Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another Frustrating Marathon Meeting

As I've said many times before, when the Costa Mesa City Council keeps on talking after midnight nothing good comes from it.  Last night was no exception.  When the final item was completed I dragged my old body out of my chair at 12:40 a.m. and headed home - exhausted!  Even after the controversial change in the appeal process was dropped and the equally controversial bicycle ordinance was removed at the last minute and re-scheduled for two weeks hence, it was a long, long meeting.

At their council meeting last night they arrived late - a longer-than-anticipated Closed Session delayed them - it took them a few minutes to get into the meat of the meeting.  The  Presentations segment included Dane Bora and Brad Long of Costa Mesa Television being named Employees of the Month, and rightfully so.  Those two hard-working guys put a positive face on Costa Mesa with their professionalism, good spirit and quality product.  They are creative, reliable and excellent ambassadors for our city.  Now, if we could just get them some good equipment - that hamster's getting tired!

One interesting element of the meeting last night was the fact that, in addition to two council members who are running for election in November - Steve Mensinger and Gary Monahan - the audience also included many of the announced candidates, too.  Sue Lester, Marshall Krupp, Harold Weitzberg, John Stephens and Sandy Genis all attended and each spoke on important issues - in some cases, many issues.  At one point Monahan angrily chided some of them for "politicizing" issues and told them to leave that for the campaign trail and not in council chambers - then turned around and did precisely the same thing.  Politics... ya gotta love it!

They finally got around to Public Comments at 6:30 and that stretched until 7:30, as 21 people rose to speak their piece - or tried to.  Mayor Eric Bever had another hissy fit and tried to stop a speaker because he thought what he said wasn't relevant.  The final speaker, Cindy Brenneman, set him straight, though.  She told him and the rest of the council that they should just let the speakers say their piece and not have to have the last word.  Several members of the council constantly toss comments at speakers as they leave the podium - Bever is one of the worst offenders.  Brenneman told them to just stop it, then turned to depart.  Bever - in a perfect example of the problem - muttered something like, "I guess we'll hear about the Solar System at the next meeting."  All that was missing was a drum rim shot! The crowd cheered.

Many of the speakers heaped high praise on the council for their courageous and strong stance against Alternative #3 in the OCTA plan for widening the I-405 Freeway, and correctly so.  For them to take such a strong position against the favored option may cost us down the road in our relationship with the OCTA.

Perhaps the highlight of Public Comments - until Brenneman lit into the council at the end, that is - may have been long-time resident Terry Koken's little story about his friend, Raja and his difficulties with the English language.  It was all a segue to announce the formation of "Politicians For Irresponsible Government" - P.I.G.!  He gave the council this sheet in honor of their induction into the organizations.  Smiles filled the auditorium.  Little did we know that the subsequent events that evening would validate this "honor". (Click on image to enlarge)

Before we even got to the real meat of the evening, during Council Member Comments, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer got off one of many lines last night that still ring in my ears this morning.  Speaking of the announcement of much lower returns than expected by CalPERS said, "We need to start off-loading employees that have these pensions that are unsustainable."  It's like he was in the melon business, deciding to dump a crop before it begins to rot!  That set the tone for the evening.

In an evening of memorable moments, resident Tamar Goldmann may have delivered one of the best by accident.  While chiding the council for out-of-control legal expenditures - we paid Jones and Mayer more than $111,000 last month - she was talking about using "in-house" attorneys and inadvertently referred to our contract attorneys as "outhouse" attorneys.  Guffaws erupted throughout the chambers as she realized her malapropism,  chuckled, then recovered her train of thought.  More than a few of us thought she might be onto something...

It was well after 8:00 p.m. before they even got to the Consent Calendar, those items that are expected to be voted upon in one vote.  Not last night.  Only 3 of the eight items on the Consent Calendar went without discussion.  They sifted through the issues and shoved #5 - the Banning Ranch Traffic Mitigation issue - out until the end, figuring it might take awhile.  Boy, were they right!

However, #8, the proposal to raise the pay level of Reserve Police Officers to $33.00 per hour, generated more heat than light.  Nine speakers addressed this issue, including a couple council candidates who accused the current council of using this scheme to dismantle the CMPD.  Of course, those comments generated angry comments from the council.  In fact, Gary Monahan went ballistic at the end - a rant worth watching.  Righeimer got off a couple more memorable comments.  He said, "The police have never been told no once in their life."  He then emphasized his philosophy by saying, "This council will not have more officers with the pension plan we have today." It was at that point that he accused commenters of "politicizing" the issue.  The issue passed, 5-0.  You can read Joe Serna's Daily Pilot piece HERE.

