Friday, May 13, 2011

Weekend Cud For You To Chew

JAIL OPERATIONS RFP ISSUED
A press r
elease 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.


***

COSTA MESA CREDIT RATING DOWNGRADED
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.

WHAT THE?...
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 n
othing 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 t
he 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 ordina
nce, 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 IMPRO
VEMENT 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.

BEER GARDEN?
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?

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15 Comments:

Anonymous mike m said...

Why do a beer garden when everyone's already drinking anyway at the concerts, and thus breaking the law as it now stands? I like a cold one more than most, but never could understand why it was so blatant when it's clear you weren't supposed to do it. Worst-kept secret around.

5/14/2011 06:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Pentagon Hexagram said...

Well, the Management Partners deal for Tamara LeTourneau's services shows how much money Costa Mesa can save from outsourcing. She is being paid paid $15,558 a month to work 30 hours a week plus she is getting $500 a month to drive the six miles each way from the consulting company's office in Irvine.

Her hourly billing rate is more than the total hourly cost of the previous administrative director, including pensions, health insurance, and all of those other costs that the City Council rants about.

And it's another no-bid contract.

Still, it's cheaper than the personnel consultant company that is billing over $200 an hour, and Ms LeTourneau actually has experience in government, and from her resume,

Her background also includes experience in organizational development, team building, and strategic planning as well as function responsibilities that include operating and capital budgeting, labor relations, intergovernmental relations.

Brilliant! We have someone to oraganize and build a team among the interim managers and the employees of the new outsource contractors, at least until the end of the year.

5/14/2011 08:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Check into her background: Ms. Tamara LeTourneau was fired from the City of Brea. Doesn't sound like a reputable HR Administrator.

5/14/2011 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous unionquiltersforleece said...

downgraded credit is bad news. but to blame reigheimer for it is wrong. he is trying to save credit rating. as for him blasting us all over the news, wrong. It was the unions who spread the word. and repair costa mesa is giving us a bad name with their false ads also. any lawsuits from the types of acosta, ocea, brown act private people, blame them, not council when they lose but it costs the city big legal fees. they did not have to file frivolous lawsuits. council can't stop people from filing lawsuits, unless I guess you just fold to every ridiculous demand from council foes.

5/14/2011 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Daniel, already did that background check on LeTourneau. It goes further back than Brea, too, when she was known as Tamra Gates.

UQFL, you are, as usual, incorrect. No matter how you try to spin it, Righeimer is the reason for this notoriety. He was on Fox the evening of St. Patrick's Day and was omnipresent on local and national news media for 6 weeks after. It's an interesting fact that back in 2006 former Finance Director Marc Puckett invited the Moody's folks to Costa Mesa for a look-see. The result was a raised rating, which helped a lot in the financing of the Police facility. There is nothing at all wrong with the new rating - the same rating Newport Beach was thrilled to receive last fall. Besides, the way your pals are going, there won't be any reason to borrow money - there will be nothing left.

5/14/2011 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous shennaningans said...

This thing with the Jail RFP needs to be looked at more closely...

Geoff, someone in the local media should pin down Tom Duarte and ask him, can the CMPD Jail LEGALLY be outsourced to a private firm and clarify why or why not...my understanding from people involved with this RFP is he already stated the answer was NO. A public entity yes, private firm NO.

Talk is that when that opinion was proffered, the CC next line of thought was to rope a dope and have Irvine act as the public entity because they use Wackenhut, thereby getting around the dilemna. How or where does Irvine possibly fit in? Sean Joyce, City Manager, any relation to a Dan Joyce (CM Public Affairs)?

Hopefully Irvine could smell this as the RFP was sent out to public or private firm (again is it legal)?

Who stands to benefit? Wackenhut aka: G4S Security Solutions. Gee wonder which national political party they affiliate with or donate to?

They will try to outsource to Wackenhut, will get sued, will lose, but at that point the damage is done...all calculated long ago..

5/14/2011 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous unionquiltersforleece said...

pot stirrer: i guess we just disagree as to the publicity angle, not surprising. thanks for letting me express my wrong opinion anyway.
One thing, the lowered credit rating is not bad you say? The sentence above you said the higher rating helped us a lot in the financing of the police facility. That doesn't make sense. Ratings matter. They should increase days cash on hand to get it up to AAA.

5/14/2011 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous double jeopardy said...

Duarte,mensinger,riggy barlow and tamara + wrongful termination, illegal hr practices or in the jail wrongful incarseration/abuse = big big law suits and losses for the city. Was mister Pham notified correctly,all rules followed, if not. maybe it is neglegence to move so quickly. The city council should be out sourced

5/14/2011 05:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Paco said...

My guess mike m, would be a fundraising for pop warner football and or Estancia football program. Wait, doesn't our non-elected council member head those programs? Just my guess.

5/14/2011 06:39:00 PM  
Anonymous mike m said...

Paco - that sounds about right. I guess by doing a beer garden, they can legalize it, make money off it, and then crack down on the ones drinking on the DL. Maybe they can get the pot shops to set up tents as well - that would be awesome, particularly on reggae night! So parents can go have drinks in the garden while the kiddies roam wild and free!

5/15/2011 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

mike m,
As I suggested in my last line...

5/15/2011 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

Regarding the Beer Garden - they have a concert in the park series up north in WA where my folks live, and it's just like this, people bring their own wine or beer and some picnic food, and just are responsible with it. Cops look the other way, unless it becomes an issue. Looking at the concert line up, to be frank, a lot of these acts are going to appeal to a late 30's and over crowd, more likely family folks, who just don't want or really need that much access to alcohol, on a Tuesday night (!!). I also think this would tend to invite people who want cheap beer in the park, but maybe aren't fans of the music nor are they respectful of the crowd. And who's going to make sure everyone's over 21 ? Is there that much trash pick up after a Tues night concert that people have to be sectioned to an area ? Or is this just about money ?

shennaningans - I used to work for G4S for 4 years, and although they are an English based (maybe since the merger in mid 2000s, Dutch) company, but the corporate culture and business they are in leans heavy on conservative.

5/15/2011 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous CostaMesaCud said...

Somethings to chew on: Only one Council member showed up for Kim Brandt's going to Newport Beach lunch. Wendy Leece. Speaking of the other Council members who "hired" at will City Atty. Duarte, CEO Hatch and yes the Daily Lobdell all of whom do what their Masters want. Along with the other posts on this blog raising questions about the practices of the Council members it's a shame that the Daily Pilot has no noticeable interest except to reprint the Lobdell handouts from City Hall and watch parts of the CC meeting video. What it takes are real investigative journalists. Hello LAT!

5/15/2011 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

CostaMesaCud,
I'm not surprised the four guys didn't show up.... no class jerks! I guess they probably figure she's gone, so they don't have to make an appearance.
On your other point, there remains a body of thought that Righeimer offered Lobdell the job because he was the only real investigative reporter around and that took him out of the game.
I find myself thinking there may be another pretty darn good book in his gig when it's over. I'd buy that one, too. :-)

5/15/2011 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Byrne / American Collective said...

Pot Stirrer, We have chocolate bars for stealth medicating. No need smoke anything during family time. Nice to see the "subtle" change in your vocabulary :) I would encourage you to notice the differences between Ziggy Marley playing at the Amp vs. a Rock band before you go comparing allowing medication at an event to having alcohol at an event. They have EXACTLY OPPOSITE effects.

5/15/2011 06:03:00 PM  

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