Friday, February 21, 2014

City Releases PD Statistics

ANOTHER LATE AFTERNOON BOMB DROP
Very late today - too late to find anyone at City Hall to answer questions -  the City of Costa Mesa made available some darn interesting statistics regarding the Costa Mesa Police Department.  City watchers may recall that certain members of the city council demanded this information at a council meeting not too long ago, apparently to refute the allegation by a speaker during Public Comments that the atmosphere and policies attributed to the current majority were chasing police officers away.  At the time I thought to myself that they should be careful what they ask for.  Well, now we have it.

FOUR CHARTS
The statistics provided were in the form of four (4) separate reports from brand new Assistant Chief Executive Officer Tammy Letourneau to the City Council and made available to me from a source outside the Police Department.

DEPARTURES AND HIRES
The first one, titled, "Sworn Police Staffing Timeline" provides a listing of separations and hires for the calendar years 2012, 2013 and through January 2014. During that 25 month period the exhibit shows that we had 26 departures -  10 Resignations; 14 Retirements; 2 Discharges.  During the same period we had 12 hires -  4 Academy Graduates; 6 Recruits and 2 Laterals.   Of those, 3 (25%) -  1 Academy Graduate, 1 Lateral and 1 Recruit - left after a very short period of time.

RECRUITMENT EFFORT
The second chart it titled, "Police Department Staffing Information, 2013/2014" and shows recruitment activity for the Costa Mesa Police Department from May 24, 2013 through February 12, 2014.  It sorts the information by Applications Received; Applicants Interviewed; Applicants Selected for Background Checks; Started Academy (Recruit) and Hired as Police Officer.  Here are the totals for those categories:

  • Applications Received - 2782
  • Applicants Interviewed - 188
  • Applicants Selected for Backgrounds - 104
  • Started Academy - 8
  • Hired as Police Officer - 0

There are still pending interviews and potential academy starts plus possible hires, but those numbers clearly indicate the difficulty the City has identifying, qualifying and hiring recruits.

ATTRITION!
The third chart is titled, "Police Department Attrition 2011-2014".  According to this exhibit 43 sworn members of the CMPD departed during that time period.  The information provided includes the position of the officer; years of service; Reason given for departure; Agency they joined (if appropriate) and the Current Assignment, if known.

ALMOST 60% LEFT DUE TO THE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT
Of the 43 officers who departed, 25 (58%) gave as their reason for departing:
  • Lateraled, subject to possible layoff/political environment - 7
  • Lateraled, due to political environment - 9
  • Retired early due to political environment - 9 
MANY STILL WORKING ON THE JOB
Of those who departed, 18 (42%) joined other departments and continue to work in law enforcement.  Of those, 17 (40%) left for reasons that included the political environment.

Among the remainder:
  • 7 (16%) retired early due to the political environment.
  • 6 (14%) were Medical Retirements.
  • 4 (9%) were discharged.
  • 4 (9%) Resigned for another position, out of town employment or to the private sector.
  • 3 (7%) Retired.
  • 1 (2%) Died.
WHERE THEY WENT
Of those who were reported as working for other cities/agencies, here's the breakdown:
  • Manhattan Beach - 3
  • Beverly Hills - 3
  • Anaheim - 2
  • Irvine - 2
  • La Habra - 2
  • Orange County DA - 2
  • Newport Beach - 1
  • Cypress - 1
  • Westminster - 1 
  • Downey - 1
  • DEA - 1
CREAM OF THE CROP
It's interesting to note that of those who departed to work for other agencies most have had significant advancements at that location.  The Westminster officer, for example, was named their Officer of the Year for 2012.  We didn't lose just "officers", we lost some of the cream of the crop.

LOST LEADERSHIP AND EXPERTISE
For example, the eight (8) officers who identified themselves as "retiring due to the political environment" average almost 26 years on the job.  That's a heck of a lot of experience to lose when many would have stayed on the job, providing leadership and expertise, for many more years.

