Saturday, February 16, 2013

Nineteen People Vie For Sanitary District Seat

A WEALTH OF CANDIDATES
A quick peek at the Costa Mesa Sanitary District web site last night revealed that nineteen (19) individuals with very diverse backgrounds have submitted applications for consideration to fill the vacancy on the Board of Directors created by the resignation of Jim Fitzpatrick.

 

FAMILIAR NAMES, STRONG CREDENTIALS
Some of the names, listed below, will be familiar to many of you because of their previous activism in the community.  Others are newcomers to community activism, but still bring interesting experience.  Most have strong academic credentials, some of which are combined with directly related work experience.  Some of those without relevant education or work experience have very significant previous community involvement.  For example,  I noted with great interest that former mayors Linda Dixon and Arlene Schafer are in the mix.  You can read the meeting agenda and all the applications and attached resumes HERE.

NOT MUCH CHAFF, PLENTY OF WHEAT

I'm very impressed with the roster of candidates who stepped up for consideration.  With such a wealth of talent from which to select, I suspect the four board members charged with picking a new member will have some difficulty. The "winnowing" process will take place at a meeting of the board on Tuesday, February 19th, at District headquarters, 628 W. 19th Street, Costa Mesa at 11:00 a.m., according to the schedule of events on the web site.

"TOGETHERNESS", FOR SURE

If all the candidates show up Tuesday morning, and if any interested observers attend, the conference room at the District headquarters is going to be cozy, indeed.  It's going to be very interesting to see how that process plays out.

FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE

The original published schedule indicated that the board would meet again on Friday, February 22nd, to select the new member and again on February 27th to swear-in and seat that person.  That schedule apparently is subject to modification, depending on how that winnowing process goes on Tuesday.  I suppose it is possible that the new Director could be chosen as early as the meeting on the 19th.

 

APPLICANTS, IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
Tamara Allee
Shivaji Deshmukh
Linda Dixon
Paul Flanagan
Tom Graham
Jeffrey Harlan
Michael Harmanos
Donald Harper
Mark Harris
Richard Kapko
Jim Konves
Lisa Manfredi
Al Morelli
Darrell Neft
Arlene Schafer
Jerry Totman
Russell VanDegrift
Dan Worthington
Johathan Zich

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Friday, February 15, 2013

"COIN" Analysis Spreadsheet

SPINNING WITH FRANK
On Valentine's Day I wrote, HERE, about the story Orange County Register columnist, Frank Mickadeit, published that day about a document that he basically described as the be-all, end-all to municipal contract management.  Of course, he didn't provide it to us so we could make our own decision - he just teased us, saying it would be available yesterday or today.

SAW IT, BUT...
Well, I had seen that document - which has now been tinkered with to clean up some glitches - and I didn't think it was all that earth-shaking.  It certainly didn't live up to Mickadeit's hype.  Yes, it provides some numbers that may be valuable when negotiating, but it leaves many questions unanswered.  I was asked not to publish it until it was more broadly available.

COIN LINKS
Now the document is available and is linked on the city web site.  If you wish to view the page that includes links to the COIN ordinance and has a summary of what is required by that ordinance click HERE.  Once there you will find a link to the spreadsheet, but I'll save you that step.  You can click HERE for a peek at it.

WHERE DID THEY GET THOSE NUMBERS?
Once there you'll find lots of interesting numbers, but I've been trying for two days to get someone at City Hall to tell me how they arrived at the numbers in the column that includes projections for the fiscal year 2013/2014.  Did they just pull numbers out of a hat or what?

REMEMBER?
Those with relatively good memories will recall what the current council core - those guys who were on the last council - did a couple years ago with made-up numbers.  They went off the deep end and began attempting to change the very type of government we have simply because they either didn't understand the numbers or chose to misinterpret them to suit their own purposes.  I have that old "deja vu" feeling all over again.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
So, take a look at those numbers and tell me what you think.  Incidentally, there is an item on the agenda for next Tuesday's council meeting that authorizes lawyer Richard Kreisler and Assistant CEO Rick Francis to be the official negotiators when that process begins with the Costa Mesa City Employee's Association (CMCEA) very shortly.  That's when Steve Mensinger's COIN scheme is scheduled to be launched.

