Saturday, January 03, 2015

Fairview Park Committee To Tackle Fields

WEDNESDAY, FROM 6-8 P.M.
The Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee will meet for the first time in the new year on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 in the Victoria Room at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue, Costa Mesa (Lions Park) from 6-8 p.m.  You can read the agenda HERE.

COULD BE LIVELY...
This meeting could be a real doozy because the group will finally tackle (note the clever game reference) the issue of possibly using segments of the final area under consideration - the Southeast Quadrant - for playing fields.  Such uses in the other three quadrants had been rejected by the committee in previous meetings and this discussion had been shoved out until this meeting.  In past meetings attendees who support the retention of Fairview Park as a passive venue have been in the majority.  I won't be surprised if many sports groups present their views on this issue on Wednesday evening.
ITEMS FOR CONSIDERATION
The issues on the agenda to be discussed will provide for public comment on each and a discussion by the committee before a vote is taken to either forward the item on to the Parks and Recreation Commission for further consideration, or not.  The six potential uses on the agenda are:
 1 - Baseball/Softball Facilities
 2 - Soccer/Football Fields
 3 - Multi-use Athletic Fields
 4 - OCME Track Expansions/Improvements
 5 - Basketball/Handball Courts
 6 - Roller Hockey Surface

EAST FAIRVIEW CHANNEL TRAIL
Also scheduled is a staff presentation and discussion of the East Fairview Channel Trail proposed by Parks and Recreation Commissioner Bob Graham at a recent meeting.

OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS THE COMMITTEE
This meeting is open to the public and, in addition to the opportunity to comment on each of the above items, you may also address the committee in Public Comments on issues related to Fairview Park.

 
RIGHEIMER REPLACES MENSINGER
I did note that Mayor Steve Mensinger has been replaced by another athletic supporter, new Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, as the primary council representative on the committee.  Mensinger's role in the past had been mostly as a seat-warmer, seldom commenting on any issues.  I wonder if Righeimer will attempt to hijack this meeting if he attends?  That's his style, so I won't be surprised.  Or, he may just blow the meeting off and allow Sandra Genis, the alternate, to attend in his place.  It's likely that she'll be there regardless.

FUTURE OF THIS GROUP?
It's unclear what the future of this committee will be.  They have met for well over a year.  They've just about wrapped up their considerations for the park and some kind of a report to the Parks and Recreation Commission should be forthcoming in the near future.  Perhaps we'll get a sense for that timing on Wednesday.  See you there.



OH, YES.... HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Special Way For Us To "Ring Out The Old Year"...

IT'S NEW YEAR'S EVE...
When most of you read this it will be New Year's Eve, Wednesday, December 31, 2014, and you'll be in the midst of planning your big celebrations - many of which will stretch on into the next day.  Thursday you'll likely be trying to recuperate from your celebrating by watching college football games non-stop from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.  By the end of the Sugar Bowl game Thursday night we will know which two teams will play for the national championship in two weeks.  I love this time of the year!  Go Ducks!

...AND A SPECIAL DAY FOR US
My sweet and very patient wife and I will be celebrating New Year's Eve as we always do - by hunkering down, snuggling by the fire and enjoying the anniversary of our very first date - New Year's Eve, 1966!  Yep, 48 years ago we had our very first date.  We celebrated with friends and danced all night.  She swept me off my feet - well, one of us did the sweeping - and we dated for the next 8 months, then got married, moved 3,000 miles away and began this wonderful journey together.  I'm a VERY lucky guy!

THANKS, AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!
So, we both want to wish all of you, or both of you, depending on how many are reading this entry, a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR.  Thanks for taking the time to read what appears here and for responding when you feel moved.  Fasten your seat belts, folks.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mensinger's Heavy Hand Will Mark First Meeting of 2015

THE "BIG DOG" MARKS HIS TURF!
In the very first meeting of the Costa Mesa City Council of the New Year, rookie Mayor Steve Mensinger will attempt to mark his turf by convincing his fellow-council members to make some serious changes in the way council meetings are conducted in the future.  Since it is the last item on the agenda for the meeting on January 6, 2015, that's how I'll play it here, too.  We'll discuss it last...  You can read the complete agenda HERE.

