Snoopy Euphoria Over - Enter "The Grinch"
Well, nobody is going to mistake Orange County Employee Association (OCEA) General Manager Nick Berardino for "Old Saint Nick"! Less than 48 hours after the euphoric launch of the Snoopy House display, which brought together hundreds of Costa Mesans on the City Hall lawn to sing Christmas carols and praise The City for salvaging that important piece of Costa Mesa's history and tradition, Berardino's comments as reported in the Daily Pilot by Joe Serna, HERE, were like being doused with a bucket of ice water (and not in a celebratory way) - a reminder of the on-going rancor between the OCEA and The City.
"...UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES"
During a segment of the Fair Board meeting yesterday in which they were discussing extending the relationship with classic car auctioneer Barrett-Jackson, Berardino reportedly balked at The City of Costa Mesa having any involvement in the negotiations. Serna quotes him as saying, "I'm not comfortable doing business with the city under any circumstances, and anyone who is has their eyes closed."
BOARD STIFF-ARMS THE CITY
City CEO Tom Hatch apparently spoke Thursday, indicating that The City could partner with the Board and Barrett-Jackson to facilitate a smooth community outreach. You may recall that Hatch was The City point man during the original negotiations that first brought the auctioneer to Costa Mesa in the first place. Based, at least in part, on Berardino's opposition, Serna reports that the Board voted unanimously to stiff arm The City from a seat at the negotiating table while agreeing to "keep it in the loop".
UNFORTUNATE, BUT UNDERSTANDABLE, DIRECTION
While I'm not happy that the Fair Board has taken this direction to block Costa Mesa's involvement in this negotiation - and the plans to expand the Pacific Amphitheater, as well - I understand his position. After having watched this new City Council in action for the past nine months, I don't trust them, either. The council majority, driven by the actions and agenda of Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, has demonstrated a willingness to play fast and loose with the rules, ignoring the damage such actions are doing to the very fabric of our city.
STRANGEST OF STRANGE BEDFELLOWS
One amusing curiosity which resulted from Thursday's meeting was that this issue placed Berardino and his nemesis, former Board Chairman Dave Ellis, on the same side of an issue. Considering their strained relationship since Berardino was appointed to the Fair Board by Governor (Again) Jerry Brown, both must find this to be uncharted territory. And, Serna's article closes with a very unfortunate quote from Ellis when referring to the probability of legal action from the expansion plans for the Pacific Amphitheater. Here's the final sentence of that article, "'This is headed for an EIR lawsuit,' Ellis told the Fair Board's attorney, 'so make us as bullet-proof as possible'." Yikes!
Just when you thought the holiday season was bringing with it the spirit of goodwill and a throttling-back of hostilities...