Saturday, November 03, 2012

Fitzpatrick Judgment In Question

TOO IMPORTANT TO WAIT...
I had intended to let my last post percolate over the weekend, but this issue came up and needs to be addressed.



ALLEGED CRIMINAL RECORD
It has come to my attention that the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Association, under the leadership of President Jim Fitzpatrick, has chosen to publish what they present as the official record of a criminal offense by the person they identified as the man captured on film destroying $5.00 worth of campaign signs a couple weeks ago.  Here's what their post looks like:


This record shows that the person in question was arrested earlier this year, charged with four offenses, three of which were dismissed.  He plead guilty to "fighting" and apparently is on probation for that offense.
 

CROSSES THE LINE
This is troublesome from many standpoints.  First, I think it crosses a line that should not be even approached.  The man in question has NOT been charged by the District Attorney on the "sign" issue.  His privacy has been violated several times by this group and the issue has been mishandled by city officials, who announced they had a personnel/administrative investigation going on prematurely. 


A TROUBLING PRECEDENT
The Costa Mesa Taxpayers Association, particularly since Fitzpatrick took the helm, has been a venue for vicious attacks on individuals, purveyors of half-truths and flat out lies, some perpetuated by their former president, Colin McCarthy, in his campaign literature.  Some of their attacks have skirted the edges of libel.  I'm concerned that folks might view this kind of behavior as acceptable and utilize the same techniques to make public similar records or others for members of CM TAX and their supporters.  In my opinion, this is unacceptable behavior and should not be tolerated.
 

EXAMPLE OF BAD JUDGMENT
In my view, this is just another example of terrible judgment by Fitzpatrick, and others within the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Association by extension.  It should make the voters take pause as they consider the people involved and the issues they support.


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Friday, November 02, 2012

Last Minute Avalanche Of Commentaries

AND YOU THOUGHT YOUR SNAIL-MAIL BOX WAS FULL!
Today the Daily Pilot - our newspaper of record for more than a century - offered to us a deluge of political commentaries to digest before the election on Tuesday.  It's kind of a good news/bad news kind of thing, too, because NONE of the commentaries that were published online - and a couple before them - will appear in print, either before the election or after.  Yep, that's right - if you don't read these digitally you won't read them AT ALL!


WE AIM TO PLEASE...
So, your friendly little helper here at A Bubbling Cauldron will provide you some links so you can occupy your weekend reading - and commenting - on these most recent in the blizzard of information and opinion stacking up around your chairs at home and in your hard drive, too.  I'm also going to include some links to things that may have already appeared in print because they provide you with some context.  Just click on the link to be transported to the site - unless the Pilot has another round of glitches, that is.  Keep your fingers crossed.

ME FIRST...

First (since it's my blog and I make the rules) we have the entire commentary I submitted to the Pilot earlier this week on my choice of Bob Rush for the 74th Assembly seat, HERE.

STEPHENS
Earlier this week candidate John Stephens published a commentary criticizing language on a Steve Mensinger/Colin McCarthy-sponsored political flier, HERE.

MCCARTHY
Colin McCarthy published a rebuttal to Stephens' commentary, HERE.

HULL
3M sycophant Howard Hull published a lie-filled commentary HERE.

DAILY PILOT COMPENDIUM

The Daily Pilot published a compendium of snippets from many letters submitted to them in recent days - space restraints prohibited them to publish them entirely - including mine!  Read those snippets HERE.

Then today the avalanche began...

BEVER
Lame Duck Mayor Eric Bever published an attack on former Mayor Sandra Genis for her views on the Banning Ranch deal, HERE.

MENSINGER

Steve Mensinger published a piece on how he supports the police that spins the issue so fast your heads will swim, HERE.

MONAHAN
Gary Monahan dons his OC GOP lackey suit and tries to convince us that a vote for him and the other 2 M's is a vote against unions, HERE.

BRIDGES

Resident James Bridges tells us that the supporters of Measure V are getting desperate, HERE.

HUMPHREY

Former Vice Mayor Jay Humphrey tells us that 'out-of-town-money supports Measure V, HERE.

