Friday, August 13, 2010

Riggy Stumbles Out Of The Blocks

A friend sent me an email flier to carpetbagger Jim Righeimer's first fund raiser next week, which will be held at the same time the City Council meeting will be in session... good timing, Riggy! At least we won't have to worry about him dozing off in the Council Meeting.

I read the flier and smiled. Then I went to Riggy's election website, for more information. I smiled a lot more...

NOTE: I checked Riggy's web site (above) at around 3 p.m. today - it's GONE! Poof! I assume he's responding to this entry and is "fixing" it. About time!

NOTE 2: At 10:20 p.m. on August 14th the site is still blank. Maybe his web master doesn't work on weekends. Or, maybe he's just decided he's such a slam dunk in this election that he doesn't really need a web site.

NOTE 3: Riggy continues to stagger. As of 4:30, Monday, August 16th, his web site is still a blank page. I can't imagine what's taking so long to fill in the blanks of the template and prepare the appropriate links. Maybe he hasn't figured out what his positions are on issues here in town. Anyhow, Riggy - the clock is ticking. Light a fire under your web master, buddy.

NOTE 4: Well, it's 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 17th and Riggy's web site is still just a blank page. If someone sees him at the council meeting this evening will you please ask him when he's going to get his site back up and running? How will we know his stand on issues? How will we know who's supporting him (or how to spell their names)?

NOTE 5: Hallelujah! At 3:15 Wednesday, August 18th, I checked Riggy's web site and found it back, fixed and in full flower. So, now you can go to that link above and enjoy. Finally!!

One immediate reaction was that it looked like old Riggy is trying to play to the Latinos in Costa Mesa. Why else would much of the text on his web site be in Latin? For example, his "Issues" and "Upcoming Events pages are all in Latin. Does he understand that Costa Mesa's Latinos don't speak Latin?

OK, I know... this site is a work in progress and that Latin lingo is just a place holder in a template being used to create his campaign masterpiece. Still, one might hope he would have his "Issues" together before releasing the site. Heck, he didn't even have this fund raiser in his "Upcoming Events".

I did wonder, though, who "Brian" is. See the bottom of the page below. Geez!
So much for teasing him about premature release of his web site. Of more interest is the fact that, on his "Endorsements" page he misspelled Gary Monahan's name and - are you ready for this? - he also misspelled his buddy Dana Rohrabacher's name!
Now, Riggy has always seemed more than a little flighty on the dais, skipping around the agenda and not really paying attention some of the time, but this is just plain sloppy and not very smart! C'mon, Riggy - you may think you've got this election in the bag (finally), but can't you at least pay attention while you go through the motions? It's just a little disrespectful to the electorate, don't you think?

On a much happier note (for me, anyhow), this weekend my baby sister and I will get together to celebrate our birthdays. Happy Birthday To Us!

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

First Candidate Forum Next Week

THEY'RE RUNNING!The first City Council candidate forum of the 2010 General Election season is right around the corner.

Our friends and neighbors from Mesa Verde Community, Inc., are hosting this event next Wednesday, August 18th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Mesa Verde United Methodist Church, 1701 W. Baker Street in Costa Mesa.

In past years this forum, usually the first one out of the box, has been the best of the bunch. It has been the best attended and the candidates are usually fresh and ready to go. We expect it will be the same this year. As of this writing, four of the five candidates for Costa Mesa City Council are scheduled to attend.

Your Mesa Verde neighbors invite you all to come, ask questions, hear how each candidate responds and begin to form the decisions you will make when you cast your ballot on November 2nd.

Costa Mesa TV, Channel 24 on Time Warner Cable and Channel 99 on ATT UVerse, will tape the forum for future viewing, just in case you are unable to attend in person.

Refreshments will be served and we're told there may be a little time for schmoozing with the candidates.

See you there. Here's a map to help you navigate to the forum. I'll remind you again next week.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bailey-Findley's Status Confirmed & Dodging Grenades

Following last night's meeting of the Joint Powers Authority - the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority - in a joint meeting with the City Council, which is really the same five people meeting with themselves, there was much confusion about the role of former Fairgrounds CEO Becky Bailey-Findley.

Daily Pilot reporter Mona Shadia picked up on Katrina Foley's comment that "she doesn't work for us any more" - which received no clarification at the time - and approached Bailey-Findley about it after the meeting. All the other parties had scampered off to a closed session in another venue, so they were not available for comment. Bailey-Findley told Shadia that she was confused, because she left on vacation a couple weeks earlier as an employee of the City and returned assuming she was still employed. Some clarifications here - she's been a consultant to the City during the negotiations of the purchase of the Fairgrounds, not an employee per se.

