Friday, December 21, 2012

City Calls For Volunteers To Disassemble Snoopy

HEAVY-LIFTERS NEEDED!
Today the City of Costa Mesa put out a call for volunteers to help with the disassembly and storage of the hugely successful Snoopy House display, which is currently in operation at City Hall and will be through Christmas Day.  Santa will continue to appear through the 23rd.

TEXT OF CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS
Volunteers needed for disassembling Snoopy House display


Posted Date: 12/21/2012
 
The Snoopy House holiday display comes to an end on Dec. 25, and volunteers are being sought to disassemble and assist with moving display pieces from Dec. 26 through Dec. 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Please note that heavy lifting will be required for those assisting with moving display pieces. Time slots are flexible, and large community groups are welcomed to volunteer. To volunteer or obtain more information, contact Jim Jordan at (714) 556-3036 or snoopyhouse@gmail.com.


KUDOS AND THANKS
Thanks to all those terrific volunteers who have helped put the display together and who have staffed it since the launch on December 14th.





 MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL FROM 
A BUBBLING CAULDRON
 

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Fitzpatrick Lawsuit To Proceed

 FOUR MEMBER MAJORITY VOTES TO MOVE AHEAD
As reported by Bradley Zint in the Daily Pilot last evening, HERE, four members of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board of Directors voted last night to proceed with the lawsuit to force the remaining director, Jim Fitzpatrick, out of his seat.

WE KNOW ONLY THE DECISION
Since the decision was made in a closed session - Zint tells us it actually took two closed sessions - we won't know how the discussions went as the Board considered the decision by California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the rebuttal letter to Harris by Assemblyman Allan Mansoor in which he says he will introduce legislation to basically nullify the grounds on which the Board has based their lawsuit.

DESPITE A WARNING FITZPATRICK THUMBS HIS NOSE
It is our understanding that Fitzpatrick was warned more than once by Sanitary District Counsel Alan Burns when he initially ran for the Sanitary District Board seat that, because he was a Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner at the time, if he was elected he would be in violation of law by holding two incompatible positions simultaneously.  Despite that warning Fitzpatrick did run and win his seat - and kept his planning commission appointment, as well.  In fact, a couple months later - in what some interpret as an in-your-face move - he requested to be re-appointed to the planning commission and was, in fact, re-appointed.  He was reminded, again, that he held two incompatible seats and, since he chose to be appointed subsequent to his election, he should resign from the Sanitary District Board seat.  He refused and the lawsuit ensued.

WHAT ABOUT THE MONEY?
Much later, apparently in an attempt to defuse the lawsuit, Fitzpatrick resigned his seat on the planning commission, but only after holding both positions in violation of the law for nearly 18 months - and receiving compensation for both positions.  A Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner is paid $400 per month - among the highest in the state - and a Sanitary District Board member can receive more than $1300 per month depending on the number of qualifying events/meetings he attends.  It is unclear whether he would be forced to pay restitution of the lawsuit is resolved against him.  OC GOP insider and Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission member Jeff Mathews was appointed to fill Fitzpatrick's seat on the Planning Commission for the remainder of his term, which runs until 2015.

HE SHOULD RESIGN
So, onward they go with the lawsuit.  I don't know whether Fitzpatrick was given the opportunity to resign his seat or not, nor whether the Board would drop the lawsuit if he does.  That would seem to be the most appropriate course of action at this point considering the Attorney General's opinion.

ESTABLISHING THE PRECEDENT
There is also a body of thought that postulates that the lawsuit should proceed to resolve this issue once and for all on a statewide level.  I'm not sure it's good for our community to be, once again, placed in a position of having precedent-setting legal issues created because of actions in our locale.  You will recall that, primarily due to the obstinance of now-mayor Jim Righeimer, his bogus outsourcing scheme has resulted in a legal opinion that may force every General Law city to unravel their own outsourcing programs, much to their chagrin.

WAITING FOR AN UNLIKELY RESULT
Some, apparently including Fitzpatrick's former mate on the planning commission, Rob Dickson, expressed the view that the lawsuit should NOT be pursued because of the legislation Mansoor says he will propose.  That, of course - to use a Mansoorism - is silly.  As a member of the minority in the Assembly - and with a track record of having only one piece of legislation he proposed ever brought to a vote (the issue to eliminate the word "retarded" from the official state lexicon) - it is highly unlikely he will be successful in getting it passed.  Zint quotes Dickson as saying, "The precedent is very clear... it seems clear that this board is not interested in considering that the legislation run its course."  This does not surprise me at all.  Dickson has been supportive of Fitzpatrick throughout this ordeal.  We think he's got it wrong - the lawsuit should proceed.

