Friday, January 04, 2013

Officer Jon Smith "Welcome Home" Ceremony

MORE GOOD NEWS
On the heels of the news that SRO Jess Gilman is returning to Costa Mesa on Monday, there is more good "returning officer" news tonight.

OFFICER JON SMITH TO BE WELCOMED HOME
In a press release today the Costa Mesa Police Department announced a "yellow ribbon-cutting" ceremony at 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at which Officer Jon Smith will be officially welcomed home from his recent year-long tour of military duty in Afghanistan, during which he was involved in assessing the capabilities of schools, hospitals and police departments.  The event will take place in front of the Police Headquarters at 99 Fair Drive.

CHIEF GAZSI TO HOST
Police Chief Tom Gazsi will host the event and will be joined by Community Service Specialist Jeanette Chervony who was instrumental in providing Smith strong support by gathering, organizing and shipping special care packages to him while he served abroad.




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Jess Is Back!

SRO GILMAN RETURNS
In a press release late this afternoon the City of Costa Mesa announced the return of recently-retired Costa Mesa Police Officer Jess Gilman, who will work as a Reserve Officer and School Resource Officer on a part-time basis.  You can read the information from the City web site, HERE.

PART OF A BIGGER PLAN
This is terrific news since, starting Monday,  Gilman will work on both Costa Mesa high school campuses as part of a larger response to the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

COLLABORATION
Costa Mesa Police Chief Tom Gazsi is quoted as saying, "While school security remains the responsibility of the District, the City will continue to support these endeavors in a collaborative, aggressive and proactive way."

FOUR MORE OFFICERS PENDING
The press release also indicated that The City of Costa Mesa expects to hire four police officers by mid-January and will add additional full time and reserve officers shortly thereafter.  This is great news for us all.  Congratulations to Chief Gazsi, CEO Tom Hatch and Newport Mesa Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Fred Navarro for aggressively addressing this issue.

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Agenda For January 8, 2013 Council Meeting

GET READY FOR GROUP HUGS!
Off we go, into the new "kinder, gentler" era of Costa Mesa City Council meetings, where I fully expect speakers before the council to speak softly to our elected leaders so as not to bruise their fragile egos.  I also expect the council to reciprocate by responding to questions or comments with courtesy and civility as is appropriate for those we've hired to provide direction for our city.  No more harsh comments directed at one or two members of the council specifically.  No more interruptions by the council members while a speaker is trying to present an issue in the very meager 3 minutes provided.  Yep, I'm really looking forward to this new era.

AGENDA FOR THE COUNCIL MEETING
The agenda for the first council meeting of the year, next Tuesday, January 8, 2013, is now posted on the city web site, HERE.  As has been the case in the past, the meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. and will be preceded by a closed session that commences at 5:00 p.m.  A look at the agenda indicates that we may see a relatively short meeting this time around.

NO SURPRISES!
Those of you who actually follow this stuff will find some changes that may make you smile.  For example, in the "Welcome to the City Council Meeting" section on page 2 of the agenda we find some new, clarifying verbiage.  Item #1 states, "Any written communications, photos, or other materials for distribution to the City Council must be submitted to the City Clerk PRIOR TO THE START OF THE MEETING. Any materials to be displayed on the overhead projector at the Council meeting must be submitted to the City Clerk PRIOR TO THE START OF THE MEETING."  This will certainly help things move more smoothly.  I smiled when I read this because it may have put a crimp in Chris McEvoy's game plan if this rule had been in effect when he surprised now-Mayor Jim Righeimer with his announcement of a recall effort late last year.  It makes me wonder if this change is a "cause and effect" thing because of McEvoy's surprise.

OH, HECK!
 Item #2 reminds us that no person in the audience shall, "engage in disorderly, disruptive, disturbing, delaying or boisterous conduct including but not limited to, handclapping, stomping of feet, whistling, making noise, use of profane language or obscene gestures, yelling or similar demonstrations, which may disrupt the peace and good order of the Council proceedings."  I don't see anything there about muttering epithets under your breath, so I guess I'll be OK.

