The Question Unanswered - Why?
Tuesday afternoon the Costa Mesa City Council held a Study Session beginning at 4:30 - before most folks could get off work and attend - to theoretically discuss whether Costa Mesa should, once again, consider becoming a Charter City. It ended promptly at 6:30 for a Closed Session. You can read Bradley Zint's coverage in the Daily Pilot, HERE, and Mike Reicher's coverage in the Orange County Register HERE - but you have to be a subscriber.. sorry about that.
ALL OVER AGAIN...
Fewer than 50 people, including staff and members of the media, attended this meeting and I suspect most left with a feeling of deja vu. A year ago we were in the middle of the same kind of issue. One person told me tonight it was like being in the Bill Murray movie, "Groundhog Day". Yep, that's about it.
ONE QUESTION SHORT...
Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow led the discussion, and began by covering the six questions on the first page of the staff report, HERE. There actually should have been seven questions. The first one read as follows: "Should the City pursue becoming a charter city?" The second question should have been "Why?"
THEIR MINDS MADE UP
As the meeting progressed it was clear that the council majority had its mind made up - we WERE going to have a charter, so the only reason for this meeting was to cobble out the methodology for getting there.
NUMBERS HAVE NOT CHANGED
Jim Righeimer's Charter last November - 60% - was very close to the ratio that spoke against this idea Tuesday night. 68% of the speakers opposed a charter.
CONTRITE MAYOR? HARDLY!
Mayor Righeimer expressed a level of contrition, stating that he learned a lot from the campaign last year. I had to smile because we're heading down that same path again.
GENIS AND LEECE WANT TO KNOW WHY?
Both Council Member Sandra Genis and Council Member Wendy Leece expressed concern about the way this was being handled - with nobody ever expressing just why it is necessary to change from a General Law City to a Charter City. Oh, yes, a couple of the people who spoke mentioned that we could "take charge of our lives" and not be under the thumb of Sacramento - but nobody gave specifics.
HOW DOES A CHARTER FIX THAT PROBLEM?
The Unfunded Liability was mentioned, but nobody said how that problem could be fixed if we were a Charter City.
EXPLAIN WHY, OR JUST STOP!
In my opinion, until somebody explains in clear, unambiguous terms, WHY we should become a Charter City, moving forward with this scheme is premature.
BEFORE COUNCIL MAY 7TH
The issue will be on the council agenda for their meeting on May 7th. We can only hope that somebody will come up with at least one good reason to even consider this change. Otherwise, it looks like Righeimer's anti-union predisposition and the arrogance of power is forcing him to try this one more time.
It was clear tonight that the council majority has no interest in creating a Charter Commission - it would have to be elected by the people and the earliest that could happen under current law is June, 2014. And, the council would have no control over what that commission created and placed on the ballot - probably in November 2016.
A COMMITTEE, INSTEAD
So, it looks like the council will appoint a committee - very likely stacked with their pals - to craft a Charter for the city. Once that job is completed the council will make the final edits. You know what that means, right? It means we will be right back where we were in November, 2012 - with a document full of Righeimer's pet projects - like his much-defeated Paycheck Protection Plan, for example.
PREMATURE WASTE OF TIME
I hope more residents will take the opportunity to sign in on this. Until we know WHY it is necessary, this is just a waste of time.