EVERETT

And, as if almost on cue, Dave Everett - representing the Associated Building Contractors (ABC) chimes in with a commentary that pretends to tell us that 'Measure V would level the playing field', HERE.


 NEVER IN PRINT
Again, a reminder, none of those which have not already appeared in print will EVER appear on the ink-smeared pages of the Daily Pilot - online is your only shot at them.

DEBATE REPLAYS
And, for those of you who are not football fans, the City web site has the replay schedule for all of the candidate forums and the charter debate between Jim Righeimer and Katrina Foley so you can view any or all of them before Tuesday's election.



THAT'S ALL, FOLKS...
Have a great weekend.... I'm going to watch A LOT of football...


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Thursday, November 01, 2012

Happy Birthday, Old Cauldron...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, A BUBBLING CAULDRON...
Just a quickie (love that phrase) to let you know that today, November 1, 2012, is the sixth birthday of this blog on this host site.


IT'S BEEN FUN...
Yep, after more than 1,600 posts, an amazing 869,000 page views (and counting)  and way, way too many late nights since I began using this site on November 1, 2006, we will light a few candles to mark the day.  I don't know what those numbers mean to you, but they make me tired just reading them.  Today we'll take a deep breath before heading for the home stretch in this, the most rancorus, divisive and nasty local political season I can remember in almost 40 years living in Costa Mesa.

OR, YOU CAN...
You can read the first entry on this blog HERE, if you wish.  And, if you're really feeling masochistic, you can read the VERY first one - on my previous bargain basement blog host - from July 9, 2005 HERE.  Some things have changed, and others have remained the same.
THANKS...
Thanks to all of you who have become regular readers and to those of you who choose to participate by commenting on the things you read here - even those of you who submit some of those nasty, vile comments are appreciated.  They help me realize that I've stirred something in you.  My goal from the very beginning was to provoke more people to become involved in local issues.  I've accomplished that goal, for sure.  Now... onward and upward.

(In case you forgot why we're here)

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Scariest Person In Costa Mesa

TODAY IS HIS DAY!
In recognition of the day, I thought I'd give you my thoughts on what a REALLY scary Halloween character looks like.  Since his arrival in town six years ago he has become the personification of the word "SCARY".  He's dragged with him his coven of lock-step lemming zombies to do his bidding and is just about to take over our city if his charter scheme passes next week.  If Measure V passes he'll be able to make the rules instead of being forced to follow those already in place to protect us from corruption and abuse.

FALSEHOODS AS AN ARTFORM
He'll stop at nothing to complete his takeover of our city.  No fabrication of facts is too extreme for him and his sycophants.  They've developed falsehoods to an art form and just keep on firing them at the voters, hoping nobody will catch on.  Be afraid - VERY afraid!

WATCH OUT!
So, folks, while you're out with your kiddies, knocking on doors looking for candy, keep your eyes open for the Scariest Person In Costa Mesa.



BOO!

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Charter Audio Debate Wrap-up

A LAST SHOT AT THE CHARTER
Tuesday night Costa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and Planning Commissioner Rob Dickson debated Righeimer's Charter with Councilwoman Wendy Leece and retired former Costa Mesa Planning Executive Perry Valantine in a 90 minute event moderated on radio station KOCI-FM, 101.5 moderated by hosts Troy Davis and Steve Ray.  The event will be available for future listening by mid-day Wednesday at www.kociradio.com.


RUNNING COMMENTARY FOILED
Initially I had planned to do a running commentary as the event progressed.  Very shortly I realized that I couldn't do it because I would have never been able to keep up with the fabrications, misdirection and smoke being blown at the listeners by Righeimer and, to some extent, Dickson.  So, I just took copious notes and will try to give you a feel for the event now.
 

FORMAT
The hosts asked six questions of the panel.  The order of speaking was chosen by lot.  Each was given 2 minutes to respond, 2 minutes for a rebuttal and 30 seconds to respond to the rebuttal, if necessary.  Each gave a 2 minute opening statement and a 1 minute closing statement.  It actually went pretty well.  Only once was a speaker interrupted - Righeimer just couldn't keep his yap shut.

