Friday, March 13, 2015

Anniversary Of A Tragic Day Approaching

THE WORST DAY...
I've already given you a rundown on the agenda for the Costa Mesa City Council meeting next Tuesday, March 17, 2015.  What I DIDN'T do was remind you that it is also the fourth anniversary of what may be THE most tragic day in the history of our city - the day the then-and-current council majority decided to issue layoff notices to more than 200 City employees to launch their scheme to outsource virtually all services within the city, which prompted young maintenance worker, Huy Pham, to leap to his death from the roof of City Hall.

THE PAIN HAS NOT LEFT
The anguish felt by most City employees, and many residents,  persists to this day. The lawsuit filed about this move remains unsettled four years later. With this entry I offer you a chance to revisit that day and the next few weeks that followed as presented on these pages.  Perhaps it will help you recall those events and some of the positive elements of them.  I provide them to you today, Friday the 13th, because it seems appropriate and you'll have the weekend to wade through the various entries listed below if you choose to do so.  Click on the title to view the entry.

March 17, 2011 - Suicide At City Hall
March 18, 2011 - Costa Mesa Issues Press Release About Huy Pham
March 18, 2011 - Press Conference Pending on Thursday's Tragedy
March 18, 2011 - Mohahan's Prepared Statement Released

TWO VIDEO CLIPS
Next comes two video clips.  The first is the KCAL 9 news clip on the event and the press conference.  It runs about 2:46.  The second is a 10 minute clip of the entire press conference - maybe the most ill-advised and poorly conducted such event I've ever seen.


 
MORE ENTRIES
March 19, 2011 - Of Loving, Lameness And Losers
March 20, 2011 - CMCEA Statement & Memorial Gathering
March 21, 2011 - Two "Healing" Events Scheduled Today
March 21, 2011 - Today The Healing Began - Or Did It?
March 24, 2011 - Lobdell As A Lightning Rod   
March 31, 2011 - Geoff & Steve - Conjoined Twins
April 3, 2011     - "Outsourcing" Polarizes Community
April 5, 2011    - Tonight's Council Meeting Could Get Rowdy
April 5, 2011    - Mandoki Resigns!
April 6, 2011    - "The People" Spoke - Did The Council Listen?

REMEMBERING
Remembrances have been held in Pham's honor, including a tree being planted in his name near the rear of City Hall.  

THE BEGINNING OF THE SLIDE
Since that time we've seen a dramatic shift in the governance of our city.  Those who have been continuously in charge since that tragic date have systematically dismantled one of the best city governments in the county, and maybe the state.

DISMANTLING OF THE CMPD
Perhaps the most cataclysmic change has been with the Costa Mesa Police Department - one of the most highly-regarded law enforcement organizations in the state.  This group arrived and two of them promptly told then-Interim Chief Steve Staveley - a man with more than four decades of law enforcement leadership under his belt at the time - that he didn't need 144 officers to police the city - he only needed 125!  They also completely ignored the consultants hired to perform an assessment of the CMPD, the result of which was an opinion that the proper staffing level was 136.  An interesting sidebar- current Assistant Chief Executive Officer Tammy Letourneau was a consultant and part of that team.

STAVELEY TOSSES A GRENADE ON THE WAY OUT
That was the beginning of the downfall of the CMPD.  It wasn't too long until Staveley had enough.  On June 20, 2011 abruptly resigned, leaving in his wake a scathing memo outlining just why he was taking his action.  You can read my entry, including his entire resignation letter, HERE.  However, perhaps the most memorable segment of that letter reads as follows: "I have never, however, seen a council such as this one. They lack skill, training, education, knowledge, they fail to study (or at least learn). The majority either lies or are so lacking in the necessary skills that they actually believe the junk they say. They act as if they are owners of the business that is the municipal government of the City of Costa Mesa, but they are not, they are merely trustees of these public assets both human and physical and they fail in that role completely. They are in my opinion incompetent, unskilled and unethical."  These words have proven to be right on the money.  Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch, who had only been in his job a few months, rejected Staveley's characterization of the circumstances and hired another highly-respected law enforcement leader, Dennis Kies, as another Interim Chief while the search continued for a permanent leader for the CMPD.

