A MEMORABLE MEETING, FOR SURE
Well, now... that was fun! Yes, sir, the Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday night/Wednesday morning was one for the old memory book. So much happened that I almost don't know where to begin... almost.
HEADING FOR DAWN...
The meeting ran until 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, so I'm going to give you just a little shorter version so I can get to bed before dawn... another busy day is ahead.
TCA DOING BETTER
The meeting began with a report from the Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA), outlining it's recovery from the fiscal abyss and showing the progress being made. It was good news. You can read their information on the two images below. Click on them to make them bigger.
Public Comments was VERY
interesting. Of the twenty people who spoke between 5:50 and 6:45, nearly one third of them addressed the possibility of Hank Lloyd
leaving the Costa Mesa Tennis Club, including Lloyd, himself. In a nutshell, a Request For Proposals for the operation of the Tennis Center was issued and Lloyd - who has operated it for 17 years with great success, putting Costa Mesa on the Tennis Map - found the changes in the terms too backbreaking to attempt to manage. A half-dozen folks spoke on his behalf and at least that many more came to the meeting in support of Lloyd. The upshot was that the council directed staff to look into the situation surrounding the very significant increase in costs to Lloyd - they involved passing through charges for electricity and water that had not been part of the arrangement in the past.
PUBLIC COMMENT POTPOURRI
Other speakers addressed group homes; inconsistent planning rules; insufficient data on the Consolidated Plan survey; lack of a Economic Development Plan; the pending demolition of the Costa Mesa Motor Inn and the impact on residents; poor condition of baseball fields; the departure of Communication Director Bill Lobdell
to the Irvine Company; the shortage of police and public records requests.
FOLEY ON MORALES AND MORE
During Council Member Comments, Katrina Foley
asked for the meeting to be adjourned in memory of Crystal Morales
, daughter of CMPD Detective Jose Morales
, who tragically died in a traffic accident last week. She also spoke of the Young Kim
press conference on I-405 Toll Roads earlier in the day; the Hank Lloyd RFP issue; an electronic waste collection at Costa Mesa High School from 10:00 to 2:00; Fire Department staffing; her previous request for a council goal-setting meeting and more.
GENIS ON LLOYD AND SEGERSTROM
also addressed the Tennis Center issue and two items on the Consent Calendar. She asked for the meeting to be adjourned in honor of Henry Segerstrom, the visionary creator of South Coast Plaza, who died recently at age 91. She also mentioned the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
actually had something to say at this meeting - he pointed it out to me for all to hear... He spoke of Little League and AYSO openings and, in response to an earlier speaker's concern about the Conference and Visitor Bureau funding, misspoke about the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), stating it was voluntary. He's wrong... a segment of the TOT - 3% - is voluntary for eleven (11) hotels in town. The city receives 11% from those hotels - it's 8% for all others - then returns the 3% to the Conference and Visitors Bureau for business development purposes. He also mentioned that Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce President Ed Fawcett
will soon retire and an announcement will be made about his party. He asked CEO Tom Hatch
about Talbert Park, and any plans for Costa Mesa to take it over. He also addressed the Hank Lloyd situation. As it turned out, he should have not said another word. More on that in a minute.
RIGHEIMER ON COPS
also addressed the Hank Lloyd situation, kind of scolding Lloyd for not speaking up sooner - the council received his letter Tuesday. He addressed the Young Kim press conference - he did not attend. He also mentioned the meeting tonight, Wednesday, at College Park Elementary where several members of the city council and staff will discuss sober living homes and the current status of policing. Addressing the latter, he responded to Jay Humphrey
's question about Righeimer and Mensinger "pulling out all the stops
" to get the CMPD staffed up. He mentioned a letter the council received from the CMPD, which is now on the City Website, HERE
. Hatch later addressed this memo, too. Review the letter for yourself and you will find a schedule - "glide path
" as Righeimer referred to it - that theoretically takes the CMPD from the current strength of 108 officers to 144 by the end of 2016.
