Final Council Meeting Until The Election Sizzled
The Costa Mesa City Council met again last night for their final meeting before the November 8th election and, as anticipated, it was a meeting to be remembered.
GARY WAS LATE - BUT LEFT EARLY
Lamest of lame duck councilman Gary Monahan showed up a half-hour late, but made up for it by leaving early. Voters should keep in mind how he has blown off his council responsibilities over the past couple years when they cast their ballots for the Sanitary District seats.
KAPKO RECEIVES MAYOR'S AWARD
Unfortunately, Monahan missed the best part of the meeting - the presentation of the Mayor's Award to his friend, Rick Kapko. The video presentation was nice and it seems like he was certainly a worthy recipient.
BAKER'S DOZEN SPEAKERS
Public Comments began at 6:02 and the next 40 minutes were filled with fun. A Baker's Dozen speakers stepped up and vented their collective spleens before the 6:40 cut-off. The remaining speakers were trailed to the end of the meeting.
An unidentified person said she disagreed with Russell 100% - I suspect she was not alone in the auditorium with that viewpoint - then provided a Robert F. Kennedy quote. She also addressed the Sober Living issue and implied there was corruption, collusion and shady back-room deals involved.
Refakes gave a brief slide show about the recent Trunk or Tread event at Camp Pendleton that she and some of her fellow Military Affairs Team members attended, sharing the candy donated by residents.
Kids should not be fodder for political attacks, period." He, of course, was referring to the fact that I have shown images of Allan Mansoor with his young daughter when he lugged her to the speaker's podium recently. How does one ignore the fact that he's standing there holding her and her huge backpack while trying to deliver a semi-serious message to the voters? Nor can you ignore the fact that he is accompanied by them at many gatherings. I have NEVER attacked any candidates children. But, then, this is just another of the many lies being spread around this campaign season. Consider the source.
It's a little sickening that kids would be involved in something so devisive." He then launched off in a screed decrying political action committees that "are trying to hide". He said he had to find it "under the county and I had to find it." He said he was bringing it to the council's attention because, in his opinion, it's breaking the law and needs further investigation. He spoke directly to councilwoman Sandra Genis and said, "Sandy, you should give the money back!" Genis responded to him, with Mensinger attempting to maintain control, unsuccessfully. After much back and forth he finally ended his accusations and stepped away. Genis used a couple minutes of Personal Privilege to rebut Vogel's bogus allegations very professionally.
Sandy Genis was the first council member to speak.
She reminded us of the Veteran's Day event at the Fairgrounds.
She also expressed concern about the Metroplex plan that will affect air flights in Southern California and asked that the staff investigate the issue due to overflights from John Wayne Airport.
LOSS OF COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL BUSINESSES
She also expressed concern about the loss of commercial and industrial businesses in the city.
IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS OF MEASURE Y
She was concerned about the impartial analysis of Measure Y - the Smart Growth Initiative - indicating that some folks have stated that Measure Y may be unconstitutional. She wanted the staff to review it - even though it's too late. She cited the bogus rebuttal that was shredded by the judge recently. She asked for more civility and not attacking citizens from the dais. She asked that, if it occurred, the citizen be given time to respond.
MONAHAN BULLIES GENIS
Gary Monahan - more concious than usual and in a nice green tie - did a little "in your face" to Genis on the issue of aerial spraying. She's the City's representative on the Orange County Vector Control Board. This was pure political posturing - making one last gasp for votes in his run for a CMSD seat. He grilled her and she responded professionally and defused his attempt to make her look bad. Yes, he's stayed too long at the dance. She told us that spraying is NOT being considered now, but it is not out of the question due to the possibility of late-season hot spells. He demanded that the council be advised and be allowed to sign in on spraying - even though he acknowledged that he won't be there - he's termed out. The more he pushed Genis the better her answers were. It was a joy to watch. It's a real pleasure to watch an intelligent, concerned public servant deliver clear, concise explanations on issues for a change. He had nothing else to say - it was all about posturing and it backfired.
