Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Monahan Mangles The Budget - And His Reputation

What The... Heck?! (I thought better about using that "other" word, although it was certainly more a
ppropriate!) Just when you think you've seen it all, the Costa Mesa City Council provides you with a slap in the face!

At last night's C
ity Council meeting, during the budget discussions, twelve-year councilman Gary Monahan reached right in and ripped the heart out our city! As I predicted earlier, he just couldn't be satisfied with the balanced budget presented by City Manager Allan Roeder and his staff. No, he had to nickel and dime what was left of the budget, much of it coming from the Recreation programs. And the ignorance of the programs that Monahan, Allan Mansoor and Eric Bever displayed was astounding! It's as though they lived in another city!

Apparently not caring what the residents of this city think, Monahan started off his "surgery" by convincing the other guys on the council to shut down the very successful Neighbors to Neighbors program - which didn't affect the budget one penny beca
use it comes out of Community Development Block Grant funds. He moved forward by recommending defunding all training for the city council - saving $10,000. He also canceled the dinner meeting meals for the council and both commissions and the staff. There's another $12,900 in "savings"! He ignored the fact that many of the staff members that work the council and commission meetings go directly from their work desks to the dinner meeting, then to the council meeting - some of which last 5-6 hours - like last night's for example. I found myself wondering if that move will violate any state labor laws...


As he took his meat cleaver on down through the budget some of his most egregious moves were rejected as Bever joined Katrina Foley and Wendy Leece in voting against them. Among those were hi
s plan to fire one of the three animal control officers - a move that very obviously ticked off Police Chief Chris Shawkey. Monahan also wanted to fire two code enforcement officers - another move that was rejected.


In a truly ironic move, he suggested folding up the CERT Pro
gram - our Community Emergency Response Team. I say ironic because there was an excellent article in the Daily Pilot yesterday that outlined the activities of the CERT group. That was rejected, too. Another boneheaded move was his proposal to attempt to combine unrelated youth recreation programs, even though those he was suggesting be combined were not even slightly related in scope and activities. Fortunately, Bever, Leece and Foley blocked that one, too.

He also was successful in cutting out funding for Grad Nite, our Sister City Program and youth basketball, flag football and cheerleader programs.

As he kept on rolling,
he made some motions for future actions for the staff - those that will be left, that is. Among those was the proposal to consider having the Parks & Recreation Commission meet every other month and the Planning Commission meet only once a month. That followed the proposal that the two commissions be combined into one entity... that item is not dead.. yet.

He also proposed that the Police Department keep the Patrol Division fully staffed, regardless what other cuts in the department might occur - ignoring all the hard, time-consuming staff work done by Chief Shawkey and his team. I suppose micro-managing is not unex
pected by Monahan, if you get my drift.


Basically, Monahan - who has 6 kids - seemed not to understand at all how cutting all those recreation programs would significantly negatively impact entire neighborhoods in our city. He tore the fabric of our town to shreds last night. He acknowledged before he began shredding the budget that he might make some people mad. Well, he certainly accomplished that last night. In fact
, I wouldn't be surprised if his antics don't cost him some business at his pub.


One of the highlights for me was the heated exchanges between Foley, Mansoor and Monahan. Foley, obviously very frustrated by the flat out stupidity of some of the motions, didn't hold her tongue. In fact, she and Mansoor got into it so often - yelling at each other - that Mansoor later demanded an apology. He didn't get one.

So now the city staff, and Recreation Manager Jana Ransom, must try to figure out what is left in their budgets and find ways to move forward. Last night's budget debate - if you can call it that - demonstrated why it's important to elect people to the city council that are smarter than your average bea
r. The combination of ignorance and stubbornness demonstrated by Mansoor and Monahan last night made me fear for the future of our city. If things move forward as directed last night, this town will become a much less family-friendly place. That's a shame.


In other earlier actions, Mayor Mansoor got his resolution about the Vietnamese flag passed. This was accompanied by speeches by several Vietnamese-American politicians and activists and ordinary members of the Orange County Vietnamese community speaking, including a couple members of Assemblyman Van Tran's staff. Did I mention that Mansoor is running for Tran's seat in the Assembly? Don't get me wrong. I really don't have a problem with
the resolution that was passed. It just seems very "convenient" for this to come up now - immediately after Mansoor declared his intention to run for Van Tran's seat. It's pure political pandering...