NO COMMENTS AVAILABLE YET
Due to the lateness of the hour none of the Board members were available for comment.  We'll update this entry, or post another one, if and when those opportunities present themselves.




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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Somebody Plays The "Mansoor" Card

MANSOOR INSERTS HIMSELF
The battle for the Costa Mesa Sanitary District seat continues.  Yesterday freshly-re-elected Assemblyman Allan Mansoor injected himself into the issue when he sent a two-page letter to California Attorney General Kamala Harris disagreeing with her interpretation of "legislative intent" as it applies to the Health and Safety Code in the matter of Jim Fitzpatrick vs. the Costa Mesa Sanitary District.  Yeah, I know - that's not the correct title of the legal action, but you know what I mean.

THE "SAVE FITZPATRICK'S BUTT" BILL?
Mansoor says he plans to introduce legislation after the Legislature reconvenes in January to re-define that part of the code to which Harris referred in her decision to the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board earlier this week.  His legislation would apparently re-define the phrase "legislative body".  In his letter he tells Harris that she has "defined 'legislative body' too narrowly".   He says, "I believe the Legislature intended for 'legislative body' to extend to the city's entire legislative body, including all commissions and other advisory agencies created by and for the benefit of the city council."

DOES KAMALA CARE?
I'm sure Ms. Harris - a Democrat - really cares about the opinion conjured up by an under-educated, under-achieving political messenger boy for the Orange County Republican Party power elite, who now finds himself not only in the minority, but staring at the face of a Democrat super majority.  Please let me know when the thermometer in Hades slips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, because that will be the day Mansoor has a chance to get ANY legislation passed with this Assembly configuration.  Keep in mind that the Conclusion stated in Ms. Harris' letter to the CMSD Board stated: "Whether the offices of director of the Costa Mes Sanitary District and commissioner of the Costa Mesa Planning Commission are incompatible, and whether Jim Fitzpatrick has therefore forfeited his office as sanitary district director, present substantial questions of fact and law warranting judicial resolution.  Accordingly, the application for leave to sue is GRANTED."  She's saying let the legal process decide this matter.

WHO PULLED THE STRINGS?
The bigger question is, "Who called in the chit on this issue?"   Do these guys REALLY think Fitzpatrick's seat on the Sanitary District Board is worth all this trouble?  REALLY?  Who asked (told?) Mansoor to gin-up this letter and the threat of "legislation"?  Would Mansoor do it because Fitzpatrick asked him?  Nah, I don't think so, either.  No, I suspect this marching order came from much higher up the food chain. 

WILL THE CMSD BOARD CARE?
It will be VERY interesting to see what impact, if any, Mansoor's letter has on the closed session deliberations scheduled at the Special meeting of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board this evening.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Attorney General OKs Suit To Remove Fitzpatrick

SANITARY DISTRICT MAY PROCEED WITH SUIT TO REMOVE FITZPATRICK
In a press release today Costa Mesa Sanitary District Counsel Alan Burns announced that California Attorney General Kamala Harris has determined that the District may proceed with legal proceedings to remove Director James Fitzpatrick from the Board. (Photo courtesy of Daily Pilot)

PRESS RELEASE
The press release reads as follows:

The Attorney General has issued her opinion on the matter of the incompatibility determination regarding Jim Fitzpatrick serving on both the Costa Mesa Sanitary District (CMSD) Board and on the City of Costa Mesa Planning Commission (PC). The Attorney General has ruled favorably on CMSD’s application and has opined that there are substantial questions of fact and law regarding whether such incompatibility exists and that the two offices are incompatible. The Attorney General opined that the public interest would be served if leave to sue was granted and therefore authorized the District to bring an action to remove Fitzpatrick as a Director.

In the opinion, the Attorney General stated that the public interest would be served by such litigation. The Opinion also makes it clear that an office holder cannot pick and choose which incompatible position is kept but that by “leapfrogging” positions, the first incompatible office held is forfeited when the second one is accepted. This Opinion also makes it clear that a quo warranto action may be brought by a district to remove a member holding an incompatible office.


