Saturday, June 11, 2016

Candidate Mercurio's Miraculous Solutions

FINALLY, HER (OR SOMEBODY'S) POSITION ON ISSUES!
During a late-night Facebook joust with one of the Costa Mesa Public Square minions Friday/Saturday midnight timeframe he presented me with the link to a commentary published in the Daily Pilot under the name of Julie Mercurio - recently chosen as a Parks and Recreation Commissioner and an announced candidate for Costa Mesa City Council.

MIGHTY THIN QUALIFICATIONS
Since Ms. Mercurio's qualifications for the Parks and Rec. Commission position were, er, thin, to say the least, I've been curious about what her position is on... well, anything.  Her application is shown here.
 WHERE'S THE QUALIFICATIONS?
Apparently, based on her commentary, her only qualification for either job - the Parks and Rec. Commission or the City Council, is that she's "built" the Costa Mesa Public Square into a closed site with more than 6,500 members.  Of course, she's had a lot of help with that from folks in Huntington Beach, using the political playbook followed to construct a similar site in that city two years ago.  I'll give her a little credit, though, and assume that sitting reading Facebook comments is hard work.  I do know that it makes my fanny sore!  I don't know if she's being paid to do it, but it's probably worth minimum wage.

DON'T THINK SHE WROTE IT
Now, then, back to her commentary - which can be viewed HERE.  Let me be perfectly clear... I don't think she wrote it.  Nope... it's too professional with too many buzz words.  I suspect she had help - a lot of help - with this piece of political literature.  And, our friends at the Daily Pilot have helped her kick off her campaign!

TOO LONG, BUT...
As you read through her long, long, long commentary - my word counter indicates 860 words - you'll see that it certainly exceeds the normal preferred length.  However, when one is laying out her entire campaign in one swoop, it takes more than a few words to do it.  I'm OK with that.  I just hope the editors are as generous with those who might wish to rebut what she has to say.  That's a separate problem.. I can take all the time and space I wish right here to address her words - that's all they are right now... words.

A BIG DEAL?  REALLY?
She seems to have drawn on her "Facebook reading" as the cornerstone of her campaign.  Keep in mind that this fount of all her knowledge about Costa Mesa and it's problems is a CLOSED site - where she, and she alone, decides who gets to play and who doesn't.  Since she took over from my friend, Bruce Krochman, she converted it from what was a grand idea to be exactly what the title says - a "public square" - into a closed society where only like-minded viewpoints are tolerated.  All others are either blocked or ousted for offering differing views.

NEW TO THE PROCESS
Now, lately she's begun attending City Council meetings - at least for a short time - I guess to gather intelligence on how the group operates.  This is new, but she may have been watching on television or on the computer for years... we don't know because she's never spoken out on this issue where "real people" can find out.  We DO know that when she first presented a public face on political issues she told us she was new to this stuff and asked for help understanding it.  Didn't believe it then and still don't.

EXCERPTS FROM HER MANIFESTO
We learn in her epistle, for example, that she apparently has a solution for every single ill facing our city - except, maybe, the current council majority.  Her words are straight out of the "mom and apple pie" handbook for politicians... got a problem?  I'll fix it!  I suppose I could dissect it line-by-line, but that would take all the fun out of it for you.  You can read through it yourself.  However, there are a couple things that just call out for comment.

OOPS!
She says, "I applaud the action of our Homeless Task Force.", but that organization no longer exists.

OH, STEVE!
She frequently uses the word "attractants" - that's a Mensingerism, apparently borrowed from his "Politics for Dummies" handbook.

REALLY?
Down about midway she says, "I will request the Costa Mesa Police Assn. to add a homeless services liaison services officer to tie together law enforcement with compassionate service."  So, she expects the men and women of the CMPD - the ones her benefactors on the City Council are suing - to dig into their pockets to hire a new person?  Really?  Or, did she really mean the "Costa Mesa Police Department" and that was just an ignorant gaffe?

WILL SOLVE THE HOMELESS PROBLEM
She "pledges" to find better ways to address the influx of homeless in our city.  Really.. I can hardly wait for those ideas!

THE BEST LINES

Her best lines are, in my humble opinion, found in the next-to-last paragraph of her commentary/manefesto.  I almost choked as I read them.  I especially enjoyed this one:
"As a first-hand witness to the partisanship that sometimes infects city government, I am fed up with obstructionism based on petty, personal grievance."

ALL I NEED TO KNOW
Yep, that tells me just about all I need to know about Candidate Mercurio.  It tells me that, despite all the political fluff she told us before, she's 100% behind the current political power elite and she will simply become another guaranteed third vote... that's reason enough to NOT vote for her.  She'll become their "Chatty Cathy" - pull the string in her neck and out will come the current party line.

