Thursday, January 22, 2015

City Asks For Input -Barely

TARDY NOTICE OF IMPORTANT MEETING
The City of Costa Mesa announced LATE yesterday afternoon that the are holding a public workshop on the Consolidated Plan TONIGHT in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) beginning at 6:00 pm.  That's pretty short notice!

NOTICE FOLLOWS

Public input sought for City Consolidated Plan
Posted Date: 1/21/2015
The City of Costa Mesa Housing and Community Development Division is in the process of preparing the city’s Consolidated Plan, and is seeking input from residents and other stakeholders.

The Consolidated Plan is a strategic process that identifies needs and priorities related to housing, community service, public facilities/infrastructure, and economic opportunities. Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships Grant (HOME) funds are utilized over a 5-year period to address the needs outlined in the Consolidated Plan. 

Residents and stakeholders interested in providing input may submit an online survey available on the City’s website. Community members are also invited to attend a workshop on Thursday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Emergency Operations Center, 99 Fair Drive

For additional information regarding the survey or workshop, or to learn more about the Consolidated Plan process, contact Mike Linares at (714) 754-5678, or mike
.linares@costamesaca.gov


FEEDBACK , PLEASE
Due to the very short notice I will not be able to attend this very important meeting. If you attend please provide some feedback to us so we can relay it to our neighbors.  Thanks. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Of Cronyism, Bad Judgment And The Demise Of A Recycling Center

BRISK MEETING STILL RAN LONG
The Costa Mesa City Council meeting that began on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 and, despite beginning early with the new start time of 5:45 and despite Public Commenters doing their best to trim their comments to fit into Mayor Steve Mensinger's new scheme, the meeting ran into Wednesday morning.

PLACATING MONAHAN
The agenda was juggled to shove Public Hearing #2, the appeal of the revocation of the conditional use permit for the recycling facility in the Stater Bros. parking lot on Newport Boulevard, to the end of the agenda.  This was done to permit councilman Gary Monahan - who arrived late -  to leave early and not have to sit around as he was conflicted out participating in the discussion.  More on that in a minute.

THROWING A WAKE FOR A CROOK
The BIG story of the evening - the one that caused the most audible reaction from the audience and the one that apparently has social media going white-hot - was an issue that commenter Sue Lester brought up during Public Comments.  About twenty minutes into the allotted time for comments she began telling the council about a fundraiser councilman Monahan was having at his pub for the surviving "family" of a man killed by members of the Costa Mesa Police Department after he pulled a gun on them while they were trying to serve a warrant on him on out-of-state issues.  You can read Jeremiah Dobruck's article - published, ironically, at precisely the time Lester was addressing the council on the issue - HERE.  Adding to the irony of the moment, Monahan came strolling in to the meeting as Lester spoke.  Fifteen minutes later, during Council Member Comments, Monahan admitted that he was having a "wake" at his pub to help out the dead guy's girlfriend and her son.  Apparently, this fellow - identified by Dobruck as Julius "Jay" Pinson -  had operated an antique business near Monahan's place and was a frequent customer.  Monahan did not know he was a fugitive, on the run from criminal acts in New Mexico and Texas - including one of "sexual penetration of a minor" - according to Dobruck's article.

DISRESPECTING THE COPS
There were several times the audience was restless last evening, but this one item seemed to cause the most concern.  Monahan's reasoning for holding a fundraiser, on one hand seemed like a civil thing to do for the survivors of a friend - that's what Monahan considered this guy - and on the other seems to basically give the finger to the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department,  two of whom were fired upon by this guy.  This is just one more example of the truly terrible relationship that exists between the council majority and the men and women of the CMPD.

WONDER WHAT THE NEW COPS THOUGHT?
Another interesting sidebar on this issue was that last night several new officers were in the auditorium, learning the ropes of being a "Sergeant-at-arms" during meetings.  Besides Acting Chief Rob Sharpnack, there were at least three other officers in the auditorium at the time.  They showed no reaction to this event, but I found myself wondering what they thought.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF BAD JUDGMENT
What Monahan wants to do with his business is, well, his business.  He cannot, however, expect this act to be viewed positively by the community.  I was very disappointed in him last night.  I remembered St. Patrick's Day - March 17, 2011 - when poor Huy Pham leaped to his death from the roof of City Hall and Monahan - the mayor at the time -  chose to stay at his pub in his kilt to pull beer taps instead of presenting himself at City Hall to see to the well-being of the employees on that tragic day.  Last night was another epic failure of judgment on Monahan's part.

