Friday, June 07, 2013

Employee Association Pledges Cooperation With City

EMPLOYEE ASSOCIATION RESPONDS TO JAIL OUTSOURCING
In a press release issued late Friday afternoon responding to the decision last Tuesday by the Costa Mesa City Council to move forward with outsourcing city Jail services to civilian contractor G4S, Orange County Employee Association (OCEA) spokesperson Jennifer Muir pledged to "engage the City in what we hope will be positive and productive discussions, and we hope those discussions can remain out of the courtroom."  You can read the full text of the press release below. Click on the image for easier reading.
CMCEA PRESIDENT'S LETTER TO HATCH
It was accompanied by a letter from Helen Nenadal, President of the Costa Mesa City Employees association (CMCEA), to Costa Mesa Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch expressing her gratitude to his role in attempting to find a workable solution to this issue.  Her letter is below.


ONLY TIME WILL TELL..
It's going to be very interesting to see how this plays out.  If, in fact, the City does as it has committed to doing - insure a smooth transition for the Jail employees, regardless which direction it take them - then it may turn out to be the best solution in a difficult situation for the individuals.  It is possible that some of the employees may remain working in the Jail, but as G4S employees.  It's also possible that other positions within the City government will be identified for them.  We'll know the answer to that question within the next few weeks.

Labels: , , , , , ,

The Weekend Ahead In Costa Mesa

GROOVIN' WITH THE OLDIES
A good way to get an early jump on your weekend is to visit the First Friday Roadshow in the Costa Mesa City Hall parking lot.  From 6:00 - 8:30 you can wander through the rows of great old classic cars and hot rods, dredging up a little nostalgia, groove to the oldies played by the disc jockey and nibble tasty grub from a food truck.  Be there or be square.

SONORA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 50th ALUMNI REUNION
If you're a Sonora Elementary School alumni you can cruise on over a few hundred yards and re-visit your old haunts as the school celebrates it's 50th year Student Alumni Reunion from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.  Buy a Sonora t-shirt, make a commemorative tile for the 50th year tile wall  and visit with old friends.

DODGING THE DUI CHECKPOINT TONIGHT
On the way home don't get stuck in the most recent DUI checkpoint conducted by the Costa Mesa Police Department.  From 8:00 p.m. Friday, today, through 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning Costa Mesa officers will conduct the checkpoint somewhere in the city.  This highly effective law enforcement tool is funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  According to CMPD Lieutenant Greg Scott, "Over the course of the past three years in Costa Mesa, 547 DUI collisions have claimed one life and injured 247 of our friends and neighbors.  We arrested over 2,700 DUI's during those three years."

ELECTRONIC RECYCLING
Saturday, June 8th, there will be an Electronic Recycling Event in the City Hall parking lot from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.  Acceptable household e-waste items include televisions, PC systems, laptops, monitors, home entertainment systems, cell phones, desk top copiers, printers, fax machines, keyboards, DVD and VCR players, audio devices and loose wires in working condition or not.  They will NOT accept fluorescent lamps, microwaves, vacuums an cooling units such as refrigerators.  Here's your chance to safely dispose of that electronic junk accumulating at home.

RELAY FOR LIFE
Beginning Saturday, June 8th at 9:00 a.m. and continuing until 9:00 a.m. Sunday, June 9th the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event will be held at Costa Mesa High School.  Join your neighbors as they run for this excellent event.  If you're not a runner you can still contribute.  For more information about participating teams and the schedule of events visit www.relayforlife.org/costamesaca.

Labels: , , ,

Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting

MY VERSION OF THE MEETING
OK, so my impressions of the inaugural Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee meeting won't be the only ones available to you after all.  Reporters from the Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register were onhand to cover the event.  I'm going to give you my shorthand impressions of the meeting and let you ferret out the other details elsewhere.
ALL MEMBERS PRESENT
The meeting began with all the chosen members of the new committee present and ready to get to work.  Those names are: Ron Amburgey, Terry Cummings, Brett Eckles, Dr. Richard Mehren, Dennis Popp, Lee Ramos, Steve Smith, David Stiller and Anna Vrska.

LIAISONS AND STAFFERS
In addition, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger and council member Sandra Genis, as liaisons to this committee were present.  Dean Abernathy and Bob Graham, liaisons from the Parks and Recreation Commission also attended.  Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz, Fairview Park Project Manager Bart Mejia and City Engineer Fariba Faselli were among the staff members present to help guide the conversation and provide perspective on the park itself.

