Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Charter, Fire Dept. Re-Org And More

As I feared, last nights Costa Mesa City Council meeting was another marathon - perhaps in honor of the OC Marathon last weekend.  Whatever the reason, the proceedings didn't wrap up until 12:40 a.m. this morning.  Ugh!  I'm going to cover the meaty issues from last night here, and do a subsequent post on some of the other things that happened last night later.

One of the reasons the meeting took so long was because the council spent over two and a half hours discussing a 14-unit development on the Eastside.  Most agreed that developer Matt White produced a "nice project". Despite warnings by councilwoman Sandra Genis - a land planning professional - that it was illegal, the council approved the project on a 3-2 vote.  Genis and Wendy Leece voted no.  You can read Bradley Zint's coverage of this issue in the Daily Pilot HERE.  We learned during this discussion that Jovial Jim Righeimer is gone again.  Our mayor used his pulpit to chide folks who used their rights as concerned citizens and neighbors to speak against this project.  His message to them and others was loud and clear.  Speak out if you want to before the Planning Commission, but if the item shows up before the council we're going to slap you down.  How dare they oppose something that the Planning Commission approved?!  By the way, Planning Commission Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick wandered into the chambers midway through this discussion and wandered out again when it was concluded.

When the council convened at 10:15 following a 10 minute break it took them 3 minutes to hear and pass the first item under New Business - the reauthorization of the Business Improvement Area (BIA).

Then, at about 10:20 p.m., they began the discussion of The Charter.  You can read the staff report HERE.  As I've said before, this council is putting the cart before the horse since nobody has yet defined WHY we need a Charter.  Well, in a preemptive strike of sorts, during Council Member Comments Mayor Jim Righeimer got out in front of the question.  He said the following: "The question always come us, you know, 'Why a charter, why a charter, why do you need a charter?'  And, you know, obviously there'll be, if a charter goes forward with a committee, there'll be a campaign and we'll get into those things.  But this real basic, it's very simple, why a city would do a charter.   It's called having local control and saving money."  Of course, that sounds all well and good, but the devil is in the details and we're still waiting for those details.  He gave us the "Why", now we need to know the "How" of the question.  How will it give us "local control" and How will it save us money, specifically.

When Special Council Kim Barlow began her presentation she alluded to the earlier study session that resulted in the staff preparing their report for the evening.  The report included:
1 - Whether a commission or committee should draft the proposed charter;
2 - The appropriate selection process if using a committee;
3 - Whether to use a facilitator; and
4 - The selection of special counsel.

It was determined that the council wants to use a committee, not an elected commission, to create a charter.  When asked by Leece what role he expected to play in the creation of the charter - would he be providing content to the committee that he wanted included? - Righeimer stated that he wasn't going to be involved in this charter at all.  Oh, yeah?  We'll see...

Barlow indicated that the state law on commissions required a 15 person body. She suggested that the council might consider, in addition to the 13 person committee previously discussed, perhaps expanding it to 15.  That was rejected.

How the committee will be selected generated a lot of conversation.  Former council member Jay Humphrey provided a chart that showed the cross-pollination of the other city commissions and committees, suggesting that the council should avoid appointing individuals that already serve on those committees - especially those serving on multiple-committees and/or commissions.  That suggestion was also rejected and you could see what was coming.

The staff report included a potential selection process for a 13 person committee as follows: 
  • The first five would be appointed by the council, one per each member.
  • The second five would be selected by a council nomination process
  • The remaining three would be randomly chosen by lot.

The result of that process would almost certainly establish an 8-5 majority in favor of the charter - the three selected by the majority plus the five that would be voted upon.

The primary concern about the selection process, as discussed at length by Genis, was that the current council majority was pro-charter last time and the current minority - Genis and Leece - was against the charter,  simply using a council vote method would stack the committee in favor of the charter as mentioned above - and would likely result in a recommended document that resembled the previously defeated document.  She suggested a more balanced selection process.  Make it a 15 person committee.  Allow each council member to appoint one person, then take all the remaining names who applied and put them in a hat.  Shake them up and select one at a time until the 15 positions are filled.  If all ten turn out to be favorable to the majority, so be it.  It was rejected on a 3-2 vote.  The staff recommended method, above, was chosen, on a 3-2 vote.  Genis and Leece voted no.  No provision for alternates on the committee was discussed.

