Saturday, December 11, 2010

Final 2010 Planning Commission Meeting Monday

WILL THEY HAVE A QUORUM?
At it's last meeting of the year, Monday the Costa Mesa Planning Commission - without former Chairman Jim Righeimer, who has moved up to the big seat on the City Council - will consider a variety of important issues. It is assumed that they will have enough members present to form a quorum so the City's business can be conducted. Heck, this might be the last meeting for some of these commissioners, period, depending on how the appointment process plays out in January. The meeting begins in City Council Chambers at 6:00 p.m. and can also be viewed via streaming video on the City web site.

WHAT ABOUT FITZPATRICK, MS. BARLOW?

We STILL don't know if Jim Fitzpatrick will be allowed to serve on the Planning Com
mission and the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board simultaneously because City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow refuses to let the public know her decision before the City Council is informed. Unless she's derelict in her duties, one must assume that the council has already been informed since this meeting is right around the corner.

LAUDING RIGHEIMER?

First off they
will make a presentation to Righeimer for his contributions during his four years as a planning commissioner. I doubt they will mention his contributions to the discontent among city employees and the city in general during the recent campaign.


CODE ENFORCEMENT UPDATE
Then, as part of the Consent Calendar, they will receive a Code Enforcement update,
which tells them about 15 of our friends and neighbors who have recently felt the heavy hand of the law regarding their property around the city. If you care, you can read that report HERE and look for your neighbor's addresses and infractions.

NORMAL BUSINESS
Following a handful of fairly normal public hearings for projects such as new plans for the recently-vacated Paul Mitchell School Building (the old Edwards theater for you old-timers) and adjacent buildings; a 10-unit common interest development on Thurin Street and two auto repair shops the Planning Commission will consider a really juicy issue.

HOMELESS TASK FORCE

At a joint study session with the Parks and Recreation Commission early in Nove
mber the City Staff presented information about the current and growing infestation of homeless people in and around Lions Park and adjacent public facilities. The staff will request the Planning Commission to ask the City Council to form a task force to be made up of community stakeholders to study the impact of homelessness on the City of Costa Mesa and authorize the Chair of the Planning Commission to appoint two commissioners to serve on the task force. It's unclear whether any of the homeless will be asked to serve. You can read the staff report HERE.

EWWWW!
The previous staff report, which is an attachment, outlines the severity of the problem in very specific detail. Trust me, some of the facts will make you cringe. One of the comments, for example, talks about the need to frequently replace the upholstery on chairs in the Donald Duggan Library because homeless folks use the chairs while wearing soiled clothing. I warned you!

STARTLING STATISTICS

Some of the statistics, available in detail on the staff report, will get your attention, too. For example, "incidents" (ranging from Assaults to Traffic Stops and almost anything you can imagine in between) have gone from 111 in 2008, to 123 in 2009 to 634 for the first nine months of 2010! It's obvious we have a problem and something must be done to fix it. We have reached a point where young mothers simply refuse to take their children to the park, library, historical society and other amenities for fear of confrontation with homeless people.

NOT AN EASY PRO
BLEM TO SOLVE
I don't kid myself that this is going to be an easy problem to resolve. The economy has produced a growing number of homeless people - no news to anyone paying attention as they drive around our city. The formation of this task force seems like the right first step to addressing this issue and I commend Assistant City Manager Tom Hatch for being the point man on this issue.

WHAT ARE YOUR IDEAS?
I suspect City leaders will be soliciting input from residents if they actually do approve the formation of the task force. I know we will hear from some of the usual suspects exhorting us to chase the "magnets" out of our city - the social service entities that provide relief to the downtrodden - and to "drain the swamp" (bulldoze the "slums") so the "alligators" will go elsewhere. At a time of the year, when we normally think of spreading good tidings to all, those suggestions will seem more than a little heartless. Let's hope some of the really smart folks in this town step up with some good ideas on this subject. I'm sure willing to hear yours...

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Another Lawsuit Filed In Fairgrounds Sale

OCFPS FILES A LAWSUIT TO STOP SALE
The Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society
today announced yet another lawsuit to try to block the sale of the Orange County Fair and Event Center. The following is a segment of the announcement distributed today.
LAST DITCH EFFORT

The OCFPS, headed by President Sandra Genis - a former mayor of the City of Costa Mesa - is making what may be described as a last ditch defense in this drama. As you can see, the OCFPS is joined by State Assemblyman Jose Solorio, State Senator Lou Correa and soon-to-be former Costa Mesa City Council member Katrina Foley.

