Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tidying-up, Homeless Task Force And Tardy Kudos

HOMELESS TASK FORCE, BUT FIRST...
I attended the final meeting of the Costa Mesa Homeless Task Force Wednesday evening and will give you my impressions shortly, but first, some tidying-up.



COUNCIL STIPENDS
In my last post I mentioned a comment made by City Clerk Julie Fo
lcik at the council meeting Tuesday night. I said it was unusual and that it referred to the council receiving additional pay because the meeting was to be a joint meeting of the Redevelopment Agency AND the City Council. I inquired of CEO Tom Hatch, who handed-off the question to Ms. Folcik. Today, as usual, she gave me chapter and verse - literally - for her pronouncement at the meeting.

NEW LAW REQUIRES SPECIFIC DISCLOSURE
It seems that Assembly Bill 23, one of the many new laws that went into effect January 1 and affects Government Code Section 54952.3, requires disclosure when a body meets in that kind of a joint session and when the body will be paid for each entity they represent. In this case, apparently the Redevelopment Agency has ALWAYS received a small stipend - $30.00 - for such meetings. Now the law requires that disclosure. Heck, that amount is so small that I don't even begrudge part-time, part-time councilman Eric Bever his stipend.

NO STIPEND FOR THE COSTA MESA HOUSING AUTHORITY
I also asked about the newly-formed Costa Mesa Housing Authority and was informed, as I suspected after reading the Bylaws thoroughly, that there is no provision for a stipend for members of the Housing Authority.

NOW, TO THE HOMELESS TASK FORCE

Last night the final meeting of the Costa Mesa Homeless Task Force was held in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center. Many members of the Task Force were not present, but enough were to form a quorum so business could be conducted. Only a couple residents attended, including your reporter and Daily Pilot reporter, Joseph Serna. Look for his report soon.

FINAL DRAFT REPORT APPROVAL
The purpose was to review and approve the final draft of the report to be presented to the City Council at a Study Session on February 28th. I've attended nearly half of the meetings they've held over the past nine months, so was very surprised when the members present still had difficulty with the exact wording for the definition of a "Costa Mesa Homeless Person". That issue is the core of the entire process, one that I thought had been dealt with months ago. I guess not.

LOTS OF BANTER, THEN A DECISION
Anyhow, it took them 90 minutes but they finally arrived at a description that passed muster, then proceeded to fine-tune the remainder of the report.




TASK FORCE DID A GOOD JOB

I must say tha
t those folks who have been on this task force since the beginning have done a remarkable job of defining the issue and crafting a set of goals and potential solutions for the City Council to consider. This is a thankless job, but they just dove in and despite changes in leadership, have done a good job with it, in my opinion.

REPORT ON THE CITY WEB SITE
The tex
t of the draft report is available on the City Web site - all 136 pages of it, including the PowerPoint presentation - for your review. A few changes were made this evening, but what you see there is essentially their final report. Go to the City web site Home Page at www.ci.costa-mesa.ca.us and click the check box marked "CM Homeless Task Force" in the middle of the page. Once to that page, click on the "Draft Final Report" on the top of the right-side box.

FUNDING WILL BE AN ISSUE
One of the challenges this Task Force, and the City Council, faces is how to fund
some of the initiatives suggested in the report. Their presentation will follow the Mid-year Budget Review on the agenda of the Study Session, so the council will be all tuned-up to discuss further expenditures. Yeah, right...

FRANCIS TO PLAY A MAJOR ROLE
We did learn last night that new Assistant CEO Rick Francis - shown here with Costa Mesa Police Officers Association President Jason Chamness - who comes aboard next Monday, the 23rd, is going to play a major role in the implementation of recomendations of the Task Force. According to Councilwoman Wendy Leece - the liaison to the Task Force - CEO Tom Hatch plans to assign Francis, who has a background in Probation, to implement some of the recommendations.

WHAT ABOUT THE REST?
At the end of the meeting Chairman Jeff Mathews asked for Public Comments. I raised my hand and asked a question I had posed in a previous meeting. "After every person who qualifies as a 'Costa Mesa Homeless Person' is identified through th
e sorting process prescribed in this plan, there will almost certainly remain homeless folks in Costa Mesa who don't meet the criteria. Those people will not qualify to receive the assistance outlined in the plan. What happens to them." It seemed like a good question, since they will still be "homeless" and still be in Costa Mesa, but nobody really had a solid, definitive answer. Of course, we don't want them in our city, so one of the alternatives is to arrest them for violating one or more of the ordinances that exist, or will exist as a result of this effort. They will, however, remain in Costa Mesa. This problem - how to handle the residue of the sorting process - is one that is going to require some serious thought on the part of the City Council, hopefully before they decide to move forward with this plan.