DISBANDING A.B.L.E.
The first of July the council majority summarily disbanded the Airborne Law Enforcement (A.B.L.E.) organization - the joint venture between Costa Mesa and Newport Beach which had served the communities for four decades and had been the model for municipal airborne law enforcement organizations throughout the country.  Read about A.B.L.E.'s final day HERE.  The loss of that organization - a force multiplier in law enforcement parlance - made the job on the streets just that much more difficult, and it only got worse.

GAZSI ARRIVES...
Early in September Hatch hired Tom Gazsi, a nearly life-long Costa Mesa resident, who brought with him three decades of experience with the Newport Beach Police Department, as the new Chief of the Costa Mesa Police Department.  His choice seemed to be the answer to the unstable leadership in that organization and he went about trying to rebuild morale and making changes - including a revamping of the entire command staff -  to return the organization to it's once-proud position.  However, that was not to be.

MEDDLING
He was handcuffed by the interference, meddling and the toxic atmosphere caused by the current council majority that created great unrest within City government and, in particular, within the CMPD.  Senior officers resigned to other venues or opted for a much earlier than planned retirement.  Over one 12 month period we saw nearly 50 members of the CMPD depart.  That number has grown.  And, the council majority refused to let Chief Gazsi recruit new officers for most of a year, so the department kept falling farther and farther behind the curve.  And the mayor and mayor pro tem sued the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department - a case that is still pending. 

 LACK OF SUPPORT CHASES HIM AWAY
After three years trying to manage the organization with virtually no support and with promises made to him going unfulfilled for years, Gazsi finally retired from the CMPD and took a new position as Deputy Chief of Operations at the Port Of Los Angeles Police Department, protecting "America's Port", HERE.  As it stands today, there are fewer than 100 officers able to report for duty - in recent weeks that number has actually slipped to 85.  Specialty units, like the Gang Detail and Narcotics, have been abandoned due to staffing shortages.  The Narcotics unit brought in nearly $1 million per year in asset forfeiture dollars - a revenue source that is all but lost now.  This can be laid right at the doorstep of Mayor Steve Mensinger, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and the lamest of lame ducks, Councilman Gary Monahan.  Another outstanding law enforcement leader, new Interim Chief Ron Lowenberg, will try to hold the pieces together while a new permanent chief is identified.

TURMOIL CREATES APPREHENSION
Meanwhile, the turmoil throughout City government continued.  Months passed without labor contracts being resolved and when the so-called "Miscellaneous Employees" - the members of the CMCEA who had received those layoff notices nearly four years earlier - finally signed a contract it was an agreement that took them back decades.  It's no wonder at all why so many employees who CAN leave are doing so, and it's not a surprise that recruitment - particularly for public safety positions - is so difficult for The City.

DON'T FORGET WHO IS RESPONSIBLE
So, as we mark the anniversary of the event that actually lit the fuse on this destruction of City Government in Costa Mesa, remember just exactly who is responsible for this debacle - the council majority, who would rather fill potholes than provide adequate public safety.  This is the majority who refused to listen to the will of the people, who resoundingly rejected Jim Righeimer's Charter scheme, and put another such document on the ballot two years later, only to see it also fail dramatically.  On their watch we've spent millions of dollars on legal fees, defending their stupid, ill-advised actions.  On their watch Costa Mesa has become the "Rehab Riviera" of Orange County, with more than a quarter of all sober living facilities in the county falling within its borders.  And, it appears that we will soon become the Medical Marijuana center for the county as well.

HIS PASSING WAS THE BEGINNING...
When poor Huy Pham jumped to his death it was not the exclamation point at the end of a terrible day.  His death was the capital letter at the beginning of the first sentence in a drama that chronicled the beginning of a terrible time in Costa Mesa.  The young man is missed by his peers and family and friends.  Sound government seems to have died with him.  Please do not forget Huy Pham...  mourn for him, and for the government of our city, too.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Employee Contracts, City Hall Expansion And More

BUSY MEETING NEXT WEEK
The Costa Mesa City Council will meet Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at its regularly-scheduled meeting beginning at 5:45 in City Council Chambers - preceded by a short Closed Session in Conference Room 5A.  The agenda for the meeting may be read HERE.

