Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Costa Mesa Charter On November Ballot

Only kidding...
To absolutely nobody's surprise among those 100 or so folks gathered in the Costa Mesa City Council chambers last night, the council voted to place Jim Righeimer's Charter on the November 6th ballot.  Actually, there were fewer than 30 people left when the vote was taken.  Many of the rest bailed out after they took their three minutes at the speaker's podium.  In fact, we were out of the auditorium well before 10:00 p.m.

I arrived early - 5:00 p.m. - for the meeting that was to begin at 7:00 - because I wanted to be there for the closed session and I wanted to see what kind of a crowd might assemble based on the OC GOP appeal to the Orange County Young Republicans.  Based on the email message I'd seen earlier, I expected to see dozens of bright young people, all dressed in red shirts, scrambling for pizza before they were handed their scripts to read before the council.  I didn't want to have to arm-wrestle one of them for a seat.  I shouldn't have worried.  The only red shirt in the house was on the back of resident Phil Morello, President of the Costa Mesa Republican Assembly, who actually suggested bankruptcy as a solution to our fiscal woes!  The rest of the freshly-scrubbed Young Republicans apparently didn't get the "red shirt" message.

Just before six a couple of them arrived, expecting to find their cohorts on site already.  Seems they'd been told the meeting was at 6:00!  Maybe they read the city flier that was mailed to all residents which showed that time.  I went outside a few minutes later and found a few folks chowing down on pizza from the rear end of a SUV- and few of them looked like "young" Republicans.  As it turned out, all of them were from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) who came to sing the praises of Jim Righeimer's Charter.  I don't think any of the young folks got pizza.

Mayor Eric Bever, who showed up late for the closed session an hour earlier, kicked off the Charter meeting at 7:05.  Ninety-five minutes later 42 speakers had addressed the council and 69% of those spoke against it.  Of the remaining 13 speakers, nine were either Young Republicans or ABC spokesmen (two of which were Costa Mesa residents).  The remaining four were actual Costa Mesa residents without a script or an agenda.

One of the speakers from the ABC was Dave Everett, freshly-minted Government Affairs Director - more recently the Executive Director of the Orange County Republican Party - who apparently provided the script for the young folks and read his own later.  As each of them spoke you could almost predict the words since they were all using the same song book.  If there was any doubt about the cross-pollination of those two organizations, Everett's presence herding a covey of Young Republicans removed it.

I felt just a little sorry for those bright Young Republicans who stepped up and read the script handed to them just a few minutes earlier.  It was very clear that few of them had any real knowledge of the issue, and yet they stood and spoke - like a pup "speaking" for a treat.  Folks around the auditorium chuckled to themselves as speaker after speaker laid that prepared text in front of them at the podium and tried to read parts that made sense to them.  They didn't pull it off.

Of those speakers who spoke against Jim Righeimer's Charter, several were members of Costa Mesans For Responsible Government and also included council candidates Sandra Genis, Sue Lester, John Stephens and Harold Weitzberg.

Over that hour and a half most speakers addressed the council with respect, outlining their concerns with varying levels of detail.  Several pointed out specific deficiencies in the Charter while others delivered their message with more emotion than facts.  I had to chuckle when CM4RG President Robin Leffler stood and used valuable time to set the record straight about this blog, which had been identified by Everett in his call to action earlier this week as a "liberal blog".  She pointed out to the council that I, by name, was a "Big R" Republican and that the only thing liberal about me was my liberal criticism about "this half-baked Charter".  I smiled.  Later one friend asked if she had said "Big Arse" - I smiled again, knowing that she didn't say that, but if so, that Fruedian slip was pretty darn close to home.  As a sidebar, I saw Everett as he sat in the audience before the proceedings began and I introduced myself as a life-long Republican and the author of A Bubbling Cauldron.  He was courteous and a little flummoxed.  Thanks, Robin... 
Once again, in addition to the "usual suspects" - those residents who actually care enough about their city to study the issues, step away from family obligations and actually address them to the council - there were a sprinkling of  unfamiliar faces taking the speaker's podium for the first time.  It takes guts to do that, especially knowing that one or more of the council members may throw a caustic, snide remark at your back as you depart.  In fact, one speaker pointed that out to the council, but that didn't keep Bever from demonstrating that he simply has no self-control.  Time after time he tossed juvenile retorts at one speaker or another.

Speaking of Bever, he again demonstrated an uneven application of the rules last night.  When  34-year Costa Mesa resident Bill Henniger (sp?) attempted to explain his concerns about the Charter by presenting a summary of the reasons he didn't trust this council with it, Bever tried to shut him off, telling him to stick to the Charter.  Henniger tried to explain that's what he was doing, but Bever's interruption did what he apparently hoped to accomplish - he knocked Henniger off his stride, but he did finish.  The next speaker, Jim Kerr (above) from Huntington Beach - one of the pizza-eaters, a spokesman for the ABC and a proponent of the Charter - rambled on with an explanation of the ABC, using up at least two minutes on that irrelevant drivel and Bever never said a word.  Despite the fact that he kept on tossing mini-grenades at speakers, I guess we should all consider ourselves lucky that he didn't curse us out and tell us to go home.