REGULAR MEETING BEGINS AT 6:00
This meeting will follow the old agenda rules and will be preceded by a Closed Session beginning at 5:00 p.m.  They will discuss the lawsuit between the City and the Costa Mesa City Employees Association.  The regular meeting begins at 6:00 in City Council Chambers at City Hall.

TWO MAYOR'S AWARDS?  REALLY?
I note with great interest that this meeting will have not one, but two (2) Mayor's Awards!  I understand the first one - to Harland Anderson for his decades of service at the Boys and Girls Club - but don't have a clue about the second - to Boathouse Collective.  And I sure don't know why it was necessary to have TWO of these awards in a single meeting.  Seems to kind of dilute the idea, doesn't it?  It's kind of like befouling a good glass of bourbon with some Diet Coke.  I thought it was strange when former Mayor Jim Righeimer was tossing them out to everyone he knew like beads at a Mardi Gras parade - or so it seemed - but now Mensinger continues what is becoming a tradition with those guys - screwing up and diluting important recognition by the City.

FOLLOWING THE MONEY...
The Consent Calendar has more than a few interesting items.  Item #3, Warrant 2527, HERE, contains a list of recent payments.  I know those of you who actually care will follow that link and dig out information that interests you.  (By the way, they didn't make easy for us to find stuff because they published the roster sideways, so you might get a crick in your neck reviewing all 84 of those pages.)  Here are just a few entries that caught my eye:

Dougherty + Dougherty - $31,289.03 - for Interior Design.
Jones & Mayer - $148,402.70 - for a long list of legal work.
Lilley Planning Group - $23,025.00 - for planning consulting services.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $6,246.95 - several legal items.
Scientia Consulting Group, Inc - $6,901.50 - IT Consultant.
City of Huntington Beach - $21,490.00 - Helicopter Svc, 10/14.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (again) - $20,382.16 - labor negotiations, etc.
Meyers Nave - $7,176.50 - Legal, Fairview Park.
Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau - $194,831.86 - BIA receipts, 10/14.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (again) - $7,150.00 - Training.
Scientia Consulting Group, Inc. (again) - $3,504.50 - IT Consulting.
Westminster Press, Inc. - $10,627.20 - Printing Toll Road and Charter Mailers.
Best Best & Krieger - $2,277.50 - Special Council Legal Services.
CSG Consultants - $12,705.00 - Bldg Inspection Services.
Interwest Consulting Group - $12,501.00 - Sr. Bldg. Inspec. Svcs.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (again) - $405.00 - 1 yr. basic library membership.
Tacos Chihuahua, Inc. - $2,388.18 - Catering Services, 12/11/14.

LEGAL FEES AND BACKFILLING STAFF SHORTAGES
So, that's a taste of how we spent your money over the last month or so.  Still spinning the counter on legal costs and consulting fees throughout City Hall to backfill the manpower shortage that exists.  I once joked four years ago that Righeimer's idea of a perfect city government would be Tom Hatch and a bunch of contract administrators to manage all the outsourced functions.  We continue to head in that direction.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF STAFF SHORTAGES
Item #4 is a contract for $88,475 for annual updates on the City's Pavement Management Program.  The staff report, HERE, explains the need.  Under the "Alternatives Considered" section we find this statement -     "However, due to the current manpower capacity, level of effort, and lack of expertise in the use of the required pavement management software, a significant delay in implementing this project would be experienced, and having these professional services performed by a highly qualified outside consultant is recommended." Yep, can't run a business without the staff and/or expertise.


MORE DEVELOPMENT ON THE WESTSIDE
Items #6 and 7, HERE and HERE, are approvals of final tract maps for projects on Meyer Street and Miner Street, respectively.

ANOTHER HOTEL ADDED TO THE BIA LIST
New Business #1, HERE,  is a modification to the Business Improvement Area (BIA) to add the new BLVD Hotel, for a total of eleven (11) participating hotels in the city.