MEHREN AND SMITH TO LEAD THE COMMITTEE
The first order of business was to elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman.  Mehren, Smith and Amburgey were all nominated for Chairman.  When the vote was taken Mehren had 4 votes, Smith had 3 and Amburgey had 2, so Dr. Richard Mehren was elected as Chairman.  This appears to be an excellent choice, because Dr. Mehren was previously the Chairman of the previous committee for 15 years and led the effort to craft the first Fairview Park Master Plan.  Steve Smith was the only person nominated for Vice Chairman, so he was chosen.
(Dr. Richard Mehren, Chairman, and Steve Smith, Vice Chairman)

MEJIA GUIDES THE DISCUSSION
As might be expected, this group got off to a shaky start, with more than a little confusion about their actual charter.  Bart Mejia presented information to help with that process, including these two slides that provided some guidance for the committee.


BUDGET CONCERNS
Early in the meeting the group got a little off track, in my opinion, by focusing on the pending budget discussions.  They expressed concerns about having sufficient time to do a careful assessment and then present budget views to the council before the new budget is approved in a couple weeks.  In my view, they need not worry about that at all.  It's not their charter, but some of the members just couldn't let it go.  Finally, Munoz suggested that any members that had concerns about the list of items he provided to them that were being considered for this new budget process should send him an email and he would be sure the council received the information.  The committee won't have an official position on those issues this time around.

LIGHTS OR NO LIGHTS?
One of the "current projects" included on the list provided to the committee members was "lights in the parking lot".  Genis took strong exception to that item, indicating that the Fairview Park Master Plan did not permit lights - that the park is a "dawn to dusk" park and that any attempt to install lights anywhere in the park will require re-opening the Master Plan first.  Mehren seemed to support her view.  Mensinger was agitated and tried to cut off her discussion.  Again, this was not within the purview of the committee, but they spent a lot of time on it.


PLAYING FIELDS
One thing became clear as individual members were asked what their priorities might be for the park - there are factions that would like to install playing fields in the park.  Amburgey made it abundantly clear that he felt the city needed more playing fields and the park is a perfect place for them.  He said most of the fields presently being used belong to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District via the Joint Use Agreement.  He wanted to build fields in Fairview Park, where the city could control them and let the school district worry about their fields.

MENSINGER PANICKED
Eckles voiced much the same concern about the shortage of fields, although not in as strong terms as Amburgey.  Mensinger jumped in - he could see where this was going - and tried to re-direct the discussion lest folks think they "knew what was in his mind"... his words.

MENSINGER AND GENIS SHOULD THROTTLE BACK
At this point let me state that both Mensinger and Genis were MUCH too vocal during this meeting.  Yes, Genis has a wealth of knowledge that she should share when appropriate, but she overplayed that, in my opinion.  Mensinger, on the other hand, just seemed unable to keep his mouth shut.  He constantly tried to take over the meeting, which put Mehren at a real disadvantage.

ANNA SETS HIM STRAIGHT
Finally, the youngest member of the committee, Anna Vrska, looked directly at Mensinger and opined that she hoped he would be able to just sit and listen in the future and let the committee run its business and not try to steer the conversation.  I'm still smiling...

PLANES AND TRAINS
There was a lot of discussion about both the Model Railroad group and the Harbor Soaring Society, and concern for their future in the park.  The airplane folks just had their permit extended for only one year - it expires in December - and the railroad folks have their permit pending within a couple months.  Mehren expressed concern for both long-time, very positive uses and seemed concerned that there are plan afoot to oust one or both of them.  The railroad venue - on the Eastside of Placentia Avenue - looks like an area where those in favor of playing fields might be eyeballing.  Mensinger has been trying to figure out how to put a parking lot into the southern part of the park near Estancia High School and the flat take-off and landing site used by the airplane folks seems perfect.  In my opinion, both groups should be very worried.  Why do I say that?  Because Mensinger assured them that they would always be there!


LOOKING FOR A ROAD MAP
The conversations last night were robust.  Most commitee members took their opportunities to express their views about the process and some specifics on their ideas for the park.  A few expressed concern about what, specifically, their mission was supposed to be.  Again, all that "budget" conversation sidetracked the discussions.  Concern about their ability to gather community input in this process was expressed several times.  Munoz discussed distributing a survey to all residents, but that it was premature until the committee had a tighter focus on THEIR vision for the park.

MORE GUIDANCE NEXT TIME
Eventually it was agreed that the staff would provide some critical information for them - like a copy of Roberts Rules Of Order (suggested, ironically, by Mensinger), and some instruction on the Brown Act - which covers this committee's activities.  There was a discussion about a Park tour for the members, to provide them with perspective and to understand more clearly just what can and cannot be done in certain parts of the park.

