Saturday, August 18, 2012

Costa Mesa Current Projects


THE QUEST FOR INFORMATION
As time permits and the mood strikes me I will occasionally bounce around the new Costa Mesa City Website just to see what enhancements are available to those of us frequently searching for data.

CURRENT PROJECTS
Today my search took me to the Current Projects page, HERE.  This is a terrific site with an easy-to-use map and explanations of ALL of the projects currently being undertaken in our city.  Take a couple minutes to click on that link, then navigate around to see what's happening in your neighborhood.

MORE TO COME
From time to time I'll give you links to other interesting elements of the new website.  It's not perfect yet, but does provide us with some useful information that's easy to access.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tom Hatch Interview With Lacy Kelly

AN INTERESTING HALF-HOUR
Costa Mesa City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch recently sat down with Lacy Kelly, President of the Association of California Cities Orange County (ACCOC) for a thirty minute interview. 

CMTV RECORDED IT
The Dane Bora and Brad Long from Costa Mesa Television (CMTV) captured that event and it's now available for viewing on CMTV - Channel 24 on Time Warner Cable and Channel 99 on ATT U-Verse.  The play list for that program is listed below.

STREAMING VIDEO, TOO
Additionally, it can also be found via streaming video at the ACCOC web site, HERE.  I've also provided that clip below for your viewing pleasure.  Take some time and watch this current discussion of Hatch's summary of recent accomplishments and his vision for our city.

IMPORTANT ISSUES DISCUSSED
Among the issues he discusses is the importance of pension reform and how Costa Mesa cannot make that trip alone.  He also talks about living within our means.  He talks about the reduction in staff from 611 down to the current headcount of around 460.  And, he addresses Costa Mesa's approach to managing the homeless issue, and much, much more.


TOM HATCH WITH LACY KELLY 

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City Responds To Appeals Court Decision

CITY RESPONSE...
As discussed in the previous entry, the Fourth District Court of Appeals today affirmed the preliminary injunction imposed by Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann.  At the time of that post I had not heard from the City on this issue.  

$495 PER HOUR LAWYER OPINES
Shortly after 2:00 p.m. today Communication Director Bill Lobdell issued the following statement:


A statement by Richard Grabowski, special counsel for the City of Costa Mesa, on the Court of Appeals ruling today that upheld a preliminary injunction preventing the City from outsourcing services to private companies until a lawsuit filed by the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn. is heard in court.

"We are looking forward to proceeding to trial. There is nothing in the court's opinion today that precludes the city from ultimately outsourcing once the trial court has had an opportunity to review all of the facts."

Then, about 90 minutes later he followed up with this statement:

After reviewing the Court of Appeals ruling today, Richard Grabowski, special counsel for the City of Costa Mesa, had this statement:

"The Court of Appeal's decision today recognizes that Costa Mesa has the authority to contract out jails, payroll and special services, and has remanded the case to the trial court for a trial on the merits. As the contracting out of these services is the fiscally prudent thing to do, the City looks forward to having its day in court on those issues."



 
 CAN'T FIND HIS AUTHORITY...
Subsequently I spent a good amount of time reading through the actual opinion by the Court, trying to find the basis for Grabowski's final statement - and failed.  Nowhere in the document produced by the Appeals Court do I find authorization to contract out jails, payroll and special services with the injunction in place.

 THE METER KEEPS ON SPINNING
So far, in Fiscal Year 2011-2012 with additional charges still pending, Mr. Grabowski's firm - Jones Day - has billed the city for over $999,000 dollars.

COURT OF APPEAL DECISION
The actual document from the Fourth District Court of Appeals begins with the following statement:

THE BEGINNING
"Plaintiff Costa Mesa City Employees' Association (CMCEA) represents workers who are employed by the City of Costa Mesa (the City). In response to the City's plan to contract out for a variety of city services, CMCEA filed suit against the City and its Chief Executive Officer Thomas Hatch (collectively defendants) for injunctive and declaratory relief. CMCEA contends the City's proposed outsourcing plan violates state law as well as the parties' collective bargaining agreement. Trial on the matter has not been heard, but on July 15, 2011, the trial court granted a preliminary injunction enjoining defendants from contracting with a private entity for any of the services that are performed by CMCEA members or laying off CMCEA members as a result of such contracting. In this appeal, the sole issue is the propriety of the preliminary injunction. Defendants contend it was improvidently granted, but we disagree and affirm the trial court's ruling."