HEARING ON OTHER LAWSUIT WEDNESDAY
The sale of the Fairgrounds has been in "Pause" mode until a hearing next Wednesday, Dece
mber 15th. It's unclear from the information provided whether the OCFPS has joined that other lawsuit - it appears to be a stand-alone effort.

NO PEACE ON THIS ISSUE
Just when you thought you could kind of doze through the holidays without another reason to lose sleep over the Sale, here's yet another piece of wood on the fire, er, pyre (as in funeral pyre).

PUTTIN
G THE BRAKES ON UNTIL JANUARY
This move by the OCFPS is clearly a strategic maneuver - an attempt to derail the sale or at least run it off to a siding until a new governor is seated in January. It does present some very interesting questions, including the whole issue of who actually owns the Fairgrounds.

STAY TUNED
So, stay tuned as this drama continues to unfold. Life is never boring in Costa Mesa...

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL

I leave you with yet another little piece of holiday music to get you back into the old spirit.
Sing it, Johnny...

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DUI Checkpoints Announced

ATTENTION JIM RIGHEIMER!

FROM A RECENT PRESS RELEASE FROM THE CMPD
The Costa Mesa Police Department Traffic Unit will be conducting DUI/Drivers License checkpoints as well as several special DUI Roving Saturation Patrols during the month of December.



  • DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint is set for December 11, 2010, from 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. at Harbor Boulevard/Victoria Street.
  • DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint is set for December 17, 2010, from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at 17th Street/Raymond Avenue.
  • Roving DUI Saturation Patrols will be deploying on December 4, 7, 18, & 31, 2010, between 7:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.


Since 2007, DUI collisions have claimed 7 lives and resulted in 224 injury crashes harming 319 of our friends and neighbors in Costa Mesa. Costa Mesa Police Officers have arrested 3,796 DUIs during the same period.

Statewide, overall traffic deaths declined by 23 percent, from 3,995 in 2007 to 3,081 in 2009.

Total traffic fatalities are at their lowest levels in six decades. DUI deaths declined by 16
percent, from 1,132 in 2007 to 950 in 2009.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

The End Of A Memorable Week

CAN IT GET STRANGER?
It what has already been a very strange week here in the land of Newport-Mesa, events of today really finish it off!


LEECE REQ
UESTS BROWN ACT VIOLATION INVESTIGATION
First, Wendy Leece apparently has aske
d City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow to investigate suspicions of Brown Act violations in the election of Costa Mesa's new mayor and mayor pro tem Tuesday night. There are those who join Leece in her perception that the whole thing seemed orchestrated and that the outcome may have been pre-ordained. While it wouldn't surprise me to find out that there had been some hanky panky, I'm willing to wait to see if Barlow will, in fact, investigate this complaint or just blow it off. You can read the Daily Pilot coverage of this story HERE. Even columnist Bill Lobdell has chimed in on the events of that evening, HERE.

SOUR GRAPES OR REAL CONCERN?
Some may say that this is just sour grapes from Leece, who saw her dreams of being mayor dashed despite broad public support that night. There may, in fact, be some of that, but she's within her rights to question the circumstances that led to her rejection. We'll see how this shakes out.

NMUSD SUPE
RINTENDENT CHARGED
Then, later this evening, the Superintendent of Schools in the
Newport-Mesa Unified School District, Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard, has been arrested and charged with two felonies dealing with an incident at his prior job in Beverly Hills. The Daily Pilot story is HERE.

LET THE LEGAL
SYSTEM PLAY OUT
If true, this would be tragic for the school district at a time when the four candidates for school board seats were just about to be sworn-in for their terms. One of those, Katrina Foley, is the only new person on the board and was looking forward to getting off to a quick start on issues she feels are important. This event will certainly put a dark cloud over next Tuesday's ceremonies and the school district as a whole. It's easy to speculate about this situation, but I join Foley in suggesting we let the legal proceedings play out before rushing to judgment.

HOPING FOR SLOW NEWS DAYS AHEAD

With the Christmas holidays before us and only the Planning Commission meeting ahead
of us before City Hall shuts down between Christmas and New Years we might expect news to be a little slow. However, the events that end this week will keep me on my toes, ready to report any more bizarre events for your reading pleasure.

