Saturday, August 06, 2011

Sign Truth, Taking August Off And More Boondoggle News

SEEKING THE TRUTH
Friday afternoon I had a chance to speak with Jennifer Muir, Communications Director for the Orange County Employee's Association, to try to get a clarification on the issue of the disappearing "Cancel the Layoffs" signs and the allegations that an armed private investigator hired by the OCEA was going door-to-door, harassing young student athletes and their families.

MANY SIGNS STOLEN OR DESTROYED
First, some background. It is a fact that
there have been hundreds of "Cancel The Layoffs" signs placed around the city in the past several weeks. Some of those have been placed in the public right-of-way within the city while others have been placed in lawns of private citizens. It is also a fact that many of those signs have been removed and/or damaged.

SIGNS STORED SEPARATELY TO AVOID DISTRACTIONS
The previous week I
spoke with Chief of Code Enforcement for the City of Costa Mesa, Willa Bowens-Killeen, about the signs. She advised me that those signs illegally placed in the public right-of-way were removed by members of Code Enforcement and placed in a secure room on the 2nd floor of City Hall awaiting the owners to pay the fine - $15.00 - and reclaim them. I asked her why they were not stored with other confiscated illegal signs in the Corporate Yard and was told that stacks of the "Cancel The Layoffs" signs at the Corporate Yard would prove to be a distraction to the employees who work there, so the decision was made to store them at City Hall.

"INTIMIDATION?" - NO, ACCORDING TO WILLA
When I expressed the view that holdin
g the signs at City Hall might be a form of intimidation for folks who might wish to reclaim them, she told me that, regardless where the signs are stored, individuals wishing to reclaim the signs would first be required to visit City Hall and pay the fine. She also opined that most of the signs will probably not be reclaimed because they cost about a third of the cost of the fine - it would be cheaper to make more signs than to reclaim those that had been confiscated.

THOSE PLACING THE SIGNS KNOW THE RULES
According to M
uir, the folks who are placing the signs fully understand the legal placement issues and are charged with removing signs from the public right-of-way at the end of the weekend. They also understand that signs on private property that are not within a prescribed distance of certain public buildings may remain there indefinitely. Her concern is primarily with the signs on private property that have been removed or vandalized.

FOUR OPTIONS
Apparently the OCEA has received dozens of telephone calls from concerned residents who reported their "Cancel The Layoffs" signs were being destroyed or repeatedly stolen. According to Muir, the OCEA felt they had four courses of action available to them to deal with this serious, expensive issue.

1) They could have ignored the reports, but felt that was not a practical option because they wanted the vandalism to stop.

2) They could have gone to the police, but they just wanted the vandalism to stop, not to get anyone in trouble. So, they rejected that option immediately.

3) They could hav
e privately appealed to the City Council to intervene, but their recent experience with the council led them to believe that approach would be fruitless.

4) The final option, which they chose, was to discreetly follow-up on the reports themselves, in an attempt to stop the vandalism while, at the same time, keeping the matter private and avoiding any negative legal repercussions to those who may have been responsible.

NO GUN, NO HARASSMENT

Muir told me that the OCEA did, in fact, engage an experienced and professional pr
ivate investigator to follow-up on a rumors and reports they had received about the thefts and vandalism. During the course of his investigation he left his business card at a number of homes and spoke with several members of the community, including one parent of an Estancia High School football player. She also told me that the investigator spoke very briefly to a teenage member of the football team who answered the door at his home. The investigator reported that the conversation was casual, polite and respectful and lasted about a minute. And, contrary to inflammatory rumors going around town, the investigator WAS NOT carrying a gun. Muir told me he did not interrogate or intimidate the young man or anyone else.

RIGHEIMER'S PUBLIC ACCUSATION
Let me pause here to remind you that Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, speaking on the dais Tuesday, August 2nd, accused the Costa Mesa City Employee's Association of hiring a "gun-toting private investigator" - a blatant perpetuation of a fabrication. You can view that piece of his rant in the clip below:















WHERE ARE THE COMPLAINTS?

To the best of my knowledge - and I've been following this story closely - no member of the public has come forward to say that
they actually saw a gun on the investigator. No complaints to the police have been made public about any threats or intimidation by the investigator. Nor have I seen any public pronouncements by members of the OCEA or the CMCEA specifically accusing members of the Estancia High School football team of this vandalism.