Special council for this issue, Kimberly Hall Barlow - former City Attorney and member of the law firm Jones and Mayer - was on hand to guide the discussion and answer questions about the most recent minor modifications made to the Charter.  Resident Tamar Goldmann expressed an opinion during her three minutes that City Attorney Tom Duarte should NOT be permitted to compose the "impartial analysis" of the Charter that will appear in the voter handbook because he answers to the majority on the council that will approve it and is hardly impartial.  Barlow addressed this with the following comment:

"I do want to address one issue that was raised by a speaker with respect to the impartial analysis.  The City Attorney is a public officer designated by the Elections Code and the Government Code to prepare the impartial analysis.  Mr. Duarte is not a city employee and neither am I so I'm sure that I will work with him to insure that the impartial analysis is what is required by the code and other than that I'd be happy to answer any questions."

I think that the fact that this question was even raised gives a good idea of how little trust some residents of this city have for this council and its administration.

The vote to place Jim Righeimer's Charter on the November 6th ballot passed, 4-1.  Wendy Leece voted no after delivering a clear, concise explanation of her reasons during which several council members rolled their eyes and smirked at her. And, after Leece ended with this sentence, "Whether we adopt the Charter or not in November or the voters approve, I know that we will continue to work hard and the residents will help us to continue to make Costa Mesa a great city to live in and that's clean and safe and has great parks and and a great place to raise our families.  So, I'm sorry, but I cannot support this Charter in its present form.", Bever, in his own infantile way, threw this comment at her, "And a great place for grandstanding."  I seriously think this poor man needs some professional help.  He just CANNOT stand it unless he gets the last word in!  He just needs to keep his snide, caustic yap shut and move on.

Several speakers suggested to include the ENTIRE Charter on the sample ballot.  The council agreed and CEO Tom Hatch said that, in addition to the initial ballot cost of nearly $100,000, it would cost around $14,700 to include the entire Charter.  Printing of the proposed informational mailers suggested in the staff report would cost around $10,000 each.

So, now the fun begins.  Jim Righeimer's Charter will now become the cornerstone of debate during the city council campaign.  So far no entity has expressed interest in holding a "Charter-only" debate during the campaign season but questions on it will certainly be addressed during the council candidate forums this summer and fall.  Each side will undoubtedly find ways to get their messages out.  It may boil down, as Daily Pilot columnist Jeffrey Harlan suggested recently, to a matter of trust.  If that's the case, this Charter will be DOA at the ballot box.

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Anonymous over in October said...

Finally, the voters get a say in this. Some may not trust council and vote it down. What is this "trust" issue anyway? What are the fear factors I should be aware of? If it is illegal kickbacks and bribery then it happens with or without the charter and the bad girls go to jail. No charter can cause or stop that. If it frees me from the suspects in Sacramento on a couple issues, especially prevailing wages (private folks can work as well as union, perhaps better. All the council candidates are private folk aren't they? Do they think they do good work? To listen to them they think they are MUCH better than staff)then YES on charter for me. Since it is DOA, opponents have no worries. If Mensinger's column has three in support and twenty against then you sweep the council races, right? So relax. You have won (as long as those who write such hate actually live in and can vote in our city which I doubt).

8/01/2012 04:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Marshall Krupp said...

I am not surprised what showed up last night and the results. As I have said from the beginning, the charter and the election of Mensinger, Monahan, and McCarthy is a political agenda that has been identified as the target battleground for the OC GOP and the Republican ideology that is on a national, State, and local level. And Righeimer’s political future is riding on the Charter election and the election of his colleagues. I suspect that if the Charter is approved in November and Mensinger, Monahan and McCarthy are elected, Righeimer will be appointed Mayor and at the end of his term he will announce his election for a County or State office riding on the OC GOP record and his success in Cost Mesa in unfolding the agenda that is now unfolding. And we will also see a dismantling of the Costa Mesa Police Department and the Costa Mesa Fire Department.

I watched at home in amazement last night and saw how all of the sides of the argument put a spin on the topic and misrepresented the facts. Unfortunately, this Charter campaign will end up being won or loss on emotion, and not on the details of the Charter and the facts that either support it or oppose it. When candidates are attached to the outcome and their own personal and political agendas and aspirations are based on that outcome, it does not matter what side of the issue you are on, the discussions will be skewed. That is what I stated early in the discussions of the election of a new majority City Council. This upcoming City Council election cannot be elected based on the issues facing the Community, but rather must look at the motives and character of those individual who are candidates. As I have been asked over and over, what is the most important issues facing Costa Mesa? My answer has been consistent over the past months… TRUST, TRUTH and RESPECT.