DESERVED RECOGNITION
Before I close, tardy kudos to Dane Bora and Brad Long on being recognized at the recent Costa Mesa United Golf Tournament for their contributions to our community through their efforts with Costa Mesa Television and so much more. Both men are true professionals
who give their time and talents tirelessly and are outstanding ambassadors for our city. Thanks, guys...
BANKING THE COALS AGAIN
The Cauldro
n will be on simmer for a few days. I won't be ignoring you, but it might take a little longer for comments to be posted. Be patient. I'll be back in time to watch the 49ers beat the Giants and the Patriots beat the Ravens on Sunday. In the meantime, I DO want to thank all of you for visiting this site. I hope the information and opinions you find here are helpful. And, I DO want to thank each of you who take the time to post comments and keep the debate "bubbling". I want this blog to be a place where opposing viewpoints can be discussed - hopefully, with some small degree of civility. Of course, I realize that's not always going to be the case, but it's a goal...

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

OMG! Home Before Midnight Again!

FINISHED ON TUESDAY!
Well, the Costa Mesa City Council is on a roll! For the second meeting in as many weeks they managed to complete their business without turning over the calendar first! They wrapped things up at 10:55 Tuesday - nearly an hour earlier than their meeting on the 10th.

RIGHEIMER AND MONAHAN TARDY FOR CLOSED SESSION
In an evening which saw the preliminary Closed Session start 35 minutes late because Mayor Gary Monahan and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer were tardy, I had apprehensions that this was going to be another Tuesday/Wednesday meeting, especially when that delayed start was carried forward to the Council Meeting, which began at 6:45.

COME AGAIN?
One thing happened that I've never seen before. At the very beginning of the meeting City Clerk Julie Folcik announced that "At this time I'd like to make an announcement. We are convening a meeting of the City Council. There will also be a meeting of the Costa Mesa Redevelopment Agency and the council members will be getting paid an additional compensation because of the RDA meeting." Now, I've been attending and watching these meetings for several years and I've never seen that announcement made before. In fact, I was under the impression that the City Council received NO additional compensation when they convened as the Redevelopment Agency. This begs the question about what additional compensation they might be making as the Costa Mesa Housing Authority. More on that later.

BEVER'S BATTING 2 FOR 3
Before we get too far afield I'd like to report to you that part-time, part-time councilman Eric Bever was present tonight, and, unlike Monahan, he stayed to the bitter end of the meeting. Good for Bever! He's now batting .666, having managed to make it to two of the three meetings so far this month. He's got a couple weeks to rest up before the Study Session scheduled for January 31st.

"BRIEF" PUBLIC COMMENTS
Public Comments "only" lasted 40 minutes, with several speakers addressing the Charter, the 19th Street Bridge and courtesy from the dais. On that latter matter, resident Tamar Goldmann earlier had passed out a sheet to the audience outlining her mistreatment at the hands of our house bully, Steve Mensinger, at the previous meeting. Her subsequent comments, and those of others, apparently fell on deaf ears - or else Mensinger was involved in texting or emailing when they were being made - because he also used his position of power to chide Mrs. Goldmann again. Funny, you'd think a man who just turned 50 would have learned common courtesy by now... guess not.

THE HATCH REPORT
CEO Tom Hatch provided reports to the council on a large group of issues. One speaker complained about a gap in the video of the prev
ious meeting - supposedly the official record of proceedings. Hatch said that must have been a technical malfunction and would investigate. He told the audience that the 19th Street Bridge issue is scheduled for discussion at the February 7th council meeting. In response to a speaker inquiry, he indicated staff would be investigating how to budget for the City's 60th Anniversary next year. Following several complaints by speakers about changes to the Draft Charter approved last week not being included in the current version, he asked contract City Attorney Tom Duarte, who told us that a couple of the issues, including the Code of Conduct and Ethics, were being investigated and he'll report later.

BANNING RANCH
MEETINGS
Hatch also reported that Newport Beach's Planning Commission is holding a series of meetings on the Banning Ranch project. He rapidly gave the schedule - too fast for me to copy - but told us it would be on the city web site. The first meeting is this Thursday, January 19th.


RICK FRANCIS RECEPTION ON 1/23/12

He also announced that new Assistant CEO Rick Francis will be on board as of January 23, 2012 and that a "meet and greet" opportunity will be held that afternoon from 3 - 5 p.m. in Conference Room 1A for those in the community to meet Francis.

OUTSOURCING

Hatch gave us a summary of the current status of the outsourcing plans and told us the schedule on the city web site is current as of Tuesday. He also used the Jail RFP as an example of how much money might be saved by telling us that the one bidder who responded showed numbers that might save $400,000 - $600,000 annually. What he DID NOT tell us was the status of the lawsuit and the injunction imposed on The City that forbids contracting with ANY private company to provided outsourcing services for any function or unit until after the trial, which begins early in April. Hatch wrapped up his report at 8:00.