NEXT MEETING TIME AND DATE UNDETERMINED
The next meeting date was not established because the logical time and date had a space conflict.  Munoz will review the available times, dates and venue and poll the committee members on their thoughts.  It's likely it will be held during the first couple weeks of July.


THE TRAIN IS ROLLING...
So, they are off and running under the steady and knowledgable hand of Dr. Richard Mehren.  I suspect the next meeting will run much more smoothly and the committee will gain focus on what's ahead of them.  As Genis reminded them, the City Council has not given them a due date for completion of their effort.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, June 06, 2013

A "Mission Statement" for the Planning Commission? Why?

MONDAY MEETING
The Costa Mesa Planning Commission, led by Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick,  will meet for its regular monthly meeting on Monday, June 10, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall.

INTERESTING AGENDA MONDAY
This meeting, which includes some of the normal activities you might expect - reviewing development proposals, etc., also includes in the agenda, HERE, some items you might find of special interest.

"MISSION STATEMENT" - REALLY?
For example, Item #3 on the Consent Calendar, HERE, is a change to the bylaws of the Planning Commission to include a brand new section - a "Mission Statement"!  So, after 60 years our Planning Commission will finally have a document that tells them what their job is supposed to be!  Really!  How have they been getting along all this time?  This reeks of Fitzpatrick's heavy hand.  I sure do wish he'd get a job so he can stop making busy work for the already over-burdened city staff!

2 MEETINGS A MONTH!
Oh, yes, that item also includes a change in the bylaw to authorize the Planning Commission to resume holding two meetings each month instead of one, as has been the case for around four years.  And, ironically, this request will be considered at what may be the shortest Planning Commission meeting in the past several months!  Interesting timing.

CODE ENFORCEMENT REPORT
There are a couple other items that you'll find of interest.  The first is Item #2 on the Consent Calendar, the Code Enforcement Update.  Read through that staff report, HERE, and find out which of your neighbors have been cited for various offenses and what penalties have been imposed.

GREAT READING ON THIS ONE
Also, New Business #1 is the Neighborhood Improvement Task Force Quarterly Update - a very interesting document.  Read it HERE.  Find out about our homeless situation.  Learn which "troubled motels" are causing problems and what kind of resolutions have been accomplished.  Read about the "Recovery/Sober Living Homes" in our city.  Learn about our Safe Neighborhoods/Community Improvement Program.  And on and on.

Labels: , , , ,

Fairview Park Citizen's Advisory Committee Meets Tonight

WHAT MEETING?

Despite frequently patting themselves on the back for their "award winning transparency", sometimes things drop through the cracks at Costa Mesa City Hall.  Today has one of those examples.  There is no reference to this meeting on the City website calendar of events.

WHO WILL HEAD IT UP?
This evening, from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.,  the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee will hold its first meeting in Conference Room 1A.  You can read the agenda for this inaugural meeting HERE.  Part of that agenda is to elect a Chair and Vice Chair to direct future activities.  It will be interesting to see who emerges in a leadership role from the nine committee members: Ron Amburgey, Terry Cummings, Brett Eckles, Dr. Richard Mehren, Dennis Popp, Lee Ramos, Steve Smith, David Stiller and Anna Vrska.  It will also be very interesting to see how much control Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger tries to exercise as this group begins their assignment.

COSTA MESA'S "CROWN JEWEL"
Fairview Park, frequently described as Costa Mesa's Crown Jewel, is the venue for many activities in our town and has recently had a load of money spent rehabilitating some sensitive native habitat at the north end.  Last weekend it was the site of the 66th Annual Lions Club Fish Fry and carnival and the Costa Mesa Community Run, for example.

THIS PROCESS WILL BE WORTH WATCHING
This new committee will be reviewing all aspects of the park, including a thorough review of the Master Plan, over the next several months.  Since we have a developer-oriented City Council majority and since Fairview Park represents by far the biggest chunk of undeveloped land in the City, it's going to be very interesting to see what kind of ideas this new committee generates.  It's certainly going to be worth watching.