WHEN THEY CAN RETIRE
The final chart, "Costa Mesa Police Department Years of Service Document", lists 114 sworn members of the Costa Mesa Police Department in order of their eligibility to retire.  It doesn't show names, but it does show Sworn Date; Years of Service; Description; Hire Date; Rank/Title and Eligibility To Retire Date.

29 MORE COULD RETIRE IN TWO YEARS!
The first dozen (12) on the list, including Chief Tom Gazsi, could retire anytime.  Another five (5) could retire during 2014.   Another seven (7) can retire during 2015 and another five (5) can retire during 2016.  With the existing vacancies and the difficulty filling open slots, if even half of those first 12 decide to pack it in this year, the Costa Mesa Police Department will be in even bigger trouble.

THE BLAME IS AT THE TOP
You can lay this situation directly at the feet of Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger - and Councilman Gary Monahan for his complicity in their plans.  Perhaps now, with the presentation of these numbers, folks who have been cutting them some slack will realize just what damage they've done to the CMPD - and the entire city, for that matter.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Life At The CMPD

"JUST ANOTHER DAY"...
Today was just another day at the Costa Mesa Police Department.  You know, that department which, according to certain elected whiners and their sycophants here in town, is populated with conspiratorial, greedy out-of-town thugs and bullies.

OFFICER INJURED IN ARREST
Today the CMPD issued a press release about an event that caused one officer to be injured while trying to subdue an apparently drunk, out-of-control man who was "sparring" with a female acquaintance in the 200 block of Cabrillo Street.  After he charged one of the officers they both eventually subdued him using a Taser, then had to call an ambulance to transport him to Hoag Hospital, where he also attacked hospital staff.  He's in the Costa Mesa Police Department jail now.  You can read all about it HERE.

CENTER FOR THE CHRONICALLY CLUELESS
Meanwhile, over at the propaganda outlet for the current power elite in town, HERE, the obtuse, pompous, kitty-loving nurse and campaign manager who operates that repository of partisan bilge has decided that it's important for us to compare OUR police department to those in such exotic places as Juneau, Alaska; Dallas, Texas; Vail, Colorado and some place called The Town Of Lady Lake, Florida.  He doesn't seem to think it's important to compare our police department to departments in cities nearby.  Once again, he succeeds in only further demonstrating his lack of understanding of police work and his inability to effectively communicate his message.  What a sad little man he is.

DIMINISHED NUMBERS = BACKBREAKING OVERTIME
So, the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department continue to do their very best to provide safety for the residents and visitors of this city despite being vilified and criticized by many of those self-same sycophants mentioned above.  Because their ranks are so severely diminished - we currently have fewer than 100 officers ready and able to work the streets of Costa Mesa - they continue to put in horrendous overtime hours because two members of the City Council stubbornly refused to let Chief Tom Gazsi begin hiring officers before the issue became critical.

COP HATER FROM THE START
Mayor Jim Righeimer's hatred of the CMPD is not new - it goes back to his first negative encounter with members of the department at the bogus DUI checkpoint dust-up, when he found himself inconvenienced and marched up to officers on the scene, identified himself as "Jim Righeimer, Planning Commission" and told them, "This isn't going to happen again!" and demanded a meeting with them the next day.

REALLY, MR. MAYOR?
Oh, yes, Righeimer spouts from the dais that we have wonderful people on the CMPD and tells us he's not suing "THEM", he and his pal, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger, are suing the "ASSOCIATION".  Well, just who does he think comprise that association, for goodness sake?  How would you like to go to work every day knowing the top elected leaders in your city are suing you?

STUBBORN PARTISAN IGNORANCE...
From the very beginning he has demanded, based on his alleged extensive knowledge of law enforcement - he has a relative who's a cop in some burg in the Midwest - that the CMPD should be staffed based on HIS assessment of the need, not those proposed by consultants Management Partners nor those of former Interim Chief Steve Staveley - each of which told him that the department should be staffed at AT LEAST 136 officers, with 140 being a minimal number according to Staveley, a law enforcement leader with more than 40 years experience and one of the most highly respected leaders in the state.

