Saturday, October 27, 2012

Outsourcing Lawsuit Impact

NOW WE UNDERSTAND...
In case you missed it, Mike Reicher's piece in the Orange County Register yesterday is a MUST READ for anyone even remotely interested in Costa Mesa's outsourcing lawsuit.  Read it HERE, and be sure to follow the link at the end to his companion piece, too.

MORE BUCKS FOR JONES DAY
This will give you a little better understanding of why Costa Mesa - through their $495 per hour law firm, Jones Day - has decided to file for a review of the recent appeal to the California Supreme Court.  From the sound of Reicher's article, MANY cities have a lot to lose by the actions of the current City Council majority that forced the lawsuit.

WHICH CITIES ARE PARTICIPATING?
When the City issued their press release about the plan to request the review they indicated that many other California cities were very interested in this case and would be participating in the request.  However, when we asked WHICH cities were going to participate we got stiff-armed and were referred only to four organizations that represent some of the cities.  It's hard to understand what the big secret is, since this apparently is a VERY big deal for the general law cities throughout the state.

THE PRICE OF HASTE
The irony here is that if they had just not gone off half-cocked and violated their own policies in their rush to outsource half the city staff the lawsuit would probably never have happened.  This is what happens when you have people in positions of power who are more interested in following their marching orders issued by political party leaders than doing what is right for our city.  Remember this when you vote...



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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chief Gazsi Announces Four Retirements!

FOUR MORE RETIREMENTS
In a memo distributed to the Costa Mesa Police Department staff Thursday, Police Chief Tom Gazsi announced the pending retirements of four members of his command staff.  This comes in the wake of the celebration of the retirement of outstanding School Resource Officer, Jess Gilman, the same day.

A TREMENDOUS LOSS FOR OUR CITY
As you can read in Gazsi's memo below, Captain Allen Huggins, Lieutenant Tim Schennum, Lieutenant Bob Ciszek and Sergeant Larry Hicks have all announced their plans to retire by the end of this year.  This represents the loss to our city of more than a century of outstanding policing experience, including decades of command service, and a tremendous loss of institutional knowledge.
 (Click on image to enlarge)
SOME WILL REMAIN TO HELP WITH THE TRANSITION
This is a mixed blessing.  Certainly, the departure of those fine officers will be a huge loss for the Costa Mesa Police Department and for our city.  It does, however, create opportunities for Chief Gazsi to promote worthy men and women from within the department.  As his memo states, Huggins, Schennum and Hicks have agreed to remain for a short time after their retirement dates to help with the transition process.

DID TOXIC ATMOSPHERE INFLUENCE THEM?
I cannot help but wonder just how much the toxic atmosphere created in our city by our current city council majority affected the retirement decisions of these fine men.  Certainly, members of the Righeimer-led majority have viewed the police department as an adversary and have treated them as such for the past nearly two years.  It will not surprise me to see many more members of the CMPD depart if the upcoming election results in the perpetuation of the current council majority.  That will, in my opinion, be cataclysmic for our city.  We're already running well under the authorized staffing level - a level was capriciously chosen by arrogant council members who ignored the facts and opinions presented by their own highly qualified consultants and then-Interim Chief Steve Staveley.  Those council members are more concerned about their political futures than the safety of our city and the rising crime rate demonstrates that fact - Part 1 crimes are up nearly 18% over the same period last year!  It's certainly something to consider as you mark your ballots this time around.


Booster Treasurer Arrested For Embezzelment

CMHS BAND BOOSTER TREASURER
Late Thursday afternoon the Costa Mesa Police Department issued a press release that announced the arrest of Jennifer Piatti, treasurer of the Costa Mesa High School Band Booster Club for embezzlement of more than $40,000.  The text of that press release follows:
(click on images to enlarge)
NMUSD ANNOUNCEMENT
Shortly thereafter the Newport Mesa Unified School District issued a press release on this same issue:



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A Bittersweet Morning At City Hall

PASSING THE BADGE
This morning more than 100 family, co-workers and friends (that may be redundant) gathered in the City Council Chambers at City Hall for the "passing of the badge" ceremony for retiring legendary School Resource Officer, Jess Gilman.  I'm sure the event turned out to be everything Jess hoped for and more.

GAZSI AS MC
Police Chief Tom Gazsi, shown here with former Chief Dave Snowden, was the master of ceremonies and recounted Jess' long and illustrious career.  He became a police officer in Baldwin Park - hired by then-chief Snowden.  When Snowden moved to Costa Mesa Jess followed him to our city, where he served in a variety of policing roles.  His biggest impact, though, has been the last thirteen years as a School Resource Officer.

 CURRENT HONCHOS
In addition to Gazsi honoring Gilman, City CEO Tom Hatch, Newport Mesa Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Fred Navarro, Estancia High School Principal Kirk Bauermeister and the aforementioned Snowden also spoke in glowing terms about Jess' impact on our community.

 SLIDE SHOW WAS A HOOT
In addition to the speakers a short, very funny, slide show was presented to the audience that covered his career from beginning to the end.

