Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Monahan & Righeimer To Run The Show

How do you begin to describe a City Council meeting which began on time, took almost 2 hours to select a Mayor and
Mayor Pro Tem and ran until 11:30, at which time the council adjourned to a closed session with four difficult items on the agenda? Heck, they might still be there at this wee hour of the morning!

Right off the bat the "old" council moved to "trail" the closed session - move it to the back of the line instead of doing

it before the regular, open meeting. This was a good move for a couple reasons. One, it gave Jim Righeimer a chance to be sworn in and subsequently participate in the closed session and, two, it kept an already packed agenda from being a monster. At least, that was the plan...

After a short, but
sincere, proclamation for the Friends of the Costa Mesa Library they moved directly to Public Comments in which more than 20 people spoke, including a half dozen who spoke in support of Police Chief Chris Shawkey. That was a surprise. Shawkey, along with his most senior captain, Ron Smith, were placed on administrative leave recently, with no reason being given. Despite the accolades presented on Shawkey's behalf tonight, no further comment was made by City Manager Allan Roeder.

Council member c
omments included an emotional good-bye delivered to the audience, staff and council by out-going council member Katrina Foley. She sincerely thanked everyone with whom she ever interfaced while on the council and almost made it through without choking up - almost. Her intelligence, tenacity, hard work and perspective will be much missed on the dais.

City Clerk Julie Folcik certified the results of the
November 2nd election, indicating that Measure "L", the increase of the Transient Occupancy Tax, had passed and confirmed the victory by Jim Righeimer and Wendy Leece. She confirmed that, of the 56, 825 eligible voters in Costa Mesa, 29816 (52%) cast ballots - an excellent turnout for a mid-term election.

She then swore-in Leece and Righeimer, who each then took
turns acknowledging their supporters and the results of the election. Leece mentioned that she wanted to try to have an American Legion Post established in Costa Mesa.

Righeimer, in an attempt to heal still-open wounds from the election, told the packed auditorium that the campaign was over and it was time to work together. He then went on to outline a three-pronged plan to help get Costa Mesa back on track.

1- He wanted t
o move forward with Eric Bever's Economic Development Plan to attract new businesses to our city. He also mentioned that he wanted to find ways for staff to streamline the process. Coming from a guy who's not happy with rules, that last part makes me more than a little nervous.

2 - He wants to create the position of Economic Development Director for the city, who would be an ombudsman to facilitate development. Hmmm, wonder if he has anyone in mind for that job? Does the name "Steve Mensinger" come to mind?

3 - He wants to establish a civilian Budget Commission to help prioritize budget issues.


Then the fun began. It was time to select a Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. Foley nominated Leece for Mayor - Leece seconded the nomination. Righeimer nominated Gary Monahan. I'm not sure who seconded it.

Eleven speakers stood to advocate for Wendy Leece as Mayor, including two of her daughters. None stood to support Monahan. During the council member comments on this item Wendy explained how she felt she could be a consensus-builder. Righeimer said the city needed someone who had "been there" for the difficult times ahead. Foley suggested that the city retu
rn to 1-year terms for the Mayor, as it was before the recently-departed regime.

When the vote was take on Le
ece's nomination it failed, with only Foley and Leece voting for her. The vote was taken on Monahan's nomination and he passed with a similar split - Foley and Leece voting NO.

Then it was time for nominations for Mayor Pro Tem. Foley nominated Leece, who seconded the motion. Eric Bever nominated Righeimer and Monahan seconded
it, so the die was cast. Speakers rose again to support Wendy's nomination - a dozen this time. One speaker rose to support Righeimer - his campaign manager. Regardless, Righeimer was elected to the groans and moans of the crowd. The vote for Leece was 2-3. For Righeimer it was 3-2.
The tone is set f
or the future now. Wendy Leece will be all alone on the dais, much as Foley was most of her tenure. When Foley is replaced in January, almost certainly with another of Righeimer's associates, that will make a super-majority, 4/5ths, which means there is NOTHING they cannot control.

Personally, I'm not surprised that Monahan was elected Mayor - again. I have had some problems with his management on the dais in the past, but he is an experien
ced guy who is much less beholden to the OC GOP than others up there. You can see the handwriting on the wall, though - Righeimer as mayor in two years. That's a scary prospect.

