Saturday, October 04, 2014

A Problem Without A Solution

Tonight I bring to your attention an issue that has been bobbing around Facebook for a couple days, so it won't be new to some of you.  Still, this is an important issue and should be discussed.

Most of you registered voters have received your Sample Ballot by now.  This booklet presents the opportunity to study the issues and candidates that you will be voting on next month.  Many folks will mark their sample ballot ahead of time, then drag it with them to the polling place so they can reduce the amount of time they spend marking the actual ballot.  Before I decided to vote absentee - mailing my ballot in - that's exactly what I would do.

This time around we have a dilemma, and one for which I see no solution.  I refer you to page 7 of your Sample Ballot, on which you will find several local issues we will contemplate next month.  The last item in the upper right corner, I find Measure P, the non-binding, advisory issue placed on the ballot at the behest of Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer to, theoretically, take the pulse of the electorate on the contentious issue of establishing High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on the I-405 Freeway from basically the northern Costa Mesa border to the Orange County/Los Angeles County line near Seal Beach.  He presumes that an overwhelming vote in support will somehow convince Governor Jerry Brown that the HOT lanes scheme should be abandoned.  Signatories on the item, in addition to Righeimer (running for re-election) are Huntington Beach Mayor Matthew Harper (running for Allan Mansoor's soon-to-be-vacant Assembly seat); Westminster Councilwoman Diana Carey; Mansoor (running for Supervisor John Moorlach's seat) and the termed-out Moorlach himself.

Here's what the item looks like on your sample ballot and, in theory, what it will look like on your actual ballot.  You will be asked to vote Yes or No on the item.  Look very closely at the item and ask yourself how you will vote.
OK, have you decided?  Do you see the dilemma?  This item, written by the City of Costa Mesa staff - presumably by a member of our "crack" contract legal firm, Jones and Mayer - presents you with an issue you simply cannot resolve - how to mark your ballot.

The problem is that it gives you two (2) questions, not one.  The bold type following the words "Advisory Measure" asks you, "Should Toll Lanes Be Built on the i-405 Freeway?"  If that's as far as you read - as will likely be the case with most voters - and you agree with Righeimer and city officials along that freeway corridor, you will vote an emphatic NO!  Ah, but read further...

Next comes this question, not in bold type, "Do you agree with the Costa Mesa City Council, which unanimously opposes the establishment of toll lanes on the I-405 Freeway in Orange County?"  Assume for a minute you still feel the same way about toll lanes on the 405.  You will certainly vote YES!

The problem here is that the ballot measure asks you two (2) questions and, regardless your opinion about toll roads on the I-405, it is an impossible issue to answer!  If you don't want toll roads on the I-405 you would answer NO to the first question or YES to the second.  If you want toll lanes, your votes would be reversed.  Except, you can only answer ONE of the questions.

If you turn to page 39 of your sample ballot you'll find the "Impartial Analysis By City Attorney" - the same folks who composed this question on the ballot.  At the bottom of the analysis they tell you that a YES vote means that you agree with the council and a NO vote means you disagree.  OK, fess up now - how many people do you know who actually read that analysis and the arguments for and against the issue?

This is an important question because seeking clarification by doing that research on the sample ballot will lead you to learn that two sitting Costa Mesa council members oppose the question, even though they voted with the majority to oppose toll lanes on the freeway!  Sandra Genis and Wendy Leece signed the argument against this issue.

Earlier this week, after a friend brought this thing to my attention, I wrote to Costa Mesa Chief Executive Officer, Tom Hatch, with copies to City Attorney Tom Duarte and Communication Director Bill Lobdell, asking for an explanation and what their plan was to manage this issue.  Having received no response, I wrote a second time Friday, asking for a solution and wondering if whomever botched this would be fired.  So far, still no response.

And, of course, the great irony about this is - your vote on this issue doesn't make a darn bit of difference!  Governor Brown is quoted in the argument against this issue as stating, "the advisory vote... has no legal effect whatsoever...we should not make it a habit to clutter our ballots with nonbinding measures as citizens rightfully assume that their votes.. have legal effect."

In that same argument Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President John Coupal calls nonbinding advisory measures a "glorified opinion poll", and says they are "damaging to the electoral process."  He added, "In an era where voter turnout in California is at an all-time low, why would we want to do something that fosters the notion that votes are meaningless?"

So, why is this issue even on the ballot?  I'll tell you what I think.  I think this was just another way for Righeimer and some of his pals to get their names in front of the voters one more time on November 4th in an election that will be a watershed moment in their careers. 

And, of course, placing this issue on the ballot did cost money - taxpayer money.  I'm told somewhere around $12,000...

So, that's it for now.  Enjoy your weekend - it's going to be a hot one - just like it probably was on the 5th floor of City Hall this week as this issue was discussed.

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Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

If you read Wendy and Sandy's argument opposing Measure P, you will see that they object to it even being on the ballot, using the same argument as the Howard Jarvis group. Their sarcasm made me laugh a little, but the wording of the measure itself made me laugh even harder. This is the person who wants to power to do anything not specifically prohibited in the charter.

10/04/2014 07:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

What else should we expect from a politician who has to remove his shoes to count above ten?

At the forum, the pension debt was quoted three times, once at 220, once at 260, and once at 280 million. Jimmy is arithmetically-challenged.

10/04/2014 04:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

The solution is obvious: leave it blank. Your vote on this item has no legal effect regardless of which way you vote. So ignore it and cast your votes that actually matter.

10/04/2014 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

In other news, the Pentagon announced today that code breakers have finally deciphered a sentence in Popp's "blog."

It reads, "My dunce cap is too tight around the electrodes Riggy planted in my skull."

10/05/2014 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

It's so funny that Marty endorsed no-nothing Rita "Bart" Simpson because the dictator's hand-picked person is (shudder) Latino!

Hey Marty! What goes through your race-obsessed head when you see Rick Francis helping to run the city? Isn't he one of "those people" you'd rather not associate with? When Mr. Wyrick runs the MV forum, do you start whistling Dixie to yourself?

10/05/2014 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

I'm going to throw this out there for something to think about. I like Mr Bunyan as a person, but he has no real experience at anything having to do with municipal government, and the potential to split votes for the front runners. Most likely will and we could lose with a majority vote. So please think about this.

A vote for Bunyan is a vote for Righeimer.

10/06/2014 07:34:00 AM  

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