Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Mayor, The Newcomers and The Senior Center

It has been brought to my attention by som
eone whose opinion I value very much that I may have been too harsh in my judgment of our young jailer/mayor's decision to ask for an immediate pay cut at the council meeting Tuesday night. I criticized him for proposing a pay cut that wouldn't affect him because he will be termed-out before it can be implemented following the next municipal election. I then chided him for springing forward like a jack-in-the-box to ask the City Manager to immediately begin docking his pay 5%.

Well, I think as
king for an immediate pay cut was showing leadership - I give him that. If the other council members follow his lead they will be able to say to the bargaining unit leaders that they, in effect, feel their pain. I still feel that it was a grandstanding move, but that's just my position - one apparently shared by Councilwoman Katrina Foley and others, too.


However, each of the council members, including the mayor and Foley, are employed elsewhere - their
council stipend is not their only source of income. I'm not sure how they will keep a straight face as they sit across the table from the negotiators who will be asking their rank and file to take a big hit to their ONLY source of income. Since each of them have "day jobs", a stronger statement would have been to reduce their pay by 90% or more for the duration of the crisis, beginning immediately. I noticed that they didn't change their benefits allocation or timing of increases.


By the way, there is a rumor churning around below the surface that our young jailer/mayor may not, in fact, be working as an Orange County Deputy Sheriff in one of the county jails these days. This rumor, which I've heard from a couple unrelated sources, indicates he may be on some kind of leave of absence. Since I know he and his posse read this blog
from time-to-time, let's ask him...


Mr. Mayor, are you currently going to work these days, or are you staying at home plotting your pol
itical career? Are you on a leave of absence? Is it a PAID leave? Is the leave due to personal reasons or for performance issues? Do you plan to return to work, and if so, when? Inquiring minds want to know.


To avoid further speculation, perhaps the mayor could let us know. I'd be happy to provide him the forum here to explain. And, I gu
arantee him that I will publish his response verbatim - no editing. That's a deal he won't get from any local newspaper. All he has to do is call me to arrange the publication - he has my number, so to speak.

Quite honestly, I don't expect Mayor Mansoor to take me up on this offer. I'm still waiting for a reply to the last letter I wrote to him - several years ago.


I saw an interesting little piece in the Orange County Register today menti
oning that Costa Mesa is one of the most frequently named destinations of incoming U-Haul trailers being used to move folks into the state. This is good news. It's good news because the thrust of the article was that incoming trailers now exceed outgoing units. Until very recently, that was not the case - people were fleeing the state in record numbers. So, to all those blue-collar workers (that's how the Register article described them) dragging those U-Haul trailers to a new life here in Costa Mesa, Welcome! We want you to move to our city, buy our houses - much more affordable these days - educate your kids in our excellent public schools and spend your hard-earned cash in our stores. We want you to become active in the PTA and other civic activities. We want your energy, intellect and dedication to enhance the lives of all our residents.



The yapping hye
na over at the CM Press has picked up a pitchfork and joined Wendy Leece's witch hunt at the Senior Center. He wrote a bit of drivel today in which he perpetuates the lies of senior abuse and financial mismanagement at the center. This doesn't really surprise me, since he and his fellow-travelers in the self-named "improver" group don't like the fact that the Senior Corporation Board of Directors includes former political foes of Mansoor, Bever and Leece. Well, those rabble-rousers need to be careful what they ask for or it's possible they will find the Senior Center dropped in the lap of the financially-strapped city to run. The phony charges being trumped up by one or two malcontents and, assuming they were true without investigation, publicized by Leece, have hampered fund raising activities and destroyed the morale of the center staff.


I'm sure Leece thinks she's doing "God's work" in this issue, but she seems unable to filter personal gripes from real problems. This has deteriorated to the point w
here she no longer will deal with the Executive Director of the center, Aviva Goelman. Her personal animosity toward Goelman makes one wonder about the foundations of this ill feeling. Leece has a history of trying to overlay her own personal religious beliefs on issues - as witnessed by her tumultuous tour on the school board. Is it possible that she now refuses to deal with Goelman because she is Jewish? Whatever the reasons for her feelings toward Goelman, having a City Council liaison to the Senior Center who will not deal with the Executive Director is unworkable and unacceptable. For the welfare of the seniors, and the Senior Center, something has to change.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Long Night In Costa Mesa

What did we learn while watching the long, l
ong Costa Mesa City Council meeting last night? I mean except the fact that our leaders remembered how to use up an entire night - the meeting finally ended at 11:59 p.m.