An interesting sidebar on that discussion - Righeimer may have violated the rules for Closed Sessions when he told the audience about the offer the City had on the table in very specific terms.  Negotiations are supposed to be private between the two parties.  We'll see how that shakes out.

Finally, at 9:15, they got to the final item on the Consent Calendar - #5, the Traffic Mitigation Fee for the Banning Ranch.  You can read Thy Vo's piece in the Orange County Register, HERE.  There were still well over 100 people in the auditorium at that time.  After a brief description of the issue by Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman, the parade to the speaker's podium began.  When it stopped more than 90 minutes later 36 people had spoken - only one in favor of accepting the fee.  That was restaurateur John Ursini, a terrific guy whose family owns the Newport Rib Company and is a huge supporter of municipal issues, primarily youth sports-related events.  Based on his comments, I'm not sure he really understood what the actual issue was last night.

Speakers from Costa Mesa and Newport Beach clogged the lines in the aisles at the sides of the auditorium.  That's Bever's edict. No more calling folks up to speak based on their completion of speaker's cards.  Nope, if you're going to speak in Eric's court, er, meeting, you just have to drag yourself to a line and wait your turn - like prisoners in a chow line.  And, he demands that you wait until he acknowledges your existence before speaking.  And, since he doesn't require speaker cards to be completed and didn't require speakers to identify themselves, the minutes are laced with misspelled speaker names.  This is yet another curious facet of the Bever regime.  He's a fanatic about the accuracy of the minutes of meetings, sending them back time after time for revisions, and yet he institutionalizes failure by his actions.  But I digress...

The speakers ranged from concerned to emotional to frustrated to angry to downright mad.  The aforementioned Terry Koken, for example, got the council's attention by slamming a slab of wood with a wrench, making a loud "crack", then proceeded to read them the riot act with his personal volume turned to HIGH.  Greg Ridge told the council it was too soon for this deal and used a Winston Churchill story to imply that we, the city, were prostitutes who had just negotiated our "price".

Several speakers carried the theme that it was too soon for this deal because the project had not yet been approved in Newport Beach or by the Coastal Commission.  Every council candidate present addressed this issue, including lawyer John Stephens who pointed out deficiencies in the agreement and advised the council NOT to approve it.  Robin Leffler told the council this was a good deal - for Newport Beach and the developer.  Newport resident Jim Mosher pointed out what a bad deal it was for Costa Mesa by describing the kind of arrangements being made in Newport.

Finally, after much discussion by the council and staff, just before 11:00 p.m. the council voted, 4-1 - Leece voted NO -  to accept the fee agreement, but to clean up some of the "mistakes" and add a CPI escalator in it.    As the crowd filed out, many of them loudly calling for a recall, Bever was heard to mutter, "Go home!"  Ever the class act. 
And now we had the rest of the agenda ahead of us and it was almost Wednesday!

The only Public Hearing item went fast and was completed at 11:15 with staff directed to work with two of the folks present to sort out the apparent differences with the fines involved.

New Business #1, the issue of the "performance audit" requested by Mensinger some time ago, probably should have been an item for a Study Session.  That's how this discussion went, with Assistant City Manager Rick Francis fielding the questions and guiding the discussion.  The issue will be "tightened up" and returned for further consideration the first meeting of August.

The issue of providing fee waivers for certain "Green" issues - solar systems and charging stations for electric vehicles - went smoothly but Bever said he couldn't support waiving fees in a time of fiscal distress.  They accepted the staff recommendation, selecting the alternative that provided for a 50% fee waiver but extended the program through the end of the next fiscal year instead of December.  Bever vote NO, citing his unwillingness to waive fees in these difficult financial times. (Remember that at the end of this post)

Next up was the Request for Proposals for the Telecommunications Technical Services for Emergency Equipment.  This should have been pretty straightforward, but it ended up being bizarre.  The staff recommended rejecting the RFP response as insufficient and to pursue shared coverage with other agencies.  Apparently, with the departure of a staff member to Tustin recently, we have only one person qualified to install the plethora of emergency electronics in our vehicles.  According to Lieutenant Bryan Glass we're looking for a replacement for him now.  After much discussion, Righeimer moved that the RFP response be rejected, that we continue to seek other municipal partners for this service and to maintain the layoff notice.  Part of the staff report was to rescind the layoff notice.  The motion was later amended to instruct staff to seek a replacement for the departed staff member.  So, we have one guy doing this work, we need to have him continue to do it, we are not going to outsource the job but Righeimer demanded that the layoff notice remained in place!  The vote was 4-1 with Monahan voting NO. 


