Thursday, August 06, 2009

Songs For My Sweetheart

Well, I contemplated leaving you with a weekend of tidbits to ponder. I thought about expanding a little on the whole, "Overpaid Planning Commissioner" issue. I thought about writing about the potential big time competition our young jailer/mayor may have in his run for the 68th Assembly seat being vacated by Van Tran with the announcement that Democrat Joe Dunn may throw his considerable political heft into the fight. I thought about the issue of the 10% rate increase the Sanitary District approve a few days ago, and what that additional money is planned for. I thought about a lot of things.

Instead, I decided to dedicate this weekend to my sweet wife, Susan, who has tolerated me for 42 years, and sweep her off to an exotic place for some fun and quiet time together - she deserves it.

So, these two little links are for her, but you can enjoy them too, if you wish.

This one is a question for her and is posed by my proxy, another old guy, Rod Stewart.

And this one gives her a pretty clear clue about how I feel about her...

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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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Miller Mea Culpa

I've been advised by sources "in the know" that my announcement of Michael Miller's assignment as the new Daily Pilot City Editor, HERE, was, at least, premature. Miller is the Interim City Editor, filling the huge gap left when Paul Anderson departed last week while interviews are being conducted for the permanent replacement. It's my understanding that Miller is among those being considered for that slot.


I do apologize for any discomfort this might have caused to Miller, Editor Brady Rhoades and other Daily Pilot staffers. My source for the original story was unimpeachable, which was the reason for it's publication. However, life is full of surprises - this was one of them. I guess we'll see if this dog is too old to learn new tricks - like verifying two sources of an issue, regardless of the quality of the first.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Massaging The Budget, Massage Parlors and Caspa on Mansoor (so to speak)

It's the beginning of another new week and, with another Costs Mesa City Council meeting on Tuesday, it promises to be memorable.

Right from the start tomorrow's meeting should be fun. The only public hearing schedule attempts to deal with deadbeats who have, for one reason or anothe
r, refused to pay fines for civil citations for municipal code violations. While $60,000 is involved, most if it deals with two properties in town. One in particular, 2256-2258 Orange Avenue, accounts for over $43,000 of the delinquent fines. The other, 1045 El Camino Drive, is for $7,175.00.


Item 2 under Old Business is titled, "Budget Management Strategy
Implementation/Employee Salaries & Benefits". This attempts to implement concessions with certain employee bargaining units dealing with pay reductions and furloughs to help balance the Fiscal Year 2009/2010 budget.


Perhaps the most interesting of these is item 2 (e) - the modified Memorandum of Understanding with the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association (CMFA). In a nutshell, the city presents to us to review a negotiation document which demonstrates how the association plans to help with the budget. I'm going to be very interested to see how our city council grapples with this information in an open public forum. The proposed MOU extends the length of time of the existing contract in exchange for some very serious concessions on the part of the city, includin
g an increase in pay rate and a new arrangement on their retirement eligibility - 3% at 50, as opposed to the current 3% at 55.


Under New Business #1 the council will, once again, address their current urgency ordina
nce regarding a moratorium on massage parlors and new licensees. It seems, in our haste to slam the door on these activities at a recent meeting, we may have been in violations of Senate Bill 731, which prohibits putting restrictions on massage parlors that are more restrictive than other professional and personal service businesses.


The staff recommends exempting two establishments from the moratorium and says it will return at the meeting on August 18th to discuss the extension of the moratorium.

Perhaps the most fun will come at the end of the meeting when, under New Business #3, Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece p
roposes giving the Planning Commissioners a pay cut - from $400 per month regardless of how many meetings they attend - to $75.00 per meeting.



Our old amigo, Dr. Humberto Caspa - former columnist for the Daily Pilot - has begun contributing blog entries on the Orange Juice Blog, a link for which is over there on the right of this page. In a recent entry last week, HERE, Caspa addresses our young jailer (is he still a jailer?)/mayor Allan Mansoor and his candidacy for the State Assembly seat currently held by Van Tran. In his piece Caspa m
akes some curious comments about Mansoor's sexual orientation - something I feel is completely irrelevant to his candidacy, with the possible exception that he has posted some very explicit negative comments regarding the gay lifestyle on a now-defunct Costa Mesa web site a few years ago. I have no idea if The Mayor has decided to "bat from the other side of the plate", so to speak, and really don't care. Contemplating that speculation does make me smile just a little bit, though.

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