Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Fireworks Lead Off Council Meeting

As predicted earlier, last night's Costa Mesa City Council meeting was very late getting started because of the long closed session, was brief, but was not without it's interesting moments. It was fun, even though our municipal court jester, Eric Bever, was absent.


Early in the evening, during the Public Comments segment, former mayor Sandra Genis sprang to the speaker's podium to express her dismay and concern at the announcement by City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow that, during the preceding closed session, a sub-committee of the City Council - council members Katrina Foley and Gary Monahan - was formed to meet with the city team preparing a proposal to the State for the acquisition of the Fairgrounds. Genis contended that the creation of such a sub-committee was not appropriate for a closed session issue - it should have been discussed in an open session.

Barlow rejected her claim and attempted to further explain the reasoning behind the creation of the sub-committee - the need to speed-up the process because the City only has a couple weeks to get it's act together and present a proposal to the State. Further comments by Wendy Leece made it clear that not everyone was on the same page, so Foley asked for more clarification by Barlow. Even following that explanation, it seemed that some on the council were still not clear on the role of this sub-committee. A subsequent recommendation by Genis to have the creation of the sub-committee ratified in open session as some kind of an emergency act. Mayor Allan Mansoor and Monahan rejected the move to re-convene the closed session, so Foley asked for a five minute break. When they returned they moved on to comments by the City Attorney and City Manager, then Mansoor adjourned the meeting without another comment on the sub-committee issue. So much for transparency in government!

As a brief aside, but in a similar vein, there's a rumor going around - pointed out by Norberto Santana, Jr. in the fledgling Voice of OC publication HERE - that carpetbagging Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer may be added to the Fairgrounds negotiating team. Santana quotes City Manager Allan Roeder as confirming that there had, indeed, been discussions about adding Righeimer to the committee.

As Santana mentions in his article, some members of the community have strong feelings that Righeimer's bias on this subject should disqualify him for participating on the team. He specifically mentioned the allegation that Riggy "threatened to use his connections to pull the equestrian lease at the site and yank the contract for the vender who runs the weekend swap meet on the fairgrounds." In my opinion, based on watching Riggy's actions throughout the Fairgrounds issue, that his position has been firmly, and loudly, stated, including on the web site he created for that purpose. Although he has a certain level of expertise in large real estate projects, his bias on this subject should disqualify him.

During the Council Member Comments segment Mansoor stated, "I'm losing confidence in this whole Fairgrounds process. Recently, over the last few weeks we had some information that was released from a closed session that was released to the public." As usual, it was clear that he was reading from a prepared text, rather than speaking from the heart. I wonder who wrote his comments for him? He directed his criticism specifically at Katrina Foley, apparently based on her recent comments on television station KOCE. As you might expect, Foley's response was firm and heated as she explained that she felt, after two conversations with the City Manager before her appearance on the television program, that she clearly understood what she could and could not say and acted accordingly. She was quite obviously peeved that Mansoor chose not to confront her directly either by telephone or in the closed session earlier in the evening but, instead, used his bully pulpit on the dais to vent his spleen.

Mansoor, clearly launching into campaign mode and sporting a new, more stylishly shaggy hairdo, may have been ticked off because Foley's televised comments stole some of his thunder because the press release she used as the foundation for her comments included quotations from him. He expressed a view that her comments somehow hampered the negotiation process. I found myself wondering how parties to the negotiations - representatives of the State, for example - feel about our mayor stating that he's "losing confidence in the process".

During her comments time Leece pointed out the new Canine Clean-up Bag Holder program. She mentioned specifically that Westside activists Mike and Judi Berry have participated and have a dispenser at Canyon Park with their names on it and encouraged other residents to participate. I, for one, am grateful to Judi Berry for her tenacity leading the way on this issue and am sure that, every time I see piles of dog feces in one of our parks, I will think of Mike and Judi Berry.

Back to the Fairgrounds issue... It's obvious that the city manager and his team are under extreme pressure to come up with a proposal that will be deemed acceptable by the State within two weeks. Quite honestly, this seems all but impossible, but I know they are working day and night trying to pull it off. I agree with Sandra Genis that it would be a shame to have all that effort go to waste if the procedures followed come into question. And, I'm very concerned about the message being sent by our unemployed mayor when he tells the world he is "losing confidence in the process." To me, that seems akin to sabotaging the process. I wonder why he would do that? I suppose a close look at his campaign contributors might shed some light on the subject... we'll see.

And, to close this edition, I must comment on the recent fund raiser announcement sent out by the Mansoor for Assembly team. This big buck event later this month will be held at the home of Steve Mensinger and hosted by the Mensingers and Colin McCarthy and his wife plus Sam Clark, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Righeimer and Jeff Matthews. So, all five current Costa Mesa planning commissioners and one Parks and Recreation Commissioner - all placed in their jobs by Mansoor - are providing him financial support in his quest for Van Tran's 68th Assembly District seat next fall. Anybody smell something foul here?

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Anonymous Pete said...

Geoff, the Mayor was right about Foley. She went to the press before the official City press release was even issued. She doesn't speak for the City, the City Manager or the Mayor do. Why does she always have to have the light on her. People are tired of it.

4/07/2010 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

You failed to mention Gary Monahans irish mouth spilling the beans . He was talking about a city lease/purchase option back before the state even stopped the sale to Craig Realty. That little indiscretion , spoken live on KOCI radio,could have set us up for a possible damages suit by Craig Realty.Katrina deserved to make the announcement. It was a little heavy handed, but she's not trying to use this issue to get re-elected.Riggy didn't know they kept live animals on the fairgrounds. He thought the horse stables were temporary. I'd prefer someone who actually knew what was going on with the fairgrounds. His message has been very duplicitious. He even went so far as to apply for a Planning Award, and try and take credit for the thousands of postcards delivered to Sacramento. His group had nothing to do with that effort of stopping the sale. Quote from his Save the Fair webpage " Many are pushing first and foremost to stop the sale, and we commend them for that. We here are doing our best to make sure we are prepared in case that effort fails." As you can see , his efforts didn't include stopping the sale because he was backing the Fair Board foundations takeover of the property, which led us to this mess.Many residents involved in this fight...don't trust him.Unfortunately my comment is turning into an article.........I could go on and on. I didn't even bring up Moorlach's actions. Someones yanking thier leashes.

4/07/2010 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Pete, Foley spoke TWICE with the City Manager BEFORE going on TV. Mansoor's just peeved because she stole some of his campaign thunder.

4/07/2010 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Gericault, you're correct - I should have mentioned Monahan spilling the beans about the lease/purchase on radio back in January. And, your expansion of why Riggy should NOT be on the committee is appreciated. I'm the last guy to complain about a long-winded comment. :-)

4/07/2010 09:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Duncan said...

Yes Riggy should not be considered for any Fair board since, I recall, was for the sale of the Fair early in the process. Riggy, who will be running for council, is trying to switch his tune and not acting like he was always against the sale of the Fair. Riggy's temper and controling nature is not an asset to any board. At the Eastside HOA meeting, Riggy stood, in front of a large group, and said, "I didn't even know there was a farm at the fair, let alone two riding rinks." Now is that someone who should be representing Costa Mesa? No.

4/07/2010 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

What Duncan said....

4/07/2010 05:46:00 PM  

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