Thursday, March 31, 2011

Geoff & Steve - Conjoined Twins

FRUSTRATION PROVOKED COMMENTARY SUBMISSION
Last weekend, frustrated by recent events in Costa Mesa - the low-point of which was the St. Patrick's Day suicide by Huy Pham on the day he had been called in to work to receive a 6-month layoff notice along with more than 200 of his peers - I sat down and wrote a long - too long - commentary and sent it off to the Daily Pilot editors for their consideration. I received word later that they planned to publish it on Wednesday. You can read it HERE.

MENSINGER, TOO
I did not know that non-elected city councilman Steve Mensinger had su
bmitted a commentary with what amounted to an opposing view at about the same time. I was advised by the editors of the Daily Pilot that mine would appear Wednesday in print and Mensinger's would appear Thursday and that they would be paired in the online editions, which is just what happened. You can read Mensinger's piece HERE.

DID HE ACTUALLY WRITE IT?
When I read Mensinger's contribution I found myself wondering if he had actually written it, or did recently-hired PR consultant Bill Lobdell create it for him as part of his assignment to "create a communication structure that will make Costa Mesa the most transparent government in the nation"? I've read some of Mensinger's work in the past and this one was much more polished, even though not without gaffes. For example, he referred to "RFPs" as "Reports for Proposal". I'd expect a guy who, although an appointee to both the planning commission and the city council, to know that acronym is for "Requests for Proposals". However, history has demonstrated that "close is good enough" for him and his cronies.

HIT COUNTERS ARE A'SPINNIN'
Both of our commentar
ies have spun the old Daily Pilot hit counter like slot machines gone berserk. At this writing each has well over 50 comments posted although in the case of my commentary, a dozen of those comments are by one lunatic so in love with his "skill" that he just kept blathering on and on, serially posting drivel that meant nothing at all.

GOOD FOR THE COMMUNITY
I really don't have a problem with being conjoined with Mensinger's commentary - I think it's good for the community to have a chance to view and consider opposing views of the same issue in real time.


RIGHEIMER TAKING ADVANTAGE OF CRISIS
Since the tragedy on St. Patrick'
s Day, when Mayor Gary Monahan was appropriately criticized for not showing up at City Hall to evaluate the situation and to console staffers, the media attention on Costa Mesa has been white-hot. Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer has been omnipresent on local and national television and on the radio in a campaign reminiscent of Allan Mansoor's "anti-illegal alien" media blitz a few years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if the same strategists planned both campaigns. Some of that attention has painted this issue as a "unions vs. politicians" event, the perception of which was exacerbated by Orange County Employee Association President Nick Beradino's display of cell phone photos of Monahan in his kilt, having a rousing good time while the folks at City Hall were in shock.

"THE AD"
And that was further e
xacerbated by a professionally-created video ad, using clips of Monahan and the bogus press conference called the day after the tragedy, being distributed locally on cable TV this week. The media has, once again, covered this like a blanket and have tried to find the group responsible for its creation - a group called "Repair Costa Mesa". The ad is available on the group's web site, HERE.

WHO ARE THE PLAYERS?
About that "group"... I used quotation marks because it is my understanding that this a group of residents from neighborhoods all over the city who were
concerned about the method and pace of the changes the current city council were trying to impose on the city and wanted to "do something" about it. The only names associated with the group that have been made public are former mayor Sandra Genis and outspoken activist Greg Ridge. Former Fountain Valley councilman Gus Ayer's name was connected to the video by a union representative, but he has adamantly denied any involvement in its production or distribution. It is my understanding that the launch of the video ad was made by Ridge, operating on his own without consultation nor approval by the rest of the group. The media and members of the opposition are frothing to get the names of the others in the group.

AD WAS A BAD IDEA
In my opinion,
the ad - while powerful and accurate in the presentation - was a bad idea. Clearly, there has been a huge backlash - not only by those you might expect to hear from in the Monahan/Righeimer/Mensinger camp, but by members of the broader community, as well. Enthusiasm apparently dulls memories, because this is similar to the backlash that occurred when the Costa Mesa Police Association began hauling the anti-Righeimer ad trailer around town last fall.

MONAHAN WAS WRONG, AT LEAST TWICE

Don't get me wrong. I think Monahan made a couple huge mistakes two weeks ago. First,
when he chose to stay at his pub pulling beer taps and celebrating what he told a television crew was, "the biggest day of my life" instead of going to City Hall to evaluate the situation and console the staff - as any good mayor would have done - and second, when he approved and participated in the press conference-that-wasn't-a-press conference the next day. That one could have, and should have, simply been done with a press release. Instead, they gathered a small gaggle of "credentialed media" in a cramped, hastily-created press room in a conference room on the 5th floor of City Hall and had CEO Tom Hatch read a prepared statement. The four council members in attendance then filed out before the cameras, ignoring the requests and demands of the media members for comments.

LOBD
ELL'S ROLE?
In attendance at that press conference was new PR guy, Bill Lobdell, so one must assume he had some part of this fiasco. Perhaps this was a way of setting the low water mark for transparency - a spot from which things can only get better. I guess we'll see.

BRUCE GARLICH

As I watch the current elected leaders push their agenda, bully the staff, manipulate
the "facts" to accommodate their dogma and ignore the advice of their professional staff as they go about destroying our city, I cannot help but think of my friend, Bruce Garlich. Tomorrow, at 2:00 at Pacific View Memorial Park, many of his friends and family will meet at a memorial service to remember our friend and to offer words about his selfless volunteerism and true leadership in our community. I will miss my friend's wise counsel and compassion and find myself wondering what his views would have been about what is happening in his city today. Rest in Peace, my friend.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wa'sup With The Fairgrounds?