OPENING STATEMENTS
I'm going to paraphrase most of the comments except where I was able to accurately capture a quote.

VALANTINE WAS FIRST
In the opening statements Perry Valantine led off and told us he found the Charter a rather confusing document.  He said that it is essentially a contract that the voters are being asked to sign without all the blanks being filled in.  He pointed out that it fails to follow the recent "anti-Bell" law that requires the new powers being bestowed on the City.  The ballot description does not do that.  (You may recall that a special meeting was called by contract City Attorney Kim Barlow to do some "language clean up" that resulted in the reference to no-bid contracts being specifically deleted).  He compared the Charter to  buying a new car but leaving it up to the dealer to decide the kind of car.



RIGHEIMER WAS NEXT
Righeimer was next and he led off with this statement:  "That was interesting.  That doesn't sound like our charter."  He then launched off into a summary of how he found the city when he took office nearly 22 months ago.  He said he wanted to "do things", but couldn't because "we were not a charter".  He said "I put together a first draft that went through many iterations".  (Well, we all saw just how few changes were made during the public hearings!)  He said his Charter is no different than other charters. (Really?)  He said that 60% of it follows General Law and complained about "fear, misinformation and doubt".  (That became his mantra throughout the evening.)


WENDY LEECE'S TURN
Wendy Leece thanked Righeimer for all the energy he put in to get the charter on the ballot.  (I couldn't tell if that was a tongue-in-cheek comment or not).  She said we are in a very stable situation now and complained about the "process" used to present what would amount to our "constitution".  She briefly described Righeimer's request almost exactly a year ago for the City Attorney to bring back suggestions for a charter, then proceeded to present HIS charter after midnight on December 7, 2011.  She said neither she, nor the other council members, had a chance to sign in on it and that the she and the others couldn't collaborate on it - "at least not in an open forum".  (Yes, Wendy, I DID pick up on that)



DICKSON MAKES HIS POINTS
Rob Dickson expressed frustration with the process.  He said he viewed this charter as "emancipation from Sacramento" - a phrase he would repeat frequently.  He said the charter is a good basic framework and that it protects the citizens.  He said citizens elect leaders, retain the power, can recall council members.  He said we will have the power to hire and fire, to take control back and make our own financial decisions.  He said that if we had been a charter city the 3%@50 pension would never have happened.
 

FIRST QUESTION
Troy Davis asked the first question: What is your primary reason for support - or non-support - of the charter?

Righeimer took this one first and began by saying, "I'm obviously supportive.  It's an excellent charter."  He went on to state that it's a framework to handle our finances and that he's tired of having to pay $41 per hour to a stop/go sign-holder.  (That's become part of his mantra lately)  He said we can't outsource unless we get permission from the employees.  He again said that 60% of the charter follows General Law.

Leece said she's all for saving money and that outsourcing may be one way.  She expressed concern about accepting lower quality if we outsource, particularly in public safety.  She mentioned that the CMPD staffing is down to 131 and that crime is up and worried about how we balance keeping our residents safe and still save money.  She encouraged folks to read the charter - it's only 9 pages - particularly Section 103 concerning the power bestowed on the council.

Dickson said "I'm for the charter."  He said he wanted to "echo Jim's comments". (No surprise there)  He said he'd lived in Costa Mesa 20 years and watched us "burn through reserves". (Another part of the talking points)  He complained about deferred maintenance.  He said the charter "gives the power to the people".  He also said that "fear tactics are complete noise and it assumes the voters are stupid and just don't care." (Just a little condescending!)

Valantine said he's "not opposed to the concept of a charter, that after 60 years since incorporation maybe it's time for us to think about it".  He's just not for THIS charter, due mainly to the process, lack of sincere community input, insufficient definitions of powers and the issue of no-bid contracts.

In his rebuttal Righeimer said it's "the same old stuff" and complained that people didn't do anything about if for 25 years.  He said "There's not really complicated issues here."

Leece said it DOES NOT address pension reform.

Dickson said the citizens will participate in pension reform.

