Friday, April 26, 2013

Mayor's Celebration A Great Success

A GOOD EVENING
According to a just-published account by Bradley Zint in the Daily Pilot, HERE, the first annual Costa Mesa Mayor's Celebration was a huge success.

SECOND-HAND INFO
Since I did not attend - still wrestling with a nasty cold - I'll rely on Zint's account and anecdotal reports from the party for my information.

THANKS FOR SHARING
Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to share your observations with me.  One person, for example, sent me a note late last night saying "$125 for a meal and I'm still hungry."  I'm sure it was tongue-in-cheek.

MANY FAMILIAR FACES
Viewing the photos provided by Kevin Chang of the Daily Pilot in their article you'll see many familiar faces - lawyers, staffers, etc.

A HIGH-WATER MARK
One person I know who has been to a lot of events in Costa Mesa and other cities told me this morning that this was a high-water mark for our city.  That made me smile.
A WORTHY EVENT
No word yet on just how much money was raised for the recipients mentioned in Zint's piece.  It was a worthy cause, twice - once to honor Henry Segerstrom and Jack Hammett and also to provide financial support for The Arts in this, The City of the Arts.

KUDOS TO ALL
Congratulations to all who worked hard to make this a success and to Mayor Jim Righeimer for pushing his idea through.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Costa Mesa Police Department Recruiting 20 Officers

TEN FULL-TIME, TEN RESERVE
The City of Costa Mesa announced today that the Costa Mesa Police Department has begun a recruitment process to hire ten (10) full-time and ten (10) reserve officers.  The city has engaged a part-time human resources analyst who will concentrate on this recruitment effort.

INFO AND APPLICATION
More information can be found on the City web site HERE.

COMPENSATION
According to the information provided, Costa Mesa police officers begin with an annual salary of $71,000 and excellent benefits.  Reserve officers make $33 per hour.




 CONTINUE THE TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE
 Chief Tom Gazsi is quoted as saying, "This is a great opportunity for dedicated individuals who'd like to get into law enforcement.  The Costa Mesa Police Department has an excellent and well-deserved reputation around the state, and we are looking for top-quality men and women to help us carry on that tradition."

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Senior Center Board Members Sought

3 FOR 3 WAS NOT ENOUGH
Apparently unhappy with the number and quality of the applicants for the three positions open on the Costa Mesa Senior Corporation Board during the last recruitment - there were 3 applicants for 3 positions - the Costa Mesa City Council authorized a new recruitment effort and announced it HERE.

NO LONGER A "BUY IN"...
When the earlier recruitment was announced it included a requirement that any applicant be willing to fork over $500 to the Senior Center if appointed by the council.  This was not a new requirement, since part of what is needed is the ability to help with fund raising for the Center.  That requirement was dropped this time around.

A CHANCE TO SERVE
So, if you're interested in helping to shape the future of the Costa Mesa Senior Center, here's your chance.  You don't have to be a geezer like me, nor do you have to be a resident of the city.  Go to the link I provided and fill out the application and see if your qualifications pass muster with this council.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Question Unanswered - Why?

ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH...
Tuesday afternoon the Costa Mesa City Council held a Study Session beginning at 4:30 - before most folks could get off work and attend - to theoretically discuss whether Costa Mesa should, once again, consider becoming a Charter City.  It ended promptly at 6:30 for a Closed Session.  You can read Bradley Zint's coverage in the Daily Pilot, HERE, and Mike Reicher's coverage in the Orange County Register HERE - but you have to be a subscriber.. sorry about that.

ALL OVER AGAIN...
Fewer than 50 people, including staff and members of the media, attended this meeting and I suspect most left with a feeling of deja vu.  A year ago we were in the middle of the same kind of issue.  One person told me tonight it was like being in the Bill Murray movie, "Groundhog Day".  Yep, that's about it.

ONE QUESTION SHORT...

Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow led the discussion, and began by covering the six questions on the first page of the staff report, HERE.  There actually should have been seven questions.  The first one read as follows: "Should the City pursue becoming a charter city?"  The second question should have been "Why?"

THEIR MINDS MADE UP
As the meeting progressed it was clear that the council majority had its mind made up - we WERE going to have a charter, so the only reason for this meeting was to cobble out the methodology for getting there.

NUMBERS HAVE NOT CHANGED
Nineteen speakers addressed this issue and, interesting enough, the ratio that opposed Jim Righeimer's Charter last November - 60% - was very close to the ratio that spoke against this idea Tuesday night.  68% of the speakers opposed a charter.

CONTRITE MAYOR?  HARDLY!
Mayor Righeimer expressed a level of contrition, stating that he learned a lot from the campaign last year.  I had to smile because we're heading down that same path again.

GENIS AND LEECE WANT TO KNOW WHY?
Both Council Member Sandra Genis and Council Member Wendy Leece expressed concern about the way this was being handled - with nobody ever expressing just why it is necessary to change from a General Law City to a Charter City.  Oh, yes, a couple of the people who spoke mentioned that we could "take charge of our lives" and not be under the thumb of Sacramento - but nobody gave specifics.

HOW DOES A CHARTER FIX THAT PROBLEM?
The Unfunded Liability was mentioned, but nobody said how that problem could be fixed if we were a Charter City.

EXPLAIN WHY, OR JUST STOP!
In my opinion, until somebody explains in clear, unambiguous terms, WHY we should become a Charter City, moving forward with this scheme is premature.

