Friday, October 12, 2012

Undercard To Monday Night's Rumble(Updated)*

"IN THIS CORNER..."
We just received notice that, as an undercard of sorts to Monday evening's Feet To The Fire Charter Debate between Jim Righeimer and Katrina Foley, tomorrow - Saturday, October 13th - Troy Davis will host Orange County Employee Association Assistant General Manager Jennifer Muir and Daily Pilot columnist and Costa Mesa buttinski, Jack Wu in a discussion of Jim Righeimer's Charter.  Too bad this will be radio - Jennifer is a real hotty.  Wu, not so much.


SATURDAY AT 10:00 A.M.
Yep, Davis will host what may be a lively discussion on his Money Matters Radio show on KOCI, 101.5 FM from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.  Additionally, Davis will be live in their chat room at www.kociradio.com (click "chat" in the upper right corner) so listeners can join in the conversation if they are so moved.

GIVE ME SOME FEEDBACK, PLEASE
This should be a very interesting hour.  I'm going to try to catch it - unless there's a particularly good college football game on television.  For those of you who DO listen, I'd appreciate your feedback here in the form of comments.  Let us know what you think of the discussion.



*UPDATE OF THE BROADCAST
Thanks to all of you who sent comments following the broadcast this morning.  Many of you made excellent observations.  Some of the rest of you just needed something to yap about - business as usual.

MUIR ON HER GAME - WU NOT SO MUCH
I did listen to the entire broadcast.  I, too, was disappointed that Jennifer Muir had to bug out early, leaving Jack Wu alone to misrepresent issues for the final few minutes.  In my view, Muir was BY FAR the better prepared of the two.  Her answers were crisp and she quoted proper citatitions in Jim Righeimer's Charter accurately.  Wu seemed to be way, way off his game.  He muttered his answers and just didn't seem to have done his homework.  Even better, a couple times he made statements that only supported something Muir had just said, acknowledging, for example, that people just don't trust Righeimer.  I guess Jack's too busy managing Dana Rhorabacher's campaign finances.

THANKS..
I'm grateful to KOCI and Troy Davis for this presentation, and for the opportunity to play a small role in it as a participant in the chat room they had going during the program.  I'm also grateful to those other folks who participated in the chat room.  I think those comments helped Davis keep the discussion going.

KOCI A VALUABLE TOOL...
I confess that I don't listen to KOCI much, but this is a valuable tool to inform the public about a variety of issues.  I hope Davis and the management of the station find a way to keep this particular ball rolling.

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City Council Agenda

LAST ONE FOR A MONTH
Next Tuesday, October 16th, the Costa Mesa City Council will hold the last scheduled meeting of the month.  In fact, because they recently voted to NOT hold a meeting on November 6th - election day - this will be the last scheduled meeting until November 20th.  Based on the items on the agenda, this could be another short one.

ITEMS OF INTEREST
As I reviewed the agenda for this meeting, HERE, I found a few pearls that may be of interest to those of you that follow events in the city closely.



MORE LEGAL BUCKS!
On the Consent Calendar we find a couple Warrants - register of checks issued for council review and approval.  Warrant #2442, HERE, contains an entry for our contract City Attorney firm, Jones and Mayer in the amount of $119, 279.24.  At this rate we'll spend $1.4 million on legal fees to that firm alone.  That doesn't count the ongoing costs for Jones Day at $495 per hour.


 ADDING MORE CODE ENFORCEMENT MUSCLE
Further on the Consent Calendar is the authorization for the addition of two Code Enforcement Officers, HERE.


 BENEFITS COST SAVINGS
Also on the Consent Calendar is an item, #11, HERE, which authorizes an extension of a freeze in the city contribution to health and medical benefits for employees represented by the Costa Mesa Division Manager's Association (CMDMA) through the 2013 calendar year.
FIRE FIGHTERS 2%@50
The final item on the agenda, HERE, is the authorization of the agreement between The City and CalPERS codifying the recent agreement between The City and the Fire Safety organization to change the 2%@50 retirement formula for new hires, down from 3%@50.