MORE "MUSHROOMS" POPPING UP ON THE WESTSIDE
New Business #2, HERE,  is the Urban Master Plan Screening Request for a 4-unit detached common interest development at 2068 Maple Avenue.  This appears to be similar to other projects sprouting up on the Westside of town - three stories plus a rooftop patio.
MENSINGER FLEXING HIS MUSCLE, NOT HIS BRAIN
Finally, the final item on the agenda, New Business #3, HERE, is the item I mentioned right at the top of this page - Mayor Mensinger's attempt to leave his personal footprint squarely on the neck of concerned residents by tinkering with an already-flawed public commenting system to potentially make it even more onerous.  Briefly, here's what he wants to do:
  • Change the regular council meeting start time to 5:45 p.m. from 6:00 p.m. (closed sessions would begin at 5:00 and end at 5:45).  This will, of course, make it more difficult for working folks with an interest in City issues to get to the meeting on time.
  • Conclude "Special Presentations" by 6:00 p.m.  Yeah, good luck with that!  Like this meeting, with 2 Mayor's Awards, for example.  We'll put a clock on it...
  • Public Comments would occur from 6:00 p.m. - 6:40 p.m. to "allow for a 33 percent increase in scheduled Public Comment time near the start of the meeting."  OK, so, instead of maybe 10 speakers having time to address the council, this scheme will provide for another three, maybe!  And...
  • Require that all speaker cards for "Public Comments" be submitted at the beginning of the regular meeting prior to the first speaker.  That means that if you wish to rebut an earlier speaker or amplify someone else's comment, but did not fill out a card BEFORE they spoke, you're out of luck.
  • Fear not!  If you submitted a speaker card in a "timely fashion", but did not get to speak during the Public Comments section, you will be given the "opportunity to address" the council at the end of the meeting.  (It's interesting to note that the revised order of business, below, doesn't show time for that activity.)
  • Remove the "Continued Public Comments" and "Council Member Comments" sections of the agenda.
  • Require that those wishing to address an item on the Consent Calendar fill out a speaker card prior to the start of the Consent Calendar.  Again, if you wish to rebut or amplify a comment and had not filled out a card you're out of luck.
  • Items "pulled" from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion will continue to be "trailed" to the end of the meeting, just as Dictator Righeimer did in his regime.
  • Perhaps the most interesting change is the requirement of all council members to limit their "Council Member's Reports, Comments and Suggestions" to 3 minutes!  I can hardly wait for THIS discussion!  And, this rule can be waived by THE MAYOR or by majority vote of the council.  Well, we all can count to 3, so we know what will be happening up there if THIS draconian rule is applied.  

THE NEW ORDER OF BUSINESS
Here's the proposed revised order of business:

(a) Closed Session (as required)
(b) Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
(c) Moment of Solemn Expression
(d) Roll Call and Call to Order
(e) Closed Session Report
(f) Announcements
(g) Special Presentations
(h) Public Comments (Up to 6:40 p.m., may be extended by the Mayor or a
majority vote of the City Council)
(i) Council Member’s Reports, Comments and Suggestions (3 minutes each,
may be extended by the Mayor or majority vote of the City Council)
(j) CEO Report
(k) Consent Calendar
(l) Public Hearings
(m) Old Business
(n) New Business
(o) Items Removed from the Consent calendar
(p) City Attorney’s Report
(q) Adjournment


STEP ONE - TIGHTEN GRIP ON THROAT OF PUBLIC
So, the new mayor, in his first managerial act, moved decisively to further restrict dissenting opinions by moving the meeting to an earlier time and placing a tighter stranglehold on opposing viewpoints.  Any thought that this was going to be a "kinder, gentler" adminsitration is now fully erased.  What we will now see is a tighter restriction of free speech by a guy who can barely follow the agenda when he's NOT in charge.  And, I suspect we'll see him wield that gavel Righeimer gave him in the first meeting to attempt to maintain control - somthing I've not seen before in a dozen years watching council meetings.  This is NOT going to be a pretty picture.  Stay tuned, folks.










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