Short Meeting Abruptly Ends With A Bang!
STRANGER AND STRANGER
Just when you thought Costa Mesa City Council meetings couldn't get more strange, the Special Meeting - called because the Mayor wanted to go to a party Tuesday night - is right up there with the most weird meetings on record. As it turned out, there was barely a quorum. Katrina Foley and Gary Monahan were absent, leaving only three council members on the dais to perform their duties. That becomes very important at the end.
MAYOR'S AWARD TO JOHN HAWLEY
Oh, it all began nicely enough, with Mayor Steve Mensinger bestowing his Mayor's Award on Westside businessman, John Hawley. Hawley has operated Railmakers since 1969, when he began it to provide all manner of stainless steel rails for the burgeoning boat business. Although much of that business has diminished, Railmakers remains the source for not only rails, but specialty items and art work. And, Hawley is a good guy who cares about the community. He speaks out on issues important to him on occasion.
Fourteen people spoke during Public Comments.
Beth Refakes reminded us of the Trunk or Treat candy drive for the children of the 1/5 Marines - our adopted unit from Camp Pendleton. Individually wrapped candies may be dropped off at City Hall.
Flo Martin thanked the city staff for being responsive to her complaints about the Tanager Bike Trail, and showed images of the damaged pavement. The City will repair it soon.
Barrie Fisher spoke to compliment the City on the new housing near her home on Victoria Street.
Steve Chan criticized the council for allowing the new night club, Holiday, for operating in violation of state law, observing that it was because of campaign contributions.
Greg Thunell spoke critically on the ethics of the council majority.
Chris McEvoy spoke about a Facebook exchange he'd had with Mensinger, observing in included lies and misleading information.
Ralph Taboada criticized Mensinger's campaign flyer, citing many lies and misrepresentations.
Terry Koken limbered up his vocal chords and crooned to the council a little ditty about council candidate - and former Mayor - Allan Mansoor. He posted the text of his song as a comment on my previous post.
Cindy Brenneman told us she'd already voted, but posted her ballot choices on Facebook for all to see. She is in favor of Genis, Humphrey and Stephens for city council.
Robin Leffler opined that she missed collaborative government, where the city council would actually listen to the public.
An unidentified woman criticized the upcoming development at 440 Fair Drive and observed that Mensinger was somehow involved with it.
COUNCIL MEMBER COMMENTS
During Council Member Comments Sandra Genis praised Hawley and commented on Fire Department Pay - it had been brought up in a public comment, then compared to pay scales for some private sector manufacturing jobs.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer who said he didn't have anything to say, used ten minutes to pillory the Fire Department for hiring Mike McGill of the disbanded law firm that had represented the Costa Mesa Police Association. He brought up his family, specifically mentioning his three daughters and wife. He said the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association has $400,000 to spend on this election and have allocated $160,000 of that for help for candidates opposing Mensinger, Mansoor and Ramos. He said he wasn't going to campaign from the dais, then did exactly that. Again, remember that he's been codified by the court as a liar. He demonstrated that again Monday night.
Mensinger was next and he took over where Righeimer left off. He criticized his critics. He read from what he said was the Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir playbook. He described it as "stuff of Orwell" - we presume he's actually read Orwell. He brought his family into the discussion, describing two sons, wife and mother-in-law and complained about the comments from Terry Koken that implied maybe the Fire Department might take a half-hour to respond to an emergency at his home.
CEO Tom Hatch had nothing to say.
2850 MESA VERDE DRIVE EAST DEVELOPMENT
Public Hearing #1, the development proposal at 2850 Mesa Verde Drive East which will replace office buildings with 11 high end single family homes was next. Several speakers spoke against the project, including some folks who would lose their businesses/jobs. Finally, Righeimer made a motion to approve the project with some tinkering of the length of time the tenants would have to relocate - from 9 months to a year, apparently busting at least one lease that was to stretch to three years. Interesting. Apparently the developer, Peter Zehnder, didn't have enough answers to satisfy the council because he was advised to bring the property owner and more answers the next time. The council approved the issue on three separate 3-0 votes.
SOBECA AMENDMENT FOR DENSITY
Finally came the discussion of Public Hearing #2, the proposed amendment to the SoBECA Urban Plan that will permit 450 dwelling units.
Jay Humphrey observed that this urban plan didn't have to comply with the other urban plans and complained about the density of the proposal.
Robin Leffler also was concerned about the density and traffic.
Mensinger immediately jumped on Leffler's comments. Glaring down at her from the dais as she sat in the front row he pilloried her for complaining about everything, citing past projects - IKEA, Auto Club.
As the discussion continued with Righeimer carrying the ball he reached a point where he was ready to make a motion, and did. Mensinger asked Genis if she wanted to second it. She said NO. She then asked Deputy City Attorney Tarquin Preziosi if this vote required a 3-0 vote or a 2-1 to move it forward. He replied, citing reasons why a 2-1 vote was sufficient. With that Genis said, "OK, I'm leaving.", and she grabbed her paperwork and left the dais.
POOF! NO QUORUM!
Righeimer and Mensinger were stunned, and tried to call her back so the vote could be taken. Genis kept on walking, now off the dais and leaving the auditorium. Righeimer quickly urged Mensinger to call the question, which he did. He and Righeimer voted YES. City Clerk Brenda Green called the result as, "The item passed on a 2-0 vote." Of course, it CAN'T pass on a 2-0 vote - there was no quorum! Methinks this will have to be sorted out Tuesday by the lawyers...
EVER THE BUFFOON
Mensinger tried to continue on with the meeting, but was reminded that they had no quorum, so he bumbled the closing by asking folks to keep kind thoughts for Ken Shelton, husband of Hatch's Executive Assistant, Kelly Shelton. Ken is in the hospital in critical condition. Mensinger, for some reason, found it necessary to say, "It looks like he's not going to make it." Geez! Is there a more awkward, terrible public speaker? I don't think so.