Charter Committee Makes Progress, Slowly
Wednesday night the Costa Mesa Charter Committee met again to tackle the task of creating a new "constitution" for the city. Progress was made, but came slowly. It was more than a little like watching sausage being made.
The meeting began promptly with facilitators Kirk Bauermeister and Mike Decker moving swiftly to guide the group through the agenda. All agreed to look at their progress at 8:45 and decide whether to wrap it up then or extend the meeting.
ORGANIZED LABOR SPEAKS OUT
Public Comments saw five of the dozen or so people attending the meeting address the committee. The first was Jim Adams, representing the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Construction Trades, who spoke about the value of a highly skilled workforce, emphasizing Skill, Safety and Efficiency. His organization represents 150,000 members in Southern California. He left a DVD for each of the members.
A REMINDER THAT THEY DON'T HAVE TO "DO" ANYTHING
CRITICAL OF STAFF WORK
Mike Harmanos attempted to correct an error in the staff report and implied that the staff was letting them down by providing inaccurate information.
"NEEDS ASSESSMENT" DISMISSED
Robin Leffler briefly asked what happened to the item that had been placed on the "Parking Lot" to be considered later. That issue was the "community needs assessment", which seemed to be a logical place to begin the deliberations. Although nobody answered her question, one might assume that since the decision has already been made for this group to create a charter for the city, a "needs assessment" is now unnecessary.
NOT A HAPPY FELLA
Finally one grumpy old fella, who left a few minutes later, reminded the group that the council had charged them with creating a charter, so they should stop wasting time and get with it.
TO PRAY OR NOT TO PRAY?
The committee then wasted fifteen minutes again discussing "Tea Party Tom" Pollitt's request for an invocation at the beginning of the meetings. Part of the staff report included correspondence from the CEO's office that opined that if the committee wanted to have prayer it would require a formal change in council policy. After too much conversation the end result was that Pollitt was told to pursue it personally with CEO Tom Hatch, and not as a member purporting to represent the views of the committee. Since he kept muttering about not being able to exercise his First Amendment rights, I imagine he will do just that. We'll see.
PUBLIC CONTRACTING DEFINED
Following a brief discussion about the process to be followed - a couple members just wanted to dredge up Jim Righeimer's Charter and glue corrections to it to make it acceptable to the voters - lawyer Yolanda Summerhill led an hour-long discussion of the different types of Public Contracting environments that exist in California. At the previous meeting the committee agreed on their priorities and Public Contracting was at the top of the list.
A STREAMLINED VERSION OF THE LAW
Costa Mesa, a General Law city, follows what is known as the Uniform Construction Cost Accounting Act (UCCAA), which streamlines the public contracting process. The objective was to provide information to the committee about how the city currently manages public contracts. Unfortunately, Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz was not available for this meeting. He will be asked to be at the next one so he can provide some critical answers to important questions that will affect the committee's decision on this cornerstone issue.
FOLLOWING THEIR OWN RULES
TRYING TO ASSURE TRANSPARENCY
They did not finish the Transparency element Wednesday night, but hope to do so and move on to "Openness" at the next meeting. It's clear to me that, despite the fact that some members want the process to move more quickly and are willing to take shortcuts to accomplish that, this is going to be a long and sometimes painful process. Those preferring to find shortcuts represent the element on the committee that can be accurately described as supporters of Jim Righeimer's Failed Charter. It's going to be very interesting to watch this play out. As I said earlier, so far the participants seem willing, but not necessarily happy, to consider all views and to follow the guidance of the facilitators.
Bauermeister gave them a homework assignment - to assess the various charters provided to them earlier for ideas for "transparency" and "openness" segments of a potential charter for the next meeting is August 14, 2013 at the Emergency Operations Center.