AUSSIES WERE BACK


The meeting began positively enough, with presentations to two student groups from Australia.  Mensinger may get this part down one of these days, but he was awkward again last night.

BAKER'S DOZEN SPEAKERS
Thirteen individuals spoke during Public Comments, which began at 6:00, as scheduled, and ended at 6:33 - a few minutes ahead of schedule.  Here's a taste of what some of them spoke about:
  • Richard Russell complimented the council on their recent fiscal prudence.
  • Mary Spadoni scolded the City for NOT participating in the recent National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
  • Karl Ahlf decried the shortage of police officers, and mentioned a fight at Monahan's pub.
  • Cindy Black again chided Mensinger for his role in the DG path in Fairview Park.
  • Laurene Keane expressed concern about the apparent conflicting activities regarding Fairview Park - the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee and the pending update of the Master Plan of Parks and Open spaces.
  • Robin Leffler said we should find a way to pay down some of the Unfunded Pension Liability and also opined that private meetings with the Mayor is not the appropriate way to present issues of concern.
  • Planning Commissioner Jeff Mathews used his three minutes to rail about the lawsuit filed by Mensinger and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, and how it was totally appropriate.  I thought this was curious, since Mathews seldom speaks on anything - especially on the commission.  I thought at the time that perhaps he was reminding the council majority that he was a supporter of theirs - he is a BIG financial supporter - because his request for re-appointment was up for consideration later.  Turned out he was right...
  • Travis Azevedo, a Medical Marijuana supporter, expressed concern about the lack of action on their petition for an election on the subject.
  • Chuck Perry spoke of a recent "walk with the mayor" and regaled us with a story of what a wonderful guy Mensinger is - he said, "I love the guy".  
  • Gay Royer complained again about the traffic on Victoria Street.
  • James Bridges made a rambling comment on a variety of subjects, saying that we "should give these guys a chance", referring to the council.  Bridges relies on public transportation, so Righeimer offered him a ride home if he would stick around until the end.  Bridges declined, to his credit.
  • Beth Refakes wrapped it up by addressing the need for "signal preemption" for emergency vehicles trying to get across Newport Boulevard, the homeless in Lions Park and concern about the displacement of users of the Neighborhood Community Center when the conversion begins to make it a library.
COUNCIL COMMENTS
During his time Righeimer praised development in the city - no surprise there.  Mensinger praised the Mesa Verde Classic Golf Tournament, and told it generated $200,000 gross.  If found myself wondering what the net will be.  Katrina Foley also spoke of the golf tournament and asked CEO Tom Hatch to address the Medical Marijuana issue and the potential shortage of meeting rooms.  Sandra Genis reminded the council of Foley's request for a "retreat" for the council, to discuss big issues in general terms, stating that she thought a half-day would be plenty.

TWO BUDGET STUDY SESSIONS COMING UP NEXT MONTH
Hatch told us that there will be two budget study sessions, on February 10th and 24th, to discuss where we are mid-year.  He also spoke of the recent graduation of three new police officers from the Academy, and mentioned that for the second time in two classes a Costa Mesa officer was class President and top officer.  Sadly, he didn't mention the officer's name, nor the fact that he comes from a law enforcement family.  I guess that's not important.  That seems like a pretty positive story to me.  Regarding the Medical Marijuana issue, he had no information, but said he would get it together and inform the speaker and post it on the City web site Wednesday - today.

JUGGLING THE AGENDA FOR MONAHAN
The council agreed to shove Public Hearing #2 to the end of the meeting so Monahan could leave.  This, of course, significantly inconvenienced the appellant's team and our staff, but the appellant had a lot on the line, so they were NOT going to complain.  They just stuck around and waited, and waited. 

 CONSENT CALENDAR ITEMS HANDLED
Two items were pulled from the Consent Calendar but, because the meeting had moved briskly to this point, they were handled immediately instead of being trailed to the end of the meeting.  Public Comments begin at 7:00 by city rule, so the seven minutes that remained until that hour proved to be just right for dispensing with them.