CONSENT CALENDAR

After a discussion of items on the Consent Calendar, where legal fees (Over $368,000 this month), the Harbor Soaring Society agreement renewal and the Payroll Audit were pulled for discussion, the council began it's "hat juggling" act.

TWISTS AND TURNS
Guided by Costa Mesa Redevelopment Agency counsel Celeste Brady, the council navigated through a complicated series of "meetings" apparently designed to salvage as many of the assets of the Redevelopment Agency as possible before it disappears on February 1st. This involved convening a joint meeting of the City Council and Redevelopment Agency and discussion the financial condition in light of potential legislative action that's working it's way through the State Senate now.

$19 MILLION PAPER TRAIL
One distressing part of that conversation was the uncertainty of the paper trail of the original seed money loaned to the RDA by The City back in the early 1970s. Apparently the staff, so far, has been unable to complete the trail that authenticates the City's claim on more than $19 million!

FIRST TWO OF SEVEN VOTES
In any event, the joint session produced a vote to accept the amended list of Enforceable Obligations and the amended Initial Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule, then another vote for The City to accept the assets as listed on the attachments. That meeting was adjourned. both votes were 5-0.

CREATING THE COSTA MESA HOUSING AUTHORITY
Then, changing hats, a joint meeting of the City Council and Costa Mesa Housing Authority was convened and the first order of business was to actually vote to create the Housing Authority, which was a 4-1 vote with Bever, inexplicably, voting NO. It was another of those "what was he thinking? moments we've seen far too often from him. Then a vote was taken on a resolution of the Housing Authority adopting Personnel Rules and Regulations and a Conflict of Interest Code and providing for the time and place of holding regular meetings of the Housing Authority. It passed 5-0. They also voted on a resolution adopting Bylaws for the Housing Authority, 5-0. I looked over the documents and didn't see anything about compensation for the Housing Authority members....

SHIFTING ASSETS
Then they voted as the City Council to decline assuming the assets of the RDA and confirming the Housing Authority as the successor agency to the RDA, 5-0. Then, as the Housing Authority, they voted to accept the assets and functions of the RDA, 4-1, with Bever again choosing to vote NO. He's one strange dude! Whew! Did you get all that? It was as confusing as it seems here, believe me!

WITHDRAWN

Public Hearing #1, a discussion of the holiday hours for the Target Store, had been withdrawn.

RECEIVED AND FILED
Public Hearing #2, the hearing of the issue involving improvements to an existing Mesa Verde apartment complex - an issue that really didn't have to be before the council - received a "Receive and File" vote, 5-0, but not before several speakers stepped up to either compliment the staff and property owner for helping resolve the problem or complain that not enough was done. And, Mensinger took the opportunity to try to micro manage yet another project. I guess he just can't help himself. Somebody should find him a job...

MORELLI'S REFUND

We got around to resident Al
Morelli's request for a refund of his appeal fees for the Target Store hours issue at 10:00 p.m. After a short discussion it was passed, 5-0.

MAYOR'S CHARITY DINNER
That took us to the discussion of the proposed "Mayor's Charity
Dinner" - a feel-good event being proposed by the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce among others. The discussion by speakers and proponents was very enlightening. Most speakers had no problem with this concept - except that it didn't seem to be benefiting any charities. At one point someone suggested changing the name to the Mayor's Ball. I heard several stifled chuckles around the auditorium... Eventually, at Bever's suggestion, a vote was taken to simply toss the ball into the laps of the organizations who brought it up and encourage them to move forward with it on their own, 5-0. Personally, I have no problem with this concept, which would honor past mayors and civic leaders. I do agree that this event should NOT be held during the campaign season - it would be to politicized. And, I'm sorry, but I just couldn't help visualizing Mayor Monahan in his wee kilt during this discussion.

MONAHAN BAILS OUT EARLY

Following that vote Monahan bailed out - he didn't look to good, so maybe h
e was ill. Anyhow, after comments and the usual sniping back and forth between Wendy Leece and Mensinger, the meeting was finally adjourned at 10:55!

NEXT STOP - HOMELESS TASK FORCE MEETING
Next up, what may be the final meeting of the Costa Mesa Homeless Task Force Wednesday (today!) at 5:30 in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Beazley Out As OC Fair CEO (AMENDED**)

RUMORS CONFIRMED
Following rumors swirling around Costa Mesa yesterday afternoon, this morning Robin Wachner in the Orange County Fair and Event Center Communications Department issued a press release announcing the pending departure of Dr. Steve Beazley from his position as Chief Executive Officer.

CONTROVERSIAL PERIOD AS CEO
Beazley is a long-term employee who rose to the top slot four years ago following the departure of Becky Bailey-Findley. He was the lightning rod for much controversy during the tumultuous time when the Fairgrounds was in play. At one point he was so concerned for his personal safety that the Fair Board authorized a security system to be installed at his home.

