Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Commissions Shuffled and The Author Returns

As I've said many times in the past, the Costa Mesa City Council shouldn't violate their rule about council meetings not going past midnight. That rule was implemented a few years ago because, almost invariably, de
cisions made after the witching hour turn out to be either hasty, ill-advised or both. And, parties interested in the agenda items that get stretched into the next day usually have gone home, depriving the council of their opinions, perspectives and passion. Last night was one of those nights, as the council decided to handle the final agenda item - the selection of commissioners - shortly after midnight. The meeting itself finished at 12:27, finally.

As predicted HERE just before Christmas, the Costa Mesa City Council chose Colin McCarthy and Steve Mensinger from a long and impressive list of candidates for the two open slots on the Planning Commission.

There is no doub
t that both men have solid credentials, but one gets the strong feeling that these two appointments had less to do with their qualifications than it did with their political orientation. McCarthy, a construction lawyer, is closely aligned with his very vocal Mesa North neighbor and seems to share some of his views if recent history is any indication. Mensinger will join his close business associate, Jim Righeimer, on the dais - something that will require some watching as the months move on. Both men are developers, which might normally be a good qualification. However, I'm more than a little uneasy with their business association - each runs a different arm of the same organization, the financially beleaguered Suncal Companies. On the positive side, considering the state of the economy, both Mensinger and Righeimer probably have plenty of time to spend visiting every site and do the homework necessary to perform these jobs well. We'll see...

Even more disappointing is that, by making these selections, the council majority spit in the eyes of
current incumbents Donn Hall and Eleanor Egan. Both Hall - a community activist for more than four decades, including a tour as mayor - and Egan have served this city for years and with distinction. Both have been active in "westside improvement" from the earliest days. It looks like the current council majority is more than willing to cast aside loyal compatriots for the sake of future political considerations.


I missed the call on t
he Parks and Recreation Commission. I had speculated that the council might select Rob Dickson, Jr. for one of the two positions. He was not even nominated. The council rejected nominations of athlete Brittany Koper and Eastsiders Marnie Primmer and Jeff Harlan and chose, instead, Jeff Mathews and Kim Pederson. Also not selected was incumbent Bob Graham and former commissioner Dave Stiller. Clearly, there is a "youth movement" afoot.


Kim Pederson is an employee of the City of Newport Beach, as is outgoing commissioner Mark Harris, and has a long history of involvement in Costa Mesa sports programs. Jeff Mathews seems to have no recreation or park management in his background, but does have strong academic credentials and what appears - on paper, at least - to be a solid management background. That will be a very welcome addition to the commission, which has been virtually leaderless in recent months. However, since I didn't really know much about Mathews, I decided to check a little further. It seems that he was Monahan's volunteer coordinator during the past election. And, both Bever - who nominated him - and Monahan - who seconded the nomination - received $1,000 campaign contributions from Mathews last summer. I guess we now know the cash value of a Parks and Recreation Commission seat.

With almost no one watching - at nearly 12:30 a.m. who would be? - Gary Monahan showed us that he's still a sneaky guy, willing to play fast and loose with the rules. At that late (early?) hour he asked the City Attorney if it was possible, at that time, to choose
more candidates from this exceptional pool. One had the impression that he wanted to clean the slate and dump all the current commissioners and replace them with members from the group of applicants this time around. He was advised that he couldn't do that at this meeting because proper notice hadn't been made. One had the very clear impression that the days of the remaining three commissioners may be numbered - that the council may be asked to boot them all out and choose new folks very soon.


Remember when I told you not to turn your back on these folks? This i
s precisely why... They will wait until almost no one is watching, then slip a "suggestion" into the works that has very significant impact on our city governance.


Here's some news for you... Former Costa Mesa resident, college professor, newspaper columnist and author of "Terror in the Barrio - The Rise of the New Right in Local Government", Dr. Humberto Caspa, is returning from Bolivia soon! I announced his departure for his homeland the middle of last year, HERE. I'm sure that will make one resident, prominently featured in Dr. Caspa's book, very happy. I expect there will be a red carpet rolled out for Dr. Caspa in the north part of our city upon his return.


Dr. Caspa was an extremely active and vocal advocate for the Latino population in Costa Mesa. His views were found to be controversial by some, particularly those pilloried in his book. I don't know what his plans are for the future, but I do know that his activism provoked discussion of important issues that, in all likelihood, may not have otherwise taken place.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for covering the meeting last night. I am disappointed that I was not selected for a seat on the Parks and Recreation Commission, but I can't complain about the folks who were appointed. I am confident that Jeff Mathews and Kim Pederson will serve with distinction and help make Costa Mesa a better city.

I will apply again the next time there is an opening, and I appreciate your kind words about my application in a previous entry here. As you know, I am very passionate about Costa Mesa civic affairs, and issues within the purview of the Parks and Recreation Commission are critical to our quality of life.

1/21/2009 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Rob would have made a great member of Parks and Rec. Kim is a good guy too though. I don't know anyone else well enough that was running.

I share your concern about the number of industry pros on the planning commission. When you have so many people that have a developer's perspective I wonder who is watching out for the homeowner/renter/average joe.

1/22/2009 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

Well, you called it weeks ago, Geoff. It pays to be politically connected I guess. What about your mention of Brown Act violations?

I have another story to share with you, but won't do it publicly, regarding funny business on the council (it's related to my four-year axe to grind/conspiracy theory, but interesting nonetheless). Maybe I'll drop you an e-mail separately.

1/22/2009 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rob, I was disappointed you were not even considered... another time..

Bruce, I guess we'll see how this new crew does. The two new men won't be seated until February 25th.

mesa verde madman, feel free to use the email address on my profile page here. I love a good conspiracy theory. :-) :-)

1/22/2009 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger CMTRUTH said...

We too think Mr. Dickson would have made a good choice. Unlike many Mr. Dickson is open to discussion and that is a rare breed these days on the MMACC.
To the future Mr. Dickson, good luck.

1/22/2009 11:40:00 PM  

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