Saturday, February 01, 2014

An Interesting Year - Thank You

A YEAR AGO...
A year ago I posted an entry, HERE, at the end of which I told you that this blog, on this platform, finally clicked over 1,000,000 page views.  Until that time I really had not thought too much about those kind of numbers.

TAKING AN OCCASIONAL LOOK
Oh, yes - from time to time I'd look at the analytics provided by Google to see where readers were coming from, what platforms they used to access the blog, how long they stayed around on each visit, etc. -  but only out of curiosity.  My goal is not to rack up hits on the blog so folks will advertise here - we do not do advertising.  This effort is for fun, not profit, and if we provide information and opinions that readers find entertaining and/or helpful, that's a bonus.  My goal has always been to entice more folks to get involved in municipal affairs.  I've accomplished that goal.. and more.

SNEAKING A PEEK
However, having noticed those numbers last year, I began peeking at them every once in awhile.  This morning I thought I'd share with you what another year has brought.

WINDOWS IN TIME
Shown below is a graphic that reflects two windows frozen in time.  The top part is last year's number - the end of January, 2013.  The bottom numbers are through the end of January, 2014.

FIRST 75 MONTHS...
In the first 75 months of publication of this blog on this platform - beginning in November, 2006 - through January, 2013 I published 1748 posts (a little over 23 per month) and hit 1,000,970 page views (13,345 per month).

...LAST TWELVE
In the next twelve months I published 417 entries (34.75 per month) and recorded 554,134 page views (46,178 per month).  We've all been very busy...

WHEW!
Now I know why I've been feeling thrashed!  I have no idea how many hours have been involved in this effort.  My sweet and very patient wife would tell you "too many!"

CAN'T COMPARE TO OTHERS
These numbers mean nothing when trying to compare my blog to others.  I only published them to let you know what's been happening here, not elsewhere.  These numbers are small time when compared to blogs with a broader reach, even when compared to some other Orange County blogs.  Still, the trends are interesting...

I'M GRATEFUL...
Thanks to all of you who stop in from time to time to read what I've written.  I appreciate your comments, including the criticisms.  I'd prefer more opposing viewpoints would take the time to write, but that's not going to happen much since I require registration with me before I'll publish your comments.  Such is life...

HERE WE GO...
Onward and upward.  I have no idea what the next year will bring, but since this is an election year, I suspect we'll be cranking up the gain even more this year.  Fasten your seat belts...


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Friday, January 31, 2014

Mensinger To Meet With Feds On DG Trail!

WHAT A WAY TO END THE WEEK!
Just when you think a week couldn't possibly get more bizarre, another curious missive is propelled out from the 5th floor of City Hall.

MEETING WITH FEDS
In a press release today, HERE, titled, "Statement from Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger on Fairview Park Trail", Mensinger tells us that, through the City Attorney's Office, he's requested a meeting with U.S. Fish and Wildlife to talk with their agents about what he knows about the incident.  Yikes!

HIS REQUEST STARTED IT...
You will recall from the released public records that it appears that Mensinger requested Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz to do something about the trail along the fence separating the Waldorf School/Parsons Field and Fairview Park.  What happened as a result of that request was a scraping of weeds and application of herbicide on a swath at least six feet wide.  And, later, mysteriously that area was found covered with decomposed granite to the depth in some places of at least six inches and wide enough to drive a tandem-axle truck on it.

ENCROACHED ON PROTECTED AREAS
That path encroached significantly on Federally-protected vernal pools - habitat for San Diego Fairy Shrimp.

DG REMOVED, SANCTIONS POSSIBLE
The decomposed granite has been removed under the guidance of the U.S Department of Fish and Wildlife at a very significant cost to the city.  Word on further possible sanctions by the government due to our poor stewardship of that site is still pending.
WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?
It's not clear what Mensinger hopes to accomplish with his conversation with representatives of U.S. Fish and Wildlife.  One more thing for us to speculate about.  Maybe he will finally fess up to playing a bigger part in the debacle and take personal responsibility for it.  Or, maybe he'll tell them he didn't do anything.  Or, maybe he'll tell them who did it... I guess we'll find out.

IF HE'S CULPABLE HE SHOULD RESIGN
In my opinion, if it is the former - and he's consistently denied any knowledge of the installation of the DG path for more than six months - that's a serious breach of his fiduciary responsibility as a councilman and the number two elected official in our city.  If that's the case he should immediately resign from his office and pay whatever costs and penalties that act has caused the city to incur.  We'll see.

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Gazsi And Snowden For Council?

LEAVE IT TO BARBARA...
Well, the irrepressible Barbara Venezia, columnist over at the Orange County Register, has probably caused soiled underwear in Mesa Verde today with her column in The Current.  You can read it on here BV On TV website, HERE.