Valantine said he was "trying to decide if we're all reading the same charter".  He said it doesn't have anything to do with current pensions.
 

SECOND QUESTION
Steve Ray asked question #2: What provisions of the charter are essential?

Leece led off by complaining about the process.  She said it should have involved a study session, with legal advice to keep us out of trouble.  She referred to the recently-deceased Ray Watson who helped develop Irvine, whom she described as a visionary who valued input from the public.

Righeimer dismissively said, "I don't know where to go with that.  Costa Mesa is not Irvine."  He then launched into what would become a major talking point - that "labor unions are spending a half-million dollars to defeat the charter."  Referring to Leece and Valantine, he said, "As nice as these two people are over there, it's all about the money."

Valantine expressed concern about Section 103, which he paraphrased as meaning "even if we don't list it here we can do it."  He pointed out that contract levels can be set by resolution - a much looser standard than using an ordinance.  He expressed concern that the charter dodges portions of the state code designed to "eliminate fraud, corruption and favoritism."

Dickson again used his "emancipation from Sacramento" chant.  He said it is "actually a great charter" and went on to state that "we are allowed to choose who we contract with" and "we can set the limits" and mentioned Section 401c.  He said the "language of the charter governs" (which is one very scary fact).  He said "None of it is the crazy sort of fraud and abuse."  He liked the section that eliminates "the ability of unions to take contributions out of paychecks."

In rebuttal Leece said that Rob is correct - residents can comment on pensions but the charter does nothing on pension reform.

Righeimer said, "It's really simple.  Why is a half-million dollars coming from labor unions out of Sacramento?"
 

THIRD QUESTION
Davis asked the third question: He said the some folks who oppose the charter say it's a plan to bust public employee unions and asked for the panelists thoughts.

Righeimer denied the charge, saying, "First of all it's not about busting anything."  He then went on to list factors he finds so onerous about the public employee contracts - pensions, sick pay, vacations.  He complained that Newport Beach has better looking parks than we do and thought we can do better by outsourcing.

Leece said we're not talking apples and apples.  She agreed that using the lawns and medians in Newport Beach is a good comparison, but trying to compare our jail to others is not.  She complained about the hasty process that issued layoff notices before ANY studies were done.

Dickson said the charter was done to save money, not bust unions.  He complained about the employee associations inserting themselves into political activities and referred to the law firm that represented the police association until very recently as "unethical and illegal".  He referred to the recently adopted COIN program.

Valantine said, "I'm not inside anybody else's head" and compared recent actions in the city to those in Wisconsin.  He described them as attempts to "disempower unions".  He said that it "seems that getting back at the unions is in the author's mind."  he acknowledged that we can probably save money by some outsourcing - that "we've done it for years."  He said there is more than dollars involved, mentioning quality of work, institutional knowledge.  He expressed special concern that we lose a great deal in Disaster preparedness, citing that employees are, by law, part of disaster preparedness.

In his rebuttal Righeimer haughtily dismissed Valantine's concern, saying we can just "make disaster preparedness part of a contract".  He said "employees won't come here from San Clemente" during a disaster and that Newport Beach "keeps institutional knowledge by managing."

Leece expressed concern about losing institutional knowledge.

Dickson said, "Unions should not have a bigger seat at the table than the residents, but they do.", then mentioned that half-million dollars again.

Valantine wondered that, if the unions are really that powerful, why do we have four anti-union council members?


FOURTH QUESTION
Question #4 was posed by Steve Ray.  He said it has been theorized that the Charter would reduce spending.  He asked if it was true, and how much?

Leece took this one first.  She said that she was "sure outsourcing would lead to savings if we didn't have to pay prevailing wages" and that she was willing to look at that. She said that Huntington Beach and Newport Beach both DO pay prevailing wages.  She said we have our financial house in order and that the pension issue can be resolved in a calm, thoughtful manner.  We can ask our employees to pay more of the burden but that we've not been able to sit down with some of them lately.