RIGHEIMER LIES FROM THE DAIS - AGAIN
Then came Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer! He said the city is being absolutely torn apart over money! He launched into a long screed about the firefighters. He pointed out that Fountain Valley is placing a 1% sales tax measure on the ballot to pay for pensions. He made bogus claims that firefighters were telling them that if they had an emergency the firefighters wouldn't come to their houses. What a lying jerk! He said, "Once you get that job in the city there's no other place to go." He described it as "your lottery ticket". He said, "Pay is extremely high." He made such a disgusting misrepresentation of the actual firefighter's job that is purely politically motivated. He said the firefighters are tearing apart the city by supporting certain candidates. He said people were intimidated. He then attacked Kathy Esfahani for sponsoring the cartoon contest. He questioned whether she was a "good Christian woman". What a disgusting creep! During his screed about how it will all be over and done next week he included the phrase "and nobody died". I almost fell off my couch at the insensitivity of that comment, thinking about poor Huy Pham - who did die because of Righeimer's policies! He said it's a "very sad time for our city." He predicted a tax increase in 5 years if "they get their council." What a despicable human being!
MENSINGER ON BEING A CANDIDATE
Mensinger was next, who said "being a candidate is not easy." He said it's tough on your family and friends. He said after the election we need to move on. I suspect many in the auditorium agreed with him, and hoped he would be doing the moving.
Katrina Foley was next. She also thanked the candidates and the hundreds of volunteers who are participating. She said she's never seen so many residents involved - a real grass roots effort. She thanked Kathy Esfahani, citing political cartoons as a form of satire. She said she's happy that high school students have opinions and should feel free to express them. She refuted Righeimer's accusation that she would tax the people. She cited the need for a collaborative council - one that could work effectively with other cities, county and state government. She cited that Allan Mansoor didn't do a thing for us in Sacramento and that he wouldn't do anything if elected. She expressed concern about the condition of streets in the Shalimar/Wallace area and asked CEO Tom Hatch to look into it.
FIFTY GRAND FOR RIGHEIMER'S SCREW-UP!
Then Foley told us that she had finally gotten the numbers on what it cost the city for Rutan and Tucker to defend Righeimer's bogus ballot rebuttal argument - $50,000! She observed that unless things change we will continue to incur exorbitant legal fees because of the policies of this current majority. She said "We don't want any more lawsuits!" She reminded us that Rutan and Tucker contributed $1,000 to Mensinger's campaign this spring and then, the next month, was retained to work on the ballot rebuttal issue. Coincidence?
CAMPAIGN REFORM SUGGESTIONS
Then she asked Hatch to come back at the next council meeting with recommendations of Campaign Finance Reform. She suggested something like the following:
- $35,000 cap on individual campaigns
- $500 per individual donor
- $10,000 limit on independent expenditures per candidate
- $20,000 cap collectively on independent expenditures.
She expressed disappointment at the lack of turnout at her most recent Get Connected event - she had an excellent panel assembled for the discussion - and said it will be re-scheduled for January 24, 2017. She told us that she had heard that members of the community failed to attend because they were afraid of entering a city building for fear of being approached by immigration authorities. She said we need to do a better job at community outreach in the future.
KIDS ARE OFF LIMITS
And, finally, she said emphatically, that she thinks children should be off limits in campaigning.
EARLY VOTING REPORT
CEO Tom Hatch had no report - astounding! - but asked City Clerk Brenda Green to brief the community on early voting. That is available at the Neighborhood Community Center from now through the weekend up to the election day. You can also turn in your vote-by-mail document if you
don't want to mail it.
TWO ITEMS PULLED FROM CONSENT CALENDAR
Items 2 and 6 were pulled from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion and the remainder were passed on a 5-0 vote.