Think that was strange?  Even stranger was the fact that Bever, noticing the clock had struck midnight during the middle of the discussion, called for a vote to either continue or not.  The vote was 4-1 to continue - Bever voted NO.  So, he was apparently all set to cease the discussion midstream, forgo the discussion of the business license tax - which has a tight time line - and go home!  Unbelievable!

The final item on the agenda - which began at 12:05 -  was the continued discussion of the proposal to place an increase in the Business License Tax on the November ballot for the voters to continue.  This fee structure - which has not been significantly changed since 1985 - was actually implemented in 1961.  Only the fee levels were tinkered with during that two-dozen year period and NOTHING has been done since.


Righeimer had sent Finance  and Information Technology Director Bobby Young back to the drawing board after a previous meeting to come up with a plan similar to that used in Newport Beach, where their tax is based on employee headcount.  There was insufficient time for that to happen, so the staff recommended that the item be removed from the track to put it on the November ballot and that they gather the data to provide a proper report so the council can make an informed decision.  That sounded logical, but in the alternate universe that Righeimer operates in, that was not to be.

He insisted that Young just pull numbers out of the air - call a couple companies, get some numbers and base a staff report on that.  This is another of his Fire-Ready-Aim moves that always bites us in the posterior.  He said we need to get this on the ballot in November, so the discussion went round and round. 


Finally, at 12:30, we got an inkling of the real truth of this issue.  One of the final speakers on this long, long night was former Planning Department executive Perry Valantine.  During his comments he asked if any of the council members had signed a pledge against any new taxes.  If so, then they'd already made their decision before hearing any of the discussions and the public has a right to know that.  He received no response, but the issue became clear in a few minutes

Mensinger said he'd rather see us focus on collecting the taxes already due from folks who don't pay them and the handwriting - graffiti, in this case - was clearly on the wall.  Monahan continued by saying, "I have no interest in moving forward with this - never really have."  He went on to list the taxes which he, as a businessman, paid.  He looked over at Righeimer and said, "Sorry, Jim, but I wouldn't be supporting this no matter which one of the proposals you bring forward."  You got the impression that he really wasn't sorry.  Bever chimed in and said, "Thanks for sharing that, member Monahan, I feel the same way.  There you have it, Mr. Hatch.  No special meeting necessary."  And with that he adjourned the meeting!

And, as jaws dropped among the remaining few attendees, we all realized that we'd been snookered all along.  Since it takes 4 votes to place an item on the ballot, this item died a quick death - as though someone had deftly and quietly slit its throat. 

As a taxpayer and a resident of this city for nearly four decades, I'm really steamed about this.  Your city council - driven by the agenda of the Orange County Republican Party and its "no new taxes" mantra - has chosen to forgo picking up gold nuggets in the bottom of the stream to please their political masters.  When not one of the council members responded to Valantine's inquiry we suspected what was about to happen.  When there was not a single member of the business community present for this meeting after Chamber of Commerce President Larry Weichman promised a packed house last week, I knew something was up.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if this wasn't just orchestrated purely for the theatrics of it.

This is the most egregious abuse of power I've seen since the Charter fiasco began.  Our city has been described by Righeimer and his minions like Colin McCarthy as being in dire financial condition - tottering toward bankruptcy - and this council refuses to give the voters of this city a chance to help steer it back on course by demanding a change in the way business license taxes are calculated, knowing full well the staff couldn't pull together the numbers.  And also knowing full well that they didn't have the votes anyhow.

This could have been simple.  They didn't have to demand hundreds of staff hours be used, and many consultant dollars spent, to come up with an elaborate formula.  The current structure has a maximum business license tax of $200.  Each year we receive around $800,000 from this revenue source.  If the structure was just quadrupled across the board - with a maximum of $800 - the city could have received revenue of $3.2 million!  That's enough to fill a lot of potholes and hire more police and firefighters to keep us safe.  Or, to apply to that unfunded pension liability they keep yapping about.   I doubt you could find a single businessman in the city who would seriously balk at that change.

This meeting, with the incivility displayed by Bever and the dishonesty by the other council members on this particular issue and their unwillingness to seriously negotiate the pressing labor issues based purely on political dogma, may be the low water mark for such meetings in my personal memory.  I'm ashamed of them.  Only Wendy Leece seems to be trying to serve the people of this city - the others serve a different master.

