60th Anniversary Controversy Continues To Fester(Amended)***
Like a wound that just won't heal, the controversy surrounding the Costa Mesa 60th Anniversary Celebration costs continues to ooze. This week members of the "real media" reached out and tore the scab off.
TWO ARTICLES IN THE REGISTER
Earlier in the week Antonie Boessenkool of the Orange County Register published two articles, the first of which appeared to be outside that darn pay wall. I'm not sure about the companion piece. The first one, HERE, titled, "How Costa Mesa costs soared for 60th birthday party" and goes to great lengths to address the history of the huge cost overruns associated with the celebration early last summer. She addresses the various vendors involved, the fact that the cost of the three-day party was more than a half-million dollars and quantifies many of the relevant statistics.
The companion piece, HERE, titled "Costa Mesa foot bill for 60th anniversary bands' Jack Daniels, munchies", goes into great detail on just what kind of stuff was demanded by the musical groups contracted to perform at the celebration. Eric Burdon, for example, demanded that his hotel room be stocked with very specific water, wine, tea and cheeses. His demands for his dressing room were even greater, requiring specific kinds of chocolate, tea, black socks and Paul Mitchell Firm Dry Wax hair product. Yikes! Other artists made similar demands.
Boessenkool did a terrific job of presenting some pretty darn painful statistics and the timeline of how the City managed to overspend all that tax money on an event that apparently had a miserable turnout for the entertainment.
BARBARA'S BACK AT THEM
Then, today Barbara Venezia returns to the Daily Pilot with HER take on the 60th in her column titled, "Nothing adds up in 60th debacle", HERE. Venezia is much less patient in her piece, asking the tough questions about just what the heck happened as the planning for this event unfolded and, later, when the bills came due.
NOT ENOUGH ANSWERS
She spoke with both CEO Tom Hatch and his Assistant CEO, Rick Francis, about this issue. I got the impression from her observations that she's not very satisfied with their replies. Take some time and read through her column. I guarantee that it will make you more than a little angry.
A YEAR LATER, WE WANT TO KNOW...
We are now past the anniversary of when this ill-advised brainstorm was hatched (no pun intended) by Mayor Jim Righiemer as a bit of self-agrandizement to distract residents from all the other crap going on in the city at the time. There has been a report issued that didn't come close to answering many of the questions being asked throughout the community. Residents want to know how more than $500,000 of our tax dollars got spent on that, to use the word from Venezia's title, debacle. People want to know if what happened was a result of incompetence or conspiracy - or both.
***BLAMING THE STAFF
VOLUNTEERS DEMAND A VOICE
We are eight months downstream from the event and there STILL has not been any kind of "after action report". The cadre of volunteers who worked long and hard to try to make the event a success have been crying for a chance to discuss what went right - and wrong - during the event so we can learn from our mistakes. The longer it takes for that meeting to take place the angrier and more frustrated those folks are becoming.
THIS IS ON HATCH
This falls squarely in the lap of CEO Hatch. It's his responsibility and, in my view, he has failed miserably in fulfilling that responsibility. He needs to get this mess behind us. He needs to step up, convene the volunteers and let them tell their stories - no matter how long it takes. The longer he waits, the more it looks like a cover-up.