Friday, April 16, 2010

Remembering Daryl Gates

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Daryl Gates this morning in his home in Dana Point at age 83. He had been suffering with bladder cancer that had spread to a bone in his hip. Friends alerted me to the fact that hospice had been called in within the past few days. You can read the Wikipedia entry on Daryl HERE.
I knew Daryl through my best friend, Larry Moore, a 31-year LAPD officer before retiring. The Daryl Gates I knew was a great guy, a great cop and a great leader.

News accounts of Daryl's passing describe him as "controversial", "a disturbing symbol of stagnation" and "combative", which is not surprising. Those who knew him and worked for him have a much different view. They found him to be an excellent leader, a good friend and a man unafraid of taking on the politicians. They describe him as "a cop's cop" for good reason.

Daryl is credited with creating innovative policing tactics and programs, among them Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT), Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH). These programs thrive today and became models for other police departments around the world.

The last time I saw Daryl was on a drizzly, overcast morning in Glendale at the funeral of my friend, Larry Moore. Daryl had been one of Larry's biggest champions as he did his job as Athletic Director at the Los Angeles Police Academy, near Dodger Stadium. After the service he took the time to seek me out, offer condolences and chat for several minutes about our friend.

Daryl retired in the wake of the Rodney King riots and was replaced - very inadequately - by Willie Williams, who was more a token appointment than a real police chief. The contrast between Gates and Williams could not have been more stark. Williams was held in such low regard by the rank and file that I saw him described by a member of the command staff while making a retirement speech during his tenure as a "400 pound park ranger". That referred to the fact that he couldn't pass the firearm test required by all LAPD officers to carry a gun so the City Council at the time had to give him special permission to carry a weapon. His contract wasn't renewed when it expired after five years, but the morale damage to the department persisted until Bill Bratton was appointed to the job several years, and several chiefs, later.

I will always remember Daryl Gates, a fellow Franklin Panther, as a fine man, honest to his convictions and loyal to his officers and the city they served. I will remember Daryl Gates as a friend.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Special Council Meeting Provides Some Light

The special council meeting held by the Costa Mesa City Council yesterday provided some light on the process of putting together an acceptable offer for the Orange County Fair and Events Center (OCFEC) by the deadline - described to us by City Manager Allan Roeder as next Wednesday, April 21st, not the 19th as earlier indicated.

The streaming video of the short - 27 minute - council meeting is up and available for viewing, HERE. I suggest you take a look at it to see Roeder deliver an excellent PowerPoint presentation to the council, which included a chronology of the path taken in the drama that has been the Fairgrounds Sale from the announcement by the Governor nearly a year ago to the current date.

Roeder emphasized at the beginning that this is "not simply a real estate deal".

He outlined the principles supporting the current negotiations, which includes the following:

*The city seeks public ownership of the OCFEC site.

*The City seeks to preserve the OC Fair, the event center activities and the community programs currently operating at the OCFEC.

*It is the direction of the City that an open and transparent governance plan be created for the future operation of the OCFEC.

*The City intends to purchase the OCFEC without utilizing Costa Mesa public funds or putting Costa Mesa taxpayers at risk. This means the City will be seeking financing through a consortium of interested entities for the purchase of the property.

*Should the purchase be accomplished, the City wants to ensure a smooth transition for existing state employees who work at a OCFEC and the protection and conveyance of assets that support operations and preserve the history of OCFEC.

*The City is firm that future operation of the site is to be consistent with the City's General Plan Designation and the proposed initiative for the property and subject to environmental review and City approval.

*The City supports a plan of use of the OCFEC that protects the current economic, social and cultural benefit to the community yet supports expansion of these activities within the constraints of the City's General Plan.

*City granted 30 days exclusive negotiations

*Submittal due to Governor by April 21, 2010

*Proposal will include the following:

1 - Terms, including price, financing and date for conveyance of property.

2 - Conditions the City believes must be met prior to any opening of escrow. these include, but are not limited to, required due diligence, business plans, governance structure, financing, transition plan, etc.

3 - Identification of required actions prior to conveyance of the property, including legislative action as it pertains to the Annual Fair, 32nd District Agricultural Association, existing contracts & agreements, etc.

4 - Request Governor's support for lifting current restrictions on prospective event scheduling so the Fairgrounds can continue to operate effectively.

Following that presentation, and without a single comment except for Gary Monahan's expression of gratitude to the staff for their hard work, they immediately adjourned to the closed session and did not subsequently "report out" the results of that meeting, with the City Attorney citing the fact that they will have yet another opportunity for a closed session on the 20th, before the 21st due date.

