Saturday, March 10, 2012

Top Costa Mesa DUI Officers Honored

MADD LUNCHEON
Lost in the end-of-week shuffle was the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) luncheon, held at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda last Thursday, March 8th.

COSTA MESA OFFICER TOPS THE "CENTURY AWARDS"

In a press release from CMPD Lieutenant Rob Sharpnack, we were advised that among those 23 officers from 12 law enforcement agencies receiving the c
oveted Century Awards - those who accounted for 100 or more DUI arrests during 2011 - five represented Costa Mesa.

TOP PERFORMERS
The Costa Mesa officers honored were:

Officer Jose Torres (102 arrests)
Officer Oscar Reyes (103 arrests)
Officer Crystal Rodriquez (109 arrests)

Officer Jared Shurley (113 arrests)
Officer Kha Bao (423 arrests)

KUDOS TO OFFICER BAO
Sharpnack observe
d that Officer Bao's achievement was especially noteworthy. He was recognized as Orange County's top DUI arresting officer - the first time a Costa Mesa police officer has earned this award.

THANK YOU, ALL...
Congratulations to these fine officers for doing a great job of trying to make our streets safer for all of us. And, a special thank you to Officer Kha Bao for his extraordinary performance on our behalf.

I WONDER WHY?
I certainly don't want to throw a wet blanket on these wonderful achievements, but I find myself wondering just why nearly half of the Orange County officers being recognized for this accomplishment come from Costa Mesa. Is at least part of the reason because we have such a large number of bars and restaurants that serve alcohol? Seems likely to me. For the past several years Costa Mesa officers have been among the top in DUI arrests. That's a good thing. But, if we have so many drunk drivers spilling out onto our streets from all those bars, that's a bad thing. That's a question I guess we should be asking our City Council. I also find myself wondering what kind of reactions Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer - a man who created a major dust-up with the CMPD during a DUI checkpoint 18 months ago - and soon-to-be-ex-mayor Gary Monahan - the owner of a pub in our town - are having to this news.

KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!

In the meantime, congratulations to Chief Tom Gazsi and all the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department for their continuing excellence in light of the reduced staffing levels and on-going animosity toward them by some council members. We DO appreciate what you do for us every day. Thank you.

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Charter Arguments Posted On City Web Site

ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST, AND MORE...
As if this week already wasn't busy enough, late Friday evening Costa Mesa City Clerk Juli
e Folcik posted the following items on the City web site dealing with Jim Righeimer's Charter. Just click on any title in red to be taken to the appropriate .pdf file or web page.

FOR...

Argument in Favor of Measure - This document was filed at 5:00 p.m., March 9, 2012 by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righei
mer, Mayor Gary Monahan and Chairman of the Orange County Supervisors John Moorlach.


AGAINST...

Argument Against the Measure -
This document is signed
by Costa Mesa Councilwoman Wendy Leece, John "Jay) Humphrey, former Vice Mayor of the City of Costa Mesa, Sandra Genis, former Mayor of the City of Costa Mesa, Robin Leffler, President of Costa Mesans for Responsible Government and John B. Stevens, Business Owner and Attorney.

ANALYSIS...
Impartial Analysis of Measure -
by Costa Mesa City Attorney Tom Duarte.


IMPORTANT DATES...
Notice To Vote
rs Of Date After Which No Arguments For Or Against May Be Submitted - Rebuttals are due to the City Clerk's office no later than close of business on March 19, 2012.


AND MORE...

City Clerk Page On Costa Mesa Web Site - For helpful information, including a link to the Charter, Registrar of Voters and much more.

TRUDGING ON TO JUNE 5TH

The beat goes on as we now march toward the Primary Election on June 5, 2012
and the vote that theoretically takes "power" from the State and places it in the hands of the City Council - and may turn our city into dictatorship.

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Friday, March 09, 2012

Monahan To Step Down As Mayor!


GARY BAILS OUT AS MAYOR
In a very brief
press release today, Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan announced that, effective Tuesday, March 13, 2012 he will step down as mayor due to "increased family and business commitments".





