TERRIBLE TIME MANAGEMENT
Tuesday night what should have been a very short Costa Mesa City Council meeting stretched out to nearly double the length of time it should have taken. It began a half-hour late because the council was delayed in their closed session - probably talking about the negotiations that took place with the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA) earlier in the day. Read Brad Zint's coverage HERE
When it finally got started Mayor Jim Righeimer
presented his Mayor's Award to Randy Garell
, President of The Grant Boys store on Newport Blvd. The store has served the community for decades and is one of the oldest remaining businesses in the old Downtown area. Garell is shown here with the award given to him by Righeimer.
MORE ANNIVERSARY FUN COMING UP
Then 60th Anniversary Committee member Charlene Ashendorf
made a pitch for the upcoming Scarecrow Festival on October 12th and 13th. The community is invited to participate in the creation of scarecrows, which will be displayed at Goathill Junction - the model train venue at Fairview Park. Classes will be held to train folks on how to create scarecrows. See the following flyer (click on the image to enlarge) on the event and/or visit their website at http://www.costamesahistory.org/scarecrow.htm
CONCERN ABOUT ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION FINANCES
During Public Comments, along about 7:30, several people rose to speak on a variety of issues, but the first one out of the chute was Sue Lester
, a member of the 60th Anniversary Committee, who expressed concern that city policies may have been violated and no accounting of the finances of the 3-day celebration in June has yet been made. She also was concerned about the survey form distributed to the volunteers, indicating that it was much to complicated.
FAIRVIEW PARK AND BUSINESS LICENSE TAX
Other speakers expressed concern for the future of Fairview Park, including the model trains, and Robin Leffler
complained that the Finance Advisory Committee had recently given short shrift to the consideration of a modification of the Business License Tax.
NEW EMPLOYEE WEB SITE
, representing the CMCEA, mentioned the current negotiations and introduced the council and audience to the new web site recently created to keep the public informed about the negotiations, HERE.
GARY'S OLD BUDGET
During Council Member Comments Gary Monahan
actually participated again for the second meeting in a row. He brought with him a "show and tell" item - a tri-fold document that looked from the audience vantage point like a restaurant menu, but was, in fact, the City of Costa Mesa budget for the 1965-1966 year. He read some of the entries.
HUBRIS ON DISPLAY
Righeimer went to great lengths to compliment himself for two successful "Meet the Mayor" events within the past couple weeks. He indicated that he hoped to hold more of them in residents homes, so folks could just walk a couple blocks to hear him speak. Humility has never been one of his strengths.
As he told us about the concern expressed by some Eastside neighbors about the proliferation of rehab homes around town, he mentioned that the previously-discussed Nuisance Ordinance was being re-vamped and a streamlined version would be presented to the council at the September 3rd meeting. He also mentioned a "Registration" policy, that theoretically would permit city officials to do a headcount at unlicensed group homes, so we could keep track of who lived there. When I heard that I got just a little nervous, since unlicensed group homes - those with six or fewer "clients" - are treated just as any other family home in our city. I found myself wondering if this "Registration" scheme might unleash Code Enforcement staffers who may begin pounding on doors throughout the city. It smelled very much like the Gestapo to me. I hope the contract legal firm does a good job of vetting this situation before we find ourselves in yet another legal quagmire.
complimented the Costa Mesa Foundation, a member of which spoke earlier to report on the success of the Concerts In The Park series this summer, and asked Assistant CEO Rick Francis
- substituting for the vacationing CEO Tom Hatch
- to ask two other community organizations to present before the council on September 3rd, too. He also addressed the concern one speaker had about Lions Park and a specific event there recently when a city staffer was attacked by a deranged homeless person. Mensinger said he drives by the park every day - he's just got to get a job one of these days.
also thanked the Costa Mesa Foundation and then expressed concern for the conflicting schedules for upcoming important meetings. It seems that the next General Plan meeting and the Fairview Park Citizen's Advisory Committee are both scheduled to meet at the same time. She was also concerned about "steps" that had been carved out of a hill at Fairview Park.
PARKS, HOMELESS AND BOBBY YOUNG
had a long laundry list of items, including the Concerts In The Park; the conditions at Lions Park (she suggested consideration be given to providing "greeters" at the park to manage the homeless folks); the meeting schedule conflict (she suggested moving the Fairview Park Committee meeting); the broader homelessness problem and the role the folks of the Churches Consortium are playing and, finally, she recognized outgoing Finance and Information Technology Director, Bobby Young
, for his dedication and professionalism and service to the City as he departs for the private sector on August 23rd. Last night was his final City Council meeting - and it will be one to remember. More on that later.