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Parent Arrested Following Estancia Lockdown

A SCARY EVENT
According to a press release issued by the Costa Mesa Police Department a few minutes ago, just before 1:00 p.m. today the parent of an Estancia High School Student - a man named Michael B. McHugh - was arrested at the school after an altercation when he was refused permission to pick up his daughter.

RESTRAINING ORDER
According to the information provided, there is a restraining order in place against McHugh  prohibiting contact with his daughter, which is the reason school personnel refused to let him take her with him.  At some point McHugh apparently told school officials he had a gun, at which time security personnel restrained him, called police and locked down the school.

ARREST AND MEDICAL TREATMENT
A replica handgun was found in McHugh's possession and was seized by police personnel.  He was arrested and transported to a hospital for complaints of an injury.

THE SYSTEM WORKED
It sounds like the procedures in place at Estancia High School for such matters worked.  The staff and the CMPD are to be commended for their prompt resolution to this problem.

WHAT AN IDIOT!
As an aside, I find myself wondering what kind of a lunatic would waltz into a school anywhere in Southern California and announce he had a gun - particularly now, when every police officer in the region is still on a razor's edge following the whole Chris Dorner event?  Geez!

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Look For This (Most Of It) In The Daily Pilot

SOME EASY READING
In case you're bored and are looking for something to read, the following letter was posted online in the Daily Pilot Thursday.  We assume it will appear in print sometime soon, but that's never a sure thing these days.

EDITED, OF COURSE
Actually, the editors excised a few of my words due to space considerations.  However, that's not a problem here, so I've included the un-redacted version for your reading pleasure.  The segments they chopped are in red... what they printed is in blue.  Enjoy... 
 *****
During last Tuesday night's relatively brief Costa Mesa City Council meeting we learned a few new things about this council.

First, the new, kinder, gentler Mayor Jim Righeimer better not quit his day job if he's trying to make it as a stand-up comedian.  Several times he attempted humor and had to remind the audience that he just made a joke.  I do give him credit for trying, though.


Second, Former Mayor Sandra Genis -  now a council member again - is not to be trifled with.  Her tenacious thoroughness in fleshing out details and her strong institutional knowledge of policies and procedures is going to make life much more complicated for Mayor Jim Righeimer and his pals on the dais.  She's actually going to make them follow the rules!

That tenacity and thoroughness resulted in the council agreeing to do the right thing and re-hear on February 19th the appointments of defrocked former Costa Mesa Sanitary District Director Jim Fitzpatrick and Auto Club lawyer Timothy Sesler, who were appointed to the Planning Commission at the previous meeting.  And, they will also deal with the appointment of a replacement for commissioner Ed Salcedo, who resigned one day before the previous meeting.  Current Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy had been selected for that two-year term.  That's been reversed.  So, on the 19th the council will re-visit all the Planning Commission appointments and select three from the more than a dozen applicants.

We also learned that Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger thinks this exercise is a waste of time - because he said as much at the council meeting.  He told us, just before the council voted to move the replacement for Salcedo to the 19th, "I will support the motion, but it doesn't really change the outcome."  That's not really a surprise, but the fact that he was willing to admit it certainly was.

And, if the selection process for the four Parks and Recreation Commissioners is any indication, the presumed coalitions on the dais - the boys and the girls - may not be quite as tight as some may have assumed.  That's a good thing, in my opinion.  It's a good thing if there are fractures in the factions - it may make for more healthy debates on issues and better votes as a result.  It certainly did make for interesting watching.

Coming up - the mid-year budget review, a discussion of the Consolidated Comprehensive Annual Financial Review (CAFR) which showed we had an unanticipated $2.5 million surplus and a study session on pensions.  It's going to be another interesting month.
 

Geoff West
Costa Mesa 
 ***** 
ENLIGHTENED?
Now, don't you feel enlightened?  Sure you do!  I know you'll tell me if you don't... ;-)

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Man Matching ID Of Rapist Arrested!(Amended)

THIS JUST IN... SUSPECT APPEARS TO NOT BE THE MAN WANTED IN THE SEXUAL ASSAULTS... CMPD WILL KEEP LOOKING!