SMART MONEY IS ON RIGHEIMER - ARRGGGHHH

The Costa M
esa City Council will hold a Special Council meeting at 4:30 p.m., preceding the scheduled Study Session, at which time a new mayor will be selected. It's possible that, since Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer might be chosen, then a new Mayor Pro Tem may also be selected. Any body betting against a Righeimer/Mensinger duo?

NEVER A DULL M
OMENT
See what happens when you sit back and try to relax! Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...

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Ketchum-Libolt Remembrance


TWO CMPD HEROES REMEMBERED
On a warm, sunny day dozens of current and retired members of the Costa Mesa Police Department, city staff, members of other law enforcement agencies, family and friends gathered under a cloudless sky to honor the memory of CMPD helicopter pilots Dave Ketchum and Mike Libolt a day before the 25th anniversary of the mid-air crash took their lives during a pursuit.
CHIEF GAZSI LED THE WAY...
Costa Mesa Police Chief Tom Gazsi, who was serving on the Newport Beach Police Department at the time of this tragedy, was the master of ceremonies for this event. He stood in fro
nt of a HUGE American flag suspended by a crane and a Hughes E500 helicopter, like the one Ketchum and Libolt were flying that fateful night and made available by the folks at the Anaheim Police Department, and gave us a brief history of the accident.
DAVE BROOKS SPOKE ABOUT DAVE KETCHUM
Retired CMPD Captain Dave Brooks (currently the President of the Board of Trustees of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and Police Chaplain) gave the benediction
, then spoke to the assembled crowd about Dave Ketchum.
BILL BECHTEL TOLD US ABOUT MIKE LIBOLT
Retired CMPD Sergeant Bill Bechtel, who was supposed to be in that helicopter that evening - on his first day as Commander of Costa Mesa's helicopter program - stepped up and spoke to us about Mike Libolt.
LOTS OF BRASS, RETIRED AND OTHERWISE
As I mingled with the crowd I saw former police chiefs Dave Snowden and Roger Neth. Snowden was chief on the day of the crash and Neth launched the helicopter program.
EMOTIONAL EVENT

This was a very emotional event for most of those in attendance and especially so for the many retirees who showed up.
TOUCHING SLIDE SHOW
After the ceremony on the helipad, Sergeant Phil Myers presented a brief slide show featuring the careers of Ketchum and Libolt.
FLYOVER SALUTE
The crowd then adjourned to the parking lot where the Anaheim PD helicopter did multiple passes in a flyover salute. I saw more than a few tears during that part of the service.
A BRIEF HISTORY
It's always a terrible event when we lose an officer in the line of duty. That night,
as Ketchum and Libolt - along with 27-year-old civilian flight instructor, Jeffrey Pollard, who was along as an authorized observer - handed off the pursuit of William Acosta to the Newport Beach helicopter piloted by Robert Oakley and Miles Elsing when a mid-air collision occurred both went down on a hillside near UCI. All three men in the Costa Mesa helicopter died of their injuries. The Newport Beach pilots, in a smaller Hughes 300C helicopter, both survived. You can read contemporaneous news accounts and background history HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

SERVING TIME
Acosta was convicted of a variety of crimes from his actions that night and is serving 45 years in prison.

A WATERSHED MOMENT
I think it was appropriate to hold a remembrance for these two men. This crash was a watershed moment for the Costa Mesa Police Department and caused them to change the way they thought about the airborne law enforcement business.

PROUD TO BE A COSTA MESAN
Condolences to the families of those two brave pilots, and to the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department, who live with the memory of this event each day. It was yet another day I was proud to be a resident of such a fine city - one that does not forget its heroes.

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

TeWinkle Task Force Meeting Wrap-up

LONG, BUT PRODUCTIVE
On your behalf I attended the TeWinkle Park Athletic Complex Task Force meeting Thursday evening. The meeting, scheduled for 90 minutes beginning at 6:00 p.m. ran an hour long. Chairman Dean Abernathy finally wrapped it up and tossed us out at 8:30. But, it was a productive meeting.

REPLAY OF PLAN "A"...