The Opinion has been published by the Attorney General and adds to the body of law on this subject. The Opinion is available to the public. The Board of Directors has scheduled a special meeting in closed session to discuss the Attorney General’s opinion regarding this matter. The special meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. located at District Headquarters, 628 W. 19th Street, Costa Mesa. The special meeting agenda can be downloaded on the District’s website at:
http://cmsdca.gov/agenda_packets_12/special_meeting_12_20_12.pdf


ILLEGALLY OCCUPIED BOTH POSITIONS SIMULTANEOUSLY?
You will recall that Fitzpatrick held both his elected position as a Director on the Sanitary District Board and an appointed position as a Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner despite having been advised in, as I understand it, two separate legal opinions that holding both positions was incompatible.  He subsequently resigned from the Planning Commission.  Many questions swirl around this decision.  For example, if the lawsuit continues and it is found that Fitzpatrick did, indeed, illegally hold both positions, will he be ordered to reimburse all fees he received from either or both positions that he held simultaneously?  Will he be required to reimburse the Sanitary District for its legal fees in this case?  Are there criminal charges associated with this case?

SPECIAL MEETING TOMORROW
As indicated in the press release, the Sanitary District Board will hold a special meeting tomorrow, Thursday, December 20, 2012 to discuss this opinion by the Attorney General.

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Another Sad Anniversary

REMEMBERING MY FRIEND
As many of you know, nine years ago today - on December 19, 2003, my best friend since were five years old, Larry Moore, passed away after six weeks in the Trauma Intensive Care unit of a hospital in Las Vegas following a motorcycle accident.  As I sat at his side all that time, trying to help make decisions that would return him to us, I had a lot of time to contemplate what he meant to my life.  We were closer than most brothers and remained so for 57 years.

REPRISE THE MESSAGE
I've written about him often since he died, including last year, HERE.  You may wish to refer to that entry for more background and the commentary I wrote in the Daily Pilot a few weeks later.
FRIENDSHIPS ARE TREASURES
Let me just say as I mark this very sad anniversary today, that friendships - not Facebook friendships, but REAL friendships - are treasures that should be protected and nurtured.  As every year passes I become more and more aware of this fact and work hard at renewing old friendships and cultivating new ones.
A LITTLE SONG FOR YOU
And now, here's a little video clip that seems perfectly appropriate... Mr. Newman, if you please...

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

School Board Discusses Safety

TIMELY, BRISK MEETING
In what have been the quickest two hour public meeting I've attended lately, the members of the Newport Mesa Unified School District Board held a round table discussion of safety issues, primarily what President Dana Black described as an "active shooter challenge".  Considering that this meeting was held just two working days since the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut - the impetus for the meeting - I was impressed with the preparation by the board and staff, plus the invited guests.  You can read Mike Reicher's report on the meeting in the Orange County Register HERE, and Jeremiah Dobruck's report from the Daily Pilot HERE.
   

COSTA MESA AND NEWPORT BEACH POLICE
Approximately 50 observers - far from a packed house - sat in the audience to hear Superintendent Dr. Fred Navarro kick it off at 2:30 by introducing Costa Mesa Police Chief Tom Gazsi and Newport Beach Deputy Police Chief Dave McGill.  During their segment, in which they each described the current status in their respective cities, the hot button topic was School Resource Officers (SROs).  Newport Beach has them at both high Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar high schools.  Costa Mesa, following a series of budget demands by the previous city council, does not currently have SROs at Costa Mesa nor Estancia High Schools.  Chief Gazsi told us that the first new police officer was hired by Costa Mesa today, a lateral transfer from another police agency.  Gazsi hopes that the council will find ways to restore some of the police staffing so it may be possible to place SROs back in the schools in the spring.  Several board members and speakers before the board stressed the value of the SROs on campus.


MUTUAL AID EFFECTIVENESS
Both chiefs addressed the shooting spree at Fashion Island Saturday night as an example of how they just cannot cover every possible eventuality.  Both organizations train using the most up-to-date policing techniques and tactics to remain prepared for emergencies like that.  They stressed the mutual aid agreements and used the example of the Fashion Island incident of effective use of that program.

ARM TEACHERS?

Member Karen Yelsey wondered whether consideration might be given to arming teachers in the classroom.  That touchy question was handled diplomatically by Chief McGill, indicating it was a subject worthy of discussion.  It was clear that he was not comfortable with that idea.  Chief Gazsi reinforced that view, stressing a preference for trained officers.
 