SPENDING YOUR MONEY
There's a lot of interesting stuff happening at this meeting, but I'll begin with a little summary of the Consent Calendar, and, more specifically, Item #3, Warrant 2532, HERE.  I will list some of the items we have already spend money on - things that catch my eye or are otherwise of interest.
FTOG, Inc - $2,205.00 - Interim Buyer, 2/2-2/13/15
G4S Secure Solutions, Inc - $60,779.40 - Jail Services, 12/29/14 - 1/26/15
Jones & Mayer - $156,143.96 - Legal Services (45 line items)
City of Mission Viejo - $6,240.00 - IT Staffing Svcs, January, 2015
Jones Day - $11,756.25 - Legal Services, CMCEA, Nov. 2014
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $11,738.81 - Legal, various Negot. etc.
National Data & Surveying Services - $5,370.00 - Data Collection Services
Orange County Conservation Corps - $2,016.00 - Tumbleweed Removal, etc.
Scientia Consulting Group, Inc. - $12,706.50 - IT Consultant, Dec and January
State of California Dept. of Justice - $11,901.00 - Fingerprint apps
City of Huntington Beach - $18,200.00 - Helicopter Svcs, 1/15
Lilly Planning Group - $26,050.00 - Planning Consultant Services 1/15
Enterprise Counsel Group - $1,259.15 - Legal, Succ. Agncy, Nov & Dec.
FTOG Inc - $2,160.00 - Interim Buyer, 2/16-2/27/15
Government Staffing Services, Inc. - $8,185.50 - Temp svcs, various
Keyser Marston Assoc. - $7,670.00 - Consulting Svcs
Leibert Cassidy Whitmore - $9,492.50 - Legal, Personnel Matter
Scientia Consulting Group, Inc. - $6,385.50 - IT Consultant, 1/25-2/7/15
Westminster Press, Inc. - $2,230.00 - I405 Mailer/Printing

THE BUCKS JUST KEEP ON FLOWING OUT
So, on THIS Warrant we paid one outfit more than $4,400 for an Interim Buyer; more than $190,000 for legal services; more than $25,000 for IT consulting and more than $60,000 to run the jail.  Thought you should know.

NEGOTIATORS
Also on the Consent Calendar - Item #13 of 14, HERE, is the appointment of City Negotiators for the Meet and Confer process with the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA) for the process that begins in June.  The staff recommends that Assistant CEO Tamara Letourneau and Lawyer Laura Kalty be appointed.  It will be interesting to see just how much more blood they can squeeze from the turnip - the contract the CMCEA approved took them back to the dark ages.  Just FYI.

DING!  ROUND TWO!
Public Hearing #1, HERE, is the second public hearing on the side letter with the Costa Mesa Police Management Association (CMPMA).  You will recall at the first reading two weeks ago Gary Monahan violated the Brown Act by letting the cat out of the bag regarding the CMPOA negotiations, which caused a shouting match between Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and Councilwoman Katrina Foley and a heated discussion (kindest way to put it) between Foley and contract City Attorney Tom Duarte during a hastily-called break.  I suspect this will go smoothly this time.  As a sidebar, in the wake of Monahan's gaffe, the CMPOA has released details of the negotiations of their contract.

APPEALING GANAHL MOVE
Public Hearing #2, HERE,  is the appeal of the Planning Commission approval of the application by Ganahl Lumber to move their operations to a site adjacent to their current store on Bristol Street.  The appellants are Joseph E. Miller (shown here) and Alison Miller and their complaint is listed in the staff report.  This presentation took a couple hours before the Planning Commission.  I have NO idea how long this appeal take, but it could be even longer!  Ugh!