Several folks have told me they heard Bever mutter the words "That's Bulls**t" during the meeting.  Between phone calls and my attempt to finally get this posted I've not been able to find it.  Let's have a contest to see who can find that point in the meeting.  First person with the answer - and specific site on the web feed - gets to say something nasty about Bever here.  WE HAVE A WINNER!  CONGRATS TO READER JERRY GARCIA OF COSTA MESA WHO FOUND THE CLIP.   TURN YOUR VOLUME UP, LISTEN CLOSELY AT ABOUT 10 SECONDS IN.

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Anonymous puppetroll2chins said...

first, I will say that Bever is not fit to run a meeting with his"bs" comment, and "go home" comment. Immature. BUT I am all for council members being able to rebut some of the crap that comes from the speakers mouths, especially personal attacks or made up conspiracies. The actual tone of the the meeting was set not by a council member but the homeless guy with the "PIG" thing. He got support from the audience, showing their level of maturity. It was very rude and unbelievable he spent the time to produce his schtick. Much more immature than Bever in fact. The council candidates who spoke are grasping for anything. The conspiracy of "dismantling the PD" by giving raises to reserve officers was obviously a talking point since more than one made the accusation. I write them off now because that is a far fetched fantasy and they disparaged our reserve officers as not skilled and not loyal. Monahan set them straight by pointing to the reserve officer assigned to the meeting and his LONG tenure. They turned this thing around 180 degrees and looked foolish. Too bad only 500 or so voters probably saw it. It reminded me of how Genis turns things around so flittingly but she was actually on good behavior last night. I guess she is trying to look professional considering she has lost her last two elections. Krupp is too long winded. Brenneman does not look well to put it mildly. that's a wrap

7/18/2012 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

I can't wait for it to be found in order to make a nasty comment about Bever. He has no business in public. He is so vile he may as well have peed himself. I can't wait until this non-humanoid is gone in November. PARTY AT MY HOUSE!

7/18/2012 07:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Halopatrol714 said...

Hi Geoff, Long time reader first time poster...

With respect to the business tax issue, was there every any discussion regarding a potential conflict of interest by Council-member Monahan?

While there was officially no action taken, the discussion leading up to the "non-action" could be considered as "...attempting to use his or her official position to influence a governmental decision” when the official has a financial interest. Since these comments were made from the dais and Council-member Monahan had bot recused himself from the discussion and then made the comments as a private citizen, could reasonably be construed as a conflict of interest as the action to not place the item had a direct financial impact on him... While the non-action could have indirectly been influenced, a legal determination would have been prudent...

7/18/2012 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

‎"Your Attendance at this public meeting is Valued and Appreciated".....this is written in the agenda.

7/18/2012 07:48:00 PM  
Anonymous B. Kendall said...

I spoke with our mayor pro-tem on the issue of business tax and I was pleased he seemed open to not only collecting the money the city is owed but also to raising the tax on them.

I am consistently amazed at how any municipality can claim poverty and not have a serious discussion on raising taxes to increase revenue. We cannot continue to look for cuts without also looking for ways to generate more income. Oy vey.

7/18/2012 08:57:00 PM  
Anonymous paybackwillbesweet said...

gericault, that notice saying attendence is valued and appreciated is from long ago. It worked for years and then a couple of years ago a group of gadflies thought it would be fun to talk at length on almost every subject, including consent calendar. Seven or eight of these people talked three minutes each on a large number of items. Most of the talk was not about a certain issue they wanted addressed by council but rather an oration against everything council did. They ate popcorn in their seats. This was their life.This eats up hours of time and council meetings quit ending at 9:30 but now run until after midnight. Heck, 9:30 is a good time to finish the consent calendar by these days!! It's a whacko group intent on grinding the wheels of government to a halt and whining about everything. A pure hijacking of the process, sort of like Occupy City Hall. So, maybe not so valued and appreciated these days. They cannot wear down this council. Brenneman looks like the first casualty from their side. Last night was not their finest hour either, now attacking cops and council and the city a prostitute.

7/18/2012 09:28:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Sean said...

The fix was already in on the Banning Ranch developer money. 350 people could have spoken and it wouldn't have made any difference.

It is precisely this level of arrogance, coupled with the belief that the rules don't apply to him, that will be Righeimer's undoing. His followers will then scurry away like the cockroaches they truly are.

Monahan: You can posture all you want and pretend you support our police but we will never forget your behavior on 3/17/11. You are a disgrace to our ancestors. Go n-ithe an cat thú, is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat!

7/18/2012 09:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

Geoff --
(Sorry, this got away from me again!)
Bever's Bullshit comment is at 3:23:39 on the granicus video. He says, "This is bullshit." Can't remember if it's after or before the "Go home!" crack, but the two are contiguous.