WHO WILL UNSEAT THE LITTLE KING
 In her column, as you will read, she playfully speculates about the possibility of just who might run to unseat the Emperor Righeimer (my name, not hers) in his run for re-election to the Costa Mesa City Council.

OH, BOY! - FIRST GAZSI...
The first name she throws out is current Costa Mesa Police Chief Tom Gazsi, which is fun to contemplate all by itself.

...THEN SNOWDEN
Then she tossed former Costa Mesa Police Chief (and current Beverly Hills Chief) Dave Snowden's name out for contemplation.  Then she speculated about them running as a team.

SMILIN'...
I have to tell you that I have not stopped smiling since I read her piece a few hours ago, just contemplating how Jim Righeimer's camp must have reacted to it.  And, I wondered how their tiny brains must be trying to figure out how they could sully the names and reputations of those two outstanding law enforcement leaders, just in case one of them DOES decide to run against him.

TAKE A BREAK AND ENJOY
So, as a little break from your tedious analysis of the 60th Anniversary Celebration report and the speculation about why Recreation Manager Bob Knapp departed, take a couple minutes and read this very, very entertaining and provocative column.  It will make the end of your week just that much more enjoyable.

 ****

NOW, ABOUT THAT LITTLE GAME...
And, in case I don't post anything more before Sunday, my prediction for the Super Bowl - while keeping my fingers crossed for a game in which the weather doesn't play a part - is that Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will slip past the Seattle Seahawks by a score of 27-24.  Let the game begin!!!!

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Report On 60th Anniversary Costs Now Available

FINALLY, AND WITH GREAT TIMING...
Just before the close of business today the City of Costa Mesa finally released the report on the controversial 60th Anniversary Celebration Costs, HERE. (Read Bradley Zint's excellent summary in the Daily Pilot late Thursday night, HERE.) (And Antonie Boesenkool's equally fine report behind the pay wall in the Orange County Register, HERE.)

LOTS OF DETAIL
That page includes several links to individual segments of the financials of the report, including an Executive Summary, HERE, an 89 page report on the Sun Group Entertainment Expenses, HERE, and a 489 page report on Other Expenses, HERE.

JUST THE BEGINNING
I'm not going to try to present any kind of indepth analysis of this information now... I know that, all over the city, there are people and groups of people poised to spend their weekend doing just that.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
However, perhaps some snippets from the Executive Summary may be helpful to you.  For example, while they state that "multiple investigations have found to date that no public funds were used for personal gain or were unaccounted for" they acknowledge that purchasing policies and procedures were not followed.

WOW!
They tell us that the total expenses for this event ended up at $518,000!!!!

SHORTCOMINGS
In the section titled "City Shortcomings" they list the following, with details you can find on the report itself:
  • Unbudgeted event growth
  • Unbudgeted costs
  • Violations of purchasing policies and procedures
  • Control over cash
SPECIFIC VIOLATIONS
They also lost, under a title, "Specific potential violations by city staff of Costa Mesa policies" thirty-three (33) separate items that will make you very angry when you read them.

REFORMS
Under "Reforms Instituted", they tell us that they have:
  • Instituted a refresher training course for all employees involved in purchasing
  • CEO and Finance Director working with staff to ensure that the Finance Department actas as a strong check and balance mechanism.
  • Added a new "Buyer" position
  • Established a Purchasing Quality Control Committee
TAKE SOME TIME
I encourage you to take some time and review the various documents - all 1051 pages of them.  We've not heard the last of this issue.

NO WORD, YET, ON DAN JOYCE
And, although rumors are all over the place about the future of Dan Joyce, I'm told officially this afternoon that he is still on paid administrative leave.

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Bob Knapp Out As Costa Mesa Recreation Manager

 "RESIGNS" AFTER 18 MONTHS
After hearing rumblings all morning about the future of Bob Knapp, Recreation Manager for the City of Costa Mesa for the past 18 months, this afternoon the City posted on it's web site a terse, three paragraph announcement that he had, in fact, resigned.  You can read that HERE.

WHAT I SAID EARLIER
I wrote about Knapp's appointment in July of 2012, HERE, and expressed concern that his background contained no recreation management experience, much less municipal recreation management.  I've met him several times and he's a heck of a guy - I'd love to have him as a neighbor.

LET THE SPECULATING BEGIN...
I don't know what led up to this "resignation", but I hope it is not related to the 60th Anniversary mess that we're supposed to hear about - maybe today.

INTERESTING TABLE TALK
Since Bob is the son-in-law of Gordon Bowley - who runs Costa Mesa United - and Steve Mensinger is deeply-immersed in that organization, I wonder what family dinners will be like in those families.

GOOD LUCK...
I wish Bob Knapp well and thank him for his service to the city in his job and the broader community in his volunteer recreation activities.