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Contemplating The New Leadership


STILL REELING A DAY LATER
It's been 24 hours since the new leadership of our city was decided and the telephone calls and emails have been melting the wires. The comment thread on my last post kind of set the tone for the day. One commenter, Keith T., said "at least Righeimer has a plan.". Well, a bad plan is worse than no plan and, at a time when we're running 17 police officers light, his plan adds new staff and additional bureaucracy. You'd think Righeimer was a Democrat, for goodness sake!

JOE BELL'S VIEW
Daily Pilot columnist Joseph N. Bell - one of my favorite writers - signed in on the election in his column that will appear in print Thursday. You can read it HERE now.

A SAD CHAPTER FOR OUR CITY
Last night was full of disappointment for me. In the couple hours it took to get Gary Monahan and Jim Righeimer elected it became crystal clear that Righeimer's election was far from a mandate of the people. I don't ever recall the election of a Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem being greeted with boos and jeers before. I was disappointed that this campaign has led to that kind of incivility in our city.

WILL GARY HAVE THE TIME?

As I said in my last post, I don't really have a problem with Gary
Monahan being elected Mayor. He's been there before - many times - and understands how to navigate through an agenda. I am concerned, one that was shared by at least one speaker last night, that he may not have the time to actually do those things normally associated with being mayor of our city. His gin mill is still struggling to recover from the economic downturn and there are rumors that he may be trying to launch another place in south county, which will certainly drain his time.

THE WORST IS YET TO COME
For me, the worst part of last night was the realization that in January, when Katrina Foley's replacement is sworn in, it is very likely that the result will be at least four people on the dais with the same agenda. 4/5ths is a "super-majority", with which they can do just about anything they want.

STREAMING VIDEO
AVAILABLE
The streaming video of the meeting - all 5 hours + of it - is up and avai
lable for viewing. You can view it HERE. Some folks questioned whether Righeimer's nomination of Monahan actually was seconded. No one near me in the auditorium heard a second from where we were sitting. I watched my tape of that segment of the meeting over and over today. Finally a friend who also shared my concern, told me that Eric Bever did, in fact, second Righeimer's nomination. He did so at the precise moment Julie Folcik was asking if there was a second. Watching the tape closely it is possible to see his little turn toward Righeimer when he actually said "second". Folcik confirmed that observation today.

LISA REEDY SPOKE FOR MANY OF US
Perhaps the best moments of the evening for me was the frustrated presentation made by Mesa del Mar resident - and former City Council candidate - Lisa Reedy when she practically sprinted to the speaker's podium while comments were being taken on the Mayor Pro Tem nominations. Her comments, which start about 1:58:00 into the streaming video, said with great articulation what many of us were thinking at that time - and continue to think today. I'll let her speak for herself and close this entry with that little video clip for your viewing pleasure.

"RIGHEIMER, LIGHTEN UP!"








Get Microsoft Silverlight

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Monahan & Righeimer To Run The Show



ONE FOR THE AGES
How do you begin to describe a City Council meeting which began on time, took almost 2 hours to select a Mayor and
Mayor Pro Tem and ran until 11:30, at which time the council adjourned to a closed session with four difficult items on the agenda? Heck, they might still be there at this wee hour of the morning!

CLOSED SESSION MOVED TO THE END
Right off the bat the "old" council moved to "trail" the closed session - move it to the back of the line instead of doing

it before the regular, open meeting. This was a good move for a couple reasons. One, it gave Jim Righeimer a chance to be sworn in and subsequently participate in the closed session and, two, it kept an already packed agenda from being a monster. At least, that was the plan...

SHAWKEY SUPPORTERS COMM
ENT
After a short, but
sincere, proclamation for the Friends of the Costa Mesa Library they moved directly to Public Comments in which more than 20 people spoke, including a half dozen who spoke in support of Police Chief Chris Shawkey. That was a surprise. Shawkey, along with his most senior captain, Ron Smith, were placed on administrative leave recently, with no reason being given. Despite the accolades presented on Shawkey's behalf tonight, no further comment was made by City Manager Allan Roeder.

FOLEY BREAKS DOW
N SAYING GOOD-BYE
Council member c
omments included an emotional good-bye delivered to the audience, staff and council by out-going council member Katrina Foley. She sincerely thanked everyone with whom she ever interfaced while on the council and almost made it through without choking up - almost. Her intelligence, tenacity, hard work and perspective will be much missed on the dais.