Puppet, Troll, 2chins- hey, I hope your mom runs out from under the porch and bites you when you get home -- but, I'll defend you: You are, too, fit to live with pigs. But watch who you callin homeless, bro.

As I said to the council, a yes vote on the consent calendar #5 was political suicide, and I'm wondering if there's anything I can do to assist... Always glad to be of assistance!

7/18/2012 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Sorry, Terry, "Jerry Garcia" beat you by a good margin. However, since you've given it your best shot, please feel free to accept second place - the right to post something not TOO nasty about Bever. Actually, yours is the bigger challenge. ;-)

7/18/2012 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Typical Fisty calling Terry K. "homeless." I guess in the world of Shrek, someone who works hard for many years and then retires just CAN'T be understood.

Mr. Koken, you need to be more like the riggclones. Run around town making up lies, go to city hall and talk down to our employees, drink lots and eat off the labor of others, then get all sanctimonious and blame it on unions. But please keep your 2nd Amendment collection- we'll need it after these maroons eliminate our police.

7/18/2012 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Garcia said...

Geoff West, thank you for the opportunity to be of service. I love Costa Mesa and am really sad about what's going on. Here is my comment to the mayor:

Dear Mr. Bever,
Your complete lack of class and good manners is disgraceful to our city. Please resign and go home like you said you would.

7/18/2012 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

'Tis seldom I find myself at a loss for words, but I find I'm fresh out of words for Eric the Pink. There just doesn't seem to be anything I can say that's narstier than just having to look at his sanctimonious face as he sits there on the dais. Sheesh, he can't even be effective when he tells me to shut up... I'd never get into a battle of wits with one so poorly armed.

7/18/2012 11:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Heart for Costa Mesa said...

You know, for decades the city council has endured disparaging comments from residents. They know that will happen going in. It's the public's right to speak, to disagree, unfortunately not all of them do it civily. Council members have remained pretty civil.

In past councils every one has taken it like a man, to a man. Now the only one who "takes it like a man" is a lady!

Let's bring some class back to Costa Mesa! You know, "Remember in November", but realistically we better "Remember in October". It doesn't sound as catchy, however that's when the absentee ballots come out.

Vote these guys out!!!

7/18/2012 11:33:00 PM  
Anonymous WhatWouldWestDo said...

@justwondering... Speaking of Bever peeing himself, I can't think of another reason he'd want to end the meeting so promptly. Can you?

7/19/2012 12:40:00 AM  
Anonymous paybackwillbesweet said...

Heart: don't see a lot of crap thrown at Wendy so don't be so quick to say how she "takes it". Our side does not engage in personal attacks from the speaker's podium like the cm4rg folks do, not our style. We just win at the polls although if we had Bever running again he would lose. We don't like his style either. How about: It's over in October! concerning absentee ballots?

7/19/2012 06:29:00 AM  
Anonymous History Channel said...

"...we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender,..."
-Winston Churchill 6/4/40

7/19/2012 06:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

You stay classy, Mayor...good riddance in November. Talk about juvenile bullying, take a look in the mirror.

7/19/2012 07:27:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

I have been reading just haven’t had times to post… some of us are still working too hard just to stay afloat.

Real quick:

The freeway expansion MUST be built to accommodate the over 25,000 cars that will be living, parking, driving in our area once the 7,500 new home/condo/apartments being built in Irvine (at the El Toro Y and on Jeffery Rd; also the Wild Rivers remodel) are finished by the end of this year. Add the proposed 3000+ homes that will be built at the non-existent Great Park (more will be built if Irvine gets their way; funding didn’t go quite the way they expected… or did it?)


The Toll Road diamond lane connection MUST be built due to lack of patronage. Toll Road officials hope by adding this connection of the I-405/ 73 it will help to boost their profits. At $5 a trip to save 2 miles and 10 mins ; I’m not sure the cost of the construction (and 2 years of inconveniencing Costa Mesa Citizens) is a good use of DOT funds.

Just my opinion.

7/19/2012 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Geoff: Thanks for such a thorough recap. As I watched the proceedings it was so surreal I started doubting what I heard.

When I heard Eric snarl,"Go home." I was appalled, ran to the computer and emailed a nasty gram to him. He owes this city a public apology, from the dais on tape. We won't get it because he has mistaken the high position of the dais' chairs for superiority. If the other incumbent candidates are smart (insert chuckle here) they will demand it of him, too.

I whole heartily agree with Halopatrol 714 that Monahan should have recused himself from the business tax issue, but he has sold out his ethics a long time ago. "Right" no longer matters, "right for me" does. Ah, the lessons these men teach there children through their (in)actions is frightening.