SYSTEMATIC DESTRUCTION...
The destruction of the Costa Mesa Police Department is only one of the disastrous steps Righeimer and his buddies have taken in the three years since he was elected that have contributed to the decline of Costa Mesa city government.  For example, almost three years ago they forced layoff notices to be illegally delivered to more than 200 employees and young Huy Pham leaped to his death from the roof of City Hall.  That once-proud organization has lost a quarter of its staff and service levels have fallen off as a result.  The only segment of city government that has increased in staff levels is the so-called "Executive Offices" - the 5th floor bunker that seems to be populated by more Chiefs than Indians.  It's become a haven for Righeimer and Mensinger to tell a captive audience their mantra over and over again to the point where some apparently actually believe it.  It's almost as though they've experienced the Stockholm Syndrome.

THE EMPLOYEES ARE NOT THE VILLAINS...
So, as you read more stories of valor on the part of members of the CMPD or the Costa Mesa Firefighters and watch other members of the city staff keep their collective noses to the grindstone to do the best job possible for the residents of this city despite the toxic workplace created by the current council majority, pause a moment to appreciate their efforts on your behalf.  They are NOT the villains in this municipal drama.

Tell them, Mariah...

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Early, But Not Boring, Meeting

I WAS WRONG... AGAIN!
Well, sometimes when I'm wrong I'm REALLY wrong!  I predicted the Costa Mesa City Council meeting last night would end at 10:35 p.m.  I only missed it by two and a half hours!  Yep, we were outta there at 8:05 p.m.!  I got home so early my wife thought I was a burglar!

LIGHT TURNOUT
Only 40 people were in the audience as the evening began at 6:00, and a few of those were staffers, perched in the front rows just in case some kind of emergency back-up was needed.  Still, those there early heard some interesting stuff.

ONLY 10 SPEAKERS IN PUBLIC COMMENTS
For the second meeting in a row there were exactly 10 people who filled out cards to speak during the Public Comments segment, which fits Mayor Jim Righeimer's criticism-quashing edict that only 10 speakers would be accommodated during the first segment, with anyone else left over forced to sit through the entire meeting and speak at the end, following items pulled from the Consent Calendar.

RIGHEIMER TWISTS THE RULES - AGAIN
And, in a curious twist, Righeimer encouraged anyone wishing to speak on items on the Consent Calendar to do so during Public Comments to keep the item from being "pulled" and trailed to the end of the meeting.  This is just one more perfect example of how he tries to bend the rules.  The rules, as spelled out specifically on the agenda report TWICE, states that Public Comments are for items NOT on the agenda.   And, it's another reason for not taking what he says on the dais at face value.  His penchant for misspeaking is becoming much more pronounced and frequent lately.  Maybe his lawsuit against the men and women of the CMPD is actually true!  Maybe he is no longer able to function - there are certainly signs of it these days.

CONCERN ABOUT VETS
Beth Refakes expressed concern that the Costa Mesa veterans, already without their facility, may now be forced to abandon the Neighborhood Community Center if the proposed Library expansion utilizes that facility.






CURIOUS PANDERING
I was a little surprised when one of the first speakers, Dennis Ashendorf, rose to heap support on Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger about their lawsuit against the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department.  He told them, and us, that he didn't know many of the details - then went on to demonstrate his ignorance of the facts by completely misstating some of them - but that he supported them in the lawsuit.  He told them, "Please win."  It was very strange, indeed.

BUDGET QUESTION
Several speakers addressed the fact that some items on the Consent Calendar - the Mid-Year Budget Review, for example - should have been an item on the regular agenda.  Robin Leffler told the council that, since the recent Budget Study Session was held at 4:30 p.m., few people could attend and hear the details on the issue.  Of course, she is correct.  And, since Wendy Leece did, in fact, pull the item from the Consent Calendar, when it was discussed at the very end of the meeting there was very little detail provided by Interim Finance Director Steve Dunivent.  The entire discussion took less than 15 minutes and no formal presentation was made.  Only very cursory attention was paid to the eight (8) exhibits that formed part of the report.  It's events like this that demonstrate to us that the highly-touted word "Transparency" is only that - a word.  On important issues the process of getting accurate and timely information can be long and painful.