A SURVEY IS BURIED IN THERE SOMEWHERE
New Business #1, HERE, is the Professional Services Agreement with RJM Design Group for the update of the Open Space Master Plan of Parks and Recreation.  It is of interest that this item also includes a request from staff for direction from the City Council as to the activities of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee, which is scheduled to hear the final items on their task list on April 1st and make recommendations to the Parks and Recreation Commission shortly thereafter.  The way I read the staff report, it looks like they want to put the committee on hiatus until this project is completed.  That makes NO sense to me.  This group was tasked more than 20 months ago to do what they've been doing... assessing the existing uses of Fairview Park in a calm, methodical manner and have almost completed that assignment.  There was NO requirement for a community-wide survey - which will be included with the consultants task - so the two, while related, are not intertwined.  The FPCAC should be permitted to complete it's task, write it's recommendations to the Parks and Recreation Commission, who can then choose to do something with it, or wait until the consultant's task is finished, then blend the results.

USING CITY HALL SPACE BETTER
The final item on the agenda, New Business #2, HERE, is the request for authorization for the construction of a community room and outdoor meeting space and remodel of the employee lounge in City Hall.  This project, which asks for over $1 million to complete ( the $992,000 ratchet's up to $1.2 million) would convert the old  almost 1700 square foot print shop adjacent to Conference Room 1A into a community room, complete with full audio-visual and broadcast capabilities.  Right now 1A can record meetings, but cannot broadcast from there.  It would also enhance the existing "lounge" - that cramped, dated break room nearby.  It also includes plans for an outdoor meeting area - a patio where grass now exists - with seating for meetings and/or lunch spaces for employees.

NEED MORE FLEXIBILITY
I'm told that the new "community room" will not be divisible, like rooms at the Neighborhood Community Center.  That's too bad, since that feature makes the NCC much more usable for smaller groups.  With 1675 square feet to work with, having flexibility in the configuration of this new facility would make it much more usable - particularly since plans for the NCC/Library project will shut down that facility for months - probably a year - during which groups will be scrambling for meeting space.

3 MILLION BUCKS, GIVE OR TAKE!
When the dust settles, so to speak, the three projects PLUS the previously-approved upgrade of the City Council Chambers and the current audio-visual/broadcast infrastructure (for $1.6 million) would come to right at $3 million!  That's OK, though... all these improvements are necessary and long, long, long overdue. Our award-winning team of Dane Bora and Brad Long have been pulling rabbits out of the hat for far too long with the crappy infrastructure.

OK!
In my view, this project should be approved.  They plan to fund the three projects with 2014/2015 salary savings of $1,202,000 - which very likely comes directly from the Police Department budgeted numbers, since we've been unable to fill slots as fast as the current budget anticipated. 

 TWO STAGES...
And, this project should be done in two stages.  The first - this project, which results in a new meeting room and enhanced Conference Room 1A plus the new "lounge" and outside space, can be accomplished without disturbing meetings and other activities in the council chambers.  Once it is finished and operational, the large council chambers project can be tackled, with meetings shifted to the new meeting room temporarily instead of having to locate facilities elsewhere around town for City Council, Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission meetings .

GUESSIN' 11 P.M....
The end of the meeting will include overflow public commenters and items pulled from the Consent Calendar... I'm thinking we're out of there before 11 p.m.






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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mary Jane Takes A Breather, So To Speak

MEDICAL MARIJUANA FLOGGED
The Medical Marijuana Study Session conducted by the Costa Mesa City Council Tuesday evening was an interesting exercise in frustration.  For 100 minutes the latest iteration of Councilman Gary Monahan's earlier Medical Marijuana Ordinance - one that had been significantly sliced and diced and enhanced by input from a few council members since it last saw the light of day in a public forum - was analyzed, criticized and practically euthanized by the four members of the council in attendance (Mayor Steve Mensinger was apparently winging his way home from Washington, D.C. with CEO Tom Hatch) and several members of the public.  Fifty or so people were in the chambers during this discussion, many of whom were new faces.

READ THE RED LINE VERSION
Assistant CEO Rick Francis made a brief introduction of the issue, then handed off to Deputy City Attorney Chris Neumeyer for the presentation.  You can read all 62 pages of the red line copy of the ordinance - with all the changes - HERE.  Neumeyer made it clear that the changes shown were just for discussion purposes - nothing was final yet.  That really didn't seem to make much difference, though.  The council members just kept flogging it.

