Monday, July 23, 2012

Eastside Safety Meeting A Success

My friends from the Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors Group held an excellent forum at the Lighthouse Church tonight.  It was a rousing success.

Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors Group President Jeff McConville, kicked things off by providing a brief description of the mission of the group and introducing several of the other members in attendance.  He then handed it off to councilwoman Wendy Leece for a brief introduction.

The meeting played to a packed house - at least 125 of our neighbors sat and heard a team from the Costa Mesa Police Department, led by Chief Tom Gazsi, present crime statistics for the area and offer suggestions for improving the safety in the area.

Gazsi was joined by  Lieutenant Mark Manley, Sergeant Vic Bakkila, Officer John Elliot and civilian CMPD employee Kelly Vucinic from the Crime Prevention Bureau.

Also attending were council members Steve Mensinger and Jim Righeimer, their little friend, Sanitary District Director and fellow Eastsider Jim Fitzpatrick and council candidates Marshall Krupp, Harold Weitzberg, Sue Lester and Sandra GenisDiane Hill of United Neighbors was also in attendance, handing out flyers for her organization and recruiting new participants.

I must say that, of all such similar meetings I've attended over the past year or so, this one was probably the most energy-filled of them all.  The organizers took pains to have everything in place, even managing to handle the overflow crowd that filled every seat and had standing room only.

Chief Gazsi told us that crime is trending up - Part 1 crimes are up almost 14% city-wide.  Property crimes - car burglaries and home burglaries are also up.  Bicycle thefts are up 60% and bike registration - each bike in Costa Mesa MUST be registered - was emphasized.  He also discussed the current deployment plans, explaining to the audience just how many officers we have on patrol at any one time - most typically 7, although there are times throughout the day and night and sometimes on weekends when slightly more or slightly fewer officers are on patrol.  Because we are short of staff the tours are covered by overtime.
I cannot compress every thought, question and answer that we heard last night, but I will give you some highlights.  The emphasis was on keeping ourselves secure by being smart about not leaving anything of value visible in our cars, keeping them locked, keeping doors and windows in our homes closed and locked, keeping our homes well-lit - motion sensor lights were highly recommended - and to never hesitate to call the police if you have a concern. 

Establishment of Neighborhood Watch programs was strongly advised and Vucinic was enthusiastic about helping create them throughout the city.  She also told us about the re-creation of the Citizens Police Academy and the Teen Academy that provide valuable information to all participants.

Patrol officer John Elliot, who has covered the Eastside for several years, took time to explain more crime prevention techniques and a little about what happens when you call 911 or the non-emergency number for the Costa Mesa Police Department - 714-754-5255 or 714-754-5252.

One resident asked about earthquake preparedness, to which Sgt. Bakkila replied that we have on officer - a Sergeant - presently working on updating the city's Emergency Response Plan and discussed briefly that everyone should prepare to be self-sufficient for at least a week in the event of such a tragedy.

One of the high points was when Lt. Mark Manley took his turn and began by saying, "This is what Costa Mesa does right!"  He spoke of our officers as being "home grown officers" who really care about their areas and the people in them.  In fact, as he spoke he got more and more enthusiastic to the point where I thought he might begin leading cheers any moment.  Clearly, it was an honest expression of how he feels about his job - an expression I've seen a lot among members of the CMPD these days.  I suspect it might have something to do with the leadership Chief Gazsi is providing to an organization that really needed it.

Congratulations to my Eastside Neighbors for an excellent, informative evening and to Chief Tom Gazsi and his team for presenting facts, plans and a clear vision of how they are keeping our city safe.

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Anonymous si si puede said...

Shedding Stavely was what CM needed. Instead of a hot head union loving Democrat politician as Chief we now have one who does his job with what he is given. Yes, we can!

7/24/2012 07:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Marshall Krupp said...

I cannot agree more. The Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbor’s Group conducted a well-attended and proactive Community meeting. It truly showed their commitment to their Mission Statement and showed how much they care about their neighbors in the Eastside Community of the City. I was particularly impressed with the enthusiasm of Chief Gazsi and his police colleagues in addressing the questions for the Community and their commitment for public safety.

A profound statement was offered by Lt. Manley when he shared his thoughts that the Costa Mesa Police are the best in Orange County and that their service is based on the intimacy of the home grown officers who are part of the Community landscape of the neighborhoods they patrol. I am confident that if the current majority of the City Council fulfills what appears to be their intent to dismantle the Costa Mesa Police Department and outsource it to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department the level and quality of service will decline and Costa Mesa will lose the “community based public safety” that we so cherish. In my opinion, we may be very close to seeing that happen in the next few years unless there is change.

While the Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors’ Group was meeting, down the road, the City of Newport Beach City Council was holding their public hearing on Banning Ranch. I feel like July 24th is a day of mourning for Costa Mesan’s and the Westside /Eastside Communities. The City Council of Newport Beach (6-0) capitalized on their Banning Ranch property & the Newport Banning Ranch LLC project was approved with enormous financial value to their City of Newport Beach, while significantly impacting Costa Mesa. They were able to do this because the Costa Mesa City Council caved in and tied their and future City Council’s hands for $4.4 million over the objections of the Westside/Eastside Communities.