The good news is that the Orange Coast College State Champion baseball team was honored
by the council. Their performance - especially in this year, with it's own special adversity - was a wonderful accomplishment. All in all, it was a sad night for the residents of Costa Mesa. It demonstrated, once again, how important it is to pay attention when you're voting for elected leaders. Even though Mansoor's term expires next year, the bad news is that Monahan may be destined to be there forever! Watch him try to resurrect the "directly elected mayor" scheme next year about this time - without term limits. I think he wants to be mayor for life - kind of like Idi Amin (Dada)...

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Blogger Humberto said...

It was a sad moment for all Costa Mesans. Well, I guess for some, because Monahan, after all, must be extremely happy for getting our city down the drain. Costa Mesans must think not twice but many times when they elect a city official. We need intelligent people --preferably well educated people, with college education or individuals with real life experience (Leece did a nice job yesterday. I would not mind voting for her next election, unless she does something terrible). Mansoor has neither a solid education background not real life experiences. After all he is a jailer, someone whose job is unfortunately filled with individuals who, according to some researchers, have the tendency to engage in racial discrimination. Although Monahan has six kids, as he stated lats night, I don't think he understands the implications of raising kids in the Westside. With all the cuts on social programs, Monahan, Mansoor, and to some degree Bever, have affected the social fabric of our community. I think I have seen everything in Costa Mesa. I can just picture your "favorite neighbor", the "mouth", "666" having the best time of his life. I'm sure Monahan, Mansoor and Bever will join the party soon. It might be time move out.

6/17/2009 09:31:00 AM  
Anonymous said...

While I was disappointed by the gutting of the youth and recreation programs last night I commend Monahan for at least bringing up some ideas to consider. That is what I expect from a councilmember. I was not in favor of the majority of them but obviously he spent a lot of time on this (though a little more research into the farm program vs. Davis school programs would have been beneficial)and I see no harm in laying all ideas out on the table for a vote. In fact, the ensuing discussions among councilmembers were very revealing as to their depth of knowledge of city programs. Some had in depth knowledge and voted based on that while others voted per their general ideologies. I do not fault the councilmembers for not being experts in every area of every program going on (that is what specialized staff is for). If Monahan's ideas had been brought up earlier then the councilmembers would have had time to do more research. These ideas should have been on the table a month ago so everyone would be more prepared and the citizens could have had an opportunity to weigh in on them. Since these ideas were brought up after public comments the citizens had no opportunity to speak to them. I did not do a running tally of the numbers but it seems that if we had cut one code enforcement officer we probably could have saved all the other cuts that were passed. What was the final tally of dollars cut? The city of Visalia cut some code enforcement positions and had their building inspectors pick up some of the work (since they had less buildings needing inspections due to the economy). Mike Berry made a good point during public comments that our reserves have been spent to prop up salaries and benefits the last couple of years when they could have been spent for the good of all the citizens of CM. I was surprised when Jana Ransom revealed that there were salaries for coaches and assistant coaches in some of our youth sports leagues. I thought they were volunteers. Maybe IN N OUT could cater commission meals. Put me down for #2 combo.

6/17/2009 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous John Hammond said...

The problem with Monahan's recommendations were that they were brought up at the last minute - unlike the proposed closure of the pool - so the swim community had ample time to rally the troops, but the youth sports people, the parents of kids that use recreation programs, the people who go to concerts as part of a family experience, the kids who use the teen centers, the people who benefit from Neighbors for Neighbors - none of these people had a clue that these things would be brought up and discussed at the - literally - 11th hour. Now what is going to happen to all those kids?

6/17/2009 01:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

Some people can't tell the difference between "spending" and "investment." Providing Costa Mesa's children recreational and educational opportunities is an investment in our city's future; cutting that off is throwing away our future. So a brand-new, custom-built, $80,000 recreation van and a brand-new $700 book cart donated by the Costa Mesa Library Foundation will sit idle, while the kids who would enjoy them look for ways to get into mischief. We have to get this reversed!

6/19/2009 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Thanks to each of your for your perspectives....

Eleanor, I'm with you... someone should bring some of those items back for re-consideration before the staff is fired and the equipment moth-balled.

6/19/2009 02:39:00 PM  

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