FOLEY GENERATED MOST OF THE CHANGES
Councilwoman Katrina Foley, who had requested this study session, apparently had spent a good deal of time on this issue with Neumeyer because most of the changes to the original Monahan document came from her.  The council spent the first hour going over those changes.  I don't intend to attempt to cover all those modifications - the streaming video may be available shortly for those interested in viewing the proceedings.  Anyone with a serious interest in this subject should do so.

SOME OF THEM...
Some of the changes were:
  • Regulation in the form of permits not only of the sale of Medical Marijuana, but the cultivation, management and ownership of the business.
  • Permits for all of those activities would have to be renewed annually.
  • Any employee would be prohibited from working in these activities if convicted of ANY felony within the past 10 years.
  • Delivery of Medical Marijuana would be prohibited for the first 2 years.
  • Restrictions for locations would include 1000 feet from any sober living home and 600 feet from any school.
  • Dispensaries would be limited to Industrial areas in the City.  A map provided with the staff report showed the locations where only 12 such dispensaries could be located.
  • Very stiff taxes would be assessed.
THE TWO OTHER INITIATIVES
Among the many other issues that are problematic included the two initiatives that have already qualified to be placed on a ballot before the voters, most likely in November 2016 because they contain tax language that requires them to be on a General Election ballot.  The conversation went round and round about whether this ordinance should be passed and implemented, dispensaries established, then new laws passed which would require the unraveling of those organizations.

POTENTIAL LEGISLATION
A big stumbling block, as clearly articulated by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer - who stated several times that he didn't know why we were there - is the possibility of state and/or federal laws that would change the whole ball game.   For example, throughout the evening speakers mentioned the move in the United States Senate to change the way the Federal Government views Medical Marijuana.  You can read about that HERE.  And - some of you will find this fascinating - former Planning Commission Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick is now somehow involved with an organization crafting an initiative to place the Recreational Use of Marijuana on the 2016 California ballot.  He submitted correspondence to be considered by the council for this meeting.

NO CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT
The question of whether or not a Conditional Use Permit should be required.  After much discussion, in which Councilwoman Sandra Genis led the way, it was determined that a CUP - which would run with the land - is NOT the way to go for this kind of an operation.

HOW TO ENFORCE IT?
Enforcement was also a big issue.  Does the Police Department enforce the rules, or does Code Enforcement, or a hybrid organization?

THE PUBLIC SPOKE, TOO
Nine members of the public spoke on this issue.  Charles Mooney outlined the shortcomings and missing links in the decision-making process with this issue.  Quality control, products like "concentrate" and "edibles" had not been given adequate discussion.

Lawyer Matt Pappas told the council that Monahan's original ordinance was better, and that the one being discussed would certainly generate much litigation - from him and others.

Commercial realtor Jason Piazza told the council that such businesses should NOT be prohibited from Commercial areas from a safety and parking standpoint.  He didn't mention that he'd likely make a lot of money if they were permitted in Commercial zones.

Ann Parker talked about restricting outlets from areas near group homes for the elderly, and suggested that since Santa Ana had approved selling the products right across our border, we should restrict it altogether.

Harold Weitzberg, who operated a dispensary with his wife, Joyce, offered to be an expert instructor in the medical side of the issue, to help educate the council and staff.  He suggested that "we need to deal with facts, not emotion." - a comment I interpreted to be directed at Foley.  They had provided a letter to the council on this issue with several points outlined that they felt should be considered.  They disagreed with the: limiting locations to industrial areas; requirement of records access; the security requirements; the amount of the special tax - 15%; the $10 per square foot fee for cultivators; the prohibition on deliveries and the enforcement of quality control.

Medical Marijuana user Paul Lucas suggested there be no limitation by geography to the locations.

Lisa Carlyle was aghast at the excessive fees recommended in the latest edition of the ordinance, implying that many operators wouldn't be able to make a living.  I smiled just a little bit when she said that.

The final speaker was Suzi Iwamoto, who suggested that we slow down and include any new ordinance in the General Plan update that's in progress.  She talked about campaign contributions from groups that would benefit from such an ordinance and "union employees drafting an ordinance that would benefit them" and told us she didn't have a problem with cannabis, per se, but thought we should take a more deliberate approach.

