And Your New Mayor Is.... Eric Bever?
I arrived at City Hall shortly before the witching hour of 4:30, followed some folks into the council chambers where another half dozen people, including media reps, patiently waited for the meeting to begin. Then, just a minute or two before start time City Attorney Tom Duarte entered the chambers and told us the meeting would be held in Conference Room 1A. We stragglers scurried quickly to the room and found it near capacity. Eventually it was overfilled, with a dozen people standing in the hallway outside. I frequently found myself thinking about the empty council chambers just a few feet away, with comfortable seats, a good sound system and live television... That's how our afternoon began.
BEVERS 'DA MAN
After hearing two speakers suggest Wendy Leece for the job, Mayor Gary Monahan, as his last official act as mayor this time around, announced that he would accept nominations for Mayor, then nominated part time, part time councilman and one time - briefly - mayor, Eric Bever for the job. There were no other nominations and Bever was elected unanimously.
WILL IT BE "A CHARM"?
This is the second time around for Bever as mayor. He stepped down the first time to let his buddy, Allan Mansoor, move into the big chair so he could run for re-election as Mayor. Each of the other council members congratulated Bever and a couple suggested that they knew he'd run a fine meeting. Apparently they'd not been paying attention during his first tour as mayor. He would frequently get lost in the agenda and reacted quite badly to criticism. If anything, I expect him to be worse this time around - when he shows up.
WAS HE SICK OR JUST LAZY?
I must tell you that his final nine months are guaranteed to be eventful. Over the past couple years he has demonstrated increasing impatience with the process - when he bothered to show up. Nobody talks about why he missed so many meetings last year and the first part of this one - I actually hope it was due to illness. If not, then he was just being lazy and irresponsible and unworthy of the job he was elected to do - twice. I tend to believe the latter, primarily because of a couple quotes that will haunt him. You'll recall that, in a fit of pique, he said, "I didn't sign up for this!" during one meeting. Another time, responding to criticism leveled at members of the council, he fired back at a speaker, "If you don't like it, tough luck!" That's your new leader through the end of this year. If you don't like it, tough luck!
3R PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS
The first segment of the subsequent Study Session was the Redevelopment and Residential Rehabilitation (3R) subcommittee report and recommendations for the distribution of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. There is 14.5% less money available this year, so the committee can distribute only $157,502. This is the first presentation of the subcommittee's report. They will now present it to the full 3R committee, who will then make a final presentation to the City Council May 15th.
LET THEM EAT CAKE!
One telling comment about the attitude of this particular City Council came at the end of the meeting when non-elected councilman Steve Mensinger expressed an interest in distributing NONE of the funds to organizations within the community. He wants it to go toward infrastructure improvement. He expressed disappointment that the staff didn't follow through on that suggestion from last year. What else would you expect from a developer? Geez!
RIGHEIMER WANTS A PARKING LOT
And, not to be left out, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer - also a developer - decided that the cars parked legally along Baker between Harbor and Fairview are a hazard so he wants to "buy a couple of those houses along there and turn them into a parking lot." That's right! In a city that he says is in dire financial straits he wants to pluck a few million dollars out of the air and build a parking lot in a residential area!
HARBOR BOULEVARD VISION
The second item on the agenda was a presentation by Economic Development Director Peter Naghavi on his vision for improvements of Harbor Boulevard, which he referred to as the spine of our city. He, of course, is right. Harbor has been looking pretty darn shabby lately, with the turnover of car dealers and general disrepair. It gets around 60,000 cars per day, down from 70,000. If we expect to revitalize our city, Harbor Boulevard certainly could use some freshening.
OCC ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS FILM
Part of Naghavi's presentation included a collaborative effort with Dean Abernathy's Orange Coast College Architecture class. They produced a nice video that blended actual video clips with computer animation to show some, as Naghavi called it, "out of the box" ideas.
NINE MONTHS - WHAT ARE YOU HOPING FOR?
So, the "new Eric Bever" era has been launched. Everybody take a deep breath and cross your fingers tightly. We can only hope this nine-month gestation period produces a brand new council in November.