MENSINGER ON SEGERSTROM
Steve Mensinger talked about his history with Henry Segerstrom
- he attended his service over the weekend. Apparently his Aunt Peggy - who was the mayor of Modesto - went to Stanford with Segerstrom. He asked Hatch to figure out a way for the City to honor Segerstrom. He mentioned that he will be out of town for the long weekend ahead, going with Hatch to Washington, D.C. for the mayor's conference. He discussed the group home issue brought up by resident Barry Fisher
, and mentioned Hank Lloyd, too. He also spoke of the press conference earlier in the day, which he did attend.
HATCH - COPS STAFFING AND MORE
Hatch took his turn and made a lengthy presentation. He echoed what is in that CMPD report mentioned above, and expanded on the fact that we are hiring excellent recruits. We've had the top recruit in the past two classes. Foley wondered what we were doing about attracting lateral transfers from other jurisdictions because all Hatch was talking about was new recruits, none of which would be ready to be functioning on his own for nearly two years. She wondered what we are doing to retain cops. Hatch addressed the group home meeting today, and spoke about the staffing of Code Enforcement. He addressed the Tennis Center issue and reminded the council that they just cannot turn off the RFP process because they've had several people respond to it now. He will work with the City Attorney on the issue
Four items were pulled from the Consent Calendar for later discussion.
MONAHAN GAFFE, FOLEY AND RIGHEIMER SCRUM
Then the fun began... At 7:47 p.m. Lawyer and negotiator Laura Kalty
addressed Public Hearing #1, the extension of the side letter between the City and the Costa Mesa Police Management Association (CMPMA). This should have been a short, sweet discussion, but the wheels came flying off. During the discussion Monahan let slip information about negotiations with the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association (CMPOA) that could have only come from information he gathered in a Closed Session negotiating session and Foley jumped right on it. Trust me when I tell you that finding that section of the video tape is going to be worth your time! At one point things got so heated that Mensinger actually pounded his gavel on the dais and demanded order be restored. Foley and Righeimer got into a shouting match, exacerbated by her challenge of a legal opinion provided by City Attorney Tom Duarte
. Foley pointed out what she referred to as a manipulation of the process where Righeimer and Mensinger are not supposed to be privy to ANY
part of the negotiations between the City and the Costa Mesa Police Association because they are involved in a lawsuit with the association. Foley and Righeimer yelled back and forth at each other and Mensinger finally called a 5 minute break. During that time Foley and Duarte were at the coffee cranny at the rear of the dais and she could be heard screaming at him.
When they returned four members of the public addressed this issue. Gene Hutchins
, once again, gave his rote rant about unfunded pensions. That issue seems to be like a chunk of spinach he cannot remove from his teeth. Tamar Goldmann
expressed concern about hiring laterals because of the hostility between Righeimer, Mensinger and the CMPD. Jay Humphrey
expressed consternation at the outburst, and the reason for it. He cautioned council members - he's been there - to just hold their tongues on the dais. Anna Vrska
observed that she has experienced some shoddy legal work via Jones & Mayer herself, amplifying what Foley had complained about earlier.
FOLEY CONCERNED ABOUT LEGAL OPINION
Foley then apologized for her passion on the issue. She is concerned about the confidentiality of the Closed Session and was concerned about liability the City might have as a result of Monahan's gaffe. She expressed concern that the City Attorney was turning a blind eye to the issue, then said there is NOTHING
we can do about it. She said it degrades the process and degrades good faith. She told Hatch she wanted an independent legal analysis of Monahan's comment.
CONCERN ABOUT WAIVING CONFIDENTIALITY
Genis expressed concern that if, as Duarte had said earlier, Monahan's comment effectively waives the City's confidentiality, she didn't want him waiving HER
confidentiality. Whew! This was one for the ages! All that ended at 8:25 and we had four more hours to go! Ugh!