LOTS OF CITATIONS
In between there are 20 pages of information, case citations expansions of their views which, over and over again, support the need for the preliminary injunction.  At the end the judges conclude with this segment.

THE END
"At this point in the controversy, however, we are convinced CMCEA's members would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction, there is “some possibility” they will prevail on both their contract and statutory claims (which are independent grounds for relief), and the relative harm to the parties favors preliminary relief. Therefore, we will not disturb the trial court's decision to grant a preliminary injunction in CMCEA's favor."


Read the full Appeals Court Opinion HERE, thanks to the Daily Pilot.

DOOR SLAMMED ON MOST OUTSOURCING
So, now we wait until this case actually goes to trial.  And, as I read the court's document today, the City MAY NOT proceed with any outsourcing that is not with another government agency.  That means the Jail, for sure.  We may hear more from contract City Attorney Tom Duarte at the council meeting scheduled for next Tuesday, August 21st.

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Injunction Blocking Layoffs And Outsourcing Upheld!

FOURTH DISTRICT APPEALS COURT RULES
According to a press release issued just after noon today by Jennifer Muir, Assistant General Manager of the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), the "Fourth District Court of Appeal has upheld a preliminary injunction blocking the City of Costa Mesa from laying off more than 100 employees and outsourcing their jobs to the private sector"


"HUGE MORALE BOOST"
Muir's release quotes Helen Nenadal, president of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA) as saying, "This is a huge boost for employee morale during a dark period in Costa Mesa's history."


 JUDGE SCHUMANN'S INJUNCTION AFFIRMED
You will recall that Superior Court Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann issued a preliminary injunction blocking the City from outsourcing to the private sector.  It was not precluded from shifting jobs to other government agencies, however.  The City appealed that decision to the Fourth District Court of Appeals, which affirmed Judge Schumann's order in its entirety. 


BACK TO COURT - LEGAL BILLS PILING UP
This means we go back to court sometime in the near future.  In the meantime, the legal bills just keep on piling up - a result of the current council's stubborn refusal to deal with the employees in a forthright manner.  Those bills have totaled more than $2 million for the fiscal year that just ended and that figure is not yet complete.


NO CITY RESPONSE YET
I've inquired of the City for a response but its official reply to this situation is still pending.  If and when I hear more I will update this entry.


EMPLOYEES BREATHING EASIER
In the meantime, the employees who would have been affected by this situation - those who have received as many as a half-dozen layoff notices in recent months - can breath a little easier, for now.


 HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE ELECTIONS?
It is unclear how this decision by the court will affect the municipal election.  We can almost be guaranteed that folks on both sides of this issue will try to find a way to use this decision to their advantage.  It's not going to be pretty.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Stephens, Weitzberg, Genis Top Ballot

 BALLOT POSITION ANNOUNCED
The California Secretary Of State released the randomized alphabet that will be used to determine the position on the ballot for each elective office in the state.  Based on that information, this is what the Costa Mesa City Council ballot will look like

John Stephens

Harold Weitzberg

Sandra Genis

Colin McCarthy

Gary Monahan

Al Melone

Steve Mensinger

James Rader

PERHAPS AN OMEN OF THINGS TO COME?
Since many scientific studies have determined that the position on the ballot has much to do with the success of a candidacy, those of us looking for a change on November 6th have a glimmer of encouragement in front of us.

GET CRACKIN'...
Now the real work begins.  Now is the time for the candidates to ramp-up their efforts, begin knocking on doors and delivering the message.

To Bring Costa Mesa Back To The Top
Just Vote 1, 2, 3 And Stop!

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I-405 Widening Controversy Continues *(Amended)

MUNOZ REPORTS TO THE COUNCIL
In recent correspondence to the Costa Mesa City Council Public Works Director Ernesto Munoz expressed concern for the way the revised proposals for the widening of the I-405 Freeway from Costa Mesa to the 605 Freeway is shaking out.