THOSE DARN GRIEVANCES!
She's concerned about those "petty, personal grievances" that seem to get in the way of doing the  business of the city like a business.  You know, those darn complaints from regular, everyday people who have problems in their neighborhoods and want to present them to their elected officials.  Nah, those guys - and fully supported by Candidate Mercurio - will continue to make presenting those grievances even MORE difficult.  Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if she recommends barring public comments at council meetings altogether!  "Off with their heads!"

I WANT TO HEAR THOSE WORDS

I'm REALLY eager to hear Candidate Mercurio actually speak to some of these issues in the near future.  I want to see if she actually understands the words published under her byline, or are they just the ramblings of a political PR hack, hired to freshen her makeup.  Time will tell.

TAKE YOUR TIME
In the meantime, enjoy the commentary... and take notes.







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Friday, June 10, 2016

Another Late Friday Pronouncement From City Hall


STEALTH MOVE BY THE MAYOR
Shortly after close of business the City of Costa Mesa issued an announcement about a letter sent by Mayor Steve Mensinger to two California Legislative leaders opposing an apparent move by Governor Jerry Brown to remove local safeguards and control over affordable housing, HERE.

HERE'S THE LETTER
When you go to that link you'll find a direct link to the letter from Mensinger - a letter I'm told was sent without any prior notice to all members of the council!  You can read his epistle to the legislative leaders HERE.

UH, OH...

This certainly appears to be a political ploy - campaigning from his office at City Hall - and this letter has phrases that he's going to have a very hard time living with as this campaign season moves forward.

"...DISTRUST IN GOVERNMENT"
For example, there is this paragraph:
"Eliminating opportunities for public review of these major development projects goes against the principles of local democracy and public engagement.  While it may be frustrating for some developers to hear concerns about traffic, parking and other development impacts, those affected by such projects have a right to be heard.  Not having such outlets will increase public distrust in government."  Well, Mr. Mayor... what the heck do you think is driving the Smart Growth Initiative?  Precisely those issues you wrote about above!  Lack of public trust in elected leaders and their decisions has caused the creation of that initiative.

"...RESIDENTS WHO DESERVE A VOICE..."
He ends his letter with this sentence:
"On behalf of the residents who deserve a voice in the future shape of their communities, the City of Costa Mesa respectfully states our opposition to this measure."  Yep, he actually wrote those words!
TRANSPARENCY IS ONLY A WORD IN COSTA MESA
I find myself wondering where his concerns for the residents have been for the past half-dozen years?  He and his pal, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, have institutionalize quashing public comments and have taken measures to discourage views that disagree with them.  I find his letter to the legislature disingenuous, at best.  What a hypocrite!  And, of course, this letter was released - without prior notification to other council members - after the close of business so there are no city officials available to discuss this.  So much for transparency.

REMEMBER...
We deserve much, much, much better than this.  Remember in November.

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CM4RG/CM1ST Town Hall A Success!


GRASS ROOTS HOSTS
Thursday night two Costa Mesa grass roots organizations, Costa Mesans For Responsible Government (CM4RG) and Costa Mesa First jointly hosted a Town Hall at the Neighborhood Community Center to present facts and answer questions on several development-oriented issues.  The meeting was attended by more than 100 individuals and it certainly seemed to be a great success.

FOUR IMPORTANT ISSUES
Issues to be discussed included the General Plan, the so-called Smart Growth Initiative, the Fairview Park Initiative and the future of the Banning Ranch and it's impact on Costa Mesa.
DICKSON AND COUNCIL CANDIDATES
Among the members of the audience I noticed Planning Commission Chairman Rob Dickson and City Council Candidates John Stephens, Lee Ramos, Jay Humphrey and Julie Mercurio.  Mercurio was accompanied by a cadre of minions from the Costa Mesa Public Square Facebook page that she rules with an iron fist.  In fact, she live-streamed the meeting on that page.  Sources tell me that several city officials participated in the comment thread during her event, offering up caustic critical comments.  A few of her minions bailed out midway through the meeting and didn't return.  She and Ramos left before the Question and Answer period began.  I guess they didn't really care what potential constituents were concerned about.
COSTA MESA BRIEF ON THE JOB
Barry Friedland, of Costa Mesa Brief, was onboard to record the meeting.  His completed work product should be available for viewing on his YouTube channel, HERE, sometime late in the weekend.
ARRIVED EARLY AND OBSERVED THE CROWD
My sweet and very patient wife and I arrived in advance of the advertised start time and had a chance to view the many display posters propped around the walls.  Here are but a few of them.  Gift bags were distributed to every attendee and each included a raffle ticket for a drawing at the end of the meeting.  We had a chance to chat with some old friends and to observe that the room was filling up with many unfamiliar faces.  There were many more than just "the usual suspects" - activists and residents who regularly show up at important meetings.  It was good to see more concerned folks attend this meeting.
NOTE:  There will be a lot of images below.  Click on any of them to enlarge for easier reading.

