Friday, December 23, 2011

Try To Have A Merry Christmas

SIMMERING, BUT STILL FUMING
Well, folks, it's time to turn the old Cauldron down to simmer again for the holiday. I'm not sure how much I'll be posting between now and the new year, but, before I bank the fire and let the embers retain the heat, there are still some things that need to be said.

NOTHING LI
KE IT BEFORE
It's been a very stressful year in Costa Mesa, my hometown for the past 38 years. None of the other old-timers that I've spoken with can remember anything like this in the past. Not even in the days of crazy Dave Wheeler or the bumbling Chris Steel were things in such tumult. Steel's term almost a decade ago should have been a clue for us because he's the first sitting councilman to overtly politicize his affiliation. That was the start of the takeover of this city.

A DE FACTO COUP
Ou
r city has experienced a de facto palace coup, with Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger leading the takeover, compliant Gary Monahan just going with the flow and the lamest of lame ducks, Eric Bever, refusing even to bother going through the motions anymore. Those latter two should get an "F" for Attendance on their report cards! Monahan, in particular, should receive much of the blame for what's happening now. He's basically abdicated his position as Mayor - perhaps as early as that ill-fated St. Patrick's Day, when he chose fun and profit over the responsibilities of his job - and permitted Righeimer to take over.

DESTRUCTIVE COUNCIL

We've got ourselves saddle
d with a majority on the City Council that is clearly trying to destroy the government of our city. They're operating like a junta. They've shown, right from the start, that they are chronically impatient and have no interest in following the rules. Effective governance requires both patience and a willingness to work within the established framework. It's become so extreme now that they actually want to sell the voters on backing a Charter for our city created by one man - Righeimer, performing as a snake oil salesman - for the sole purpose of benefiting his life as a political gypsy. He has no long-term ties to our city and is only using it as a stepping stone for higher office. He's trying to show his pals in the OC GOP that he actually CAN accomplish this takeover so they'll support him in future runs for bigger political jobs. He won't care one iota that he'll leave carnage in his wake.

HOPING THE VOTERS WAKE UP
We can only hope that the voters of this city finally wake up and realize that they are being played and vote against the Charter scheme. If this is a good idea, then it's one that SHOULD NOT be rushed. We're talking about the foundational document of our city government here. We should not permit a carpet-bagging political opportunist to simply snatch this city away from the people like a purse-snatcher on a crowded street.

THANKS TO THE COSTA MESA EMPLOYEES
To the loyal, hard-working and beleaguered employees of the City of Costa Mesa, I wish you some peace and tranquility as yo
u take a few days off. I want to thank those of you who have remained, despite all the uncertainty and turmoil swirling around you, for your loyalty and perseverance. Although you've seen your livelihoods placed in jeopardy and many of your fellow-employees chided, threatened and berated by the elected and appointed leaders of this city, you've managed to keep your shoulder to the wheel. You've seen the leaders of our city ignore the best professional advice on staffing and organization available to them and move forward with their own pre-determined, ignorant ideas, but your continued to soldier on. Many of you have been required to prepare the documents that would be used to possibly outsource your jobs, only to see that work effort eviscerated by the elected leaders for no good reason. Although you've seen drastic changes in senior leadership - not one person remains in the job they held a year ago - and you've suffered the tragedy of one of your own leaping to his death from the City Hall roof, you've tried to stay the course. Thank you for that...

PRE-MATURE INITIATION OF OUTSOURCING

At this point in time we don't know the outcome of the ill-advised outsourcing scheme launched by Righeimer and Monahan after who-knows-how-many meetings at Monahan's gin mill and over how many adult beverages. We don't know anything about those meetings because they won't tell us. We do know that they launched that scheme without sufficient thought and violated the council rules doing so - a clear case of premature initiation. We do know that the trial is scheduled for April of next year and can only hope for a positive outcome. We do know that they're spending precious city resources on legal fees at a rate previously unseen in this city.

THE FACADE OF TRANSPARENCY
We've seen a decent man, my friend Bill Lobdell, hired as a spinmeister an
d under his leadership a facade of transparency has been erected. We have more "information" available to us than at any time I can remember - and that's a good thing. For example, the CEO E-briefing is an excellent communication tool with which Tom Hatch has provided excellent information to the readers, including some essays from Michael Josephson's "Character Counts" series.