MORE BED TAX DOLLARS
Public Hearing #1, the addition of the BLVD HOTEL to the BIA, took one minute flat and passed on a 5-0 vote.

PLANNING THE LIBRARY
At 7:05 the council began discussing New Business #1, the authorization for $125,125.00 to an architect to begin preliminary plans for the new library at Lions Park.  The Public Comments on this issue were very interesting.  Fifteen (15) people spoke on the issue - 6 for it and 9 against.  That ratio surprised me.  Most who spoke against the library were actually concerned about the loss of meeting space when the Neighborhood Community Center was shut down for the construction.  None seemed quite convinced by the assurances of council members and staff plans to find sufficient space around the city. 

RIGHEIMER, THE "UBER" OF MEETING SPACE
During the discussion Righeimer, responding to the concerns about adequate meeting space by residents, said, "Call me directly and I'll do what I can to find space."  Once again, he seems to not worry about cutting the staff out of the picture - and it's beginning to show in staff performance.  Finally, at 8:00, the council voted, 5-0, to move forward with contract.

PICKING THE NEW TEAMS
Next came the second-most controversial issue of the evening - the selection of eleven (11) individuals to fill slots on three commissions.  As I said in an earlier post, 47 individual applied for positions, including a few incumbents.  Seven members of the public, including some applicants, stepped up to address their qualifications or to express a view on others.  This is the largest applicant pool I can recall.

THE PROCESS
The process began with the council members drawing numbered balls for the order of nomination.  Each one, in order, could nominate a person.  If that nomination received a second a vote would be taken.  Then the next council member would nominate, and so on.  The process would continue until all slots on each commission were filled.  Numbers were drawn for each commission selection and, subsequently, re-drawn for the 2-year appointments to the Senior Commission.

PLANNING COMMISSION
First came the Planning Commission.  Sandra Genis had the first choice and selected veteran and engineer Andrea Marr.  Foley seconded, but she was not chosen on a 2-3 vote along gender lines.

Monahan nominated Vice Chair Rob Dickson, who was chosen on a 4-1 vote.  Foley voted NO.

Foley then nominated Parks and Recreation Chairman Byron de Arakal, but he received no second.

Righeimer nominated incumbent (and major campaign contributor) Jeff R. Mathews, who was chosen on a 3-2 vote - along gender lines.

Mensinger nominated recent acolyte Stephan Andranian, who was chosen on a 3-2 vote, also along gender lines.

SWAPPED FITZY FOR ANDRANIAN
So, we swapped out Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick - a known council majority sycophant - for someone who is a complete unknown, but has recently shown signs of being another one.

SNOWBALLS CHANCE OF CHANGE
Foley inquired of City Attorney Tom Duarte about the possibility of changing the process of selection, since was clear how the evening was going to go.  He told her it would have to be agendized and any change would be subject to a council majority vote.  Basically, that means there is NO chance for change as long as this council majority exists.

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
Next came the selection of new Parks and Recreation Commissioners.  New balls were drawn, and Foley had the first choice.  She nominated Jose de la Jara, but received no second.

Monahan nominated Brett Eckles and Mensinger seconded.  Foley inquired whether his selection might create complications because he's a contractor that does business on field issues in the city.  Duarte opined that that would be taken on a case-by-case basis.  Eckles was chosen on a 3-2 vote, again along gender lines.  He is also a member of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee, so that seems to be a conflict.  I suspect he may be shifted from a voting member into an advisory role, replacing Dean Abernathy on the committee.  Abernathy chose not to re-apply.  This does potentially make for some further complications for that committee, since Chairman Dr. Richard Mehren resigned at the last meeting.

Genis nominated Lynn Redman for his unique interests - he's a long-time member of one of the community gardens and his son, Eagle Scout Christian Redman, has been doing rehabilitation work in Fairview Park.  Foley seconded, but he was rejected on a 2-3 vote along gender lines.

Righeimer nominated incumbent commissioner Bob Graham, who was chosen on a 5-0 vote.

Mensinger nominated incumbent Chairman Byron de Arakal, who was also chosen on a 5-0 vote.