OCTA'S VERSION OF OPPOSITION
Apparently the OCTA Board, at its meeting on August 13th, saw a presentation that focused on the OCTA's efforts to address various comments received from cities along the corridor.  According to Munoz, "they outlined what 'they felt' are the key issues for each city.  The Fairview Bridge was presented as 'the Costa Mesa issue', and OCTA staff indicated they felt Costa Mesa's concerns were being addressed through a new alternative (Alt. 3-A) to start the toll lanes north of the Fairview bridge, south of the Harbor bridge, to avoid it's reconstruction, and construction of the SR-73 connector."  He continued with his summary by stating, "They went over their perceived concerns for each City but there was no mention as to the fact that the Cities along the corridor are united in their opposition to Alt. 3 and in support of Alt. 2, and that resolutions have been adopted by all opposing Alt. 3."


ALTERNATIVE 3-A DOESN'T CUT IT
In his remarks to the Board Munoz mentioned that "while Costa Mesa is appreciative of the staff's efforts to address the City's concerns, they fall short of what the real impacts would be."  He went on to mention Mayor's letter of July 31st, from the six cities, and how all concerns had been articulated in the letter (since OCTA staff at no point mentioned this letter).  He also stated "that while Alt. 3-A is a step forward, Costa Mesa remained opposed to the toll lane option as has been communicated to the Board in the Mayor's letter."  He also mentioned the "impacts associated with the sound walls to the neighborhood by Moon Park as additional impacts by any of the alternatives that needed to be addressed".   Apparently a couple Board members questioned him and expressed some dissatisfaction with his comments as they felt Costa Mesa's concerns were being addressed.


MOORLACH EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT TOLL OPTION
Munoz also said that John Moorlach, a director on the Board, expressed concerns over the toll option and asked "whether OCTA may be exposed to litigation" since the toll alternative was not part of what the voters had approved.  


AMANTE WANTS ALT 3-A DISCUSSED WITH CITY

Director Jerry Amante asked "the OCTA staff to bring to their next meeting "all" the concerns expressed by the cities for discussion.  He also requested Alt. 3A be discussed with our Council and have the City reevaluate its position in light of this mitigation."  It's unclear whether this "discussion" will be held in an open session so the public may participate or not.

OPPOSITION TO ALT. 3 STILL STRONG
According to Munoz, "The Board also requested elected representatives from the cities be present at subsequesnt meetings to voice their concerns.  Seal Beach, Westminster, Fountain Valley and Los Alamitos expressed similar concerns as ours and reiterated their opposition to Alt. 3.All the cities expressed strong support for Alternative 2.
 
 (Alternative #2)

SCHEDULE OF IMPORTANT MEETINGS
Here is the schedule of the next several meetings at OCTA headquarters to address this issue:


All meetings are held at: (click on image to enlarge)
OCTA Headquarters
600 South Main Street
Orange, California 92868

Policy Working Group

August 22, 2012. 8 a.m. in Room 103
No public comment permitted.  Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem plan to attend.

Stakeholders Working Group

August 23, 2012, 9 a.m. in Room 103
No public comment permitted.  Will be chaired by Moorlach

Regional Planning and Highways
September 17, 2012, 10:30 a.m. in Board Room
Public comment allowed.  Purpose is information dissemination

Board of Directors
September 24, 2012, 9 a.m. in Board Room
Public comment allowed.  Board will select "Preferred Local Option"



PROJECT INFORMATION
You can review the history of this project and the timeline by visiting the OCTA website for this project HERE

*MORE INFORMATION
OCTA provided more updated information on this project on 8/17/12 HERE.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rader Speaks Out - And Bows Out

RADER FOLDS CAMPAIGN BEFORE IT BEGAN
Newcomer Costa Mesa City Council Candidate James Rader announced today that he will NOT actively campaign for a seat on the council in November, citing time constraints that will preclude him from creating an organization to effectively campaign this season.

WILL SUPPORT GENIS
He has decided to support the candidacy of former mayor Sandra Genis and outlines the reasons why in his brief press release this afternoon.

NAME WILL STILL BE ON THE BALLOT
Even though Rader's name will remain on the ballot, we can only hope it will not be a distraction to the voters when they make their selections in November.  Thanks to Mr. Rader for making this decision so promptly.

PRESS RELEASE FOLLOWS
Here's the text of James Rader's press release:

August 15, 2012Re: Costa Mesa City Election, 2012

James Rader – Press Release

When I decided to run for the City Council, my goal was to be an active part of the process, and help move the city forward. Unfortunately, I waited until the last day of the nomination period to declare my candidacy. Now that I am a candidate, I see that there just isn’t enough time to create a campaign plan and build a viable organization before the November election. Bottom line, I will not be actively campaigning for the City Council.

