New Year Fast Break
For the residents of the City of Costa Mesa the new year will break fast out of the gate. Before the year is two weeks old residents will have at least four very important meetings to consider. Here's a rundown on each.
FIRST COUNCIL MEETING OF NEW YEAR
On Tuesday, January 3, 2012 the City Council will hold its first meeting of the new year. It will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers and will be preceded by a closed session an hour earlier. Although the posted agenda might lead you to think this will be a relatively short meeting, we've learned that one should be prepared for anything.
For example, in the Consent Calendar which might simply be passed with one vote without comments, there are some items that might provoke a council member or resident to pull them for separate discussion and vote.
STAGGERING LEGAL FEES
Two of the three warrants hold some interesting information. #2400, HERE, lists a payment to Jones & Mayer in the amount of $113, 336.85. On the next warrant, #2401, HERE, there are two entries for legal fees. The first is to Hanson Bridgett, LLP for $20,190.17 and another to Jones Day for $133, 782.21. Those numbers total $267,309.23! If you multiply that number by 12 you get $3,207,710.70! Since this "fiscally conservative" council approved a budget for legal fees of $800,000, you can see that their actions have forced the city to exceed those projections by four times!
TOWING, COMMUNITY GARDEN FEES
The council may also consider increasing towing fees, HERE and for community garden space rental, HERE.
ATHLETIC FIELD ALLOCATION
Later they will discuss Athletic Field Allocation, HERE.
RFP FOR FACILITY MAINTENANCE
The last item in the Consent Calendar is the new Request of Proposals for CMCEA President Helen Nenadal's Facility Maintenance operations. This RFP has been delayed from previous meetings and will likely generate discussions by council members, the public and city workers, too. You can read it HERE.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
Two items that will probably produce some discussion late in the meeting. The first, the creation of a brand new position in city government - Economic Development Director - is consistent with previously announced plans by this council. Based on an analysis of the staff report, HERE, it is easy to assume that former Director of Public Services and current Interim Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Peter Naghavi, has the inside track for this slot. The staff report includes a clue when it talks about how this job will be funded - by NOT filling the City Engineer position previously occupied by Ernesto Munoz - currently filling Naghavi's old slot as Interim Public Services Director. Personally, if Naghavi does get this job I think it's great news for the City. He's a man who has served Costa Mesa honorably for more than a quarter century and has shown that he can get the job done. I hope the council approves the creation of this position and then immediately fills it with Naghavi.
NEW FINANCIAL POLICIES
The other issue is the discussion of new financial policies for the city. This one is a doozy! You can read the staff report HERE. If passed as written, this council will require tens of thousands of dollars to be earmarked as savings and and require specific percentages of the budget be earmarked specifically for capital improvements. Unless this council finds HUGE new income sources, the only way they can meet the goals stated in this staff report is to cut staff - that's where the money is.
RIGHEIMER'S CHARTER SCHEME MEETING
On Wednesday, January 4, 2012 there will be an informational meeting to discuss Jim Righeimer's scheme to turn Costa Mesa into a Charter City. This meeting will be held at 7:00 at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue - at Lions Park. City staff will present an overview of the draft Charter that Righeimer created and will take questions from the audience and accept suggestions for modifications to the Charter.
ONE OF THE FEW MEETINGS
This scheme will fundamentally change city government forever, but it's not getting nearly enough publicity. Although Righeimer promised between 8 and 10 public meetings on this subject, it appears that timing will permit only THIS meeting before the council finally votes on whether to place the issue on the June ballot. There are other public hearings scheduled, but this is the only informal meeting on the agenda now.
19TH STREET BRIDGE
Then, on Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 7:00 at Eaders Elementary School in Huntington Beach, Supervisor John Moorlach will hold a public meeting on the 19th Street Bridge. It's unclear why this long dead issue has been resurrected at this particular time. Cynics - like me, for example - suspect it may be part of the smoke screen to distract Costa Mesa residents from the Charter issue. Regardless, the issue of a bridge over the Santa Ana River at 19th Street - officially opposed by the City of Costa Mesa for decades - will be discussed and concerned residents are encouraged to attend to hear what Moorlach has up his sleeve. I provided you with a map of the location in an earlier post.
"CHARTER" PUBLIC HEARING
Finally, on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 the Costa Mesa City Council will hold a Special Meeting in Council Chambers at 6:00 to discuss the Charter proposal. At this point no agenda for that meeting has been distributed. It is a mandatory meeting, required by the schedule to get this issue on the June ballot. The City is in a full court press on this issue, with additions to the City web site to facilitate public input on this subject and to provide lots of background information. Go to the web site and follow the links.
HOPING FOR A HAPPY NEW YEAR
It's going to be a VERY busy year if the first couple weeks are any indication. In anticipation of that pace, we here at A Bubbling Cauldron wish all of you a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR. It's going to take a lot of effort by a lot of people to stop the current City Council. Like a runaway train, they seem determined to just keep throwing coal into the boiler until it explodes or derails.