THE REAL WORK IS BEING DONE ELSEWHERE
What is t
ruly ironic is that some of our elected leaders don't bother to read those essays. We've got this "transparency" thing going on - kind of like a back lot at a movie studio where building fronts are constructed to give you the illusion of a neighborhood - but the REAL work of the city is being done elsewhere, maybe at the glitzy bar at the Gulfstream or in that shabby little pub on Newport Boulevard. Behind the scenes deals are being made out of the view of the public, many of them to the personal benefit of one or two council members - ego boosters for those with an already over-inflated sense of self-worth.

REAL LEADERS NEEDED

The only way to repair the damage being done to this city is to vote the politic
al opportunists and egomaniacs out of office and return the governance of this city to the real residents - the folks who will dedicate themselves to the well-being of our city FIRST. We need to identify those folks who are willing to make a difference and encourage them to run in November, even though a campaign against the OC GOP machine will likely be a tough, nasty, expensive battle. And, in the meantime, we need to actively oppose the systematic dismantling of our city so there is something left by next Christmas.

NO PEP TALK - SORRY

I want to give you a big pep talk... you know, "Buck up! Things will be better next year." and all that kind of stuff. Sadly, I don't really see light at the end of this long, long dark tunnel. I just see more tunnel. All I can do is tell you to use this holiday season to surround yourselves with the people who love you and gain strength from that love. We're all going to need it in the months ahead.

MORE 'ME'
In case you missed it, the Daily Pilot published another of my commentaries. It's online now and should be in print on Christmas Eve. You can read it now HERE.

HOLIDAY SMILES FOR YOU
We hear at A Bubbling Cauldron wish all of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS. Here's a little something that will make you smile. We'll be back soon.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Closures And The 19th Street Bridge, Again

SLOWING NEWS...
OK, folks... we're getting closer to Christmas and the news is slowing down..





CITY HALL HOLIDAY CLOSURES

Today Bill Lobdell, who is still Interim Communication Director for the City of Costa Mesa, sent a little love note out to let us know that City Hall will be cl
osed from December 26th through January 2nd. He also advised that there will be a small number of employees on duty to handle any maintenance issues. I wrote back and told him I have his cell number, so I'll be able to call him to have a park toilet plunged or a tree pruned, if necessary.

OTHER CLOSURES

He also advised that the Neighborhood Community Center, Downtown Recreation Center and Balearic Community Center will be closed, and that there will be no street sweeping next week.

DAILY PILOT 19TH STREET BRIDGE ARTICLE

You recall my previous post about the meeting in Huntington Beach on January 5th at which Supervisor John Moorlach will apparently lead the discussion of a possible 19th Street Bridge over the Santa Ana River to Huntington Beach. Well, the Daily Pilot wrote about it, too, and it generated a growing storm of discontent in the comments that were attached. Then the computer system that manages that stuff for them apparently had a seizure because the date line on the article was OCTOBER 1st and all the comments posted carried OCTOBER dates... too strange. Then, apparently in the process of correcting this problem the entire article, which appeared HERE, just disappeared! Not to worry. We here at A Bubbling Cauldron are at your service. Here, for your reading pleasure, are all the comments that had accumulated the last time I saw this article: (Note: there's more fun at the end)

Drew N at 5:15 PM September 30, 2011

Why bring this turkey of an idea back? It's not remotely affordable, it's not remotely needed and even if it was there's the cost/benefit analysis. It will undoubtedly spawn a legion of lawsuits as folks quite rightly scream bloody murder when they get imminent domained out of their homes. This is just more back room maneuvering to force acceptance of the Banning Ranch development. It's only a f-ing quarter mile up to Hamilton/Victoria which isn't exactly bumper to bumper with traffic. Someone is getting some developer kickbacks methinks


Ontheharbor at 5:58 PM September 30, 2011

--BRIDGE for SALE-- Includes views of California Gnatcatcher habitat and sports park. Must sell before November 2012, so Willing to Deal! Contact Seller Directly. ***Available only to buyers outside NB Council District 2.


Drew N at 6:15 PM September 30, 2011

I hate to double post,but this just pisses me off so much. A quick glance at a map will show anyone with a brain how stupid this idea is. Bushard f-ing ends at Magnolia on the H.B. side so to go into downtown H.B. you'll still need to go down Brookhurst to PCH or up to Atlanta. Anyone coming into C.M. from H.B. isn't going to either come up from PCH to Magnolia, or down from Hamilton to this ridiculous bridge when it's faster to take Victoria or Adams in and shoot down Placentia or Harbor. The only folks whom this would impact are those on Bushard who don't even want it. It's our very own bridge to f-ing nowhere. This is just as asinine as the proposal to connect 19th to PCH, when there are easy routes already available. Quit trying to line your pockets with developer money while screwing over your constituents, and quit supporting this ridiculous Banning Ranch proposal that benefits the rich few while destroying a natural resource that belongs to everyone. The whole damn world doesn't need to be covered in crappy condos.