Jeff Hopkins of Big League Dreams, the vendor representative chosen to provide industry perspective for the Task Force, once again dominated the meeting. He first presented a re-hash of the last meeting, which ended up with the Task Force requesting him to return with a "Plan B". His original proposal called for the removal of one of the current 4 fields at the site so that area could be used for parking. It would also include a batting cage and, maybe, a tot lot.

PLAN "B" - NOT MUCH CHANGE
He then launched into Plan B, which seemed more like Plan A.2.0. In this modification the baseball diamond removed in Plan A remained off the plan. it, however was replaced with what amounted to an infield - allegedly to be used for infield practice - the batting cages and a couple lanes of pitching warm-up lanes. Most of the area remains as parking. And, from the conversation I heard, NO organizational changes were made. The three remaining fields would be utilized exactly the same way he proposed a month ago.

L
ARGE RESIDENT TURNOUT
There were many more residents in attendance at this meeting, and most of them had something to say. Several were very concerned about losing the use of this area as a general recreation venue - for walks, etc. Because gates will be installed and those will be locked at specific times, those concerns were valid. Others were unconvinced that current plans will actually mitigate the parking questions. Members of the Task Force, including representatives of the various user groups, also provided excellent insights and questions.

A POSSIBLE NEW SOLUTION

Parking
remains the big issue. If it's not possible to create a plan that provides adequate parking this idea will likely fail. Late in the evening mention was made by one Task Force member that there is a move afoot to consider removing the barrier space between the Sports Complex and Davis School by eliminating the running track, which would be replaced with a soccer field. Eyes lit up and chatter ensued because that might just solve the parking problem. Take a look at that "Plan B" photo again, just behind the left head shadow (sorry about that) and you can see how that would work.... the running track would be eliminated, the two parking lots would be joined and the remaining grass area would become a soccer field.

FAIRGROUNDS MIGHT PROVIDE HELP
I suggested that they might contact the folks at the Orange County Fair and Event Center - right across the street - because they, too, are wrestling with parking problems and there might be found a common solution to a common problem.

PLAN "C"
So, at the next meeting on April 5th, Mr. Hopkins will return with "Plan C", which will fold in the suggestion about that parking solution and members of the Task Force will move forward to gather information about this possibility. Progress is being made, but we're a long way from solving this issue. Once the Task Force completes its mission and presents their findings to the City Council, the next step is for the Parks and Recreation Commission to begin dealing with it. At some point, once the specifications for the improvements are nailed down - if ever - formal solicitations will be made and a vendor will be selected. I suspect that every person in the room Thursday night felt that Big League Dreams had the inside track.

VENDOR NEEDS VETTING

I take that back... resident David Stiller - long-time community activist and former member of the Parks and Recreation Commission in years past - asked an uncomfortable question at the
beginning of the meeting. He had done some homework that seemed to reflect that Big League Dreams has lots of trouble around the country at their various other venues - contractual and other legal issues. He directed his observations to Gary Monahan and other members of the City Staff present, demanding that these issues be investigated before any deal is made. Of course, a thorough vetting of any serious vendors will take place before a contract is signed... or so we're told.

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Costa Mesa Wins National Transparency Award

THINGS ARE "SUNNY" IN COSTA MESA
In a press release issued late this afternoon, Costa Mesa Communication Director, Bill Lobdell, announced that the City has been awarded a "Sunny Award" by Sunshine Review, described as a nonprofit dedicated to government transparency. Apparently Costa Mesa is one of only 214 governments of the 6,000 reviews - and the only Orange County Government entity - to receive this award. You can read the entire press release HERE.

MORE INFO AVAILABLE
I agree that this is a very worthy achievement, and that we, the residents of this fine city, have much more inf
ormation readily available to us today than was the case a couple years ago. Important information on the budget, the outsourcing process, the bogus charter scheme and many other issues are right there at your fingertips.

STAFF GETS CREDI
T
Personally, I attribute this to a change in attitude by the City Council and to the hard work and skill of the City Staff - including CEO Tom Hatch and Lobdell - who produce the information we see.


"SEE HOW GREEDY THEY ARE!"