90 SECONDS TO PASS THE SOBECA AMENDMENT
Public Hearing #1, the amendment to the SoBECA plan that was not completed at the last Special meeting when Genis left, breaking the quorum. This item took 90 seconds to dispatch when Foley's request to hear from the members of the public because she was not at the last meeting - the meeting that was scheduled despite the council majority's knowledge that she had a conflict. Her request was ignored and Monahan made a snide remark - "Yeah, well I couldn't be here, either." I sure hope folks paid attention to his attitude! One might think that if he hadn't been at the meeting he might at least wish to hear from the public...nope - the majority passed the issue on a 3-2 vote - Foley and Genis voting no.
ADDING MORE PUBLIC STORAGE
Public Hearing #2 is the issue involving the plan rezone the site to replace an aging auto supply/repair/services mall at 375 Bristol Street with a new business that involves a public storage facility. Silver-tongued Paul Freeman was the representative for the owner of the property and he spoke persuasively about the need to re-purpose this site considering the constraints place on it due to the proximity to John Wayne Airport.. Genis inquired about the reasons for the change and traffic numbers. Righeimer pressed the applicant to underground utilities along the street in addition to the onsite utilities. Freeman asked for time to work out a project with neighbors - and suggested 4 years.
An unidentified speaker asked about cancelling the prior public hearing? She was concerned about what appeared to be uneven application of the rules on undergrounding.
Righeimer wanted to codify the commitment to underground the utilities within a specific time. They batted around options - deposit, bond, etc. Freeman suggested a deposit toward the total cost. They ended up with the property owner agreeing to post an irrevocable letter of credit to cover the undergrounding costs. This ALL should have been done at the Planning Commission level!
REZONING THE OLD LA TIMES PROPERTY
Next came Public Hearing #3, the rezone for the old Los Angeles Times site on Sunflower. There were no public comments and very little discussion and the item passed, 5-0.
ADDING NEW HOMES TO MESA VERDE
Old Business #1, the property development at 2850 Mesa Verde Drive East, replacing long-time businesses in a couple of older buildings with eleven new single family homes.
Reverand Jim Terrell, a tenant for more than two decades,thought this was a big mistake. He pleaded for retaining it as commercial to serve the community.
Jim Kearins spoke in favor of this project, citing his other projects in the city.
Cynthia McDonald is a client of one of the businesses that will be affected by this plan. She then cited Los Angeles Times articles recently about developer contributions to campaigns.
Monahan moved the issue and Mensinger seconded it. Foley explained that she was supporting this project because the owner will eventually sell it and this project is better than apartments.
Mensinger inquired about the leases - which generated much too much discussion. The developer, Peter Zehnder, is working with the tenants on lease terminations. The council passed it on a 5-0 vote.
Then came New Business #1, presented by staffer Dan Baker, the request by Mensinger to add more money to the Heroes Hall at the OC Fairgrounds. The city previously committed $25,000 to this program. Even though the staff report had no dollar amount when it was issued, Mensinger said he wanted another $25,000. Marine Vet and Chair of the Orange County Fair Board, Nick Berardino, spoke passionately on this issue.
Eventually the council agreed to the amount and passed it on a 5-0 vote.
The Consent Calendar items that had been pulled were then discussed. An unidentified speaker pulled the Warrant and wondered about the legal costs to Jones & Mayer and also why we were refunding business license fees to sober living homes. The response to that issue was weak - that we should have been charging them the license fees - and didn't really address the fact that some sober living homes have been paying business license fees for years..It passed, 5-0.
Item #6 was also pulled and, following a brief discussion, passed on a 4-0 vote, with Genis out of the room.
Next came the trailed Public Comments. Another thirteen speakers used their three minutes to address the council.
Wendy Leece expressed concern about the number of police officers in and around the chambers last night, wondering just why it was necessary. She expressed concern about the attitude of the Righeimer and Mensinger towards the firefighters and how they have refused to reduce the burden of the Fire Side Fund.. She said public safety shouod be the highest priority. She discussed how little has been done on the Pension issue. She cited Monahan's failure to show up for scheduled meetings for the police contract negotiations.
Karl Ahlf addressed the campaign, supporting Humphrey, Stephens and Genis.. He read the creed he was required to follow when he ran for council in 2004. Gotta love Karl.