Gericault77 at 8:30 PM September 30, 2011

RRRRRRIgheimer..........doesn't live on the westside. Westsiders ride their bikes to the beach.....and we like not having the unnecessary traffic.This is what happens, when you elect a developer and NOT a Costa Mesan.


Alex4321 at 1:27 AM October 1, 2011

F the bridge and F Righeimer. That guy will sell out Costa Mesa faster than you can say the fairgrounds. Costa Mesa doesn't need more traffic. Huntington Beach and Newport Beach already cut through our city enough.


sadie1 at 8:18 AM October 1, 2011

Costa Mesa Council members that support the 19th St bridge need to go.


GOP Nutcase at 9:25 AM October 1, 2011

I'm sure this whole scheme was dredged up again by the king of corruption Jim Righeimer. Nobody in Costa Mesa wants this to happen, it's a horrible idea and always has been. That being said, since Righeimer has only HIS interests at stake and cares nothing about the city or it's residents we should be very worried.

Another publicity stunt to benefit the worst councilman the city has ever been infected with.


John Feeney at 2:41 PM October 1, 2011

Newport Beach Councilmember Steve Rosansky is another blowhard from Newport Beach trying to tell us what to do in Costa Mesa. Hey Rosansky, put a sock in it!


Drew N at 3:06 PM October 1, 2011

It's not just us Westsiders that should be up in arms over this. Anyone who lives along 19th east of Newport should be pretty upset about this as well since this will create a straight shot all the way to Dover. That stretch of 19th is already plenty busy enough.


Alex4321 at 4:28 PM October 1, 2011

It would increase traffic for Newport Blvd. and 19th street too which is already maxed out. Last I checked East Siders don't want more traffic either.

Deja Vu at 3:32 PM October 1, 2011

Just like a bad penny, this bad idea keeps coming back.


Tom Egan2 at 3:49 PM October 1, 2011

Just suppose there was enough money to optimize. What might it look like?

(Keep in mind the crucial requirements and constraints:

  • Newport wants to get commuter traffic off “its” stretch of PCH between Dover and the city limits with HB);
  • Costa Mesa wants its downtown back;
  • Eastsiders and Westsiders are adamantly opposed to commuter traffic through their neighborhoods;
  • Eastside HBers don’t want commuter traffic going through their neighborhoods either;
  • Bever wants less commute traffic on “his” street, W. Victoria;
  • Righeimer wants to have major infrastructure projects on his political cv;
  • many, many people don’t want sensitive environments between the bluffs and river messed with.)

Summary: put everything under ground. Three tunnels splitting off from the end of the surface freeway at 19th:

  1. one that goes straight under downtown and emerges at about 16th (already under study);
  2. a second one that heads west under 19th, under the river, emerging at PCH and Brookhurst;
  3. a third one that heads east to emerge at Dover and PCH.

Everybody goes away happy!

Money to pay for it? Hey, our developer leaders can show their stuff by finding financial angels.


bwcmwest at 11:25 PM October 1, 2011

This is just another example of how Jim Righeimer is the worst Councilmember ever!! If he wants the bridge, go put it down his neighborhood off Gisler right in Mesa Verde. Lets see how popular he becomes.

On the other hand this is the perfect issue for the entire city to see just how horable he really is. Righeimers new election words are -

"Vote for me, I will fire the entire Police Department, outsource the City to any low bid contractor (his friends) , wast your tax dollars on a worthless bridge, and slurry your streets, and by the way I dont even own a home here".

This man has only been in the city for less then 5 years and he has all but destroyed the city. He posts signs all around Mesa Verde talking about "you tax dollars at work" These are Measure M funds and he wants to take the credit. Jim and his fat texting friend need to be recalled.

If this is the best the the GOP has to offer, then we are in trouble.


Fighter Pilot at 12:35 AM October 2, 2011

Yes. Someone else who sees Righeimer for exactly what he is. How this man got elected to the City Council just baffles me. He has not done one thing positive for the City of Costa Mesa.


GOP Nutcase at 10:28 AM October 2, 2011

You forgot to mention the millions (yes millions) of dollars he is wasting on overpriced and unnecessary legal fees. He is without a doubt the worst councilman our city has ever had.