Well, one thing remains clear - Eric Bever's presence on the council does not guarantee the debate of issues will be enhanced. Quite the contrary. Early in the meeting he struck out at critics who had wondered openly about his absence from the last meeting - one of the most important in recent years. He spat venom directly at Katrina Foley, making an irrelevant and inaccurate comment about her campaign contributions. Watching him in action is just like watching a spoiled little kid who pouts and stomps his little feet when he doesn't get his way. Last night he demonstrated once again that he is a petulant, petty buffoon - a clown unworthy of the seat he holds. I've had some personal experiences with him and, as do many people, came away from those encounters simply shaking my head at what a crude, clueless, infantile clod he is. The sparks that flew between Bever and Foley again last night was kind of like watching a lightning storm! Bever combined hostility with stupidity, so it was entertaining to watch him get batted around a little.

Perhaps the biggest lesson we learned last night, though, is, "Don't Mess With People's Private Property!" Are you liste
ning, Riggy? Yep, the Planning Commission, currently chaired by the carpetbagger, Jim Righeimer, stepped in it up to it's knees when they sent three items modifying residential parking rules to the council for approval. Those items dealt with city-wide ordinances on parking in and around residential driveways. Dozens of people spoke passionately against the proposals - no one spoke in favor. Speaker after speaker asked, "Whose idea was this, anyway?" Good question. You can read the Daily Pilot coverage of the subject HERE.


Seems that Riggy
and his pals were intent on trying to turn Costa Mesa into Stepford or, even worse, Irvine - or so the majority of speakers opined last night. Of course, it's easy to understand how Riggy could misread the residents of Costa Mesa so badly - he's only lived here for a couple years. As a developer, he's used to seeing and building pristine new, cookie-cutter projects, so Costa Mesa's eclectic mix of neighborhoods must drive him nuts. My suggestion to him - and based on the sentiment of many speakers last night, I'm not alone - is that Old Jim pack up his carpet bag and look for another nest. Heck, if he moved to Irvine he'd really stand out in the crowd. He might be the only Republican in the entire city!

The discussion of those parking issues took more than 4 hours, but the time flew past as the sp
eakers sprinted to the podium to have their say. It was fun to watch. Many first-time visitors to the council chambers arrived with a full head of steam and used the opportunity to vent their spleens. Based on their collective attitude, one almost expected to see their pitchforks and torches parked outside...


I was also interested to see how the council would handle our young jailer/mayor's suggestion that they all take a pay cut. The two issues - the other involved a re-sche
duling of benefits increases - actually got very little discussion. The council approved a motion to reduce their pay by 5% - something that cannot happen until after the next council election in 2010. Mansoor, once that vote was cast, jumped right in. He leaned over and looked at City Manager Allan Roeder and told him that he, Mansoor, wanted to take an immediate 5% pay cut at the earliest time possible. Roeder said OK, and that they would implement it based on the requests of the individual members. Leave it to Mansoor - when he's in a grandstanding mood, he just keeps bleeding it for all it's worth.


Mansoor couldn't get a majority to make changes to the timing of their benefits payout, so the issue was eventually "receiv
ed and filed", which means it stays the same - their benefits will get annual adjustments in January of each year. So much for "sharing the pain".


An interesting sidebar to that little drama was when Be
ver asked Mansoor if he wanted the pay reductions to go into effect only if the employee unions agreed to something similar. Mansoor said no. Bever said that he'd brought this forward a few months ago and was trying to act in the spirit of unity with the staff. Mansoor, with a perfectly placed backhand, said, "I'm acting in the spirit of leadership". Leadership, of course, is an alien concept to Bever. What a schmuck.