So, the council authorized the recruitment for a charter committee beginning today.  You can read the announcement HERE.   No qualification are shown on the announcement, so I contacted Barlow to confirm what she told me following that part of the meeting last night.  The only qualifications for membership on this committee are being a Costa Mesa resident and a registered voter.  The application period ends on May 28th and the selection will likely take place the first council meeting of June, on the 4th.

Under this plan the committee, under the guidance of a facilitator, will craft a charter and present it to the council.  The council will have the final say as to what appears on the ballot.  So, you can see the handwriting (graffiti) on the wall, can't you?  The committee - hand-picked by the council - will go through the facade of crafting a "fair" charter, then the council will give it a nip-and-tuck before it's placed the ballot.  Who's willing to bet that it won't be the identical twin to Jim Righeimer's Charter that was soundly defeated last November?  Nobody?  I thought so...

Leece asked about the timeline for this process early in the discussion.  If the plan is to place a charter on the June primary election ballot - that's Righeimer's plan - then the first public hearing must be held early in December.  That doesn't give a committee that will be created in June much time for public outreach and consultation. If the November ballot is the target there is more time - the first hearing would have to be in May of next year.  There is legislation pending in Sacramento that will require anything dealing with a charter to be on a General Election ballot.

So, off we go again, battling with the forces of those who would attempt to transform our city into their own, personal playground to further their own personal political future.  Let the games begin...

Then, at 11:25 p.m., the council prepared to hear Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold's latest proposal for the reorganization of the Fire Department.  You can read the staff report HERE.

CEO Tom Hatch presented the overview of the proposal, which included the following elements:

1. Adopt the “Alternative Model” Restructuring Plan in Attachment 1 as recommended by the Interim Fire Chief;

2. Adopt the two-phase approach to the implementation plan as recommended by the CEO and outlined in number 1 to 8 on page 3-4;

3. Direct staff to obtain the necessary information and conduct appropriate studies concerning ambulance transportation then agendize for City Council consideration in the future;

4. Adopt the recommendations numbers 1 through 17 of Table A as outlined in this staff report; and

5. Direct staff to modify the CEO’s Proposed FY 2013-2014 Budget to include the financial impact as described in the outlined recommendations.

I suggest you go to the staff report and read those 17 items on Table A to get a feel what will be studied and what will be implemented.  It's a good read.

Arnold and Deputy Chief Fred Seguin used examples of recent events in the city to demonstrate how the Fire Department would respond using then new model.

This new model, which is projected to save only $15,000 in the next fiscal year and nearly $2 million annually thereafter, plus provide superior response times, falls short of Arnold's original proposal.  For the near future CARE Ambulance will continue to provide medical transport within the city.  The new program will be "phased in", and the CARE situation will be considered later.  I suggest you visit the City website to see who might have benefited in the past from CARE political contributions.

This plan will require closure of the Metro Fire Station, #6, in the north part of town.  Arnold and Seguin demonstrated how this area will be covered using mutual aid from surrounding communities.

This new model, which will require the acquisition of six new Emergency Medical vehicles - which has a timeline of approximately 210 days from the date of order, according to Seguin. 

Several speakers expressed concern about finding a permanent replacement for Arnold, who is restricted by the terms of his retirement from Newport Beach to working less than full time.  It's my understanding that a recruitment is underway now.

Righeimer praised everyone involved - Hatch, Arnold, Seguin and the leadership of the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association for their willingness to consider a new approach and - in the case of the CMFA - finding a way around the minimum manning requirements to make this new model possible.  

Gary Monahan had to remind Righeimer - at 12:15 - that they needed to vote to work beyond midnight.   We finally left the chambers just before 1:00 a.m.  This is a pathetic way to run a city!

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Anonymous well said: (fill in name) said...

how dare the council take a vote. it is undemocratic plus someone always loses. i say no votes, just "participation" pins to be worn by anyone who attends. as geoff says, this current way of running a city is pathetic and it is happening in every city in the usa. it must stop. let us be the peti dish for participation government. we should be ground zero for meeting reform or i say it is time to start some trouble.

5/08/2013 01:24:00 PM  
Anonymous are we safe yet said...

1 of 1, didn't Genis & Leece vote against candidates offered by the council majority?

We think not

Why doesn't anyone call out Genis for her do as I say, not as I do.

Does anyone think for a second that Genis would do anything different if she were in the majority?

5/08/2013 01:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

The entire meeting was a sham! I fully expect the next statement from the council majority to be, "Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!" When confronted with the LAW they never even bothered to consult the city attorney (were they afraid of the answer?), and put themselves above the law and their constituents and voted for their fellow developer.