Righeimer said, "It's real".  He referred to previously mentioned contracts.  And, he said, "Clearly the dollar issue over there.  I have no problems with the things they want but in the end it doesn't really matter.  We can talk about it, but a half-million would be there again".  He said, "We don't have the capability without the charter."  He mentioned that "Newport Beach is doing 35 amendments."  (Actually, it's 38)  He said "We can make changes to refine it.  We don't want so many bizarre political things in it." ( I assume he means those self-serving things he included in it)

Valantine acknowledged that some outsourcing makes sense, but it should be balanced.  He worried about low ball contracts and expressed concern that we might accept one of them and then sell our equipment, only to find the contractor cannot perform.  We'd be left without good options.  He discussed the heavy-handedness of the outsourcing process 18 months ago and the lawsuit appeal that's pending, indicating that the council pushed the employees into a corner by violating it's own rules.

Dickson said we have the ability to outsource everything, then said one of the "fear tactics" used is poor quality.  He also said "collaborative negotiations didn't work two years ago".

In rebuttal Leece said "we all want to save money but that we've alienated our employees and residents".

Righeimer dismissed Valantine's concern about the loss of capital equipment saying "It's just trucks and stuff like that."  He said "high level people in the city can manage the contractor."  (At this point I must remind you that when the whole outsourcing fiasco began I speculated that Righeimer's idea of a perfect city staff would be Tom Hatch and a handful of contract administrators.)

Valantine re-affirmed that contractor failure puts us in a bad situation. (Remember the contractor hired to construct the exo-skeleton on City Hall to protect it from earthquakes who went out of business?)

Dickson said he was at the meeting in 2010 and described the council members as "begging".


FIFTH QUESTION
Davis then asked #5 - no-bid contracts

Righeimer said, "There is no such thing as no-bid contracts".  He then went on to complain about the expense of advertising contracts (sounds like he's already thinking about pals he can help out).  He chided the opposition again for "fear and misinformation", then told us that the "Purchasing officer can overrule the City Manager."  (I sure didn't feel very comfortable with that revelation!)

Leece pointed out that the lack of a threshold dollar amount is one reason this is a weak charter - that we didn't do our due diligence.  She said that section is vague because it was rushed and that it can lead to friends being handed large contracts.

Dickson bemoaned the fact that this has become an issue and echoed Righeimer's concern about the cost of putting jobs out to bid.

Valantine said the rules don't apply to friends and frat brothers and reiterated the need for a specific threshold number.  He said the charter exempts the city from all California statutes regarding bidding and purchasing and mentioned that other cities included protections in their charters.

Righeimer's rebuttal was strange and telling.  He said, "It's offensive to me that we're wasting our time talking about this instead of the half-million coming into the city."

Leece said the number should have been in the Charter and disagreed with Dickson's characterization of the 2010 meeting.

Dickson said he appreciated Valantine's concern about favoritism, fraud and corruption.

Valantine said that Newport Beach and Irvine have specific numbers in the charter.  Huntington Beach has no dollar amount but it can be established by ordinance. Righeimer's charter says the number can be established by ordinance or resolution.  In the case of using a resolution, it is not subject to a referendum and could happen between Friday and Monday - not in a public meeting.



 SIXTH QUESTION
Steve Ray posed question 6 - a look into the future.  What will the city look like?  What will the opinion of the charter be?

Leece referred to city founder Bob Wilson's book about a man who threw tomatoes at people who disagreed with him.  She, as a teacher, expressed disappointment for the current divisive conditions in Costa Mesa.  She described missed opportunities and lots of legal expenses that probably could have been avoided.  She recommended a NO vote on Measure V and a Yes for Sandra Genis, John Stephens and Harold Weitzberg.

Righeimer said that in 20 years we WILL have a charter.  "If it doesn't pass we'll just do it again.  It will make no difference if we have 20 meetings with everybody holding hands singing Kumbaya - It will get passed."

Valantine said he was not sure we had to go out 20 years.  "The city is 60 years old and I've been here for 40.  The last two years have been the most tumultuous I've seen".  He then addressed the real reasons for our financial distress - the economy tanked and the CalPERS numbers suffered.  He said that he's afraid he "will look back on this period as the most angry, vicious time in the history of the city."  He referred to bright lights - Fire Chief Tom Arnold's restructuring plan, the Orange County Fire Authority review of our operations, increased pension contributions and new pension tiers.