Then there was the soft, but direct question from Perry Valantine as to whether or not some of the posturing by Mensinger was being set up for use in campaign literature. Of course, there was no response, but when Bever, at the call for the vote, said, "Steve, your not going to use this for your campaign, ha hah?" I thought Mensinger was going to kill him with looks alone because that is exactly the intention. It was one of the few humorous moments in a dismal night. This is what happens when you take your hand out of the dummy and let the puppet speak on his own.

Finally, I needed to find something good in this and all I can come up with is that they just lost the election by selling the city, particularly the Westside residents for 40 pieces of silver. There was NO reason to rush. Ms. Leece asked Peter Neghavi directly whether or not the offer had a deadline and he said no. The "leverage" lost would have been asking for more, but we stood to lose nothing of the $4.3mm.

In one night they sold out residents they have never respected and forced all of us into the financial crisis they made up 18 months ago by refusing to increase revenue.

We will not forget this in November.

7/19/2012 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Bobby Fisher said...

Hmm.. Is Bever intentionally being the lightning rod to take all the heat off bully Stevie, or has he cut some of Riggy's strings?

7/19/2012 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Uh, no... it's a combination of stupidity and arrogance...

7/19/2012 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Fontana Friend said...

To: People in Costa Mesa
From: The 909

Please stop associating Eric Bever with our area by calling him "Mayor 909," etc. It's making us look bad.

7/19/2012 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous bob said...

interesting article in today's Wall Street Journal on the recent bk's in CA being linked to Charter Cities...interesting coming from not part of the liberal media.

7/19/2012 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Tina Wilcox Gold said...

I get the distinct impression that they don't think. They do act though. The lack of respect for the residents and their office is completely clear. As members of the "government is the problem" party, they regularly prove their "motto" at Tuesday council meetings - open to the public.

What I don't think anyone saw coming was such disdain for those who dare use "free speech" on their time. Discarding employees, selling Costa Mesa short at every turn, and using the most expensive lawyers to further burden CM residents is more proof of their disdain for the rest of us.

7/19/2012 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Cindy Lou Who said...

Faithful reader but first time (and possibly only time)poster.
Full time job & several volunteer positions keep me very busy. Sometimes it's hard to even get to the Council meetings BUT it's important so I make every effort to make the time.
To puppetroll2chins.....
I assure you I am just fine, never better. In fact I'm at my fighting weight and ready for the next round. But thank you for your concern.
I find it incredibly sad that our current City Council with the exception of Councilmember Wendy Leece has seen fit to set such a negative and disrespectful tone at the meetings. I remember when we agreed to disagree but at least felt like we could have a dialogue. I also remember a time when they actually listened to the residents realizing that maybe they had something of value to add.
I like the slogan "It's over in October!" Bye bye boys............

7/19/2012 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

I just received the city's e-mail with FAQs about the Banning Ranch Bend-Over. My favorite:

What happens if Costa Mesa waited until the project was approved to negotiate traffic mitigation fees?
The City would have lost negotiating leverage.

How, exactly? I realize Banning Ranch is a LONG way from becoming a reality, but it seems to me our negotiating leverage would have been stronger, not weaker, had the CC not rushed this through, particularly since they didn't need to right now.

The only silver lining I really see is they've pissed a lot more people off. Good luck in November.

7/19/2012 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Marquis said...

The "no new taxes regardless of how minimal the impact is" mantra is one of the primary reasons the city is where it is today financially. In Alan Mansoor's term as lead CM Republican ideologue he and his cronies refused forever to even consider an increase in the Transit Occupancy Tax, no matter how dire the financial straits. That tax has absolutely zero impact on any Costa Mesa resident and was easily approved when it finally hit the ballot last election. The Biz license tax does impact Costa Mesa businesses, but as has been pointed out elsewhere, because it has literally been decades since it was increased, the impact on CM businesses of a doubling or even a quadrupling is extremely tiny compared to all of the other costs of running a business. The council's cavalier dismissal of an important, easy source of revenue is more of the same "ideology over fiscal responsibility" lunacy that Mansoor, Bever, and Monahan perpetrated in prior years with the hotel tax. The fact that Monahan didn't feel the least bit compelled to recuse himself from a clear conflict of interest proves again that these guys simply don't care what anybody thinks or even if what they're doing is illegal, unethical, or morally bankrupt. It's depressing to see my city being run so incompetently, but it's even more depressing that 10,000 of my neighbors think these bumblers have the answers. I guess we'll see in November if outrage finally means action or whether the usual apathy will allow this nonsense to continue.