FOLLOWING THE F2F DEBATE
This might be a very interesting meeting since it comes a day after the Feet To The Fire Charter debate between Jim Righeimer and Katrina Foley.  Depending on how that event goes, we might hear a lot of yapping from the dais on that subject.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Feet To The Fire Charter Debate Monday

THEY'RE BAACK!
Yep, that's right - that rowdy crew of journalists led by Orange County Register columnist Barbara Venezia and Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis, will convene again on Monday, October 15th at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue (Lions Park) for their latest edition of fun and enlightenment.  Doors open at 6:30, with the formal event scheduled for an hour, 7-8 p.m.
BABS AND HER MERRY MEN
Venezia and Canalis will be joined by Newport Beach Independent Editor Roger Bloom, Voice of OC Managing Editor Norberto Santana, Jr., Daily Pilot columnist Jack Wu and Register columnist Frank Mickadeit as they fire fastballs at Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and Newport Mesa Unified School District Trustee Katrina Foley in a debate of Jim Righeimer's Charter.









DUCK!  
It's not entirely clear what the format will be.  With six interrogators on the stage with two victims, er, experts, it's unlikely that a standard debate format will be followed.  Based on past performance, I expect something akin to a fast-paced version of dodgeball.  And, of course, this is a highly-charged issue, debated by two people who won't soon be seen in an embrace, so it might be very interesting.

 LOOKING FOR ENLIGHTENMENT
What I, personally, hope happens next Monday is that, by the end of the evening, we voters will have a much clearer idea of the details of Jim Righeimer's Charter.  I hope that both Righeimer and Foley come prepared, answer the questions clearly and crisply and without any ambiguity.  I guess we'll see.
  STREAMING AND TAPED FOR LATER VIEWING, TOO
Venezia and her crew have created a new Feet To The Fire website, HERE.  It provides you with a little history of the previous forums, including video clips of them.  This event will be streamed live to that web site for those who cannot, or prefer not to, make it to the event itself.  In addition, the good folks from Costa Mesa Television, Channel 24 (Time Warner Cable) and Channel 99 (ATT U-verse) will tape the event for later viewing both on streaming video and on television. 

ANIMAL HOUSE-ESQUE
This event, only an hour, should be a good one.  I suspect it might turn out to be a combination of dodgeball, mentioned above, and a food fight.  It certainly will be good theater.  See you Monday...





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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Town Hall Wrap Up

(Sorry for the delay... My computer has had a mind of it's own this morning.  Grrrrrr!)
SMALL, VOCAL GROUP
A small, but very focused and outspoken crowd of our neighbors attended councilwoman Wendy Leece's most recent Public Safety Town Hall last night in the north part of Costa Mesa.  You can read Daily Pilot editor Bradley Zint's account of the meeting HERE.

CRIME OVERVIEW
Nearly three dozen people attended the meeting to hear Corporal Doug Johnson present crime statistics for the area and to give the audience information on the broader crime prevention challenges the Costa Mesa Police Department faces today as they attempt to keep the city safe from crimes.  He reported that the area closest to our location last night had 1200 calls for service since January, for which 170 actually had reports written.  The bulk of the crimes were burglaries - home, garage and vehicles - and petty thefts and ID thefts.  He attributed those crimes mainly to "dopers", indicating that Costa Mesa has a lot of drug users looking to steal items that can be quickly turned into cash - jewelery, electronics, etc.


PROSTITUTION
Apparently prostitution within our city continues to be a major problem.  One resident told of having a van-load of hookers unloaded on our streets at the same place every Friday night, immediately adjacent to her office near the I-405 and Harbor Blvd.  A recent trip to Singapore - where crime is punished promptly and severely - caused her to suggest we try a similar approach.  Unfortunately, our current legal system prohibits prompt resolutions.

HELICOPTER
Johnson told us that we are getting good service from our current helicopter contract and, when a resident asked what happens if Huntington Beach cancels their program like we did, he explained that there are still other options - the Sheriff's Department, for example.



NEW CRIME STATS COMING ONLINE
He told us of pending new program to provide crime statistics online that may be available by the end of the year.  Residents will be able to see crime patterns throughout the city.  One resident expressed concern that crooks would have that information available to them so they'd know where to go to commit crimes.  Johnson indicated that the police would be waiting for them.


EARLY RELEASES
Johnson spoke about the impact of the recent "early release" program that dumped 60+ criminals onto our streets - a very disproportionately large number when compared to neighboring cities.  That number is growing at 6-10 criminals per month.