One interesting tidbit that was not discussed during the council meeting was reported - again - by Norberto Santana, Jr. in the Voice of OC this morning. In his article, HERE, discussing the meeting he mentions that Roeder has "recently sent out a private letter to potential bidders advising them of the real ground rules and goals: the city's interest is in 'potentially developing a public/private partnership to acquire and operate the Orange County Fair and Event Center', read the April 7 letter." The letter was somehow obtained by Santana. You can read the remainder of the text quoted by Santana in his article.

I know the team - Roeder, Becky Bailey-Findley plus Katrina Foley and Monahan and many other staff members - will be working long and hard to meet the deadline for submission of their offer to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on the 21st. No mention of the content of Jim Righeimer's "leaked" voice mail message was made during the open session. I'd bet a lot, however, that it got lots of discussion in the closed session.

So, now we just wait until some time after the 21st, when we find out if the Governor and his crew feel that the proposal being presented by our city is acceptable and, if so, how the process will move forward now.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Earthquakes - Are You Prepared?

Ah, a day without a Riggy story is like a day with a cloudless, sunny sky!

Much of the regional news lately has revolved around earthquakes. More specifically, the discussions have been about the 7.2 earthquake just below the California/Mexico border near Mexicali. Although we've seen some photos of extreme damage, folks seem generally to feel that we, on this side of the border, got off lucky on this one - especially when compared to the recent Haiti quake.

I've been keeping track of the earthquake activity in the area since the Mexican quake hit. I've linked to the USGS site on the right side of the page, so you can keep track, too. Last week, for example, the map similar to the one you see below showed over 3500 earthquakes, ranging in size from the 7.2 down to hundreds in the 1-2 point range on the Richter Scale.

Here's an interesting exercise for you. First, click on this link, HERE, and it will take you to a page that looks like this one:

Once there, click on the "Start Animation" button and sit back and watch as you will see what kind of earthquakes we've had in California/Nevada in the past week or so. It's entertaining and very, very scary!

After you've viewed that animation I suspect you'll be giving some thought to just how prepared you are - or are not - in the event of a natural disaster like an earthquake. Well, we have some resources for you on that subject.

Click HERE to go the page entitled "Seven Steps To Earthquake Safety". Once there you can scroll down and find additional links that will guide you through the steps you need to take to prepare for a disaster, to protect yourself when it happens and how to recover from such an event. You will find tools to help you make a disaster kit, how to access your home for safety concerns, and how to formulate an emergency survival program.

We all talk about earthquake preparedness but seldom do much about it. Even though our building codes will likely preclude our neighborhoods from looking like Port au Prince following Haiti's earthquake, the damage a 7+ shaker can cause in our region cannot be overlooked. Since we have a major fault running right under us - the Newport-Inglewood Fault (which runs from roughly LAX to Dana Point, through Wilmington, Long Beach, Huntington Beach and down the center of Newport Harbor) - we simply cannot ignore the possibility of a serious earthquake event along that fault. I've written about that possibility before, HERE. I plan to continue to nag you about this from time-to-time, just to provoke you into getting you and your families prepared - just in case.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Riggy Calls, Katrina on TV and Another Special Council Meeting

Yesterday, following the publication of Norberto Santana's second article, and my second blog post, regarding carpetbagging Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer's apparent transgression, I received a call from Righeimer.


Yep, he called me twice, actually. The first call, right around the noon hour, found him in need of anger management therapy - he was fuming about my first blog entry. He hadn't seen the second one. In fact, he hadn't even read both of Santana's, nor had he listened to the audio clip in question.

At the beginning of our "conversation" - which I put in quotes because it was more of a one-way street, with Riggy doing the sending and me doing the receiving - he told me that the conversation had to be "off the record". Reluctantly, I agreed and off we went for about 40 minutes. The second call, mid-afternoon, lasted nearly 20 minutes, so I got my ear permanently bent by Riggy for about an hour yesterday.

Sadly, because Riggy gave me the stiff arm, requiring that these conversations be "off the record", I can't really tell you what he said. I can tell you, though, that late in the first conversation I - in one of the few opportunities I had to actually talk - told Riggy that, based on what he was telling me, he probably needed to "go public" with his view of this issue. I told him that, because he had required me to keep our conversation "off the record", I would be unable to provide my readers with his perspective - and offered him the opportunity to have his views presented here. He declined. I reminded him of my agreement with him, telling him that he'd painted me into a corner. Apparently he's OK with that because, even during our second telephone conversation, he held to our agreement. That, of course, leaves you readers to speculate about what he might feel mitigates the impact of the tape recording, the context, etc. I know that's frustrating for you and probably wasn't a good decision on his part, but I tried...

