Finally, Back To Business..
Tuesday night, in their first meeting in over a month, the Costa Mesa City Council got back down to business, but not before an interesting sidebar.
A crew from KCET presented itself in the auditorium at 5:00 hoping to get some footage of the council in action and specifically to interview lame duck Mayor Eric Bever for a story they are doing on homelessness in Orange County. As you may recall, Bever became a lightning rod for criticism recently when he suggested to the City CEO, Tom Hatch, that he investigate ways to shut down the social service agencies that serve, among others, Costa Mesa's homeless population. In typical Bever fashion, he refused to be interviewed and the KCET crew promptly left. OK - a show of hands of those who are glad Bever's termed out? Yeah, that's what I thought - nearly unanimous.
CAR SHOW AWARDS
Among the presentations made last night was to a group of car owners who have participated in Bever's legacy event - the First Friday Car Show. The owners were presented with what amounted to a "people's choice" award for each show since the beginning in August. Here you see volunteer Cindy Brenneman and Special Affairs Manager Dan Joyce presenting the award to George Freestone for his magnificent Cadillac convertible.
BERARDINO AND RIGHEIMER
Back to business. A small crowd assembled in the council chambers for the meeting last night. Fewer than a dozen stood to address the council during the Public Comments segment of the
meeting. Most were familiar faces, but the number included Nick Berardino, General Manager for the Orange County Employee Association, who used his three minutes and a little bit more to congratulate Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer for his statement recently that he wanted to rescind all remaining layoff notices and begin negotiating with the employee associations to try to find ways to outsource operations where possible and to improve service to the community. Righeimer watched intently, then confirmed his commitment during his time to speak.
Immediately after Berardino spoke Robin Leffler, activist and President of Costa Mesans For Responsible Government, stepped up to address, as she said, "the elephant not on the agenda". She was referring to Righeimer's comment in the press that he "was going to cancel the remaining layoff notices". She reminded the council that, since that item HAD NOT been placed on the agenda, it would be improper for the council to even discuss it at this meeting, much less vote on it. She reminded them that proper procedure required them to have the item placed on a future meeting agenda, which would be "noticed" to the public in time for them to present themselves before the council to discuss it. Her reminder worked because that is precisely how it played out later during "council member comments".
LEGAL AND CONSULTANT FEES
The meeting actually moved fairly briskly last night. The Consent Calendar provided some interesting moments when councilwoman Wendy Leece pulled several items for separate discussion. One was one of the five Warrants being considered that included very significant legal bills for Jones and Mayer. She asked stand-in City Attorney Christian Bettenhausen to provide a report to the council on the status of the litigation still pending at a future meeting. Another was the need to continue to retain Tammy LeTourneau of Management Partners for another six months and $37,000. CEO Tom Hatch explained that her presence was still necessary due to the heavy load in Human Resources with the screening of applicants and other items. He said she provided a 16 point plan for managing their Workers Compensation issues that saved lots of money.
NAGHAVI STICKING AROUND AWHILE
Hatch announced that Peter Naghavi - who recently announced his retirement - will be sticking around for a few more months to help with the recruitment for his replacement. That's good for the city.
NO CHANGE IN TRAFFIC IMPACT FEES
The council approved the extension of the current Traffic Impact Fee structure until the consultant hired has finished his review.
CODIFIED FIRE SAFETY PENSION FORMULA
They also approved the issues involving the second pension tier for the Fire Safety folks - 2%@50 - as the final step in the agreement between the City and CalPERS.
"YOU ARE HERE!"
The council approved the design of the SR-55 Gateway sign to be placed on Cal Trans property visible to drivers as they emerge from the ditch to the intersection of SR55 (Newport Blvd.) and 19th Street.
And, finally, they approved the plans for the formation of a committee to make recommendations for the City's 60th anniversary celebration. Not unexpectedly, several council members added groups to be included to the nearly two dozen recommended by staff.
HOW ABOUT IT, JIM?
The next meeting will be on December 4th and will mark the changing of the guard as former mayor Sandra Genis replaces Bever on the dais. Since, based on comments made last night by Righeimer on the dais, we seem to be entering a new era of cooperation and conciliation, I have a suggestion for him. How about a demonstration of that new-found attitude by nominating Wendy Leece as Mayor on December 4th? Then Steve Mensinger could nominate Sandy Genis for Mayor Pro Tem. I mean, they've got the votes, so why not show us exactly how magnanimous they are willing to be? I think that would be a great show of class on their part and go a very long way to getting this newer, kinder council headed in the right direction. How about it, Jim? Are you REALLY ready to have the new council function as a team?