Brocktoon at 1:58 AM October 2, 2011

After we build the bridge, we should start work on doubling the capacity of the 55, and extend it all the way to Balboa. Then, we should build a bridge over the Back Bay. I'm thinking some kind of feeder straight to Fashion Island. Once that's done, maybe we can pay for full-time science teachers. But ONLY if I get tax cut; I needs a new boat!


Joseph Tinnirello at 3:30 AM October 2, 2011

Elected officials... So not that corrupt slime ball appointee Mesdinger, right?


checkyoursix at 7:55 AM October 2, 2011

As much as I love the OCGOP and appreciate the recent efforts of council, this bridge is a bad idea. I would love for it to be forced on Gericault with noise 24/7 as payback for his constant noise but would not wish it on the other people, the normal ones, who live there. Building new roads or widening existing ones does not work here in the beach area. They will ALL fill up. The best solution is actually slowing things down by constricting flow, then they go elsewhere. Hate to see this but at least if it does happen it will happen to Gericault but major disappointment has and will continue to flow his way (bad karma) so this is overkill.


Fighter Pilot at 10:46 AM October 2, 2011

My God give it a rest. You make just as much noise as Gericault. Can't you just comment on the issue at hand than to always attack someone because they disagree with you. Don't you think you little love fest with the Council and the OCGOP is a little sick? Agreeing with a group is fine, but loving them?


JohnnyLuv at 7:32 AM October 3, 2011

Bitter, right back at you... it's pretty apparent some folks are here just to complain about the city council even when it's not relevant. Like that wacky greg ridge fella. I wouldn't be surprised if you were just another of his personalities.


EstanciaGrad'2011 at 9:29 AM October 2, 2011

This bridge would cut through a great ecological enviroment that stretches alont the santa ana river, and add too much traffic to an already busy 19th street. Also, it would add too many crowds to my favorite taco joint on the corner of 19th and monrovia!! If Rosanski and Righeimer want to get to HB, they just have to drive one street down to Victoria/ Hamilton, lazy asses!

Blake Anderson at 10:51 AM October 2, 2011

The proposed bridge will cross the northern 1/3 of the Sanitation District's 100-acre Plant 2 in Huntington Beach, one of its wastewater treatment plants. The Sanitation District secured this site (and a 2nd 100 acre site in Fountain Valley) over 60 years ago to provide wastewater treatment and later water reclamation. That foresight has provided the northwestern half of OC with the ability to build families and businesses while simultaneously protecting public health and our ocean. Since the early 70s, the Orange County Water District has built three world-famous water reclamation plants on portions of the Fountain Valley property. Eventually, water reclamation plants may be built in Huntington Beach.

Today, the Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley sites serve the long-term needs of over 2 million people. How many will they serve 60 years from now? Imagine the impact of a roadway and bridge crossing this vital piece of OC infrastructure. The portion of the 100 acres we are talking about is vacant land now, held in reserve for, well, forever. More families, more businesses, more wastewater and more reclaimed water are eventually in our collective futures.

Business and environmental leaders take note. Do we exchange the necessity of long-term regional needs for local traffic convenience? Do we?

Blake Anderson, Retired General Manager, Orange County Sanitation District


Alex4321 at 1:35 PM October 2, 2011

More cars will not make our city nicer or more livable.


JohnnyLuv at 7:28 AM October 3, 2011

I live several blocks away from 19th street. The bridge was a bad idea last time it was brought up and guess what? It still is a bad idea!

Developers may see $$$ building this albatross but residents dont want it. Costa Mesa City council do the right thing and listen to city residents. Either way, we will remember the decisions made now come next election.


jberry at 3:20 PM October 3, 2011

I have lived here for 20 years and this bad bridge idea comes up every few years. 19th Street is already backed up at Harbor/Newport Blvd/55. It will not help anyone in Costa Mesa. Traffic will be going to 18th, 17th, 16th, etc to get out of the traffic jam. It will not keep traffic off Victoria, and it will ruin the bike trail view. I don't have a problem discussing it, but I think the answer should still be no to the bridge. I think we should vote it down and not allow it to rear its ugly head for another 5 years.



kurtz101 at 3:58 PM October 3, 2011

STOP THESE TERRIBLE COMMENTS AT ONCE! THE RIGGMARSHAL WANTS A BRIDGE AND YOU WILL SHUT UP AND BUILD IT! USE YOUR KIDS' COLLEGE MONEY TO FUND IT! NOBODY DENIES DAS RIGGMARSHAL HIS WISHES!


OCJester at 7:09 PM October 3, 2011

The bridge will end up being ANOTHER "pass through" Costa Mesa 'til I get to the 55 route. Take a look at eastbound Victoria at the 55 at the morning commute.

