SAME OLD, SAME OLD...
A jovial, glad-handing Mayor Jim Righeimer
started out the evening with some very worthy, very impressive presentations and wrapped it up by demonstrating that, underneath that smiling, back-slapping facade, the same old carpetbagging political operative still lives. He and his pals on the council majority, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger
and councilman Gary Monahan
, demonstrated that they've got the power and plan to continue to use it.
First, the good stuff. Costa Mesa High School Cheer instructor Kori Johnson
, 2012 Cheer Coach Of The Year, was honored. Her charges, the young women of the Costa Mesa High School Cheer Squad, have been performing at a high level for the past several years and this year will compete for the de facto national championship.
Then the remarkable young men and women of the Estancia High School Drama troupe were honored for their accomplishments this year, which will culminate this weekend when they perform their recent production of A Midsummer's Night's Dream
at a competition that will determine a "champion", much like football playoffs. Under the guidance of instructor Pauline Maranian
, these talented young people have performed some of the most challenging plays imaginable this past year, including the highly-acclaimed The Crucible
MAYOR'S DINNER PLANS
Then Diane Pritchett
, Executive Director of the Costa Mesa Conference and Visitor Bureau and Ed Fawcett
, President and CEO of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce gave a brief presentation of the plans being developed for the Mayor's Dinner celebration. This will be a major fundraising event in support of local high school arts programs and sponsorship is being sought from businesses and members of the community. The event will be held on April 25, 2013 at the Samueli Center.
ANCHOR RESIDENTS BACK WITH A VENGEANCE
During Public Comments a dozen people rose to address a variety of issues with the council. Half of them were residents of the controversial Anchor Trailer Port, who explained to the council that there were still problems with the plans being proposed for the relocation of the residents of that facility. Righeimer tasked the city staff to sort out the apparent discrepancies between the agreement last week and what the residents are now telling them.
MCEVOY REMINDS US OF HIS RECALL EFFORT
stepped up to remind Mayor Righeimer and the council - and all the members of the audience - that he is proceeding with a recall effort against Righeimer and asked for help.
UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY PITCH
A fellow named Jeff Archer
- who sure sounded like a surrogate (shill) for the council majority - stepped up with a flashy PowerPoint presentation on the City's pension liability. Unfortunately, his presentation did not include the most current data from CalPERS, which told us today that their investments increased by 13% this past year. However, his presentation gave CEO Tom Hatch
the opportunity to tell us that the presentation on the Unfunded Pension Liability, previously announced for January 29th, will now be held on February 26th.
One grumpy old guy plucked an item from the Consent Calendar that dealt with the repair of an alley on Fillmore Way to launch into another of his "drain the swamp and the alligators will leave" rants. He wants to use the money for the proposed repairs with some of the $2.5 million in unanticipated surplus funds to buy "barracks-style apartments", bulldoze them and build parks or parking lots. There were several alley projects on the Consent Calendar but he just discussed the one that includes a neighborhood populated primarily by Latinos. Interesting, no?
FAILURE TO PERFORM
At around 8:00 p.m. they finally got around to New Business #1, the appointment of Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission members. Right off the bat they made a curious move - deciding to push the appointment of the Parks and Recreation Commission members off to the next council meeting even though they had eleven (11) applicants for the four available positions. In a strange bit of back-peddling, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger
muttered something about not having had enough time to talk with all the applicants, then reversed course and said he knew most of them. Looking down that list and having read their backgrounds it certainly seems there were plenty of folks from which to choose. I counted at least six of them who are well-known to the council. So, because they failed to do their jobs, the Parks and Recreation Commission will not meet this month. They have only one remaining member, Dean Abernathy
. There are three vacancies from resignations and Chairman Kim Pederson
's term ends next month. So, the residents of Costa Mesa will not have a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting until the end of March.
IGNORING POLICY AND MOVING FORWARD
Then the real fun began. The council then address the issue of having not two, but three, Planning Commission vacancies to fill. As reported here Monday night, Ed Salcedo
resigned Monday night. Much discussion ensued about the legality of considering his vacancy, but upon the advice of contract City Attorney Tom Duarte
, they voted to ignore a city policy and proceeded with the nominations and appointments. Wendy Leece
on that issue.
BOYS AGAINST THE GIRLS?
During the public comments portion resident Robin Leffler
expressed hope for a demonstration of the new collaborative, cooperative attitude by allowing the ladies to participate and influence the decisions on this subject. Righeimer took exception to her observations and said "I can't tell you what to say
." after criticizing her for "doing the man/woman thing
". He then said the decisions should have nothing to do with "genitalia
"! Yep, he did... watch the tape.