By the time they fin
ally got the officers elected and took a short break to adjust the chairs, it was 8:30 before they began the real business of the night. A casual observation, for whatever it's worth. The new seating chart is very interesting - kind of symbolic. Monahan, as mayor, is in the center, with Righeimer and Bever to his right. Foley is on his immediate left and Wendy Leece was relegated to the far left spot on the dais, next to the City Manager. The word "exile" comes to mind.

By the time they heard the first public hearing the overflow crowd dwindled to about 65 people - less than a quarter of the number there for the early fireworks. Following the presentation and approval of the new Senior Housing plan for Mesa Verde Center by the Segers
troms there were fewer than 20 in the audience.

They passed the new banner ordinance and the new fence ordinance for new development
s. They passed the "inoperable vehicle" ordinance, 3-2 - boys against the girls again.


After unanimously passing the Redevelopment Agency issue they got into the pro
posal to make feeding the wild fowl and fishing at TeWinkle lake a "disorderly conduct" offense - theoretically an offense for which one could be jailed. It passed, with a 6 month moratorium on enforcement while the staff conducts outreach in the nearby community. This is a toughie because the feeding of the critters fouls the lake, which caused a tremendous maintenance expense to be incurred - an unbudgeted expense. Same with fishing - the piping used to aerate the lakes is being destroyed, which further fouls the lake.

Beginning at 10:30 the agenda item involving attempts to salvage the ROCKS programs and the use of the municipal pool
were discussed at length. Eventually the council voted for all of them, but Righeimer and Bever voted NO on the plan for the pool.


At 11:10 they got around to the Cross Town Bike Trail and eventually voted to authorize a study to be done. Now the $35,000 necessary for that study will have to be found somewhere. Bever and Leece voted NO.

At 11:20 they tackled the proposal to change zoning for re
cycling facilities. It passed 5-0.


At 11:23, with 5 non-staffers in the audience, they received the shortest budget update in history, with more information to come at their January 11th Study Session, when they will have the midyear budget review. During the short discussion Monahan mentioned the word "freeze" in the context of discussing staffing levels. It went over everyone's head - except mine. That's how he introduced the closure of the Job Center - a casual comment at the end of a long meeting. That will be interesting to watch now.

Suffice it to say, the meeting last night was one for the ages. It was clear from the result that Wendy Leece will be a pariah for the next four years. She has, literally, been shoved aside, and her "outsider" status will only be amplified once a Foley replacement is named. That's really a shame, too, because she's being punished for doing what she was elected to do - m
ake the best decisions she could for our city without bowing down to the GOP power brokers. We'll probably have to begin referring to her as "She who must be shunned".

It was evident from the mood of the overflow crowd that the rejection of We
ndy Leece by her peers on the dais was not popular - at all. When she was rejected in favor of Righeimer for the slot as Mayor Pro Tem the vote was followed by moans, groans and boos. This does not bode well for Righeimer and his attempt at conciliation. We can only wait and see until next year, when the deck will be further stacked in his favor.

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Anonymous mike m said...

It's so shocking, because it almost seems like it was all worked out ahead of time for Monahan and Riggy to take charge. Oh, wait, I'm sure it was....

12/08/2010 06:25:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

What does Bever, Monahan, Reighmer, Ross Perot and Napoleon all have in common? The answer is obvious, no need for further explanation.

One, of many, speaker in favor of Leece's Mayoral placement brought up a few points that most overlooked.

1 Monahan's yes vote on the employees' contract; the same vote Leece made and now has suffered the wrath of the GOP.

2 The local press not reporting all of the facts and what facts they do mention are rarely accurate and was proven in an online article posted this morning by LA Times editor Mona Shadia. In her title she mentions (in small print after the bold print)"... some upset". I was there and 90% of the packed auditorium were more than just "upset".

Then she states as fact:

On a 3-2 vote, the appointment passed up Councilwoman Wendy Leece, who nominated herself for the position and who had the support of Councilwoman Katrina Foley.

As I recall Foley nominated Leece and Leece second her own nomination. There are more problems with Ms. Shadia's recollection... oh well.

I will be watching the replay of now Mayor Pro Contempt's nomination of Monahan for the Mayor's seat. I was watching Julie Folcik looking around for a second and just sitting there a bit perplexed. I never heard as second and nether did a dozen people sitting around me. We all thought it humorous people were speaking on Leece's behalf when we thought she was running unopposed... our bad!

