Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rudeness Dominates The Council Meeting

NOT SHORT, DISAPPOINTMENT AND AMUSEMENT
In what we hoped, and kind of expected, might be a short council meeting last night we were disappointed, amused and angered all in one not-so-tidy package.

LITTLE LEAGUE AWARD
The evening began with the awarding of the Mayor's Cup to one of the two Costa Mesa Little League Teams.  It was a fun family event with more than 100 people in the audience... so many that I couldn't get a decent photo of them.  Instead, you get the Mayor Steve Mensinger and CDO Tom Hatch with the trophy.

PUBLIC COMMENTS
During Public Comments a Baker's Dozen speakers stepped to the podiums to address issues not on the agenda for the evening, but important to them.

Rick Huffman told us of the professional tennis tournament at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center this weekend.
 (Rick Huffman)
Beth Refakes reminded us of the candy drive for the children of our adopted Marine Battalion, the 1/5, to help them celebrate Halloween again this year.  The collection point is the foot locker in the lobby of City Hall.  All candy pieces MUST be individually wrapped.
(Beth Refakes)
Barrie Fisher thanked the council and staff for their attention to her neighborhood.

Wendy Leece demanded to know why it's taken more than two years to implement the Fire Department reorganization plan, including transporting patients.
 (Wendy Leece)

Karl Ahlf requested the return of the recently-removed bus benches and shelters.

Tamar Goldmann took the council to task for their ongoing attempts to force businesses out of business
(Tamar Goldmann)
Carol Williams bemoaned the July 4th "war zone" and expressed fear for her safety due to the sober living homes.

Mary Spadoni argued that the two women who successfully appealed issues should have had their fees returned.  She told us she had sent a note to contract City Attorney, Tom Duarte, asking if it was legal to have combined those two separate issues - hers and Carrie Renfro's - as one agenda item.  She observed that they were successful because they worked hard and discovered issues the city staff had missed.

Ann Parker was up next and amplified what Spadoni said.  She said their action was not fair and demanded an apology from Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer because he mischaracterized her actions.
(Ann Parker)
Robin Leffler pointed out that council members MAY NOT require a speaker to identify him or herself and extended that to mean that they MUST NOT vindictively identify the speaker, either.  She then supported the refund of appeal fees.  She said the recent Joint Study Session on the General Plan provided inaccurate information - that the segments of town that will be impacted by the plans within the General Plan update will be far more than 4% as presented.  Mayor Mensinger interrupted her when the audience cheered her initial comments and threatened to call a break if further outbreaks occurred.
 (Robin Leffler)
Another speaker - Chris - complained about the removal of benches in parks and the locking of the bathrooms.

Jay Humphrey observed that the Solid Landings facility on 19th Street is still in full operation despite sanctions by the city.  He also supported a change in policy regarding successful appeals and refunding of fees.
(Jay Humphrey)
Laurene Keane angrily complained about the away folks who wished to remain anonymous at the speaker's podium had been treated, citing a Brown Act violation.  She told Mensinger to "get that smile off" his face as she spoke.  He does that all the time.  She also supported a revision to the fee reimbursement policy, and described the hours she, personally, spent helping the two appellants.  At the end Righeimer leaned over toward Duarte and asked him to come back with information about this issue from the Brown Act.
(Laurene Keane)
COUNCIL MEMBER COMMENTS
GENIS
Sandra Genis, who sits on the Vector Control Board, advised us of the dangers of West Nile Virus this year, and told us to avoid having any standing water around our properties.  She told us planned spraying for mosquitoes had been canceled because small planes may not fly over Disneyland.

She also concurred that anonymity should be respected by those speakers who choose it.

She referred to the refund of appeal fees and reminded us that the vote was 2-2 - councilman Gary Monahan had conveniently slipped quietly out of the chambers before that vote was taken.

She asked that the meeting be adjourned in the memory of Frank Forbath.
RIGHEIMER
Righeimer reiterated his view that we have an appeal process that should be followed.  However, HIS view of that process is not accurate.  Residents ARE permitted to appeal an item, despite his admonition to Parker and Renfro at the last meeting that they should have gotten a council member to appeal it.  His reasoning - if you can actually call it that - was that if you couldn't get at least one member of the council to appeal it, then it would be unlikely that the appeal would pass.  As it turned out, BOTH appeals were successful without a council member being the appellant.  He just makes the rules up as he goes along and figures nobody will notice.

