Sanitary District Board Votes To Oust Fitzpatrick*(Amended)
The short version of what happened at the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Special Meeting this morning is... after approximately 30 minutes of deliberation in a Closed Session, the Board - back in open session - voted 3-2 to move forward and request the law firm of Meyers Nave to proceed with what is called a quo warrento proceeding. They will forward a request to State Attorney General Kamala Harris immediately for her opinion. If she concurs, legal action will be initiated to remove Director Jim Fitzpatrick from his seat on the Sanitary District Board. Fitzpatrick and Board President Bob Ooten voted against the motion. I tried to reach Ooten for a comment but he's not responded by the time I needed to publish this entry. I may post an amendment to this entry with his response later. I had also hoped to be able to link to Joe Serna's Daily Pilot article because he WAS there, but it's not ready at press time. I'll link to it later, so check back this evening. In the meantime, you can read his preamble coverage HERE. *11:00 p.m. You can read Joe Serna's excellent piece covering the meeting HERE. The accompanying photo by Scott Smeltzer shows Fitzy looking like he needs a Tums.
FITZPATRICK CREATED THIS PROBLEM
All this turmoil was created when Fitzpatrick ignored the original advice by District Counsel Alan Burns that holding seats on both the Sanitary District Board and the Costa Mesa Planning Commission simultaneously was incompatible as defined by state law.
According to reports from the scene, only two people rose to speak to this issue in the Public Comments segment before the closed session. One was a representative of a waste hauler, who didn't speak for Fitzpatrick, he spoke in favor of open bidding for the trash hauling contract. The remaining person who spoke was Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commissioner and Jim Righeimer sycophant Ethan Temianka. According to those at the meeting, Temianka presented views straight from Fitzpatrick's playbook - his email blast sent to "friends" yesterday encouraging support. Temianka recently announced that he will challenge Trudy Ohlig Hall for her seat on the Mesa Consolidated Water District Board next fall - another tenticle on the OC GOP takeover of the Newport-Mesa area.
EMAIL BLAST PROVIDED SUPPORT - BARELY
Incidentally, sources tell me that approximately a dozen emails were received since Fitzpatrick's frantic appeal yesterday and most of those were supporting his position. I've not seen them so can't give you any idea of the breakdown or the specifics of what they said. I know they were NOT unanimous supporting Fitzpatrick because they included my message. Considering the intensity of his appeal, this seems like pretty weak support to me.
BLOW-HARD STRETCHES MEETING
Because the meeting took nearly three hours, and because Fitzpatrick makes long-winded pontifications on almost every issue that is discussed, the Sanitary District Board did not complete their agenda. Some words used to describe his behavior at the meeting were: Egotistical; Self-centered; Know-it-all; Condescending and Bully. So, many of the more interesting issues - like a review of committee assignments - will occur at the regular meeting in March. Assuming that Fitzpatrick is still on the Board at that time, expect more fireworks at that one.
WATCHING THE METER SPIN AND WAITING...
Now we wait for a response from the Attorney General and begin to watch the legal fees tally up until this issue is resolved. It is estimated that it could cost around $50,000. It could be easily resolved if Fitzpatrick chooses to resign from either of the "incompatible" seats he holds. Based on his reaction to this situation, few think that will happen. He will probably let this legal challenge play out - forcing the Sanitary District to pay legal costs to move forward - to the point where he must, personally, begin paying legal bills.