SNIFFLING ALONG WITH STEVE
The Costa Mesa City Council met Tuesday night for the last meeting of the year under the "leadership" of a sniffling Mayor Steve Mensinger
, who was obviously fighting a cold. He was hacking and barking like a sea lion show at Sea World.
Right off the top, though, I apologize for the crappy quality of the photos this time around. I had my big whoop-dee-doo camera with me and was firing away when I heard a little chirp. My camera - which is obviously much smarter than I am - was reminding me quietly that I'd forgotten to load a memory card! Arrgghh! So, most of the images shown here were taken with my Iphone - not the best choice for a low-light, distance kind of situation. So, I used what I could and dug back into my archives for others. Sorry about that...
Anyhow, back to the sparsely-attended meeting. While most items ON THE AGENDA
went about as expected, the meeting was not without some interesting moments.
During Public Comments Tea Party Tom Pollitt
stepped up to criticize the council for their funding plans for the posed new library. Then he soundly criticized Councilwoman Katrina Foley
for her behavior at the last meeting - you will recall that she sparred with Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer
because he was commenting on the Police Association contract, which she felt was inappropriate considering the fact that he and Mensinger are suing the men and women of the department. Pollitt, who never ceases to amaze me with his vacuousness, demanded an apology from her on behalf of all residents of the city. Well, Tom, you DON'T
speak for me, pardner! Keep your demands to yourself! He then ranted about the police contract.
(sp?), a Canyon Drive resident pleaded with the council to do something about the reconfiguration of that street due to recent sidewalk installations. Seems rain water from the entire length of the street now routes directly into his driveway, which is below grade of the street. Mensinger directed Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz
to fix it.
spoke about the Toy Drive for the 1/5 Marines and told folks they could drop toys off at the First Friday Roadshow, this Friday in the City Hall parking lot. She also complimented Foley for her comments at the last meeting.
accused the council of playing a "political shell game" when it comes to affordable housing.
apologized for spreading an unsubstantiated rumor at the last meeting about the demise of the Boys and Girls Club.
An unidentified speaker provided her Christmas Wish List - Wisdom for the council; a full staffing complement for the Fire Department and continued operation of Station #6; a fair contract for the CMPA; council support for the CMPA and CMFA; Keep paramedics, not outsourced to Falk - the company that owns CARE
Ambulance and G4S Secure Solutions, the outfit who provides outsourced Jail Services to us. She also reminded folks that Costa Mesa First
is still collecting signatures for the so-called Smart Growth Initiative and will be at Harper School and also at the corner of Bay and Orange this weekend, plus folks will be walking the Eastside with petitions this weekend. She also complimented Foley for her comments last time.
made her final pitch for the Toy Drive for the children of the 1/5 Marines. Collection box is in the City Hall lobby for unwrapped, age-appropriate gifts.
observed that the meetings involving the General Plan update - the so-called Great Reach - provided choices from bad to worse.
GENIS CAUTIONED ABOUT BROWN ACT VIOLATIONS
At that point Mensinger turned the meeting over to CEO Tom Hatch
, who apparently had scheduled some non-agendized presentations. This caused Councilwoman Sandra Genis
to caution Hatch about this practice because it usually generated many comments by the council members and sometimes resulted in direction being given. He contention was that these things should at least be listed as discussion items under his comment time.
Then Fire Chief Dan Stefano
provided a short summary of what is coming up regarding the much-awaited 17 point plan. He told us they had just - that day - received the final report from the consultants and had not yet digested it, but would do so and he and Hatch would have a report to the council this week, so they all could mull it over before the next time it is discussed, sometime in January.
ANOTHER "RIGHEIMER MOMENT"
That launched Righeimer into low earth orbit, demanding that the report include consideration of EMTs on private ambulances. Most folks who have been paying attention to this realized this was an overt attempt to protect one of his major campaign contributors - CARE Ambulance. Genis pointed out that this was precisely what she cautioned about, but he just kept on yapping. Sound familiar? It should... that's what he did with Foley at the last meeting. Stefano attempted to side-step the demands, indicating their focus was the consultant's report, but that they would try to fold in information he was asking for, but Righeimer just kept on firing away. At one point he demanded Hatch provide that information and, when Stefano attempted to provide a response, he curtly said, "I'm talking to the CEO!
" The back-and-forth continued, with Genis, again, pointing out what was happening and Councilman Gary Monahan
coming to Righeimer's aid, indicating he had asked for this information in the past. Mensinger also sniffed a similar message.