NEW BALL GAME, SO TO SPEAK
So, the configuration on the Parks and Recreation Commission changed dramatically with the selection of Eckles - a major proponent of more playing fields.  He's an energetic guy with some good ideas, but activists will probably be paying more attention to the work of this commission now.

MORE MEMBERS - MAYBE
Then came the selection of members for the new Senior Commission.  Righeimer opined that there should be more than 5 members - maybe 7.  Mensinger agreed, and said 7-9.  They were pleased with the large number of applicants.  I smiled and thought they were looking for more largess to hand out to supporters.  In the end, it was decided to fill the five slots - three 4-year terms and two 2-year terms, then return with a change to the ordinance to expand the commission later.

4-YEAR TERMS
Balls were drawn for the four year term slots and Genis again was #1.  She chose Charlene Ashendorf, in my view one of the most highly qualified candidates for this commission, and Foley seconded.  However, she was rejected on a 2-3 vote - along gender lines.

Righeimer nominated Stella Adkins, Mensinger seconded and she was chosen on a 4-1 vote.  Foley voted NO.

Monahan nominated Janet Krochman, Mensinger seconded and she was chosen on a 3-2 vote, along gender lines.

Foley nominated Martha Hernandez, Genis seconded and she was rejected on a 2-3 vote along gender lines.

Mensinger nominated Estancia High School Principal Kirk Bauermeister, who was chosen on a 5-0 vote.

2-YEAR TERMS
Balls were drawn again for the 2-year term assignments.
Genis nominated former council member Wendy Leece, who was rejected 2-3, along gender lines.

Righeimer nominated Ernie Feeney, Monahan seconded and she was chosen on a 5-0 vote.

The final person selected was John McGlinn who was selected on a 4-1 vote. Monahan voted No.

CRONYISM PREVAILS
Foley immediately observed that at least half of the appointees chosen are campaign contributors to Righeimer and Mensinger. 

MAYOR'S CHOICES APPROVED
New Business #3 was the approval of the Mayor's choice for appointments to various boards.  After a short discussion it passed, 5-0.

BIKES AND WALKWAYS
Foley suggested the council create a Bike and Walkway Committee, which was approved for staff work on a 5-0 vote.  It was decided to leave the Military Affairs Team intact without formal committee designation.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Genis suggested something more be done about Affordable Housing and, during the discussion, Righeimer announced that he's resigning from the Board of Mercy House so he can more fully participate in the discussion of this issue in the City.

ALL NEW...
Monahan left and, following a short break, the council re-convened at 9:07 to discuss Public Hearing #2, the possible revocation of the conditional use permit for the Replanet operation in the Stater Brothers Market parking lot on Newport Boulevard.  According to City Attorney Greg Palmer, this was a "de novo" proceedings - it meant starting all over.

I BAILED OUT, BUT..
An hour into the discussion, which included taking court-like testimony from residents just as was the case when the Planning Commission heard this item and revoked the permit, I decided to head home.  I listened to the proceedings on my cell phone driving home, then watched the rest on television.

DESPITE THE PAIN, CUP REVOKED
Despite the fact that the revocation will remove the last commercial recycling entity from our city and create significant discomfort for residents and local market owners alike, after more than three hours of testimony from residents - including several who live nearby the site - and representatives of the appellant and the Grocery Store operators, the council voted, 4-0, to revoke the permit. 

FOLEY -  LOOK FOR ANOTHER PLACE
Foley asked for a second vote to direct staff to work with the operator and other interested parties to try to find a proper place, or places, in the city for a recycling site.  The demand is clearly there - that site was the largest, by far, of any the vendor operates in nearby cities.  In the meantime, you'll just have to haul your cans to the markets, who are required to pay you for them or incur a $100 per day fine.  Or, you can visit the recycling center at Orange Coast College, on Adams Avenue.

It was a long night.  The next council meeting is on February 3rd... see you there.


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Monday, January 19, 2015

Planning Commission Meeting, 1/12/15

CATCHING UP WITH PLANNING COMMISSION
Because I spent last Monday evening watching the Oregon Ducks getting drubbed by the Ohio State University Buckeyes in the first ever  real national championship game I missed the Planning Commission meeting on that date.  So, here we are, playing catch-up...
 SHORT AGENDA...
There was a small agenda, HERE, for that evening and the video is available for viewing, HERE, if you wish.  Here's a little summary for you.