SEXUAL PREDATOR MAY HAVE BEEN CAUGHT TONIGHT
Tonight members of the Costa Mesa Police Department confronted, fought with and arrested a man matching the description of the sexual predator that has been terrorizing the Mission/Mendoza section of town for the past couple of weeks.  A knife was found at the scene following the fight.  A knife had been used in a previous incident where a young woman was raped.  A knife was found at that scene.(below)


THE FIRST ASSAULT
According to an earlier public safety warning issued by the CMPD, on 1/27/13 at approximately 1:00 a.m. a man described as dark-skinned, possibly Black, male, 25-30 years old, 5'5" - 5'10",  thin build, wearing black pants and no shirt, entered an apartment on Mendoza Drive near Mission Drive through an unlocked sliding glass door.  He tried to assault a 32 year-old woman before being scared off.


THE SECOND ASSAULT/RAPE
On 2/13/13, at approximately 9:30 p.m. a male of similar description but wearing a hooded sweat shirt, entered an apartment on Valencia Street, near La Salle Avenue.  He sexually assaulted an 18 year-old female at knife point, then fled through a window.  He was further described as having a bandana partially concealing his face.

SUBSEQUENT OBSERVATION AND ESCAPE
At approximately 2:00 a.m on 2/14/13 - four hours later - a CMPD Crime Scene Investigator working in the area observed a similarly described subject in an alley near the area of Mission and La Salle.  When he observed the CSI he fled, perhaps towards the flood control channel north of Mission Drive.


NOT SURE YET - BE CAUTIOUS
Although we don't know for sure, the person arrested tonight appears to fit the description of the person being sought for the rape and attempted assault.  Even though it appears that the perpetrator may be now in custody, residents are reminded to keep all doors and windows locked.

KUDOS...
Good job to the CMPD for this one.

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Mickadeit's A Real Teaser

SOMEBODY'S LEAKING....
Well, I see that the Costa Mesa City Council majority is back to using their own personal PR flack, Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit, to tout events in the city.

A TEASE BY THEIR DRINKIN' BUDDY
In his column dated today, HERE, Mickadeit - who obviously had been given a heads-up by "someone" - tells us that Friday the City will post "an extraordinary document", which he describes as a "simple spreadsheet that describes the real cost to taxpayers of every element of the contract the city has with its general employees."

NO PROBLEMO
Now, let me be clear... I have NO problem with the disclosure of information required by Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger's Civic Openness in Negotiation (COIN) ordinance.  I agree that it is good for the few residents who actually pay attention to this kind of stuff to know what the numbers represent.

"COIN" PROCESS MAY BE PONDEROUS
Nor do I have a problem - yet - with how this whole COIN negotiating process is going to work, although I do see many potential pitfalls waiting the General Employees as they approach the end of their contract later this spring.  It seems to me that this process could be cumbersome and very time-consuming, which might push the council into an "impasse" situation that may not have occurred in the past.  Of course, this may be exactly what Mensinger and Mayor Jim Righeimer have in mind.  If they declare an impasse they can force terms on the association.

LEAKING THE INFO
What I DO have a problem with is the announcement of this new document by a drinkin' buddy of several council members before the City communication conduit informs us all.  According to Bill Lobdell, Costa Mesa's Director of Communication, late this afternoon the document does, in fact, exist and will be part of the agenda packet published either today or tomorrow for next Tuesday's council meeting.  I've seen it, but agreed not to publish it until the agenda packet is released.  I will tell you that, while it provides a lot of information, it raises questions in my mind about just how it will be used during negotiations.  More on that when you can read along.

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Donald Dungan Library To Close Temporarily

STRUCTURAL REPAIRS NEEDED
The Donald Dungan Branch Library at Lions Park will close from April 1, 2013 to July 1, 2013 to repair significant structural damage to the building.  According to the City of Costa Mesa announcement, HERE, the Mesa Verde Branch will still be available to those needing library services, as will the Technology Branch following it's relocation mid April.

