Thursday, March 13, 2014

Council Meeting Tuesday Introduces The Charter

SHORT MEETING?  WHO KNOWS?!
The agenda for the Costa Mesa City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 has been released, HERE, and it reflects what likely will be a very short meeting - although that's never a sure thing these days.
RECEPTION, THEN MEETINGS
The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, with a Closed Session beginning at 5:30 in Conference Room 5A.  However, since there is also theoretically a small reception for the members of the Charter Committee scheduled at 5:15 in Conference Room 1A and environs, it's unlikely that (1) the Closed Session will start on time and, (2) they will finish their work in that session quickly enough to begin the regular meeting at 6:00.

PRESENTING... THE CHARTER
The long-awaited Charter is on the agenda.  You can read the staff report prepared for the presentation of the draft Charter to the council HERE.  You can also read the entire draft, including the preamble and table of contents, HERE.  Also available is the initial list of issues the Charter Committee considered, HERE and a short list of things the committee suggests the council may wish to also consider, HERE.

WHAT WILL IT DO FOR US?
As you will see, this document is fairly short when you consider it is supposed to be our City Constitution, the grand document that frees us from the "oppression" of Sacramento.  Yes, indeed - this is the document that opens the door to prosperity and lets our local elected leaders carve out our future without that darn interference from state politicians.  Oh, did I mention, it also eliminates many of the safeguards from abuse we now enjoy as a General Law city?

LET US BEGIN...
I'm going to dig more deeply into the Charter as we move forward in the process, but let me just print one section here for your consideration and contemplation.
Section 104.  Powers
The City shall have the power to make and enforce all laws and regulations in respect to municipal affairs, subject only to such restrictions and limitations as may be provided in this Charter or in the Constitution of the State of California.  In the event of any conflict, this Charter shall control over the general laws of the State of California as to municipal affairs.

WHAT IS A "MUNICIPAL AFFAIR"?
Got it?  The operative phrase there is "municipal affairs" - what is a municipal affair?  If something is not specifically restricted in the wording of the Charter your city council can just go ahead and regulate it.  Well, one source I located says the following:

Determining what is and is not a "municipal affair" is not always straightforward.  The California Constitution does not define "municipal affair."  It does, however, set out a nonexclusive list of four "core" categories that are, by definition, municipal affairs.

These categories are 1) regulation of the "city police force"; 2)"subgovernment in all or part of a city"; 3)"conduct of city elections"' and 4) "the manner in which... municipal officers [are] elected."

To determine if a matter is a municipal affair, a court will ask whether there are good reasons, grounded on statewide interests, for the state law to preempt a local law.

In other words, courts will ask whether there is a need for "paramount state control" in the particular area of law.  The Legislature's intent when enacting a specific law is not determinative.


And thus begins the debate on this Charter... more to follow.

SMALL LOT ORDINANCE 2ND READING
In addition to the Charter, the new Small Lot Ordinance is also on the agenda, HERE.  Since the first Public Hearing on this item earlier this month modifications have been made regarding Tandem Parking, Open Space, Side and Rear Setbacks, Automatic Garage Door and Trash Storage.

SPENDING A LOT OF YOUR MONEY
The Consent Calendar has thirteen (13) items on it, which includes several construction projects totalling more than $6.8 million in your tax dollars.  These will likely be passed in one vote and, with their magic wand, they authorize spending an amount nearly equal to the entire budget surplus from last year.

INTERESTING WARRANT INFORMATION
Part of that Consent Calendar is Warrant 2511, HERE,  which is not included in the tally above.  No, the number for that Warrant - bills that have already been paid - is right at $3.9 million.  Included are some items worth noting:
  • Jones Day (CMCEA legal services) - $63,236.25
  • Intellibridge Partners (Purchasing assistance) - $11,870.25
  • Government Staffing Services (Proj. Mgt) - $3,822.50
  • Interwest Consulting Grp (Bldg Inspector) - $12,928.50
  • Keyser Marston Assoc. (Supportive Housing & Homeless) - $9,198.00
  • Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (legal-general) - $11,868.86
  • Management Partners, Inc.(Interim Mgt. Svcs.) - $8,680.00
  • Melad & Assoc. (Bldg Permit Tech and Plan Check) - $4,160.00
  • Scott Fazekas & Assoc.(Plan check) - $4,703.68
  • Allied Affiliated Funding LP (Mobile Data Computer?) - $261,954.00
  • Jones & Mayer (various legal) - $147,567.93
  • NextLevel Information Tech. Inc (Interim IT Director, 1/14) - $22,165.00
  • Civil Source (Pk Proj. Staff Svcs) - $5,325.00
  • Dougherty+Dougherty Architects (CH/PD Entry Way Design) - $2,162.30
  • Filarsky&Watt (Legal Services) - $2,902.50
  • Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (60th Invest./ACA Advice) - $4,767.50
  • Norman A. Traub Assoc. (HR Investigative Svcs) - $3,031.25
  • Scientia Consulting Group (IT Services) - $7,077.50
  • White Nelson Diehl Evans LLP (Year end/CMCFA 60th Anniv. Audit) - $6,955.00
 IT WILL BE AN INTERESTING EVENING
That's it for now.  I'm predicting that the meeting Tuesday will begin at least a half hour late - the closed session has a late start time and involves labor negotiations with the CMPOA, which means that Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger cannot attend.  It won't surprise me if the whole meeting is over before 8:00 p.m.  Of course, that will be determined by how long Righiemer talks about the Charter...  See you there.

A FITTING TRIBUTE
The meeting will be adjourned in memory of my friend, community activist and tireless volunteer, David Stiller, who passed away last weekend.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Terry Koken said...

In section 306, "City" should read "city government" -- otherwise a councilperson would be required to get his living outside the boundaries of the city.

In section 500, reference is made to "supermajority". Nowhere in the document is it defined. Currently, any majority is a 60% majority at minimum. What'n hell they mean?

3/14/2014 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Atlas Shrunk said...

The charter does not have a council elected by divisions. This is a basic problem with our city. It has been effectively governed by Mesa Verde and the East Side (yes I know about the exceptions) and it shows in the values enshrined in the proposed charter.
It enshrines as a basic law of the city the COIN ordinance, which has yet to prove to be of any value to the city or its citizens (value defined here as monetary savings or service improvement).
It uses the term "utilize", which has but one definition "use" and adds no clarification of meaning.
It will likely go down to defeat.

3/14/2014 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Anyone see the joke commentaries by Napoleon and Colon in today's Pilot?

Why do Righeimer and his sycophants hate Costa Mesa so much?

3/14/2014 06:50:00 PM  

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