Charter Scheme Gets A Workin' Over
RIGHEIMER USED GOOD JUDGMENT
DOGS AND BRICKS
Al Melone, once again, addressed Dog Park issues. Resident Barry Fisher (sp?) expressed frustration trying to locate current, valid information about the Memorial bricks at Harbor Lawn Cemetery.
CHOKING DOWN THE SWILL
Long time resident Chuck Perry - a big-time supporter of Mensingers - stepped up and asked for something to be done about a possible cross walk between the new Senior Housing development at Harbor and Adams across Mesa Verde Drive East, and other issues. He attends many meetings and, apparently unhappy with the criticism directed at his pals, said he's tired of having to "choke down this swill".
Activist and announced council candidate Harold Weitzberg addressed a recent narrowly-distributed public notice about the move afoot to change the Municipal Code eliminating the noticing required when a two-story development is being planned next door. Apparently, this issue appears on the Planning Commission agenda for next Monday. I suspect they will have a pretty good crowd for that one.
60TH ANNIVERSARY AND ETHICS
MOTEL OWNER ABUSE AND TIRED FIRST RESPONDERS
Tamar Goldmann chided the council for their recent act of "picking on" the owner of the Sandpiper Motel and complained that because the Mayor had refused to permit timely hiring of new police officers, they - and the fire fighters - were working long, stressful overtime hours. She cited several recent heroic events by those first responders.
LOSS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING
SUPPORTING THE 1/5
Beth Refakes, a member of the Military Affairs Team, reminded us that they are collecting contributions of goods for the adopted Marine 1/5 battalion during its deployment to Australia.
During Council Member Comments Sandra Genis thanked all involved for the excellent Memorial Day service, complimented the Lions Club for the successful Fish Fry and clarified issues involving the Banning Ranch development - it's a Newport Beach project - and the difference in value to the city of ownership units as opposed to apartments.
Wendy Leece addressed a variety of issues, including the 60th Anniversary payments, echoed Tamar Goldmann's concern for the health and safety of the community because of the stressful hours being worked by the Police and Firefighters. She thanked the mayor for permitting her to attend a recent Preserve Our Neighborhoods Task Force meeting and said she was encouraged by what she heard. She told us the Senior Center Board and the City Staff are working on a smooth transition for the Senior Center to be managed by The City. She also reminded us of the Relay for Life event at Costa Mesa High School on June 14-15.
Gary Monahan and Steve Mensinger had nothing to say.
REPORTING YOUR NEIGHBORS, AND MORE
CEO Tom Hatch, looking none-too-rested after a week off, addressed the following issues during his report:
1 - The 60th Anniversary Celebration volunteer beer-pourers, citing that the organizations they represent get paid, not the individuals themselves. Each is required to pay $30.00 for training before they can participate. Hatch acknowledged that there was a problem with the process of deciding who should be permitted to participate. There is NO policy for such a selection process.
2 - The construction at the terminus of the 55 Freeway - it's a CalTrans project, which, when completed, will become a City project to install new monument signage. Upon affirmation with Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz following an inquiry by the mayor, he confirmed that the bottleneck will persist through the busy summer traffic season. This is BAD news for the folks on the Eastside of town, who will certainly get a lot of cut-through traffic as a result.
3 - There will be a meeting on Wednesday, June 11 in the Emergency Operations Center from 4-5:30 where the City Staff will meet with motel and other lodging operators to discuss the current status of code enforcement and rules.
4 - Tuesday, June 10, there will be a joint study session with the Planning Commission to discuss their goals for next year.
5 - He discussed a recent meeting with leaders of Coast Community College District, Orange Coast College, Newport-Mesa Unified School District and the Orange County Fair and Event Center where items of mutual interest/concern were discussed. Apparently plans for a Parking Structure at the Fairgrounds site are moving forward.
6 - He discussed OCC Security issues
7 - Regarding the Group Homes issue, he encouraged community support and interest.
8 - He reminded us about the upcoming July 4th holiday, and that applications are being accepted for block parties.
10 - He then invited Police Chief Tom Gazsi to the speakers podium to introduce the new Automatic Emergency Defibrillators that will now be carried in every marked police unit and some detective vehicles, too.
CONSENT CALENDAR ITEMS PULLED
Two items were pulled from the Consent Calendar for discussion later. Leece pulled item #4, HERE, the agreement with the Fairgrounds for traffic support during the month of the Fair. Cindy Brenneman pulled #3, the Warrants.
CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU FUNDING
Interestingly, it was mentioned that Monahan wanted to be removed as liaison to the CVB, and Mensinger said he wanted to stop being the liaison to the Vector Control Board - Leece immediately volunteered for that role for her remaining few months on the council - she held it for a couple years.
At 7:35 we got to the BIG item on the agenda - the second and final mandatory Public Hearing on the proposed Charter that was cobbled together by the appointed committee over nearly a year. Someone said 26 meetings had been involved. There were still five dozen members of the audience when this discussion began. Monahan asked for confirmation that there would be NO vote on this item at this meeting - which was confirmed by contract legal advisor and former City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow, who had been one of the legal advisers to the committee during the process.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT
Early in the discussion Genis complained that there was no compilation of comments and suggestions from the public that had been presented to the committee over all those months. She observed that one might attempt to cull them from the minutes of the more than two dozen meetings, but that task proved to be much too time-consuming. She was frustrated by that lack of captured community input.
