Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fairgrounds, Huscroft House, Skosh and God

Here's my question for the day... Is there any resident of Orange County who actually wants the
Fairgrounds to be sold? Other than the current Fair Board, that is... Based on the recent public meetings held in Costa Mesa, I'd say the answer is a resounding NO!

Last night the Costa Mesa City Council, following an outstanding presentation by Councilwoman Katrina Foley and Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece, heard dozens of residents and other stakeholders present their individual views on this subject. Heck, they were even serenaded by blogger Vern Nelson, who appeared in a red, hooded cape, and sang "Tainted Sale" to the music of "Tainted Love", which brought down the house. Even Mayor Allan Mansoor cheered him when he finished.

Foley and Leece outlined the hist
ory of this sale scheme and gave the audience the time line that we face if the sale is to be stopped. They also presented the steps the City is taking to slam the door on potential buyers. It was announced that, during their closed session meeting, the council had agreed to proceed with plans to make a bid outright for the Fairgrounds and authorized spending $250,000 dollars of staff time toward that planning.

The upshot of the meeting was a three-pronged motion presented by Foley. To quote Foley, "The first part is to prepare a letter to all Orange County legislators and Speaker of the Assembly requesting that they put forth legislation to cancel the sale. The second part to
prepare a letter signed by all of the city council members to demand that the governor terminate the sale. And, thirdly, to authorize member Leece and myself to personally communicate our city's position to the governor, state elected and local officials and representatives to work with the City Manager in making it our top priority to stop the sale." The motion passed unanimously. Now the hard work begins because the time constraints and holidays will severely tax a staff thinned by budget constraints.


One interesting issue was broached by one speaker - that of the possible illegality on the part of the Fair Board and their hired representative in the sale of the Fair. As mentioned in an earlier post, R. Scott Moxley at the OC Weekly, HERE, indicated that the county attorney was pursuing legal action. The Orange County Register, HERE, further reported today that the State Attorney General declined to investigate because he is the legal counsel for the Fair Board. The buck has been passed back to the county, where District Attorney Tony Rackauckas will be asked to investigate this allegation. It was also suggested that Federal authorities take part in this investigation.


Another question arose as I watched the proceeding
s on television tonight - where's Riggy? Costa Mesa Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer has been omnipresent at every other meeting on this subject and had begun his own effort to place the subject on the ballot. He's been taking a lot of flack over the past week or so for his censoring of comments on his Save The Fair web site and, reports have it, that he's had at least one toe-to-toe heated discussion with a member of the public who questioned his motives.

My opinion of Riggy has not changed over the past couple years. I've referred to him as a carpetbagging political opportunist, who used his GOP connections to get himself appointed to the Planning Commission after helping get Mansoor re-elected two years ago after having resided in Costa Mesa for only a few months. I don't like his heav
y-handed approach on the Planning Commission, which is now made all the more onerous because he's been joined by Steve Mensinger and Colin McCarthy - all three have strong developer ties. To me, that's like asking the fox to be housemother in the chicken coop.


I was suspicious of his motivation with his Save The Fair scheme and the passage of time has done nothing to change my opinion. Hopefully, the council action last night will eliminate any need for
him to insert himself into this process.

A sidebar at the meeting was the concern expressed by several residents about the evolving sale of the Huscroft House on Bernard Street. After the city bent over backwards helping the buyer of that derelict building in the form of financial incentives and rel
axation of zoning issues, it seems the owner has sold the place to an outfit that plans to use if for a recovery home! Actually, it sounds like it's a series of recovery homes, to stay within the 6-person-per-house rule.

This has created much angst among residents along that street, several of whom have purchased homes in an adjacent development assuming the Huscroft House would remain an owner-occupied dwelling and be an a
nchor of a revitalized section of the Westside of town.

This whole deal was bad from the beginning, but then-councilwoman Linda Dixon carried the torch for that ram
shackle building and the council at the time got snookered. When will we learn? The City Attorney will investigate to see what, if anything, can be done. They shouldn't hold their breath, as our friends down in Newport Beach can tell you.


On the subject of councilman Gary Monahan's illegal banner on his pub, city officials tell me he was issued a citation late last week and has 30 days in which to pay the $75.00 fine and remove the banner. If he fails to do so he will be cited again, this time with a $200.00 fine and anoth
er 30 days to take the banner down. If he continues to thumb his nose at the city he will be cited a third time and fined $500.00. If he doesn't remove the banner after that citation the issue will be turned over to the city prosecutor for disposition. We all remember what a bang-up job he did with the Benito Acosta criminal trial, don't we? He dropped the ball and the case was dismissed.