DRAWING LOTS FOR SELECTION ORDER
Interim City Clerk Brenda Green
then described the process and allowed the council members to select slips of paper to determine the order of selection. It turned out that Sandy Genis
was #1, Leece was #2, Righeimer was #3, Mensinger was #4 and Monahan was #5, but we didn't know that until they began their nominations. They decided to fill the two 4-year positions first, then the remaining 2-year slot, replacing Salcedo.
Genis nominated former Planning Commissioner Eleanor Egan
and received no second.
CLARK CAST ASIDE
Leece then nominated current Planning Commission Vice Chair Sam Clark
and Genis seconded the nomination. His selection failed, 2-3, with only Genis and Leece voting for him, and a loyal Republican soldier fell by the wayside. And the handwriting was on the wall.
Righeimer, without batting an eye, then nominated Jim Fitzpatrick
and moans could be heard throughout the auditorium. Righeimer, Mensinger and Monahan all praised Fitzpatrick for his courage and dedication. Genis and Leece both criticized his nomination, citing his judgment for things he's written and posted on blogs and his character during the last election. He was chosen on a 3-2 vote.
WHINEY LAWYER CHOSEN NEXT
Mensinger nominated Tim Sesler
, the thin-skinned Auto Club lawyer, who has become an outspoken supporter of the current power structure in articles in the Daily Pilot and elsewhere. Sesler was not present. He was selected on a 3-2 vote, with Leece and Genis voting NO
MC CARTHY BUSTED TO A TWO-YEAR TERM
Finally, Monahan nominated current Planning Commission Chairman, Colin McCarthy
, for the 2-year term. I'm not sure what that means. Some might interpret it as a backhand slap at McCarthy, who may have gotten himself on the wrong side of the power elite during the last election. Regardless, McCarthy was elected on a 5-0 vote.
NO POWER SHARING IN THE CARDS
When all was said and done, the boys had their way and it was clear that they have no intention to offer any kind of an olive branch to the women on the council. That's really too bad.
FINANCE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
It was after 8:00 when the council considered New Business #2, the re-naming (and re-tasking) of the Investment Oversight Committee - to become the Finance Advisory Committee
. Genis had a question for Duarte about the propriety of the re-tasking part, since the title of the agenda item only mentioned the new name. Duarte said the title and the "Recommendation" section should be considered as a whole. I found myself wondering how many people ever thought of that in the past. Most would expect the title of the agenda item to give a clear snapshot of the issue. Anyhow, they moved forward with a lengthy discussion, then voted to move forward as recommended with the deletion of the 5th and 6th bullet points at the bottom of the first page. Mensinger also proposed a future discussion of the creation of a budget and pension committee
, which will become a subject at a future study session.
IMPROVING THE PROCESS
New Business #3, the Purchase of Business License Software
, was given a thorough discussion and the council approved the $55,000 expenditure. It is assumed that the implementation of this new software will significantly improve the processing of business licenses. The vendor chosen also offers modules for other essential processes that could be folded in later.
LEST THERE BE ANY DOUBT...
Finally, under New Business #4, Approval of Mayor's Appointments
to the Boards of the Costa Mesa Conference and Visitor Bureau, Transportation Corridor Agency and the Orange County Vector Control District, Righeimer added an exclamation point to his muscle-flexing performance last night when he assigned only members of the male majority to those assignments - removing Wendy Leece from her role with the Vector Control District despite her plea to be retained. Mensinger took a swipe at her for her attempt to step aside in favor of former mayor Arlene Shafer
two years ago - the dot on that exclamation point. Monahan - who stepped down as mayor last year citing too many business and family conflicts - was appointed to both the Conference and Visitor Bureau AND the Transportation Corridor Agency, both of which take up a lot of time. And, interestingly enough, the TCA assignment includes a $120 stipend per meeting according to Monahan. The Vector Control District stipend is $100 per month.
BACK TO BUSINESS AS USUAL
So, although the meeting ended early - just after 9:30 - it ended on less than harmonious terms. As you know, I had hoped for the council to walk the walk after expressing an intention for a kinder, gentler atmosphere. It took only three meetings to demonstrate that was only talk.
Labels: Gary Monahan, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Righeimer, Parks and Recreation Commission, Planning Commission, Sandra Genis, Steve Mensinger, Tom Duarte, Wendy Leece