Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Buffoons, Budgets And A Great Day

So, what
the heck is it with Eric Bever? At last night's City Council meeting he seemed to either be too stupid to understand the intricacies of the budget issues placed before the council or he just has some kind of a bug up his rear that won't let him vote affirmatively on anything having to do with the budget. Heck, maybe it's both...


It could be that, as an alleged artist, he's working with the wrong side of his brain so those numbers just seem like Russian to him. Sometimes, though, it seems as though he's not using either side.


He consistently voted against each budget-related issue last night, but was in the minority each ti
me with the exception of Wendy Leece's ill-fated attempt to bring our Planning Commission compensation in line with most other cities in Orange County. More on that later. Last night Bever seemed just like a little kid who learned his first word - NO! He just kept voting NO!, NO!, NO! all night long. I kind of half-expected him to jump down off the dais and throw what my grandmother used to call a hissy-fit right there before the council.

Despite Bever's obstinance progress was made on the budget when the negotiated proposals by the three bargaining units excluding the firefighters were passed.


The proposal presented by the firefigh
ters was hashed over by the council, staff and representatives of the bargaining unit. In the end the staff was directed to present the polished product based on those conversations in the very near future - the clock is ticking on the opportunity to affect a real cost savings this year. It is possible that the council may have to call a special meeting to finally resolve this issue.


As I watched the proceedings last night it became very clear that, despite some public utterances by members of the community, all the bargaining units
have been working diligently with the city staff to attempt to reach a workable agreement to resolve our budget dilemma. Much of that work was done in closed session meetings, some of which may have looked like part of the meeting last night.

I join the council members who expressed their gratitude to all the employees of this city and their bargaining unit leaders for their persistence and dedication to helping resolve this budget crisis.


Wendy Leece proposed changing the way the Planning Commission is c
ompensated. Presently they are paid $400 per month, regardless the number of meetings they attend. She presented a chart showing that, with the exception of Irvine, which pays it's Planning Commissioners $300 per month, almost all the other cities in Orange County pay theirs much less than $100 per meeting. Many are in the $50 per meeting range. Leece's logic was sound - our Planning Commissioners just don't have much to do these days. She pointed to the agenda for next Monday's meeting at which they will consider only one item. They'll be out of there before their chairs get warm!


There was virtually no discussion of the issue - except for The Mouth From Mesa North, who agreed with Leece and
went one step further to echo what I said HERE in a recent Daily Pilot commentary - that the Parks and Recreation Commission be abolished and the Planning Commission assigned it's responsibilities. Imagine The Mouth and your humble correspondent having the same idea... it must be snowing in hades right about now!


Led by Mayor Mansoor, Leece's proposal went down in flames when, on a 4-1 vote, the council agreed to "receive and file" the report. So, we'll just keep on paying each of those five commissioners $400 a month for meeting once a month for just a few minutes. Seems like a pretty interesting decision, considering the fiscal realities we're dealing with these days. When you watch
the meeting on Monday and see the commission wrap it up in a half-hour, just remember that you're paying them $800/hour for their time...


Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the day my sweet Susan walked down the aisle at the little old St. James Church at the entrance to Lido Isle and agreed to become my wife. What a lucky man I am to have been blessed with such a patient and loving wife for all these years. Happy Anniversary, Honey...

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Anonymous said...

I know you are expecting me to chime in on this so I might as well be the first post. Geoff, the planning commission one half hour you talk about (for 800 dollars/hr!) takes more than just the half hour. We drive there, meet at 5:30 to discuss agenda, have the meeting at 6, after that we have another one hour special meeting scheduled, then we drive home and eat a late dinner. We just spent 3 1/2 hours of our time not to mention any of our study time on our own, meeting with applicants, going to city hall to do research with staff, etc. Yes, a one item agends is a very light workload but it takes more than 1/2 hour time committment. Last month we had a 2 hour plus special meeting with council also. We have some Assembly bills that have been passed recently that will probably require a few special meetings in the near future. Maybe we get too much pay in some minds but we definitely work longer than just the meeting timeframe. Some on council last night wanted to waive a $7K code enforcement fine for someone while cutting planning stipend. It made me think we commissioners were not as appreciated as a code enforcement violater.

8/05/2009 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary Geoff!

8/05/2009 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Vice Chair Jim, I guess I knew you'd chime in on this one. I suppose my "$800/hour" comment was intended to provoke a response. Thanks for taking the time to respond. While I've not been a Planning Commissioner, I have spent plenty of time exchanging views with past commissioners to have a pretty good feel for the commitment necessary to do the job well, especially in the "good old days" when development activities were really hopping in our city. I do understand the hours and hours necessary to read through the reports and to visit job sites.

