Wednesday, May 08, 2013

More From The Council Meeting

Still bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived, I'm back to report on some of the other things that happened at the marathon Costa Mesa City Council meeting last night/this morning.

Right off the bat we had a couple nice presentations.  Darnell Wyrick, President of Mesa Verde Community, Inc., the homeowners association for that part of town, made a nice presentation to Ernesto Munoz, Director of Public Services for the City.  The presentation included a PowerPoint show of projects completed over the past several months that positively affected the Mesa Verde community.

Then Mayor Jim Righeimer presented a certificate to John Sendrey, the Costa Mesa resident who facilitated the rescue of Kyndall Jack from her precarious situation in the Cleveland National Forest.  His is an example of a person with a special skill set who saw a need and filled it.  Kudos to him for taking the initiative and helping to save a life in the process.

During Public Comments several residents stepped up with a litany of observations/complaints.  For example, Ernie Feeney told the council that the city spends almost $635,000 to Mesa Water each year, so she's looking for some kind of intervention on the way that district spends their money.  Geez!

Bob Dugan wanted more handicapped parking at the golf course.  Al Melone used his time to rave about the new Newport Beach Dog Park instead of griping about ours, as has been his practice in recent months.  Every time he speaks I think how wise the voters were to reject him as a council candidate last November.

Then curmudgeonly John Feeney - the second part of the family tag team - stepped up and railed about "a blogger" (me, I guess) who "inaccurately" posted about the requirement for candidates for city appointment to the Senior Center Board to pony up $500.  He was obnoxious in his own special way - but he was wrong.  What we reported was on the City announcement - and that included the requirement for the payment.  They later changed their entry... It might have been helpful for Old John to talk with me first, to save the embarrassment of being wrong at such a high volume.  By the way, things are not good between the City and the Senior Corporation Board.  The Board is having a tough time with fundraising and there seems to be no sympathy for their plight at City Hall.

Perry Valantine stepped up to address the Business License Fee, which he reminded the council has not been changed since 1961.  His three minutes was eloquent and accurate.  There is NO reason not to discuss changes in that fee - except for a political dogma being followed by the majority on the council.

Then a grumpy old fella stepped up and gave us his "alligators and swamp" story again, using the recent gang stabbing as cannon fodder.  He wants the city to stop spending money on silly essential stuff and buy up "slums" - his term for apartments where Latinos live in our city - so they can be torn down and replaced with pocket parks.  I wonder if he realizes just how tiresome that argument is getting?  Or, if he cares?

Gary Kutcher, the head of the OC Marathon,  stepped up to thank everyone who supported that event again this year.  He told us that more than 1,000 room nights were generated in Costa Mesa facilities due to the race, that more than $300,000 will be raised as a result and that 4,500 kids ran in the short race.

Cindy Brenneman told the council that she enjoyed cheering the marathoners on as they ran through her neighborhood.  Her main reason for speaking, though, was to recognize Peter Naghavi - who will finally leave the employment of The City this Friday.  According to CEO Tom Hatch, a replacement has been hired and is undergoing the background check and should start to work the first week of June.  Naghavi will actually be impossible to replace.  His dedication, tenure, skills and institutional knowledge have made him the perfect employee - as I've written here before.  We wish him well.  To learn more about this fascinating man watch the City Talk video clip from last December, HERE.

During Council Member Comments Wendy Leece promoted the OCTA Citizen's Advisory Committee and the Relay for Life and tried to recruit members for her team.  Righeimer said he'd sign up right then.  She also talked about the Art in the Park event at Estancia Park on May 11 and the General Plan workshop at the Emergency Operations Center on May 15th from 6-7:30.

Gary Monahan had nothing to say.

Righeimer reminded us that he will be out of town with Mayor Pro Tem Mensinger and an entourage to Las Vegas from May 19 - 22nd, so he asked Leece to run the council meeting on May 21st.  Let's just hope we have a quorum.  After making a snide, backhand remark about the Senior Center requirement for $500 for Board members (you'll recall I said all is not well with The City and the Board) he launched into his little "why we need a charter" mini-rant.  He dredged up his "$41 dollar an hour sign holder" and complained about how "the employees" refused to let him outsource certain operations.  He also blamed the employees for the litigation.  I looked, but didn't see his nose growing yet.