ELECTION CERTIFIED - GOOD VOTER TURNOUT
City Clerk Julie Folcik certified the results of the
November 2nd election, indicating that Measure "L", the increase of the Transient Occupancy Tax, had passed and confirmed the victory by Jim Righeimer and Wendy Leece. She confirmed that, of the 56, 825 eligible voters in Costa Mesa, 29816 (52%) cast ballots - an excellent turnout for a mid-term election.

SWEARING-IN
She then swore-in Leece and Righeimer, who each then took
turns acknowledging their supporters and the results of the election. Leece mentioned that she wanted to try to have an American Legion Post established in Costa Mesa.

RIGHEIMER'S THREE-PRONGED PLAN
Righeimer, in an attempt to heal still-open wounds from the election, told the packed auditorium that the campaign was over and it was time to work together. He then went on to outline a three-pronged plan to help get Costa Mesa back on track.

1- He wanted t
o move forward with Eric Bever's Economic Development Plan to attract new businesses to our city. He also mentioned that he wanted to find ways for staff to streamline the process. Coming from a guy who's not happy with rules, that last part makes me more than a little nervous.

2 - He wants to create the position of Economic Development Director for the city, who would be an ombudsman to facilitate development. Hmmm, wonder if he has anyone in mind for that job? Does the name "Steve Mensinger" come to mind?

3 - He wants to establish a civilian Budget Commission to help prioritize budget issues.

WHO GETS THE MAYOR'S CROWN?

Then the fun began. It was time to select a Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. Foley nominated Leece for Mayor - Leece seconded the nomination. Righeimer nominated Gary Monahan. I'm not sure who seconded it.

SPEAKERS IGNORED
Eleven speakers stood to advocate for Wendy Leece as Mayor, including two of her daughters. None stood to support Monahan. During the council member comments on this item Wendy explained how she felt she could be a consensus-builder. Righeimer said the city needed someone who had "been there" for the difficult times ahead. Foley suggested that the city retu
rn to 1-year terms for the Mayor, as it was before the recently-departed regime.

AND THE CROWD MOANS
When the vote was take on Le
ece's nomination it failed, with only Foley and Leece voting for her. The vote was taken on Monahan's nomination and he passed with a similar split - Foley and Leece voting NO.

AND THE CROWD GROANS
Then it was time for nominations for Mayor Pro Tem. Foley nominated Leece, who seconded the motion. Eric Bever nominated Righeimer and Monahan seconded
it, so the die was cast. Speakers rose again to support Wendy's nomination - a dozen this time. One speaker rose to support Righeimer - his campaign manager. Regardless, Righeimer was elected to the groans and moans of the crowd. The vote for Leece was 2-3. For Righeimer it was 3-2.
WENDY WILL BE ALONE
The tone is set f
or the future now. Wendy Leece will be all alone on the dais, much as Foley was most of her tenure. When Foley is replaced in January, almost certainly with another of Righeimer's associates, that will make a super-majority, 4/5ths, which means there is NOTHING they cannot control.

I'M OK WITH MONAHAN AS MAYOR
Personally, I'm not surprised that Monahan was elected Mayor - again. I have had some problems with his management on the dais in the past, but he is an experien
ced guy who is much less beholden to the OC GOP than others up there. You can see the handwriting on the wall, though - Righeimer as mayor in two years. That's a scary prospect.

CHICKS SHOVED TO THE LEFT
By the time they fin
ally got the officers elected and took a short break to adjust the chairs, it was 8:30 before they began the real business of the night. A casual observation, for whatever it's worth. The new seating chart is very interesting - kind of symbolic. Monahan, as mayor, is in the center, with Righeimer and Bever to his right. Foley is on his immediate left and Wendy Leece was relegated to the far left spot on the dais, next to the City Manager. The word "exile" comes to mind.

MESA VERDE CENTER SENIOR HOUSING APPROVED
By the time they heard the first public hearing the overflow crowd dwindled to about 65 people - less than a quarter of the number there for the early fireworks. Following the presentation and approval of the new Senior Housing plan for Mesa Verde Center by the Segers
troms there were fewer than 20 in the audience.

BANNERS, FENCES AND OLD CARS
They passed the new banner ordinance and the new fence ordinance for new development
s. They passed the "inoperable vehicle" ordinance, 3-2 - boys against the girls again.

DON'T FISH OR FEED FOWL AT TEWINKLE LAKE - OR ELSE!