SMALL LOT ORDINANCE CHANGES APPROVED
Public Hearing #2 was the amendment to the Small Lot Ordinance. Several speakers expressed concern that these modifications were just more developer giveaways. I'm giving you the short version. After a 30 minute discussion during which the parking changes were the primary focus, the council gave first reading to the changes on a 3-2 vote - Genis and Foley voted no.
SENIOR COMMISSION UP TO SEVEN
Old Business #1, the expansion of the Senior Commission from five members to seven, took about two minutes and passed, 5-0.
FINANCIAL AND BUDGET POLICIES APPROVED
We then launched off into the three Finance-related issues, guided by Interim Finance Director Steve Dunivent
. The first was the Financial and Budget Policies, which passed, 4-1, with Genis voting no because of a language issue.
GENERAL FUND RESERVE STUDY
The next was the discussion of the General Fund Reserves Study. Following a 45 minute discussion - during which Foley and Righeimer agreed that the staff report was too conservative - the council passed the plan, 4-1, with Monahan voting no. The staff report was modified to make the Reserves goal $55 million, and the annual contribution to the Reserves $1.5 million, part of which would be the annual repayment of money the State stole from us. That should be around $700,000 each year for the next 10 years or so. The staff report wanted just over $63 million, with up to $2 million annually going toward the reserves. Keep in mind that our reserves were over $73 million before the recession the end of the last decade.
The third item was the Mid-Year Budget Review. Among the suggestions by speakers were an accelerated payment of the Fire Side Fund. One speaker was concerned about where the legal costs were paid from, since the Self Insurance fund normally associated with it has been depleted to just about $2 million from $22 just a few years ago. Nobody seemed particularly concerned about that. The council passed the staff report, 4-1, with Genis voting no.
NO SEPARATE SURVEY
Finally, at 10:45 and without a break, we launched off into Mensinger's request for a Fairview Park Use Survey. After a 30 minute discussion - during which Righeimer, in particular, showed impatience with the process, stating that he "just wanted to get it behind us
" - the first of sixteen (16) members of the public stepped up to address this issue. Even Hutchins rejected the survey idea - but he took a completely out of context jab at Foley for her vote on the Police Pensions half a decade ago. Of those, only the final speaker - Mensinger friend, Chuck Perry
- said anything even remotely in support of Mensinger's scheme. All the others, in one way or the other, rejected the need for the survey. Eventually, at 12:15 a.m., the council voted 5-0 to NOT
conduct a separate survey, but fold some Fairview Park-specific questions into the scope of work for the consultant that will soon be retained to facilitate the update of the Master Plan of Parks and Open Spaces. The council will consider that contract at it's next meeting on March 17th. So, Steve didn't get his survey
MORE MARATHON INFO REQUESTED
The council moved quickly through the "pulled" Consent Calendar items until they got to #8, the Orange County Marathon issue. Righeimer excused himself and left the auditorium because "Scott Baugh is the Chairman and I don't want to hear about it.
" It turns out, based on the testimony by Gary Kucher
, who runs the Marathon, that Baugh is NOT
the chairman of anything. He is a member of the OC Marathon Foundation Board. Foley wanted to know specifics about the costs to the city for supporting the marathon - specifically, the costs and reimbursement for the CMPD and CMFD. During the conversation it came out that the charges had been reduced a couple years ago, apparently because Costa Mesa charged more than other cities. The discussion took about 30 minutes, but they finally passed the item, 4-0, with Righeimer out of the room and we finally adjourned at 12:45 a.m.! Arrgghh!
Labels: budget, CMPMA, CMPOA, Fairview Park, Gary Monahan, General Fund, Hank Lloyd, Jim Righeimer, Katrina Foley, OC Marathon, Sandra Genis, Scott Baugh, Steve Dunivent, Steve Mensinger, Tom Duarte