Dickson said he hoped all our storm drains would be repaired and installed.  He said that "we would have gone through two amendment processes by then". (Of course, that's a good point.  Jim Righeimer's Charter only calls for a review every TEN YEARS!  As our neighbors in Newport Beach certainly know, that's not nearly often enough.)  He praised the city staff, then, when mentioning the current hard-fought, heated process, said, "It all started with Jim's comment on pension unsustainability."  (How very, very true)

In rebuttal Leece mentioned the $240 million in unfunded pension liability, indicating it was not a bill we have to pay today - that it's spread out over decades.

Righeimer said it's a "real debt".

Valantine said he'd like to look back at good things that had been done.  He'd like to see that it took a couple years to create a good charter.

Dickson said he'd like to see this charter pass because it will save us money.



CLOSING STATEMENTS
Dickson thanks the hosts for an informative debate.  He again mentioned his "emancipation from Sacramento", that the charter is a strong document and that it retains 60% of the protections we get from general law.

Valantine said that the proponents would have us believe the charter takes power from Sacramento and gives it to the people.  It gives power to the council.  A wiser choice is to not adopt a flawed charter - a blank check.  He suggested we discuss it and study it through an elected citizen's commission.

Righeimer said it's important that we have our own constitution.  He again mentioned that "half-million dollars", prevailing wage and being under the thumb of Sacramento.  He then said something he mentioned earlier - "Perfect is the enemy of the good".  (We suppose he's implying that those opposed to HIS charter are looking for perfection.  I don't believe that's the case.  I believe they are looking for a solid, carefully-crafted document that serves the needs of the community, not just the personal political agenda of one man) He closed by saying it's all about the prevailing wage.

Leece closed by saying that she's not voting for the charter because it's a weak charter and far from the best we can do.  It lacked true community involvement.  She reiterated that our financial house is in order and we're seeing more cost savings every day.  She emphasized that the future is bright for Costa Mesa, but this charter has too many flaws.

THANKS FOR READING

OK, for those of you who managed to make it through this tome - thanks.  If you have time, go to the KOCI link above and listen to this yourselves.  It turned out to be more enlightening than I anticipated.  Six more days...




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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Great Takeover - Part 2

TODAY, MESA CONSOLIDATED WATER DISTRICT
Yesterday I wrote about the races for the Costa Mesa Sanitary District seats, planning to cover the Mesa Consolidated Water District races, too.  However, that piece became too long, so here we are today to talk "water".


I GET NO VOTE, BUT...
This time around I have no vote for the seats available on the Mesa Consolidated Water District.  All the seats on the board are elected by district and mine is occupied by Shawn Dewane.  However, the three seats that ARE up this time around are VERY important to all of us because, depending on how the election goes, the result could mark a huge change in that organization and beyond. 
This time around the seats held by long-time board member Trudy Ohlig-Hall (widow of former mayor Donn Hall), current president Fred Bockmiller and Jim Fisler are on the ballot.
 

PLAN TO COMBINE DISTRICTS
As I've mentioned many times, there are those running for both the Mesa seats and those on the Sanitary District - and those who are supporting them - who want to see those two special districts combined, then blended into the City of Costa Mesa government.  It's my understanding that the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) would be happy to see fewer special districts, but the combination of them requires support from both boards.
 

FISLER VS. WORTHINGTON
Jim "a realtor here in town"Fisler (I used to tease him about saying that all the time when he was on the Planning Commission) faces a challenge from long-time activist Minuteman Dan Worthington.  I refer to him as such because of his ill-advised journey down to the border a few years ago to hang out with the vigilantes on patrol.  It's unlikely that Dan will defeat Fisler.