Hey Riggy and Morelick,,,what's in it for Costa Mesa RESIDENTS? (read OWNERS not RENTERS) RENTERS don't have quite as much at stake, eh?


Rob Dickson at 11:56 AM October 4, 2011

These talks are long overdue - Costa Mesa needs to work with its neighbors to determine the fate of the Santa Ana River Crossings once and for all. This has been a contentious issue for at least 20 years. Simply wishing that the bridges will never be built will not erase them from the County Master Plan of Arterial Highways (http://www.octa.net/pdf/mpah2010.pdf). As evidenced by the attempts to remove the Gisler bridge, resulting in an MOU between the cities of Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach and OCTA - we cannot unilaterally decide. Despite concerted efforts by Costa Mesa, the MOU did not remove the Gisler bridge, only changed the classification to "Right-of-Way Reserve." As long as the bridges are on the MPAH, they are still on the table.


Jamie- at 2:42 PM October 4, 2011

I'm not clear. Exactly WHY does the area need this bridge? I live in Newport. On the rare occasion that I go to Wal-Mart or some place in HB I make the pleasant drive up PCH, or else over the Victoria or Adams Bridge. I've never encountered a traffic back-up. So why another bridge other than as a way for a few beach area HB residents to reach the 55 a bit quicker?


vespa_1 at 3:36 PM October 5, 2011

The article, 19th Street Bridge talks revived, states that about 5 years ago the cities agreed to "hold off on the Gisler Bridge". Actually what happened was that in 1993 an effort was made to build bridges across the Santa Ana River connecting Garfield with Gisler and connecting Banning with 19th Street. Traffic personnel from the four cities involved, county officials who were in charge of the Master Plan of Arterial Highways (MPAH), and citizen representatives met for many months to determine improvements needed to provide for the area’s traffic without the two bridges. This group met for many months approving roadway improvements along the way. When the County of Orange went bankrupt OCTA took over the MPAH.

The plan was for future traffic without either bridge was completed. OCTA then determined that all parties had to agree or the plan would not be adopted. Neither Fountain Valley nor Newport Beach would agree. OCTA quietly, without any public discussion, allowed all of the months of effort to come to naught. The cities did not agree to “hold off on the Gisler Bridge”.

A left turn lane was added on southbound Brookhurst to Victoria to move traffic through that intersection. That was done with a brush and a small can of white paint. Someone should get Moorlach a brush and a can of white paint.

***

A LITTLE CHRISTMAS CHEER FOR YOU
And now I leave you today with another little YouTube Christmas clip. This one is dedicated to our own municipal Scrooges, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and rookie non-elected councilman, Steve Mensinger. Enjoy the timeless talent of Dawes Butler and Stan Freberg - hit it, boys...




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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Monster Rises - Again!

THE 19TH STREET BRIDGE!
Looks like you just can't keep a bad idea down. Now it's the 19th Street Bridge over the Santa Ana River between Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach.



SCHED
ULE CONFLICT RESOLVED
In an earlier p
ost I mentioned the Charter informational meeting. Well, since Monday the Costa Mesa city staff has been scrambling to re-schedule that meeting from the original date on January 5th because the City of Huntington Beach surprised us all with an announcement of a public meeting at exactly the same time on the 5th to discuss the possible creation of the dreaded (in Costa Mesa) 19th Street Bridge!
HANSEN AND MOORLACH
Yep, on January 5th at 7:00 at the Eader Elementary School, 9291 Banning Avenue in Huntington Beach (see map) Mayor Don Hansen will host an open house to discuss the potential of building the bridge. Apparently Supervisor John Moorlach has his mitts in this one because he's theoretically the prime mover for this initiative.


RIGHEIMER AND MOORLACH
Now, cynical guy that I am, I'm wondering why this initiative has surfaced again? The City o
f Costa Mesa has held an official position opposing this bridge for decades. In fact, the only public official in my memory who has supported the bridge is Jim Righeimer. Oh, wait - Righeimer and Moorlach! Now I get it! Moorlach has been a fellow traveler with Righeimer in some of his most onerous schemes - this is just the latest. This must be yet another step in the quest that the carpetbagger, Righeimer, is making to take over ALL elements of life in Costa Mesa and leave his imprint on our city - like a big, wet, steaming pile of dung - for decades to come.

YET ANOTHER MEETING!
So, if you're the least bit concerned about a bridge being built across the river at 19th Street, mark THIS meeting on your calendar, too. Man, it's going to be a very, very busy first week of the year!


