Righeimer And Mensinger To Lead City
Well, folks, the "new era" is looking very much like the old era in Costa Mesa - unfortunately. You can read Bradley Zint's account in the Daily Pilot, HERE
Last night, in a council meeting that will surely be remembered for unfulfilled expectations, to the surprise of nobody in the auditorium Jim Righeimer was elected Mayor and his pal, Steve Mensinger, was elected Mayor Pro Tem - but not without some interesting discussion.
A SLOW START
The council chambers was nearly packed by well-wishers, family, fans and other interested folks. After nearly an hour of Public Comments and Council Member Comments, the meeting finally turned to the certification of the election and then the election of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem at just after 7:00. Two hours later we finally had two officers elected and the meeting went into a 45 minute recess so attendees could enjoy some fellowship and food with the new council on the City Hall patio. Here's how we got that far.
EIGHTY MINUTES LATER IT'S RIGHEIMER
A TWO MINUTE JOB TOOK TWENTY
Then, in what should have been a slam dunk, nominees were made for Mayor Pro Tem. Mensinger was nominated, as was Leece. Another fifteen (15) people rose to speak, six (6) in favor of Mensinger - including Righeimer's wife, shown here - and nine (9) in favor of Leece. When the votes were taken, the first one was 2-3 against Leece. The second was 4-1 in favor of Mensinger, with Genis seeing the handwriting on the wall. Then there was the break at just after 9:00 p.m. and we all knew we were in for another marathon meeting
After snacks and schmoozing, at 9:45 we finally got down to business. The new council was seated in the order you see above. I'm not going to try to read anything into the seating arrangement except to observe that the women were shoved off to the side. With Sandy Genis seated next to Jim Righeimer it's going to be a very interesting tour.
The council voted to move the next meeting from January 1st to January 8th. Good idea.
They then "continued" the Public Hearing on the closure of the Anchor Trailer Park until January 8th at the request of the potential buyer. I thought at that time that maybe we might make it out of there before 11 p.m. I was disappointed.
HALF THE CONSENT CALENDAR "PULLED"
Members of the council "pulled" for separate discussion more than half the items on the Consent Calendar, so we didn't finish that part of the agenda until 11:10 p.m! Leece pulled the Warrant that contained a payment to Jones Day for over $69,000 and asked contract City Attorney Tom Duarte about it, since it was a May bill. He told her, and us, that it had been returned for adjustment before payment and that the January Warrants would see several more payments to Jones Day through the October billing. We've now spent well over $1 million on that firm for their work on the OCEA lawsuit. The three items that generated the most discussion, items #9, #10 and #12, all dealt with insurance issues and all were "continued" to January 8th. By now it was pretty late, but an amusing sidebar was Mensinger getting lost in the agenda. You'd think, after two years on the dais, he'd figure out how to follow along, wouldn't you? They did approve the creation of the new Deputy City Clerk position.
RESCINDING THE LAYOFF NOTICES
Finally, at 11:20 p.m., we got around to the big issue of the evening - New Business #2 - the rescinding of the remaining layoff notices and related subjects on that agenda. You can read it HERE. It passed on a 5-0 vote, but not without some long, sometimes rancorous, discussion. For example, Genis wanted to know why we were spending any time planning to negotiate with the employee association on outsourcing specific units when the recent court decision seemed to forbid that move. One of the lawyers from $495-per-hour Jones Day rose from his seat beside me - he spent 3 hours perched there reading emails and texting while the meter was spinning - and tried to answer questions he stated would best be addressed in closed session. However, Genis was persistent, but never really did get an answer to her question. Following the vote Hatch was directed to move forward with discussions with the association. It was pretty bizarre, to say the least.
OFF TO A BAD START
When they adjourned to closed session it was a couple minutes past midnight, so this council continues down the path the previous one had blazed of long, frustrating meetings.
SAME OLD SONG, SECOND STANZA
A couple things were very clear last night. First, despite issuing an apology for his tactics the past two years and his stated willingness to turn over a new leaf and deal more collaboratively with the employee units, Righeimer's actions showed us that he's not really serious. I thought it might take two meetings for this to become evident and was wrong. It only took part of one. There were many in attendance last night who were keeping their fingers crossed that he actually meant what he'd said the previous meeting and early in this one. We all left very disappointed. It's clear to me that the only thing that has changed on the dais is the seating positions.
RIGHEIMER AND THE RULES
The other thing is that we're going to have to watch Righeimer like a hawk because he tends to play fast and loose with the rules and, now that he's Mayor, he's going to be emboldened to stretch them - or ignore them - even more. It's as though he thinks "Mayor" is the same as "monarch". Whatever the reasons, keep your eye on him. It's going to be a very long two more years.
SAME OLD STEVE...
And, Steve Mensinger demonstrated that he has not changed a lick. A couple times he tried to pull one of his "in your face" moves on Genis. Early on, during Council Member Comments, while discussing the recent campaign and the vandalism to campaign signs he said "I don't forget things" - clearly an indicator that he holds, and will continue to hold, a grudge about the loss and damage to many of his signs. And, he continues to use the troubling technique of saying, "I like so-and-so, he or she is a great person" or words similar to those, then goes on to slam that person. And then there's his annoying habit of asking a question of someone other than a staff member making a presentation to them, not understanding the answer so he asks it again, more forcefully. He's one strange guy
So, we have a month until the next council meeting. I suggest we all rest up, enjoy the holidays and get ready for the next stanza of the "Jim Righeimer Era" in Costa Mesa. I have a feeling that it's going to be a bumpy, very expensive ride for us all.