OMG! Home Before Midnight Again!
Well, the Costa Mesa City Council is on a roll! For the second meeting in as many weeks they managed to complete their business without turning over the calendar first! They wrapped things up at 10:55 Tuesday - nearly an hour earlier than their meeting on the 10th.
RIGHEIMER AND MONAHAN TARDY FOR CLOSED SESSION
In an evening which saw the preliminary Closed Session start 35 minutes late because Mayor Gary Monahan and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer were tardy, I had apprehensions that this was going to be another Tuesday/Wednesday meeting, especially when that delayed start was carried forward to the Council Meeting, which began at 6:45.
One thing happened that I've never seen before. At the very beginning of the meeting City Clerk Julie Folcik announced that "At this time I'd like to make an announcement. We are convening a meeting of the City Council. There will also be a meeting of the Costa Mesa Redevelopment Agency and the council members will be getting paid an additional compensation because of the RDA meeting." Now, I've been attending and watching these meetings for several years and I've never seen that announcement made before. In fact, I was under the impression that the City Council received NO additional compensation when they convened as the Redevelopment Agency. This begs the question about what additional compensation they might be making as the Costa Mesa Housing Authority. More on that later.
BEVER'S BATTING 2 FOR 3
Before we get too far afield I'd like to report to you that part-time, part-time councilman Eric Bever was present tonight, and, unlike Monahan, he stayed to the bitter end of the meeting. Good for Bever! He's now batting .666, having managed to make it to two of the three meetings so far this month. He's got a couple weeks to rest up before the Study Session scheduled for January 31st.
"BRIEF" PUBLIC COMMENTS
Public Comments "only" lasted 40 minutes, with several speakers addressing the Charter, the 19th Street Bridge and courtesy from the dais. On that latter matter, resident Tamar Goldmann earlier had passed out a sheet to the audience outlining her mistreatment at the hands of our house bully, Steve Mensinger, at the previous meeting. Her subsequent comments, and those of others, apparently fell on deaf ears - or else Mensinger was involved in texting or emailing when they were being made - because he also used his position of power to chide Mrs. Goldmann again. Funny, you'd think a man who just turned 50 would have learned common courtesy by now... guess not.
THE HATCH REPORT
CEO Tom Hatch provided reports to the council on a large group of issues. One speaker complained about a gap in the video of the previous meeting - supposedly the official record of proceedings. Hatch said that must have been a technical malfunction and would investigate. He told the audience that the 19th Street Bridge issue is scheduled for discussion at the February 7th council meeting. In response to a speaker inquiry, he indicated staff would be investigating how to budget for the City's 60th Anniversary next year. Following several complaints by speakers about changes to the Draft Charter approved last week not being included in the current version, he asked contract City Attorney Tom Duarte, who told us that a couple of the issues, including the Code of Conduct and Ethics, were being investigated and he'll report later.
BANNING RANCH MEETINGS
Hatch also reported that Newport Beach's Planning Commission is holding a series of meetings on the Banning Ranch project. He rapidly gave the schedule - too fast for me to copy - but told us it would be on the city web site. The first meeting is this Thursday, January 19th.
RICK FRANCIS RECEPTION ON 1/23/12
He also announced that new Assistant CEO Rick Francis will be on board as of January 23, 2012 and that a "meet and greet" opportunity will be held that afternoon from 3 - 5 p.m. in Conference Room 1A for those in the community to meet Francis.
Hatch gave us a summary of the current status of the outsourcing plans and told us the schedule on the city web site is current as of Tuesday. He also used the Jail RFP as an example of how much money might be saved by telling us that the one bidder who responded showed numbers that might save $400,000 - $600,000 annually. What he DID NOT tell us was the status of the lawsuit and the injunction imposed on The City that forbids contracting with ANY private company to provided outsourcing services for any function or unit until after the trial, which begins early in April. Hatch wrapped up his report at 8:00.
After a discussion of items on the Consent Calendar, where legal fees (Over $368,000 this month), the Harbor Soaring Society agreement renewal and the Payroll Audit were pulled for discussion, the council began it's "hat juggling" act.
