Legal Fees, RFPs, Financial Audits and More
The Costa Mesa City Council will hold its regularly-scheduled meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, October 18th in Council Chambers at City Hall beginning at 6:00 p.m. The agenda includes some VERY interesting items - some that might generated spirited discussion among the council and residents. Here's what you have to look forward to, either in person or live and in living color on Time Warner Cable Channel 24 or ATT U-verse channel 99. You can also watch it via streaming video on the city web site.
CONSENT CALENDAR PROVIDES GOOD INFORMATION
In the Consent Calendar there are, as usual, a couple Warrants for us to consider. And, since the lovely ladies in the City Clerk's office now turn the spread sheets 90 degrees for us, it's much easier to read them instead of having to lay on the floor with my head turned sideways.
In #2391, HERE, you'll find some items of interest. For example, we paid the City of Huntington Beach $25,410.00 for helicopter service for the month of August - which would have been a short month.
JONES & MAYER SLOT MACHINE STILL SPINNING
We paid Jones & Mayer, our outsourced contract City Attorney, $115,668.76 for their work on a variety of issues - 47 separate line items appear - including Benito Acosta (still?); CMCEA; Medical Marijuana; 440 Fair Drive ( a haven for medical marijuana dispensaries and massage parlors), among others.
FIRST "JONES DAY" ENTRY
The very next entry is for Jones Day, the most expensive law firm around, to whom we paid $19,305.00 for "Legal Svs - CMCEA". Which means that, at the rate we were told Jones Day charges - $495/hr - we paid for almost one week of somebody's time - 39 hours. So, we've paid them AND Jones & Mayer for work involving our miscellaneous city employees - apparently to quash the lawsuit. It will be very interesting to follow this particular string of charges since, as you may recall, there was no ceiling in our contract with Jones Day - we basically gave them a blank check.
As I contemplate that particular relationship - with an outsourced contractor overseeing another outsourced contractor - I find myself thinking this may be just the kind of complication some outsourcing arrangements bring to us. Why would a private firm - who makes their money billing for every breath they take on their client's behalf - suggest putting a ceiling on fees for another firm? It would seem to serve their interests, but not necessarily the City's interests, if that pot of gold remains uncapped.
3 MORE RFPS
Speaking of which, this council meeting brings to us three more outsourcing RFPs for consideration - Signs and Marking Services, HERE; Street Sweeping Services, HERE and Emergency Services Equipment, HERE. These are also on the Consent Calendar, which may be voted on without comment unless someone asks for them to be pulled for discussion.
TRAFFIC IMPACT FEES
The only Public Hearing of the evening will involve a discussion, based on a report from the Traffic Impact Fee Ad Hoc Committee, of whether or not to change the current schedule for traffic impact fees on developments within the city. After a lengthy study, the committee and staff recommend no change at this time. You can read the report and reasoning behind it HERE.
The council will also consider appointments to various appointed committees. You can read the staff report HERE. You can read the list of committees and applicants HERE and the committee rosters and applications HERE. These are important appointments and, even though there are fewer vacancies coming up this year, there is an extraordinary cadre of applicants from which to select those few this year. Next year there will be MANY more vacancies.
CITY COUNCIL ACTION MINUTES
The council will also consider council member Wendy Leece's request for a further examination of just how the minutes of council meetings are to be kept. Presently a detailed description of comments by the members of the public are not being kept in written form. The staff report is HERE.
RESPONSE TO OCEA FINANCIAL REVIEW
Bobby Young, Director of Finance and Information Technology, will present his rebuttal to the financial review recently conducted by Harvey M. Rose Associates for the the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA). His point-by-point response should answer any questions raised by the Rose report. You can read the staff report HERE. I'm not going to try to provide an analysis here - the staff report does a good job.
PAYROLL PROCEDURES AND POLICIES AUDIT
In another fiscal matter, Young will also present a discussion of the audit of City's policies and procedures over Payroll, recently completed by Lance, Soll, Lunghard, LLP. You can read that staff report HERE.
"HIRING FREEZE" DISCUSSION
Finally, the council will consider an item titled, "Staff hiring procedures". This is a result of councilman Steve Mensinger's recent call for a hiring freeze to force the bargaining units to the table to adopt a 2-tier pension plan. City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch will present to the council the current methodology for managing vacancies. That staff report is HERE. I'm not sure Mensinger and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer are going to be satisfied with the current methodology. I think, based on the way Mensinger presented his question, that they want a club with which they can clobber the bargaining units into submission. We'll see how this item - at the tail end of the meeting - plays out.
ANOTHER LONG MEETING
It looks like this meeting will be another long one, with the potential to drag on until Wednesday before the council moves into its closed session. I'm taking a pillow with me this time.