Friday, December 31, 2010

THE "DP 103" ANNOUNCED!

THE BEST LAID PLANS...
Well, I had fully intended my previous entry to be the last of the old year, but...

TODAY IS "DP 103" DAY!
The good folks at the Daily Pilot chose today, the last day of the year, to announce the latest iteration of the DP 103 - one hundred three people and things that they deemed to be the most influential in the Newport-Mesa community over the past year. Here's the link to the article.

MOST ON
MY LIST MADE THE CUT
The editors solicited input from the community recently to help them fill out their roster, so good citizen that I am, I fired off a message listing some nominees. Happily, I noted as I scrolled down the roster late last night online, that they'd included about 60% of those names I submitted. I'm sure I was not the only one to submit them. And, NO, I was not on my list! The remainder of my submissions didn't make the cut - being beat out by #102, Babe the Bobcat and #103, 'Fiddler" the seal. Oh, well.. :-)

SIDE-BY-SIDE
For the second time I was included in this list, which made me smile.
This is a fun exercise, scrolling down the list of your friends and neighbors (there are some who are neither, too) and chuckling at the reasons for the selection. I know the editors put a lot of effort into this year-end effort and clearly have some fun doing it. For example, they snuggled up some folks adjacent to others with whom they have tenuous relationships. Register columnist Barbara Venezia, at #64, immediately follows her political nemesis and Orange County Fair Board President and political king maker Dave Ellis, at #63. I have to chuckle about that pairing because of the history between them.

OPPONENTS JUXTAPOSED
Another fun grouping is #12, Sandra Genis; #13, Guy Lemmon; #14, Steve Beazley and #15, Jose Solorio. All those folks were among the most prominent luminaries in the Great Fairgrounds Debacle that dominated the news the last two years of this decade. As I read those names in a line like that I can't help but reflect on the many encounters they've had with each other as the Fairgrounds issue was flogged and flogged and flogged.

WHAT A "SANDWICH"!
I, on the other hand, at #65 am the "meat", as it were, sandwiched between the vivacious #64, Barbara Venezia and the delightful #66, Crissy Brooks. Couldn't ask for better company near the middle of the pack.


RIGHEIMER NOT MY CHOICE FOR #1

I was surprised at the ranking of Jim Righeimer as #1, but I suppose it makes some sense
- even though he doesn't. This year there probably has been no more controversial a local figure than old Riggy. My choice for the top spot would have been soon-to-retire Costa Mesa City Manager Allan Roeder. In my book, he tops the list - any list - when it comes to his contribution to our community. Instead, the editors placed him at #3, just ahead of his Newport Beach peer, Dave Kiff.

MC EVOY ON THE LIST
I was hap
py that young Chris McEvoy, at #34, was chosen for this list. Despite running the barest of bare-bones campaigns he fought a good fight and gave Righeimer a real reason to worry. Both the cities served by the Daily Pilot need bright young folks to get involved in the political process. Let's hope McEvoy's actions encourage others to participate.

SOME MISSING "REGULARS"

There were a few "regulars" who didn't appear this year, including a gru
mpy old guy who operates another local blog. That's OK, though... this is a fun thing and I'm sure he lives every day without a smile.

THANKS TO THE DAI
LY PILOT
Thanks to Editor John Canalis and the rest of the good folks at the Daily Pilot for, once again, providing this fun, interesting exercise for us to ponder. It's interesting to see your friends and neighbors recognized for the contributions they make to the community, and to read unfamiliar names and accomplishments that broaden our appreciation of the terrific folks who inhabit the Newport-Mesa. Have fun as you read down the list...

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL
So, on the 44th anniversary of our very first date, my sweet and patient wife and
I wish you all a very Happy New Year. I hope you'll find reasons to visit this site often next year - it looks like it's going to be another interesting one!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Whew! Is This Year Finally Over?

TREADING LIGHTLY, WE PROCEED
Well, we made it, my friends. 2010 is just about over and 2011 is staring us squarely in the face, daring us to proceed.

A VERY SPECIAL YEAR
I think most will agree that, in the case of Costa Mesa, this year had been one to remember - or forget, depending on which side of the is
sues you've been on.

BUDGET PROBLEMS CONTINUE
We've had the ong
oing budget mess, which continues to this day. We'll find out just how deep the doo doo is on January 11th at the City Council study session. Until then I guess we just tap our toes waiting.

IS THE FAIRGROUNDS FIASCO OVER?
It looks like there's a good chance the whole Orange County Fair and Event Center sale thing may be in it's death throes. Jerry Brown takes over as governor on the 3rd and nobody's talking about his position on the sale of State real estate assets to balance the budget. Opponents of the sale, including members of the Fair staff, are holding their collective breaths until some word comes from Sacramento following Brown's coronation. The next legal step scheduled is a hearing by the appellate court early in February... until then, more toe tapping.