 

MUTUAL AID AND THE REVOLVING DOOR
He explained how the city provides police coverage and how mutual aid works with neighboring cities, emphasizing that Newport Beach is our most responsive partner fighting crime.  He also bemoaned the revolving door that is our legal system, explaining that the police will apprehend a criminal, process him through the system, only to have him show up back on the streets within a matter of days.  Activist Sue Lester told a personal story to emphasize that issue - where a bike thief she turned in ended up back in front of her home to harass her after getting out of jail in a matter of days.

NO MORE "MISTER NICE GUY"...
City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch also attended this fifth edition of Leece's town halls.  He gave us an overview of the plans being formed to deal with issues like homelessness and the associated crimes.  The crowd didn't let him off easy, asking very pointed questions about specific kinds of crimes.  Among the things Hatch told us was that Costa Mesa was done being "mister nice guy" when it comes to having homeless folks shipped to our city from other local venues.  While homelessness is a regional problem, he told the audience that Costa Mesa will do its fair share, but will no longer absorb neighboring cities share of the problem.



MORE THAN OUR FAIR SHARE
Hatch explained, for example, that Costa Mesa has 26% of drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities in the county and that the City is working hard to "manage" that number but has significant restrictions because of state laws governing those facilities.  If a residential home is occupied by 6 or fewer "clients" the City has no authority to control it. 
At last count Costa Mesa had 130 such facilities.

MORE THAN JUST THE CMPD

He emphasized that he expects every city department to participate in new methods of assisting the police department in keeping our city safe.  He pointed to code enforcement as a very logical tool, and mentioned hiring two new code enforcement officers to work specifically on targeted areas of difficulty.  For example, he has one code enforcement officer working specifically on those rehab homes.


CANDIDATES ATTENDED
Candidates for city council Harold Weitzberg
and John Stephens attended and asked questions and absorbed the atmosphere of the evening.  They actually listened to what the residents of the city had to say and asked some questions of their own.

 C.E.R.T.
The Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T) was represented and passed out informational materials.  Cindy Brenneman spoke briefly about their programs.

UNITED NEIGHBORS
United Neighbors also had a table full of important materials and Diane Hill also spoke about their activities throughout the city.

 GOOD PARTICIPATION
I've attended all of these town hall events and this one, perhaps because of the intimate size of the group, seemed the most lively and engaged.  Residents were persistent but respectful as they pushed Hatch and Johnson for answers.  At one point during the discussion Weitzberg asked Hatch how much it would cost to hire a dozen "lateral" police officers - fully trained and experienced officers.  The answer was around $1.5 million per year, including the load for benefits.

 "GO EXTREME!"
At the end of the evening Johnson opined that, under the leadership of Hatch, the city seems to be making progress with crime fighting initiatives, mentioning the use of new technologies specifically.  Hatch chimed in with his mantra for fighting crime - "Go Extreme!" - looking for non-traditional ways to fight traditional problems. 


KUDOS TO ALL
Thanks to Wendy Leece for another excellent event, and thanks to Corporal Doug Johnson and CEO Tom Hatch for attending and providing perspective and answers.  The next such event is scheduled for later this month, on October 29th.  I'll report more on that later.





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Monday, October 08, 2012

City Announces SR-73 Closures

CORONA DEL MAR FREEWAY CLOSURES
In a press release today the City of Costa Mesa announced that State Route 73 - the Corona Del Mar Freeway - will be closed for construction from the northern entry point at the I-405 to Jamboree Road over the weekend of October 20th and 21st. 

THE ANNOUNCEMENT
The Corona del Mar (73) Freeway between the 405 Freeway and Jamboree Boulevard will be closed on Saturday, Oct. 21 and Sunday, Oct. 22. The location and times of the closures are:
  • Southbound 73 to the 55: 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
  • Southbound 73 from the 55 to Jamboree Road: 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 
  • Northbound 73 from Jamboree Road to Campus Drive: Midnight to 7 p.m. Saturday 
  • Northbound 73 from Jamboree Road to Campus Drive: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Click here for Caltrans press release and maps.