COUNCIL MEMBERS USING "KIDS" AS PAWNS
I do know that Jennifer Muir and her colleagues at the OCEA are unhappy about what they feel are false accusations and the complaints vocalized by council members that the "kids should be off limits". She is especially concerned because it was those council members who brought the young men into this situation by enlisting them in campaign activities - something I've commented on here recently, too.

WHO IS LYING?
I don't know what the truth of
this matter is. Unless members of the community who had interaction with the investigator step forward to testify to their personal observations - not spreading unsubstantiated rumors - we may never get to the bottom of it. If the investigator was not carrying a gun, then for members of the City Council to spread that falsehood throughout the community is, at the very least, inflammatory and irresponsible. Unless he can provide unimpeachable evidence that the investigator was carrying a gun during his investigation, Righeimer owes the OCEA and it's membership an apology for his public statement last Tuesday. If he does provide that proof, then I expect an apology from Muir to me and to the community, as well.

***

COUNCIL TAKES AUGUST OFF
Although there has been no press release announcing it, in last Friday's E-Briefing from CEO Tom Hatch there was a note about the City Council Study Session, scheduled for Tuesday, August 9th, being canceled. I checked the City web site and found a similar note. So, our "overworked and underpaid" City Council will have almost the entire month of August off - five weeks straight before they must appear on the dais. Their next regularly scheduled meeting is the day after the Labor Day holiday, Tuesday, September 6th.

A MIXED MESSAGE? DO YOU THINK!?

But, wait a minute! Didn't Righeimer just chastise the President of the Costa Mesa
City Employee's Association, Helen Nenedal, from the dais last Tuesday because "her employees" have so many days off each year? Yes, by golly, I think he did. He specifically referenced sick days and vacation days - as if the employees shouldn't be permitted either of those benefits. How does this square with the council now taking more than a month off? Are they all going to be working the Eric Bever part time, part time schedule now?

MORE BOONDOGGLE NEWS

And, of course, from a previous post we all know that Righeimer is off on a week-long junket to China in 10 days - to the magical city of Ordos. Well, "magical" because it's a brand new city and nobody lives or works there! Just what we need - a sister city with no residents! A tip of the hat to reader "Max", who provided us with some links about this debacle. You can read about Ordos HERE and HERE and see a fascinating video clip below. It sure seems like a curious place to go half-way around the world to develop business, doesn't it?




A "DANA" IN TRAINING? LOOKS LIKE IT
So, what's the real reason for this trip? Is Righeimer taking his family along? Is he going to try to single-handedly solve our debt-with-China issue in a week? Does our trainee President know he's going off on one of those "Dana Rohrabacher" kind of trips? You know, like the one where he joined up with the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Come to think of it, didn't Righeimer join his pal, Dana, on just such a junket not too long ago? Sure does look like he's building up his "foreign policy" credibility to pad his resume for a near-future run for a Congressional seat. Maybe the Mayan calendar is accurate, because this sure looks like one sign of the apocalypse. I guess we'll see.

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Righeimer & Joyce Off To China

TROLLING FOR TOURISTS IN CHINA
The Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau announced today that Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and Interim Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce will join Susan O'Brien Moore, Vice President of the Executive Board of the Convention and Visitor Bureau, on a 7-day trip to China to "explore a possible sister city relationship to boost Chinese tourism and business opportunities in Costa Mesa."

PLEASE, SAY IT'S A ONE-WAY TRIP
According to the press release, the Conference and Visitor Bureau will pay the costs for O'Brien Moore's and Joyce's travel expenses. Righeimer will personally pay for his trip. Is it too much to hope that he's just buying a one-way ticket?

GOOD LUCK TO THEM
I have no doubt that this kind of a trip - some might call it a boondoggle - is necessary in the normal course of business development for our city. Personally, I hope it bears fruit and ends up generating more business and tourism for our city and our region.

COINCIDENTAL DATE
One thing did catch my eye, though. This little week-long adventure begins August 16th - the date of the canceled city council meeting. You know, the one that was canceled because the council didn't have enough to do on that day. I'm sure it's a coincidence that a Righeimer boondoggle occurs on that date, right? Sure it is...

PLACE YOUR TAKE-OUT ORDERS SOON
So, we hope Righeimer and Joyce bring home the bacon, so to speak. In that light, I'll take some sweet and sour pork, please.