PROPANE AT CIRCLE K
Public Hearing #1, HERE, is the appeal brought by Vice Chair Rob Dickson of the Zoning Administrator's decision to approve a minor conditional use permit for outdoor placement of propane exchange and other amenities at the Circle K store at 1654 Santa Ana Avenue.  Following a lengthy discussion - 70 minutes - the commission voted unanimously to deny "without prejudice" the original decision.  That means the new owner - who will be "cleaning things up" - may return sooner than 6 months from now if he wishes and will not have to pay the fees again.

4 UNITS ON THURIN AVENUE
Public Hearing #2, HERE, was the design review for two duplexes (4 units) at 2136 Thurin Avenue.  Commissioner Colin McCarthy became almost orgasmic as he discussed this project because of the large amount of open space and the fact that the developer chose to ask for four (4) units instead of five (5) that could be accommodated on the site.  After about a half hour of discussion the commission unanimously approved the project, with modifications to permit him to build the project before a tract map is approved as a condominium project.  He will be required to present the tract map before occupancy.
MONUMENT SIGN ORDINANCE DISCUSSION
New Business #1, HERE, is the first step in amending the Sign Ordinance for free-standing (monument) signs.  Here's some images of slides used by the staff in the presentation:
Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick asked that the goals be modified to include some kind language to provide "balance between business and residents."
Assistant Development Services Director Claire Flynn provided the historical expertise in the discussion and explained that this ordinance would apply only to new signs going forward and would not apply to organizations which already have a Planned Sign Program for their business.  The proposed ordinance will now get massaged thoroughly by staff and will be returned to the commission early in March.  McCarthy requested more "facts and data" when the staff returns with the ordinance.
TWEAKING THE SMALL LOT ORDINANCE NEXT TIME
At the end of the meeting Flynn reminded the commission that, at their next meeting on January 26, 2015, the staff will have some amendments to the Small Lot Ordinance for them to consider.  No further information was provided, but that should make for an interesting discussion.  The current version of the Small Lot Ordinance, in the eyes of many residents, simply made life a lot easier for developers who, before it's implementation, were "burdened" by having to follow the development rules that had protected neighborhoods for decades.  This issue might generate some conversation from residents.

NEXT MEETING MAY BE JIMMY FITZY'S LAST ONE
By the way, since Fitzpatrick has NOT re-applied for a seat on the Planning Commission, it's likely that the next meeting will be his last one.  Sorry... I'm smilin' as I write that...

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Commission Appointments, New Library Design, On Agenda

NEW TIME, NEW RULES
The Costa Mesa City Council meets again Tuesday, January 20, 2015 for the first time under the new rules it approved last time around.  The meeting begins at 5:45 in City Council Chambers, when Announcements and Presentations take place.  Promptly at 6:00 Public Comments will commence and, if required, will proceed until 6:40.  If more speakers remain at that time they will be permitted to speak at the end of the meeting.  Speaker cards may be completed at any time prior to the last speaker commencing - a change from the iron-fisted rule imposed by former mayor, Jim Righeimer.  You can read the entire agenda HERE.

COUNCIL COMMENTS AND CEO REPORT
Following the Public Comments, council member comments will commence.  Although Mayor Steve Mensinger wanted to limit each member to three minutes in his original proposal, the council prevailed and there will be NO limit placed on their comments.  It is anticipated that each will do their best to keep their comments brief.  The CEO Report will be delivered by Tom Hatch.

CONSENT CALENDAR
Then comes the Consent Calendar, in which it is presumed that most, if not all, of the items can be voted upon in one vote.  Any items pulled by council members, staff or members of the public will be trailed to the end of the meeting.