SECURING CAMPUSES
Member Judy Franco expressed concern for the problem of securing some of the campuses that back up to parks or the beach - Newport Elementary, for example.  She suggested placing a car proximate to the school regularly to discourage potential intruders.
 

SECURITY CAMERAS
There was  discussion of the use of security cameras, including the cost and a pilot program that was conducted.  It was acknowledged that the technology is expensive, but is evolving.  They are most useful in "after the fact" events - identifying perpetrators, for example.

EMERGENCY PROCEDURES

Board members were updated on the current emergency procedures, stressing that the individual principals have latitude to modify them as appropriate for their own individual schools.

COMMUNICATIONS

The board discussed enhanced communication using technology and parent involvement.  Director of Communication Laura Boss stressed the various methods of communicating with parents and staff, using text and email.

MENTAL HEALTH ASPECTS
A lengthy discussion was held about the mental/emotional impact of this kind of event.  Trained psychologists have been available on campus and there is a clear procedure to be followed, including group meetings to assist particularly troubled children.

PARENTAL INPUT
Several members of the public, including parents, spoke and stressed their concern for their children and their safety at school.  One speaker expressed concern for the involvement of the Spanish-speaking parents, since they have problems understanding some of the programs being proposed.  He was concerned for the cultural and language barriers. 


EXCELLENT PRESENTATIONS
A lot of ground was covered in the two hours provided.  I was amazed and impressed at the volume and quality of the presentations considering they had basically one working day to put it all together.  I suggest each of you watch the replay of this meeting either via streaming video - it's already run a couple times today on Channel 26 on Time Warner Cable this evening - or on the school district website, https://nmusd-ca.schoolloop.com/boardagendas, when it's available online.  It will also be available on Costa Mesa Television, Channel 24, as part of the rotation and also online via streaming video at the City web site by the end of the week.

LEECE AND HATCH

I was very pleased to see Costa Mesa Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch and councilwoman Wendy Leece - a former school board member -  at the meeting to add support.  Leece also commented, stressing that Hatch and Gazsi will be working on the SRO problem and that folks may be interested in attending the Citizens Police Academy to acquire formal training in emergency situations.
 

STAFF WORK AHEAD
The school district staff was charged with returning at the next regular meeting with answers to some of the complicated issues that were brought up, so it will be interesting to see how this shakes out as we gain some distance from the Connecticut tragedy.  Congratulations to all concerned for the very thorough, professional program today.

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Layoff Notices To Be Rescinded TODAY!

A GREAT CHRISTMAS PRESENT
Today, Tuesday, December 18, 2012, The City of Costa Mesa will officially rescind the remaining 70 layoff notices - a great Christmas present for those employees involved.

CITY PRESS RELEASE
In a press release today City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch is quoted as saying in a letter to employees, "I know this period has been difficult for you, your department and the City, and I appreciate your professionalism through it all.  We still have significant budget challenges ahead, but we will work through them together.  I hope you, your family and friends have a peaceful and safe holiday season."  The press release went on to say,  "The City has asked the Costa Mesa City Employees' Association to dismiss the lawsuit it filed to prevent outsourcing and related layoffs.   It is the City's hope that the lawsuit can be dropped without going back to court and incurring additional legal costs." 

RIGHEIMER'S PLAN
You will recall that following the recent election in which he remained in power, Mayor Jim Righeimer announced his intent to have this happen and hopes to begin negotiating with the employee associations without the cloud of layoff notices hanging over their heads toward possible resolution of issues he feels are critical to the fiscal well-being of The City.

THAT FATEFUL DAY
The rescinding of these final remaining layoff notices brings to an end the most rancorous, contentious and divisive period in The City's history, which began on St. Patrick's Day - March 17, 2011 - when more than 200 layoff notices were preemptively issued to employees and young Huy Pham leaped to his death from the roof of City Hall.
TURMOIL AND TUMULT
During the ensuing months staffers have left, a lawsuit was filed by the employees to protect their rights and vitriol filled the air during council meetings.  Grassroots organizations were formed on both sides of the issue and the tension within City Hall was palpable.

BERARDINO CALLS FOR HARMONY
In a recent commentary in the Daily Pilot, HERE, Orange County Employees Association General Manager Nick Berardino called for harmony.  He said,

"The nation has been watching Costa Mesa and unfortunately, what they've seen these past two years has been devastating.