PRESS RELEASE

Here's Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell's press release today on this issue:

COSTA MESA, CALIF - Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach will hold an open house at Huntington Beach’s Eader Elementary School Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. to discuss a potential bridge across the Santa Ana River at W. 19th Street in Costa Mesa.

The intent of the meeting is “to solicit feedback from residents regarding the future of a bridge,” which is on the county’s master transportation plan.

The evening will include a presentation of potential scenarios with and without the 19th Street bridge and display stations where residents will be able to review various aspects of the proposed bridge and ask questions.

The City of Costa Mesa has officially opposed the bridge since 1993. A bridge at W. 19th Street is not among the migration measures required for the approval of the Banning Ranch development in Newport Beach.

An informational meeting on a City charter for Costa Mesa originally scheduled for Jan. 5 has been moved to Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave., so the two meetings won’t conflict.

Eader Elementary School is at 9291 Banning Ave. in Huntington Beach.



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Charter Informational Meeting Scheduled For January 4th

CHARTER MEETING MOVED UP
The City of Costa Mesa, through Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell, this morning issued a press release announcing an informational meeting on the proposed Charter City scheme being pushed by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer. This will be the first - and maybe the only - such meeting as Righeimer tries to fast-track this issue to get it on the June, 2012 ballot. This meeting was originally being scheduled for June 5th, but circumstances dealing with a new 19th Street Bridge conspired to move this meeting up one day. More on that issue in a separate post.

RIGHEIMER IS SOLE AUTHOR
You may remember that Righeimer, alone, created the draft Charter that is being
considered. You will also recall that he included a segment, section 603, that is the latest iteration of his failed Paycheck Protection Act. You have to give Righeimer credit, once he gets a bad idea in his teeth he just keeps chewing and chewing and chewing, apparently hoping he will eventually find a group of voters gullible enough to swallow it.

READ HIS SPIN
To give you some biased background, you can read an interview conducted by Dan Oney of PublicCEO.com and published today, HERE, in which Righeimer gives you his spin on this issue. He mentions a January 5th meeting - that's been changed to the 4th, per the press release, below. In his interview he says "no electeds" will attend this meeting, but I've heard the opposite. So, we don't know if Righeimer and the rest of the council will be there to intimidate potential speakers or not. He also says that there will be 8-10 public meetings, but the current schedule to get it on the June ballot shows a final vote by the City Council on March 6th - no time for those meetings BEFORE the council decides whether to spend more than $100,000 to place it on the June ballot.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4TH!

Mark your calendars: Wednesday, January 4th, 2012, Costa Mesa Neighborhood C
ommunity Center at Lions Park beginning at 7 p.m. If you want to hear about how Righeimer plans to hi-jack your city government, this might be your only chance.

Here's the text of Lobdell's press release issued this morning:


COSTA MESA, CALIF - City of Costa Mesa staff will hold an informational meeting on the proposed City charter, or local constitution, at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4, at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center.

The meeting will provide facts about city charters, which transfer ultimate authority over municipal affairs from Sacramento to the local level; outline the differences between charter and general law cities; give details on the process to get a charter on the ballot in Costa Mesa; and encourage residents and business owners to give input on the proposed Costa Mesa charter, including suggestions for improving the first draft.

In addition, the City has created a “Weigh in on the Charter” button on its website homepage, providing an online form for charter comments that will be forwarded to Costa Mesa’s five council members, city attorney and chief executive officer. The website also features a “City Charter Info” page (www.costamesaca.gov/charter), which includes information on charters from the League of California Cities; a timeline for the process in Costa Mesa; a sample charter; and a list of the 120 California charter cities, which includes Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Irvine and Santa Ana.

The first official public hearing on the proposed Charter will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, at a special City Council meeting.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

City Records Budget Surplus

GOOD BUDGET NEWS FOR A CHANGE
In a press release today the City of Costa Mesa announced that it had recorded a budget surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011 of $3.8 million. This is good news, since members of the current City Council have been wailing about our dire financial condition, with the word bankruptcy frequently mentioned by them and their sycophants in the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association.


"YEAH, BUT..."
However, while this is good news, it WILL NOT be good enough for them. We can almost guarantee that some council members will give us one of those "yeah, b
ut" comments in which they spin this good news as bad news. And, of course, this excellent fiscal news was accomplished without the draconian layoffs members of the council demanded. This news makes it even more obvious that certain members of this council have only their own personal political agendas in mind, not the well-being of the city. They scream about pension reform while they cannot do a thing about it without sitting down at the negotiating table with the employee bargaining units - something they've shown no interest in doing at this point.