Steve Mensinger used his time, in part, to wish his son, Hunter, a happy 14th birthday - and complained about how public service makes him miss these days.  He also addressed Naghavi's pending departure, citing 587 meetings Naghavi attended in that venue and mentioned "brain damage"!  Somebody needs to remind Steve that the council chambers is not a locker room where every word that runs across his mind needs to be said!  What a schmuck!  He also told Harold Weitzberg, whom he apparently had promised to participate on a team for the Relay for Life, that he couldn't make it, so he'll write a check.  That seems to be a prevailing theme in his life - got a problem, write a check.

Sandra Genis, among other things, corrected a misstatement made earlier by Righeimer concerning the need to outsource our Street Sweeping operations or we'll have to buy all new equipment.  She reminded him that our equipment is grandfathered in.  She also talked about Banning Ranch and also thanked Naghavi for his service.

CEO Tom Hatch presented us with a list of coming events over the next few weeks:
  • Monday, May 13th in Conference Room 1A at 4:30 there will be a joint study session with the Planning Commission and the City Council so the commission can get its marching orders.
  • Tuesday, May 14th, also in Conference Room 1A at 4:30 there will be a similar joint study session with the council and the Parks and Recreation Commission.
  • Following that meeting, at 6:00, there will be a closed session council meeting.
  • On Wednesday, May 15th, at 6:00 in the Emergency Operations Center there will be a General Plan Workshop.
  • On Thursday, May 16th, there will be a 60th Anniversary Community Meeting at 6:00 in council chambers.
  • On Tuesday, May 21st, there will be a council meeting in council chambers at 6:00.
  • On Tuesday, May 28th there will be a Budget Study Session in Conference Room 1A at 4:30.
 He also spoke about the recent successful Mayor's Celebration, which has been running on Costa Mesa Television, Channel 3 on Time Warner Cable and Channel 99 on ATT U-Verse.  I don't have the link for it yet.

We finally got to the Consent Calendar - you will recall that Righeimer prefers that nobody pulls anything for separate discussion.  However, life is full of unfulfilled expectations.  Items 5, 7, 8, 10 and 12 were pulled and the remainder were passed with a 5-0 vote.

Item #5, was pulled by Leece because of the payment of $14,000 to Chip Espinosa.  Hatch explained the charge.  Espinosa is conducting a series of "listening sessions" among the employees to get a sense of how they are feeling about having to do more with fewer people, etc.   I had correspondence with Assistant CEO Rick Francis about this program last week.  He told me that Espinosa is almost finished with the assignment and that it would cost no more than $39,500.  He says a final report will be presented to the council and employees, so I hope it will also be made public.  I've had some experience with these kinds of programs in the past.  Typically, they create expectations on the part of the employees that "things will get better" as a result.  If they don't, then whatever morale issues that existed before are only exacerbated.  Quite frankly, from comments I've heard, Espinosa has been surprised with the results of these small group meetings - and not in a positive way.  We'll see.

Genis pulled #7, the three year contract for Managed Investment Services, HERE for discussion and former employee and lawyer, Eleanor Egan, stepped up to comment and basically read the council the riot act.  She wondered about exparte communications between the vendor (s) and council members.  She told them the contract attached had not been approved by the City Attorney as to form, that it included unlimited terms, there was an exhibit missing, that this kind of thing led to the county bankruptcy a few years ago and on and on.  The upshot of the discussion was that this item was continued on a 5-0 vote until the June 4, 2013 meeting, at which the staff will have resolved the issues in question.

Leece pulled Item #8, HERE,  the Deferred Comp plan issue, for clarification.  After the issue was cleared up both Monahan and Genis abstained because they participate in the plan.  It passed, 3-0.

The grumpy old fella mentioned above pulled #12, HERE, - which was taken out of order just because he was standing at the podium - the issue of purchasing 435 new desktop computers.  He mixed his criticism with mis-information.  Other community members stepped up to support the move and it was passed, 5-0.

Genis pulled #10, HERE, the renewal of the Harbor Soaring Society agreement and appeared satisfied with the one-year renewal because the new Fairview Park Advisory Committee will soon begin doing an assessment of the entire park and its amenities.  It was passed, 5-0.