That being said, I still plan to take an active role in the process by supporting Sandy Genis for City Council. Sandy has experience, and a good track record. As a public servant, she has demonstrated her commitment to making Costa Mesa a comfortable and safe place to live, and work.

This decision was not an easy one, but it is better that I make it now rather than at a later date.

Thank you very much for your support.


James Rader

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The Answer To The Question "Who Is That Guy?"

BACK TO WORK...
OK, folks... the partying is over... thanks for all the kind words.  Now back to business.

MEETING JAMES RADER
I had a chance to speak with the unknown candidate for Costa Mesa City Council, James Rader, earlier this week.  He was kind enough to return my calls and we had a nice chat about him and his candidacy.  I must tell you that I liked him a lot based on that conversation.


WESTSIDE ENGINEER
Mr. Rader - a Westside resident -  is an engineer involved with customer interface in the custom circuit board business.  He's been doing this kind of work for almost three decades and has been with his current employer for a dozen years.

HOMELESS ISSUE MOTIVATED HIM
He tells me that he decided to throw his hat in the ring because of his frustration with the homeless situation near his home - across the street from Lions Park.  I'm sure most of us can understand that, for sure.  He complained about transients sleeping near his home, defiling his trash cans and making every trip across the street to the library or Historical Society an adventure in personal safety.


MANY OTHERS HAD A SINGLE ISSUE
It's been my observation that, over the years, it has been a single issue that has prompted many of our local politicians to get involved, so his reasoning didn't surprise me.  What did surprise me was his almost complete lack of knowledge - or even awareness - of many of the important issues that have been swirling around our city for the past few years.

UNAWARE...
For example, he was completely unaware of the Homeless Task Force that had been working diligently to try to identify and solve the many elements of the "homeless problem".  Since that was his motivating issue, I kind of expected him to be a little more up to speed on that one, if nothing else.

...ABOUT MOST ISSUES
He also has NO knowledge of the Charter issue, only a cursory awareness of the outsourcing drama and is vaguely aware of the budget issues facing the city.  He told me he has no acquaintanceship with any of the other candidates and only knows Gary Monahan because he's eaten at his place a couple times.




I UNDERSTAND
I don't get too excited when I meet residents who are clueless about important issues because that was me for nearly three decades.  I was like most folks in this town - I went to work each day out of the city, worked hard to make a living, then returned home to enjoy the fruits of those labors.  I figured I was in good hands - that the elected leaders of the city would do the right things on my behalf.  Yep, I, too, was clueless.

I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS, THOUGH
However, it's a BIG problem for me when a person takes the step to file as a candidate for City Council - paying the fees, gathering the necessary signatures and exposing his life to the world - with so little awareness of the important issues in the city and the time it will take to do the job even moderately well.

A MISTAKE, BUT TOO LATE...
It was clear during my conversation with him that Mr. Rader knew he made a mistake by filing because when the City Clerk called to tell him he had qualified for the ballot he asked her if it was too late to withdraw.  The answer, of course, was YES!  That's a real shame, because this race is going to be a barn-burner and every single vote will count.  Even if he avoids every candidate forum - he's going to miss the first one because of a planned vacation - and does NO campaigning at all he will likely get 1,000 votes in November that would have gone to someone else.

NO PARTY AFFILIATION
Mr. Rader describes himself as a "decline to state" candidate.  He told me that he had been a registered Democrat, then switched to the Republican Party, then re-registered in his current status several years ago.  So, because he doesn't know the issues, we don't know how his presence on the ballot might impact the election.   I guess we'll see.


HE'S GOT HIS HANDS FULL
He told me he's going to be very busy doing his homework to get up to speed on the issues.  Based on the number and complexity of those issues, he's certainly going to have his hands full.  I wish him well and actually do look forward to meeting him at the forums if he decides to actually participate in the process.

WHAT A SHAME...
I shudder to think about the possibility of this election - the second-most important one in the city's history - being decided by the votes cast for a man who made a mistake in filing.  Let's hope that's not the case.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One More Candle...