60TH ANNIVERSARY CRITICS
For example, others spoke during Public Comments about the long-awaited 60th Anniversary Celebration report and the need for there to be a gathering of the volunteers, who worked long and hard on that event, to provide an opportunity for an "after action" report - a chance to present their views on how the event was managed to help avoid some of the problems in the future.  This has been stalled for months, with the investigation of the 60th Anniversary Celebration finances being the reason given.  CEO Tom Hatch, during his comments, told us that he had a meeting scheduled with event Chairman Mike Scheafer and Vice Chair Melinda Lowery next week to make plans for such a meeting.  He then invited the two most outspoken advocates of the meeting - Sue Lester and Cindy Brenneman - that he would be happy to meet with them.  That sounded to me very much like he was trying to temper vocal critics before their views spread to the broader volunteer base.

LEWIS IS PROBABLY CORRECT
The most interesting presentation came from businessman Tim Lewis, who owns an equipment rental business on Harbor Boulevard.  He came to the meeting angry about a proposed development contiguous to his location that recently had a screening request heard by the City.  His contention is that councilman Gary Monahan should be recused from discussions and votes on that issue because Monahan has a bias against him personally, and came armed with newspaper accounts to support that claim.  He began his 3-minutes by praising the CMPD, then tried to get clarification from Righeimer about the development, mentioning his views about Monahan's participation.  He and Righeimer went back and forth and, when Lewis finally asked Righeimer to ask the City Attorney, Tom Duarte, for a clarification, Righeimer blurted back, "No!"  Lewis asked, "What do I have to do, file a lawsuit?"  Righeimer responded that he'd read Lewis' recent letter to the council, sent him an email and referred to his presentation before them as "your little routine."  Lewis asked how he should proceed and was told by Righeimer to contact CEO Hatch.  Lewis looked at Hatch and said, "Tom, did you get my letter?", to which Righeimer said, "He's not going to answer you."  The angry Lewis, his time about to expire, looked directly at Righeimer and said, "You're fulla shit!", then stepped away from the speaker's podium.  I smiled, because someone had finally expressed the obvious.

RIGHEIMER ON SENIOR CENTER
Following the Public Comments Righeimer led off the Council Member Comments segment by praising the Police and Fire Departments, stating that we "hire good people".  Did I mention it's a campaign year?  He then told us he'd gotten "a lot of emails and calls" about the Senior Center.  He told us there is ZERO chance the Senior Center is going to close, which I thought was curious, since he and the council only have a little bit to say on that issue.  If the Senior Center runs out of cash they will have few options.  He mentioned the recent audit, commenting that it pointed out management shortfalls and that "this board" (he meant the City Council - another peculiar gaffe) wasn't going to let the Senior Center close.  He told us that the Senior Center Board will have "different bylaws" - another curious statement, since ONLY the Senior Corporation Board determines what their bylaws will be - and then he said emphatically, "NO CHANCE THE SENIOR CENTER WILL CLOSE!"  He continues to sound like he thinks he's the Emperor Of Costa Mesa, not the mayor.

LEECE ON TREES, LIBRARY AND 60TH
Wendy Leece expressed concern that a recent tree removal issue that impacted a large segment of one north Costa Mesa neighborhood had no appeal process - the Parks and Recreation Commission is the last stop.  She asked Hatch to look into a way to allow appeal to the City Council - the elected body.  She also expressed concern about the 60th Anniversary situation and also said she's in favor of expansion of the library to provide more space for children's activities, but yet retain meeting rooms.