Then Pension Oversight Committee Chairman Jeff Arthur
made yet another non-agendized presentation on the status of the City's pension situation, none of which is apparently available on the City web site. He told us the City pension obligation is 65.1% funded and attempted to explain how we got there and what it will take to fix the problem. Because of the variables - like CalPERS recently announcing a reduced return projection - there is no solution, yet.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS WEBSITE
And then Information Technology Director Steve Ely
made yet another unagendized presentation on the new online Capital Improvement Projects website, HERE
. This issue, like the other three, SHOULD
have been placed on the agenda so residents would know they would be discussed and attend the meeting to hear about it. This "stealth" scheduling is getting to be a very nasty habit, and it's hard to understand.
COUNCIL MEMBER COMMENTS
During her segment Genis observed Item #4 on the Consent Calendar - the consulting contract with Lilley Consulting, and asked about staffing issues. She invited the public to "tell us what you want
" in the Envirnmental Impact Report for the General Plan update. She also mentioned that the Vector Control District will be doing some spraying around the county. She also expressed strong concern about the Humane Society - the organization Newport Beach recently decided to drop as a source for animal control - and opined that the City should keep an eye on it.
HE ACTUALLY HAD SOMETHING TO SAY!
Monahan concurred with Genis about the notification of presentations under Hatch's segment, and suggested to Hatch that the agenda should at least show a line item of such presentations so the public would know about them. He mentioned the Snoopy House, wished everyone a Merry Christmas, confirmed the need to do something about the Canyon Drive drainage problem, briefly discussed the 17 point plan and Righeimer's request and told us the contract negotiation information for public safety units is available online.
Righeimer was uncharacteristicly brief, and only spoke about driving his girls around town to see the new "product" available to homebuyers.
Mensinger, said he'd keep it brief, too, but thanked Refakes for the Toy Drive, said outsourcing paramedics is not up for discussion and directed Munoz to follow-up with the Canyon Drive issue.
FILTHY BUS STOPS AND A COAT DRIVE
Foley expressed concern about the filthy condition of the bus stops around town and asked Munoz to follow up with the contractor and demand they do their job. She also asked for a copy of the contract. Among other things she spoke of her 7th annual coat drive.
PULLED FROM THE CONSENT CALENDAR
Items 1,4 and 9 were pulled from the Consent Calendar for discussion and trailed to the end of the meeting.
TRIP FEES REMAIN THE SAME
Public Hearing #1, the trip fees issue, took much longer than I expected - 30 minutes. One sticking point was the incentives included in the formula. Foley and Genis thought that was problematic because it certainly appears that developers don't need to be incentivized. And, Genis expressed concern that these fees are a decade old and probably not keeping up with the actual costs. After long discussions and a substitute motion made by Foley and Genis failed, the item passed on a 4-1 vote - Genis voted no.
NEW ORGANICS RECYCLING ORDINANCE PASSED, 5-0
Public Hearing #2, which dealt with the impact of Assembly Bill 1826, which requires Organic Recycling by commercial businesses as of January 1, 2017 - it will be enforced in April - generated only a brief discussion and passed the first reading of the new ordinance, 5-0. It cannot receive the second reading until January, so it will go into effect in February. Still, according to Munoz, we have a system in place - the requirement that all carriers in the city comply with the state law - so we meet the requirements.
CHARLE/BERNARD PROJECT MOVES FORWARD
New Business #1, the 10-unit development at Charle and Bernard Streets, had received some massaging by the developer and the result was a much better project than originally proposed. This was a screening request, which required no vote, so the developer will move forward.
The trailed items from the Consent Calendar were next. The person who pulled #1 had left, so that was promptly dispatched on a 5-0 vote.
Item #4, the Lilley Contract, prompted questions by Foley of staff about our hiring process. Hatch made a feeble attempt to respond, observing that we hire people, then they leave. Geez, no kidding! Assistant CEO Tammy Letourneau
responded that we have between 57 and 60 openings presently, and that the two Planning positions in question would have to be re-prioritized. She told Foley she would get back to her Tuesday (today, as it turns out). She mentioned that we're constantly re-prioritizing. An observation... I've heard from several sources within City Hall that ever since the so-called General Employees had a contract approved that effectively took them back three decades from a wage and benefit standpoint, Costa Mesa has become a revolving door for folks in that group. New folks are hired, stay a short time, then leave for much greener pastures with a little experience under their belts. You can thank the council majority for that loss of experience and the costly process of replacing them.
THAT'S ALL, FOLKS...
Item #9, pulled by an absent person, was promptly dispatched on a 5-0 vote and Mensinger coughed out Christmas greetings and closed the meeting at 8:25 p.m.! That it now until January 5th.
Labels: Costa Mesa City Council, Dan Stefano, Gary Monahan, Jim Righeimer, Katrina Foley, Sandra Genis, Steve Mensinger, Tammy Letourneau, Tom Hatch