UNFUNDED LIABILITIES EXPLAINED
Way down at the bottom of the text of the press release you'll see a number that, if you've been paying attention to this issue for awhile, should grab you right by the throat. That number is the $255 million in unfunded liabilities. I saw that number, too, so before I published this I grabbed the telephone and contacted Bobby Young, Costa Mesa's Finance Director, to be sure I understood what it meant because it's a much bigger number than we'd been hearing for the past several months.

NUMBER IS ACTUALLY DOWN SLIGHTLY

It turns out that the $255 million is the TOTAL unfunded liability the city faces. $225
million is pension unfunded liability - down from $230 million - and the remaining $30 million is medical unfunded liability, which appears to be constant with previous projections. So, while $255 million is a HUGE number, it's down slightly, which can only be viewed as good news - unless you're a political opportunist trying to use it for personal political gain.

PRESS RELEASE TEXT

Here's the complete, unedited text of the press release issued by Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell today:

COSTA MESA, CALIF - Costa Mesa’s General Fund finished the 2010-11 fiscal year with a $3.8 million surplus, according to the City’s recently completed annual financial audit.

Higher-than-expected sales tax revenues and budget-tightening measures erased a projected $1.4 million deficit, and the City finished in the black for the first time since fiscal year 2006-07.

The independent audit, known as Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and available shortly on the City’s website, shows that the surplus resulted from receiving $95.3 million in revenue and transfers in, while paying $91.5 million in expenditures and transfers out for the year that ended June 30.

The $3.8 million surplus went into the City’s reserve fund, helping raise available cash in November (when cash flow is at its lowest) from about $5 million in 2010 to about $10 million this year. The cash reserves are still short of the $14 million minimum that the City, by Council policy, is supposed to set aside for natural disasters and emergencies. The City had used more than $30 million of its reserves in the previous three fiscal years while trying to balance its budget.

Compared to the prior fiscal year, total revenues increased 4.2%, while expenditures decreased sharply by 8.6%. Revenues rose because of a slight rebound in the economy and the voter-approved increase in the hotel tax rate. Savings were attained through layoffs, positions left vacant, employees contributing more to their pensions, and reductions in service.

In addition to restoring its reserve fund, the City Council has pledged to start paying down the significant $255 million in unfunded liabilities and begin a 5-year, multi-million-dollar capital improvement plan to make infrastructure repairs and improvements that had been put off in recent times because of budget shortfalls.

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Snoopy Santa A Success



SANTA AT CITY HALL
Last night, Sunday, we cruised past City Hall with our dinner guests to show them the Snoopy House display and found the place humming with activity. It apparently was the first night of Santa's visits - he's going to be there each night through December 23rd - and
there were around 40 people in line with their small children, patiently waiting to see that "jolly old elf".

HAPPINESS ON DISPLAY
We wandered around with our friends, showing them the handiwork of the Jordan family and friends of more than four decades, and watched the visitors laughing and having a great time.

THANKS, AGAIN
This will probably be my last "Snoopy" post, so I want to thank the Jordan family and friends and all those involved for saving this wonderful holiday tradition for the children - young and old - to continue to enjoy. Yes, it took city staff resources to help get the display set up and running and will probably take a few dollars to pay for the power, but many community members and organizations have also stepped up to help keep this tradition alive. Many are volunteering their time. Others are providing supplies - cide
r, cups, etc. Thanks to you all. Merry Christmas.

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A Sad Pre-Christmas Anniversary

I AM ONE LUCKY GUY...
Yesterday, as most of my wife's wonderful family gathered at our home for our annual Christmas brunch, I looked around that crowd of terrific people with whom I've shared the holidays for more than four decades and realized what a very lucky man I am. Her three brothers are successful businessmen, loving husbands, fathers and grandfathers and just great guys. Each has their own set of three wonderful kids, some of whom are now blessing us with children of their own. As we shared our meal, gifts and good times, eventually my thoughts turned to those who were not there with us...

IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE EIGHT YEARS HAS PASSED
Eight years ago today, December 19, 2003, Larry Moore, my best fri
end since we both were five years old, passed away following six weeks in the Trauma Intensive Care unit of the University Medical Center in Las Vegas as a result of a motorcycle accident while he was returning home to Rancho Mirage after visiting friends in Vegas.