BEFORE COUNCIL MAY 7TH
The issue will be on the council agenda for their meeting on May 7th.  We can only hope that somebody will come up with at least one good reason to even consider this change.  Otherwise, it looks like Righeimer's anti-union predisposition and the arrogance of power is forcing him to try this one more time.

NO COMMISSION
It was clear tonight that the council majority has no interest in creating a Charter Commission - it would have to be elected by the people and the earliest that could happen under current law is June, 2014.  And, the council would have no control over what that commission created and placed on the ballot - probably in November 2016.

A COMMITTEE, INSTEAD
So, it looks like the council will appoint a committee - very likely stacked with their pals - to craft a Charter for the city.  Once that job is completed the council will make the final edits.  You know what that means, right?  It means we will be right back where we were in November, 2012 - with a document full of Righeimer's pet projects - like his much-defeated Paycheck Protection Plan, for example.

PREMATURE WASTE OF TIME
I hope more residents will take the opportunity to sign in on this.  Until we know WHY it is necessary, this is just a waste of time.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Charter Again - Why?

RESURRECTING THE CHARTER QUESTION
As I wrote earlier, tomorrow the Costa Mesa City council will, once again, visit the "Charter City" issue at a Study Session in council chambers at City Hall beginning at 4:30 p.m.  Although we don't know for sure, we assume (nasty word) that the meeting will last a couple hours because there is a special closed session scheduled for 6:30.  You can read the agenda for the meeting, including information provided by the California League of Cities, HERE.  Most of this information is not new, especially for those of us who spent twelve months dealing with this bogus scheme beginning in November, 2011.

WHY?

Let's be clear about this right up front.  Nobody has demonstrated WHY Costa Mesa should become a Charter City since Jim Righeimer first announced his quick pitch scheme in November, 2011.  And, after almost a full year of back-and-forth discussions, public hearings, long, rancorous meetings, tens of thousands of dollars spend on both sides of the issue, the public made it's feelings known by soundly rejecting Jim Righeimer's Charter last November - 60% - 40%!

ARROGANT DISREGARD OF THE VOTERS

Now Righeimer, as he promised immediately after being crushed in the ballot box, in an arrogant disregard of the will of the people he supposedly serves, has brought this bad idea back.  It is unlikely that this process will go quietly into the night.  No, we can probably expect AT LEAST another year of meetings, arguing and fracturing of the city as he tries, once again, to impose his political will on the residents of this city.

PREVAILING WAGE CHANGE IN THE WORKS

This time around there are some changes in the air that will certainly affect this plan.  There are two pieces of legislation floating around Sacramento that will impact the arguments for a charter.  One, if passed, will disembowel Righeimer's main argument for a charter - that we can save a ton of money by not being required to pay prevailing wages on major projects.  During the past battle, beginning about a year ago, we had our council chambers packed with imported partisans on both sides of the issue.  Several unions salted the audience with vociferous folks who spoke against the Charter.  Righeimer imported Kevin Dayton - who can forget his squealing performance before the council when Righeimer gave him 10 minutes, not 3, to pitch his position?  Others, including Dave Everett from the Associated Builders Counsel, also took a turn at the speaker's podium.  Both men wrote commentaries in the local newspapers.

ONLY ON A GENERAL ELECTION
The other element currently in discussion in Sacramento is a change to State Law that would require a Charter to be placed before the voters ONLY in a General Election, not a Primary Election or special municipal election.  Some will recall the latter was the case when the City of Bell became a Charter City - only 450 voters showed up for that one - and the rest is history.

ELECTED COMMISSION?...
IF the council decides to go to battle again - they can't do that at the Study Session tomorrow - they must choose between an elected Charter Commission or an appointed Charter Committee - two VERY different birds.  If a commission is used State law is very clear about how that process must go, including requiring 15 members.  That commission would have to be elected at either a Primary or General election - the next one available is June, 2014, although that legislation I mentioned above might push that out to the November election.  From that point, the commission would have two years in which to craft a charter - including significant public outreach - or it would be disbanded and the process would have to begin again.  And, the city council would be bypassed in the process - they don't get a chance to manipulate the charter at all.

...OR APPOINTED COMMITTEE?
If a committee is used, it can be created the same way others are created - like the Pension Advisory Committee that was created this month.  The council, as they did with the recent appointments, can manipulate the process to stack the deck with their true believers and - most important - gets to decide just what the Charter will look like that would be presented to the voters next year.

SOME REFERENCE MATERIAL
As I thought about this process again I went back and revisited some of the things that were written about Jim Righeimer's Charter last year and earlier this year.  Even though this list is daunting, some of you may wish to revisit some of the things that were said about that scheme.  I've tried to provide both sides of the discussion - except the links to my blog entries.  I may not have given you EVERYTHING that was written, but this list is plenty long.  I've put them in chronological order.. Have fun.

COSTA MESA DOES NOT NEED TO BECOME A CHARTER CITY!
Let me be clear before you tackle this list.  I don't think Costa Mesa needs to become a Charter City!  We've done just fine as a General Law City in the 60 years of our existence.  We've benefited from the protections from abuse and corruption provided by State Law under this system and, quite frankly, I just don't trust the current council majority with the kind of power that is potentially available with a Charter form of government. 

BANKRUPTCY
Only 25% of California cities are Charter Cities, and some of those in deep financial trouble - Stockton, San Bernardino and Vallejo, for example - operate as Charter Cities.  Vallejo and Stockton have declared bankruptcy and San Bernardino is teetering on the brink.

THE LIST
So, here's the list.  Click on any that interest you and you'll be taken to the blog entry or article:


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