- Hutchins took about two seconds to launch into his mantra that a Charter would have prevented the "unfunded pension liability" problem we have now. However, nobody had demonstrated that to be true over all the months of deliberations. There was much speculation, but no proof.
- Amburgey said, "the Charter isn't just for the council." - whatever that was supposed to mean - then supported what "Hutcherson" said - you'd think he'd know the guy's name after all those months, wouldn't you? - and complained about people continuing to bring up the 60/40 defeat of Measure V.
- Fancher, apparently responding to the allegations of a stacked committee, said "Nobody asked me my position" before he was appointed. Really? OK, Bill.
- Perry said he's OK with the Charter if it will save the City money.
- Fitzpatrick did his "I rise in support of this issue" thing, attempted to discredit the emphasis place on the 60/40% defeat of Measure V. He's pathetic!
Among the twenty-two speakers who are against this Charter were committee members Harold Weitzberg and Mary Ann O'Connell, who formed what amounted to a strong, articulate minority during most of the meetings.
- Rather than go on the defensive last night, Weitzberg suggested that whatever official mailers and other notifications that will be presented to the public WHEN the council majority votes to place the Charter on the ballot be absolutely neutral, and that two members of the committee should be delegated to respond to questions members of the public might have. He volunteered to present the opposition viewpoint. He suggested only a single mailing - maybe two, maximum.
- O'Connell indicated that, even after all those months of discussions, she still sees no need for a Charter. She cited several examples of issues that can be addressed under our current form of government, and gave statistics to demonstrate just how little actual money would be saved by implementing the Prevailing Wage section of the Charter. She suggested that before a decision is made to go forward that an neutral independent auditor be retained to assess the fiscal impact of this Charter.
Newcomer to the political process, Laurene Keane, stepped up and reminded us of Measure V, suggested the current Charter is full of mine fields and also reminded us that the vast majority of California cities are NOT Charter Cities.
MET WITH THE BOYS
James Bridges referred to this Charter as "Son of Measure V" - wonder where he heard that? - and told us of conversations he'd had with Righeimer and Mensinger on the issue.
GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND
Flo Martin told us of "googling" "California Charter City Law Suits" and other issues, and cited the millions of hits generated by that search. She also searched for Jones Day, the law firm that has made millions off our city recently and has dragged the City of Detriot into bankruptcy.
Terry Koken, as only he can do, serenaded us with a reprise of his "Righeimer's Charter" ditty from two years ago. There was not much smilin' going on on the left side of the dais.
CHRIS'S CHUMP CHART
One of the more interesting presentations was by former council candidate Chris McEvoy, an outspoken anti-charter advocate. He presented a graphic - shown here - to support his suggestion of the folly of another Charter scheme.
SUGGESTIONS AND OUTREACH
Robin Leffler referred to the hundreds of suggestions offered by the public during the discussions on Jim Righeimer's Charter two years ago, and suggested that, once again, suggestions from the public were being ignored. She pointed out to the very limited public outreach and little notification of the hearings, unlike two years ago, when it was all you heard from City Hall. She suggested that an elected commission to study a charter would fix the shortcomings of this appointed body.
DEFINING "LOCAL CONTROL"
Tamar Goldmann suggested that Koken's song was accurate, and that this was about "local control". She defined "local" as the "council majority" and "control" as "absolute".
One of the more interesting speakers was a fellow who stepped up and identified himself as "Speaker #29". He never did identify himself, but reminded the mayor that he cannot require him to identify himself without violating the Brown Act. He then spoke of having been a member of the Jones Day law firm, described Righeimer's actions with this new Charter effort as "electorate shopping" - trying to find a weak-willed (my term) electorate that would finally buy his program. And, he mentioned section #806 - the stake in the heart of this document. This speaker was Orange Juice Blogger, Greg Diamond, who just lost in a bid for the Orange County District Attorney slot held by Tony Rackauckas.
OTHER VOICES AGAINST
CHANGES CAN BE MADE AT THE LAST MINUTE!
The discussion continued with Righeimer asking Barlow to clarify when items can be added or changed. She said they could be added right up until they take the vote on whether or not to place it on the ballot in November.
COMMISSIONER COMP AND ETHICS
JUST ADD TO MUNICIPAL CODE
Leece wondered why we just cannot put section 600 that deals with Retirement benefits into the Municipal Code and be done with it. The answer was that future councils could remove or modify it. OK.. and? She said this Charter gives "unbridled power" to those in charge. See Genis comment above.
NOT PAYING ATTENTION - AGAIN
IT'S ALL ABOUT MONEY!
CMPD OC FAIR SUPPORT
MORE 60TH CONCERNS
SING IT, TERRY!
The evening wrapped up with the irrepressible Terry Koken gracing us with his second ditty of the evening. For your listening pleasure, I'll let Mr. Koken wrap up this edition... Sing it, Terry.