HATCH'S REPORTS
Hatch covered many items during his segment: 
  • He gave a weak response to the request for the Budget review to be part of the regular agenda. 
  • On the issue of the proposed library expansion, he said it will definitely include the Vets, that private rentals take a lower priority, but there are no solutions yet. 
  • I mentioned his response about the 60th Celebration (above).
  • Regarding the Senior Center, he told he had met with Senior Center Board President Judy Lindsey and Executive Director Aviva Goelman, and corrected a mistake he made on the date of that meeting.  He said it's important for the council and community to weigh-in on how we should move forward.  
  • He addressed the recent improvement in the way Worker's Compensation issues are handled that has resulted in significant dollar savings.  
  • He mentioned a change suggested by Interim Information Technology Director Steve Elvy that will save more than $110,000 per year on software issues.  
  • He mentioned the new Youth Basketball Program and showed a short video clip.  
  • He mentioned Costa Mesa Connect, a new smart phone app, that can be useful to residents.  
  • He then mentioned hiring several new staff members "on the 5th floor" and told us that members of  this new Code Enforcement staff was spending 40 hours a week each on Motels and Group Homes and that a third member was focusing on "problem properties".  He then showed us a clip of Code Enforcement officer Mike Brumbaugh on the job. (Nobody has yet explained WHY it was necessary to create an entirely new, separate Code Enforcement operation on the 5th floor)
  • He closed with a long, feeble attempt at an explanation of the controversial decision to permit Matt Leinart's Flag Football program to oust established softball programs from TeWinkle Park.  During that explanation he mentioned a meeting with Parks and Recreation Chairman Byron de Arakal and departed Recreation Manager Bob Knapp last October on the issue, then alluded to the "staff failed to communicate with the community.", which I interpreted to mean Knapp.  He also acknowledged a mistake "staff" made in waiving fees for Friday Night Lights flag football.  Funny... I don't recall retired City Manager Allan Roeder ever throwing the staff under the bus in his three dozen years with the City.  Hatch wrapped up that comment with some vague mention of the need to balance youth and adult field use.
NEW BUSINESS
Next came a blitz of New Business items.

Attorney Celeste Brady guided the discussion of Items 1, 2 and 3, which dealt with the Successor Agency to the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency.  After a very short combined discussion they each passed on 5-0 votes.

#4 was Fire Chief Dan Stefano's EVP request for a new system to facilitate traffic signal changing for emergency responders, primarily in the north part of town.  That passed, 5-0.

#5 was the new Summer Youth Programs in conjunction with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, which emphasized arts programs.  It also passed after a short discussion, 5-0.

#6 was the first reading of an ordinance including vandalism in the current reward program.  It passed with almost no discussion, 5-0.

#7 was the repeal of the ordinance forbidding Sex Offenders from Public Parks, which is probably unconstitutional.  If you blinked you'd miss that discussion.  It passed 5-0.

That took us to the discussion of the budget item pulled from the Consent Calendar, mentioned above.  It took less than 15 minutes before it passed 5-0 and the meeting was adjourned at 8:05 p.m.!

RIGHEIMER
Permit me a couple observations from the Peanut Gallery - my back row seat.   First, Jim Righeimer continues to run roughshod over the rules of procedure and tries to run this city like his own little empire.  His careless - or pre-meditated - disregard for the established rules and policies is the result of either laziness or intentional acts.  In either case it is unacceptable, confusing and sometimes illegal and very costly.

HATCH
Second, for three years I've cut CEO Tom Hatch a lot of slack because I believe he's caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.  He works for two guys - Righeimer and Mensinger - whom I believe would cut him off at the knees if he pushed back.  Hatch is a great guy with deep roots in the community.  However, his weakness has only further emboldened Righeimer and Mensinger and allowed them to jam unacceptable programs and schemes down the resident's throats - sometimes with very costly results.  Their ham-handed handling of employee matters - the stupid, illegal issuance of more than 200 layoff notices three years ago and their bogus lawsuit against the members of the CMPD are just two of them - have created legal issues for this City unseen in the past.