NOW ON SIMMER
The boiling tumult that was the sale of the Orange County Fair and Event Center (Fairgrounds) has been on simmer for the the past couple months awaiting resolution of the legal challenges to the sale and to see if New/Old Governor Jerry Brown will use his executive power to halt the sale.

WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?
Parties on all sides of the issue - it's not really a two-sided issue, more like a parallelogram - have quietly jockeyed for position in the arena of public perception, hoping to be viewed as the "real" savior of the Fairgrounds. Jaded members of the public seem unwilling to buy any "I'm really a good guy" argument at this time, but we'll see.

ORANGE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS PRESERVATION SOCIETY
Sandra Genis' Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society remains poised to pounce if it looks like the sale will go through. Over the past couple years Genis has spent countless hours lobbying with government officials at the local and state level trying to quash the sale.


FACILITIES MANAGEMENT WEST - "WE'RE GOOD GUYS"

Potential owner Facilities Management West recently issued a pre
ss release in effect telling the world that they are good guys and would be good stewards of the Fairgrounds if the sale goes through. Since President Ken Fait's little tirade before the City Council many months ago folks are having a hard time conjuring up the image of him as a benevolent owner.

PARTNERSHIPS AND PROFIT SHARING
Last week the management of the Fairgrounds, through their CEO, Dr. Steve Beazley, issued a couple press releases. The first, HERE, issued on March 24th "announced several forward-looking endeavors to enhance partnerships and profitability" and went on to talk about its relationship with Barrett-Jackson, including a new 85,000 square-foot exhibit hall to be used for the car auction. It also addressed the plan to find a partner for an 8,500 seat Pacific Amphitheater concert venue - we're assuming this would be a covered building that would deflect any future "noise" issues.

32ND DAA OWNS THE FAIRGROUNDS!
The second, HERE,
issued the same day, announced the Fair Board affirmation of its belief that the 32nd District Agriculture Board actually owns the 150 acre site and pledged to halt the sale. The Fair Board has apparently unleashed it's legal counsel toward that end. This is good news.

ELLIS SPEAKS!

Then, today, OC Weekly Chasen Marshall gave us his most recent view of the whole Fairgrounds issue, HERE, and actually got Fair Board President David Ellis
to speak for attribution! Be still, my heart! Ellis actually is quoted by Marshall, when asked about the stealth non-profit creation that was at the cornerstone of the controversy nearly two years ago, as saying, "I'll be the first to admit I was in the middle of all that..." You can read the rest of his quote in the article at the link I provided.

BYRON DE ARAKAL JOINS FAIRGROUNDS TEAM
At the end of Marshall's piece today he announced to the world that my friend, Byron de Arakal, has been retained as a public relations consultant by the Fair Board. I've known about this assignment for a little while, but withheld comment until it was officially announced - I guess we're at that point now. I've teased my pal about this assignment since we first began talking about it. Much like Bill Lobdell's assignment with the City of Costa Mesa, Byron is going to have his hands full with this one regardless which way the sale goes. I've teased him about being a "corporate make-up artist", alluding to that old "lipstick on a pig" analogy. One thing I think we can anticipate is crystal clear communications coming from the Fair Board while Byron's onboard. We'll see...

O.C. MARKETPLACE OUT?
And, the fate of the Orange County MarketPlace remains in doubt. Operator Jeff
Teller may find himself odd man out regardless which way the sale is resolved. It's clear from public pronouncements that Facilities Management West feels (felt?) that they could operate the upscale swap meet better. And, Teller is currently in "negotiations" with the Fair Board about problems with his rent. The drama continues...

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bruce Garlich Service Set For Friday, April 1, 2011

VOLUNTEER, ACTIVIST AND LEADER
As mentioned in an earlier post, HERE, Bruce Garlich was the President of the Costa Mesa Senior Corporation Board of Directors at the time of his death, March 22, 2011. He has also been an active participant and leader in the Harbor Area Boys and Girls Club, Lions Club, Costa Mesa United and many other organizations. His was truly a life well-spent.

MEMORIAL SERVICE FRIDAY, APRIL 1ST

A memorial service for Bruce has be
en scheduled for Friday, April 1, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. at Pacific View Memorial Park and Mortuary, 3500 Pacific View Drive, Corona del Mar.



IN LIEU OF FLOWERS...

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Bruce's name to the Harbor Area Boys and Girls Club, P.O. Box 10297, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Here's the link to the web site: http://harborareabgc.com/

CARDS AND LETTERS
Cards may be sent to Greg Garlich, 18641 Demion Lane, Huntington Beach, CA 92646.

RECEPTION AT SENIOR CENTER
A reception wil
l be held following the service at the Costa Mesa Senior Center, 695 W. 19th Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92627 beginning at 4:00 p.m.



A GOOD MAN, INDEED

Well, my friends, it became necessary for me to delete the embedded video clip of "A Good Man" by EmersonDrive because some clever person or organization inappropriately found a way to overlay a banner link for the ad recently credited to the non-existent organization, "Repair Costa Mesa", denouncing Costa Mesa mayor Gary Monahan onto this video.

I chose that clip because of the message, which was summarized in the refrain, that I felt described my friend, Bruce Garlich, so perfectly. Here are the words to that refrain:










THE SERVICE WAS WONDERFUL

The service for my friend on Friday, April 1st, was a lovely affair. The chapel at Pacific View was packed by a standing-room-only crowd - well over 150 people - who heard many funny and poignant stories about our friend. He received a fine send-off. Thanks to all who attended and participated.

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