Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Independence Day, 2012

ENJOY THE DAY
We here at A Bubbling Cauldron hope you all have a great Independence Day holiday.  Yeah, I know - you're bummed out about it falling on Wednesday this year which "robs you" of a long weekend, but you'll survive.  In exchange for that, our "all-wise" City Council has permitted fireworks sales for almost a week and we've been hearing the illegal ones being fired off since last weekend.  Please don't do what this bonehead did in our neighborhood a few years ago.  Have a safe, fun holiday.
FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE
Today I'll leave you with some images and videos to mark this day.  I'm not sure when I'll post again, so you can just enjoy this entry the rest of the week.
OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM

 RED SKELTON ON THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
WHY "THE DUKE" LOVED THIS COUNTRY
LEE GREENWOOD - GOD BLESS THE USA

 LIFE IN AFGHANISTAN
I'll close with a couple images of my 20 year-old great-nephew, Nathan, who is serving in the United States Army in Afghanistan, half-way through his first deployment.  He celebrated his birthday on May 1st by being attacked by enemy mortars for most of the day.  A good close look at those photos will give you an idea of what each day is like for him.  Please pray for his - and every American service members - safe return home.  They joined to serve us and deserve your support.

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT
Have a safe holiday, and don't forget what it's all about, HERE.


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Monday, July 02, 2012

It's A New Year! - Fiscal Year, That Is...

A NEW FISCAL YEAR IS UPON US...
It's going to be a strange week... A short council meeting (I hope) Tuesday, City Hall closed Wednesday, then two days trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

STARTS AT THE USUAL TIME
So, about that council meeting.  It begins at City Hall at 6:00 p.m. - unless you want to show up for the reading of the agenda for the Closed Session meeting at 5:00.  You can read the entire agenda HERE.  Following the Council Member Comments - which always keep us at the edge of our collective seats because you just never know what these guys will come up with next - and Tom Hatch's CEO report the council will consider the Consent Calendar.

 
 LEGAL FEES PASS $2 MILLION!
Now, in the good old day - before these guys - most Consent Calendars were voted upon in one motion with few, if any items, pulled for separate discussion.  The whole process took about 1 minute, tops.  Not these days, though.  I suspect someone might pull the second Warrant, #2427, HERE, to chat about the $100,014.06 payment we made to Jones Day for - according to the detail on the Warrant - "CMCEA-4/12" and "CMCEA-3/2012".  You'll recall that our contract with that firm is open-ended - no cap at all.  They might also refer to the latest Legal Expenditures spreadsheet from the City web site, HERE, that shows we've paid Jones Day $787,663 for the CMCEA litigation through April.  That's more than the entire General Fund legal expenditures of $758,122.  And, for accuracy, through April, 2012, the City has incurred $2,104,595 expenses in the General Fund and Self Insurance Fund.  Through April, 2012 - with two more months to go before the 2011/2012 Fiscal Year legal expenditures have been fully tallied - our contract City Attorneys, Jones and Mayer, have been paid $1,172,757 from both funds.  Since we're now in a brand, new fiscal year, it seems like a good subject for discussion.

 
SAFE ROUTE TO SCHOOL
Once we get past that little item we may move right along to Item #6, Hardscape and Landscape Improvements on Broadway - not too far from my house - as part of the Safe Route To School Program.  You can read the staff report HERE.  The city will use grants and a $231,400 budget adjustment to cover the $1,171,000. anticipated cost.

CITY HALL CAR SHOWS
The last item on the Consent Calendar, #9, is an idea that apparently oozed from the cranium of Mayor Eric Bever - obviously in search of a legacy - to hold what is referred to as "First Fridays Road Show - Costa Mesa Car Show", a once-a-month gathering in the evening of up to 100 cars in the front parking lot at City Hall from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Visitor parking would be on the side and rear lots.  You can read the whole scheme HERE.  Now, I'm an old car fan and love seeing collections of vintage machines and hot rods on display.  It's not entirely clear whether this would include hot rods, classic cars, works in progress or whatever.  The staff report does mention the Ellis Brothers 1909 Buick Racer - a car now owned by my friend Dennis Holland and with which he participated in the Great American Race several years (shown here).  I found myself wondering what additional police presence will be necessary for this event each month?  Will this council approve overtime for officers to provide for public safety?


ONE MORE TIME FOR BETHEL TOWERS BONDS
The first Public Hearing of the evening is the replay of the request for bond issuance so the new owners can spiff-up Bethel Towers - to be known henceforth as the Tower on 19th.  This was delayed from a previous meeting because of serious outcry from the Senior Community, many of whom live in Bethel Towers.  They were concerned that insufficient outreach had been performed.  You can read the staff report HERE.


ADIOS TOWER RECORDS, HELLO WALGREENS
The second Public Hearing is the General Plan Amendment for the proposed Walgreens Pharmacy to be built at the site of the old Tower Records building on Superior near 17th Street and Newport Blvd.  The staff report is HERE.


BICYCLE PARKING ORDINANCE
New Business #1 is an ordinance to regulate parking of bicycles throughout the city.  The staff report is HERE.  This apparently is driven by the chronic misuse of bicycles by Costa Mesa's homeless population.  The staff report includes a study of available bike racks in public places throughout the city.  Briefly, we don't have enough racks to accommodate the demand.  No cost is included for additional bike racks, nor is the fee structure for retrieval of bikes that are confiscated.  Perhaps former Planning Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick - who has long advocated greater bike use in our city - will help enlighten us on this subject.


DISPATCH SERVICES RFP
Finally, there will be a discussion of the Dispatch Services RFP.  You can read the staff report HERE.  The staff recommends that the council receive and file the report, reject all bids and direct staff to continue to explore shared service models with nearby communities and authorize the staff to RESCIND LAYOFF NOTICES.  We'll see how this one flies.

 
NEW YEAR SPENDING...
So, we hope this first City Council meeting of the new Fiscal Year will get off on the right foot, although it seems to me that our "conservative council" will continue on their merry spending spree.

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