7/19/2012 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Mensinger is on to something said...

No comment from Pot Stirrer or Valantine about the substance of Mensinger's inquiry - how a massive retroactive pension increase was quietly slipped through.

Guess what - no one ever talked about the retroactive clause. It was sold to the Council as paid for by the employees - and that is simply not true.

Go watch the video from the May 20, 2008 City Council meeting.

Allan Roeder made the following statement in introducing the item:

"...both the association and the City agreed to amendments to its PERS contract for employee retirement PREDICATED ON THE EMPLOYEES THEMSELVES PAYING FOR THAT ADDITIONAL COST."

HR Manager Cassidy then stated the following:

"...they [members of the association] would be paying the cost of the benefit. That was a clear term that was discussed with you and clearly outlined in our meet and confer."

Cassidy also said that actuarial tables were included as "public disclosure" because it is required that "...the public know how much it is actually costing the employees in this case."

Eric Bever stated that the resoultion was "...mutually beneficial and I especially like the fact that the employees have agreed to fund these benefits out of their own pocket. I think that is responsive to the financial considerations of the City and citizens..."


That retroactive application to employees who retired as soon as ONE MONTH after the new plan went into effect with every prior year of service converted to the new formula, means that those employees were NOT PAYING FOR THE BENEFIT. Costa Mesa's taxpayers are.

Here is the retroactivity statement from the staff report:

"Employees who retire after October 1, 2008 will then be eligible for the 2.5% @ 55 factor in their retirement calculations. All prior years of City of Costa Mesa service will be converted. This will be used in addition to age and years of service in calculating their pension benefit."


In Roeder's case, he must have known that he was within 5 years of retirement, and would be reaping the benefits of this deal despite having not paid for it for 30 or more years. He must have known that, in his case, his statement to Council was false.

It is clear from Mayor Bever's statement that his understanding was that the employees were paying the costs for this increase.

This does not absolve the Council from responsibility for reading and undertsanding the implications of their actions, but they WERE mislead.

7/19/2012 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger valan2 said...

Mensinger is on something --

Just a short comment. Is it unreasonable to assume that Council members actually read the staff reports before voting on important issues? You quoted the retroactivity statement from the report. How can one then say he/they didn't know about it?

It may or may not have been a good deal, but it's hard to see how it should be a surprise, and any Coincil member who voted for it can't say they didn't know.

7/19/2012 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Tina Wilcox Gold said...

Does the Libor scandal pertain to our pension costs too? This is pretty interesting, and might help to get us back in our corners to prepare to fight the real villains of today's economic mess - The Big Banks.

"The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest public pension in the country, is considering legal action against banks that fraudulently fixed the Libor rate. Quite a few other large, deep pocket firms, pension funds, brokerages, and municipalities are considering doing the same.

Libor is the central interest rate for the world financial system. Other interest rates, as well as mortgage rates, are based on Libor. The market in interest rate derivative contracts is an astonishing $550 trillion. Several large banks have already admitted to rigging the Libor rate with more certainly to come. This scandal is occurring at the heart of the financial system and its effects are felt everywhere. Given the scope and magnitude of the Libor rigging, it will take time for events to play out. But play out they will, and the effects will prove devastating to the banks involved."

“Once again, the financial services industry demonstrated that it cannot be trusted to make decisions in the long-term interests of investors,” said CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Joseph Dear.

7/19/2012 08:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Spike said...

Daigle and her great council just recently crowed over their new agreement with the PD. They also forgot to mention they just spiked the pensions of the cops who will be retiring shortly. Again the taxpayer loses. Maybe that is why NB is in worse shape pension wise per capita than CM. Good job Daigle, you are clueless.

7/19/2012 10:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Mensinger is on to something said...


Read the staff report and watch the video.

"...the employees agreed to pay the entire cost of the enhancement..."

"...the intent was that employees’ pay the full cost of the benefit..."

"The City Council has directed that the employees pay the entire cost of the contract amendment..."

The entire thing is predicated on the agreement and understanding - after extensive good faith negotiations - that the employees would be paying the entire cost of the enhancement.

The responsible city staff, who prepared the report and who presented the item to the Council, never discussed the retroactivity implications or analyzed them, and the Calpers actuarial report didn't lay it out either.

Yes, the staff report did contain a statement about retroactivity, but it is indisputable, based on the staff report and statements by Roeder and Cassidy, that the practical effect of that statement was NOT disclosed.

The council was relying on its staff and city manager to implement the good faith agreement reached at the bargaining table.