LEADERSHIP TURMOIL

From a leadership
standpoint, Costa Mesa has some strange things going on. Two years ago Finance Director Marc Puckett left under a cloud - one that persists today. He finally landed on his feet in a similar job in Petaluma in November. Then word comes that he's bailing out of that one as of next week. Yikes.

SHAWKEY, SMITH AND MORGAN

Then, very recently, the City announ
ced that both Chief Christopher Shawkey and his top command officer, Captain Ron Smith, were both placed on Administrative Leave. No word why, but the announcement were on the same press release, so some folks presume the reasons are related. Captain Les Gogerty was asked to step up on an interim basis to fill the command vacuum. And, Fire Chief Mike Morgan retired in November, only to surface as the interim chief in Newport Beach a couple weeks later. Geez!

ROEDER ANNOUNCES HIS RETIREMENT!

And then the topper - City Manager Allan Roeder, who has held that job for a quarter century and been with the city for three dozen years, announced that he's retiring the end of March! That was a shocker to most observers. Certainly, Roeder has earned the right to retire, but he's such a positive fixture - a face of stability
- that it's just a little disconcerting to think of him out of office.

HATCH NAMED TO REPLACE HIM!
But, the City Council solved that immediate angst by selecting Assistant City Manager Tom Hatch to replace Roeder. This news was met with universal acclaim in City Hall and was an excellent early Christmas present to the staff and residents alike. Hatch is a perfect fit for this city at this time. He's got great credentials and has become fully immersed in city issues during his four years as Assistant City Manager. This is really good news. To give you a little taste of Hatch, you can watch the City Talk segment he taped last August HERE. Trust me, it's a half hour well spent and you'll understand after watching it just why those who have been working with him feel his selection to replace Roeder is a good one.

FOLEY TO BE REPLACED TUESDAY

On Tuesday the City Council, led by new old mayor Gary Monahan, will select a replacement on the dais for the departed Katrina Foley, who finally officially tendered her resignation today following her election to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board last month. There are many solid candidates from which the council can select a replacement for Foley, but the smart money is betting on Planning Commissioner Steve Mensinger. I've written much about Mensinger in the past and will likely write some more before the council meeting. For now, suffice it to say that he wouldn't be my first choice from the candidate pool available.

RIGHEIMER'S OPPORTUNITY
2011 is going to be another year full of challenges. The budget dilemma may provide the crack in the door for Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer to jam his foot through it and try to become the tip of the lance of state-wide municipal employee pension reform. Ever the eager opportunist, he will likely try to use that issue to springboard him to higher office in the not-to-distant future. Dana Rohrabacher's congressional seat will be contested again in two years...

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE

So, dear readers, friends and neighbors, we here at A Bubbling Cauldron wish you and yours a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR. I'll leave you with a little video clip that expresses my feelings right about now. Be safe, be happy and celebrate the new year surrounded by those you love.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fair Board Meeting Canceled

BOGUS FAIR BOARD MEETING CANCELED
The meeting of the 32 District Agricultural Association Board (the Fair Board) that had been hastily scheduled for 4:30 January 1, 2011 - Saturday - has been canceled. HERE.

THE OLD "QUIT CLAIM SHUFFLE"
This is the meeting that was supposed to see the Fair Board do a Quit Claim Deed transfer for the Fairgrounds to the 32a DAA - basically itself in a different dress. The 32a DAA was established back with the original legislation that authorized the sale of the Fairgrounds many, many months ago as a property transfer entity. Many of us watching this drama assumed that this move by the State was to circumvent the legal stall presently placed on the sale.

NOT SURE EXACTLY WHY
We don't know exactly what pressure was brought on the Board, but I suspect it was the probability of their actions violating the Temporary Restraining Order currently in effect. It is our understanding that there will be a hearing on February 8th at which time the Appellate Court will announce it's decision regarding the legality of the State trying to sell the Fairgrounds to a private entity - in this case, Facilities Management West.

DON'T RELAX...
I'd tell you all to relax for a month or so now, but every single time I start thinking like that something else hits the fan. This whole thing is like Groundhog Day - it just never stops! So, like my meerkat buddy here, stay alert!

Labels: ,

Marc Puckett Out - Again

MARC PUCKETT BAILS OUT OF PETALUMA
Former Costa Mesa Finance Director Marc Puckett, who left his position nearly eighteen months ago under a cloud after having been put on leave for "personnel" matters, has resigned from a similar position in the Bay Area city of Petaluma.

"FAMILY REASONS" QUOTED

Puckett started in Petaluma as Finance Director in November and his last day will apparently be January 7th. He gave "family reasons" for his abrupt departure after such a short tenure on the job. You can read the entire story from the online edition of the Petaluma Argus-Courier HERE.

WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?

Once again we are left to speculate about the circumstances of Puckett's departure from yet another job. This, coupled with the current situation with Costa Mesa Police Chief Christopher Shawkey and his top aide, Captain Ron Smith - both of whom were recently placed on administrative leave - leaves us
very curious about just what the heck is going on!

