Council Meeting Wrap-up
The Costa Mesa City Council meeting last night was an anomaly when compared to most recent meetings - it was fairly short and relatively sparsely attended. At the peak there was probably no more than 75 people in the auditorium at any one time. And, we were out of there shortly after 9 p.m. Still, after all was said and done and the council disappeared into seclusion for their closed session, there were a few interesting moments. Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer was absent due to illness of his parents in the Midwest.
BENDING OVER BACKWARDS FOR BAUGH AND ELLIS?
For example, during the discussion of the reduction of the rates we presently charge for police and fire service for special events, it was alleged that we're "gouging" folks like the Orange County Fair and Event Center and the Orange County Marathon for those services. The council eventually agreed to reduce the charges by around 25% effective yesterday. The original proposal was to make the reduction retroactive to April 1st! That would have taken in the last OC Marathon. As one glib observer noted, the OC Marathon is Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh's baby and that it's just a little paradoxical for him to be demanding fiscal reforms in Costa Mesa on one hand and becoming the beneficiary of this rate roll-back on the other. One might find it curious that another OC GOP bigwig, OC Fair Board President Dave Ellis, is in the same situation and will also be the beneficiary of this change.
MENSINGER - "GET THE SHERIFFS"
I thought it particularly interesting that non-elected city councilman Steve Mensinger instructed CEO Tom Hatch to investigate having the Orange County Sheriff's Department perform the security and traffic control duties for those events. As he stated, he knows our police like that overtime, but using the Sheriff's would take some of the stress off of them. His exact words were, "I know they like the overtime, but I don't want to put them in that kind of a stressful position." That was just another backhand to the police by a guy who apparently shares the animosity for them with his buddy, Jim Righeimer. Or, maybe he still has that old Mike Carona phony badge and he thinks he can dress up like a Sheriff and do crowd control at the Fair.
COUNCIL BUTTONS-UP NEW MASSAGE ORDINANCE
The council agreed to the new Massage Parlor ordinance after only a moderate discussion. That's a good thing for the community because way, way too many of those establishments have been fronts for elicit activities. I'm sorry, I still chuckle when I think of the staff putting together the definitions in the ordinance. Yikes!
FOTI DID THE PRESENTATION RIGHT
We also received a very professional presentation by auditor Steve Foti, the fellow who conducted the audit of city finances at the request of the Orange County Employee's Association recently. Unlike the previous meeting where Righeimer was aggressive with the union official who stood-in for Foti, the council was respectful of Foti and his explanations of his audit. It was agreed to permit the staff to continue with its analysis of the report so they can respond point-by-point at a future meeting. They are apparently also doing a similar analysis of the presentation made by a much less credible source - Colin McCarthy's Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association, a group of right wing ideologues with a very specific agenda guided by and supported by the OC GOP.
WHAT PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION?
Almost no mention was given to the bombshell that exploded shortly before the meeting - the ruling by Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann placing a Preliminary Injunction on the City in its outsourcing and layoff scheme. As mentioned in my previous post, there's a difference of opinion about what that actually meant.
This morning I spoke with Harold Potter of Jones & Mayer, the lawyer representing the City in the case. He told me that the City is free to continue with its "research and development" - the preparation and distribution of the Requests for Proposals for the several units/functions within the city government. The judge will present a written ruling early next week, following review of Potter's objections to the current ruling and the OCEA's review of his objections. Seems like it takes FOREVER for something to snake its way through the legal process. I was unable to reach Richard Levine, lawyer for the OCEA, for his take on this issue. More on that when there's more to tell.