He then complained that people ask him, "How do you take it up there", meaning being criticized at council meetings.  He said he goes to church every week and he prays.  Well, maybe, but he failed to mention that the criticism is well-deserved, and that he brings most of it on himself for his arrogant disregard for the rules - which he has demonstrated almost from the first second he took office.

He chided Robin Leffler for not doing her homework on the General Plan and reiterated the inaccuracy of the 4% number.

He complained about the so-called problem motels and the people who defended their existence.  He acknowledged that not all residents are bad people, but the "pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers" hide behind them.
MENSINGER
Mensinger addressed the Fire Department reorganization and asked Chief Dan Stefano to step up in a few minutes to brief us.  He also announced the ceremony for the CMPD Wednesday morning (today) where "three guys" are getting promoted.  Actually, that's two guys and a gal.  What a buffoon!  Just when you think it's not possible, he takes cluelessness to a new low!
He then promoted his "walk with the mayor" event, telling folks "you don't have to come down here and speak to all five of us" - that you can walk and talk with him.  Oh, yeah... we sure don't want EVERYONE to hear about important issues in the city, do we?  Oh, no... not that!  And then he made one of those stupid statements he's so famous for - citing council critics, he observed it's "political season" - as if much of what he's been doing lately is not pure political posturing - like his muscle-flexing from the dais last evening.

STEFANO
Stefano stepped up and presented a brief overview of the Fire Department plans for the implementation of the 17 point plan crafted by former Interim Chief Tom Arnold.  He spoke about the redeployment model and said they are 80-90% complete, but that full re-deployment depends on the rebuilding and remodeling of a couple fire stations.  He said they are working with a consultant on the cost recovery element of the plan to have our medical ambulances transport victims, who should have data available shortly.  Katrina Foley asked for it soon - like October.  She also asked if any council members or senior staff had been working with them on this.  Later Mensinger also asked, and Stefano replied yes, council members had been involved.
FOLEY
During her turn Foley began by quoting the section of the government code - Section 54953.3 - that clearly spells out that speakers may NOT be required to identify themselves.  Regarding the 17 point plan, she reiterated that it's been over two years and we should have been finished by now.  She observed that we have quarter-million dollar medical ambulances just sitting around except for being taken on the occasional ride like a Prius, and asked Hatch to bring this issue forward in October.
She spoke of the unfortunate school flooding during the current rain storms.  She also acknowledged Frank Forbath and cited a Memorial Service at the Neighborhood Community Center on September 26th.  She also observed the tragic traffic deaths of young Costa Mesa residents in Oregon.

She asked for a policy on the appeal process and refunding of appeal fees at the next meeting.

She observed that one of "the guys" being promoted this morning was a gal - Joyce LaPoint - the first female Lieutenant in Costa Mesa PD history.

She asked for a discussion of a Master Plan of Golf Carts Ways for November, acknowledging that she asked for a specific date because other things she's asked about in the past have just managed to never appear on the agenda.

Righeimer inserted himself into the discussion, saying that he didn't agree to force a date.

Mensinger wondered from Hatch if a council member could make demands and asked him how we handle that.  Hatch spoke briefly about it and eventually stated he would prefer to just rely on him and his staff to bring things forward on a timely basis.

Genis observed that they'd been talking about items not on the agenda, but "That horse is well out of the barn", so she offered her opinion that asking for a date-specific on the Fire Department report is appropriate since it's taken so long.

HATCH
Hatch observed that the recent rains have caused some havoc in town and that free sandbags are available at Fire Station #4, 2300 Placentia.  He also observed that work has begun on that station.  He focused on the Fire Department, indicating that $1.6 million had been budgeted this year for new staff.  They've created a new Captain position focusing on EMS.  They've budgeted for two new engines at nearly $700,000 a piece.  They've converted on Battalion Chief to a Division Chief and have several new firefighters coming on board - two already have and three more are pending.  And, Chief Stefano is working on a 5-year Strategic Plan.
Hatch then introduced an award-winning video regarding the PAAC monitoring via streaming video.

3 CONSENT CALENDAR ITEMS PULLED AND TRAILED
Three items were pulled from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion, #8, #10 and #12.  They were trailed to the end of the meeting.