CONTEMPLATING OUR LIVES TOGETHER
During the six weeks I was at his
side helping to make decisions to, hopefully, save his life, I had plenty of time to contemplate our lives together. He and I were like brothers for those 57 years together. And, because of nightly email updates I sent to mutual friends and, eventually, many strangers who were Larry's friends, I gained an even greater appreciation of what a wonderful man he was. You can read many of the posts I've made about him by typing his name in the search box above, if you wish.

HONORING MY FRIEND
Ten days later I stood at the alter of a church on an overcast morning a
s hundreds of his friends gathered to honor my friend and told them briefly of our lives together, and what he had meant to me. I've written about him several times since his passing so I won't write more about it now except to say that it's very important to let those you love know exactly how you feel. Don't wait, because you never know what kind of bump in the road awaits you.

DON'T WAIT...
I leave you with a commentary I wrote that was published in the Daily Pilot a month after my friend passed which kind of summarizes how I felt at the time. Standing in the doorway of his hospital room beside his doctor as she directed her staff, trying to bring him back to us one more time a after his magnificent heart finally gave out, I knew everything that could be done was being done. Finally, after several tries by her team and it was clear that my friend was gone, I placed my hand on her arm and asked her to stop. It was one of the worst days of my life...

Resolve To Share Your Love

By Geoff West

January 18, 2004

I hope your 2003 ended with days filled with visions of sugar plums dancing in your head, holiday spirit lifting you and the joy of loved ones surrounding you.

I ended my year standing before an overflow crowd at the alter in an unfamiliar church, delivering a eulogy for a man who had been my best friend since we were 5 years old. I stood before the throng, which included childhood friends and relatives, college friends, friends he had made during more than 30 years on the job, and more recent friends, acquired after retirement, and I tried to condense a lifetime of friendship into the very short time allotted to me on that cool, dreary post-Christmas day.

Before it was my turn to speak, I sat clutching my wife's hand, fighting back tears, as my friend's eldest daughter — from whom he had been estranged for nearly a decade at her request — spoke eloquently and passionately about her father.

She told us a story of how, many years ago, a cruel schoolmate teased her about his profession as a police officer. She had been taunted as a "piglet" — the offspring of a "pig." Her father explained to her that the term "pig" was an acronym for pride, integrity and guts.

She told us example after example of her father's pride, integrity and guts, both as a father and policeman. As I listened to this young woman speak, beaming with pride as she talked about her father, it was clear why she had chosen to follow him into law enforcement as a career.

My thoughts flashed back to the last few weeks of my friend's life — when he hovered near death for 44 days in a distant hospital after suffering horrendous injuries from a motorcycle accident on a lonely desert road early in November. By all rights, he should not have survived the crash, but a series of fortuitous events converged to save his life.

He was discovered almost immediately by a group of foreign tourists — strangers in a strange land — who summoned nearby railroad workers. They, in turn, summoned the rescue workers, stayed at his side until they arrived and insisted that he be helicoptered to the right hospital, where his life was saved.

For a month and a half, I stayed near his bedside and watched the staff at the hospital as they skillfully juggled procedures and medications — trying to find the right combination of treatment that would return my friend to us. It was a roller coaster ride for us all, but especially for my friend, who fought with all his considerable strength to come back.

Very early one morning in the last week of his life, a conscientious nurse turned off his sedation, which had kept him floating in and out of consciousness, to see how he would react to the change. The goal being to prepare him for release to a rehabilitation facility. Coincidentally, or perhaps guided by something else, his former wife and the eldest daughter — who had spontaneously decided to make that long drive across the desert to see him — arrived at precisely that time and ended up having a wonderful visit with him.

Even though he could not speak, he was able to communicate through the firm squeeze of his hand, the nod of his head, crinkling of his brow and tear-filled smiles. In the pre-dawn hours that morning, in the trauma intensive care unit in a hospital in a city far from home, he reconciled with his daughter. Having lost his father much too early, and feeling that he had left some important things unsaid, my friend made it a point to tell his friends how he felt about us. When he grabbed you in a bear hug and said, "I love you, amigo," you knew he meant it.

Later that week, as I stood in the doorway of his hospital room for the last 15 minutes of his life and watched his doctor orchestrate a dozen people trying — unsuccessfully — to bring him back one more time, I knew he left us with nothing unresolved.

I share this very painful, personal story with you today to remind you, as you prepare unattainable New Year's resolutions, that life is much too short. I encourage you to make only one resolution this year: to tell the people you love how you feel. And keep it. Remember my friend and his daughter, and don't wait until it's too late.

I wish a safe and happy new year to you all.


GEOFF WEST is a Costa Mesa resident.

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