OC GOP AFTER HALL'S SEAT
Trudy Ohlig-Hall is a legend in the water business, having served three terms as President of MCWD during her 25 years on the Board.  Her resume, HERE, is impressive and it would be hard to find a more effective, dedicated public servant.  She is being challenged by Jim Righeimer's protege', Ethan Temianka.  He is currently on the Parks and Recreation Commission and is very active in OC GOP circles.  He, and the party, are spending lots of dollars to elect Temianka to this board because his vote would be pivotal to the aforementioned consolidation effort.  He knows zip, zero, nada about water, except he probably swims in it and drinks some from time to time.  The OC GOP machine is pulling out all the stops to defeat Hall.


BOCKMILLER, BY FAR
Fred Bockmiller, current President of the MCWD Board after also having served in that role four previous times, is an Engineering Manager by profession and understands the technology of the water business.  Check out his resume', too.  He has provided solid leadership to an organization that is known far and wide for being on the cutting edge of technology and a producer of reliable, clean, inexpensive water.  He's being challenged by Costa Mesa's part-time, part-time, petulant, profane lame duck mayor, Eric Bever.  This challenge would be almost laughable if the Orange County Republican Party Central Committee had not turned it's back on Bockmiller and chose to endorse the eminently unqualified Bever for this spot.  It's all about politics and their grand plan and Bever may be the best (worst?) example of it.


HALL, BOCKMILLER AND FISLER
As I said, I don't get a vote this time around, but the choices seem pretty simple.  The only reason to consider Temianka and Bever is based purely on politics - they certainly don't have any qualifications for the job.  Quite honestly, I don't trust them with the water we drink.  It's that simple.  So, my recommendations are to go with the proven experience and leadership -  Trudy Ohlig-Hall, Fred Bockmiller and Jim Fisler.  Yeah, that's right... I support Fisler for re-election.

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Charter Debate On KOCI-FM 101.5 Tuesday

RADIO DEBATE TONIGHT
KOCI-FM, 101.5, a local radio station that serves most of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, is hosting a series of live radio broadcasts this week in the run-up to the elections next Tuesday.

RIGHEIMER AND DICKSON VS.
Today, Tuesday, October 30, 2012, at 6:00 p.m. for approximately one hour Troy Davis will host a discussion of Jim Righeimer's Charter, Measure V.  Participants will include Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer (sperm donor of the Charter) joined by his appointee on the Planning Commission, Rob Dickson.

LEECE AND VALANTINE
They will face off against councilwoman Wendy Leece and former Planning Department executive and current community activist, Perry Valantine.

LIVE ON RADIO OR STREAMING AUDIO
You can listen to this program live on radio or live streaming audio on your computer at www.kociradio.com.  This should be a lively affair and I find myself wondering how two calm, courteous individuals like Leece and Valantine will fare against the pugnacious Righeimer and the thoughtful, but misguided, Dickson.  I guess we'll see.

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Another Successful Public Safety Town Hall

COYOTES, CRIME AND MORE
Costa Mesa Councilwoman Wendy Leece hosted another successful neighborhood town hall on the Eastside Monday night.  Nearly 40 of our friends and neighbors converged on Woodland Elementary School for a public safety-oriented meeting which included detailed reports on the ongoing coyote infestation of our city and an explanation of crime statistics.
 

MYERS ON COYOTES
Costa Mesa Police Department Sergeant Phil Myers, who heads up the animal control operations, fielded questions about the coyote issue and showed an informative video that will be available for viewing on the Police Department web site later this week.  Several members of the community raised excellent concerns - many had lost pets to coyotes.


KEEP PETS INSIDE...
In a nutshell, Myers told us that coyotes are here to stay.  He explained that studies have shown that if the coyote population is "thinned out" it quickly returns in greater numbers.  He cautioned all residents to keep their pets inside.  Because the owners feed the pets commercial food, which is sweet, coyotes have acquired a sweet tooth - our pets.  He told us that coyotes are usually on the prowl at sunrise or sunset, but admitted that they've been seen throughout the city at all times of the day and night.  He indicated that the breeding season is January - March, so the summer is when you can expect to see greater numbers prowling our neighborhoods.  He told us that they tried trapping coyotes - a very time-consuming and not very productive process.  Trapped coyotes are NOT relocated, they are exterminated.  His primary solution - keep your pets inside and/or be sure you're attending them at all times when they are outside.  In theory, remove the food source and the coyotes will return to their traditional habitat - the Newport Back Bay and the Santa Ana River bed.