SPENDING YOUR MONEY
Included in this Consent Calendar is Warrant #2528, HERE, which lists all payments to all vendors.  It's  always interesting to scroll down through the various entries to see how the City is spending our money.  Here are a few of the entries that caught my eye:
Boy Scouts Of America - $490.00 - Recharter with BSA for 2015.  Wonder what that's about?
City of Huntington Beach - $21,070.00 - Helicopter Services, Nov. 2014
City of Mission Viejo - $15,145.00 - IT Staffing Services, several months.
Jones & Mayer - $145,054.04 - Legal services (long list)
Lilley Planning Group - $23,270.00 - Planning Consultant, Nov. 2014
MJK Construction - $40,189.36 - Removal of Underground Fuel Tank (I presume helicopter tank)
CSG Consultants, Inc - $3,640.64 - Plan Check Services, Oct. and Nov. 2014
Endemic Environmental Services, Inc. - $10.000.00 - Biological Mntrng/Rpt, Oct/Nov.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $3,406.50 - Legal, Personnel Matters
Randstad Technologies, LP - $8,840.00 - Temp IT Support Staff, Nov.
Scientia Consulting Group, Inc. - $4,257.00 - IT Consultant, Nov.
Scott Fazekas & Associates, Inc. - $1,124.69 - Plan Check
Traveltech Enterprises - $5,110.00 - Sr Cntr Travel to Laughlin
US Bank - $26,421.93 - Retreat/Luncheon, Finance Dept & Misc. Credit Card Purchases
Government Staffing Services, Inc. - $26,556.25 - Temp Staffing, various
FTOG, Inc - $2,160.00 - Interim Buyer, two weeks
Hyatt Legal Plans, Inc. - $1,735.50 - Prepaid Legal Services
Melad & Associates - $1,780.95 - Plan Check Svcs.

EARLY-ONSET OUTSOURCING
This is just a sampling.  We note that legal fees continue to rock along at nearly $150,000 on this Warrant.  Also, we continue to spend a ton of money on consultants, particularly in the IT, Planning and Inspection areas.  Take a look at the Warrant yourself, if you're interested.

ANIMAL SERVICES
Item #8 is a discussion of Animal Shelter Services, HERE.  The staff is recommending staying with the Orange County Humane Society in Huntington Beach.

HOUSING AUTHORITY AUDIT
Item #9, HERE, is the report on the Independent Financial Autid of the Costa Mesa Housing Authority.

ADDING A HOTEL TO BIA
Public Hearing #1, HERE, which is scheduled to commence at 7:00 p.m., is the consideration of adding the BLVD HOTEL to the Business Improvement Area (BIA).

REJECTING RECYCLING FACILITY
Public Hearing #2, HERE, is he appeal of the permits for the neighborhood recycling facility (Replanet) at 2180 Newport Blvd.  Staff recommends the revocation.

ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES FOR NEW LIBRARY
There is no Old Business, but New Business #1, HERE, is a professional services agreement for architectural services for the design of the conversion of the Donald Dungan Library/Neighborhood Community Center for $125,125.  Apparently there is a CD that was distributed to council members regarding this issue that includes 479 pages.  It will be made available for review to the public at the City Clerk's office. Call them at 714-754-5225 for more information.

COMMISSION APPOINTMENTS
New Business #2, HERE, is the Appointments to the Planning, Parks and Recreation and Senior Commissions.  There are also links to the individual applications for each.  As I count heads, 45 individuals applied to the various open slots in the three commissions.  There are three (3) vacancies on the Planning Commission; three (3) positions in the Parks and Recreation Commission and five (5) positions in the brand new Senior Commission.

PLANNING COMMISSION
Of the 21 names presented for the Planning Commission slots, ten (10) have also applied for positions on another commission.  Vice Chair Rob Dickson and Commissioner Jeff Mathews have applied for re-appointment.  Interestingly, Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick has NOT applied, further fueling rumors that he may be in line for an actual job in City Government.

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
There are 17 names on the list for Parks and Recreation Commission, including Chairman Byron de Arakal (who also applied for the Planning Commission) and Commissioner Bob Graham.  Commissioner Dean Abernathy did NOT re-apply.  Of those on the list, nine (9) have applied for another commission seat as well.

SENIOR COMMISSION
There are 20 names on the list for the new Senior Commission.  There are five (5) positions open - three (3) of which will be for four (4) year terms and two (2) will be for two (2) year terms.  Three (3) of the applicants have applied for seats on other commissions, too.