FAMILIAR FACES
I'm sure I'll miss someone, but among the dignitaries attending the ceremony were retired City Manager, Allan Roeder - looking like retirement agrees with him - School District Trustees Katrina Foley, Dave Brooks and Walt Davenport, Chamber of Commerce honcho Ed Fawcett and many of Jess' Costa Mesa Police Department co-workers.  I also met several people who had worked with Jess before his tour in Costa Mesa.  Clearly, he's a man with many friends.

POLICE FAMILIES SUFFER
As the speakers and Jess recounted stories I noticed many in the audience dabbing their eyes with tissue... it was a very emotional morning.  For me, the most moving part was when Jess - near the end of his speech - looked down at his children sitting in the front row and apologized to them for not being with them as much as he and they would have liked as they were growing up.  I know the toll being a police officer can take on families, so his remarks really hit home for me.  I hope Jess finds a way to make up for that lost time now.

GOOD-BYE AND GOOD LUCK
So, congratulations to my friend, Jess Gilman, on his retirement and thanks to him for his service to our community.  We at A Bubbling Cauldron wish him and his family all the best in the future.  Due to staffing constraints - the current City Council still refuses to permit Chief Gazsi to fill vacancies - there are no plans to replace Gilman as a School Resource Officer.  The impact of THAT decision will be felt for at least a decade if not remedied soon.



*****

MEAN-SPIRITED GLOAT-FEST

In an unfortunate and mean-spirited usurpation of the Gilman ceremony, Jim Fitzpatrick - unemployed president of the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Association, the OC GOP shill organization - held a press conference only a few yards away from council chambers at the same time.  I did not attend his gloat-fest, so I don't know first-hand what he said to the one or two members of the press who attended.  We must assume he chose to, once again, identify the person caught on tape damaging campaign signs last weekend.

 VIOLATING THE RULES - AGAIN
I do know, however, that he flagrantly violated the rules by displaying campaign signs on city property - again.  And, once again, he had to be chastised for it.  This time Hatch did a wind-sprint from his office on the 5th floor of City Hall to Fitzpatrick's location to remind him of the prohibition.  I watched from the Council Chambers porch as he begrudgingly removed the signs - and I smiled.

 SAD IRONY
In an unfortunate bit of irony, members of the Costa Mesa Police Department - including Jess Gilman -  were forced to walk directly past Fitzpatrick and his new lackey, Kent Mora - the temporarily presumed plagiarist - who joined Fitzpatrick at his farce/press conference.  I can only imagine the thoughts going through their minds as they passed that location.  I suspect they might not be suitable for publication here. 

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sign Vandal Identified As City Employee

REGISTER IDENTIFIES THE PRESUMED CULPRIT
Orange County Register columnist Barbara Venezia and her colleague, reporter Mike Reicher, reported tonight in an article HERE, that the person captured last weekend on video tape vandalizing campaign signs is a Costa Mesa Maintenance Worker named Steve White.  According to the article, councilman and candidate for election, Steve Mensinger provided the identification to the press.

PILOT PROTECTS HIS IDENTITY
The Daily Pilot, in an article this evening by Bradley Zint and Lauren Williams, HERE, also identified him as a city employee, but withheld his name "because he has not been arrested or charged with a crime."  Of course, that seems to be the prudent course to take.

"VOLUNTEER" OR "PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR"?
There seems to be some confusion about just who did the video taping last weekend.  Proponents of the 3Ms and Yes on V have identified the videographer as a "campaign volunteer", but the press release issued by the Costa Mesa Police Department identified him as a Private Investigator hired by a councilman who was running for election.  It is widely assumed that councilman is Mensinger.
 
MIXED FEELINGS
I view this information with mixed feelings.  First, I'm glad the vandal has been identified.  As I've said many times here, the vandalism of campaign signs is a stupid, petty and ineffective act that's been going on with too much frequency by parties on both sides of the issues.  I'm glad someone has been apprehended and hope it will cause others to cease these acts.

GASOLINE ON THE FIRE
I'm saddened, however, that it apparently turned out to be a city employee because it will be like  tossing gasoline on an already-roaring campaign fire.  According to the Register article, Maintenance Services Manager Bruce Hartley confirmed that White had been placed on paid administrative leave and is under investigation.

FITZPATRICK'S ILL-TIMED PRESS CONFERENCE
I'm sure soon-to-be-former Sanitary District Director and current President of the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Association, Jim Fitzpatrick, will be giddy at the press conference he's called at City Hall tomorrow at 10:00 to address this issue.  Sadly, his circus will be held at the same time the ceremony for retiring legendary School Resource Officer Jess Gilman is being held in council chambers.

IMPROPER ACTION BY MENSINGER
I'm concerned about the propriety of a sitting councilman, Mensinger, announcing to the press the name of a city employee who has not been charged with a crime in this matter.  This is unacceptable, unethical behavior on Mensinger's part and is only the most recent example of his disregard for the rules that govern council members' behavior.  His premature public identification and condemnation of White may jeopardize any prosceution and/or any administrative punishment that might be levied on him by The City.  Remember Tom Johnson's recent description of Mensinger as a "bull in a china closet"?  This is a perfect example of what he may have meant. This behavior should make every employee and voter shudder when considering him in office if Jim Righeimer's Charter passes.  That document is virtually a blank check for malfeasance, with insufficient controls to prevent these kinds of acts.