TURN YOUR CELL PHONE OFF, STEVE!
Item #3 tells us, "All cell phones and other electronic devices are to be turned off or set to vibrate. Members of the audience are requested to step outside the Council Chambers to conduct a phone conversation."  Might I suggest this item be circled and handed to Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger, who tends to spend way, way too much time fiddling with his cell phone and Ipad instead of paying attention to items on the agenda.  That's particularly disconcerting since he apparently doesn't take the time to read the agenda items ahead of time.  San Jose recently dealt with this issue, HERE.

CLOSED SESSION - LEGAL ISSUES
The closed session report indicates four (4) items to be considered, all dealing with either existing or anticipated legal issues.  And the meter keeps on spinning...  See comments under "Warrants", below.

MORE LEGAL FEES!
Items 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 on the Consent Calendar are Warrants, which stacked up because we've not had a council meeting for a month.  As you scroll through those and keep a pencil handy you'll find that they include nearly $300,000 more in legal fees.  We paid our contract City Attorney's firm, Jones & Mayer, $200,999.39 and the firm hired to fight the lawsuit filed by the Costa Mesa City Employees Association, Jones Day, $98,387.47.  Further analysis of the Jones & Mayer bill indicates that we continue to be charged for something identified as "Acosta Appeal", but no amount is given.  If that's the Benito Acosta case, I find myself wondering just what we could possibly still be paying on that one, since it is our understanding that it is over.


WHAT THE HECK IS THIS?
Another interesting item is on Warrant #2453 - a payment of $1,500,920 to the Orange County Auditor-Controller for some kind of a "Demand Payment".  I wonder what that's all about, since it's a pretty sizable chunk of change.  Maybe someone will ask the council on Tuesday.

"RESIDENT ONLY" PARKING ON FORD ROAD
The last item, #8, is a request for a "resident only" parking restriction on Ford Road.  You can read the staff report HERE.  You will recall the ruckus in council chambers when several residents complained about an infestation of homeless folks who were, apparently, committing crimes along that street.  Righeimer commanded Police Chief Tom Gazsi to present himself at Ford Road the next day at 3:00 p.m. to hear the residents out.  Probably unrelated was the fact that the next day was the day that Private Investigator Chris Lanzillo is alleged to have tried to entrap councilman Gary Monahan into some kind of illicit act with one of Lanzillo's "operatives" and Lanzillo then tailed Righeimer from Monahan's gin mill to his home and reported him as a probable drunk driver.  To my knowledge, neither issue was resolved, except that Righeimer was absolved by a member of the CMPD of driving while impaired.

CLOSURE REPORT ON ANCHOR TRAILER PARK
There is one Public Hearing Tuesday - the "Closure Impact Report For Anchor Trailer Port/Mobilehome Park, 1527 Newport Boulevard."  You can read that staff report HERE.  Public Hearings are supposed to be heard beginning at 7:00 p.m.  I suspect this one will be pretty close to that time, depending on the number of speakers during Public Comments.

FAIRVIEW WETLANDS BOARDWALKS
There is no Old Business on the agenda Tuesday, but there are three (3) items on the New Business schedule.  Item #1 is the Fairview Park Wetlands Boardwalk Project, HERE.  The staff report indicates that creating a boardwalk to "afford public a view of the functioning wetlands and its flora and fauna." would cost around $1 million.  They are looking for direction from the council.

SR-55 IMPROVEMENT STUDY, AGAIN
Item #2 is a re-hash of the "SR-55 (Newport Boulevard) Improvement Study", HERE.  This item is a "receive and file" item, but does inform the council of the so-called "Next Steps" in this process.  Apparently the Orange County Transportation Authority will submit the findings for Caltrans review and their ultimate approval later this year.  Once that is done state and federal funding will be sought to perform a detailed environmental analysis and a "preferred alternative" selected.  Remember that term, "preferred alternative" in connection with the now-infamous I-405 expansion project?  Me, too.  Makes me nervous.  But, we're a long, long way before any decision is made on the SR-55 Improvement "preferred alternative".

