Weekend Cud For You To Chew
A press release was issued Friday announcing the release of the very first "outsourcing" Request For Proposals (RFP) - for the operations of the Costa Mesa Jail. You can read all 36 pages of it HERE.
Late in the day Friday, the 13th (appropriate?), the City distributed another press release. This one had the "happy" title, "Moody's downgrades City of Costa Mesa's ratings, citing volatile sales tax revenue and low reserves" - Whew! You can read the press release HERE, including the report from Moody's explaining the reason for the downgrade.
My first reaction was, "Oh, great! I guess the sky really is falling!" So, I called Bobby Young, Budget and Research Officer, for an explanation. As always, he patiently gave me the straight scoop in language a non-numbers guy can understand. He told me that nobody from the City requested this review by Moody's, but that mention was made of our recent notoriety nationally, which prompted them to take a little peek. Thanks, Jim Righeimer, for plastering our city all over the national news!
NO BIG DEAL
First, there is nothing to get excited about. The drop in the ratings, as indicated on the press release, was not a surprise to the folks in the Finance Department. Our rating had been "Aa1", a high rating, and was lowered to "Aa2", a slight downgrade. For an explanation of the Moody's ratings visit the Wikipedia page that explains it, HERE. According to Young, this will not significantly affect our ability to do business.
FUEL FOR THE FIRE
That being said, I won't be surprised if one or more council members use this downgrade as fuel for their "outsourcing" fire. It will be interesting to see which one brings it up, or if they have their designated yappers at the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association do their fire-fanning for them. We'll know soon enough.
A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE
By the way, as indicated on a page from their web site, HERE, the City of Newport Beach made a big deal last year when their rating was RAISED to this same level, "Aa2". Costa Mesa and Newport Beach now have the same rating.
CITY COUNCIL MEETING AGENDA AMENDED
The agenda for the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - issued earlier in the week - has been updated, also at the end of the day Friday.
SPENDING YOUR MONEY
This is second meeting for which the details of the Warrants has been provided. # 2368, HERE, and # 2369, HERE, can be searched for little treasures of information if you're so inclined. Have at it...
BUDGET INTRODUCTION - MAYBE
Although it's not on the agenda, we wonder if there is a chance that City Chief Executive Officer, Tom Hatch, might give us a peek at the new budget. Because it is not part of the agenda, the council may NOT discuss the budget if it is, indeed, introduced by Hatch Tuesday. According to the existing schedule, the document itself will be discussed at length at the Study Session on May 24th. It is my understanding that it will probably become available for viewing online sometime following the council meeting next Tuesday, so residents and other interested parties will have time to review it before the study session.
SENIOR MOBILITY AND MORE CONSULTING FEES
There are also a couple other interesting items that would normally be voted upon without comment. One is the agreement with the Orange County Transportation Authority for the Senior Mobility Program, HERE, and item number 8, which deals with the extension of the Public Services Agreement with Management Partners, adding an additional possible $145,000 to the agreement. You can read about that one HERE.
ROCKS PROGRAM FUNDING
Sometime after 7:00 the council will consider just what kind of a fee structure will be used for the ROCKS after school programs, HERE. This is an important program in our city for many working class families with school age children.
FIREWORKS ORDINANCE - WELCOME TO THE WAR ZONE!
The council will have their second, and final, reading of the new ordinance, HERE, that will turn our city into a war zone the entire weekend of the Independence Day holiday - from July 1 through July 4, despite the fact that we will no longer have the use of the ABLE helicopter program to help police the city and the police and fire departments are working with diminished staffing levels from previous years. We're placing every resident of this city in jeopardy just to satisfy the ego of some booster-oriented council members, eager for an opportunity to do some chest-thumping. Disgraceful!
I-405 IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
The pending I-405 Improvement Project will be presented. This is a very big deal, particularly for those folks living adjacent to that corridor as it runs through our city. You can read the staff report HERE.
BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AREA (BIA)
The annual report for the 10-hotel Business Improvement Area (BIA) and the request for re-authorization will be discussed. You can read that staff report HERE.
REWARD PLAN WITHDRAWN
The proposal for a Reward Policy for information leading to the apprehension, arrest, and conviction of person(s) making threat of physical harm to the City, its residents, its employees, officials (both elected and appointed), and City property has been withdrawn. That seemed like the right move. We already have plenty of LAWS covering such things. There is no need for a "policy" to deter that kind of action. Personally, I think this was just a knee-jerk reaction to a brick tossed through a pub door and a little chest-bumping recently.
The final item on the agenda is a request from the Costa Mesa Community Foundation to sell Wine and Beer at the 2011 Concerts in the Parks Series. You can read the staff report HERE. Do we really need a "Beer Garden" at these events? The City is already over-saturated with bars as it is... must we really get soused to enjoy a little music in the park? Geez! What's next - a little place for the stoners, where our "medical marijuana" vendors in town can provide their "medicine" at the concerts?