WHEW!  STILL VERTICAL!
Yep, that's right... today I'll add one more candle to that cake and hope the Costa Mesa Fire Department doesn't show up to extinguish the flames!

CELEBRATING WITH MY SISTER
I began celebrating this newest milestone Sunday with my baby sister (HER big day is next Sunday) when she and her husband and another old friend (they're all old now) came to dinner.  So, since it was hot as heck and we are not air conditioned, we chose to venture out to one of our favorite restaurants - which IS air conditioned - for the celebration.  We then returned home for a nice, big chunk of my mother's recipe chocolate cake in a bowl of milk.  Yep, I still celebrate my birthday that way.

AND ANOTHER FAMILY EVENT
Last night we continued celebrating with another family gathering.  I'm sure they all figure I might not remember just one, so they're covering all the bases.  This time I had "birthday pie" - and it wasn't humble, which will surprise nobody, I'm sure.


NO SURPRISES, PLEASE
I have no idea what kind of birthday celebration we'll have today... surprises are bad on the hearts of guys my age.  We'll just go with the flow...


AND MANY MORE....
So, to all of us celebrating a birthday today, August 14th, here's a little something for us from the Beatles... enjoy.


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Monday, August 13, 2012

No On "V"!

 CHARTER ASSIGNED "V"
 The Orange County Registrar of Voters has announced the assignment of the numbers/letters for issues on the November 6th Ballot.  Jim Righeimer's Charter has been assigned "V".  (Thanks to CM4RG for the image above)

A LITTLE VIDEO FOR PERSPECTIVE


Perhaps this little video clip will help you in your assessment of this situation.  It seems somehow very relevant.


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Candidates and Forum Dates

BACK DOWN TO EIGHT
According to the Costa Mesa's Interim City Clerk, Brenda Green, this morning, there will be eight (8) candidates on the ballot for the three council seats available in November.  Apparently late-filer Tom Hopkins did not have enough signatures on his petition.  So, in alphabetical order, here are the folks from whom you will make your selection:

Sandra L. "Sandy" Genis
Colin McCarthy
Al Melone
Steve Mensinger
Gary Monahan
James Rader
John Stephens
Harold Weitzberg


WHO IS THIS GUY?
I hope to spend some time with James Rader early this week to find out what prompted him to jump into this race so late in the game, what his views are on the issues, etc.  I'll report more when I know it.

GOOD-BYE, MARY JANE
Also, the Medical Marijuana initiative failed to qualify for the November ballot.  Although the proponents turned in 6,777 signatures, 5811 were required but only 5,703 were valid.

 *****

POLITICAL FORUM SCHEDULE
So you can plan your fall candidate viewing, here is the most recent version of the schedule of Political Forums in Costa Mesa.  Each of these events will be held at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue (at Lions Park next door to the library).

Wednesday, August 29 
Mesa Verde Community, Inc. hosts the first forum of the season.  Their president, Darnell Wyrick will moderate the event.  Doors open at 6:30 and the program will run from 7-8:30.

Wednesday, September 5 
Barbara Venezia and her merry band of journalist/interrogators will host a Feet To The Fire Forum for council candidates.  Doors open at 6:30 and the program runs from 7-8:30.

Thursday, September 20 
Costa Mesa United hosts a forum that will include all Costa Mesa council candidates plus the three school board members that were eligible to run for re-election.  Since none of them had opposition they will automatically perpetuate their terms without appearing on the ballot.  President Gordon Bowley will moderate this forum, the theme of which will be "Academics, Athletics and Activities".

Monday, October 15 
Barbara Venezia is back for another Feet To The Fire Forum at which the subject will be Jim Righeimer's Charter.   She and her fellow interrogators will moderate a discussion between proponents and opponents of this issue.  At this point we understand Jim Righeimer will be one of the proponent panelists and, perhaps,  Orange County Employee Association General Manager Nick Berardino as one of the opponent panelists.  Other panelists are unknown at this time.

Thursday, October 18 
Later that week my friends in the Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors Group will host the final council forum of this campaign season.  Doors will open at 6:30 and the event will run from 7 - 8:30.  This event, which two years ago was the best of the bunch, will be moderated again by Marnie O'Brien Primmer.  This will be the final chance for voters to see their candidates in action and to try to measure them before casting ballots.

If anything changes on any of these forums I'll immediately notify you so you can plan ahead.





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