BIG BROTHER?
The last item on the agenda, New Business #3, is provocative.  It is titled, "Council Authorization For The Implementation of Security Camera System Upgrade And Expansion For City Hall and Lion's Park."  You can read the staff report HERE.  I agree that expanded deployment of security cameras can enhance security at City Hall and at Lion's Park.  I just wonder who's going to be among those "city personnel" authorized to use this system?  One phrase  made me smile.  When addressing the use of security cameras to "return Lion's Park back to a more family friendly venue", there is this phrase, "This will afford both key police and city personnel the opportunity to track and monitor specific hot spots within the park from an offsite location at anytime of the day in real time."  If you've driven by Lion's Park lately you know that there are "hot spots" to be observed, if you get my drift.  The roughly $80,000 for this enhancement will apparently be paid from CEO Tom Hatch's slush, er, contingency fund - that million bucks stashed away to be used for whatever whim strikes the council.

CREDIT TO MENSINGER
An observation:  Much as I cringe whenever I agree with Steve Mensinger, I give him credit for the much-improved staff reports that now include exhibits in color, not just blurred, smeared black and white images.  They are MUCH easier to read.  Of course, now he has to actually read them..

A NEW ERA...
So, off we go, into the new era of cooperation and conciliation.  Everyone cross your fingers.  And, yes, I am going through Facebook withdrawal, shakes and all.


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Scheafer & Lowery To Lead 60th Anniversary Planning

RIGHEIMER'S PEP TALK
 The second meeting of the Costa Mesa 60th Anniversary Committee last night at the Emergency Operations Center was kicked off by Mayor Jim Righeimer, who gave a short pep talk to the committee before turning it over to CEO Tom Hatch.   

SCHEAFER AND LOWERY WILL LEAD THE COMMITTEE
Long time activist Mike Scheafer was elected to be the Chairman of the committee.  Melinda Lowery was named Vice Chair of the group.  Scheafer is a nearly lifetime resident of Costa Mesa, current Director of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District, former member of the City Council and Parks and Recreation Commission, long-time member of the Lions Club and has headed up the Fish Fry festivities for many years.  Lowery is a member of the Costa Mesa Historical Preservation Committee and has a long history of volunteerism.  You can read their individual submissions of qualifications HERE.

A FULL AGENDA
Following the election of the officers Hatch led the discussion of the very full agenda, HERE

ONLINE WEB DISCUSSION BOARD
The Web Discussion Board is now up and available for use.  Communications Director Bill Lobdell, shown here with Christine Cordon chatting with Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce who attended the meeting in a little box.  Sorry, couldn't resist.  You can find it at the city web site, HERE.  Committee members and interested members of the public are encouraged to sign in and participate in the discussions of the many facets of putting together the 60th Anniversary celebration.
EVERY THURSDAY IN JANUARY
This committee will meet every Thursday of January to get a running start at the planning process.  At the next meeting participants in the various sub-committees will be assigned and chairpersons of each sub-committee will be selected.  Also, a recruitment for community volunteers to help with each of the sub-committees will be launched shortly.

SUB-COMMITTEES
The sub-committees are:
  • Marketing, Advertising, Branding and Public Relations
  • Arts Program
  • Sponsorships and Fundraising
  • Outreach Programs and Community Events
  • Youth Programs
  • Volunteers
  • Kick-off Event
  • Closing Event
  • Educational Programs
  • History Program
  • Sustainability
DETAILS COMING SOON 
Based on the conversations last night, the group is aiming for a major event to be held on the actual 60th anniversary date of the city's incorporation - June 29, 2013, which conveniently falls on a Saturday.  The use of the "Diamond Anniversary" as a theme image was discussed. Other events will be held and existing events will be invited to participate in the overall celebration.  The details will be fleshed-out during the meetings this month.

MENSINGER AND LEECE REPRESENT THE COUNCIL
Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger and Councilwoman Wendy Leece represent the City Council on the committee and both attended the meeting last night.  They kept a low profile, except when Mensinger - in response to a question about financing of events - kind of poo poo'd the difference between $50,000 and $75,000.  It was a curious statement.  It's premature to even discuss finances because only the skeleton of a program exists today.  Once the sub-committees begin doing their jobs a much clearer picture of the needs will begin to form.

SMALL, BUT ENTHUSIASTIC, GROUP
So, we are off and running.  Although fewer folks attended the meeting last night than the first one last month, much of that can be blamed - at least in part - on the proximity to the holidays.  Fewer than 40 people attended the meeting last night, but they were enthusiastic and ready to get to work.  We'll see how things begin to come together during this month.