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Another Wonderful Day!

ANOTHER YEAR OF JOY
Where has this year gone? It seems just like yesterday that I wrote about this day, HERE.

IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE...
Today my sweet wife and I celebrate 44
years of wedded bliss! I know, you look at that photo and you ask "Was she 5 when you married her, Pot Stirrer?" Yeah, I know... I'm a very, very lucky man. I've had a wonderful woman by my side all these years who has loved me, tolerated my foibles (like this blog) and made every day of our life together better than the last.

MANY MILES, LOTS OF LOV
E
When we attended the wedding of our friend, Teri, recently - that's where this particular photo was taken - I found myself thinking back on the day my sweet Sue and I were married, never really anticipating what a grand adventure we were launching ourselves on that day at St. James Church, down at the entrance to Lido Isle. We couldn't have known that when we drove East the following week my job would eventually take us to six different cities in the first six years of our life together before we finally settled down here for the next thirty-eight.

BOBBY AND BILL WILL HELP US CELEBRATE

So, on this day, when we celebrate this wonderful milestone, I've rounded up my old pals, The Righteous Brothers, to express just how I feel. Fellas...

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Young Named Costa Mesa Finance Director

LOBDELL ANNOUNCES THE PROMOTION
Costa Mesa Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell announced in a Press Release today that Budget and Research Officer Bobby Young has been promoted to the position of Finance Director, filling the vacancy created with his predecessor, Marc Puckett, departed nearly two years ago. The text of that Press Release is provided for your reading pleasure below.


AN EXCELLENT MOVE
In my view, this is an excellent move by Chief Executive Offic
er Tom Hatch. In many ways, since Puckett's departure under curious circumstances, Young has performed many of the duties normally expected of a Finance Director. He and Assistant Finance Director Colleen O'Donoghue keep things moving in a very stressful time. Earlier this year Larry Hurst, a long-time Municipal Finance guru, was hired as the Interim Finance Director to help with what was going to be a prodigious effort to produce a balanced budget under the constraints of a completely new way of looking at our finances by the new City Council.

YOUNG DESERVES THIS POSITION
Sin
ce Puckett's departure Young has performed with distinction - something almost impossible to ignore since so much time and energy was focused on financial matters. Not only has he done a great job under the most trying of circumstances, but he has maintained the highest levels of professionalism while doing it.

CO
NGRATS AND KUDOS
Congratulations to Bobby Young, and to Tom Hatch for this excellent move.



***
Bobby Young Promoted to Costa Mesa Finance Director

COSTA MESA, CALIF.—
Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch today promoted Bobby Young, the City’s budget and research officer, to the position of finance director.

Young had been performing most of the duties of the finance director—including preparing the City’s annual budget and negotiating with employee associations—since September 2009, when the position was left vacant because of budget challenges.

“We’re very pleased Bobby accepted the position,” Hatch said. “He’s done excellent work for the City and earned respect both inside City Hall and in the community. We interviewed many quality candidates, but Bobby’s knowledge of the City and his track record of excellence made him my top choice.”

Young, a Costa Mesa resident, has worked in government finance for 15 years, starting as an auditor of local government and nonprofit agencies. He was hired by the City of Costa Mesa in 2001 as the accounting supervisor and was promoted in 2007 to budget and research officer.

In 2005, Young was named the City’s Employee of the Month for his contributions to revamping Costa Mesa’s annual audit and Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

He’s also involved in community organizations, serving currently chief financial officer and board member of Leadership Tomorrow, a local nonprofit, and often volunteering as a team leader for Neighbor for Neighbor events.

Young received a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting from Cal State Fullerton. He and his wife, Kathleen, have two children.

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It's Official (Again) - Huy Pham Jumped

REPORT CONFIRMS SUICIDE
Jon Cassidy, in the Orange County Register this afternoon, reports, HERE, that the investigation by Talon Executive Services into the death of Costa Mesa maintenance worker Huy Pham on St. Patrick's Day this year confirmed that it was, in fact, a suicide.

CORONER CONFIRMS LEAP, NOT PUSH
According
to Cassidy, the twenty-two page report quotes Dr. Sean Enloe of the Orange County Coroner's Office as stating that Pham did, indeed, either took a running start or dove from a standing position. He concluded that Pham had not been pushed from the roof of City Hall because he would have landed closer to the building.

