Dickson Echoes The Party Line
In a Letter to the Editor in the Daily Pilot, HERE, published in print Sunday, October 9th, Robert Dickson, an appointee of the current city council majority to a powerful position on the Planning Commission, is the most recent such appointee to chime in to support his benefactor's misguided attempts to destroy the very fabric of our municipal government by ham-handedly forcing its outsourcing scheme on our city before doing their homework or attempting to approach the bargaining units to try to work out the perceived fiscal difficulties. Only at the most recent council meeting last Tuesday did we find out that letters have finally been sent to the six associations that represent the interests of our municipal employees, inviting them to re-open their Memorandums of Understanding - a move that is six months late.
DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE
The council actions Dickson defends have torn this city apart under the guise of probable fiscal insolvency - a fabrication by certain members of the council and their sycophants designed to frighten voters into supporting their actions. In meeting after meeting we see members of the council majority chide, vilify and otherwise treat with disdain respected members of the community who dare to speak up. In the more than a decade that I've been watching municipal activities I do not recall such displays of arrogance and abuse of power by council members. We've seen members of the council invite community input, then, with a smirk and snide comment, dismiss that input like they are swatting flies.
SENIOR STAFFERS HAVE BAILED OUT
The actions of this council have caused the departure of almost all senior city staffers, who departed with decades of exemplary, award-winning service in our city and took with them years of institutional knowledge. Perhaps the most glaring example of this problem was the abrupt departure by hand-picked interim Police Chief, Steve Staveley, last spring. He left his second tour as interim chief - he filled that void the first time while the city performed the search that resulted in Chris Shawkey being appointed Chief - when he realized what this council is doing to our city and left in his wake an unambiguous indictment of their actions in the form of a long letter to the members of the Costa Mesa Police Department. This man, who has more than four decades of law enforcement experience, was - and is - one of the most respected law enforcement leaders in the state, left no doubt about his feelings about this city council majority. In one segment of his letter, referring to this council, he said, "They lack skill, training, education, knowledge, they fail to study (or at least learn)." He later said, "They are in my opinion incompetent, unskilled and unethical."
STAVELEY WAS RIGHT...
Staveley's assessment has proven to be accurate. The council majority demanded, and received, a budget for the year for the Costa Mesa Police Department that provides for a police staffing level not seen for more than two decades. The council majority ignored Staveley's staffing recommendations and those of the hand-picked consultants and arbitrarily pulled a number out of the air. As council woman Leece recently pointed out, several categories of crime are now on the rise. For providing this information to the public she was chided by Eric Bever, attending one of his few meetings this year. Even worse, non-elected council member Steve Mensinger is now proposing a hiring freeze across the board, in an attempt to bully the employee associations to implement a two-tiered pension plan.
This city is presently being governed by a city council majority composed of one carpet-bagging opportunist - Jim Righeimer - with no real ties to the community, but who gives all the appearances of a man jockeying for position to higher office; one member - Eric Bever - approaching the last year of his final term who apparently can't be bothered to attend all the meetings and community events that are expected of a council member; one member - Steve Mensinger - who was NOT elected to the office by the voters of this city, but occupies his seat thanks to three votes of his pals on the dais and treats this gift of power like a frat boy at a kegger; one member - Gary Monahan - who, despite more than a dozen years on the council, seems to have lost interest in what's going on and has virtually abdicated control of issues to others and Wendy Leece, who is presently the only member in touch with the community and who is actually earning her stipend by suffering abusive behavior by the other members on the council.
The motives of the majority are clear when they venomously criticize Leece, implying that she's "in the pocket of the unions" for her votes last year on contract modifications approved by the then-majority in an attempt to stabilize the city's fiscal situation and yet that majority ignores the fact that Monahan also voted for those contracts. We can only speculate about why this double-standard exists and Monahan might be getting a pass on this issue.
Last Tuesday there was a whiff of corruption in the auditorium when the council majority - minus Bever, who was again absent - voted to select one of the vendors for the Monahan-proposed turn over of the TeWinkle Park Sports Complex to private enterprise. During the discussions Leece - who opposed the proposal - twice asked the other three council members to tell the public of any ex parte communications they may have had with any of the three vendors who made their pitches to them that evening. She said she had NO communications with any of them. The other three members were curiously mute - not a peep. This seems strange, since having communications with those folks would not have been out of line. Now we are left to speculate about just what kind of communications - and deals - may have been struck between individual council members and the vendors.
ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE OF SUSPICION
It certainly didn't help things when - according to first-hand reports from the scene last Tuesday night - the representative of the vendor chosen, Big League Dreams, got into a heated argument with the President of the Mesa Del Mar Community Association in which he cursed him out. It took a Costa Mesa police officer in the chambers to stop the dust-up. There are those who were in attendance last Tuesday night, including representatives of the unsuccessful vendors, that apparently believe this deal was a fait accompli - a done-deal - months ago.
HE CHOSE THE WRONG WAGON
I guess I understand Rob Dickson's loyalty to his benefactors. He's a smart guy with whom I've exchanged opinions over the past half-dozen years. He's a recent Westside homeowner and a paralegal working for a local law firm. He knows how to do his homework and to frame a position, but he's misguided on this one. He's tied his political future to a party bandwagon that has the wheels falling off and that's too bad.