SMOKING/VAPING ORDINANCE 
Old Business #1, the Smoking Lounge/vaping ordinance took a very short time to deliberate.  During that fifteen minutes three speakers addressed the issue.  Wendy Leece observed that we have a responsibility to the community to control the vaping and compared it to cigarettes.  Karl Ahlf reminded us of the Surgeon General's warning stickers on cigarettes.  Ann Parker asked for Chief Sharpnack's input on the subject, citing illicit activities that go on in vape shops - she described it like a bar for 18 year-olds.  The council passed the ordinance, 5-0.

ASSET ALLOCATION
Old Business #2, the Asset allocation issue, took less time and passed with a 3-2 vote, with Genis and Foley voting NO again, citing fiscal irresponsibility for handcuffing future councils and removing flexibility in money management.

DEVELOPMENT ON HAMILTON STREET AND BULLYING
We were rocking right along at 7:50 when we began New Business #1, the screening process for a development on Hamilton.  Deviations had been requested, shown on this chart, and four speakers addressed the project.   Wendy Leece thought it was a great project - only two story and no rooftop decks, but she suggested that we should ask developers to just follow the rules and not ask for deviations.  Jay Humphrey echoed Leece and worried about the cumulative effect of all this new development around town on traffic and other infrastructure.  Tamar Goldmann opined that we have become a city where it is government by the developers, for the developers.  Robin Leffler began to speak but Mensinger interrupted her - again - with one of his peevish displays of bravado.  When she began she addressed the peculiar parking situation with this project and suggested developers should stay within the code.
DEFENDING THE DEVELOPER
Righeimer, in full "smart ass" mode, aimed comments at the audience, indicating that he was angry because, "when this person comes up here with a dream project and you have to nit-pick it."  He praised the developer.
COULD HAVE GONE 3 STORIES
Developer Nick Louis address the project and tried to explain the peculiar parking situation, indicating that they COULD have gone up to three floors, but chose not to.
 (Nick Louis)
MORE MENSINGER SNIPING
Genis addressed the parking - which has three-car garages for two-bedroom units - and said she didn't understand it.  Mensinger sniped at her, "You're not a man."  He then thanked the developer and apologized for the criticism his project had received by members of the public, stating that it was "just political".  Of course, it was NOT just political - it was a group of concerned residents expressing their views that, basically, it's not unrealistic to expect developers to follow the established rules.
FOLEY SUPPORTS PROJECT - AND CRITICS
Foley said it was a "lovely project", and that she was NOT going to apologize for residents speaking up - "that's what makes America great!"  The project will now move forward.
FAIRVIEW PARK TRAIL/ROAD
New Business #2, Sandy Genis' review of the proposed realigned trail in Fairview Park, recently passed by the Parks and Recreation Commission, began at 8:15 and I thought we'd be out of there before 9.  Ha!  Not the case.  She did a PowerPoint presentation, showing the history of the site in question covering a dozen years.  Then Monahan asked questions of Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz, who ended up showing a brief presentation of his own - the one showed to the Parks and Recreation commissioners.  Back and forth the conversations went, including a presentation by a consultant, Tony Bomkamp, who has extensive knowledge of Fairview Park - he apparently discovered the San Diego Fairy Shrimp.  It turns out that neither the Army Corps of Engineers nor the US Department of Fish and Wildlife have jurisdiction on this particular site.
 (Tony Bomkamp)
90% OF SPEAKERS OPPOSE THE ROAD
Ten (10) speakers addressed this issue, including Dr. Richard Mehren, who was instrumental in the City acquiring Fairview Park.  Nine of the ten opined, for a variety of reasons, that nothing should be done except maintaining the existing asphalt pathway.  Those who spoke against the approve plan to re-align this path were Devon Bradley, Mehren, Karl Ahlf, Andy Campbell, Kim Hendricks, Jay Humphrey, Wendy Leece, Robin Leffler and Cindy Black.  Parks and Recreation Commissioner Bob Graham supported the plan as approved by his commission.
(Dr. Richard Mehren)
DOES NOT CONFORM WITH MASTER PLAN
Finally, at 9:25, the discussion resumed and Genis observed that the plan does NOT conform with the Fairview Park Master Plan.  Foley wondered why none of the potentially interested entities - Corps of Engineers nor the USFWL had been contacted, particularly since we've had recent, unpleasant interaction with them regarding the now-infamous decomposed granite trail.


