Planning Commission Interviews Complete
The Costa Mesa City Council completed their interviews of fourteen (14) candidates for the five (5) Planning Commission vacancies Tuesday night - former Vice Chair Jeff Mathews failed to show up for the process again.
As mentioned in an earlier post, the actual selection process for the Planning Commission, plus the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Senior Commission, will now occur at the regularly-scheduled council meeting next Tuesday, February 7, 2017.
Council member Allan Mansoor was absent from this meeting, apparently due to a family emergency, but Jim Righeimer - who was absent from the session last Tuesday - did attend the meeting last night.
Mayor Katrina Foley moderated this meeting. It began shortly after the prescribed start time of 5:30 and Foley permitted Public Comments. The irrepressible Terry Koken jumped up and sang a short ditty. Anna Vrska stepped up to praise candidates Jay Humphrey and Teresa Drain.
The order of interview was changed from the original schedule placing Susan Gonzales first due to a prior commitment for a CERT certification class. This is the order in which the candidates were screened:
- Susan Gonzales
- Stephan H. Andranian
- Byron de Arakal
- Sarah Bortz
- Robert L. Dickson, Jr..
- Teresa Callo Drain
- Jeffrey Harlan
- Danial Hoffmann
- Jay Humphrey
- Isabell Mayer Kerins
- Jenna Tourje
- Dan Worthington
- Jonathan Zich
- Mark Buchanan
As was the practice last week with the other two commissions, City Clerk Brenda Green escorted each candidate into the Conference Room - the others were asked to remain outside in fairness to the others - Foley introduced the candidates to the council members and explained the process. This time around each candidate would be grilled for ten (10) minutes. Foley led off with two pre-determined questions, followed by one question each by the council members on an alternating rotating basis and a second round of questions could occur if time permitted. Foley generally asked the same first two questions of each, but not always. City Clerk Brenda Green kept the time, providing a warning when two minutes remained so questions could be wrapped up and a closing statement could be given if time permitted. More often than not there was insufficient time.
Foley usually started by asking each candidate what the role of a Planning Commissioner was. Most came close to answering the question.
Once again, this cadre of candidates - which included two recent Planning Commissioners, a former Parks and Recreation Chairman, a former Parks and Recreation Commissioner and a former City Council member - brought excellent credentials for the council member's consideration. As an old recruiter with decades of management team building under my ever-expanding belt, I salivated as I contemplated building a Planning Commission team from this group of candidates. The combinations of land planning, legal training, community activism and significant leadership experience should make it possible to assemble an extremely effective commission. We'll see next Tuesday.
Each of us will have different opinions about the right candidates for these five openings. I've selected mine, which will be my little secret until, perhaps, later. It contains a mix of skills and experience that should, or could, make for an effective unit. It was not an easy process for me because there are so many really excellent candidates.
Here's the process the City Council will theoretically follow next Tuesday in the selection process for the seventeen (17) commissioners - five (5) each for the Planning and Parks and Recreation Commissions and seven (7) for the Senior Commission. In theory, this process will help eliminate politics in the selection process - a good idea. The process:
1. The City Council will convene in the Council Chambers.
2. The Mayor will open the floor for public comments.
3. Council Member comments
4. On the nomination forms each Council Member will rank their selected applicants 5-1 (5 being the highest score) for the Planning and Parks & Recreation Commissions, and 7-1 (7 being the highest score) for the Senior Commission. Each Council Member shall submit their nomination forms to the City Clerk. The points for each applicant will be totaled and the total multiplied by the number of Council Members selecting that applicant. Example: Applicant 1 receives votes by three Council Members: 5+1+3 = 9. Multiply 9 by 3 for the total points of 27 for Applicant 1.
5. The City Council will recess for approximately ten minutes to allow the City Clerk to tabulate the nominations.
6. The City Clerk shall read all of the nominations into the record by each Council Member, and announce the selections with the highest totals; applicants receiving the most points shall be appointed to the four-year terms, or City Council shall provide direction on term selections.
7. If the final selection results in a tie vote, Council Members will draw numbers to determine order of nominations. The first Council member in order nominates their preferred applicant, and upon receiving a second shall be voted on by the entire Council
8. The City Council shall ratify the selections to the Senior Commission with a motion, second, and call for the vote.
9. The City Council shall ratify the selections to the Parks & Recreation Commission with a motion, second, and call for the vote.
10.The City Council shall ratify the selections to the Planning Commission with a motion, second, and call for the vote.
In my memory of City events, this is the first time this particular process has been used for selection of commissioners. In the recent past, during the Jim Righeimer/Steve Mensinger/Gary Monahan era, they held the majority on the council, so most commission seats were determined by their majority vote. It's instructive to note that the current council majority - Katrina Foley, Sandra Genis and John Stephens - are at least attempting to remove politics and cronyism from the selection of important commission positions. I'm not sure how this process is actually going to shake out, but kudos to them for attempting to make this a fair process - they didn't have to do it.
Next week at this time we will have a brand new cadre of commissioners, all ready to serve the residents of this city. I'm looking forward to watching this process unfold and am confident we will end up with three commissions staffed with seventeen eager, skilled volunteers.