Norberto Santana, editor of the Voice of OC news source has posted a couple of stories since the meeting last night. The first, "More Twists and Turns Than the Tilt-a-Whirl", HERE, among other things, amplified the confusion by quoting Katrina Foley and acknowledging that nobody on the dais corrected the record. His second article, "Bill That Was Supposed To Save Fair Now Might Take It Away", can be found HERE.

My message to City Manager Allan Roeder late last night went unanswered until late this afternoon, following the issuance of a Press Release that clarified the issue of Bailey-Findley's employment. You can find that pdf. file by clicking HERE, then selecting the press release from the roster to the right of the page if it doesn't automatically open for you. I subsequently had a telephone conversation with him, during which he re-affirmed that he felt it was his fault that the confusion existed last night. He made that point clearly in the press release. He said he should have immediately clarified Bailey-Findley's status when the issue first came up at the meeting.

Also this afternoon Shadia wrote another article, following confirmation by Roeder, that nicely wraps up this issue. You can read her article HERE.

In a nutshell, Becky Bailey-Findley remains a contracted consultant to the City and will wrap her duties for the City in this matter before entering into any further conversations with representatives of Facilities Management West about potential future employment as their interim CEO should the sale of the Fairgrounds go through.

I'm afraid I must join Foley in her apprehension about the City's ability to perform it's due diligence. The City, after all, is the actual purchaser of the property even though FMW will provide all the cash and be on the hook for all the financial risk. As Foley stated last night, if this deal fails for some unanticipated reason, if we have not done OUR due diligence we would be left at an extreme disadvantage.

Discussions about a "shadow management" approach - "our" person shadowing the current management of the Fairgrounds to facilitate a smooth transition - took some discussion on the dais last night. In his article Santana mentions that the current Fairgrounds CEO Steve Beazley has not been forthcoming providing requested information and access to employees and the grounds because the State has not authorized it. This was all part of the original proposal to the State, which we are told had been accepted so we could perform the due diligence mentioned above.

As mentioned by Foley last night, there are plenty of constituencies trying to get this deal killed. It's an interesting enigma, since almost all of them joined the City in it's early efforts last year to have the sale killed, but now many of them stand against the City in it's efforts to save the Fairgrounds. It certainly seems that there are plenty of people tossing grenades into this process. For example, Santana mentions a coalition of former Fair Board members, led by Orange County Democratic Party chief Frank Barbaro, who are using their considerable political influence to scuttle the deal. We have less than two weeks in which to convince the legislature to pass the bill necessary for this sale to be consummated and to finalize the ground lease with FMW. Otherwise, the legislature will not convene again until after the November election and this deal, for all practical purposes, is toast. Nobody knows what the new governor will do, if anything, about this mess.

So, for the next two weeks the lights will burn late into the night at City Hall as our negotiating team tries to salvage this deal and protect the Fairgrounds with the only deal left that will do that.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

OFCA Meeting & My Proposal

I'm not sure what kind of information we're going to get out of today's special meeting of the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority (OCFA) - the City Council in a different dress - at 4:30 in Council Chambers. As mentioned in an earlier post, the proceedings will be televised live on Costa Mesa Television and on streaming video at the city web site. From the staff report, HERE, we do know there will be a discussion of the current status of Fairgrounds purchase issues, including:

Purchase & Sales Agreement

Due Diligence

Legislation Ground Lease

Prospective Land Use

Regulation of the Orange County Fairgrounds

Orange County Fairgrounds JPA - Rights, Authorities and Responsibilities

They will then adjourn to a closed session to discuss the actual sale of the Fairgrounds.

No mention is made in the staff report of the recent exchange of correspondence between lawyers for former bidder American Fairs & Festivals and the City of Costa Mesa, which rejected AFF's appeal request yesterday. I wouldn't be surprised if some discussion of the letters occurs during the "comments" segment of the meeting.

As you might expect, along with hundreds of other folks, I've been giving this whole Fairgrounds situation a lot of thought lately. Without getting into who caused this disaster - which really ticks me off - or dwelling on the distant history of this fiasco, I have what I think might be the best solution over all, for everyone.