Next, when Jay Humphrey pointed out there were only two women serving on all the committees (corrected later to ONE woman), the mayor had to the audacity to say HE was offended by the assumption her was being unfair. Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Mayor. You've created Costa Mayberry where women are seen barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen and not heard. Grow breasts and a uterus, then talk to me about fair.

Finally, the debacle of the Charter. Where does one start? Again, actions trump words when they would not even discuss a fair and balanced selection plan. The mayor pro tem touted that he was the biggest vote getter and that granted him privilege. Well, where was the privilege for the voters who defeated the charter? The mayor says he won't be involved and two paragraphs later stated the charter would be only nine pages. How the hell does he know that? Ms. Genis gave a detailed account of the time commitment this will take from each volunteer (but the mayor said of the committee members,"...if they show up for all the meetings.") and I wonder who wants to be stripped of that time to play with a stacked deck.

It's time to lace up the walking shoes and start knocking on doors - again.

5/08/2013 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Mayor Pro Tem Mensinger did NOT get the most votes in last November's election for CC- Sandy Genis did!
Yes, Sandy Genis received the most votes from Costa Mesans.
But since when did the councildudes care about the will of the voters in our city?
Since when did they care about following established laws?
These guys really have major problems with the truth, don't they? Their Yes men just echo the same ole lies over and over in the DP's comment section.
Their paid troll, chairman ( fill in the blank), trolls this blog incessantly.
That is why so many don't trust them.

5/08/2013 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

They keep going the way they are going and we'll have spent another couple hundred thousands$$ expecting a different result doing the exact same thing. I've already voted NO on a Charter,.....I wished they had heard me loud and clear the first time.

5/08/2013 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Schindler's List said...

Well said Alf!
See that picture of the fire station plaque in this post? No one whose name is on it should be allowed to be on the charter committee. agreed?

5/08/2013 09:40:00 PM  
Anonymous americas most wanted said...

interesting "city" chart of usual suspects/undesirables by muffs. why are two water agencies listed on it? no school board or san district? a little bias showing? we need men here on school board.

5/08/2013 09:45:00 PM  
Anonymous pass for JustWondering? said...

how about banning schafer from charter committee? he is on 60th anniv committee and san district. oversight by JaY? brenneman must be on 2 things, she does a lot. so, she is out. lol, nice methedology, ribbet

5/08/2013 09:52:00 PM  
Anonymous barb otch said...

Well said Mary Ann! The part about breasts and uterus. They used to make us popular but as we age, well, not so much eh? even to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen would be better than now come to think of it. maybe mayberry is not so bad. fishin', haircut by Floyd, aunt bee's pie, barney clownin', goober a fixin'. cherry cokes....terrible days.ur right. rather walk precincts and complain with you and our saggin, aching...feet. that's livin'!

5/08/2013 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Clown Chairman said...

Hmmm.. From the looks of the comments this morning, either someone drank too much again (not conducive to a good marriage), or Napoleon ordered a smoke screen. From his latest shrill Richard Simmons voice rant, we conclude that he's running more scared than ever.

The Lincoln Club wants success for its dollars. Fashion Island won't promote Riggy after more big losses.

5/09/2013 06:33:00 AM  
Anonymous James Rivera said...

How many hispanics were nominated by the council? Oh that's right, one Lee Ramos, nominated by Mensinger.

5/09/2013 06:42:00 AM  
Anonymous just say no said...

jay left off another committee Dewayne is on: CalDesal.
Didn't he hear Genis name that as a reason to not put him on pension committee? tipped her hand there on how she feels about growth but jay should include it on chart. i think fisler is also a board member of friends of the librairies and is on lafco, put those on too. what is with these guys?

5/09/2013 08:15:00 AM  
Anonymous snake oil jay said...

jays exclusion chart is amusing. talk about manipulation. to get fisler and dewane removed from consideration he decides to throw in mesa water and ocwd on his chart? lol. those have nothing to do with the city. duh. how obvious a move by the frogs. smacks of desperation. i say put fisler and dewane ON the committee just because of this sneaky and deceitful attack. go boyz!

5/10/2013 08:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Antonio said...

"put fisler and dewane ON the committee"

Fisler needs to step aside and stop supporting an agenda that is against Costa Mesa and only benefits Righeimer's aspirations.

If he does not, then we will call for a boycott against both Fisler and his agency.

5/10/2013 09:56:00 AM  

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