A NEW RECORD!
That's right. The Costa Mesa City Council set a new modern era record for the length of a council meeting by stretching their meeting that began Tuesday at 6:00 until 3:00 a.m. Wednesday! And, by doing so, they also re-affirmed my adage that nothing good ever happens past midnight in council chambers.
PUBLIC COMMENTS TOOK 100 MINUTES!
You knew this was going to be a long meeting when, in anticipation of the Public Comments segment, more than 20 people lined up against the walls on both sides of the auditorium to speak. When it was over 30 people spoke and it took 100 minutes to get it done.
The "much anticipated" invasion of the Orange County Young Republicans turned out to be more like a drive-by wave. Led by Righeimer-sycophant Ethan Temianka, ten black-shirt clad young people gathered near the front of the chambers. A couple of them spoke with glowing praise for the council's actions (now, there's a surprise!) then scurried out during Council Comments. They either had very short attention spans or were late for their shifts at McDonald's. I was underwhelmed by their presence.
The public hearing on Starbucks took three and a half hours and resulted in the project being approved with a few modifications, much to the chagrin of the crowd that had gathered to speak on the subject. Twenty-one people spoke on it - 14 against and 7 for it. Those seven were all part of a very tight cluster of people who surrounded Brian Ward, the spokesman for the developer. They all said more or less the same thing - praising the developers for OTHER jobs they'd done in Costa Mesa... somebody gave them a song book to use. Those who spoke against it were plain old members of the public - neighbors who were concerned about noise, traffic, air pollution and public safety. Those concerns were brushed aside by the council, who voted 3-1 to approve it. Wendy Leece voted No and Jim Righiemer had abstained.
Right then I knew we were in trouble because Mayor Eric Bever called for another 10 minute break AT MIDNIGHT! When we re-convened a computer glitch kept the proceedings from beginning until 12:25, and there were still nearly 30 people remaining in the audience. Of course they were - we still had half the agenda to go!
The vacation of right-of-way next to Pinkley Park should have been an easy one, but it took a half hour, but finally passed, 4-1, with Leece again voting No.
MOVING FASTER NOW
The council promptly passed Old Business #1, the second reading of an ordinance regarding a reduction of parking requirements for food and beverage establishments, then voted to move New Business #3, committee appointments, to the June 5th meeting.
AND EVEN FASTER...
At 1:00 a.m. the council rapidly - in five minutes - agreed to renew the Business Improvement Area (BIA) and to permit the Costa Mesa Foundation (formerly the Costa Mesa Community Foundation) to sell beer and wine at the Concerts In The Park again this year.
Finally, at 1:05 a.m. (!!!) we began the discussion of the five Outsourcing Requests For Proposals. First up was Jail Operations. That discussion, led by CEO Tom Hatch, took 40 minutes and was passed on a 4-1 vote - Leece voted No. So, once the injunction is lifted the CEO is authorized to move forward with the contract with G4S Secure Solutions to run our jails. Hatch described a transition plan for existing employees and Righeimer demanded that we guarantee every one of them a job elsewhere in the city. We'll see how that goes. The terms of the contract remain the same for six months, pending the lifting of the injunction. In theory, the City will save just over $600,000 by privatizing the Jail operations.
Next came the Street Sweeping RFP. After fifty minutes of discussion and argument the council voted, 4-1, to move forward once the injunction is lifted. No employees will be displaced - the two full time employees will return to their old jobs and the two retired, part-time drivers may work for the contractor, Athens Services. The savings for privatizing this operation would result in a modest $87,000 and change. Hardly seems worth it.
We were now at 2:40 a.m. and the council moved forward rapidly to approve the "hybrid" operation for the Building Inspection function and rejected all bids for Animal Control and Video Production and rescinded all layoff notices associated with those functions.
And then we were adjourned to the next meeting - at THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING!
I'm going to bed now!