MONEY GRAB, AND MORE
Following that 35 minutes of comment time by the public the council re-engaged in their discussion.  Righeimer suggested that, among other things, this was just a money grab and that he thought the issue should appear on the ballot in November, 2016 and let the voters decide which measure they want in our city.  He also expressed concern about the probable state and federal legislation/ballot measures.

OK TO TABLE IT...
Foley said she didn't have a problem with placing a more fine-tuned version on the ballot, and tabling it until next year.

MONAHAN WAS NOT OK WITH SOME CHANGES
Monahan suggested we observe the Santa Ana implementation and suggested that recreational use was "polling crazy numbers", and would likely be on the November 2016 ballot.  He said he could count and knew he didn't have the numbers to go forward with an ordinance at this time.  He said he was OK with most of the changes proposed, but was NOT OK with the prohibition on delivery and the taxes, which he described as a "money grab".  And, he said he agreed with every word of the Weitzberg letter "100%".  He agreed so much that he repeated himself!

SAFETY CONCERNS
Genis also expressed concern about the possibility of state and/or federal laws and the amount of the taxes to be imposed and suggested that if delivery was authorized it should be by two people per vehicle for security purposes.

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!
Occasionally the term "cartels" came up in the discussions.  Obviously, members of the council are concerned about drug cartels getting a foothold in our city.  Seems like a reasonable concern, especially since we NO LONGER have a Narcotics unit thanks to Righeimer.  Foley, among other things, said, "This is not about medicine, it's about money!"

CORRUPTING INFLUENCE
Righeimer reiterated that it was a mistake having this meeting today, that we needed to have state and federal guidelines and that for the city council to attempt to manage this is "above our pay grade".  He said it will "have a corrupting effect on the city because there's too much money involved."  Sorry, I got just the slightest smile on my face again..

PUTTING IT ON PAUSE...
So, the upshot is that it looks like this issue will get some rest now.  It was clear that there would be three votes to not go forward with the creation of an ordinance right now.  It's unclear whether it will be returned to the council for an official decision in the near future or not.  There apparently may be more legal issues pending - that was also unclear at the meeting.  One thing was clear to me... the council is frustrated by this situation and probably feel helpless to significantly manage this issue.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Old Guard Leads New Senior Commission

BABY STEPS FOR THE NEW COMMISSION
At the first meeting of the brand new Costa Mesa Senior Commission this morning, two long time Senior Center activists were selected by their peers to head the commission.  Ernie Feeney was elected as Chair of the commission and Stella Adkins was chosen as Vice-Chair.
Chair Ernie Feeney
Vice Chair Stella Adkins
INTERESTING LEADERSHIP CHOICES
Without judging these choices, I will tell you that I found myself intrigued that none of the other three commissioners, Janet Lee Krochman, Kirk Bauermeister and John McGlinn - each of whom has very significant leadership experience in their backgrounds - were even nominated.  It's going to be very interesting to see how this shakes out, particularly since the commission now MUST be guided by the Brown Act rules of decorum.  Experience in the management of complicated programs and processes would certainly have been helpful.  We'll see...
 Member Janet Lee Krochman
 Member Dr. Kirk Bauermeister
 Member John McGlinn
THE SWEARING-IN
City Clerk Brenda Green swore-in the five members of the commission - which will probably end up being seven by the time the next meeting rolls around in May, then Feeney and Adkins were elected.
PUBLIC COMMENTS
Two members of the public spoke during the Public Comment segment of the meeting.  Sue Healy expressed concern about the availability of the Albert Dixon Foundation funds for senior programs.   Corrine Stover spoke about the sense of "belonging", and mentioned the Senior Roundtable.
BROWN ACT CLIFF NOTES
Recreation Manager Travis Karlen gave a thumbnail presentation on The Brown Act, discussing the complications of a quorum being accidentally formed if three or more of the commissioners show up at the same event.  If that's the case, only two may speak on the issue, otherwise the Brown Act is violated.  He also explained that, while the public may address an issue NOT on the published agenda during Public Comments, the commission may NOT vote or debate the issue.  It must be officially placed on the agenda of a future meeting.  He explained that all meetings must be officially posted 72 hours in advance.  He also emphasized that NO member may speak "on behalf" of the commission - EVER!
POTENTIAL FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS
The Commission agreed to agendize a discussion of the Senior Serv program for a future meeting.  They also agreed that a discussion of the Senior Advisory Committee should take place next time, to lay out the ground rules for the relationship between the Commission and that Committee.  There was also a discussion of  the Senior Roundtable, which was described as a long-standing "discussion group", where folks gather to chat about issues, sometimes over a meal.