DIDN'T REPORT TO WORK
You will recall that Pham was called to work to receive his six-month layoff noti
ce while he was home recuperating from an injured foot caused by a non-work related accident. Pham never reported to work, but went directly to the roof of City Hall using keys provided as part of his job and leaped to his death shortly after 3:00 on March 17, 2011, landing adjacent to the east side employee entrance.

EXCLAMATION POINT ON A TERRIBLE DAY
That event was the exclamation point on what may have been the single darkest day in Costa Mesa City history, with more than 200 employees receiving notice that their jobs may be going away due to outsourcing in six months. The turmoil that has been pervasive throughout City Hall and other employee venues since that date has been palpable.

MONEY OVER COMPASSION
The heavy-handedness of that day was further amplified when Mayor Gary Monahan, rather than come to City Hall to oversee the handling of that tragic situation, instead chose to remain in his kilt at his pub and pull beer taps on what he described as "the biggest day of my life". Sadly, it was the last day of Pham's life. It is very possible that Monahan may have greased the skids to the end of his political career in this city with his insensitivity and callous disregard for the seriousness of the moment.

HIS LIFE RIPPED OPEN
Unfortunately, as you read Cassidy's report you will find that the investigation ripped open Pham's life for all to see. It includes references to interviews conducted by management staff which address performance problems that seem to contradict earlier reports about his stellar performance as an employee. It also paints a picture, in my view, of a troubled young man. There is no indication in the Register report that Pham sought the counseling suggested by members of management.

COCAINE USE ALLEGED
Sadly, the toxicology report issued earlier indicated that Pham had r
esidue of cocaine in his system at the time of his death although reports at the time indicated he was not a drug user.

ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE
One sentence of not
e in the Register article says, "After the suspension last fall , Pham was switched off a four-day, 10-hour schedule; no more incidents are noted in his personnel file." This will only add fuel to the fire already ablaze on the City Council to shift every employee to a 5-day, 8-hour schedule because "that's how businesses do it" - regardless of how that might negatively impact service to the public.

LET HIM FINALLY REST IN PEACE

Let's now hope that Pham can rest in peace and that his family and friends can move forward with their lives with some closure about how he died. It's just a shame that the city, the employees, his family and friends had to be put through more months of questionin
g and uncertainty unnecessarily.

DISTRUST AND A BUNKER MENTALITY
It's a shame, too, that this City Council has such distrust in the Costa Mesa Police Department - a fact affirmed by CEO Tom Hatch during a meeting with members of the CMPD a couple months ago - that they felt compelled to retain Talon Executive Services for this expensive, tumultuous and apparently unnecessary investigation. Whether or not there are plans underway to create a de facto bunker on the 5th floor of City Hall, as has been widely rumored recently, this council has created a bunker mentality in the City and we, the residents, are not being well served by it.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Update On Tuesday's Council Meeting

STREAMING VIDEO AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING
Last night's Costa Mesa City Council meeting, which I mentioned in my previous entry, can be viewed in its entirety via streaming video HERE. I've extracted a few clips from that meeting to save you just a little time looking for them.

STIFLING AND STIFF-ARMING DISSENT
Last night was very disturbing,
as I mentioned before. Not only did it become clear that the gloves are off as far as Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger are concerned, but that part time, part time councilman Eric Bever is prepared to join the effort to turn our city into a dictatorship.

THEY WANT IT BOTH WAYS

Righeimer and Mensinger demonstrated their disdain for those residents who take the time to study issues and then step to the speaker's podium to present their views to the council - a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. It is one of the great ironies from last night's meeting that Mensinger griped about too few residents getting involved in municipal business, then chides and dismisses those who do.

BEVER WANTS TO MUZZLE LEECE
At the very end of the meeting Bever requested CEO Tom Hatch to have staff research what other cities do on the subject of just who can place an item on the agenda of council meetings. His meaning was absolutely transparent - he's looking for a way to keep Wendy Leece from being able to serve those thousands of people who voted for her by requiring more than one member to sign off on items to be considered by the council. That initiative, along with the obvious willingness of Mayor Gary Monahan to stifle free speech and similar indications from Righeimer and Mensinger, tell us that this city is on the verge of being governed by a junta.

