Easing Into September With A Short (?) Council Meeting
I hope you've had a great Labor Day weekend, filled with fun and relaxing... I did. Although, while I was several hundred miles away in temperatures at least 10 degrees cooler than back here at home, I thought for a split second that our mayor and mayor pro tem had followed me.
A SHORT MEETING?
It's going to be an interesting week in Costa Mesa, albeit a short one. We start off with a whimper - a council meeting that could - and probably should - be a short one, again. The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. in City Council chambers at City Hall, and is preceded by a closed session at 5:00. You can read the agenda HERE. There is no New Business, nor Old Business on the agenda and only one Public Hearing, and that one should last about five minutes. So, you say, we should be out of there by 6:30, tops, right? Not so fast, my children.
First, we have four (4) presentations - a lot by normal standards. Those are:
- Mayor’s Award: Theodore Robins Ford
- Lions Park Jet Restoration
- Costa Mesa Little League Mayor’s Cup Presentation
- Worldwide Day of Play: Hank Lloyd, Costa Mesa Tennis Center
PUBLIC COMMENTS - ALWAYS AN ADVENTURE
Then we have Public Comments, which is always an adventure. This is the time for folks with questions and/or concerns to step up and present their views to the council. Of course, history tells us that sometimes certain members of the council don't like comments - particularly when they are criticisms. Sometimes they snap back at the speakers, or sometimes one of them is too busy texting and emailing his pals from the dais to pay much attention.
Anyhow, this might be a time for someone to ask if Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger plan to recuse themselves from any and all discussions and votes dealing with anything at all having to do with the Costa Mesa Police Department, since they've filed a lawsuit against the individual members of that department. I've asked contract City Attorney Tom Duarte several times but he's only told me they are "studying it". Maybe somebody else should ask him.
THE BOOTLEG PATH?
And then we have the DG trail at Fairview Park. Maybe we can find out who installed the path. That would be nice.
And what about that employee survey that consultant Chip Espinosa conducted? Where is the report on that activity? I, for one, am VERY interested to hear the results of the survey. I suspect many of your are, too. I'm guessing some council members may not like what they are told...
Or, maybe we'll find out the status of investigation on the finances of the 60th Anniversary celebration and the administrative leaves of two employees. We'll see..
HOLDING OUR COLLECTIVE BREATH
Once we get past that segment we have Council Members Reports, Comments and Suggestions. One never knows what will happen at this time. Sometimes major bombshells are dropped and other times council members have nothing to report or comments or suggestions to make. We'll see...
Then comes the CEO Report. Tom Hatch was vacationing when the whole "60th" thing broke - good timing on his part - so maybe he'll just tell us about his trip. We hope he had a great time - he deserved it.
Then comes the Consent Calendar, and this version is a doozy! It has eighteen (18) items on it! These are things that, theoretically, can all be voted on my the council in one vote - unless a member of the council or the public pulls one for separate discussion. It's going to be VERY interesting to see which, if any, items are yanked, and by whom. So, let's go through the items and try to guess which of them might be pulled, shall we?
FIRST TWO... NOT MUCH
The first two items two items, Claims and the Reading Folder, usually don't get any play. However, the next four items are Warrants - the list of checks written, to whom and for what, since the last meeting. These are always interesting.
#3 - WARRANT #2485
This one accounts for over $3.3 million in cash outlays, and includes some interesting entries. You can read it HERE. On this warrant we find a payment to Jones & Mayer, our contract attorneys, for $135,656.57 for a LONG list of activities. Immediately following that entry we find a payment to Jones Day, the hired guns being used on the CMCEA lawsuit, for $43,931.25. We also find a payment to The SUN Grp, LLC for 60th celebration expenses of $37,282.40. I see where we paid Liebert Casidy Whitmore $5,190.60 for Labor Negotiations and other stuff. We paid Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth $10,869.13 for legal services on housing issues. Oh, yes, we paid Woodruff Spardlin and Smart $752.50 for work on the Benito Acosta issue - the gift that just keeps on taking.
#4 - WARRANT #2486
This one is small potatoes - "only" $376,841.69. You can read it HERE. There are some interesting entries, though. Like $2,500 to Ames & Associates for PR Services for the 60th celebration. I thought that's what Dan Joyce or Bill Lobdell did for us. I also saw a payment of $13,070.73 to Cognify, Inc., for IT consulting. Wonder what that was for? And, there was a payment to Michelle Rudaitis for Hazmat and Fire Prevention consulting support to the Fire Department for $11,700.00.
#5 - WARRANT #2487
This one is for approximately $3.1 million in cash outlays and has some interesting stuff on it, as well. You can read it HERE. Right off the top we paid Apple One Employment Services $7,942.28. We usually see some payments to that outfit every month, but this one jumped out at me. Must be vacation stuff. We paid Interwest Consulting Group, Inc., $23,7987.00 for Building Inspections. We paid the Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau $208,722. 09 for "BIA Receipts for June 2013". We paid National Auto Fleet Group $210,776.81 for the purchase of seven (7) new Ford vehicles for the CMPD. Remember Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth up there in the first warrant? Well, we paid them another $21,476.10 on this one. We paid Management Partners, Inc., $4,960.00 for "Interim Mgmt Consultant".
