Contemplating Steve Mensinger
The other day I was thinking about Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner and City Council applicant, Steve Mensinger. He's quite an enigma for me.
HE HAS CONTRIBUTED MUCH
On the one hand, he's a big, confident guy with a successful business career and a terrific family. He's contributed a lot to our community through his activities in youth football where, some say, he's almost single-handedly resurrected it over the past couple years. I imagine much of his interest there is because his sons are now football-playing age.
A "MAN OF VISION" - HE SAYS
On the other hand, he's used to calling the shots - directing others to do his bidding and admits that he just has vision going for him. He's a "big picture" guy, not bothered by the details of a problem, only getting it solved. He's a "man of action" - a "commander", not a consensus-builder. That, in my opinion, is a mixed blessing.
CREATED THIS SITUATION?
He's done a tour on the Planning Commission with his buddy, Jim Righeimer, and is now odds-on to join him on the City Council as an appointee to replace Katrina Foley for the remainder of her term. There are some who believe he cajoled Foley into running for the School Board and campaigned aggressively for her so he could have a shot at her council seat without having to bother with the inconvenience of an election, where he would have to convince the electorate of his worthiness.
"VISION" WOULD BE WELCOME
If placed on the city council he'll go from the frustration of having to deal with the minutia of planning issues to the big table - where a man of action with vision could certainly contribute to our city in a major way. In my opinion, our city has recently lacked such people - at least, those who could implement plans as part of the majority. Foley has vision and the energy and tenacity to present ideas, but not a majority to get them implemented.
A RULE-BENDING BULLY
Here's my problem with Steve Mensinger. In his personal life - as chronicled in news articles about him flashing a "Mike Carona" badge combined with threats - and during his tour on the Planning Commission, he has demonstrated that he is a bully, more than willing to throw his weight around to get his way. He's been viewed time after time berating applicants and attempting to micro-manage projects presented to the commission. He also occasionally treats applicants and the staff like they are serfs. In fact, at a recent public meeting he persistently chided Assistant City Manager - soon to be City Manager - Tom Hatch. He also seems to find the need to follow the rules of conduct as prescribed by The Brown Act to be an unnecessary nuisance. In my view, these are big problems. The City Council is no place for a person who thinks this kind of behavior is acceptable.
REGGIE BUSH AS AN EXAMPLE
I want to remind Mr. Mensinger of the recent plight of his beloved University of Southern California Trojans, in which the transgressions of one football player (Reggie Bush) and his family led to the sanctioning of the entire program and cost them recruits and treasure because they will not be able participate in bowl games for two years. This is a perfect example of the damage one player - no matter how much talent that player has - can cause if he's unwilling to understand and follow the rules. Mensinger, if he is appointed to the City Council, will be part of a team and a spokesman for our city. As such, he needs to follow the rules. If he's not willing to do that he should withdraw his candidacy and look for a role in which to serve the city that fits his particular skill set better.
I EXPECT HIM TO BE APPOINTED
I expect Mensinger will be appointed to the City Council on Tuesday and that he will bring "vision" to their deliberations. I worry, though, that he will be frustrated by the requirements of The Brown Act and find ways to circumvent the open meeting law to the detriment of the residents of our city and, potentially, create even more legal problems for our city.
TELL HIM "THANKS" - THEN APPOINT ANOTHER
Because there is a large and talented pool of applicants available for the council to consider as they decide on the replacement for Foley on Tuesday, I think they should thank Steve Mensinger for his community spirit, encourage him to remain involved in youth sports - and choose another candidate for the council seat.