STREET SWEEPER FOLLOW-UP
Retired Planning Department executive Perry Valantine asked the council about the rumor around town about the city working with the Costa Mesa Sanitary District to take over the city's street sweeping operations. Today we have had confirmed that talks are, indeed, underway with the Sanitary District to do just that. In fact, it is my understanding that those conversations - quite heated at times - took place yesterday afternoon. So, when Monahan said no such effort was underway he was either lying or is so out of the loop that he didn't know. It is our understanding that Righeimer was at the meeting in question.

CIRCUMVENTING THE
COURT
This is a way for Rig
heimer and his cronies to circumvent the injunction - by contracting with another public agency to perform services in the city. However, the Sanitary District has no street sweepers and, it is our understanding, Costa Mesa's equipment no longer meets environmental quality standards, but are grandfathered in. If another entity takes over this operation it will have to purchase all new, compressed natural gas equipment to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Sanitary District would very likely outsource this job itself - maybe to CR&R, their contract waste hauler. This, of course, violates the spirit of the injunction. Remember me mentioning that you can't trust these guys? This is precisely why.

SOME LINKS FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE
Here are a few links for your viewing pleasure. As mentioned some time ago, viewing these slices of the city streaming video feed may require the downloading of Microsoft Silverlight software. It's free and takes up almost no space on your computer. If you have trouble downloading and/or viewing these clips, go the Microsoft site and download the software.

TAMAR'S PASSION

This clip i
s the entire presentation by soft-spoken resident Tamar Goldman - the one I quoted most of verbatim in the last entry. I thought you should see it for yourself.















TERRY'S ANGER
This clip is the poignant presentation to the City Council by Terry Koken, the resident that Monahan tried to stifle at the last meeting. As you'll see, he is so angry at one point that he can almost not speak















VALANTINE'S CONFLICT QUESTION
This clip is of Perry Valantine as he asks about the apparent conflict of interest Steve Mensinger has with the Pop Warner issue. As previously mentioned, Mensinger was the ramrod for this issue last night, even though he is no longer the president of the organization. Clearly, he was in charge - apparently part of his "mentoring program" for the new president, Chris Cox. You'll hear contract City Attorney Tom Duarte tell him that Mensinger has no conflict, nor does Righeimer. Listen VERY closely at the very end of the clip and you'll hear Mensinger mutter "what connections" into his open microphone.












RIGHEIMER RIPS HELEN
In this very short clip you'll hear Righeimer rip into Costa Mesa City Employee's Association President Helen Nenedal at the beginning of a much longer, vitriolic tirade

















MENSINGER'S MENDACITY
In this final clip you'll hear Mensinger tell the world that he's not going to forget what he feels is an inappropriate inclusion of student athletes in the political battles. Of course, playing fast and loose with the truth, he fails to mention during his rant that it was he and Righeimer who brought those young men into the battle last year during the campaign and who have continued to use them as pawn in their little war ever since. He should be directing that hostility inward.













STAVELEY WAS RIGHT ON THE MONEY

Our city is in deep trouble
with these men in charge. They have cut public safety to the bone and beyond and their creation of a hostile workplace has chased many - now almost too many to count - wonderful employees away to other jurisdictions. We're losing experienced police officers like someone left the tap open - men and women in whom the City had invested many years of training. Former Chief Steve Staveley had it exactly right when, in the text of his letter to the men and women of the CMPD the day he left, he wrote of the majority on the City Council: "It is safe to say that the council majority – does not know more about the subject of leadership, or leading police departments or serving as an elected than do I – and yet they do not listen, they do not understand and continue to blunder along in complete ignorance and incompetence." In that same letter he later wrote: "I have never, however, seen a council such as this one. They lack skill, training, education, knowledge, they fail to study (or at least learn). The majority either lies or are so lacking in the necessary skills that they actually believe the junk they say. They act as if they are owners of the business that is the municipal government of the City of Costa Mesa, but they are not, they are merely trustees of these public assets both human and physical and they fail in that role completely. They are in my opinion incompetent, unskilled and unethical." Those last three words ring like church bells as we watch this team destroy our proud city.

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If You Thought It Was Bad Before...

HOW TO START?
I'm not quite sure how to begin this one. I stayed home from the City Council meeting last night, nursing a couple of physical ailments, figuring I'd be more comfortable at home than in the council chambers. As it turned out, if I'd been in the council chambers the lovely Officer Meng might have had to haul me out in handcuffs! I'm glad I stayed home, but I'm angry about the proceedings, nonetheless.

