Thursday, October 09, 2008

Two Down, Three To Go!

Tonight's Costa Mesa City Council Candidate Forum, hosted by the fledgling Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors Group was a rousing success. Thanks to President Jeff McConville and his group for doing such a fine job of hosting such an event for the first time. The schedule was tightly followed and the limited time made available to the candidates forced a crispness that made a few of them have to down-shift fast to complete their thoughts.

(President Jeff McConville flanked by board members
Bunker Hill and Syndy Neyland)

Moderator Marnie Primmer did an excellent job of keeping things moving - so much so that all the questions had been asked and answered by 8 p.m. - an hour earlier than expected. I suspect they would tinker with their format a little the next time, but it went really well for a first-time event. Primmer could be a budding star in civic affairs.

(Moderator Marnie Primmer)

The turnout was excellent, too. My guess, confirmed by others, is that around 140 of our neighbors made it to the event. For those who missed it, Costa Mesa TV, Channel 24, covered the event and will televise it on the following schedule from now until the election:
Tuesdays: 8:30 pm
Thursdays: 12:00 pm
Saturdays: 6:00 pm
Sundays: 8:30 pm
Monday Nov. 3rd: 7:00 pm
Tuesday, Nov. 4: 2:00 pm

As was the case with the first forum this year, it may also be viewed on streaming video on the city web site by going to the CMTV link and follow the links to the proper program.

(Happy Attendees)


The questions at this forum were specifically directed at issues that affect those of who live on the Eastside of our city. Emphasis was on quality-of-life issues like cut-through traffic in Eastside neighborhoods. The group was looking for solutions to these issues both currently and when anticipating the affects of changes in the works for Newport Blvd. as it passes through our Downtown area from the present terminus of the Costa Mesa Freeway at 19th Street to the city limits a
t Industrial Way. You can read Alan Blank's coverage of the forum in the Daily Pilot HERE.

How did the candidates do? Well, not unexpectedly, most of them chose to answer questions
not asked. For example, most of them dodged questions about how they would address the immediate problem of current cut-through traffic, choosing, instead to talk about the future of the SR-55 Freeway. Katrina Foley gave them the only real honest answer on that issue - that any real solution would require inconvenience and sacrifice on the part of the residents to implement any real reduction in cut-through traffic.

(Katrina Foley, Lisa Reedy and Linda Sneen)

Chris Bunyan evoked a huge laugh from the crowd when, responding to a point made earlier by Gary Monahan when he complained about taking longer to get to work at his gin mill, Bunyan suggested that Gary ride a bicycle. Actually, that's a pretty good idea, except that the Costa Mesa
Police Department seems to have decided to stop male bicycle riders to check them for a license on the machine. Sure wouldn't want to see Gary stopped on the way home and have him hauled off to see the ICE agent! Sorry, I just couldn't resist that one. Bunyan seemed to be a crowd-pleaser tonight, offering interesting observations and appeared to have gained some ground.

(Chris Bunyan talks "green"
with voter Jim Erickson)

As anticipated, the veterans did the best tonight. In my opinion, Katrina Foley led the pack again, with crisp, honest answers.

Jim Righeimer was in his element. As a politician and developer, he had a chance to make strong points on issues related to his profession. His impatience with process came through, loud a
nd clear. For example, he consistently stated that it's possible to build the Cut and Cover solution to the SR-55 in 5 years despite all expert testimony over the past few months that doubled or tripled that time frame. In fact, impatience seems to become his watchword these days.

Gary Monahan seemed more engaged this time around. He looked prepared and, unlike the first forum, he didn't look as though he just wandered over from his
bar. He emphasized that, as an Eastside resident, he understood better than most the nature of the problems. No one asked him why he didn't get them fixed during his first 12 years on the council. He also showed the flashes of the "old" Gary - the man who encouraged his peers on the council a couple years ago to "play hardball" with Newport Beach on annexation issues. At the time it was a curious admonition, since Newport Beach held all the cards. We all know how well that turned out.

The "old" Gary surfaced more than once as he took the opportunit
y to shoot barbs at Katrina Foley, who handled it with grace and poise. At one point, when other candidates were advocating a conciliatory approach to our dealings with neighboring cities, he said we should "go to battle" for our city. This is typical of Monahan and is a great example of just why the wise voters of this city chose to impose term limits on our elected leaders. Monahan has made his contribution to this city and obviously would only be a point of divisiveness if elected again for another term at the municipal trough.

Eric Bever attempted to puff up his contributions to the city and frequently praised Allan Mansoor - in the audience - for showing leadership. His performance was weak.

New guy Bill Sneen showed that he'd been doing his homework since the previous forum. He continues to show maturity and leadership on the issues tossed to him by the moderator. His previous public service experience and industry leadership was very evident.

(Bill Sneen greets fan)

Lisa Reedy, who has been slow to get her campaign ramped up, handled some of the questions well and, once again, demonstrated much needed maturity.

Chris McEvoy, who is running a bare-bones campaign, showed spunk on the dais and gave some non-traditional responses to some of the questions. He's a very engaging young man who promises us he plans to become more engaged in city activities regardless the outcome of the election. That's good news for the city.

(Team McEvoy)

Nick Moss demonstrated only the most superficial grasp of some of the issues. He's a good guy, but certainly not prepared for this challenge at this time.

So, we have two candidate forums behind us, with three more ahead. As I indicated previously, next week the Chamber of Commerce will host a forum on Wednesday, the 15th which will be televised live from City Council Chambers. The following Wednesday, the 22nd, the Halecrest and Mesa Del Mar groups will jointly host a forum at the Halecrest Community Center.

Tonight I heard that the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant will be hosting the final forum at their facility on Fairview, near Costa Mesa High School, on Tuesday, October 28th. Details are skimpy, so I'll get more information soon and post a complete schedule for the remaining forums in a day or so.

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Blogger Jim Righeimer said...

Geoff- I guess I was not clear on timing for the SR 55 cut and cover project. The process for approval and funding can be done in 5 years. Not completed construction. The Environmental Impact Report will take 1.5 to 2 years. Construction drawings take about 2 years. Construction bids and final OCTA, state and Federal funding could be done in a year.

10/10/2008 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Hey! Who is that handsome fan of Bill Sneen's?? :)

This was easily the best forum so far. The Eastenders did great!

10/10/2008 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Jim, based on my post-forum chats with some of those in attendance, folks thought you meant that the whole thing could be completed in 5 years. When you watch the tape of this forum you will see why - that's what you said! Smart politician that you are, you knew what the good folks from the Eastside want to hear - a quick solution to their traffic problems - so that's what you gave them. The fact that your numbers are not supported by any of the experts we've heard from doesn't bother you - you'll probably be out of here on the next step up the political ladder by the time folks start asking why it's taking so long.

10/10/2008 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

Did you notice that the Good Old Boys (Bever, Monahan and Righeimer) touted their "connections" and their "influence" with other Good Old Boys on the OCTA Board.

These three seem to be in the pocket of developers and public officials who make big decisions on roadways? Bunyan was right that we need to look a closer look at bikes, buses and expanded rapid transit. We need to get serious about improving public transportation in the OC.
I only live a mile away from the Community Center and would have loved to take a bus to last night's forum. The current OCTA bus schedule indicates that my journey would have taken some 30 minutes one way. YUK!

10/10/2008 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jim, why don't you clarify PAC's ties to white separatist groups.

10/10/2008 02:00:00 PM  

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