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Thursday, January 03, 2013

60th Anniversary Committee Meeting TONIGHT!

A SECOND CHANCE
Since I botched up the announcement of the first meeting of the Costa Mesa 60th Anniversary Committee meeting of the year earlier I thought I'd better remind those of you who have an interest.

EOC AT 5:30
The meeting will be tonight at the Emergency Operations Center, adjacent to the Police Headquarters, in the City Hall complex and will commence at 5:30 p.m.

FULL AGENDA TONIGHT
There is a full agenda, HERE, which includes the election of a Chair and Vice Chair to guide the activities of this large volunteer group as the City moves forward to celebrate the 60th anniversary of incorporation.

DISCUSSION BOARD NOW AVAILABLE
Also, although a month late, the much-promised discussion board is now up and available for use by anyone who has a suggestion or who wants to be privy to discussions about plans for the celebration.  You can find it HERE.

EVERY THURSDAY IN JANUARY
The committee is scheduled to meet every Thursday in January to jump-start the planning for the festivities.  You can visit that discussion board any time to stay up to date on activities and plans.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

No Costa Mesa Traffic Related Deaths in 2012!

EXCELLENT NEWS TODAY
Late Wednesday afternoon the Costa Mesa Police Department issued a press release which informed us that Costa Mesa had NO traffic related deaths on city roadways during 2012.

TRENDING THE RIGHT WAY
According to the information provided, traffic related deaths are on the rise across the nation, which makes this accomplishment by the drivers in this city and those who enforce our traffic laws that much more noteworthy.  The release says, in part, "Overall, the Police Department credits the community for safer driving practices."  It also attributes this accomplishment to "education, deterrence, and directed enforcement by the Police Department's Traffic Safety Bureau."

SHARING CREDIT
Credit is also given to Costa Mesa's partnership with the California Office of Traffic Safety which provided what is described as "instrumental resources in the ongoing efforts to improve roadway safety.  With over 1 million vehicles traveling city thoroughfares on a daily basis, efficent use of resources, coupled with state grant funding have provided an effective approach."

SOME STATISTICS
The press release provided the following statistics for the past three calendar years:

                                      2012     2011      2010
Fatalities                          0         1             5

DUI Injury Collisions    56       62           54

DUI Non-Injury           118      112         143

DOING MORE WITH LESS
This information is made even more relevant when you consider that the CMPD has been operating in a severly under-manned mode for the past several years.  In addition to the authorized strength of sworn officers being only 131, down from a high of 164 only a couple years ago, in actuality the CMPD is working with many fewer officers on the street than that due to injuries and retirements.  It's our understanding that Chief Tom Gazsi is working on plans to improve that situation as quickly as possible.

THANKS, ALL...
Thanks to the good folks of the CMPD for doing their best to keep us safe.  And thanks to my fellow residents for doing your part by driving safer.  Keep it up!

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Meetings For The New Year(CORRECTED!)

MORE FOOTBALL...
Had enough college football yet?  Nah, neither have I.  Fortunately, we still have a handful of games remaining, including the national championship next Monday evening in which the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will whip the Alabama Crimson Tide.

60TH ANNIVERSARY COMMITTEE MEETING
In the meantime, the new year brings new meetings and the very first one is the next meeting of the Costa Mesa 60th Anniversary Committee today! TOMORROW, Thursday.  It will be held at the Emergency Operations Center, 99 Fair Drive (next door to the Police facility) and begins at 5:30 p.m.
(WOW!  What a great way to start the year!  First strike so early!  Maybe I should have resolved to not post after midnight!  Sorry for the confusion.)

ELECTION OF OFFICERS AND MORE
The agenda for this meeting, HERE, includes the election of a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson.  The two folks who have expressed interest so far in the chair are Melinda Lowery and Mike Scheafer.  The original plan was to have a meeting of this group every Thursday of January to get a running start on the numerous events that have been discussed.

FIRST COUNCIL MEETING ON JANUARY 8TH
Next Tuesday, January 8, 2013 the Costa Mesa City Council will hold its first meeting of the new year beginning at 6:00 p.m. in council chambers.  It will be preceded by a closed session meeting beginning at 5:00 p.m.  No agenda is yet available for that meeting.