NO TV, JUST ME...
Unfortunately, CMTV will not be televising this meeting, either live or by tape, so you're going to have to get your information from folks who attend and report.  I'll be there and will let you know how things go.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Charter, Jail, Fire Pits, Choir & Saving Lives

AN UNEXPECTED GIFT
So, last night at the Costa Mesa City Council meeting was a mixed blessing.  We escaped early - 10:20 p.m. - but only did so because Mayor Jim Righeimer and his council decided to dodge some of the more pithy, controversial and time-consuming issues

BUSINESS LICENSE FEES TO BE STUDIED 
Except for the minutes of an earlier meeting, only one of the dozen items on the Consent Calendar was pulled for separate discussion - #11, which directed the City's Finance Advisory Committee to study the City's Business License Fee structure.  Wendy Leece pulled that one to explain why she did it.  It passed on a 5-0 vote.  The remainder of the Consent Calendar also passed without comment.  I was surprised that nobody pulled #12, the authorization of the extension of Management Partners contract and the assignment to perform an organizational and operations review audit of the Costa Mesa Senior Center.  So, look out, seniors, Tammy LeTourneau will be all over you in short order.

KICKING THE CAN

They "continued" to a future date Public Hearings #1 and #2, both involving Community Development Block Grant funds and New Business #1, the "live/work" development on Placentia Avenue.

BANNING RANCH TRAFFIC "TABLED"
Then, much to the surprise of recently-retired Economic and Development Director/Deputy CEO Peter Naghavi who had returned to make the staff presentation, the council decided to "table" the issue of the Banning Ranch Traffic Mitigation issue.  More than 30 people who obviously attended the meeting to address this issue seemed to be pleased and surprised as they wandered out of the auditorium following the announcement.

A CHANCE FOR AN EARLY NIGHT!

All of a sudden a meeting I expected would drag on until the wee hours of Wednesday morning looked like it had a chance to actually finish in the same day it began.  And that's just how it turned out.

ALL AMERICAN BOYS CHOIR

In the beginning Righeimer bestowed the Mayor's Award on the All American Boys Choir, which serenaded us with a couple songs.  The first, our national anthem, can be viewed HERE.  Note how long it took the audience to remember their etiquette and stand as the song was sung.


JUST LIKE ANY OTHER KIDS
By the way, in case you're wondering, those talented young men are just like any other group of young boys, as witnessed by this photo I took before they entered the council chambers.

HANDS ONLY CPR 

Then Diane Hill told us of her experience with her recently-departed husband, Paul and the reason she's actively pushing to have Costa Mesans learn Hands Only CPR.  An excellent video was played that demonstrated the life saving technique and Hill also had a table outside the council chambers to demonstrate the procedure.


OCTA REPORT ON I-405 CONNECTOR

Then Sarah King of the Orange County Transportation Authority told us about the work being done at the Orange County line on the I-405 Connector and gave us a link to use, HERE.

 

CRIME STATS
Several speakers during Public Comments addressed the recent FBI report on crime that showed Costa Mesa's numbers were up 15%, and took the council to task for its part in the rising crime level by eliminating A.B.L.E. and cutting the police department headcount.  Righeimer attempted to blame the "problem" motels around town and quoted some statistics about one of them to reinforce his opinion. 

BIA APPROVED

When the third Public Hearing was addressed - the Business Improvement Area (BIA) reauthorization, a recent long, long letter from Newport Beach resident Jim Mosher was discussed and Righeimer said to the staff, "I wouldn't spend a lot of time on it because Mr. Mosher burns up a lot of staff time."  Contract City Attorney Tom Duarte indicated he would respond to Mosher directly, point-by-point, and provide his response to the council.


FAMILIAR NAMES ON THE SENIOR CORP. BOARD
New Business #1, the appointment of three members to the Costa Mesa Senior Corporation Board of Directors took only a couple minutes to handle.  Incumbents Ernie Feeney and Kathleen Eric were re-appointed and Barbara Echan filled the third slot.


RIGHEIMER RANTS ABOUT FIRE PITS 
Righeimer took a long time to explain why he thought it was important for The City to pass his resolution rejecting the SCAQMD's proposed amendment of Rule 444 prohibiting open burning on beaches.  He probably could have accomplished it with many fewer words, but the issue passed, 5-0.


THE CHARTER COMMITTEE, FACILITATORS AND THE SCHEDULE
At 8:00 our attention turned to New Business #5, the selection of Charter Committee members, approval of facilitators and the schedule of meetings for the committee. Read the staff report HERE.  CEO Tom Hatch explained at great length why he selected Estancia High School Principal Kirk Bauermeister and Pastor Mike Decker as his choices to facilitate the deliberations of the Charter Committee.  Eleven members of the community spoke on the issue and were fairly equally split on whether there should or should not be a facilitator, and whether the men chosen were the correct picks.  Eventually they were affirmed and the meeting schedule - every 2nd and 4th Wednesday evening - were passed on a 5-0 vote.  Then the fun began.