FOLEY - JUST FIX THE PATH
During the discussion Foley observed that we don't need to overdevelop everything - that a concrete road is unnecessary.  She said we should just repair the existing trail, even if it means walking away from the $800,000 grant.

RIGHEIMER CRITICIZES FPCAC ATTENDEES
Righeimer, during his piece, was critical of folks who attended and participated in the deliberations of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee - stating that they "just didn't want to do anything."  Well, that's almost right, because the vast majority of speakers at those meetings did, indeed, express the interest in keeping Fairview Park natural.  He didn't like that fact, but it is a fact.  Then he said, "It's my come from that I want people to see the gnatcatcher", then he said something strange about wanting things "slower, faster, quicker"... What?  Sometimes he just speaks in tongues.
He told us "I've been up it 100 times and I walk it."  He complained about someone's observation that concrete is toxic, and ended up saying "It's just a path!"   That last one is a demonstration of just how clueless he is.

MUNOZ CONFIRMS EXTENT OF WORK NECESSARY
Monahan affirmed with Munoz the extent of the excavation necessary if the existing path is rehabilitated, and that the new road would be ADA compliant.


NOT IN COMPLIANCE
Genis reminded us that the new road is not in compliance with the Master Plan, a fact confirmed by Foley, who also observed that the creation of this new road would severely hamper cross country training and competitions for local schools.

Then Mensinger leaped into the mess and said, "For God's Sake, I understand Cross Country."  He muttered something about "There's all this kind of things flying around here.", apparently meaning disagreement and facts.  When the vote was taken at 9:50 it was 3-2 to support the Parks and Recreation Commission recommendation to go forward with the new road.   Genis and Foley voted NO.

TRAILED ITEMS
Trailed Consent Calendar items were next.  Item 8 was passed in 15 seconds, 5-0. Nobody took responsibility for pulling it.

VACATION OF RIGHT-OF-WAY VS. BIKEWAYS
Item 10, the discussion of vacation of a piece of roadway, was pulled by Foley.  She was concerned that, since no development was immediately planned, why we were doing this when 19th Street is in need of bicycle capacity.  The discussion moved to adjacent properties, where no easement existed and either purchase or use of eminent domain would be necessary to use space off the roadway.  A motion was made to approve.  Genis made a substitute motion to at least delay it until the Bikeways Committee got farther along with their work - Foley seconded.  That motion failed, 2-3 and the earlier motion passed, 3-2.  Foley and Genis were on the short side of both votes.
CAD/RMS CONSULTING CONFUSION
At 10:00 p.m. Mary Spadoni discussed Item 12, the extension of the contract for a consultant who has been working on the CAD/RMS system for a couple years.  She demanded to know why it's taking so long to get back to a functioning reporting system for the CMPD.  Both Police Chief Rob Sharpnack and IT Director Steve Ely addressed the issue.  In response to Foley's question, Sharpnack admitted that we do NOT have a satisfactory system working now.  Foley wanted a timeline from Ely on how long it was going to take and he admitted he didn't know.  He also confirmed to her that this contract would be perpetual because we didn't have anyone on staff skilled to do the work the consultant is doing.  In response to Righeimer's quesiton, Ely confirmed a staff of 12 in IT, including the consultant and three existing vacancies.  Righeimer asked for a report on everything everybody does in IT.  The vote was taken to approve the contract extension on a 5-0 vote.


 (Steve Ely)
ADJOURNED IN MEMORY OF...
Mensinger actually did remember to adjourn the meeting in honor of Frank Forbath and the young people who died in the car crash in Oregon.  We now have three weeks until the next meeting on October 6th. 



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11 Comments:

Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

That was the most embarrassing council meeting I've seen in a long time. Even though it was TV, I could just hear the audience. While Foley was speaking about athletics, Mensinger sat there smirking like a 10 year old bully. Righeimer was even worse. Both of them attacked Jay from the dais, because his comment regarding car trips per home, were in conflict with what Righeimer is telling us. I hope Humphrey runs and kicks Righeimer's ass next November.

Right out of the gate, speakers told the councilmen that it is a direct violation of the Brown Act that when they fill out a card, the councilmen (Steve) calls them by name, intentionally, from the dais. I looked it up on the computer during this section and the speakers are right. Steve was intentionally doing this to annoy those that didn't want their names mentioned publically. One mentioning that she had been bullied. The comment was phrased in a way that made me wonder if it was from the councilmens' supporters, as I've seen them do that on Facebook. What a great group, huh?

