Huy Pham Plaque Request Denied
I guess it really didn't come as a surprise to me that the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission denied the request from the Costa Mesa City Employee's Association, through its President, Helen Nenadal, for a plaque honoring former employee, Huy Pham, to be placed adjacent to the tree planted on the City Hall lawn in his honor earlier this year.
NOT A UNANIMOUS VOTE
Following a very short discussion, led by Jim Righeimer protege' Ethan Temianka, the commission voted to deny the request, 3-1, with commissioner Dan Vozenilek voting against the motion. Vice Chair Dean Abernathy was absent.
TIP-TOEING THROUGH A MINE FIELD
The thrust of the argument against approving the request was that there was already such a memorial plaque - and tree - located at the Estancia Adobe and, as the hemming and hawing continued around this very delicate issue, it was clear that some on the commission felt there should not be a plaque for a former employee who committed suicide. The discussion proceeded as though the commissioners were walking on egg shells, apparently not wanting to anger staff members with this decision.
AN "APPEALABLE" ISSUE?
I don't know if an appeal to the City Council is possible in this case, nor do I know of Nenadal and her organization will choose to exercise that option if it exists. I guess we'll see soon enough. Personally, I think I understand both sides of this issue. The employees want a remembrance of their dead compatriot on the City Hall grounds to honor his memory and the elected leaders of the city don't want a reminder of his death - the flash point of the turmoil that has existed for 15 months and counting - placed so "close to home".
WEEKLY R.O.C.K.S. PROGRAM PAY ELIMINATED
In other actions, the commission approved the elimination of the "weekly pay" option with a "monthly pay" option for the R.O.C.K.S. program. According to the staff presentation, a very low percentage - 2-3% - of the participating parents pay on a weekly basis. Each of the more than 700 participating parents were contacted. There was no correspondence on the issue and nobody showed up at the meeting to address the issue.
A GLITCH IN THE SYSTEM
Separately, one speaker representing a youth soccer program spoke earlier to complain about being charged a $5.00 "convenience fee" for online payment of field rental. In his case, his group pays $20.00 hour for fields which amounts to around $20,000 per year. This charge is levied for EVERY HOUR of field use, which effectively amounts to a 25% increase. Curiously, he was the only person to speak on this subject - I would have expected other youth group representatives similarly affected to present their complaints at the meeting. Temianka was surprised and very upset at this charge and during commissioner comments suggested that this be "fixed" by the council. Unfortunately, since the issue was not agendized for last night the commission couldn't take any action on it. Staff will review this situation - it seems to be a case of an unintended consequence slipping through the cracks - and will likely either bring it back to the commission for their July meeting or present it directly to the City Council sooner for possible modification of its policy.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM REVIEWED (BARELY)
The commission also spent a split second considering the 2012-2013 Capital Improvement Program (CIP). They made no comments except for Temianka's apple-polishing echo of the party line, thanking the council for their leadership. If I closed my eyes I might have thought I was hearing Jim Fitzpatrick speaking!
SPECIAL COUNCIL STUDY SESSION THIS AFTERNOON
This afternoon is another Special City Council Study Session at which three CIP-related issues will be discussed, the city Master Plan of Drainage, the SR-55 Gateway Improvement Project and the City Street and Alley Pavement Needs Update. More on that later.