Charter Committee Slogs On...
The Costa Mesa Charter Committee, in their quest to create a document that will not only pass City Council muster but also can be "marketed" to the voters, continued that journey last night in a meeting that, once again, found them without a full team in attendance. Members Bill Fancher and Mary Ann O'Connell were unavailable and Brett Eckles sprinted into the room an hour late.
As is usually the case, this was very much like watching folks try to swim the backstroke through a tub of molasses. The conversations were lively, yet courteous - they've figured out how to deal with each other in a civil manner - and some progress was made. Facilitators Kirk Bauermeister and Mike Decker guided their conversations and attorney Yolanda Summerhill provided technical expertise.
For example, during the discussion of whether city council members should be eligible for a pension the conversation ranged wide and far and here's the language they finally tentatively decided upon:
LET THEM EAT CAKE!
And, when they discussed City Council compensation again they were all over the place. Some committee members opined that the council should happily serve for no compensation at all. Others said it should just be left alone as is. As part of that discussion member Kerry McCarthy opined that four of the current council members were employed - she ticked off each one by name and their perceived jobs - indicating that only Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger needed this job right now. I smiled.
Here's the final work product on that issue:
They thrashed the issue of employee union participation for quite awhile. Some members wanted to simply lift the language from the soundly-defeated Measure V from a year ago, so the language they ended up with was this:
Jim Righeimer's Paycheck Protection scheme didn't gain any traction... yet.
HANK SHOVED TO THE NEXT MEETING
Property Tax Inequity, even though he was on the agenda. He was not a happy camper, since he spent a lot of time researching and preparing for this evening. His presentation was pushed out until the next meeting on December 11th. His controversial idea, in a nutshell, is to provide greater Property Tax equity among all property owners by having the City phase out over 20 years the cessation of collection of Property Taxes! Since this represents slightly more than 20% of the revenue received by the city, I'm going to be VERY interested to see how Hank sells this idea to the committee.
The committee received a new work schedule through April of next year, shown below. Some feel this is optimistic, but we'll see. (click image to enlarge)
Additionally, Summerhill provided a tentative timeline to be met if there is a Charter to submit to the City Council that they would then wish to place on the November 4, 2014 ballot. That is shown below. (click image to enlarge)
NOT MANY MEETINGS LEFT
With one more meeting to go this year, on December 11th, then only a few more early next year before the committee hopes to meet their schedule, it seems likely that the pace will have to pick up. We'll see how that goes. Again last night a sparse crowd attended the meeting. Among those in the peanut gallery were a journalist, two old bloggers (looking very much like two pudgy Q-Tips), an occasional guest columnist for the Register, a labor observer and a couple real, honest-to-goodness residents. The public is missing its only opportunity to provide real time input to the committee by not attending and speaking to them in the time provided.