WHAT NOW?
However, this does mean that the homeless folks who have inhabited Lions Park and infested the library for the past few years are going to have to find a new place to perform their toilette and to just hang out.  This adds further inconvenience now that the dining pavilion was demolished and Historical Society building has been fenced-off for fear that one of them may burn the place to the ground.

HOMELESS POPULATION INCREASING?
While I make light of this situation, it is a VERY serious problem in our community.  As I drive around our town it seems that the number of homeless folks dragging their purloined shopping carts full of all their earthly possessions has increased over the past several months.  Perhaps this is due to our climate being much more agreeable for homeless people that regions further east and north.  And, of course, there are the so-called "attractants" - free food and medical care provided by several charities located in our city.  They are wonderful people with hearts of gold who saw a need and filled it.  Still...

THE "PROBLEM" REMAINS
I know our Homeless Task Force did a great job of defining the issues and identifying "Costa Mesa Homeless People", but nobody has yet defined how to manage those folks who are homeless in our city, but don't meet the definition for a "Costa Mesa Homeless Person".  They remain...

PERHAPS THE NEWPORT BEACH LIBRARY?
Perhaps the unfortunate closure of the library will provide a new opportunity to further refine the services and treatment of the homeless folks in Costa Mesa.  I guess we'll see.  In the meantime, Newport Beach is just finishing a lovely renovation of their Main Library, adjacent to their brand, spanking new City Hall.  Perhaps some of "our" homeless folks would like to go a little more upscale and haul their, er,  stuff across the Back Bay Bridge and up the hill to that venue.  They'd have a lovely view, too.  Just thinkin'...

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Progressive Icon Passes

GUS AYER -  R.I.P.
Tonight most of my progressive - read that liberal - friends are mourning the passing earlier today of former Fountain Valley Mayor Gus Ayer, who apparently unexpectedly passed away peacefully in his sleep.

A CASUAL FRIEND
I knew Gus casually - he was a "Facebook friend" when I was on Facebook and we corresponded from time to time on issues of common interest.  Even though our political views were about 180 degrees apart I admired his knowledge, political skills and his energy.  I've written about him a couple times on this blog as he injected his interest and enthusiasm into Costa Mesa issues over the past couple of years.  He was, like me, a portly gent of more than a few years, yet he was an avid hiker, including recent trips to the Grand Canyon and Central America.

A TENACIOUS ACTIVIST
My impression was that when he seized a cause he would expend every effort in his being to attain his goal.  Based on comments from some of our mutual friends, he was a mentor to many of the current crop of liberal politicians in Orange County and worked very hard on their campaigns and issues.  A measure of his effectiveness may be the fact that many local  Republican activists didn't much care for him.

RECOLLECTIONS
Although there will likely be many homages to Gus, you can read three early ones HERE, HERE and HERE.  And, courtesy of The Surf City Voice, you can read his final public publication, HERE, intended as a launch point for a major campaign addressing the redundancy and performance of local water agencies.  It's a powerful piece and seems like an excellent exclamation point on a great career serving the interests of the public.

CONDOLENCES...
Condolences to his wife, Verna, and their children and all his friends on the loss of this special man.  I wish I had known him better...  The Huntington Beach Independent published a nice obituary about Gus Ayer HERE.  He was quite a man and will be missed.

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Rubbing Elbows With The Mayor

SNUGGLING UP WITH RIGHEIMER
I noted with no small degree of amusement that new mayor, Jim Righeimer, will be holding "Meet the Mayor" gatherings around the city at which - according to the city announcement - "members of the public will be invited to ask Mayor Righeimer questions about city government and voice their concerns in a casual setting."  The first of these events will be Thursday, February 28th at the Pitfire Artisan Pizza at 353 E. 17th Street from 6 - 7:30.


KINDER, GENTLER, FUNNIER JIM?
A couple of observations on this move by Righeimer - who seems to continue to try to re-mold his image around town, and maybe to a broader constituency.  Could it be that he's thinking of running for another office in 2014?  Hmmmm...

GOOD MOVE
First, I think this is a good idea.  A little "up close and personal" time with constituents is a gutsy move on his part.  There is always a chance that some angry folks will be taking advantage of this opportunity to get some face time with Righeimer.