During public comments early in the meeting Senior Center rabble rouser Ernie Feeney again prattled on about the up-coming gold sale fund raiser planned at the center in the near future. She worried about the city's liability if relatives of seniors who took gold and other precious metals and diamonds to the center for their "gold sale" function later complained that their loved one had been ripped off. Feeney, and her equally obnoxious husband, John, seem to be carrying Wendy Leece's water in her witch hunt at the Senior Center lately. When asked, the City Attorney affirmed that there was very limited liability for the city.


During her comments time Leece mentioned a presentation by former councilman and Senior Center Board member Mike Scheafer at the Senior Center Board meeting earlier that morning. Scheafer apparently addressed the board and told them that if their critics (I'd read that Leece and her posse) continued their harassment and interference with their fund raising efforts, perhaps it was time for the Board to step aside and turn the operation of the Senior Center over to the city. That, in my view, would be a very unfortunate development, since the city currently only contributes a portion of the operating costs of the Center. It would almost certainly result in a reduction of services to the seniors in our city and could, in these dire financial times, result in the closure of the center.

So, the beat goes on...

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Monday, April 20, 2009

The Week Ahead In Costa Mesa

Tomorrow we'll have our third council meeting in a row on consecutive Tuesdays this month. This one h
as the potential to provide some interesting discussions, for sure. We just hope member Eric Bever will find the time in his busy social schedule to make this meeting.

Among those items to be considered are three changes in off-street parking ordinances in residential neig
hborhoods. As these subjects made their way through the planning process there was some spirited debate by the Planning Commission. We'll see how many residents show up to express a view on a subject that could severely impact their ability to park their long cars on short driveways.

Also bein
g discussed again will be the revised fireworks ordinance. The presentation in the staff report indicates that it's simply a codification of a definition in the code. I really don't expect to see anything significant to come out of this issue. The heavy lifting was done at an earlier meeting. Unless some kind of huge public outcry occurs, this will simply be a 5-0 rubber stamp of the ordinance.


The most fun for me will be the agenda item requested by our young jailer/mayor in which the salaries and benefits for council members is discussed. As you m
ay know, in an act of pure grandstanding, Allan Mansoor proposed that the City Council salaries be reduced in these troubled times. Similarly, the amount provided for benefits would also be reduced. What a crock! You could quit paying the five-member council all together and not make a dent in our budget dilemma! And, anything they decide to do today will not be able to be implemented until immediately after the November 2010 city council election because immediate changes in council salaries, up or down, are prohibited by law! And, of course, Mansoor is termed-out in 2010 and will be running his little legs off trying to win Van Tran's Assembly seat, so he won't be affected at all.

It's clear to me that Mansoor
just wants to be able to say to the four employee associations, "Hey, look at us! We're willing to share the load of this budget crisis, too!" If he really thinks they will buy that load of manure it's an insult to the intelligence of every single city employee. He must think every city employee is as gullible as he is, for goodness sake.


As I've said before, if Mansoor and the council are REALLY serious about participating in the pain of fiscal constraint, they can simply endorse back to the city
every paycheck they receive from now until the budget crisis is ended. Think that will happen? Nah, neither do I.


Speaking of the calendar, tomorrow is Holocaust Remembrance Day
and I found myself wondering of Costa Mesa's own racist laureate and resident Holocaust denier, the yapping hyena over at the CM Press, will trudge down to the speaker's podium and regale us with his "wisdom" again. He's been missing in recent weeks. Note that I didn't say "missed".


Actually, since today is Adolph Hitler's 120th birthday, I half-expected him to remember the day on his blog or with another pithy essay on the New Nation News. I guess the one he wrote last week, the title of which is "Your Mission and Purpose
In Life", in which he exorts you to "breed and breed true", will just have to do. You can read it HERE. Personally, I do get some solace on this date knowing that old Adolph has spent the past half-century roasting in the fires of Hell. Happy Birthday!


A highlight of the week for me will be the Earth Day open house at the Daily Pilot offices Wednesday at which they will provide attendees a peek at the "new look" Daily Pilot, to be launched in May. The fact that it falls on Earth Day has nothing at all to do with anything except, perhaps, to acknowledge that the Daily Pilot and all other members of the print media fraternity are responsible for fewer trees being ground into news print these days.

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