NO WORD FROM DR. STEVE

Calls to Beazley last night and this morning have gone unanswered and Wachner referred me to him this morning to get his story. I'll report more when I know more.

***

**THE STRAIGHT SCOOP
Steve Beazley just returned my calls to give me an update on his decision to depart. He told me that this is his decision - that he received no pressure from the Fair Board - and that, after 38 years with the Fair, it just seemed like the right time in his life to move on. He's told me that he never thought his job as CEO of the Fairgrounds would be his final job and that he's really looking forward to the new adventures that face him ahead. He told me he has nothing in the hopper at this time... Yikes!

FEELIN' GOOD
Beazley, always enthusiastic, told me, "I feel such a sense of rightness" about his decision. He feels he will be leaving the Orange County Fair and Event Center in very good condition, with a solid staff and good leadership from the Board. He hopes to participate in the process of replacing himself, but will leave that part of the transition up to the Fair Board. He told me he has spoken with the Fair Board leadership and will likely address the entire board at its meeting on January 26th.

A LEAP OF FAITH

Many of us have made this kind of decision in our lives. Beazley makes his as he approaches his 50th birthday - I made mine much earlier when I walked away from the best job I ever had to start a consulting practice. It's very much like jumping out of an airplane and wondering if the parachute will open when you pull the rip cord. I wish Dr. Steve Beazley well, and hope the transition goes smoothly for him and for the Fairgrounds.


***
Here is the text of Wachner's press release:

Costa Mesa, Calif. (January 17, 2012)OC Fair & Event Center President and CEO Dr. Steven Beazley has informed the Board of Directors of his intention to transition out of the position in 2012.

“It is time to reinvent myself. My intention is to retire from State service to pursue new creative opportunities including writing a book,” said Beazley.

Beazley, 49 expressed his desire to begin working with the Board on creating a CEO transition plan. A transition date has not been set.

“It is of the utmost importance to me to ensure that the CEO transition is a smooth one, maintaining the continuity of the organization,” Beazley said.

“While we are saddened by the news of Steve’s transition, we are happy for him and looking forward to selecting our next CEO,” said Board Chair Joyce Tucker.

Beazley stated in a letter to the Board that his 37 years in the organization, with 14 years as an executive including nearly 4 years as the President and CEO, have been a true joy. He quoted former Beatle George Harrison’s album title as a universal truth: “All Things Must Pass.”

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Tuesday's Meeting and Righeimer's Charter

HERE WE GO AGAIN...
As mentioned in an earlier post, HERE, Tuesday is another Costa Mesa City Council meeting and this one, like all the others within the past several months, promises to drag out until the late hours of the evening.



CHARTER NOT ON THE AGEN
DA
One thin
g that is NOT on the agenda is the new, second draft of Jim Righeimer's Charter. I've gone over this new document - it's a couple pages longer than the first draft and, in theory, folds in most of the questions and suggestions the council voted on last week. You can view that new, possibly last, version of the charter at the City web site, HERE - there's a handy link there for you in the box titled "The Latest Headlines" that looks like the image above. I expect the council will be VERY happy to hear from those of you that feel additional changes need to be made.

VOLUNTARY EMPLOYEE PARTICIPATION IN ASSOCIATIONS
For example, in the new draft there is a new section - #603, Voluntary Participation In Employee Organizations. The text of that section reads as follows: "Pursuant to Government Code Section 3502, city employees shall have the right to refuse to join or participate in the activities of employee organizations and shall have the right to represent themselves individually in their employment relations with the public agency."

PAYCHECK
PROTECTION SCHEME
And, as anticipated, Section
604, Voluntary Municipal Employee Political Contributions, remains. This is the latest iteration of Righeimer's Paycheck Protection Plan that was soundly defeated more than two decades ago, just as it deserves to be defeated this time around. For me, this one is a deal-breaker - the single issue that will cause me to vote AGAINST this charter in June. Once it's there, it's there and, based on the segment added dealing with a Charter review in 10 years, it's there for at least a decade.

ETHICS AND CONDUCT MISSING

I d
id NOT find a segment added to address Ethics and Conduct, even though the council voted for them to be included. Funny, I wonder why that might be excluded?



COUNCIL QUALIFICATIONS MISSING

I did NOT find a segment that addressed council member qualifications, even though the council voted to include language about it. Personally, I think it's important to codify a set of minimum qualifications to run for City Council - being a registered voter, residence in the ci
ty for a pre-determined period of time, etc.

STARTS AT 6 P.M.
So, grab an early dinner and head over to City Hall for the meeting that begins at 6:00, following a Closed Session that begins at 5:00. I'm going to bring a pillow this time...

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