A Long Night With Few Surprises
OK, folks, this will be a short report even though the council meeting last night went until 11:55 p.m.! Yeah, we got out of there by midnight, but just barely. Actually, we'd have made it with plenty of time to spare if Jim Righeimer didn't love to hear himself talk so much. More on that later.
PLEA FOR COUNCIL SUPPORT FLOPPED
First, just to let you know how influential Colin McCarthy is within his Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association, last night only three people that might have been members - one very nice gentleman did identify himself - stepped up to speak in favor of the council. Another man, who didn't identify himself and since Mayor Eric Bever no longer requires folks to speak their names nor does he require speaker cards, I have no clue who he was, was clearly uncomfortable speaking before the crowd. His comments were barely understandable, but he did say he supported the council.
FITZY IN A TIZZY
The third was chief butt-kisser Jim Fitzpatrick. He never ceases to amaze me! This time he griped about unkind things said about him on a "local blog" - that would be me - and suggested to the council that the City Staff should be prohibited from speaking with me in the future. There were lots of chuckles around the auditorium with that one. That's right - little Jimmy Fitzy apparently thinks I need a time out and is trying to put me in the corner for awhile. Good luck with that, Jimbo.
Now to the agenda...
CMPD FAIRGROUNDS OVERTIME SUPPORT APPROVED
We breezed through the Consent Calendar. The two items dealing with the contracts with the Fair Board for traffic management services for the Fair and other special events were approved but with some conversation about being sure that the council knows how to segregate those reimbursed costs when evaluating the Employee Compensation Report.
MORE LAWYERS AUTHORIZED
No big to-do was made about the contract with law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore. The council agreed to pay more money to outside legal firms, so that old meter just keeps on spinning.
"YOUR NEIGHBOR" GRIPES AGAIN
One grumpy old fella who apparently considers himself a source of all racial information you'll ever need since that's what his pathetic blog has become - racism-central for his few readers - rose to complain about improvements on Baker Street near his home. He wants speed bumps installed to slow traffic down on that major thoroughfare. Yep, reality is beginning to leave the poor fella.
Nobody mentioned the $120,000 we paid Jones and Mayer on the Warrants this time around. I guess bills exceeding the budget by double are no big deal any longer.
TARGET LONGER HOURS APPROVED
The most lengthy item on the agenda was Public Hearing #1, the appeal of the Planning Commission's recent decision to permit Target to remain open until 11 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. as required by their conditional use permit. Nearly three dozen red-clad Target employees sat patiently - and not-so-patiently - as the presentations were made. Several stood to speak in support of the new hours. Several residents, including major protagonist Al Morelli, stood to complain about the new hours - a couple of whom told the council that a "deal is a deal" - this is what Target signed up for.
THE HECK WITH THE NEIGHBORS!
It all fell on deaf ears. In fact, Jim Righeimer couldn't get rid of this item fast enough. He told the crowd that he never wants to hear about this again. Think about that when you vote on his Charter in November and basically anoint him as emperor of Costa Mesa. Surprisingly, the vote to uphold the Planning Commission decision only passed on a 3-2 vote, with Wendy Leece and Steve Mensinger voting NO. Ah, maybe that tells us that Mensinger is beginning to count votes for his run for City Council in the fall.
T-RACK IN THE HOUSE!
Mayor Eric Bever called a break and when they returned he shifted the agenda and moved New Business Number 1, the Sex Offender Ordinance, to the head of the line. It seems that we had an honored guest - Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas - waiting to speak to this issue. He'd been hovering outside on the porch for more than an hour while the Target issue was debated, so they gave him a professional (political) courtesy. This actually is an excellent ordinance, which mirrors the county ordinance, with plenty of teeth in it to dissuade sex offenders from entering our parks and athletic facilities. It, of course, passed.
PRICEY APARTMENTS REPLACE CONDOS
Then we heard Public Hearing #2, the latest plan for what used to be called 1901 Newport Plaza - a condo development on the corner of Harbor Blvd. and Bernard Street. After much hassle this project was finally approved many years ago but the developer crashed with the economy with only a third of it finished. The new owner plans to complete the build-out, but is building condo-spec apartments, and fewer than were originally anticipated. After all was said and done, this looks like a good end to a very bad deal. There was some major concern by residents about parking, but that was brushed away by the council when they approved it.
MENSINGER'S "PERFORMANCE AUDIT" SCHEME PASSES
The council then approved Mensinger's scheme for a "performance audit" program. So, we'll be looking for even MORE consultants to come into City Hall and scrutinize every aspect of some of the jobs performed therein. According to Mensinger, Righeimer and presenter Rick Francis, we should really improve efficiency - that usually means fewer people doing the same jobs. Oops, more jobs in jeopardy... what a surprise that is.
FIRE DEPARTMENT LAYOFF NOTICES RESCINDED
Finally, around 11p.m., we got to the rescission of all Fire Department layoff notices. This could have been a nice, short and sweet presentation and action by the council. However, Righeimer just loves to pontificate, so he went on and on with his slide show - "I did this myself" - that attempted to show savings from reorganization of the department. One got the impression that this may have been the source of Frank Mickadeit's information for his column yesterday in the Orange County Register. Frank wasn't in the auditorium last night. On and on Righeimer went. Finally, a few speakers addressed the issue. Perry Valantine was in unusually good form when he suggested that the council just let Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold make his presentation at a study session in the near future - it's going to be May 8th - and quit trying to steal his thunder with numbers of questionable value. I smiled at that one.
BUDGET MEETINGS COMING UP
So, that was that. According to CEO Tom Hatch, we're in the middle of "budget season" and he outlined dates for several budget-related meetings in the near future. There are four (4) budget meetings scheduled for May so far, with more in June. I'll cover that later.
JURY DUTY CALLS
Speaking of "later", I've been snagged for Jury Duty beginning in a couple hours so any comments you have will be delayed by my required presence in Santa Ana. I'll do my very best to post them as quickly as possible, but there's no predicting how possible that might be. Thanks for your patience.