I expect Monahan will continue to rack up the fines and write them off as a cost of doing business. The time line above will take him through the football season. However, I fully expect to see another similar illegal banner in March, advertising March Madness, and the process will begin all over again. As I've
said before, Monahan seems more than willing to abuse his position on the council for his own personal gain and ignore any rules he doesn't like. Thanks to all of you who voted him back into office after a dozen years of these kinds of shenanigans.


Oh, yes... at the end of the council meeting, aft
er many impassioned speakers on both sides of the issue, the council agreed with Wendy Leece and voted, 5-0, to hang the motto, "In God We Trust", in bold brass letters on the wall behind the speaker's dais. Of the many excellent presentations we heard on this issue, Byron de Arakal's suggestion struck me as the best compromise. He thought, if we really had to have a patriotic phrase hanging behind the council, it should be the first three words of the Constitution- "We, the people"... I agree.

I encourage the city staff to use great care when placing that motto on the wall behind the Mayor's chair. We sure don't want Mayor Mansoor to look like the motto is running through his head - even though it would likely find no obstruction to impede it.

Labels: , , , , ,


Anonymous Byron de Arakal said...

Sir Geoff...'We, the People' are the first three words of the Constitution, not the Declaration of Independence.

11/18/2009 06:43:00 AM  
Anonymous singley said...

I agree with the "We the People..." idea (although it's the Preamble to the Constitution, not the DOI) but it lacks the religious meaning Leece and others are after. It's tragic that the council could sit and listen to the divisiveness on this issue and just ignore it. And how should non believers approach the council with those words staring at them from behind their elected leaders? Turn to the side and face a wall that has no such message? Maybe I'll bring my own sign, say "We the people.." and tape it to a side wall, and face it while adressing the council.

11/18/2009 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Byron, of course it is! My gaffe is what happens when you try to put a post together when sleep-deprived.

singley, thanks to you, too, for slapping me back into line on my faulty attribution. Perhaps, rather than taping the sign to the wall you could just take a smaller one and simply hold it in front of you while speaking to the council.

11/18/2009 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

So much intrigue, so little substance. The best plan they could come up with is writing letters and petitioning the governor?

We have a real political brain trust in Costa Mesa, don't we?

11/18/2009 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bruce, not so. In addition to the letters and getting face time with Arnold, the city is proceeding with poison pills - the Specific Plan and the ballot measure to lock in the zoning - which will make the Fairgrounds purchase undesirable. No developer will buy 150 acres to leave it as-is.

The downside of the status quo, as I see it, is that the current Fair Board remains in charge and will almost certainly look for ways to nibble away at the Equestrian Center.

11/18/2009 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous The Curl said...

Glad you enjoyed the song Geoff. By the way Riggy told me he had a "family enagement" and it "looked like we didn't need him" anyway. True that, true that...

I did a write-up on the In God We Trust thing over at the OJ:

11/19/2009 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Tainted Curl said...

Here's my question for the day... Is there any resident of Orange County who actually wants the Fairgrounds to be sold?

This is a great question to be asked of alleged Orange County residents Jose Solorio, Lou Correa, Tom Harman, Van Tran, Chuck DeVore, Mimi Walters, Curt Hagman, etc.

THEY could stop the sale without so much as breaking a sweat.

11/19/2009 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Vern, thanks for the input. Read your blog entry before you provided the link. As usual, an interesting take...

You were the hit of the meeting - better than Mansoor's parody of Reagan, for sure.

We're heading out of town so will not be attending The Cauldron as frequently. Have a great holiday.

11/19/2009 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Rams are one and eight. said...

I want to thank you for your hard work on the Monahan sign issue. You beat the "mainstream" media to the punch on this story. To the casual eye it may not seem like a big deal, but the point is an elected official is being cited for breaking city code. I vote candidates in because I think they will uphold the law and not try to break it because they have been elected several times. I think this issue would be getting more coverage if it wasn't for the fair crisis. Keep at it. Everyone is thankful for your hardwork.

11/19/2009 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

"Rams".. the mainstream seems not to be interested in this issue at all. It really bugs me that he just thumbs his nose at the city and the rules - even after his council peers rejected his plea for business owners to be given some slack. Tells a lot about his character, don't you think?

Thanks for your comments... we'll continue to follow the story and report..

11/20/2009 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger BFD said...

In regards to the Huscroft House, I have a couple questions.

Hw can the zoning of multi unit residential allow for a business to exist in that area if it's not zoned for business?

Does city zoning trump state laws in regards to rehab facilities?

11/20/2009 04:26:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home