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Costa Mesa Sanitary District Announces Townhalls

MORE PUBLIC OUTREACH SCHEDULED
The Costa Mesa Sanitary District announced today that two (2) more public town halls will be held to provide information to ratepayers about the proposed changes in Organic Recycling.  So far, two workshops have been held at the Neighborhood Community Center and both were well attended.


The two new town halls will be held as follows:

THURSDAY AT HALECREST PARK
On Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. a town hall will be held at Halecrest Park, 3107 Killybrooke Lane.
BACK BAY HIGH
On Saturday, February 8, 2014  at 9:00 a.m., a town hall will be held at Back Bay/Monte Vista High School, 390 Monte Vista Drive.
DO SOME HOMEWORK
I've written about these town halls several times and referred you to powerpoint presentations at the Sanitary District web site, www.cmsda.gov

LEARN AND LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD
I encourage any folks interested in this new plan to attend the town halls and ask questions.  The board will consider this issue at their next regular meeting on February 25, 2014, which will be held at a site yet to be determined.

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Costa Mesa Cops Offer Reward For Return Of Stolen Ashes

TRYING TO HELP...
In a press release issued yesterday, Costa Mesa Police Officers Association President Rob Dimel announced that his association was offering a $1,000 reward for the return, or for information that leads to the return, of the ashes stolen during a residential burglary recently.  You can read the text of Dimel's announcement HERE.

KUDOS...
Kudos to the beleaguered men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department for stepping up and offering this reward as one more way to help return the ashes.  We hope this offer of the reward will reap benefits.

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Residents Hear About East 19th Street Plans

SIX DOZEN RESIDENTS CAME AND MANY SPOKE
Last night around six dozen anxious and vocal residents joined members of the Costa Mesa City Staff to hear about the proposed plans to slow traffic along East 19th Street from Irvine Avenue to Fullerton Avenue.


RAJA MODERATED
Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman moderated a brief slide show and then fielded questions - several of which bordered on the hostile - from concerned residents.

COMPARISON TO BROADWAY
The theme for this meeting appeared to be "It's Not Broadway" - that nearby Eastside street that underwent traffic calming measures last year with apparent great success.  Folks kept bringing up that project throughout the 90 minutes or so that the Staff answered questions.
 Fullerton Ave. Intersection with "enhancements"
Orange Ave. Intersection
PRESENTATION AND DATA ON WEB SITE
No handouts were available for this meeting, but we're told that the entire slide presentation and other data will be available today sometime on the City Website.

Raymond Avenue
Westminster Avenue
FED'S CASH
Sethuraman frequently emphasized that this project, funded by over $850,000 in Federal "Safe Routes To School" grants, is designed to slow the traffic on that stretch of street, not to divert it to other routes on the Eastside.
Santa Ana Avenue
Tustin Avenue
UP CLOSE LOOK AT PLANS
They had images around the perimeter of the room depicting each of the intersections involved.
Most of the improvements will be done at the intersections as shown on the images displayed here. 
                                                                   Irvine Avenue

AT LEAST ONE MORE MEETING

There will be at least one other similar meeting to give residents another opportunity to express their views on this important Eastside subject.

 STAFF WILL GATHER DATA
The staff will take the information gleaned from the questions and comments by audience members and modify the plan if practicable to accommodate residents concerns.

FITZY AND RAMOS

And, of course, Eastsider Jim Fitzpatrick was at the meeting, buzzing around City Council Candidate Lee Ramos' shoulder much of the night.

LONG-TERM PROJECT
The next meeting will be scheduled for sometime in April and, if eventually approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission and the City Council, the actual construction on this stretch of roadway would not begin until early next year.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gericault's 60th Celebration Chronology


MY EARLIER POST
In the wee hours of Monday I posted an entry, HERE, asking when we were going to be seeing the much-promised and much-delayed documents for the 60th Anniversary Celebration.



EXCELLENT ANALYSIS
Today, over on the Orange Juice Blog, contributor Gericault published an excellent chronology of the events surrounding the celebration and provides some perspective on this issue that should prove valuable if, and when, we ever see the documents in question.  You can read his summary HERE.

CIRCLING VULTURES
It is just past close of business at City Hall on Wednesday as I write this.  The documents have been promised - again - to be released by Friday.  Because of broken promises and missed deadlines in the past,  none of us are holding our breath waiting for that to happen.  However, based on comments I've received over the past couple weeks, interested parties are circling City Hall like vultures, waiting to swoop down and snatch the documents for analysis once they become available.  Because of this unacceptable delay, and because of the potential for a blockbuster scandal to bust wide open, I fear the city will be poorly served by this stalling process.  We'll see.  In the meantime, we will continue to tap our toe and hum the Jeopardy! theme...

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