ACQUIESCENCE
Hatch has permitted them to circumvent the long-established policy about giving direction to staffers, which has created turmoil, tension and stress throughout the building and caused many senior staffers to retire early or leave for a less-toxic workplace, taking with them decades of experience and institutional knowledge.  He went along with their refusal to permit timely hiring of police positions which has placed the safety of this city in jeopardy.  Because he has permitted Righeimer and Mensinger to run roughshod over the government - ignoring the established rules and policies - Hatch must share responsibility for the systematic destruction of a once-proud city government - one that was acknowledged throughout the region as a beacon of sound municipal management.

FAILURE
From the beginning I've been rooting for Hatch to succeed, but, in my opinion, he has failed.  I ask myself just who might have succeeded under these circumstances - without getting fired, that is.  I don't have an answer.  What I do know is that his unwillingness or inability to effectively step up, and "manage up", has left many city employees feeling that they have no support from the management of the city - a very hopeless feeling.

IF THINGS WERE DIFFERENT?
Do I think Tom Hatch would, or could, do a better job of managing this city if the elected leadership would just let him?  Two years ago I might have enthusiastically said "YES!"  Today.... I'm not so sure.  He's allowed himself to be placed in such a deep hole - and participated in digging it himself -  that I think he's lost the confidence and respect of many employees and more than a few residents.  I think he's a good guy, a solid municipal management technician who cares deeply about the City, the residents and the employees, but I'm not sure he can climb out of that hole now.  I'm not sure anyone in that position could...

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Catching Up

VIDEOS TO WATCH...
Catching up on some interesting video now available to us for viewing after the fact.

COSTA MESA BRIEF CANDIDATE VIDEOS
Our "pal", Barry Friedland over at Costa Mesa Brief, captured the discussion by 2nd District Supervisorial candidates Allan Mansoor and Michelle Steel at the Newport-Mesa Tea Party confab last Thursday evening.  Each segment is just under 30 minutes long, but are certainly worth viewing - especially if you are searching for information to make an informed decision in the Primary Election in June.  You can watch the Mansoor segment HERE and the Steel segment HERE.  There are two other candidates running for that office, but apparently neither were invited to this event.  In fact, when I asked Tea Party Tom Pollitt about it earlier in the week, he had no clue
 about other candidates.  Then, again....

BARRY'S DOING A GOOD JOB
I must give old Barry credit.  He's providing excellent video coverage of important events in the City.  His coverage, for example, of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Town Hall last month at which the proposed Organics Recycling program was explained, is quite good.  You can watch that one HERE.

HATCH ON CITY TALK
There's a brand, new City Talk segment available for viewing on the City website, HERE.  Host Dane Bora asks City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch a variety of questions about the current state of affairs in the city.  Viewing this clip will be thirty minutes well-spent.

In wrapping up the segment Bora asked Hatch a series of four questions.  The last one went like this:

Bora - "If you could grant one wish for Costa Mesa, what would that be?"

Hatch - "A more, ah, civil discussion about, ah, about, ah, moving this community forward.  We're doing some great things.  We have a lot of great people who care deeply and love this town.  Ah, we, ah, our tone and approach is, ah, is, makes it hard.  And, we have such strong opinions, and change is difficult and so, I hope we have more of a civil discussion moving forward.

WHAT WAS HE THINKING?...
I've replayed that segment a couple of times.  I'm sure Hatch is correct - a more civil discourse could make it easier to move forward.  I found myself wondering just who he might have been thinking of as he haltingly uttered those words.  Was he thinking about the cadre of concerned residents who take time from their lives to study important issues, then present themselves before the City Council and other official bodies to offer their questions and views?

Or, might he have been thinking about some current elected officials who sometimes veer from the path of civility when addressing folks speaking to them, and other council members, as well?

Or, might he have been thinking about those of us who write critically about issues and events in The City?

Or, was he contemplating all of the above?

