Studying Combined Services Not A Done Deal - Yet
It seems the City of Costa Mesa may have jumped the gun just a little bit when it announced, through a press release by Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell last week, HERE, that plans were in the works to pay for a consultant to study the possible amalgamation of certain city services with Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.
HUNTINGTON BEACH HAS NOT YET APPROVED
According to a report by former Fountain Valley Mayor Gus Ayer in the Surf City Voice today, HERE, the Huntington Beach City Council has yet to officially bless this plan and the expenditure of the dollars involved. According to the Huntington Beach City Clerk's office, it is expected to consider it at its next meeting on Monday, August 1st. If Huntington Beach approves it, there is a likelihood that the studies will begin immediately and might be finished in four to five months.
AWAITING WORD FROM NEWPORT BEACH
I've contacted the City of Newport Beach to find out if these studies have already been approved in their city. So far, no reply to my inquiries has been received.
HATCH'S AUTHORITY TO APPROVE
According to Lobdell today, the Costa Mesa City Council is aware of Hatch's plan for this study and is "OK with it", even though it has not been discussed in an open forum of which we are aware. Apparently the decision to proceed with such a study falls within the purview of Hatch's job and he has the discretionary authority to disperse the funds necessary. Lobdell tells me these funds will come from budgeted salary accounts in which positions have not yet been filled. We've got a lot of those these days, which is how we're paying for so many consultants at City Hall.
WILL THE COUNCIL LISTEN THIS TIME?
Personally, I don't have a problem with this study - it makes some sense to evaluate our options. What does bother me, though, is the fact that the same consultant - Management Partners - spent several months evaluating the Costa Mesa Police Department and presented a report to the council outlining their recommendations for a bare-bones re-structuring. That report was promptly and resoundingly ignored and the council approved an even more stark staffing level. Not only did the council ignore Management Partners, but it also ignored an earlier report by then-Interim Police Chief Steve Staveley - a legend in state-wide law enforcement circles. Following the council's decision to ignore Management Partners Staveley resigned and left in his wake a scathing indictment of this council that still resonates throughout City Hall and the community today.
A VERY GOOD QUESTION
In his essay Ayers asks the question, "Why would any city want to partner with Costa Mesa on a study right now?" As you will see when you read it, he goes on to outline several reasons why ANY city might pause before engaging in such a partnership with Costa Mesa right now. Such is our reputation within the community of cities that form Orange County these days.
THOSE DARN DETAILS...
If these studies do proceed I hope the scope of work for them - not available for public review at this time - will provide direction to "drill deep enough" this time. The police restructuring study was a "high level" study that apparently didn't provide enough detail for some council members. That, of course, was not Management Partners' fault - it was ours for not describing the scope of work adequately. With this council, that's the way they operate - they take an opinion and try to create facts to support it.