It seems to me that the work is pretty much the same from city to city, with the exception that the volume of work is less in cities like ours that are pretty much built-out. How, then, do we justify a $400 per month stipend in Costa Mesa when, according to the chart prepared as part of the staff report on this issue, EVERY other city on that chart pays their Planning Commissioners significantly less? And, the disparity isn't even close! As one of our "favorite" people pointed out last night, many cities pay their commissioners $50 per meeting. Even Irvine pays theirs less than we do, and they are still in a development mode.

And, Jim, thanks for the kind words about the anniversary. I'm one lucky guy...

8/05/2009 08:47:00 AM  
Anonymous said...

Geoff, that pay chart was quite surprising I must admit. I would be interested in what the stipend is in other OC cities, whether we pay our planning commissioners the most money or not. There may be other perks involved in those cities mentioned also, maybe money for mileage, meals before meetings etc. How does our council stack up in pay comparatively? Also, I believe the planning commission should not be paid less than the parks commission as was being proposed last night. Parks gets 100 per meeting. On another subject I agree with Bever that there should have just have been a salary cut for employees, not the furlough plan which is way too complicated and leaves us understaffed. They should be at city hall serving Costa Mesans.

8/05/2009 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...


I agree that more information would be nice, but the practice in the past has been to look first at cities near us on these kinds of issues.

I do understand Bever's complaint about the 5% vs. furloughs. However, that issue was negotiated between the bargaining units and city representatives as part of the process. I don't know the tone of those negotiations since they are not typically held in a public forum. I am completely confident, thought, that Roeder and his staff have weighed all the options and feel secure in the city's ability to cover the necessary jobs via the furlough method.

I agree that the Planning Commissioners should not be paid less than the Parks and Recreation Commissioners.

8/05/2009 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous mike s said...

great picture of the couple at the end. who is the old guy next to the young girl?

happy anniversary friend! take your wife dancing.

8/05/2009 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Humberto said...

I agree with Fis, and also agree with Geoff and el "Bocon" on this issue. Man, I'm feeling a little weird for agreeing with el Bocon on something. I'm beginning to feel possesed. Did you have the same feeling Geoff? Your "esposa" es muy "bonita" Geoff. Lucky guy.

8/05/2009 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Humberto, I sure wish I knew what "el Bocon" means! :-) No, I don't feel possessed by him, only sad for him. Thanks for your comments about my sweet wife.. I agree.. :-)

8/05/2009 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Humberto said...

El Bocon means The Mouth

8/05/2009 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Gracias, amigo. My Espanol is limited to a handful of words and I don't understand most of those! :-)

8/05/2009 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

I must admit that I never understood why we pay city council members, planning commission, parks and rec commission, etc.

It seems to me most if not all of those involved do not do this for the money. It is community service and civic responsibility that drive MOST of the participants.

I say we reimburse for out of pocket expenses and leave it at that.

Geoff, you are getting really good with photo-shop. That picture of you and the supermodel almost looks like you were really there and she knew you! :-)

8/06/2009 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bruce, I suppose we can justify a stipend for those elected public servants in an attempt to cover the cost in time that they are supposedly spending on our behalf. It becomes more difficult, I think, when things are slow and they don't have much to do. Like the Planning Commissioners next Monday. I do think we vastly overpay the Planning Commissioners - especially when comparing them to other cities around us. The silence with which Leeces proposal was met by the other council members was very telling. After all, a couple of those commissioners are VERY WELL connected in the local GOP hierarchy and may have a VERY SIGNIFICANT influence on certain political aspirations...

As to your other observation - I agree, the contrast between my "photoshopped" super model and the geezer in the photo is dramatic. In my defense, having married such a beautiful young thing I'm guaranteed to have someone around to wipe the drool off my chin in a couple years.

8/06/2009 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

I always assumed commissioners do it for the exposure and to fill out the holes in their resume when the want to attain higher office... oh, and most importantly, chicks dig it. Oh yeah, and civic duty.

Happy Anniversary, too, Bubbling Cauldron.

8/06/2009 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

mesa verde madman, perhaps you're correct about SOME of the commissioners, but recent history has provided us with a cadre of exemplary public servants who stepped up as a Planning Commissioner and Parks or Recreation Commissioner with only the goal of helping our city to thrive in an orderly way. I won't begin to list names because I would certainly forget some. Funny about that "chicks" thing... I don't recall many groupies hovering the commissioners I had in mind... :-) And, thanks for the congrats.. I'm a lucky dude.

8/06/2009 10:28:00 PM  

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