THE ORGANIZATION
Karlen gave a short PowerPoint presentation (now available for viewing online HERE) on the organization structure so folks would know where the Senior Commission fell in that organization, and the relationship of the Recreation staff that operates the Senior Center. (click on the image to enlarge)
 Organization
 Staff

NEW SENIOR CENTER BOSS
He also introduced Yvette Aguilar, Senior Center and Program Administrator, who is on her second day on the job.  She reports to Karlen and will be in charge of all operations, programs and staff at the Senior Center.
Yvette Aguilar
THE ALBERT DIXON FOUNDATION
During his report to the Commission Karlen discussed the Albert Dixon Foundation.  He reminded us that the City CANNOT accept funds from the Foundation, so he's been in touch with the Costa Mesa Foundation, which may act as a conduit for funds requested from the Albert Dixon Foundation.  He has apparently spoken with Mike Scheafer, the President of the Albert Dixon Foundation Board, who wants to work with The City to find a way to fund Senior Programs in the City.  A brief discussion of that process - something the Commission will have to flesh out in the future, took place.  Apparently, seniors seeking funding for a program from the Albert Dixon Foundation will have to have that issue vetted by City Staff, then approved for request by the Commission.  This seems to be a cumbersome process, particularly since the Commission only meets every other month.  It will take some baby steps in this process to see how it's actually going to work.  And, Feeney wanted to know exactly how much money is left in the Foundation coffers.  Karlen did not have that number immediately available.

FEENEY'S CONCERNS
During Commissioner Comments, most had very little left to talk about, having discussed specific issues during the meeting.  Feeney was the exception, as she presented a laundry list of issues.
  • She was concerned that, after six months since the hand-off from the previous corporation, the same old telephone greeting was still on the system.  It turns out that the old Senior Corporation has, for some reason, refused to provide a code to enable the new organization to modify the message until the entirely new phone system is installed.  
  • She asked Karlen for a hard-copy of his Power Point presentation.
  • She wondered about how The Chronicle - the monthly Senior Center newsletter - is being distributed, and could additional copies be produced and place in doctors offices, etc.
  • She was concerned that Senior Center employees don't yet have extension numbers.
  • And, finally, she expressed concern that the Bus Driver was driving on the Freeway, which she says upsets some members.
The meeting was adjourned to the next one on May 12th at 9:00 a.m.

MY THOUGHTS
A few thoughts about this meeting.
  • I'm glad I attended this first meeting and expect to attend others in the future.
  • There were only 13 members of the public in the audience - a much smaller group than was hoped-for.
  • This is going to be a BIG adjustment for members of the Commission and members of the Senior Center.  The process required to be followed as a City Commission will sometimes seem like watching sap run and I wonder if some of the folks will have the patience necessary to work within this process.
  • It's going to be interesting to see how the interrelationship of the Commission, the Senior Advisory Committee and the Roundtable are blended.  I have my fingers crossed for that process.
  • It's going to be a real test for the City Staff, headed up by Assistant CEO Tammy Letourneau and Karlen, to provide sufficient direction for the Commission to keep it from running amok.
  • It's going to be VERY interesting to see how the coordination of the Senior Commission, the Albert Dixon Foundation Board and the Costa Mesa Foundation shakes out.
*****
SCHOOL BOARD MEETING TONIGHT
Steve Smith wanted me to remind you all that there is a meeting of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Trustees at 6:00 p.m. at District Headquarters, 2985 Bear Street, Costa Mesa, 92626.  He's got a burr under his blanket about what he feels is inappropriate spending and hopes folks will turn out for the meeting.  You can read his latest blog entry on it HERE.

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