BROAD-BASED ATTENDANCE
We saw folks from all over the city - Westside, Eastside, Mesa Verde, College Park and from Mesa North, too.  We also saw major landowners represented, apparently interested in how this discussion might affect their operations.

LEFFLER KICKED IT OFF
Robin Leffler, representing CM4RG, kicked the meeting off  with an introduction of the purpose, a brief history of Costa Mesa and a description of what was to follow.
CEQA AND THE GENERAL PLAN
Leffler handed it off to Costa Mesa City Councilwoman Sandra Genis, who makes her living as a professional land use planner and who is likely running to retain her seat on the council in November.  She provided us with the benefit of her significant expertise a discussion of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), most of the details of which are covered in the following slides.
LAND USE
Next up was Teresa Drain, who discussed the Land Use Element of the General Plan.  Again, the details of her presentation are included in these slides.
CIRCULATION ELEMENT AND TRAFFIC
Anna Vrska spoke about the Circulation Element of the General Plan, and specifically the traffic increases anticipated.
OPEN SPACE - FAIRVIEW PARK
Dr. Richard Mehren was up next to discuss Open Space issues and most specifically Fairview Park.  Dr. Mehren was instrumental in Costa Mesa acquiring the parkland decades ago and has been an active shepherd of that venue - described by many as the Jewel of Costa Mesa - ever since.  He was the Chairman of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee until he abruptly resigned in disgust with the direction it seemed to be taking.
BANNING RANCH
Suzanne Forster, Vice President of the Banning Ranch Conservancy, provided us with an update on the status of that project, which lies fully within the boundaries of Newport Beach but will have a very dramatic impact on Costa Mesa from a traffic, noise and pollution standpoint.  She encouraged folks to attend the hearing at the Newport Beach City Hall on either September 7th or 8th - the specific date is as yet undetermined, but it will be on their website.  One of the items she mentioned was that the City of Newport Beach apparently does not have enough water to handle this project, so that likely will mean some kind of contractual arrangement with the Mesa Water District, the organization that provides most of Costa Mesa's water.  An interesting factoid to consider.
SMART GROWTH INITIATIVE
Rick Huffman then spoke directly about the Smart Growth Initiative, outlining the reasons for its existence and providing details of the facts about the initiative.
GRASS ROOTS
Finally, Mary Spadoni wrapped up that segment of the meeting by reminding all that this was a collaboration of two true grass-roots organizations, who work with passion but no compensation other than to try to make the community better.  She cited her personal reasons for being active, among them High Density of housing, Traffic and quality of life degration as a result.  She wants to see a better balance between homeownership and rentals.  Right now there is over 60% rentals vs homeownership.  And, she doesn't want the city to become Santa Monica.  She encouraged folks to be informed and involved.
Q&A
During the Question and Answer segment beginning around 8:30 things got a little ragged after a very crisply-run program.  Concerns expressed by attendees involved the demand for water by the high density development.  Leffler handled on about the General Plan and encouraged folks to attend the June 14th special council meeting and then the next regular meeting on June 21st, when it will be discussed and voted upon.

Rick Huffman fielded a question about dedicated bike lanes in the city, which brought the discussion back around to the fact that Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer had emasculated the work product by the Bikeways and Walkability Committee when he demanded the "policies" that had been crafted as part of their Goals and Objectives be referred to as "recommendations", which took all the teeth out of the document.

Forster address a question about the proposed Orange Coast River Park, indicating that it was still in the works.

Genis reminded folks of the proposed increase in traffic in the upcoming General Plan update.

The meeting was wrapped up with the aforementioned raffle.

CONSENSUS - A VERY GOOD EVENT
After the program ended and folks began milling around we had a chance to visit with more than a few, to take their pulse on the meeting.  The consensus of those with whom we spoke was that it was an excellent presentation, which had provided valuable information on several issues.  I noticed that Dickson lingered and spoke with residents, too, as did Stephens and Humphrey.  I encourage you to wait for the Costa Mesa Brief coverage of this event this weekend, then take a couple hours to view it.  It will be time well-spent.
 LOOK FOR LUKE
 And look for Luke Money's article in the Daily Pilot shortly.  He was on the job last night, too.
 GONNA BE A BUSY FEW MONTHS
In this campaign season we're likely going to see many more such events, either as Candidate Forums or specifically for some of the many issues on the growing November ballot.  With two - probably three - medical marijuana issues on the ballot, along with the vote-by-district issue, the Smart Growth Initiative and a probably counter to it by the City, the Fairview Park issue and a likely state-wide recreational marijuana issue also available for November voters, it's going to be a very busy summer and fall.

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