Kinda Short And Not So Sweet
Imagine my surprise when I arrived at City Hall last night for the council meeting an hour early only to find ex-Planning Commissioner and soon-to-be ex-Sanitary District Board member and new President of the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Association - the OC GOP shill organization in town - Jim Fitzpatrick, waist deep in political signs piled all over the porch beside the entrance to the auditorium. Of course, those signs were for his pals, the 3Ms and others. He got there early so he could purloin the site normally occupied by the folks from Costa Mesans For Responsible Government, CM4RG. He pulled the same kind of juvenile stunt many months ago when he arrived very, very early to a council meeting so he could occupy the seat I usually use. Some people just never outgrow puberty.
The meeting, which I thought might wrap up by 6:30 or 7:00 p.m, tops, dragged on until just before 8:00. Part of the reason it took so long - with only one item on the agenda - was that our part-time, part-time mayor, Eric Bever finally decided to show up. He didn't make for the roll call at the Closed Session, though. The best he can do now is to make it five for five as his tenure on the council - thank goodness - comes to an end. There are four more meetings left this year - two in October and one each in November and December. No matter what happens in the November election, our council dais will be Beverless beginning in January.
BEVER'S INFANTILE INTERRUPTIONS
Anyhow, Bever stretched the meeting out by continually interrupting speakers during Public Comments to add his two cents worth. Not only is it inappropriate to interrupt a speaker int the middle of his or her presentation, but it's just plain rude. I guess he just never learned courtesy when he was growing up.
FEENEY CHIDES WEITZBERG
During the Public Comments resident John Feeney included in his little presentation a criticism of council candidate Harold Weitzberg for his acknowledgment of "shouting down" a speaker before the council this spring. Weitzberg then rose to defend himself, citing the person in question - imported charter shill Kevin Dayton - who had been given more than 10 minutes to speak while all other speakers were held to 3 minutes.
WEITZBERG VS. "THE MOUTH"
As Weitzberg's time expired he returned to his seat but Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer - who had been in charge of that particular meeting and who allowed Dayton to exceed his time - just had to chime in with an explanation. Weitzberg returned to rebut his comment and the next speaker waiting his turn - a grumpy old fella who lives in Mesa North - yelled across the room from the other speaker's podium at Weitzberg to "shut up and sit down!" Things almost got REALLY nasty until councilwoman Wendy Leece demanded that the mayor take charge of the meeting.
BEVER - "GOING FOR IT ALL"
However, during the Council Member Comments segment Bever said, basically, thanks, but no thanks. He thanked his colleagues for their praise but said Alternate #1 was NOT what our city and the others voted to support - Alternate #2. So, he said he will be "going for it all" when the full board meets to consider this issue on September 24th. Uh-oh...
FABRICATING FACTS BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES
Righeimer, for his part, gave us another of his long-winded rants during the comments segment, and demonstrated again that he has a very difficult time sorting fact from fabrication. For example, during his little fit of pique he again criticized previous councils for "blowing through $33 million in reserves" - conveniently forgetting that those councils had the foresight to accumulate those very reserves for emergencies - and said those councils refused to lay anyone off. Of course, THAT IS A LIE! The previous council, when the economy began it's free fall in 2008, took many measures to head off catastrophe, including inducing retirements and other measures that cut the headcount approximately 20%. Of course, it's inconvenient for him to remember the truth because the truth doesn't work in his equation.
RIGHEIMER BLAMES THE COPS
And, in another master stroke of falsehood fabrication, in response to speaker Eleanor Egan's scolding of him and his peers on the dais for "destroying" her city, he told the audience quite directly that the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association is responsible for destroying the city! The man has no shame!
"ELECTIONS TEAM" FORMED
During his segment CEO Tom Hatch told the council and audience that an "Elections Team" had been formed in City Hall to deal with questions/problems during this election season. The first order of business is the apparent removal/destruction/misplacement of campaign signs. A summary of what is and is not permitted will be placed on the City web site and staff will be working to resolve any issues quickly.
In response to an earlier question, Hatch said he will meet soon with Police Chief Tom Gazsi to clarify the School Resource Officer issue and report back to the council. Apparently he was not ready to get into a discussion of why officer Jess Gilman is back working as an SRO - trying to cover four schools, by the way - instead of remaining on patrol.
HATCH EFFUSIVELY GIVES LEECE HER 5-YEAR PIN
Hatch then presented councilwoman Wendy Leece with her five-year pin - she actually has six years in as a council member - and did so by heaping much praise on her for her dedication, hard work and tenacity. He said nobody on the council works harder to help residents. He also thanked her for helping HIM during his tenure with the city. The comments were much deserved but probably cost Hatch points with the other four council members.
7-ELEVEN LIQUOR LICENSE
Several items were pulled from the Consent Calendar, one of which dealt with the item involving the 7-Eleven Store on Adams Avenue. Once again, we had a lengthy discussion about liquor licenses in the city and how little control the city council actually has over this issue. One speaker, former Parks and Recreation Commissioner Bob Graham, asked if being a Charter City would resolve it. The answer was NO. Councilman Steve Mensinger told us he's "not a fan of 7 Eleven to start with..", without further explanation. Perhaps it's because what was one of the great American success stories is now controlled by a Japanese holding company. It just seemed like an odd statement coming from a council member about a company trying to expand its business in Costa Mesa.
RIGHEIMER OUT FOR BLOOD
Item 5on the Consent Calendar is an RFP for Roadway markings and Traffic Sign Maintenance. It turns out this is actually a request for re-advertising this item, which apparently was incorrectly announced previously in what Hatch referred to as a "staff error." Righeimer immediately pounced on that like a jackal on a carcass and said, "We have 400 people on staff. Who did not do this correctly?" Clearly, he was out for blood on this fairly minor issue. Bever shut the door on him, but it demonstrates one more time his impatience on the dais and that he will praise staff members with one breath and castigate them with the next.
ELECTION DAY COUNCIL MEETING CANCELED
The final item discussed - and the only item on the agenda beyond the Consent Calendar - was the decision to cancel the November 6, 2012 City Council meeting due to the national election. I suspect that staff recognized the reality of the situation - that several members of the City Council will be too busy either partying or crying that night to give city business a fair shot. So, that meeting will be canceled.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HOME BY 7!
This meeting could, and probably should, have ended an hour earlier. It took more time because some council members just had to pontificate about pet issues and because Bever just had to interrupt the flow of events with his petty, insignificant and rude interruptions of speakers before the council. C'mon January!