Righeimer sat there asking the developer, "Are we friends?", "Have we ever met?", "Have we ever had a conversation?", like we would believe him? He never speaks the truth.

The 17 point plan for the fire department is barely half completed in 2 years. Stefano is either misinformed or trying to look good. Its been 2 years, and just beyond half completed. Last month, Righeimer stated that they are in negotiations for a contract for the CMFD and "they want everything". He lied! (no surprise there) He hasn't attempted negotiations in 16 months. Absolutely ridiculous.

Righeimer again cited the problems with the motels along Newport Boulevard. No coincidence that these are the ones that he wants to develop. He uses the crime issue as a way to make his development plans acceptable to the public, trying to convince the public that they need to go. He already has an overlay ready for placement for his massive development of Newport Blvd.

Costa Mesa is waking up to the problems of these inexperienced baffoons. From the comments tonight, people are fed up.

Next November if we don't get rid of Mensinger and have a majority of councilmembers that respect and care for this city, we need our heads examined.

9/16/2015 07:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

It's plain to see that citizens do not ask Katrina or Sandy to appeal planning commission decisions because the 3 stooges will not pass any motion made by them. It would be the kiss of death for their appeal. It's also plain to see the citizens concerns are not valued - in fact, they are ridiculed. It's plain to see that Jim still acts as mayor and is letting Steve have the title because of the hope it will give him an edge in the next election.

I'm glad you write these summaries of the meetings, because when Jim and Steve apologized for citizens' comments, I had to turn off my computer.

By the way, what's with Gary wearing a visor and where was Chuck Perry to tell Jim and Steve how wonderful they are?

9/16/2015 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger zennymoon said...

To sum up last night's meeting: B u l l s h e e t...my particular favorite, passing a concrete road because they are so concerned about getting te elderly and disabled to the Fairview pond. BUT not caring about housing affecting the disabled elderly and low income I repeat BULLSHEET....

9/16/2015 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger carrie renfro said...

I just wanted to thank all those who made public comments in support of refunding appeal fees in the case of a win; and the fact that we did not receive appeal fee refunds, although the city has clearly set a precedent of returning fees in the case of a win. No surprise here, the bullying continues when they don't get their way. Also, the only "walk with the mayor" I would consider taking is a walk off the pier, I can swim!

9/16/2015 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Wendy Leece said...

Last night's meeting was one of the City's worst. It's not their place to judge what residents say during their 3 minutes. Just because residents criticize developer plans, council members should be polite and listen not apologize to the developer. What lack of class! How far we have gone from civil debate. More than two years have passed since fire department reorganization. What's the reason for the delay on analyzing how it's working? I just want to know how the response times have changed with more service calls. Pur taxes pay for the service! People near stations 4 and 6 should be concerned too. Enough!

9/16/2015 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

In hindsight, I hold several people responsible for Jay Humphrey having lost the 2014 election to Jim Righeimer. Several people, former members of Costa Mesans for Responsible Government, supported council candidate Chris Bunyan, who has acted as a shill in several past council elections. I hope that these former CM4RG members have seen the proverbial light and will support better-informed, more qualified candidates next time around.

9/16/2015 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Muffin Top Bob said...

Is it just me or is Mensinger and Riggy two of the biggest A-Holes that mankind has ever seen?

9/16/2015 06:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Flo, I don't believe CM4RG supported Bunyan. They endorsed Humphrey and Foley. Some may have voted for Bunyan but that support was individual, not from CM4RG.

9/16/2015 08:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Fortunately some got to speak to the developer last night and gave him the heads up on what was going on with the residents and the MPT. He had already figured it out. He was quite nice about it. He understood that the residents liked his project and that Jim was grandstanding. Shameful nonetheless.

9/16/2015 08:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

WMC, I think Flo was referring to when Harold Weitzberg didn't get the endorsement of cm4rg in the last election; rather than taking one for the team, he, along with some other people, then left the group and went on to endorse and support Chris Bunyan for cc, which cost Jay Humphrey votes that could have put him on the cc. A very unfortunate and selfish move.

9/16/2015 10:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Disgusted: Yeah, kind of trying to say that without saying that. Thanks.

9/17/2015 08:19:00 AM  

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