The handwriting was on the wall the evening the Costa Mesa City Council approved the Traffic Agreement. Now the only way to protect our citizens is to gain a denial of the Coastal Commission, the filing of litigation by someone other than our City, or someone coming forth with a strategy that would create a hurdle for the project to actually develop. I HAVE THE STRATEGY TO STOP THE PROJECT, TO OBTAIN APPROPRIATE IMPACT MITIGATION, AND TO GAIN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE DEVELOPER AND OUR CITY OF COSTA MESA WITHOUT HAVING TO INCUR EXPENSIVE LITIGATION. It requires a new majority on the Costa Mesa City Council and the guts to pull it off. In the event the new majority is elected, I am prepared to work towards successful attainment of this strategy for the benefit of the Westside/Eastside residents, businesses & property owners. It is time someone stood in the fire & took on the fight for our constituents.

In January 1992 in the City of Huntington Beach, there once was an area called the Bolsa Chica bluffs that was owned by Chevron Land Development (Seacliff Partners) and was proposed for the Holly-Seacliff area development, very similar to Banning Ranch. I represented the Huntington Beach City School District and negotiated for full mitigation of the project’s impact on the School District. The result was the construction of Seacliff Elementary School [click here] and additional compensation for new middle school students. Today, Seacliff Elementary School is serving the residents of the Seacliff Community. The impacts of Banning Ranch on the Westside/Eastside Community should have been negotiated at NO COST to our Community. Maybe the November, 2012 election will allow for that with a new majority City Council.

Marshall Krupp, Candidate for Costa Mesa City Council

7/24/2012 07:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Misdirection said...

so Krupp got benefits for the city of HB for a project that was IN HB? Wow. How unusual. NB got benes from Banning ranch because banning ranch is IN the spere of influence of NB. Sleight of hand by Krupp! Now if Krupp had gotten benes for CM for the HB project @seacliff then he would have done an outstanding job for us. not the way it works though is it Mr. Krupp? The city the project is IN gets the gold. Queen of diamonds?

7/24/2012 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

It looks like “si si puede” ran out of English pseudonyms and decided to tarnish a positive Spanish rallying cry, “si se puede”--“Yes we can,” with an ugly rant.

It’s amazing that some commenters can turn any post, even the most positive, upbeat one into an attack on their opponents—present and even past!

“Si si” did slip in a small, understated compliment to Chief Gazsi. Let me continue: Chief Gazsi is a wonderful chief and Costa Mesa is very lucky to have him. He is thoughtful and organized and appears to be raising morale in a diminished police force. Most important for Costa Mesa is that he is diplomatic and able to work with our current council.

So why does “si si” give more attention to long-departed Chief Stavely, who wasn’t even mentioned in the post on the Eastside Meeting. Can “si si” never give up a grudge?

7/24/2012 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

@Tamar: The angry ones who don't use their real names here at the Cauldron will never give up their grudge until us Costa Mesans completely trust Mr. Righeimer and the gang and are never questioned about anything in city government ever again.

Side note: Today is 15 weeks to Election Day.

7/24/2012 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous si si puede said...

Stavely gone = good
Gazsi here= fantastic !!
Yes we can with Gazsi was the point but your blind hate/rage made you miss it Tamar. SI SI PUEDE con Gazsi. get it?

7/24/2012 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

Response to “si si” continued:

Steve Stavely does not need any defense from me. I respond to “si si” only because Stavely’s departure gives insight into the poor decision-making of our current councilmen. Apparently the last straw was Stavely's refusal in no uncertain terms to switch our police force to a 5-8 (five days a week, eight hours a day schedule) from a 4-10. A few months later, Chief Gazsi, more diplomatically, demonstrated the same thing to the councilmen—that a 5-8 schedule is unworkable, and now has implemented a hybrid schedule, 4-10 and 3-12.

As for the “union loving” description, one of the many ironies in the refusal of the councilmen to work cooperatively with the police department and Mr.Stavely is that it looks like he would have been an ally to them in pension negotiations. In his words:

“One of the interesting elements of this whole thing is I happen to agree that we need a
two tier retirement system. Two tier because the courts will never allow the current
system to be taken from current vested employees….. If the investment needs to be changed, the decision makers should have the courage to change it and not continue to play some political game. Of course that would require they sit down with the employee associations and they seem
not to want to do that.”

As I recently posted, Chief Gazsi is an outstanding man and police chief and he’s done an extraordinary job “with what he is given.” However, he is not a miracle worker and can do only so much to undo the damage done by our act-first, get-the-facts-later councilmen.

In order to better understand the current relations between our policemen and the councilmen, I recommend that everyone read Chief Staveley’s entire resignation letter.

7/24/2012 12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Fed up said...

Si si puede,
Nice try but the correct term is Si SE Puede. I love the fact that you try to diss a "union loving democrat politician as Chief" by using the slogan of the United Farm workers (a union). If your going to change your handle simply to appeal to a specific audience, make sure you do some research. Tamar brings up a great point, why the animosity towards Chief Stavely? On that note, why the hostility towards Tamar, she brings up valid points at all the council meetings and her comments here are always within reason.

7/24/2012 04:05:00 PM  

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