From there we launched into the Public Hearing on the development on Tustin Avenue, which was covered in my previous post.  One amusing sidelight during that discussion I failed to mention was Steve Mensinger's apparent brain burp when he addressed Principal Planner Minoo Ashabi as "Fariba" - apparently confusing Ms. Ashabi with City Engineer Fariba Faselli.  I guess all women look alike to him.  That's OK - that's just "Steve being Steve" - an excuse he's lived by most of his life.  As I said earlier, what a schmuck!

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Blogger Joe said...

I was impressed by John Sendrey and his methodology in finding the missing hiker. We can all learn a few things from the way he went about it. He certainly deserved this recognition.

Mr. Feeney came out of left field and owes you an apology. Even Righeimer confirmed that what you'd written was accurate.

Feeney and Tom Johnson should take you to dinner for your next birthday, thank you for your service to the community, and make amends.

5/08/2013 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Joe, thanks for the thought, but I checked the weather report and Hell has not yet frozen over! ;-) Did you see Tom Johnson's column in the Current today? Slammed the Daily Pilot - says it's "rotting from the head". Nice...

5/08/2013 08:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Central Valley Farm Animals said...

West is angry and obviously has issues with Stevie. We do too- he left us high and dry in Stockton to go down to SoCal and be a sports hero and man about town. If he won't come back here and be a good farmer, then he should be a farmer there because God knows you people need help. Don't be fooled by the Jody Arias glasses; our Stevie is as comfortable in overalls as he is in a cheap suit.

5/08/2013 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Mesa North's finest said...

Both the Feeney's have operated as self appointed watchdog's but with only a limited amount of the facts presented. Oh, they have other facts at their disposal but those don't fit their theme for the night and they dispose of those facts. I have seen this for years. Getting old. They base things on friendships and/or perceived enemies and mold their rants accordingly. facts are friends to them, just not all the facts. what a couple ! they add to the color of Costa Mesa and help put on the greatest comedy show in town. I love it when John is about to blow a gasket and gets all flushed. Ernie is the housewife talking over the fence to her neighbor type. Oh, do tell1

5/08/2013 09:35:00 PM  
Anonymous The Exec. Club said...

The targets of outsourcing. Misc. employees, minus executives, police and fire have an average base salary according to the 2011 information is $70,000.

Misc 204 employees $70,535 base average

this includes engineers and some very highly technical skilled people.

It seems the real problem are the 150-200k salaried executives.

5/09/2013 12:15:00 AM  
Anonymous The Executive Club said...

Directors and Managers have a base average of $145,000 and total comp of $195,000

Yet it's the 70k per year employee being attacked and demonized as bankrupting the city.

5/09/2013 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

In response to your comment about Johnson's shot at the Pilot, I just don't understand his approach. If he's criticizing Canalis, then it's completely uncalled for. Isn't ocgop operative Wu working for Johnson now? Enough said.

5/09/2013 06:40:00 AM  
Anonymous James Rivera said...

His obvious racism aside, I for one as a latino appreciate the "grumpy old fella" arguing for demolishing slums and replacing them with pocket parks. I've wanted that for a while, and that message of his resonates with me. Sometimes a gold nugget comes out of a faulty mind.

5/09/2013 06:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Ron K. said...

John Feeney should be ashamed of himself for attacking West. West does more for this town in a week than Feeney does in a year.

5/09/2013 06:54:00 AM  
Anonymous MV said...

I think the council needs to throw up another smokescreen or distraction. Perhaps they should weigh in on Benghazi, since that's Watergate plus Iran Contra TIMES 10!!!

5/09/2013 09:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Mesa North's finest said...

Heart: i was not being nasty to the feeneys. i am telling the truth. they are disliked by people on both "sides". what side i am on is not your knowledge. i do love their rants and john's gasket blowing though. they are just grumpy old people who leave out a lot of facts that they know because they are not convenient for their slurs. has anything ever come from their input in the last ten years. earlier on, yes, but here in mesa north we have new influencers, not the dodos from dorset who hang with that mean old german water lady (yes , that is mean but that's how they are known here). we are focused on controlling all the group homes we have, not picking on public servants.

