Now I Understand! (Updated*)
I had a good feeling about last night's City Council meeting when it started - before a standing-room-only crowd - with a presentation to a Pop Warner Flag Football team - a group of tykes coached by a city employee who had an outstanding year. Members of the League Champion Estancia High School Eagle football team - all dressed up in their traveling blazers - were there to support these little guys and two of the stars from THAT team stepped up to praise them, extol the virtues of football and encouraged them to stay together. Senior Ozzy Magana reminded them that it didn't matter whether they went to Estancia or Costa Mesa. What mattered was that they were Costa Mesans. It was one of those "I'm-glad-I-live-in-Costa-Mesa" moments that we don't see often enough these days. Unfortunately, that was just about the last "good feeling" I had last night.
ANOTHER "TWO DAY" MEETING!
Remember how I've told you that our city council makes bad decisions when they let the meetings stretch into the next day? Well, their record is intact. The council meeting that began at 6:05 Tuesday evening finally ended at 1:40 a.m. Wednesday - today! And, it began short-handed as Mayor Gary Monahan failed to attend due to a serious family emergency.
DEADLOCK VOTE WAS AN OMEN
I knew we were in trouble when the only Public Hearing to be held - the change in holiday hours for the Target Store on Harbor Blvd. - stretched an hour and a half, only to end up being continued until January 17, 2012 because both votes taken on the issue resulted in 2-2 ties, which means each vote failed - the result of Monahan being absent.
RIGHEIMER'S HASTY CHARTER CITY SCHEME
The big item of the evening/morning was the discussion of the Charter City proposal put forward by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer. That discussion began at 11:05 p.m. and stretched until 1:15 a.m. This issue never should have been on the agenda in the first place. Such a significant issue should have been scheduled for a Study Session, where a thorough vetting by the council could take place. That, however, wouldn't fit Righeimer's plans. Like almost every other initiative he's launched since taking office last January, this one was going to be on a fast track, one way or the other.
A "CUT-AND-PASTE" CAPER
As it turns out, Righeimer created the draft Charter included in the staff report all by himself, by cutting and pasting segments from several other city charters. He's in such a hurry to get this issue before the voters that he couldn't wait to have the City Attorney cobble something together, nor could he wait to have a vote taken by the people to authorize the creation of a charter commission. Nope, this is his baby and he is doing it, period!
THE "AH-HA!" MOMENT
One of the reasons for his haste became very clear as we read through the Charter draft. Actually, he read it to us, just like my folks used to read the Sunday funnies to me many, many moons ago. You can read it in the staff report, HERE. When he got near the end and came to Section 603, Voluntary Municipal Employee Political Contributions, I understood what this is all about. Here's the verbiage of that section: (click on image to enlarge)
THE "PAYCHECK PROTECTION" FIASCO
As some may recall, Righeimer has been on a nearly two decade crusade against organized labor. He and a couple other pals, Frank Ury and Righeimer's lawyer/brother-in-law, Mark Bucher, burst into national prominence with their ill-advised "paycheck protection". You can read about that HERE and HERE. The text above is only the most recent attempt by Righeimer to de-fang organized labor's fund raising resources. Clearly, it's the cornerstone of his efforts to rush this Charter initiative onto the June ballot.
In my previous post on this subject I provided a schedule - a time table - for the processing of this issue in order to get it on the June ballot. Well, the first thing I noticed Tuesday night was that there's a new schedule, not the one in the staff report. This one shifts the timing out a week, which may eliminate an opportunity for at least one of the Town Halls anticipated in the previous schedule. Here's how the new schedule looks, taken directly from the agenda addition last night:
Dec. 6 - City Council Meeting: Report on possible City charter, including introduction to what's a charter, pros and cons of becoming a charter city, and procedure for being a charter city (including proposed time line); first draft of the charter will be presented and discussed; public comment will be taken.
Dec. 20 - Deadline for notice posted for the mandatory First Hearing of proposed charter on Jan. 10, 2012.
Jan. 5, 2012 - An informational Town Hall has been added to the schedule at 7:00 p.m. - location to be determined.
Jan. 10, 2012 - Special City Council Meeting (First Hearing); The City Council will look at potential provisions to include in a charter for Costa Mesa, take public comment and may vote on a first draft of a charter, which can be edited by the council throughout the process.
Jan. 23, 2012 - Deadline for notice posted for the mandatory Second Hearing of proposed charter on Feb. 14, 2012.
Jan. 24, 2012 and/or Jan. 31, 2012 - Potential town hall meetings on charter; If needed, the City of Costa Mesa will present information on the charter and charter process. (During the meeting Righeimer added a Town Hall on the 24th for sure and kept the option open for another on the 31st.)
Feb. 14, 2012 - Special City Council Meeting (Second Hearing); City Council will receive public comment and may continue to hone the draft charter toward completion.
March 6, 2012 - SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING to vote upon resolution directing that the Charter be submitted to the Voters; This is the earliest date in which Council may adopt a resolution directing the charter to be submitted to the voters.
THREE MONTHS OF WAR
Once the vote is taken and the paperwork is submitted to place the issue on the June ballot there will be three months of politicking from both sides of this issue. Righeimer speculated that "the unions" would be throwing money at this issue to defeat it.
MORE WHINING AND POT-SHOTS TO END THE NIGHT
The meeting ended with council member comments - which has devolved in recent months into whine-fests, in which some of the male members of the council take pot-shots at Wendy Leece. Last night both Eric Bever - our part-time, part-time council member took his turn at bat, throwing zingers at her across the dais. And then, like the bitter after-taste from a bottle of cheap wine, Steve Mensinger launched off into another of his woe-is-me tirades, telling us that his wife and kids were all home in bed and yet here he is, serving the public. I wonder if he ever gets a cramp in his arm from patting himself on the back for his "sacrifices". Maybe he should just do what he said he REALLY wanted to do during his acceptance speech last January - quit the council and coach. He should listen to Ozzy Magana...