Oh... and what about the equestrian lady who, after Leece was passed over for Mayor, made an angry, quick statement that Reeeeemer told her, "selling the fairgrounds was good for everyone."

12/08/2010 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

I didn't hear a second either......I was under the impression Wendy was running unopposed for a few minutes....I was pleasantly surprised.....but that was quickly dashed.
Elections have consequences.......these are the results and they think they have a solid mandate to govern .
We knew that they have little or no regard to what the people, who are awake in this city, actually want . That suits their agenda just fine.
We need to keep moving forward. The electorate in this city are asleep at the switch. They rewarded Mansoor and Righeimer without knowing or understanding the ramifications. Funny watching the staunch GOP Wendy supporters shaking their heads in disbelief.
You get the governance you deserve......this city has voted and deserves this.
Wait for the LED signs and Banning Ranch traffic. Soon we'll be in court suits on the heavy handed Homelessness eradication plans. The city is at the mercy of developers across the board. Better pick out what color of beige you want for your house cause "Irvinization" is here.

12/08/2010 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Phillip L. said...

I don't understand the surprise at Monahan/Righeimer. Gary was the top vote getter in 2008 and deserves to be Mayor. Righeimer was the top vote getter in 2010 and deserves to be Mayor Pro Tem now and Mayor in 2012. If Mayor were decided by popular vote of the people, that is how it would have been. Sorry Leece fans, that is how democracy works. The system got it right. Foley should NOT HAVE VOTED for Mayor for 2 years when she will not be there. That showed no class.

12/08/2010 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous stop the silliness said...

ok, so I am not alone. I thought it was just my bad hearing, but I didn't hear a second for Monahan either. Nor even saw a twitch like at auctions.

12/08/2010 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous stop the silliness said...

Phillip L. - I read through your post a second time. Based on your scenario that means McEvoy should most definitely be appointed to Foley's now open seat. But we all know what the likelihood of that is. Yep, a snowball's chance in...

12/08/2010 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Grapes said...

$35,000 for a bike trail study? Bad time to be wasting $$$ on frills.

12/08/2010 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

I didn't hear that "second", either, and neither did anyone around me in the auditorium. This morning I watched the tape of the meeting and viewed that segment several times. When Julie Folcik asked if there was a second nobody's lips moved - no gesture, on nothing! Very curious, for sure.

Grapes, the vote last night was simply to authorize Peter Naghavi to seek funding for the study. I don't have a problem with doing the study if there is grant money that can be used. Naghavi said completing the trail would cost over a $1 million - nothing we should consider at this time.

12/08/2010 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Peter said...

Bever seconded the motion for Monahan to be Mayor. I was there. He raised his hand and quietly said "second." Just check the minutes when they come out. It will show Bever as the second. As for the rest of this drama, oh boy! Good luck!

12/08/2010 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Peter, I went back after a conversation with a friend and watched even more closely. Bever did, in fact, second Righeimer's nomination of Monahan. If you watch the clip you'll see him do so just as Julie Folcik was asking if there was a second. It's a quick move of the head and a mutter by him. He was facing away from the microphone so we couldn't hear him. I'm satisfied that Julie would not have proceeded if there was not a proper second.

12/08/2010 01:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Vicki said...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Costa Mesa does not need a bike trail. Too few people use those darned things!

12/08/2010 04:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Keith T. said...

At least Righeimer has a plan. Wendy has nothing. Her last 4 years are highlighted by doing zilch. Voting against fireworks, installing a stupid God plaque in the Council Chambers, and nothing more. She wreaked havoc at the Senior Center and created no positive outcome. You all think she should be Mayor. Have you taken crazy pills!!

12/08/2010 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Why, Ms. Vicki, you're back! What's the matter - not getting enough lovin' over at the CM Press? Actually, there has been much public interest in a cross-town bike trail - from the Back Bay to the Santa Ana River. Many obstacles to overcome, including now finding the funding for the study. It's just a first step and Righeimer said he'd be willing to have the study but we couldn't afford the trail - $1 million or more - for some time unless grant funding is available. I agree with that.

12/08/2010 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous MikeK said...

Whereas my bicycles are my primary means of transportation outside of work, I'd suggest that if gas continues to rise from it's present $3.29/gal. any type of bike trail would be welcomed, sooner than later. Sounds like a wise investment for the future and a good 1st step to me.

12/08/2010 11:27:00 PM  

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