AN EARLY NIGHT TOMORROW?  WE'LL SEE...
Tomorrow's City Council meeting, which gives the appearance of being relatively brief, may surprise us.  Much depends on how many speakers take the time to exercise their right to address concerns with the council - even though Mayor Jim Righeimer continues to fine-tune his obstructionist moves to keep that from happening.  I'm predicting a departure by 10:25 p.m.  We'll see.

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Council Meeting Preview

BELATED HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY...
So, you missed me, huh?  Well, my sweet and very patient wife and I celebrated our 47th Valentine's Day together by dodging Jamzilla and escaping to a more tranquil, romantic setting for the weekend.  We returned, well-rested, filled with amore' and our batteries charged once again. 

CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, February 18, 2014, the Costa Mesa City Council will meet again beginning at 6:00 in council chambers for another adventure in municipal governance.  The agenda is HERE.  It will be preceded by a Closed Session meeting beginning at 5:00 that has four (4) items on it, including the still-ongoing Benito Acosta lawsuit.

CONSENT CALENDAR ITEMS
In the Consent Calendar, Item #3 is Warrant 2509, HERE.  As usual I present some payments of interest for your information:

  • CSG Consultants, Inc., $23,590.58 for plan check and inspection services.
  • Jones & Mayer, $138,869.84 for legal services.
  • Michael Brandman Associates, $10,169.63, for environmental consulting.
  • Dougherty+Dougherty Architects, LLP, $10,468.40, for City Hall and Police Department Entryway Design.
  • Enterprise Counsel Group, $9,272.45, for Litigation and Successor Agency legal support.
  • FTOG, Inc., $3,240.00 for Interim Buyer, 1/21 - 1/31/14
  • Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, $13,096.00, for legal services, including CMCEA labor negotiations.
  • Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, $55.00, for Webinar for L. Chen.
  • Melad & Associates, $5,555.60 for Bldg. Permit Tech and Plan Check Services

Yes, sir... the old legal cost meter keeps on spinning and the shortage of staff continues to result in expensive consultants doing work that once was done in-house.

Item #5 is a request for approval for $400,000 in Project/Construction Management consultative support for several upcoming projects, HERE.  Again, shortage of staff creates this demand.

Item #6 is a request to increase the fees paid to Keyser-Marston Associates to $200,000 (it began at $100,000 and has steadily grown to an amount double the original cost), HERE.

Item #7, HERE, is to recognize the increase of $247,050 in HOME funds and authorize the change in the budget accordingly.

Item #9, HERE, is the Fiscal Year 2013/2014 Mid-Year Budget Report.  Although there was a Study Session on this issue last week, I find it curious that this item appears on the Consent Calendar, which could be voted upon without any public discussion with the rest of the items on the Consent Calendar.  We are, after all, talking about how the $7.1 million budget surplus will be allocated and other very significant financial issues.  If someone DOES pull this for separate discussion, that won't take place until the end of the meeting.  Another byproduct of the strange, convoluted thinking of Mayor Jim Righeimer.

SUCCESSOR AGENCY BUSINESS
There are no Public Hearings scheduled, nor is there any Old Business.  The first three items under New Business, HERE, HERE and HERE, all deal with the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency.

FACILITATING FASTER RESPONSE TIMES
New Business #4, HERE,  is for the expenditure of $24,236.60 for Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) devices in fire department emergency vehicles and at locations throughout the city.  This, theoretically, should result in faster response times.

SUMMER YOUTH PROGRAM
New Business #5, HERE, recommends the establishment of a Summer Youth Program with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

REWARD FOR APPREHENDING VANDALS
New Business #6, HERE, is a change in the Municipal Code to provide rewards for information leading to the apprehension of those who willfully damage or destroy public property.

REPEAL OF SEX OFFENDERS IN PARKS ORDINANCE
New Business #7, HERE, is the repeal of a section of the Municipal Code - the Sex Offender Park Exclusion Ordinance.  This is being done because of a recent court case involving a City of Irvine that found their similar ordinance to be invalid.  The city has the option to leave the ordinance in place and just not enforce it until it becomes clear whether the California Supreme Court will review the Irvine case.

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