COYOTE AWARENESS PROGRAM
Activist Christy Roget made a brief presentation about the organization she's formed - Project Lucky, named after her dog that was killed by a coyote -  to help coordinate the reporting of coyote sightings.  She requested that coyote sightings be reported to 1-855-7-COYOTE.  She also created a sign, shown below, that will soon be appearing in parks and other areas around Costa Mesa reminding residents and visitors of the potential danger from coyotes.


COYOTES OR HOMELESS?
I must confess that from time to time as coyotes were discussed I thought we might have been talking about Costa Mesa's homeless population.

CRIME IS UP 17%!
CMPD Corporal Doug Johnson gave us current crime statistics for three of the Reporting Districts most proximate to the location of Woodland Elementary School.  Crime is up 17% and much of that is attributed to the proximity of the motels along Newport Boulevard.  He also spoke briefly about the deployment of officers throughout the city and emphasized that Chief Tom Gazsi's top priority is to have patrol at full strength at all times.  Lately, this had meant diverting other resources - like Corporal Johnson himself - from their primary duties to cover the patrol areas.  It has also meant significant overtime being required.


KELLY'S CRIME CORNER
One of our favorite crime fighters, Kelly Vucinic, emphasized communication as a tool.  She discussed the Neighborhood Watch program and reminded the audience that they must remain alert to unusual circumstances in their own neighborhoods.  She offered information about the Citizen's Academy - an 11 week course in which participants learn about all phases of policing.  The next class begins in February.  You can reach her at  kvucinic@costamesaca.gov.

C.E.R.T.
Larry Kinsella of the Community Emergency Response Team - CERT - gave a brief overview of his group's activities and invited audience members to join them.

UNITED NEIGHBORS
Diane Hill spoke of her group, United Neighbors, and how her communication network can be useful to spread timely, important information and be especially valuable during times of emergencies.

HATCH ON NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT TASK FORCE
City CEO Tom Hatch once again tossed himself into the mix, braving the critical questions of the members of the audience.  He told us about the Neighborhood Improvement Task Force - the team of city employees that is tightly focused on resolving some of the more insidious issues in the city - homelessness, problem motels, rehab homes and "other crime attractants".  He brought with him a four-page memo recently distributed to the City Council and staff outlining some recent initiatives toward their goals.  He discussed the additional code enforcement officers hired and the three more about to be hired to help monitor and enforce some of those pressing issues.
 

BIG NEWS - MORE COPS!
Hatch also addressed the up-coming crime mapping project and confirmed that crime is up 17% from a year ago.  He told us that the city is in an aggressive hiring mode for more sworn police officers.  He mentioned that we should have six (6) new entry level officers on board by January, will be hiring two (2) lateral officers as soon as possible and have eight (8) reserve officers in process now.  He also mentioned his intention to hire well beyond the current authorized strength, 131 sworn officers.  He said he wants to have 141 officers on board to fill anticipated vacancies.  I spoke with him later and he confirmed that, in the case of those six new officers, it will take a bare minimum of one year for them to be functional on the streets.  In the meantime, retirements are beginning to stack up.



RETIREMENT FORMULA STILL AN ISSUE
Also, it is still unclear whether Assembly Bill 340, which becomes state law January 1, 2013, will satisfy the City Council and permit the CMPD to actually hire new officers.  The council has been stiff-arming the police association on that issue - refusing to negotiate with them.  Hatch did acknowledge that any officers hired as laterals might have to be hired at the 3% @ 50 formula if the department they leave uses it.

HOPING FOR THE BEST...
I was encouraged by some of the things Hatch said last night, particularly about increasing the number of officers on staff.  The city has been dealing with rising crime levels ever since members of the current council arbitrarily chose a low staffing number without any facts to back it up.  If Hatch and Gazsi are successful in getting the number of officers on the payroll up to 141 it should go a long way to helping lower those crime stats.  We'll see.


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