GOOD AND BAD
The meeting started nicely enough, with some wonderful presentations, including a well-deserved recognition of former mayor Jack Hammett with the presentation of the Mayor's Award. That was great, but had a downside, too. Unfortunately, our increasingly-irrelevant Assemblyman, Allan Mansoor, returned to the council chambers to give Hammett a resolution from the State of California. He probably has plenty of time on his hands these days, since he's not making much of an impact in Sacramento.

"A SYMPTOM OF THE DYSFUNCTION OF THIS COUNCIL"
When Public Comments began speaker after speaker used at least part of their three minutes to scold Mayor Gary Monahan for his behavior at the previous meeting. Those views may have been expressed best by gentle Tamar Goldman, for example, who was almost apologetic for finding it necessary to say the following:

"The conduct of the last City Council meeting was a disgrace. The agenda was manipulated so the concerned citizens would not be heard. Many, including me, had to leave before the opportunity for public comments. And even the Consent Calendar was delayed. This Consent Calendar had a couple items which, it was very clear, would arouse comments. The extension of temporary outside consultants with very generous pay, which is wrong, a drain on the city and a contradiction on your claim that the city is short of money."

"This manipulation of the meeting is a symptom of the dysfunction of this council. When what you're doing is good and honorable, when your public actions reflect the ethical standards you have learned, when you as leaders act responsibly and responsively to the voters, there is no need to stifle dissent. In fact, there wouldn't be the dissent that you've been facing for the past few months."

"Your critics, whether they express themselves in writing, by speaking, with lawn signs or by singing, are widespread and diverse. Your efforts to pigeon-hole us as a specific group are wrong. We are staunch Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We come from all walks of life - including the professions, self-employed business leaders and civic leaders. We live in neighborhoods all over the city. In fact, one tiny silver lining for me in the dark cloud that you've cast over Costa Mesa has been the opportunity to meet so many intelligent, well-spoken, public-spirited members of the community."

"Your opponents are not out for themselves, not out for political or personal gain, not even out, as has been the case with me in the past, for some particular need for their own neighborhood. The problems you have created are not narrow neighborhood problems. You're endangering the health, both literally and figuratively, of the whole city. You even managed to anger a well-respected law enforcement official whom you had recently hired to the point he wrote a scathing letter of criticism and resigned."

"How much more, and what else do reasonable people have to do, to convince you that change is needed? I beseech you to stop, think, analyze and understand that you're throwing good money after bad in order to make a narrow political point. The residents of this city want only responsi
ble and responsive government. Please, wake up! You all, in your hearts, can do better and end this nightmare that you've created."

Of course, the counc
il ignored that passionate plea and shrugged off other critics, as well, but not without some confrontational retorts.

KOKEN DIDN'T SING THIS TIME
She was followed by Terry
Koken, who was quite obviously not in a singing mood last night. He used his three minutes to passionately scold Monahan for his heavy-handedness at the earlier meeting, citing the Constitution and his right of free speech. I'll include a video clip of his presentation when it becomes available - it's worth seeing.

THE WORST PART...

The worst part of
the evening, in my view, was the reaction by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and councilman Steve Mensinger during the discussion of the request from Costa Mesa Pop Warner Football for what Wendy Leece described as an improper use of public money.

RIGHEIMER'S RANTS
Righeimer
began his rant with this question: "What have we gotten to here?" That's a great question, Jim! What HAVE we gotten to? He then dismissed the $10,000 that was being discussed for "hours" and diverted the discussion to pensions! He looked directly at Helen Nenedal, the President of the Costa Mesa City Employee's Association who had spoken earlier and, shaking his pen at her, said, " Ms. Nenedal, we have enough money to run our city, we just can't afford the cost of your employees." He then launched into a tirade about vacation days, sick pay and on and on. He complained about the council chambers being the only place he gets "beat up" - his words, not mine. He told the audience that "everywhere else he goes" people tell him "don't stop!" He may have misunderstood those comments. It's very possible they meant "Don't stop until you're across the city limits." That's what I'd be saying...

