Righeimer's Bond Scheme Fails And More
The Costa Mesa, apparently expecting big trouble because there were four (4) officers in the auditorium plus Chief Rob Sharpnack, made it through the meeting without incident. Maybe it was because I watched the proceedings at home..
Mayor Steve Mensinger opened things up with a presentation of his Mayor's Award to yet another local business - the Chick-Fil-A store on Harbor Blvd. Operator Tammy Guadagno was praised for outstanding community support.
We had some new rules last night. A big sign behind the City Clerk advised that speaker cards must be given to the staff member in the lobby. Also, Mensinger imposed a rule where you MUST come to the speaker podium promptly or you cannot speak. A couple speakers missed their turns.
Nina Reich praised the signature-gatherers and those who turned out for the Trump demonstrations. She also expressed concern for the lack of affordable housing.
Beth Refakes expressed concern about the apparent wheeling and dealing going on with the Attic Theater/Costa Mesa Women's Club. She was concerned that the women were being taken advantage of and explained the terms of the deal as she understood them.
bat guano" instead of his previous epithet.
AERIAL SPRAYING RESPONSE
During Council Member Comments Sandy Genis explained in great detail why the decision was made by the Vector Control District to do aerial spraying, citing the very serious public health threat of the West Nile virus. She also expressed concern about the minimal communication about the Trump event from city staff. She also expressed extreme concern about language that was added to the Draft General Plan regarding the "repurposing of Fairview Park" and included the mention of playing fields.
MORE MOSQUITO QUESTIONS
Gary Monahan had nothing of his own to say, but asked Genis about "mosquito fish" as a solution to the mosquito problem. He also asked CEO Tom Hatch to investigate a system used by the Mesa Water District to circulate water to keep mosquito breeding down.
FULL SPEED AHEAD ON SOBER LIVING ENFORCEMENT
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer asked City Attorney Tom Duarte if the sober living lawsuit with Solid Landings had been signed, and if so, may we now enforce the two sober living ordinances? The answer was yes. He addressed the Trump event and was concerned about the short notice received, but praised the CMPD for their response to the issue. He said he was "proud of the culture in our department." What a great irony, since his minions have, for a couple years, vilified the CMPD for what they called the "culture of corruption." What a hypocrite!
TRUMP AND HELPING NEIGHBORS
Mensinger praised the CMPD for their performance during the Trump event and mentioned that "people think I run the police department so I got many messages about not enough use of force, too much use of force." I could only but smile... He told us of the Neighbors Helping Neighbors event that he, Monahan and Righeimer participated in recently, and mentioned that one of the houses they spruced up was the home of local Pop Warner football icon, Ed Baume - recently deceased. He told us he promised Ed he would fix up his house. Sorry, but that seems just a little peculiar to me.
Mensinger also told us his Mayor's Celebration is coming up next week and his former employer, George Argyros and wife Julia, would be feted, as would Hank Panian. And he thanked Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz for the great job being done sprucing up Harbor Boulevard, and mentioned the monument signage denoting "College Park" near the recently-remodeled GMC dealership.
TRUMP EVENT AND CRONEY ORDINANCE
Katrina Foley addressed the Trump event, too, saying you can't blame the Fair Board because they had no say whatosever in that event. She praised our public safety folks. She suggested we should bill the Trump campaign for damage to municipal property and the costs involved in keeping order. She asked Hatch about the "Croney" ordinance, required to be implemented by any city with a COIN ordinance and was told the staff is implementing it. It involves any contract over $250,000.
She told us of a recent conference by the Orange County Visitors Bureau at which municipal branding was emphasized. She offered a long opinion on how we could be doing a better job of branding our city.
A NEW PIANO
She had left the chambers briefly and explained that she was at Costa Mesa High School for the unveiling of a recently acquired - through significant donations - of a concert grand piano.
BUDGET MEETINGS COMING UP
Mensinger almost overlooked Hatch again, but given the chance he reported on several things. He advised that we should NOT be ticketing bike riders when racks are not available. He told us the budget process is underway, and that a budget study session will be held next Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. - but didn't say where. He said there will be a community meeting on May 19th at 5:30, but didn't say where. He said the budget will be adopted at the meeting of June 21st.
NO AGREEMENT ON THE THEATER
Regarding the Women's Club/Attic Theater, he said he only knew of informal discussions and that the City has NOT entered into any agreement.
MEETING THE EXPERT ON DISTRICTS
Assistant CEO Rick Francis spoke briefly about the upcoming Voting By District meetings, stating that there would be a series of meetings with small groups - 2-3 people at a time - with the expert demographer hired for this process. This image gives you the dates and the number to call to be included. Larger, community meetings will be held in June. He indicated we really had NO choice in how this process plays out because the issue WILL be on the ballot in November.
CHIEF GOT A STANDING "O"
Police Chief Rob Sharpnack spent the next 20 minutes giving us a briefing on the Trump event. His report was thorough and professional. I cannot begin to cover all his points, except to note that the patience and control exhibited by the members of the CMPD and other agencies involved kept the chaos to a minumum. The crowd clapped when he finished.