PLEASE PLAN AHEAD
This very busy stretch of roadway will be virtually unusable by traffic for most of that weekend in both directions.  There is a link on that press release that takes you to detailed CalTrans maps with instructions for ways around the construction confusion.

ANOTHER REMINDER NEXT WEEK
I'll remind you again next week of this very serious impediment to drivers in our region so you can plan ahead.  Please take some time NOW to read the press release and the CalTrans maps.

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Town Hall Tonight - North Costa Mesa

Just a little reminder for you...

ANOTHER PUBLIC SAFETY TOWN HALL
Tonight Councilwoman Wendy Leece will hold the most recent in her series of Public Safety Town Halls.  This one, located to reach our neighors in the north part of town - Wimbledon, Greenbrook, Providence Park, etc. -  is going to be held at the Calvary Chapel LOGOS building, per the flier below.  I've provided a map for you.  You approach the LOGOS building from MacArthur, just west of Fairview.

EXCELLENT COMMUNITY OUTREACH
I've attended many of these events over the past several months.  Each one provides an excellent community outreach by members of our public safety staff and will also have valuable information about neighborhood preparedness presented by community volunteer organizations.  Everyone is welcome, regardless where you live in our city.  The event begins at 6:30 and is scheduled to run until 9:00 p.m.  See you there...

(Click on the images to enlarge)

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Halecrest Chili Cook-Off and Bogus Signs

OFF TO THE CHILI COOK-OFF
After my visits to the fire stations I headed on up to the Halecrest part of our community to take in the annual chili cook-of.  It was a perfect day for this event and a sizable crowd had gathered by the time I arrived.

LOTS OF SPICY GRUB
There were plenty of tubs of chili bubbling on stoves, ready for the tasting.




PLENTY OF POLITICIANS, TOO
There were more than enough politicians milling around, trying to convince folks that THEY were the ones to pick on November 6th.

TRIO OF GOOD GUYS
This shot is of Costa Mesa City CEO Tom Hatch, a recent recruit as a judge for the chili, bracketed by Phil D'Agostino, principal of Costa Mesa High School and Kirk Bauermeister, principal of Estancia High School.  All were still buzzing about the fantastic Battle of the Bell game the previous night, where the Estancia Eagles squeaked out it's third straight victory over the Costa Mesa Mustangs.

DICKSON AND JIMMYFITZY
When I arrived home I found what looked like an abandoned golf cart full of offensive political signs parked squarely in front of my house.  As I contemplated whether to call the police department to report an abandoned vehicle my friend, Planning Commissioner Rob Dickson, came wandering up.  Seems he was with the cart and had been attempting to convince my neighbors of the wisdom of electing 3Ms and passing Measure V.  We chatted and he showed me photos of his brand new baby boy when I turned and saw, much to my surprise, soon-to-be-defrocked Sanitary District Board Director Jim Fitzpatrick waddling toward the cart!  He was with Dickson.

"CONVINCING" ARGUMENT
JimmyFitzy just moved on past the cart and headed to the home of one of my neighbors - a wonderful gent of some 84 years who is suffering from early onset dementia.  Fitzy stood on his porch, chatting with my neighbor who eventually invited him into the house.  Shortly thereafter out comes JimmyFitzy with a big smirk on his face.  He retreated to the cart, retrieved a sign and placed it in my neighbors yard - facing directly across the street at my house.  I'm sure he felt quite smug about his coup - that's sure how the expression on his face looked as he and Dickson motored away.

THE SIGN'S GONE NOW
This morning I spoke with my neighbor.  I asked him about the sign and he wondered where it had come from.  He didn't remember any conversation with JimmyFitzy and said he didn't like the sign in his yard.  I suggested that he remove it, which he did.  I was sure to steer clear of it, since I sure didn't want to be accused of removing or defacing signs. ;-)  Of course, I'm not surprised that JimmyFitzy apparently convinced my neighbor to place the sign in his yard - briefly.  It seems to me that the slate of 3Ms and Measure V might appeal to folks with dementia.




ONLY ONE OTHER SIGN...
That dynamic duo were successful in having one more sign placed in my neighborhood.  I suspect that those folks will also reconsider once I explain to them how ill-advised it will be for them to vote for 3Ms and the Charter.  We'll see.  I'll report back on that later.


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