UNWELCOME OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE
Just when you think things can't get any more bizarre in Costa Mesa during this campaign season, something like this pops up.  It's bad enough that the OC GOP and developers are pumping thousands of dollars into the campaigns and outside unions doing the same.  They all just need to butt-the-heck-out of our city and let us sort out the issues without their interference.  Of course, that's not going to happen.

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Why It's Time For Monahan To Go

IT'S TIME TO REMEMBER
In case you've forgotten just what was the trigger point for all the chaos in Costa Mesa over the past nearly two years, let these video clips refresh your memories.  Remember how then-mayor Gary Monahan chose to remain at his pub on St. Patrick's Day to keep on pulling beer taps on what he later described as "the biggest day of my life" to a news crew while the entire city staff mourned the loss of Huy Pham.

TOO BUSY FOR THE JOB
Let these clips be a reminder to you that Monahan, earlier this year, abdicated his mayoral throne to Eric Bever because his family and business obligations made it difficult for him to attend to his city duties.  Remember that, shortly after stepping aside, he frequently missed important city meetings.

SAY GOOD-BYE, GARY
It's time for Monahan, after nearly two decades of service on the city council, to step aside and enjoy the fruits of his efforts - lifetime medical benefits and a pension.  It's time for Monahan to go.

MARCH 19, 2011



APRIL 6, 2011



IT'S TIME TO GO, GARY

YOUR CHOICE IS SIMPLE

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another Town Hall Next Monday Night

 MONDAY NIGHT
Next Monday evening, October 29, 2012, council woman Wendy Leece will host another in her series of community town halls to address public safety issues.

WOODLAND SCHOOL
This event, as you can see from the flier below, will be held at Woodland Elementary School, 2025 Garden Lane and will run from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  While this is aimed at the Eastside neighborhood most proximate to the school, all residents are welcome.

COYOTES AND MORE
A special emphasis will be placed on the growing problem of coyotes wandering our streets, killing pets and threatening residents.

SEE YOU THERE
I've attended each of these events and found every one to be valuable sources of information we all can use.  See you there.
(Click Image To Enlarge)


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Candidate Forums/Debate Play Schedules

FORUMS/DEBATE SCHEDULES
As promised, each of the four Costa Mesa City Council candidate forums/debates are now available for viewing on streaming video and/or in the rotation on Costa Mesa Television.  Those may be seen on Channel 24 (Time Warner Cable) or Channel 99 (ATT U-Verse).  I think you'll find these programs valuable as you make your decisions on which candidates to choose on November 6th, and whether or not to vote in favor of Jim Righeimer's Charter scheme. (click on schedules to enlarge)

MESA VERDE COMMUNITY, INC. CANDIDATE FORUM (8/29/12)
 Streaming Video HERE.

FEET TO THE FIRE CANDIDATE FORUM (9/5/12)
 Streaming Video HERE.

FEET TO THE FIRE CHARTER DEBATE (10/15/12)
 Streaming Video HERE.

EASTSIDE COSTA MESA NEIGHBORS GROUP FORUM (10/18/12)
 Streaming Video HERE.



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OCTA Board Wimps Out - Picks #1

PICKED #1, NOT #2
Yesterday the Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors wimped out and chose Alternative 1, the addition of a single new lane in each direction, for their planned widening of the I-405 from the Corona del Mar Freeway (State route 73) to the I-605.  They rejected Alternative #2, the unanimous preferred choice by the six corridor cities involved.

BETTER THAN #3, THOUGH
This choice, after much rancorous discussion, is much better than Alternative #3 - which added toll lanes to that stretch of highway - but less satisfactory than Alternate 2.  #2 added two additional "free" lanes in each direction and would have cost marginally more than #1.

OTHER DETAILED VIEWS OF THE EVENT
I did not attend the meeting, but a couple other bloggers did and reported extensively on the proceedings.  You can read Vern Nelson's report on the Orange Juice Blog, HERE, and his pal, Greg Diamond's report on the same blog, HERE.  You can also read the coverage provided by Lauren Williams in the Daily Pilot, HERE.

OCTA RESPONSE
The OCTA press machine immediately fired off a memo on this result and provided a link to a web site showing the remaining steps in this process before the years of construction chaos begins on that stretch of freeway. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)
#3 CAN STILL RISE FROM THE DEAD
Unfortunately, there remains more than a small chance that Alternative 3 will rise from the dead.  Lame Duck Mayor Eric Bever's quote in Williams article comparing Alternative 3 to Freddy Krueger was amusing.  It will require those of us concerned about the possibility of that option being chosen downstream to remain vigilant, since it would result in millions in toll revenue each year and we all know how much bureaucrats love money.

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