#6 - WARRANT #2488
The final warrant this time around is for $944,421.25, which means we've seen payments for more than $7 million this time around. You can read the details on this one HERE. On this warrant we find another bill from Jones Day for $73,642.70 and a charge for $30,938.55 from Enterprise Counsel Group for more legal fees! We paid Steen Security, Inc., $47,532.40 to "Furnish and Install"... What? Are these the new cameras in City Hall? If so, why not say so? And, we apparently paid the State of California Department of Justice $9,689.00 for Fingerprint App Fees.
LEGAL FEES ARE OUT OF CONTROL!
I don't know about you all, but in just this first meeting of September the council will approve the warrants that carry payments for legal services in excess of $322,000!
#7 - REFUND FOR CANCELLED PROJECT
This one is interesting. You may recall that not too long ago a developer presented a play to build affordable housing on the grounds of the Fairview Developmental Center - State Property. Well, after a couple hearings and jumping through hoops, they withdrew because of an inability to acquire the property from the state. So, we're being asked to give them back $7,642.50 in fees. Read the staff report HERE.
#8 -ANNUAL PERFORMANCE AUDIT WORK PLAN
This item, HERE , is looking for direction from the council regarding so-called "performance audits" of certain organizations. According to the staff report, "There is one (1) performance audit underway, two (2) pending Request for Proposals (RFPs), and one (1) waiting for direction from the Finance Committee." That's funny - I wasn't aware that any city-appointed committee could provide "direction" to staff. Another interesting part of this item is that it includes, as a signatory, "Tammy Letourneau, Interim Finance Director". I was unaware that Ms. Letourneau was acting in that capacity. A long time business acquaintance, she's been a consultant to CEO Tom Hatch since virtually the day he took the job over two years ago.
#9 - ARTERIAL STREETS REHAB PROJECT
This one will authorize spending $933,305.00 of Measure M and Gas Tax funds to rehabilitate several streets near South Coast Plaza and the Performing Arts Center. View the item HERE.
#10 - FAIRVIEW PARK BOARDWALK PROJECT
This item requests the council to authorize $495,200 in matching funds for a project anticipated to cost $900,000. A grant from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Habitat Conservation Fund Program for $404,800 will be requested. The project, if the grant request is successful, would begin late next year for a 1/4 mile long boardwalk through riparian areas in the park. Read about it HERE.
#11 - FAIRVIEW PARK BOARDWALK PROJECT
As is the case with the previous item, this one is for a grant from a different state fund, The Recreational Trails Program, for the same amount with the same matching requirements. Read it HERE.
#12 - GRANT FOR ARLINGTON DRIVE BIOSWALE AND DRY WEATHER DIVERSION PROJECT.
This project, valued at $2.6 million, requires a $900,000 match. Read about it HERE.
#13 - FAIRVIEW PARK STORMWATER INFLITRATION PROJECT
This $1.2 million project requires a $400,000 match. Read about it HERE.
#14 - SOUTH FAIRVIEW PARK IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
This is a request for grant funding for the recently much-discussed improvements at the south end of Fairview Park. These are the multi-purpose trail from Pacific Avenue to Canyon Drive, the cul-de-sac parking at the end of Pacific Avenue, native habitat landscaping and a small play area. The total project is $450,000 and the city would have to come up with $225,000 matching funds. Read the staff report HERE.
#15 - FAIRVIEW PARK NORTH BLUFF TRAILS AND HABITAT RESTORATION PROJECT
This is a grant funding request for a $200,000 match on a $400,000 project. Read the details of the project HERE.
#16 - VICTORIA STREET AND VALLEY ROAD/PACIFIC AVENUE PROJECT
The city has received grant funding for all but $59,500 of the necessary $316,416.00 project, based on the low bid received. This is a request for a budget adjustment for that amount. Read the staff report HERE.
#17 - PROFESSIONAL SERVICES AGREEMENT FOR PERFORMANCE AUDIT FOR THE COSTA MESA COUNTRY CLUB
This authorizes the expenditure of $34,820 for a consulting firm to audit all phases of the operations at the Costa Mesa Country Club. It is a one-year contract, but may be extended up to 4 years. The city received only two bids for this work. The money will come from the CEO's contingency fund - that $1 million piggy bank they frequently dip into for pet projects. Read about it HERE.
#18 - EXTENDING CARE AMBULANCE SERVICE CONTRACT FOR A YEAR
This is a request to extend the contract with CARE Ambulance Service for one more year. Probably a good idea, since our current contract with them expired Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m.! Some will know that we will soon begin performing the transportation of accident victims using City staff and equipment once former Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold's plan is fully implemented. This extension will bridge the gap. Read the staff report HERE.
GOOD JOB, STAFF!
So, as you can see, there are lots of Fairview Park dollars being spent in items 10,11,13,14 and 15. The city staff does an excellent job in identifying and capturing grant funds for these and other projects and are to be commended for their professionalism and diligence.
PUBLIC HEARING #1 - FULLERTON AVENUE
The final item on the agenda is the vacation of a chunk of Fullerton Avenue. The information on that Public Hearing can be read HERE.
IT'S A COIN TOSS...
This meeting could be a short one or, if lots of people show up to chat and inquire about items on the Consent Calendar, we could be in for a long, long evening again. One never knows.