LOTS OF GOOD CANDIDATES
I must agree with de Arakal, who said in a Facebook post that there are many excellent candidates this time around.  There are several familiar faces, including recent council candidates Jay Humphrey, Tony Capitelli, Lee Ramos and Al Melone.  Almost-candidate Harold Weitzberg has applied for two positions.  Termed-out councilwoman Wendy Leece has applied for a seat on the Senior Commission, as has Estancia High School Principal Kirk Bauermeister.  There are also some very interesting new names, with fascinating qualifications as presented to the council for consideration. 

HOPING FOR THE BEST, BUT...
This process is going to be very interesting Tuesday night.  I fully expect the majority on the council to continue to load the commissions with campaign supporters.  Watching how the Senior Commission is configured will be interesting.  Among the candidates are some who have been irritants in that process for years.  And, there are several new names that seem highly qualified.  I'll be hoping for the best.

MAYOR'S APPOINTMENTS
The final item on the agenda, New Business #3, HERE, is the approval of the Mayor's appointments to the Costa Mesa Conference and Visitor Bureau, the Transportation Corridor Agency and the Orange County Vector Control District.  The list of appointees is consistent with a firm grip on power in the city. 

PLUS OTHER COMMITTEES...
Also of interest will be the planned discussion of other new committees.  You will recall that this current majority has, over the past four years, created many new committees and packed them with their supporters.  I have absolutely no doubt this tactic will remain the same.  Suggested items mentioned include housing, special events, bike, etc.  We'll see.



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Foley Challenges Mensinger/Righeimer Participation

POLICE ASSOCIATIONS NEGOTIATIONS INVOLVED
Last Tuesday afternoon there was a Special Closed Session of the Costa Mesa City Council in which negotiations of the contracts for the Costa Mesa Police Management Association (CMPMA) and the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association (CMPOA) were to be discussed. 
NORMALLY A BRIEF BEGINNING
Under normal circumstances the council would meet briefly in Council Chambers, take role, the item would be "read into the record" and they would then adjourn to the conference room in the 5th floor bunker, er, Executive Offices.  That usually takes just about as long as it took you to read this far.

NOT LAST WEEK!
Last Tuesday, though, that process took 19 minutes and resulted in a piece of video that you really MUST watch.  You can view it HERE.

FOLEY - MAYOR AND PRO TEM ARE "CONFLICTED"
Both Mayor Steve Mensinger and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer were late for the meeting.  Councilman Gary Monahan - wearing a sun visor advertising his pub, apparently to protect him from the glare of the hot lights - was in charge as they began the process.  Councilwoman Katrina Foley - a lawyer - took exception to the mayor and mayor pro tem being permitted to participate in the negotiations for the CMPMA because the terms of that contract are identical to that of the CMPOA and members of the CMPMA had been members of the CMPOA, and the mayor and mayor pro tem are prohibited from negotiating on that one because of their civil suit against the men and women of the CMPD.

ATTORNEY LETTER
Sandra Genis referred to a letter from a law firm, apparently representing one of the associations, in which they asked for Mensinger and Righeimer to be barred from participating in the CMPMA negotiation discussions.

DUARTE SAYS NO...
City Attorney Tom Duarte told the council he had considered the issue and he and his staff had determined that both men are NOT conflicted out of the CMPMA negotiations.

WATCH PATIENTLY
I'm not going to paraphrase the video.  The quality of the video is quite bad - the video is halting and, in the beginning, the audio is not very good, either.  Stick with it and just listen to the dialogue.  At one point, once Righeimer and Mensinger finally showed up, you'll hear Righeimer call the president of the CMPOA a liar - stating flat out that he lied to the Grand Jury.  I found that curious, since Grand Jury testimony is supposed to be confidential.

IT'S WORTH THE TIME
Viewing this video, with all it's technical deficiencies, will be a worthwhile expenditure of your time.  It demonstrates the contentiousness of the relationship between the top two elected officials in the city and the men and women hired to protect and serve us.  It also demonstrates the value of Katrina Foley on the dais.  She and Genis will form a team to be reckoned-with in the months to come, even though they certainly will not agree on every issue.  Both are well-educated, high-achievers in their chosen professions and clearly the two smartest people on the dais.  The seating arrangement has them at opposite ends of the dais, so I suspect watching them in action will sometimes be akin to watching a fast-paced tennis match.  It certainly will be worth the price of admission.

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