A VERY COZY VENUE
Second, I've been to this venue.  I doubt they will abandon all other patrons for this event at prime meal time, so Righeimer and his constituents will likely be relegated to a dark little room at the rear of the facility.  To get there you have to walk past - practically through - the bustling kitchen area and end up in a room which has a bar and four VERY small tables.  And it is a SMALL room, so if Righeimer's posse joins him there will be scant space for residents.  "Cozy" doesn't even come close to describing that room.  If you expect to have space you'll probably have to arrive early and even then you'll probably be doing the old "chest bump" with Steve Mensinger, Jim Fitzpatrick and others.


INTO THE BOWELS OF THE BEAST
Third, Righeimer has chosen to dive right into the bowels of the beast by making this Eastside venue his first meeting.  The folks who may choose to take him up on this opportunity to chat are probably those still pretty darn angry about the impact of the new Starbucks on 17th Street and the truly strange modifications on Broadway, that seem to actually put bicycle riders in peril instead of providing a "safe route to schools", as was the original intent.  I guess we'll see.

BE THERE OR...
See you there...  I'll be the grumpy old guy shoved off into the corner...

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Dorner Demise Update

REGISTER STORY UPDATED - ID FOUND IN CABIN
The Orange County Register updated their story on the probable demise of Chris Dorner this morning with news that his ID has been found in the burned-out house.  Read it HERE.  Positive identification of the remains in the house is still pending.

INTERESTING LISTENING...
A couple very fascinating video clips have surfaced in the wake of the events yesterday.  Matt Drudge included these two on his Twitter feed.  The first, HERE, is a short clip snatched from a live video taken from a KCAL 9 telecast.  The second apparently came from someone monitoring the tactical audio feed, HERE.  The five minute clip puts you right in the heads of the law enforcement personnel as they move to extract Dorner from the cabin.

SOME PROTECTION DETAILS REMOVED
Recent news reports this morning indicate that some of the protection teams have been removed from some members of the LAPD members mentioned in Dorner's manifesto.  In case you have not read the more than 11,000 word rant, you can do so HERE.  Be warned - parts are pretty frightening, but will help you understand why finding and stopping Dorner was so critical to all southern California law enforcement.  I suspect you'll find the names of those he admired to be very interesting.

WAITING FOR IT TO BE OVER
So, now we wait - as the funeral service for the first police officer he killed in his murderous spree is about to commence - for the final chapter to close on this tragic event.  It's going to be very interesting to see what kind of changes, if any, are demanded at the LAPD and elsewhere as a result of Dorner's acts.

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May He Burn In Hell!

CHRIS DORNER PRESUMED DEAD
A little after midnight Wednesday, February 13, 2013 the Orange County Register updated their story on Christopher Jordan Dorner by stating that the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department reported that charred human remains were found in the cabin that burned to the ground this afternoon in which Dorner was presumed holed-up.  You can read that story HERE.

MORE FIREFIGHTS...
We can only hope that, in fact, Dorner was in that cabin yesterday.  I watched the news coverage of the remarkable events yesterday off and on - I had to attend the council study session late in the afternoon, just as the reports of his probable demise were coming in.  More shoot-outs, including one unbelievable video scene where automatic rifles were reproducing scenes from an action movie.  You can read all about the day in the Register article - and thousands of other reports throughout the internet.

...MORE DEATH
Sadly, Dorner took the life of another law enforcement officer - a San Bernardino County Deputy Sheriff was killed in the cabin shoot out and one of his comrades in arms was wounded and is under care at Loma Linda University Hospital.

IS THIS FINALLY THE END?
Does this mean an end to this week of terror in southern California, where every police officer was on edge and members of the LAPD law enforcement family were ALL in fear for their lives?  I guess we'll have to wait for the identification of the charred remains from the fire.  I hope so.

INEXCUSABLE
This has been such a terrible 10 days in the lives of southern California law enforcement personnel - many of whom are my friends - that when I heard the cabin was on fire my immediate reaction was, "Good!  Throw some more wood on that fire!"  I don't apologize for that reaction.  Regardless what may have triggered Dorner to snap, his senseless slaughter of innocent people and his cowardly murdering of police officers is inexcusable.  May he roast in the fires of hell...

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