FIRST FIVE CHOICES

The council then launched into the selection process for 13 members of the Charter Committee.
  Read the list of 38 applicants HERE.  They followed what I viewed as a flawed process.  Each council member chose one person from the list of 38 applicants.  Their selections were as follows:
  • Steve Mensinger chose Lee Ramos
  • Sandra Genis chose Mary Ann O'Connell
  • Gary Monahan chose Ron Amburgey
  • Jim Righeimer chose William Fancher
  • Wendy Leece chose Hank Panian
"NOMINATIONS"
Then the council used a "nomination" process to select the next five.  This, in my view, was the bogus part of this process.  Here's how it went:

  • Monahan chose Brett Eckles and Steve Mensinger seconded it.  The vote was 4-1, with Leece voting no.
  • Righeimer chose Tom Pollitt and Monahan seconded.  The vote was 4-1, with Leece voting no.
  • Genis chose Harold Weitzberg and Leece seconded.  He was rejected on a 2-3 vote, with Righeimer, Mensinger and Monahan voting no.
  • Mensinger chose Kevin Tobin who was confirmed on a 3-2 vote.  Leece and Genis voted no.
  • Leece chose Corinne Stover and Genis seconded.  She was rejected on a 2-3 vote.
  • Monahan chose Gene Hutchins, who was chosen on a 5-0 vote.
  • Righeimer chose Tom Graham and Mensinger seconded.  He was chosen on a 4-1 vote, with Leece voting no.
NOMINEES FOR THE LOTTERY
The final three members were chosen by a "lottery".  Each council member chose a person remaining in the applicant pool and the names were written on slips of paper.  From those 5 individuals three were chosen by a draw of the Sergeant-at-arms.  The selection went this way:

  • Mensinger nominated Kerry McCarthy
  • Genis nominated Nina Flores
  • Monahan nominated Andrew Smith
  • Righeimer nominated Anna Reagan
  • Leece nominated Harold Weitzberg
THE DRAW...
The first name drawn was Kerry McCarthy.  The second was Andrew Smith.  Finally, with the final draw, Harold Weitzberg was chosen.

(City Clerk Brenda Green takes a lottery slip from Sergeant-at-arms as Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz looks on)
YOUR CHARTER COMMITTEE IS...
So, the 13 folks who will spend the next six months, meeting at least twice a month, trying to coble together a charter that the voters might find acceptable on a ballot sometime next year will be:
Ron Amburgey
Brett Eckles
William Fancher
Thomas H. Graham
Gene Hutchins
Kerry McCarthy
Mary Ann O'Connell
Henry S. Panian
Tom Pollitt
Lee A. Ramos
Andrew B. Smith
Kevin A. Tobin
Harold Weitzberg

They will be "facilitated" by Kirk Bauermeiser, Mike Decker and Kimberly Hall Barlow.

(Chief Tom Gazsi chats with facilitators Mike Decker and Kirk Bauermeister while committee member Lee Ramos speaks with Robin Leffler)
 
OUTSOURCING THE JAIL OPERATIONS
After a short break the meeting re-convened at 9:20 to discuss the privatization of the Costa Mesa Jail Operations.  CEO Hatch went through the relevant high points of the lengthy staff report, HERE,  He addressed several cities that already use G4S - the proposed contractor - the potential savings - over $600,000 annually and, in vague terms, the "transition" anticipated.

MEETINGS UNSUCCESSFUL

Hatch said the staff had met many times - at least seven - with members of the CMCEA and the OCEA to try to find common ground - unsuccessfully.

MUIR CLAIMS BAD FAITH NEGOTIATIONS
Among the four speakers addressing this during public comments was Jennifer Muir, representing the OCEA and the CMCEA.  She told us that the City was trying to sabotage efforts at conciliation - that The City had taken the "It's my way or the highway" approach to negotiation on this issue.  She mentioned an April 16th email to the City requesting a meeting that had gone unanswered.  Not surprisingly, the other speakers also had problems with this plan.

PASSES, 4-1

Eventually, after lengthy discussion by staff and council members, the item passed on a 4-1 vote, with Leece voting no.


BACK TO COURT?  NOT SURE... 
I asked members of the OCEA what their plans are now.  They said they'll wait and see for the moment, but I won't be surprised to see them back before Judge Luis Rodriguez sometime soon for a reconsideration of the Preliminary Injunction that was lifted earlier this year.

NEXT UP... THE BUDGET, AGAIN

So, at 10:20 we adjourned to the budget study session next Tuesday afternoon, June 11th.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,