Tidying-up, Homeless Task Force And Tardy Kudos
I attended the final meeting of the Costa Mesa Homeless Task Force Wednesday evening and will give you my impressions shortly, but first, some tidying-up.
In my last post I mentioned a comment made by City Clerk Julie Folcik at the council meeting Tuesday night. I said it was unusual and that it referred to the council receiving additional pay because the meeting was to be a joint meeting of the Redevelopment Agency AND the City Council. I inquired of CEO Tom Hatch, who handed-off the question to Ms. Folcik. Today, as usual, she gave me chapter and verse - literally - for her pronouncement at the meeting.
NEW LAW REQUIRES SPECIFIC DISCLOSURE
It seems that Assembly Bill 23, one of the many new laws that went into effect January 1 and affects Government Code Section 54952.3, requires disclosure when a body meets in that kind of a joint session and when the body will be paid for each entity they represent. In this case, apparently the Redevelopment Agency has ALWAYS received a small stipend - $30.00 - for such meetings. Now the law requires that disclosure. Heck, that amount is so small that I don't even begrudge part-time, part-time councilman Eric Bever his stipend.
NO STIPEND FOR THE COSTA MESA HOUSING AUTHORITY
I also asked about the newly-formed Costa Mesa Housing Authority and was informed, as I suspected after reading the Bylaws thoroughly, that there is no provision for a stipend for members of the Housing Authority.
NOW, TO THE HOMELESS TASK FORCE
Last night the final meeting of the Costa Mesa Homeless Task Force was held in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center. Many members of the Task Force were not present, but enough were to form a quorum so business could be conducted. Only a couple residents attended, including your reporter and Daily Pilot reporter, Joseph Serna. Look for his report soon.
FINAL DRAFT REPORT APPROVAL
The purpose was to review and approve the final draft of the report to be presented to the City Council at a Study Session on February 28th. I've attended nearly half of the meetings they've held over the past nine months, so was very surprised when the members present still had difficulty with the exact wording for the definition of a "Costa Mesa Homeless Person". That issue is the core of the entire process, one that I thought had been dealt with months ago. I guess not.
LOTS OF BANTER, THEN A DECISION
Anyhow, it took them 90 minutes but they finally arrived at a description that passed muster, then proceeded to fine-tune the remainder of the report.
TASK FORCE DID A GOOD JOB
I must say that those folks who have been on this task force since the beginning have done a remarkable job of defining the issue and crafting a set of goals and potential solutions for the City Council to consider. This is a thankless job, but they just dove in and despite changes in leadership, have done a good job with it, in my opinion.
REPORT ON THE CITY WEB SITE
The text of the draft report is available on the City Web site - all 136 pages of it, including the PowerPoint presentation - for your review. A few changes were made this evening, but what you see there is essentially their final report. Go to the City web site Home Page at www.ci.costa-mesa.ca.us and click the check box marked "CM Homeless Task Force" in the middle of the page. Once to that page, click on the "Draft Final Report" on the top of the right-side box.
FUNDING WILL BE AN ISSUE
One of the challenges this Task Force, and the City Council, faces is how to fund some of the initiatives suggested in the report. Their presentation will follow the Mid-year Budget Review on the agenda of the Study Session, so the council will be all tuned-up to discuss further expenditures. Yeah, right...
FRANCIS TO PLAY A MAJOR ROLE
We did learn last night that new Assistant CEO Rick Francis - shown here with Costa Mesa Police Officers Association President Jason Chamness - who comes aboard next Monday, the 23rd, is going to play a major role in the implementation of recomendations of the Task Force. According to Councilwoman Wendy Leece - the liaison to the Task Force - CEO Tom Hatch plans to assign Francis, who has a background in Probation, to implement some of the recommendations.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST?
At the end of the meeting Chairman Jeff Mathews asked for Public Comments. I raised my hand and asked a question I had posed in a previous meeting. "After every person who qualifies as a 'Costa Mesa Homeless Person' is identified through the sorting process prescribed in this plan, there will almost certainly remain homeless folks in Costa Mesa who don't meet the criteria. Those people will not qualify to receive the assistance outlined in the plan. What happens to them." It seemed like a good question, since they will still be "homeless" and still be in Costa Mesa, but nobody really had a solid, definitive answer. Of course, we don't want them in our city, so one of the alternatives is to arrest them for violating one or more of the ordinances that exist, or will exist as a result of this effort. They will, however, remain in Costa Mesa. This problem - how to handle the residue of the sorting process - is one that is going to require some serious thought on the part of the City Council, hopefully before they decide to move forward with this plan.
Before I close, tardy kudos to Dane Bora and Brad Long on being recognized at the recent Costa Mesa United Golf Tournament for their contributions to our community through their efforts with Costa Mesa Television and so much more. Both men are true professionals who give their time and talents tirelessly and are outstanding ambassadors for our city. Thanks, guys...
BANKING THE COALS AGAIN
The Cauldron will be on simmer for a few days. I won't be ignoring you, but it might take a little longer for comments to be posted. Be patient. I'll be back in time to watch the 49ers beat the Giants and the Patriots beat the Ravens on Sunday. In the meantime, I DO want to thank all of you for visiting this site. I hope the information and opinions you find here are helpful. And, I DO want to thank each of you who take the time to post comments and keep the debate "bubbling". I want this blog to be a place where opposing viewpoints can be discussed - hopefully, with some small degree of civility. Of course, I realize that's not always going to be the case, but it's a goal...