CDBG PASSED WITH TINKERING
Public Hearing #1 dealt with the use of CDBG and HOME funds. Consultant Mike Linares provided the staff report. Members of some of the groups being granted funds spoke. Representatives of California Elwyn, which was receiving no funds, expressed concern and advised that it would mean a shortage of staff to help manage their programs. Andy Smith, the spokesman for the city committee charged with assessing the groups using criteria created by the council, advised how the process was conducted and why Elwyn came up short. Eventually, Katrina Foley moved that eight of the recipients would have their stipend reduced by $500 and the resultant $4000 would be given to Elwyn. It passed, 3-2, with Mensinger and Monahan voting NO.
COULD HAVE BEEN RESOLVED IN 5 MINUTES
For the next 90 minutes Jim Righeimer's vindictive Affordable Housing Bond was the subject of discussion. For this issue to move forward four of the five council members were required to vote in the affirmative. Celeste Brady, representing the law firm coordinating this activity, gave the staff presentation. In response to a question by Foley it was acknowledge that we have already spent $25,000 on this issue to this point. It was clear early-on that Foley was NOT in favor of this issue. To capsulize some of her thoughts - she thought there had NOT been enough thought given to this. This is precisely the kind of issue that called for a study session so the council could talk among themselves to flesh out concerns. We have not had a study session in a long, long time - apparently because Righeimer and Mensinger know they've got the votes to do whatever they want, so things like this just happen.
RIGHEIMER'S VINDICTIVE SCHEME
You will recall that in an earlier meeting Righeimer warned affordable housing advocates that he was going to put a $20 million bond on the ballot and if it didn't pass - it takes a 2/3 vote - or the people don't even give it more than 50%, then they should never come back complaining about no affordable housing.
A MATTER OF TRUST
Although Brady did a very professional job, Foley was tenacious and the fact that we had NO idea how this money might be spent really stuck in her craw. Same with Genis. At one point Foley said, "It's a matter of trust." She went on to say that trust had not been developed on the dais. Righeimer retorted it was a matter of "Brown Rules" - we assume he meant "Brown Act Rules", but one never knows with him. Foley barked back that it's why there should have been a study session.
NOBODY SUPPORTED IT!
Eight people spoke to this issue during the public hearing. None supported it - including Affordable Housing advocates! They, too, were concerned about the lack of a plan. Cindy Brenneman told the council that she wasn't going to vote for the bond, but that she'd give them $25.00 right now if it would help with housing right now. That amount was presumed to be what each property owner would see on their property tax bill to pay for the bond.
we just can't trust this group".
Righeimer voted to move the issue forward and Monahan seconded it. He said, "I seconded it, but I don't know if I agree with it. I don't know if I'll vote for it in November." Now, isn't that a crock?!
NOT ENOUGH ANSWERS
Genis continued to harp on the language of the item which describes it being used for "low and moderate" housing. She got into a discussion of what earnings level constituted "moderate" - turns out it's over $100,000 per year. She and Foley seemed concerned that this money would be used to facilitate developers building luxury housing with a tiny piece devoted to affordable housing. Again, a matter of trust.
YET ANOTHER RIGHEIMER FAILURE
Righeimer continued to try to massage this thing to approval, even "offering" control of the commitee that would be put together to manage it to Foley/Genis. Evenutally the vote was taken and it failed, 2-3, with Genis, Foley and Mensinger voting NO. Keep in mind, it would have taken four of the five to approve it.
The final agenda item was the re-authorization of the Business Improvement Area for the Conference and Visitor Bureau. We had a good presentation from Paulette Lobardi Fries, saw a nice video and heard about how our money is being spent. Foley had many ideas about how it might be spent in the future. During the discussion, as Foley proposed a couple ideas, Righeimer spit back at her that he "wanted something actionable" - he was upset that she didn't have a plan. Is it just me, or is that a great irony - him asking for a plan when he was just trying to bamboozle the voters into handing him $20 million with out a plan! The council voted, 5-0, to approve the program again.
Quick work was made of the three items pulled from the Consent Calendar. Greg Thunnel pulled the Warrant and spent a couple minutes pointing out specific items he didn't understand. It passed 4-0 - Genis took a break.
I.T. ITEM CONTINUED
Foley asked item #6 to be continued until the next meeting - it dealt with a revamp of the city internet infrastructure.
KOKEN EXPLAINED HIS SITUATION
Two people hung around to be heard in the trailed Public Comments. One was Terry Koken, who used his three minutes to address the events of his recent visit by a police officer because of his song at the last meeting. He said it was political harrassment and suggested Mensinger had filed the complaint. He said it was pure intimidation - all the things we discussed in my blog post about the event. He demanded Mensinger come out from behind the facade and admit he did it.
A DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE RIOT
Jeff Cohen took exception to the description earlier of the way the CMPD handled the Trump event. He was there and had a different viewpoint - indicating they didn't know what they were doing.
ON SIMMER FOR AWHILE
That's it for awhile, loyal readers. I'm turning the Caulderon down to simmer for awhile, so local politicians can get a little breather. We'll be back soon.