Part of what caused Mayor Allan Mansoor to throw a hissy-fit at the last council meeting apparently was Katrina Foley's appearance on "Inside OC" on March 31st. Mansoor - or the people who wrote his prepared statement - apparently felt that Foley had violated the Brown Act by talking about the Fairgrounds Sale on television. (I remind you that he didn't seem to be concerned that Gary Monahan had blurted out information about a lease/purchase proposal on radio in January) I had not seen that program, so I rummaged around the web and found the video clip and watched it today. In it Foley is a panelist along with Orange County Assistant District Attorney Todd Spitzer and Chapman Professor Pete Weitzner and was interviewed by host Rick Reiff. They discussed sex offenders living in communities, a planned development on an oil patch in Fullerton, and the Orange County Fairgrounds sale. You can view the clip - its just under 30 minutes - HERE.

The Costa Mesa City Council will have a Special Meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, April 14th, beginning at 4:00, to discuss the Fairgrounds Sale issue. Notification of the meeting was just posted on the city web site and calls for an open and closed session. As far as I know at this time, the council study session scheduled for today is still on.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Riggy Now In The Clear? Make Up Your Mind!

In a follow-up report - two hours after his first report - Voice of OC Editor-in-Chief Norberto Santana, Jr., just posted an entry titled, "Righeimer Is in the Clear, at Least Legally", HERE, in which he tells us that Planning Commission Chairman and GOP political operative Jim Righeimer didn't break any laws when he inadvertently leaked information to a reporter (see previous post) because the meeting itself was "likely illegal". So, even though Righeimer didn't know the meeting he referred to was illegal and probably thought he was violating the law, he's in the clear because it may have been. Well, I feel a lot better now!

So, that leaves us with a larger issue - was the meeting illegal or not? If so, were the four members of the City Council and the senior staff who attended (Eric Bever was absent) themselves violators of the Brown Act? Former Mayor Sandra Genis stood before the council and postulated that the meeting was illegal - at least the part that discussed the formation and staffing of a special committee to assist the city in preparing a proposal for the Orange County Fair and Events Center. Santana's consultant appears to agree with her.

Who is going to clear this issue up for us? The logical person, of course, would be contract City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow. I wonder if we'll be hearing from her, or City Manager Allan Roeder, about this issue anytime soon.


If they feel the meeting was legal, then Riggy is the law violator. If it wasn't, then they all violated the law. And what about Riggy, who apparently thought he was violating the law but did it anyhow? What a mess! It's like standing in quicksand... the more you wiggle the deeper you go.

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Righeimer Must Go!

Editor-in-Chief of the Voice of OC, Norberto Santana, Jr., just reported an errant voice mail message left by Costa Mesa Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer on Santana's machine that may put the final nail in Riggy's political coffin.

Riggy, Dana Rohrabacher's campaign manager, Costa Mesa Planning Commission Chairman and City Councilman wannabe, called Santana thinking he was calling one of his cronies about an issue involving the Fairgrounds Sale. In that voice mail message he refers specifically to what is almost certainly a Brown Act violation. You can read Santana's complete article HERE, which includes an audio clip of the voice mail.

After listening to that tape it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that something illegal is afoot here. Having had several telephone conversations with Righeimer in the past, the clip certainly sounds like him. If this message is valid it should be referred to the Orange County District Attorney for investigation and Righeimer should immediately be expelled from his position on the Planning Commission.

Although we don't know just who Righeimer thought he was talking to on that voice mail clip, clearly it's someone well-connected in city business - someone who likely is also either aware of, or is personally involved in, a Brown Act violation.

In the past Righeimer and some of his pals have had a very cavalier attitude about the "rules of the game". In his role on the Planning Commission, both as a commissioner and now as Chairman, he's played fast and loose with proper procedure, violated proper decorum, engaged in mistreatment of speakers before the commission and waltzed with Brown Act violations in the past.

I've said from the very beginning, when Righeimer was chosen for the Planning Commission after living in Costa Mesa for only a few months, that he was a well-connected political opportunist - a carpetbagger in the purest sense of the word - and that he shouldn't be trusted. This is just the most recent example of his behavior. Righeimer must go!

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