Oops! Where Did That Come From?
The Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Thursday evening was short and not-too-sweet.
CHAIRMAN'S AWARD TO MACY'S
It started promptly at 6:00 p.m. when Chairman Byron de Arakal called it to order and moved smoothly to his presentation of the Chairman's Award to Macy's South Coast Plaza store - accepted by their representative Dawn Miller - for their community spirit. The store, through a fundraiser event, gathered $1165.66 recently, which was donated for the purpose of planting ten (10) tulip trees. Thanks to the good folks at Macy's.
FEE INCREASES IGNORED
There was no discussion of the Consent Calendar item - the fee increases for certain new classes - so it was approved on a 5-0 vote. Funny, I thought there might be at least one person to show up and at least ask about that item. Nope. None of the half-dozen folks in the audience - the high water mark was 8 people at one point - stepped up.
APPLICANT A NO-SHOW. REQUEST DENIED
Item 10a, the tree removal request by the residents at 914 Oak Street was denied after a short presentation by staff. The applicant didn't bother to show up, so the denial passed, 5-0. de Arakal reminded the audience and the folks at home that the commission will seldom approve a request when the applicant doesn't even bother to show up.
Then things got a little hinky. The next item on my agenda - the same one that everyone else had and is posted on the city web site - showed item 10b as the Little Library Outpost issue. However, de Arakal called the Park Signage issue instead. Seems there was some sloppy staff work at play here, which caused some confusion, to say the least. That issue, HERE, suggested that in the future each commissioner would be "responsible" for a certain number of our 29 parks, and that signage shown as part of the staff report would be installed showing either his name or a reference to the Parks Commission and an email address. Here's one sample.
NEW ITEM, NOT NOTICE, NOT ON AGENDA
However, at this point de Arakal introduced something that was NOT on the agenda - the concept of modifying Title 12 of the Municipal Code to facilitate breaking the city into five (5) parks districts, with each commissioner responsible for a district. There was some discussion by the commissioners and de Arakal described his vision of this plan - that the commissioners would be the first contact point on issues involving "their" parks; that they would be heavily involved in the budget for each and that they would make reports to the commission twice a year on the status of "their" parks. Eventually the commission voted unanimously to direct staff to return in the September meeting with ideas of how this might be facilitated, including a possible draft ordinance.
A BROWN ACT VIOLATION?
As I sat there listening to this discussion of a very important possible change to the way the commission operates I found myself wondering if it violated the Brown Act, since this issue was NOT on the agenda and, in my view, couldn't logically just be an expansion of the item that WAS on the agenda - Park Signage.
Next up was Item 10c, HERE, the discussion of the new arrangement of the Bark Park Maintenance and Operations - the re-defining of the roles of the City and the Costa Mesa Bark Park Foundation. Basically, the City is taking over all aspects of the Bark Park and the Foundation will still do fundraising activities. The objective is to restore the park grounds to better condition and improve the operations.
MELONE - RUDE, CRUDE AND EMBARRASSING
During the Public Comments segment on this issue City Council Candidate Al Melone completely lost his composure. He pounded on the speaker's podium and yelled at staffer Bruce Hartley, accusing him of not doing his job and used foul and abusive language while doing it. At one point de Arakal had to remind him that he would not tolerate that kind of behavior, to which Melone said he was done and stormed out of the auditorium. Clearly, this man does not possess the emotional maturity nor the civility one expects from a member of the city council. He should recognize that he's temperamentally unsuited for that kind of an assignment and immediately withdraw his candidacy. In addition to him sucking up valuable votes in November, the campaign trail will only further expose his shortcomings and further embarrass him.
LITTLE LIBRARY OUTPOSTS
Finally the commission got around to item 10b - the one that should have been earlier in the agenda - the proposal by the Costa Mesa Library Foundation to establish three "Little Library Outposts" in parks around the City. Foundation President Barbara Steck made the pitch for this concept, which generated a significant amount of conversation. The concept was generally supported, but the upshot was that the commission voted, 4-1, to have the staff bring the concept back after further fleshing it out with the Foundation. Commissioner Bob Graham voted NO. There was some concern expressed by more than one commissioner about monitoring the "little libraries", and about the kind of books that might be placed in them. I thought about that, too, as the discussion ensued, and worried about the kind of books - one commissioner used the word "propaganda" - that might be placed in them. We live in strange times, where it's certainly possible for sexually explicit books, for example, to be placed in the libraries. Even worse, somebody might throw in copies of the racist rants of The Mouth From Mesa North. Heck, someone might even share the works of Rush Limbaugh, for goodness sake! ;-)
KABOOM! PROJECT HAS ONE
The issue was serious enough for the item to be further studied. Steck suggested that, perhaps, they could begin with only one location. Recreation Supervisor Lisa McPherson reminded the commission that the recently-installed Kaboom! facility at Shalimar Park already has such a lending/sharing library kiosk. Commissioner Dean Abernathy suggested that, as part of the further evaluations, that facility should be monitored to try to measure the success.