will those vacancies be filled? What are the Planning and Parks & Recreation Commissions going to look like in December?

COUNCIL CONFIGURATION SHIFTS IN DECEMBER
The election will be certified by the Registrar of Voters by the end of the month, maybe sooner. Then Righeimer will be sworn in and Wendy Leece will be re-affirmed at the final regular City Council meeting of the year on December 7th. Foley, according to her recent statement, will resign from the City Council the same day she is seated on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board - December 14th - leaving a four-person City Council to decide how to replace her.

REPLACING FOLEY
The choices available to the new City Council to replace Katrina Foley are:

Call for a special election - which they won't do because it would be too costly and would take too long.

Or, they could call for applications and have the City Clerk make sure they are qualified to serve on the City Council. That means they would have to be a resident of the city and a qualified voter. That method, too, would take too long.

Or, they could appoint the next highest vote-getter in the last election, Chris McEvoy. We all know that won't happen.

Or, they could simply select one of their cronies who have expressed an interest in serving on the City Council who are already qualified by way of holding a seat on a City commission. This is the most likely scenario.

TIMING IS CRITICAL
Because the most likely candidates to replace Foley will come from the Planning Commission or the Parks & Recreation Commission, the replacement of that person immediately must be part of any equation. This complicates the normal replacement schedule of 6 commissioners in February, 2011. (See charts below)

COMPLETING THE JUNTA
Making the assumption that a council comprised of Eric Bever, Righeimer, Leece and Gary Monahan following Foley's departure in December will, unfortunately, want to appoint a like-minded individual with at least some municipal experience, here are some issues that will most likely be considered:

PLANNING COMMISSION
James Righeimer, Chair - Appointment Expires February 2011
Sam Clark, Vice Chair - Appointment Expires February 2011
Jim Fitzpatrick - Appointment Expires February 2011
Colin McCarthy - Appointment Expires February 2013
Stephen Mensinger - Appointment Expires February 2013

Problems:
Righeimer to council 12/7/10.

Foley resigns from City Council 12/14/10.

Fitzpatrick to Sanitary District Board 12/10 - it is rumored that he must resign his commission seat.

If either Mensinger or McCarthy replace Foley that leaves no quorum for January meetings.
Clark's term expires in February, leaving, maybe, only one current planning commissioner.

Options:
Appoint either Mensinger or McCarthy to City Council replacing Foley at a special meeting on or after 12/14/20.
Re-appoint Clark, elevate Jeff Mathews from Parks to replace Righeimer, which could leave a quorum until McCarthy or Mensinger and Fitzpatrick can be replaced.

Or, appoint Mathews from the Parks & Recreation Commission to council replacing Foley, leaving McCarthy, Mensinger and a re-appointed Clark until Righeimer and Fitzpatrick can be replaced.

Or, appoint Clark (a long shot) to council replacing Foley, leaving McCarthy and Mensinger on the Planning Commission. Elevate Mathews to replace Righeimer, giving a quorum until Clark and Fitzpatrick can be replaced.

And, make an immediate solicitation for interested parties for the Planning Commission to replace Righeimer. From that group of interested parties one could be chosen to replace Righeimer and others could be considered in the near future to fill expired or vacated positions.

Dissolve the Parks & Recreation Commission, giving duties to the Planning Commission - go back to two meetings per month.

PARKS & RECREATION COMMISSION
Mike Brumbaugh, Chair - Appointment Expires February 2011
Terry Shaw, Vice Chair - Appointment Expires February 2011
Kurt Galitski - Appointment ExpiresFebruary 2011
Jeff Mathews - Appointment ExpiresFebruary 2013
Kim Pederson - Appointment Expires February 2013

Problems:
If Jeff Mathews is elevated to Council replacing Foley or to the Planning Commission AND Brumbaugh, Shaw and Galitski's terms expire, that leaves the most junior commissioner Kim Pederson, alone in February.

Options:
Re-appoint Brumbaugh, Shaw and Galitski and replace Mathews.

Solicit interested parties to fill any expired or vacated positions

Or, per above, dissolve the commission and give the Planning Commission it's responsibilities.

SOLICIT PLANNING COMMISSION APPLICANTS NOW!
We know for sure that Foley is going to leave a vacancy on the City Council on December 14th. We know for sure that Righeimer is going to leave a vacancy on the Planning Commission on December 7th. An immediate solicitation should be made for candidates for the Planning Commission - we know we have that need for sure - to expedite the replacement process and avoid the possibility of not having enough commissioners to form a quorum and keep the city's business from being done in a timely manner.

NOTHING IS SIMPLE THIS TIME AROUND
It seems that nothing about this campaign season is simple, from the beginning to well past the end. Let's just hope that, in the months to come, the five members of the junta, er, new city council will act with the interests of our city FIRST, putting aside the dictates of party bosses and political expediency. It won't take long for us to know which way they will go.

HOPE MOORLACH COMES TO HIS SENSES
We hope that Orange County Supervisor (and Costa Mesa resident) John Moorlach comes to his senses and does not follow through with his threat to launch a recall campaign against "his friend", Wendy Leece, in the near future. Such an ill-advised adventure would most likely be funded by the deep pockets of the Orange County Republican Party and would only contribute to the uncertainty about our municipal government following this most contentious of campaigns.

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