What the council voted on was not what was represented to them by Roeder and Cassidy.

Sure looks like the council was mislead.

7/19/2012 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous John Bartell approved this too! said...

Mensinger on to something. You are completely off. A couple of things. This was not quietly slipped through. This was discussed live on TV and during other meetings etc. There is a reference to going back to November of 2007 discussions.

Secondly, John Bartell the City's Pension expert also looked this over and agreed it was correct. Certainly he would have raised the issue if what you said was true. But your claim is not true.

Thirdly, the actuarial has to include the retroactive calculations and anticipation of retirees. There is a history of these types of increases and all of them retroactive. Gen Cuty Employees had an increas when they went from 2@60 to 2@55 and all of it retroactive. Police, Fire, General Employees, this city and other cities. So to claim nobody knew is preposterous or somehow forgot to calculate the retroactive portion is ludicrous.

This is from the staff report notice John Bartell...In addition to the CalPERS valuation, City Council requested that an independent actuary look at the costs of the enhanced retirement formula. John Bartel and Associates, a recognized firm, performed this function and reported to City Council in June 2007 that the costs were accurate based upon the actuarial data at the time.

Fourthly, the employees actually starting paying 1% a year before.

This was fully vetted extensively. What happened is the economy and the returns from CalPers created a situation to where now those estimates are surely lower than the actual cost. But your attempt to cast this as Roeder or anyone else pulling a fast one is complete and utter nonsense refuted by facts and history.

7/20/2012 12:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Really? said...

John Bartell approved this too!

What part of this are you struggling with?

"...the employees agreed to pay the entire cost of the enhancement..."

"...the intent was that employees’ pay the full cost of the benefit..."

"The City Council has directed that the employees pay the entire cost of the contract amendment..."

All of the actuarial analyses expired before the actual implementation date. Did you miss that part of the staff report?

Retroactive application was never discussed "on the record" watch the meeting video.

7/20/2012 08:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Mesa Verde (Very) Madman! said...

Love the mention of council reading staff reports here and on another thread. Assuming these are references to either the staff they are trying to lay off, or is it the staff they are hiring (Joyce, Lobdell, Francis,etc.) to these sweet deals?

7/20/2012 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous In-Town said...

- Tell the audiences to "Go Home".
- Cut off the speakers
_ "We need to start off-loading employees that have these pensions that are unsustainable."

No Free Speech.
Age discrimination.

What country do we live in?
Are there any Lawyers in the house?
(We got one "outhouse")

Some info re: Benefits and Age Discrimination from

Benefits (more from here)

The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) amended the ADEA to specifically prohibit employers from denying benefits to older employees. Congress recognized that the cost of providing certain benefits to older workers is greater than the cost of providing those same benefits to younger workers, and that those greater costs would create a disincentive to hire older workers. Therefore, in limited circumstances, an employer may be permitted to reduce benefits based on age, as long as the cost of providing the reduced benefits to older workers is the same as the cost of providing benefits to younger workers.

Employers are permitted to coordinate retiree health benefit plans with eligibility for Medicare or a comparable state-sponsored health benefit.

7/20/2012 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Mensinger, et al, how about this? said...

Isn't it clever how this council hired their buddies Lobdell and Joyce just two weeks before the second tier for new hires kicked in? They could have asked them to wait a few days before stepping into full time positions at over 150k each, with benefits and first tier retirement schedule, but the truth is the council guys aren't pension reformers, they are pension reform posers. Grandstanders and hypocrites. Like my friend OC Longhair said last year, “It’s not the what, it’s the how.” What they say and what they do are quite dissonant.

Also very slick how Gary voted for the city to pay retirees share of medical costs years ago. Back then, the munchkin didn't recuse himself when there was a clear conflict. It's nothing new. He was the only council person eligible. We know he has a big family, but Hey Gary, if you are serious about the horror of big handouts, why don’t you set a good example and give that up, hmm?

7/21/2012 12:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Da Plan said...

The plan is obvious. For those who hadn't figured it out yet Riggy let it slip the other night when he said they need to off load employees with these pensions.

The plan is to hire all their friends as highly paid, with pensions, managers and directors, as Riggy said, off load the lower paid employees, contract out everything those lower paid employees did so the managers have something to do to make it look justified in what they are doing.

The residents will soon have a city where the only pensions they are paying will be to Righeimer and Mensinger's friends, maybe soon even their families.

They wont be able to do it with Police and Fire but say good bye to all CMCEA employees as their contracts are up March 2013.

7/21/2012 11:01:00 AM  

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