Monday, March 30, 2015

Underwhelming Turnout For Clean Streets Launch

It was a bright, sunny afternoon with just the slightest touch of breeze, but the poorly-advertised short (15 minutes) ceremony at Brentwood Park this afternoon resulted in a sparse turnout to see the official launch of outsourced street sweeping contractor, Clean Streets.
City CEO Tom Hatch led off with introductions of the many members of the City Staff present for this event.  I saw Assistant CEO Rick Francis, Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz, Maintenance Services Manager Bruce Hartley, Maintenance Superintendent Bruce Lindemann, Fire Chief Dan Stefano,  Development Services Director Gary Armstrong, Public Affairs Manager Dan Baker, Hatch's Executive Assistant, Kelly Shelton, City Clerk Brenda Green and Executive Secretary Sharon Rodelius I found myself wondering who was watching the store at City Hall. Costa Mesa Sanitary District Director Arlene Schafer was also present.  Dane Bora and Brad Long of Costa Mesa Television we on hand to record this event for future viewing.
Hatch then turned over the proceedings to Mayor Steve Mensinger, who made a few comments, then introduced the CEO and founder of Clean Streets, Jerry Costello, while ignoring Foley standing beside him.  Costello told us a little about his company - founded in 1973 and operated by his family ever since.  He expressed that this event - the recognition by the City of Costa Mesa - was the high point of his career.  He told the assembled group that he was proud of his company and the first class equipment they operate.  He also told us they pride themselves on being responsive to the community.
Foley was finally given the opportunity to speak and praised the assembled staff and the hard work it took to put this new program together.

There was then a ceremonial "street sweeping" by officials using new gold brooms, followed by the planting of a new magnolia tree by the same officials using gold shovels to commemorate this event.
I was told that no current city employees moved over to Clean Streets in this transition, but a couple of retired street sweeping staffers now work for them.  All the other staff members involved in street sweeping were transitioned to other jobs as it became clear that this outsourcing process would take place.
Only a handful of residents turned out for this event.  I did see a few residents walking their dogs and, way, way down at the other end of the park a block away, I could see some children playing in the playground.  I saw former council candidate Lee Ramos and former Planning Commission Chairman and now medical marijuana shill Jim Fitzpatrick observing the proceedings and was told that a few residents stopped by before the event to engage the City Staff on the recent decision to basically abandon the second phase of the Brentwood Park Master Plan.
You may recall that at the end of the March 17, 2015 City Council meeting Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer addressed this issue, HERE.   He was obviously angry at the residents near Brentwood Park because they objected to some of the more active uses planned for that stretch of green space - basketball courts and/or tennis courts.  He was very critical of them because they ended up with a defacto green belt - like that's something bad!  I thought at the time that it was a curious thing for a guy who lives on a golf course to say... but he does that kind of stuff all the time.  The upshot of his move two weeks ago was the loss of almost $300,000 in grant funding the city staff had captured for the project and the waste of $92,000 in design costs, of which $37,150 was reimbursed by the State.  You can drop Righeimer a note to thank him for that vindictive move, and ask him how HE likes living on a green belt.  I'm sure he'd appreciate hearing from you.  At least nobody showed up with pitchforks and torches today.

And, this kind of strange behavior is nothing new with the guys in charge.  You will recall that Mensinger, at the very last minute last year, yanked $600,000 from the library fund budget to pay for yanking out brand new landscaping in his part of town and replace it with drought-tolerant plantings.  Yep, it's important for THEIR part of town to look snazzy, but....

I did think it was curious to hold this event at this particular park at this particular time, since we have 30 parks from which to choose for this kind of non-event.  Maybe somebody thought it was time to rip that scab off again.  I wouldn't be surprised.  Then, again, it was strange to make such a big deal of an outsourcing contract at all.  No wonder Costello was surprised.

So, we now have contract street sweepers who tell us they are proud of their business and are responsive to residents needs.  Costello seemed like a nice enough guy, so let's hope this works out.  In the meantime, you can be assured that Righeimer and Mensinger are looking around for MORE stuff to outsource.  No job in the city is safe with these guys in charge.

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Anonymous Tamar said...

"Fact Check" in a press release from the city, dated 4-29-11:

"Over the years, the City already has saved money by outsourcing some of its services, including the City Attorney...."

I've read some figures on our attorney fees over the past few years showing the direction the fees have been going. Can anyone provide actual numbers?


3/31/2015 01:59:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

It's the middle of the day and everyone, even the mayor, is in work clothes. Then we look at the photos and spot the well-fed frame of one James Fitzpatrick in his relaxed jeans. I'm jealous. Where can I get a job like he has? Or is someone else supporting the family?

3/31/2015 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Honeyman said...

Joe, my first thought seeing the picture of Fitzpatrick in pink was that I should rewatch that scene with the hippos in Fantasia again.

And there is something fitting about Mensinger with a shovel

3/31/2015 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

How come they overlooked celebrating outsourcing of the jail? I would like to see some of the officials - especially the mayor and mayor pro tem - in gold handcuffs!

4/02/2015 09:36:00 AM  

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