5/09/2013 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Mesa North said...

On behalf of myself, my wife, and my children I want to thank "heart for costa mesa" for this fantastic award for off topic inane meanie. I know there was much competition for this and to be chosen over "jw", alf, gericault, hermanos, sk, and mary anne, to name just a few, goes beyond my wildest expectations. I want to thank my writing coach, this blog, the many people who encourage me daily, and even my detractors. I will carry this award proudly and never forget all of you who voted for me. From the bottom of my heart, I say I love you all. Time to make some trouble!

5/09/2013 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Alligator Allen said...

Sure, Thrift Store Marty will tell us a thousand times more how important it is to "drain the swamp." Does he have the necessary billion dollars or so that it would take to transform the part of the city he hates so much? Does he have the connections to raise such a sum? From the looks of him and his homestead, we're just not convinced he can be much help.

You never know though. Back in my hometown there was a woman dressed in rags who used to hang out at the bus station all day, picking up and smoking cigarette butts from the ground. The police chief told my dad that she had a high 7 figure net worth. Maybe Marty does too.

5/10/2013 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous bring the fight to them! said...

It appears that nothing has changed with the council. We all know Pigheimer's charter is about one thing and one thing only, and that is to make a name for hmself as the one who privatized the public sector. Why is he still raging war with the hard working city employees?

What about all the lies that the city is broke? So broke that the 5th floor is filled with spineless yesmen like Hatch. BTW, why is Hatch still employed? Didnt he fail you Piggy? I still see city employees!

If the employees and residents think that things are bad now without the charter, just you wait and see what happens if the charter passes.

Friends, the city is not broke. Sales at the nations highest grossing mall, South Coast Plaza has bounced back. Thats why the city can afford all the staff on the fifth floor to do what piggy wants.

The city has already lost much needed police service such as officers in the field and our once great helicopter program since Piggy stepped foot in the city. If the charter passes, things are going to get MUCH worse for both residents and employees.

Are any of surprised the project was pushed through last night?

Lets not forget that the city of Bell is a charter city, do we want costa mesa to be the next Bell? Start thinking about a plan folks, dont taks this sitting down, fight against this charter!

5/10/2013 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous stop wasting my money said...

Why are we wasting taxpayers money to find out how employees feel? How would you feel if you had to work for a place thats constantly trying to find new ways to outsource your job? How would you feel if your boss scared away a bunch of people in your division and left you to do more work? How would you feel if your boss claimed the company was broke yet hired more managerial positions?

Lets get real people. Working for costa mesa is like being at a prison camp. You dont dare say whats on your mind or you're going to be targeted. A fine example would be the parting of our former ems coordinator that made the council boys look pretty stupid. surprise! Position eliminated.

Its NEVER going to get better until riggy is gone.

Just how much more of taxpayers money can he spend for these dog and pony shows?

5/10/2013 03:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Faye D said...

I know of the area the Alligator refers to as the slums and it is not just on the West side. There are pockets of apartments in the middle of neighborhoods throughout Costa Mesa that are so run down in part because of the property owners mostly because they are overcrowded. The residents do not seem to care for the places they live as evidenced by the beer bottles, trash, discarded diapers, and overall trash left in the locations where they live. I have to agree that a solution is needed. Costa Mesa cannot continue to be so welcoming of more apartments to be built, a lack of regulation with housing and therefore allowing families to move out of the City out of frustration (and the poor performing schools).

5/10/2013 10:18:00 PM  
Anonymous 42 Ghetto Bird said...

Wait a minute, Costa Mesa hasnt raised business license fees since 1961?!!! That is just ridiculously stupid! Righeimer went on national TV telling the world how broke the City is and yet doesnt do anything to help the city generate revenue?

Yet at the same time, it appears that the councilmen and planning commission push through illegal projects on 18th street to help a developer. What a minute...isnt righeimer a developer?

Are we starting to get the picture folks?

Both residents and employees stood united just a few months ago to fight the righeimer charter and won. It has not gone away folks and there will be a call to action again to protect our city. Early planning is the key to victory so for those sitting on the sidelines, I recommend you join the fight this time before your city is completely destroyed and your city job is just a memory.

5/11/2013 08:08:00 AM  

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