TWISTS AND TURNS
Guided by Costa Mesa Redevelopment Agency counsel Celeste Brady, the council navigated through a complicated series of "meetings" apparently designed to salvage as many of the assets of the Redevelopment Agency as possible before it disappears on February 1st. This involved convening a joint meeting of the City Council and Redevelopment Agency and discussion the financial condition in light of potential legislative action that's working it's way through the State Senate now.
$19 MILLION PAPER TRAIL
One distressing part of that conversation was the uncertainty of the paper trail of the original seed money loaned to the RDA by The City back in the early 1970s. Apparently the staff, so far, has been unable to complete the trail that authenticates the City's claim on more than $19 million!
FIRST TWO OF SEVEN VOTES
In any event, the joint session produced a vote to accept the amended list of Enforceable Obligations and the amended Initial Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule, then another vote for The City to accept the assets as listed on the attachments. That meeting was adjourned. both votes were 5-0.
CREATING THE COSTA MESA HOUSING AUTHORITY
Then, changing hats, a joint meeting of the City Council and Costa Mesa Housing Authority was convened and the first order of business was to actually vote to create the Housing Authority, which was a 4-1 vote with Bever, inexplicably, voting NO. It was another of those "what was he thinking? moments we've seen far too often from him. Then a vote was taken on a resolution of the Housing Authority adopting Personnel Rules and Regulations and a Conflict of Interest Code and providing for the time and place of holding regular meetings of the Housing Authority. It passed 5-0. They also voted on a resolution adopting Bylaws for the Housing Authority, 5-0. I looked over the documents and didn't see anything about compensation for the Housing Authority members....
Then they voted as the City Council to decline assuming the assets of the RDA and confirming the Housing Authority as the successor agency to the RDA, 5-0. Then, as the Housing Authority, they voted to accept the assets and functions of the RDA, 4-1, with Bever again choosing to vote NO. He's one strange dude! Whew! Did you get all that? It was as confusing as it seems here, believe me!
Public Hearing #1, a discussion of the holiday hours for the Target Store, had been withdrawn.
RECEIVED AND FILED
Public Hearing #2, the hearing of the issue involving improvements to an existing Mesa Verde apartment complex - an issue that really didn't have to be before the council - received a "Receive and File" vote, 5-0, but not before several speakers stepped up to either compliment the staff and property owner for helping resolve the problem or complain that not enough was done. And, Mensinger took the opportunity to try to micro manage yet another project. I guess he just can't help himself. Somebody should find him a job...
We got around to resident Al Morelli's request for a refund of his appeal fees for the Target Store hours issue at 10:00 p.m. After a short discussion it was passed, 5-0.
MAYOR'S CHARITY DINNER
That took us to the discussion of the proposed "Mayor's Charity Dinner" - a feel-good event being proposed by the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce among others. The discussion by speakers and proponents was very enlightening. Most speakers had no problem with this concept - except that it didn't seem to be benefiting any charities. At one point someone suggested changing the name to the Mayor's Ball. I heard several stifled chuckles around the auditorium... Eventually, at Bever's suggestion, a vote was taken to simply toss the ball into the laps of the organizations who brought it up and encourage them to move forward with it on their own, 5-0. Personally, I have no problem with this concept, which would honor past mayors and civic leaders. I do agree that this event should NOT be held during the campaign season - it would be to politicized. And, I'm sorry, but I just couldn't help visualizing Mayor Monahan in his wee kilt during this discussion.
MONAHAN BAILS OUT EARLY
Following that vote Monahan bailed out - he didn't look to good, so maybe he was ill. Anyhow, after comments and the usual sniping back and forth between Wendy Leece and Mensinger, the meeting was finally adjourned at 10:55!
NEXT STOP - HOMELESS TASK FORCE MEETING
Next up, what may be the final meeting of the Costa Mesa Homeless Task Force Wednesday (today!) at 5:30 in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center.