I also think that part of this "transparency" is a mindset by some members of
the City Council to attempt to show the world just what greedy slackers the Costa Mesa staff members are. They become almost giddy when the new annual compensation report is posted, and just can't seem to wait to misrepresent the facts. I thought Steve Mensinger was going to have an orgasm last Tuesday night as he contemplated digging into the recently-released Workers Compensation report.

COUNCIL COMES UP SHORT
And yet, where "transparency" really counts - as the council goes about doing the job we hired them to do - is where the City comes up short. For example, several weeks ago they went through an exercise to develop a 5-Year Forecast, and used a spreadsheet provided by Finance and Information Technology Director Bobby Young. With Jim Righeimer leading the way, they merrily just plucked numbers involving millions of dollars out of the air with no substantive discussion on why they chose those numbers. They did this at such a pace that those of us trying to follow along couldn't write fast enough. That spreadsheet, with it's fabricated numbers, is still not available on the City web site. And, of course, come budget time those fabricated numbers will become cast in concrete as though they had origins in fact and the staff will be required to find budget dollars to accommodate those flights of fancy. This is not "transparency".

AND...
And, of course, we have the "one-man Charter" and the "two-man" working groups that contrived the bogus outsourcing scheme on cocktail napkins at Mayor Monahan's bar. And that led to the ignoring of a council policy that delayed the process, causing a "re-start", and which eventually led to a very costly lawsuit filed by the employees to protect their contractual rights. This is not "transparency".

SPOR
ADIC E-BRIEFING
And, the grand idea of the weekly E-Briefing - the online newsletter generated by Hatch - has lost much of it's steam. It now shows up every once in awhile - sporadic seems to be an appropriate word - whenever somebody gets around to it. And, of course, there has been plenty of fodder for that cannon since the first of the year.

STAFF, YES - COUNCIL, NO

Yes, the City Staff is doing a better job of providing information. The City Coun
cil, on the other hand, is far, far away from being open and forthright about how they conduct business for the city.

KUDOS

So, kudos to Hatch, Lobdell and the rest of the City Staff who actually do the hard work that produces the information we now have available to us. This recognition is well-deserved.



A BRONX CHEER TO COUNCIL
And a big, wet Bronx Cheer to the City Council for attempting to pla
y games with the word "transparency" while doing exactly the opposite as they stumble and fumble their way through their ham-handed attempts to change governance as we know it. Pfffssst!

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He's Baaack! Tom Johnson Takes Over "The Current"

TOM JOHNSON RETURNS
As announced in the Orange County Register yesterday, HERE, former Daily Pilot publisher Tom Johnson has reached an agreement with the Orange County Register to run the Newport-Mesa weekly publication, The Current.


GOOD NEWS FOR US
This is good news for those of us who read the Register regularly. The Current needed some serious freshening and Johnson's the man to do it. If you only read a local newspaper one day a week The Current might have met your needs. It has basically been a summary of news from the area over the past several days. Seldom did we see new content. In the article Johnson promises a new look and, we hope, fresher content.

THE FACE OF LOCAL NE
WS
Tom Johnson has be
en a pillar of the Newport-Mesa community for decades. During his tenure as publisher of the Daily Pilot he was THE face of local news. As the Los Angeles Times - the Pilot's parent company - began to have financial difficulties in the last part of the last decade Johnson found himself at odds with the direction planned by the then-owners and left.

HE AND LOBDELL

He next surface
d in 2009 when he and former Daily Pilot Editor and current Costa Mesa Director of Communications, Bill Lobdell, launched a start-up online newspaper, The Newport-Mesa Daily Voice. That effort lasted a few months, then it folded up and the concept morphed into the Newport Beach Independent - a hybrid online/weekly publication. Costa Mesa coverage was abandoned. He left "The Indy" last year.

WISHIN
G HIM WELL
We hope Tom Johnson is able to build The Current into a strong, locally-focused publication. With Daily Pilot resources spread thin and its recent expansion into Irvine, there seems to be a need for a tighter local news focus in our area. We look forward to watching this new enterprise evolve.

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