THE "GUN-TOTIN
G PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR"
During his rant he reac
hed a point where he, once again, asked the question, "What have we gotten to in this community? We've got a labor union hiring a gun-toting private investigator questioning student athletes about their signs." He looked directly at Nenedal again and questioned her about it. When Leece tried to make a point of order Monahan said Righeimer had the floor. Righeimer then, with an angry attitude, said, "Point of order? I'll give you point of order!", then continued with his harangue, which included an oblique accusation that Leece's vote on the employee contracts last fall had been "bought" by a $26,000 contribution the day before the vote. An angry Leece challenged his allegation, but received no response - the damage had been done.

MENSINGER TAKES T
HE BATON...
Mensinger took the baton and kept running - straight at Nenadal. And, when he was not sniping at Leece, accusing her of not knowing the issue or accusing her of voting for programs that somehow provided her with money, he was ripping speakers for the audacity they showed in criticizing him. He went so far as to quantify his contributions - which he told the audience was over a half-million dollars worth of time and energy - as he personally saved football in Costa Mesa. His ego is so huge I was afraid it might explode and severely injure members of the audience.

NO CONFLICT?
I wondered on this site
before about the propriety of him even being in the auditorium during this debate, since he is the most recent past president of Pop Warner, much less leading the advocacy for its request. During the discussion he described his role as past president as "mentoring the current president". Well, isn't that just great! Speaker Perry Valantine posed the question and contract City Attorney Tom Duarte said Mensinger had no conflict. OK, "no conflict" is one thing, but being the primary spokesman for the organization - Mensinger carried the ball almost exclusively and kept referring to "we" when talking about Pop Warner football - is something else all together. The more he talked the angrier he got. And the angrier he got the more he made backhanded comments directed against Leece. The guy really is a no-class thug and bully.

MORE DISTURBING THAN EVE
R
I came away from watching this meeting more disturbed than any of the other contentious meeting this year - and there have been many, many meetings since January that were very frustrating. This one, though, demonstrated the "in your face" attitude Righeimer and Mensinger have with the public. I've said many times that they don't like to be told "No"... well, tonight demonstrated that better than any other meeting I've seen. They're giving us that old "There's a new sheriff in town" routine. They, along with the part time, part time councilman, Eric Bever, have decided to begin blaming previous councils and employees - including former City Manager Allan Roeder - for every ill in the city. That behavior is disgraceful and completely inappropriate.

WATCH FOR RULE VIOLATIONS

These men are qui
te obviously not happy about the rules of municipal governance that constrain them. I fully expect them to brush those rules aside as they continue their slash and burn tactics in our city.

"V" IS FOR VINDICTIVE

And, finally, I was very concerned about Mensinger's "I'm not going to forget about it" comment when referring to the accusations and investigation of the "student athletes" in the missing signs situation. A couple times last night he tried to use the words "vehement, venom and vitriol", but got them tangled up. He forgot one "v" word - vindictive. That's what he was showing to us last night, leaving us with the implied threat of retaliation. He seemed so angry about the issue that I had the impression last night that he would sweep every municipal employee out the door today if he could find a way to do it legally. If the Costa Mesa employees thought it was bad so far, I'm afraid that, as the old saying goes, "They ain't seen nothin' yet".

WHAT ABOUT THAT "STREET SWEEPING" RUMOR?

Oh, yes.. During Public Comments Valantine asked about the rumor heard yesterday that the city is in negotiations with the Costa Mesa
Sanitary District about the District taking over the street sweeping operations for the City. We know there is an RFP in the works with a distribution date of tomorrow. However, we, too, have heard the rumor that included very specific information about conversations between the City and the Sanitary District yesterday. We find ourselves wondering if this may not be an end-run around the court ordered injunction. The City may continue to pursue outsourcing to other government entities - like the Sanitary District. However, the Sanitary District does not have any equipment to sweep our streets and would very likely have to outsource the job itself, maybe to their current trash company, CR&R. Does that violate the spirit of the injunction, since it would be a private company doing the job as a contractor? That sounds like a question for Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann. It also sounds like it would be more expensive than the City contracting out that job to another entity directly since the District would be a middle man and would certainly expect a little profit for their trouble.

STUDY SESSI
ON NEXT TUESDAY
The next meeting of this council will be their Study Session on Tuesday, August 9th. The agenda for that meeting will be distributed in a couple days. After that there is no meeting scheduled until the day after the Labor Day holiday. It's a good time for a little vacation but there's plenty of time for mischief by those in charge of my city, so we'll just keep on watching and reporting.

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