COUNCIL MEETINGS STACKED UP
Curiously, the next council meeting will be the following Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - only a week later.  I say "curiously" because it may have made more sense for the council to bump that one to the next Tuesday, giving two weeks between the meetings and also providing two weeks until the first meeting of February.  However, the decision has been made to hold meetings virtually back-to-back, on the 8th and 15th, then take a couple weeks off until the first meeting of February.  Oh, well...

A NEW "KINDER, GENTLER" YEAR AHEAD?
So off we go into a new year, full of hope for a kinder, gentler year than the past two have been.  We'll see how that goes.  We'll see if new Mayor Jim Righeimer will be able to actually take a more conciliatory position and not try to jam his own personal ideas down our throats.  I don't know if you saw the Daily Pilot article last weekend, HERE, that profiled him and included interviews with several other local figures.  It's long, but makes for good reading.  It talks about his relationship with Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh - something we've addressed many times here - and with his pal, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger.  It addresses his animosity with unions which explains a lot of his actions over the past couple years.  Take a few minutes to read it.

RESOLVED...
Finally, we here at A Bubbling Cauldron hope you all had a wonderful New Year's celebration and that you've made resolutions you can actually keep.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for all of us.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year - Time For Changes

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!
First, a Very Happy New Year to you all.  2012 has been a tumultuous year, so I hope 2013 will be marked by a new spirit of cooperation, as promised by our new mayor.  We'll see...

HOUSEKEEPING UPDATE
Well, dear readers, it's time for some more housekeeping news.

GONE FROM FACEBOOK...

You recall that I've indicated I'm going to bail out of Facebook.  Well, that has now been accomplished.  I sliced that umbilical cord.  My comments on Daily Pilot articles are gone and I won't be able to enter any in the future.  I'll miss some of the details of friends lives, but circumstances forced this decision on me.  Now we'll see what I'm going to do with all that extra time.

NEXT... CHANGES HERE

As part of that general housekeeping I'm also making some changes on the blog.  Some of you will approve, others will not.  I've thought a lot about this and think it's the way to go...

NO MORE NASTINESS

So, beginning immediately I will no longer accept comments with flat out gratuitous nastiness.  If you make an otherwise important comment, but include an unnecessary nasty remark about someone the entire comment will be summarily rejected.  I don't have the capability of "editing" any comment - it's a go or no-go situation.  Unfortunately, I've permitted too many mean and nasty comments - from both sides of an issue - to appear on the blog.  That stops now.

DON'T GO TOO FAR

Most of you, whether submitting comments via anonymous pen names or using your own name, have important ideas to contribute, but you sometimes let your passion on issues take you too far.  For example, if you say so-and-so is an unemployed loser, while it might be true, that's unnecessary to the discussion.  If you say a guy is stupid, that might pass muster.  If you say he's stupid and fat, it won't.  If you attempt to involve his family the comment won't make the cut.  You get the idea...

MY RULES - I'LL TRY TO ENFORCE THEM FAIRLY

The line in the sand is mine alone.  It's going to be enforced with uniformity - or that's my plan.  We'll see.  I try to give you my best shot on issues I post about and hope you'll reciprocate when you comment.  I will always post a comment that disagrees with me - unless it crosses that new line.  Same with comments that agree with me.. the line is the same for both.  And, before some of you jump down my throat for enforcing rules that sound very much like the ones I found so onerous with Facebook - you may be correct.  I accept that and know that most of you have it within yourselves to produce some excellent observations without the pettiness... I'm looking forward to them.

OFF WE GO...

So, new year, new rules, new civility, new enlightenment, better discussions... we'll see.  I DO appreciate every comment that is submitted - even if it gets rejected out of hand.  They all help me take the pulse of discussions on both sides of the issue.  I MUCH prefer you to actually contribute a viewpoint instead of just flaming someone.  Quite honestly, I'm just getting tired of reading all that stuff.


HAPPY NEW YEAR - HAVE A GREAT 2013
I leave you this morning with one of my favorite clips - and perfectly appropriate, too.

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