After unanimously passing the Redevelopment Agency issue they got into the pro
posal to make feeding the wild fowl and fishing at TeWinkle lake a "disorderly conduct" offense - theoretically an offense for which one could be jailed. It passed, with a 6 month moratorium on enforcement while the staff conducts outreach in the nearby community. This is a toughie because the feeding of the critters fouls the lake, which caused a tremendous maintenance expense to be incurred - an unbudgeted expense. Same with fishing - the piping used to aerate the lakes is being destroyed, which further fouls the lake.

ROCKS PROGRAMS AND POOL ISSUES PASSED
Beginning at 10:30 the agenda item involving attempts to salvage the ROCKS programs and the use of the municipal pool
were discussed at length. Eventually the council voted for all of them, but Righeimer and Bever voted NO on the plan for the pool.

CROSS TOWN BIKE TRAIL TO BE STUDIED

At 11:10 they got around to the Cross Town Bike Trail and eventually voted to authorize a study to be done. Now the $35,000 necessary for that study will have to be found somewhere. Bever and Leece voted NO.

STAFF TO DEVELOP RECYCLING ZONING ORDINANCE
At 11:20 they tackled the proposal to change zoning for re
cycling facilities. It passed 5-0.

BUDGET UPDATE

At 11:23, with 5 non-staffers in the audience, they received the shortest budget update in history, with more information to come at their January 11th Study Session, when they will have the midyear budget review. During the short discussion Monahan mentioned the word "freeze" in the context of discussing staffing levels. It went over everyone's head - except mine. That's how he introduced the closure of the Job Center - a casual comment at the end of a long meeting. That will be interesting to watch now.

LEECE NOW A PARIAH
Suffice it to say, the meeting last night was one for the ages. It was clear from the result that Wendy Leece will be a pariah for the next four years. She has, literally, been shoved aside, and her "outsider" status will only be amplified once a Foley replacement is named. That's really a shame, too, because she's being punished for doing what she was elected to do - m
ake the best decisions she could for our city without bowing down to the GOP power brokers. We'll probably have to begin referring to her as "She who must be shunned".

LEECE REJECTION UNPOPULAR WITH CROWD
It was evident from the mood of the overflow crowd that the rejection of We
ndy Leece by her peers on the dais was not popular - at all. When she was rejected in favor of Righeimer for the slot as Mayor Pro Tem the vote was followed by moans, groans and boos. This does not bode well for Righeimer and his attempt at conciliation. We can only wait and see until next year, when the deck will be further stacked in his favor.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

PEARL HARBOR DAY

"A DATE WHICH WILL LIVE IN INFAMY..."
Once again we pause here to remember December 7, 1941 - the day the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in the event that thrust the United States into World War II.


3.5 YEARS - 400,000 LIVES LOST
A little more than three and a half years later, on August 14, 1945 - my fourth birthday - Japan finally surrendered, but not until after we lost more than 400,000 young American lives.

FIRST-HAND KNOWLEDGE PASSING ON
As the years pass, and the generation of Americans who fought and died during World War II pass on, it becomes more difficult to educate the populace about that war. I doubt you could get an accurate response from 10% of high school seniors if you asked them when WWII occurred and who were the combatants. I just realized that this day, Pearl Harbor Day, is not reflected on my current 2010 calendar. This is truly sad because that war was a watershed event in the history of this country.

16,000,000 SERVED
Following World War II my parents generation, Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation", sucked it up and got on with the job of rebuilding the economy of this country and others around the world. More than 16 million Americans served in the military during the war - stop for a moment and contemplate that number. By contrast, over the nine years of the Vietnam War slightly fewer than 9 million served.

REBUILT THE WORLD
As my parents and their peers went about re-constructing their lives they became part of an economic engine unseen anywhere in the world before. Through the Marshall Plan, in which we rebuilt the infrastructure and economies of our enemies, the United States became the clear leader, both economically and militarily, in the world and the next half-century we had amazing prosperity. You can thank my parents generation and, to some extent mine, for that.

PAUSE AND THINK...
As you contemplate the seating of our new city council tonight please take a few minutes to reflect on the sacrifices my parents and their peers made to save our way of life more than six decades ago. Be grateful for the chance to have a vote in how you are governed. Here's a link to an entry I wrote three years ago that will help you gain some perspective.



PERHAPS THIS SHORT VIDEO CLIP WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU


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