Now that we have their attention, my hope is that we can show everyone that collaborating together, respecting each other, and working in a way that promotes peace and harmony is much more effective than fighting.

And isn't that what the holidays are all about
?"

WE HOPE SO, TOO
We join Berardino in his hope for harmony and a spirit of collaboration and cooperation as we move forward.  We view this with guarded enthusiasm since Righeimer's comments at the last council meeting seemed to hedge his bet. We will know soon enough.  Today, as the affected employees receive this wonderful news, the following video clip seems to be perfectly appropriate.

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A Little More Christmas Spirit...

MORE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT FOR YOU ALL
I think it's time for a little more Christmas spirit.  In light of some of the horrendous events of the past few days, I suspect you all need a little smile about now.

I provided this one for you last year, too, so I know many of you enjoyed it.

You'll remember this one every time you grab an Arby's...

So, now, as you finish your lunch....



(Slide your cursor over to the side and click on the link for this one under "Previous Posts" before you play it.  You'll get rid of most of that clutter on the right side of the play window.  Better yet, click on the "full screen" option and enjoy)

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Special School Board Safety Meeting Tomorrow

SPECIAL SAFETY MEETING AT 2:30 TUESDAY
According to a message from Laura Boss, Director of District Communication, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education will hold a special meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. to discuss school safety issues.  The meeting will be held at NMUSD headquarters.


COSTA MESA AND NEWPORT BEACH POLICE LEADERS
This meeting, in response to the tragedy last week in Newtown, Connecticut, will be a roundtable conversation on the district's safety efforts.  There will be input from Costa Mesa Police Chief Gazsi and Newport Beach Deputy Chief McGill.  The public's participation is invited.  This seems to be a good opportunity to ask about the School Resource Officer program, for example. (Photo credit - Shannon Hicks/AP)

LIVE ON CHANNEL 26, AND MORE
The meeting will be broadcast live in Costa Mesa via Channel 26 on Time Warner Cable and Channel 99 on ATT U-Verse.  It will be replayed in Newport Beach.  Additionally, it can be viewed via recorded media at https://nmusd-ca.schoolloop.com/boardagendas within 2-3 days following the meeting.  The City of Costa Mesa will receive the digital information and post it in the rotation on Costa Mesa Television, Channel 24 and make it available via their granicus archived video feeds on The City web site.

COPIES AVAILABLE
All Board meetings are taped and are available to be checked out at no charge through the Office of the Superintendent.  If you provide a blank DVD they will burn a copy for you at no charge.

MORE INFO
Additional information can be obtained from the Office of the Superintendent at 714-424-5030.

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A Prayer...

LOOKING FOR PEACE OF MIND
Like most of us, I've been trying to find some peace of mind after the full immersion in the news most of us have experienced following the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut recently.  It seems virtually impossible to escape news coverage of that senseless carnage.

A PRAYER FOR THE CHILDREN
This morning I offer to you a rendition of A Prayer For The Children, many versions of which can be found on YouTube.  This one, in my opinion, offers an excellent presentation in which you can actually understand the lyrics.  It's short - just under five minutes.  It may help you deal with the tremendous loss most of us feel even though we did not know those who died that day.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fashion Island Gunman Apprehended

GUNFIRE AT FASHION ISLAND
As many know by now, a lone gunman fired a reported 50 shots from a handgun late in the afternoon Saturday in the Macy's parking lot at Fashion Island.  He was apprehended, apparently without incident, by the Newport Beach Police.  Several stores in the mall were reported to have been locked-down.
 

BEST COVERAGE BY AMY SENK
Perhaps the best coverage of this event by local media was provided by Amy Senk on her Corona del Mar Today site.  That really doesn't surprise me, since she covers Corona del Mar like a blanket.  She had an early report, HERE, almost immediately after the event occurred.  She followed up with a very comprehensive entry, HERE, later in the evening and wrapped it up with yet another entry, HERE, much later in the evening which quoted the Newport Beach police press release.


RUMORS...
Rumors continue to swirl around this event.  One report, unconfirmed, was that a person was found shot and stabbed at Macy's.  One would assume this is a false report since no official word has been released to that effect.

NO REASON GIVEN

No word on why the alleged gunman, identified in several reports as Marcos Sarinana Gurrola, 42, of Garden Grove, decided to shoot up the place yesterday.

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