The truth is that the Charter will not solve the financial stability and future of the City of Costa Mesa. That can only be solved by a comprehensive strategy of conservative expenditures and liberal revenue generators. The Charter is not the magic pill that will make the City’s $250 million unfunded liability obligation go away. That can only be accomplished through a prioritized financial plan of paying off the debt. The Charter will not address the relationships between the City employees and the City Council. That can only be accomplished by the parties coming to the table in “good faith”. The issue of capital improvements and maintenance of City’s infrastructure will not be addressed based on the content of the Charter. That can only come from the development of a long-range plan that sets criteria and priorities and approaches the topic from a business perspective. And, protecting the citizens of Costa Mesa from such activities as the development of Banning Ranch will not come from Charter authority. That can only be accomplished when the City Council places the citizens as first priority in such matters and the elected officials are not driven by outside influences.

You see, the truth is that the Charter, WITHOUT CHECKS-AND-BALANCES, is an illusion created by Righeimer, Mensinger, and the OC GOP to implement a strategy to shrink government responsibility and services and place the authority in the hand of a select few. Charter governance can be a valuable tool for local government. And, it can be a destructive tool when placed in the hands of those that cannot be TRUSTED. This Charter as proposed is again leading the City to experience another suicide. This time, it is the suicide of the City of Costa Mesa as we know it.

Marshall Krupp, Candidate for Costa Mesa City Council

8/01/2012 06:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Waterloo for Chubby said...

BIG F-up by Jimmy the Geek and his ocgop buddies. The poor kids and contractors never had enough time to learn their scripts and it was obvious. This poorly put together and executed show only proved the very corruption that opposing speakers were warning about. It's never been about the "people of Costa Mesa," but Napoleon Righeimer and his gang.

Bever proved once and for all that he's a bitter little punk. His final attack at Leece with the "grandstanding" remark was nothing less than an admission of defeat- he knew at that moment that the gang had lost big political points, and that everyone in town knows Jimbo makes Eric wear a real short dress.

8/01/2012 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Thanks for an excellent post. Looks like the bad guys blundered big time.

The three council candidates I support, Stephens, Genis, and Weitzberg, were all eloquent in their own way and really looked and sounded like city leaders. We look forward to the election and a new majority. If Bever comes up to speak next year, I'm sure Mayor Leece will show much more class than he does.

8/01/2012 06:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Honeyman said...

How was the pie? Did they get 'em from Haus of Pizza or did Riggy outsource to a NB pizza joint?

8/01/2012 08:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Mr Bever's "grandstanding" crack was so offensive. These are the supposed leaders of this community and should set an example - particularly for our youth.

Mr Bever would make an excellent contestant on Big Brother or some other reality show glorifying bad behavior, but he is a disgraceful mayor. He and the other men are the embodiment of the bullying epidemic in our schools today. Well done, sir.

8/01/2012 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

Honeyman - +1!!!

8/01/2012 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous over in October said...

I know the councilmen and their motives. They are good for our city. Krupp thinks he knows their motives but he does not. Unions make up false motives because they want their puppets in there. Seen the photo of Nick and Sandy? Or Wendy, Sandy, and Katrina and the adulteror cop? If not, in your mailbox soon so watch for it.

8/01/2012 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Terrific news! Very excited about the Charter and what it will do for our City. Glad the residents will get to take control from the Sacramento unions. Count us a YES!!

8/01/2012 01:24:00 PM  
Anonymous passtoleft said...

is krupp finally going to go away today at 4 pm? (actually 9 pm by the time he gets finished saying it)

8/01/2012 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Definitely! said...

Dear Mr. Everett,

We, the most awesome Young Republicans of The 909, want you and Hizzoner Mayor Bever to come to our next meeting! The 3 of us saw you on TV last night helping defeat that stupid charter in Costa Mesa using those bogus scripts. Good job, dude! Da Mayor ROCKS with the BADASS things he says to those citizen types! He reminds us of the even BADDER dude in Twilight- you know, the vampire that gets blown up or whatever in the 2nd flick! You dudes like Colt 45, right? Well, thell be a QUART for you and da Beve WAITING when you get off the 91 freeway!

8/01/2012 06:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Davey Not Goliath said...

Dave Everett managed to cause the humiliation of both the Young Repubs AND members of his new employer the ABC in one fell swoop!

Typical OCGOP.

8/01/2012 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Over in October, you sound a bit paranoid. Is everyone a union supporter? You make sound like everyone out there except the council is a union member, or supporter. You sound like one of the 5 that support the councilmembers.

8/02/2012 07:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Heart for Costa Mesa said...

I was really impressed by all the first time speakers who actually live in Costa Mesa, and all told the council they do not support the councilmen's version of a charter. It's not easy to dare come speak to this council. I saw them try to grill and fluster speakers with their snarkiness and interruptions, so hooray for those brave speakers.

Several new names and faces to the councilmen, do they realize yet that anti-council sentiment and rejection of that charter they made for themselves is deeper than they know?

8/02/2012 09:49:00 PM  

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