SILLY ME...

And here I foolishly thought not much would be happening during this holiday week. Silly me!

Labels: ,

Vallejo's Quagmire Redux?

A FULL DAIS IS A WEEK AWAY
We're just a week away from the date the Costa Mesa City Council will seat a replacement for Katrina Foley. It is fully expected that next Tuesday, January 4th, Jim Righeimer's pal, Steve Mensinger, will fill that slot, despite the fact that there are several apparently highly qualified candidates who have thrown their names in the hopper for consideration.

RIGHEIMER'S ONE-NOTE SAMBA
One of the things Righeimer campaigned on - the only thing, actually - was his opinion of the condition of our municipal employee salaries and pension benefits, which he felt placed the city in dire financial straits. Those of us who followed his campaign closely saw him, time after time, look the representatives of employee unions in the audience right in the eye and let them know that he was coming after them. It was that belligerent stance that launched the most rancorous local campaign in memory.

FOLLOW VALLEJO INTO THE QUICKSAND?

Some of us have opined that, because the employee contracts were solid for another four years, the only way to affect actual wage and benefit reform in Costa Mesa would be to follow the lead of northern California community Vallejo and declare bankruptcy. In recent months I observed several times that Vallejo's plan is far, far from resolution after more than two years since the bankruptcy filing.

AFFIRMATION OF APPREHENSION

Over the Christmas weekend there was an interesting entry posted by a writer w
ho uses the pen name "Over But Not Out" on the Orange Juice blog, HERE, that affirms what I've been saying and provides some enlightenment for both sides of this issue to consider carefully before getting into a war.

POLITICIANS OR STATESMEN?
Let's hope that our most recent crop of elected officials will try to find a better way to address these issues than to force our city into an unworkable bankruptcy. In short order we will find out whether we have five men and women leading this city who are consensus-builders, who actually listen to their constituents rather than pre-judge the issues. This is where we find out whether we elected statesmen and women or self-serving, ego maniacal politicians - fat cats out for themselves and their political futures. Time will tell...

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Elephant Seal Viewing Time Again!

A VERY SPECIAL PLACE - AND CLOSE, TOOOnce again I'll remind you of a very special experience that awaits you just 275 miles north, along the California Central Coast.

FIVE EASY DRIVING HOURSAbout 4.5 miles north of Hearst Castle on California Highway 1(about 50 miles north of San Luis Obispo) and just south of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse, is the winter breeding grounds of the largest and fastest growing colony of Northern Elephant Seals in the world! I wrote about it for you three years ago, HERE. The only thing that has changed since that time is that the colony has gotten larger and the viewing is much easier.

LOTS OF PUPS BEING BORNAfter fairly stable birth rates - around 4,000 per year for the three previous years - last year 4,500 pups were born at the Piedras Blancas colony! The first pups are typically born December 15th but this year the first reported birth was on the 10th and the pups are now popping out like Pez. This time of year it's very likely that you'll see births happening as you stand only a few yards away.

BIG GUYS FIGHTINGYou'll also see large males - 5,000 pounds in some cases - fighting for the privilege of mating with the ladies on the beach. The most dominant males may have harems of up to 50 females and must constantly be on the alert to protect them from interlopers.

EXCELLENT PARKING AND EASY VIEWING
There are two large parking lots along Highway 1 created specifically for Elephant Seal viewing. At the south end there is a boardwalk that places you practically in the midst of the thousands of seals present at this time of year. At the north end of th
e southern lot is a brand new trail which takes you to the northern lot and provides another excellent viewing venue. You can simply step out of your car and take a few steps to see these magnificent critters.

NOW IS "PRIME TIME""Prime Time" at the colony is from the middle of December until the first couple weeks of March. While viewing is excellent during this entire time, I tell folks the best time to go if you have school-age children is Martin Luther King holiday. Valentine's Day is another excellent time because it's very inspirational. By that time many of the females have giving birth (one pup), nursed it for a month then goes into estrus. She will be mated with by one or more males before abandoning her pup on the beach to live on stored fat for a few weeks before teaching itself to swim.

WATCH FOR ZEBRAS!
So, plan a trip this winter. Stay in Cambria or San Simeon. Include a visit to the Hearst Castle, or at least the visitor center, where an IMAX format theater shows nature films and a docu-drama about the building of Hearst Castle. Be sure to be alert for the Zebra herd that roams the pastureland near Highway 1 around the Castle.

PLAN A TRIP SOON

For more information you can visit the web site of the Friends of the Elephant Seal - the volunteer guides who staff the bluff to inform visitors - HERE. Take the trip - you'll be glad you did.

A TASTE OF THE ACTION
Here's a little taste of the action on the beach. The first big guy is trying to mate. He's chased away by a more dominant male. And, yes, some pups get crushed by this action.

Labels: ,