NEW FIRE CHIEF RECRUITMENT
Francis, standing in for Hatch, reported that the recruitment process for a new permanent Fire Chief is moving along and that Hatch will very likely make his decision upon his return from vacation later this month. He also expanded on the issue of the Lions Park attack by the homeless person. He told us Vanguard University - next door neighbors at City Hall - has a new President.
SPLITTING UP YOUNG'S JOB
Francis also mentioned the General Plan Workshop coming up, and indicated this one will include a puppet show for the children and refreshments by Starbucks. And, he also acknowledged Bobby Young and mentioned that they will be splitting off the Information Technology segment of his job and will be looking for two people to replace him - one in Finance and one in IT. I thought that was VERY
APPEAL FEE RETURNED
They finally got to the Consent Calendar and three items were pulled for separate discussion. Gary Monahan
pulled item #6, the reimbursement of the appeal fee for the Catalina Shores Homeowners Association. After a short discussion it was approved, 4-1, with Monahan voting NO.
SLOWING 19TH STREET
pulled Item #7, the request for the use of grant funds to design traffic calming measures for East 19th Street similar to those installed last year on Broadway. There was significant discussion on this issue, ranging from the lack of data on the Broadway project to measure its effectiveness to our ability to install such measures on 19th Street because it's on the Master Plan of Highways.
DICEY NAVIGATION PROBLEMS
During the discussion comments were made about the narrowness of the streets at the corners, with some speakers concerned about the safety of navigating around them. Righeimer, in fact, admitted he had scuffed a planter or two while driving around the area.
EASTSIDERS LIKE BROADWAY
Several Eastside residents rose to speak favorably about the Broadway project, including Syndy Neyland
, a member of the Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors Group, who praised the new beauty of the street, the quiet they now experience due to the rubberized pavement and the safety of the street. Realtor Jeff McConville
, President of that group and a resident of East 19th Street, also spoke in favor of the plan, but expressed concern that there should be something planned to preclude the traffic form squeezing over into neighboring streets - like Magnolia, Flower and 18th Street. Eventually the item passed, 5-0.
NEW COMPUTERS, AGAIN
Then came the most interesting, and frustrating, item of the evening - Item #9, the purchase of 435 new computers for use throughout the city. Keep in mind that this council had previously approved this item back in May and the only reason it was back before them is because the successful vendor back then had neglected to include sales tax in his bid. He refused to work with the city on the issue, so staff brought the item back with a different successful bidders numbers - slightly more than the previous bid.
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
What happened then was like something out of Alice in Wonderland. It was though we'd had a time warp and the council was re-hashing the entire concept again, not just the new bid. Monahan said he didn't understand why we should replace all the computers at one time, even though this whole thing was explained back in May. Mensinger suggested that we go back and get computers that included touch screen technology, even though Young explained to the council that the use of touch screens is much less efficient than the standard keyboards.
THEY JUST DON'T GET IT!
And round and round it went, even discussing which operating system should be used, even though the staff had used a consultant to help identify the specific systems that would work best for the City. Council members were concerned about buying "obsolete" equipment, even though most of the computers being replaced are 10 years old - that's several lifetimes in computer years.
EVEN FRANCIS COULDN'T HELP
Francis intervened, attempting to help the council to understand the methodology that went into making the decision and the hours of staff and consultant time that was spent sorting this all out. Again, this was all discussed in May. The council has previously budgeted a complete overhaul of the network backbone throughout all city operations and this new batch of computers will facilitate the installation of that infrastructure.
RIGHEIMER KILLED THE DEAL
There seemed to be a major disconnect with the male members of the council on this issue. The deal was doomed when Righeimer said he'd had some misgivings over the past couple weeks, but he didn't articulate what those misgivings were. That was straight out of the old Allan Mansoor
playbook and it seemed VERY
peculiar. It made me wonder if he might have a buddy in the computer business that needs a job. Sorry, but his performance in the past makes me suspicious of his motives.
A PARTING SHOT
So, after all that micro-managing discussion - and in a final slap in the face to Bobby Young on his way out the door - the council voted, 2-3, to not move forward with the purchase. I don't have to tell you who voted which way. So, it's back to the old drawing board for whomever is left on the staff to worry about it. The meeting finally adjourned at 9:00, making it too late for any of us who wished to dash over to the National Night Out celebration at the Target parking lot.
OFF-ROAD WITH THE MAYOR
I did end my evening at City Hall with a chuckle, though. As I sat in my car getting ready to depart I noticed Righeimer driving out of the parking lot and bounce his car over one of the curbs marking a parking spot. And I didn't even see him with a Diet Coke all evening! It just seemed somehow appropriate for the evening. The next council meeting is September 3rd - the day following the long Labor Day holiday weekend.
Labels: 60th Anniversary, Bobby Young, Gary Monahan, Jim Righeimer, Rehab Homes, Rick Francis, Sandra Genis, Steve Mensinger, Wendy Leece