I doubt there are any members of Costa Mesa city government who REALLY want to own the Fairgrounds. It's just that, once that property was put in play, the only way to protect the use was to reach out and grab that tiger by the tail and hold on. They can't let go (cease negotiations) until the sale process is formally stopped because that tiger (in the form of another buyer) would turn right around and eat them. So, they just keep hanging on while trying to find a way out of this mess. Right now that solution seems to be the Facilities Management West deal. So, round and round we go.

There are few individual or groups of stakeholders really happy with the specter of Facilities Management West becoming the primary vendor for the Fairgrounds for the next half-century. Getting the legislation necessary to consummate the deal passed this month is not assured because some powerful and influential legislators are ticked-off at Mayor Allan Mansoor for his "Rule of Law City" proclamation and others question the deal, period. The Fair Board has recently presented a competing proposal to state officials that, on the surface, may be a better deal for the State over the long haul.

In light of all that, here's what I propose:

1 - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in what might be his last sane act in that job, should immediately inform the Fair Board that he is willing to accept it's proposal for what it quaintly called a "revenue sharing" plan, and require the Fair Board to send the State a check for $5 million, as it proposed.

2 - Simultaneously the Governor should immediately remove the "For Sale" sign from the Orange County Fair and Event Center and direct the State Department of General Services to cease negotiations with the City of Costa Mesa or OR ANY OTHER ENTITY for the purchase of the Fairgrounds.

3 - The City, based on the guarantee that the Fairgrounds will not be placed back on the auction block, should terminate all negotiations with Facilities Management West and chalk this whole thing up to a very big, very bad, very expensive learning experience. I have this fantasy image in my head of Mayor Mansoor and FMW's Ken Fait in a big, conciliatory bear hug. Yeah, right!

4 - The Fair Board should be required to immediately put into place the mechanisms and procedures to fulfill the obligations it proposed in the revenue sharing plan. Many of us want to know why they didn't create this plan years ago and begin contributing large sums of money to the State Treasury, but that's a question for the new Fair Board to contemplate. We also want to know if this reluctance to implement such a plan previously constitutes a breach of it's fiduciary responsibility to the Governor and the taxpayers of the State.

5 - The Fair management, now free of any apprehension about the future of the Fairgrounds and the legal constraints imposed by the terms of the sale process, should immediately begin to line up the array of attractions and events - including the Fair - for the year beginning November 1, 2010.

6 - The entire Fair Board should resign coincident with the election of the new Governor in November. He or she can then start fresh with an entirely new crew - one without the cloud of suspicion hanging over it that shadows the current mob due to their apparent complicity in getting the Fairgrounds placed on the block in the first place, then trying to buy it on the cheap through a non-profit foundation they formed on the sly.

7 - The City of Costa Mesa should prepare a report on the cost of this fiasco to the City, to let the taxpayers of this city know just what the folly of the current Fair Board has cost us in time and treasure.

8 - The residents of Costa Mesa should find a way to properly thank our elected officials, staff members and volunteer consultants who have tirelessly held onto the tail of that tiger all these months, trying to cobble together a deal that would work without destroying our fiscal well-being.

Under the revenue sharing proposal by the Fair Board, the Orange County Fair and Event Center goes from being a revenue-neutral venue - happy with earning just enough to pay it's operating costs - to a fully-fledged, fiscally responsible profit center of the State. The plan proposes to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the state coffers over the 80-year life of the proposal - and the State gets to keep the land.

About the only good thing to come out of this mess from the City of Costa Mesa's standpoint is the tightening of the zoning for the Fairgrounds site and the passage of Measure "C", which requires a vote of the registered voters of Costa Mesa to change it.

One of the things I've learned from this mess - you cannot take your eyes off elected or appointed officials for a second. You can assume they will do what is expected of them, but it's always prudent to follow the admonition of President Ronald Reagan - "Trust, but verify" That seems like a great motto for us all when it comes to dealing with government at every level.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

American Fairs and Festivals Appeal Rejected

Late this afternoon Costa Mesa City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow replied to the letter sent last week from the law firm Adorno Yoss Alvarado & Smith on behalf of it's client, American Fairs and Festivals requesting an appeal of the City Council's decision to reject AFF as a partner in the purchase of the Orange County Fair and Event Center and selecting Facilities Management West instead.


Here is the text of Barlow's letter to Raul A. Salinas, Esq. at that law firm:

August 9, 2010

Raul A. Salinas, Esq.
Adorno Yoss Alvarado & Smith
633 W. Fifth Street, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California 90071

Re: American Fairs and Festivals, Inc. "Appeal"

Dear Mr. Salinas:

I write in response to your letter dated August 4, 2010 addressed to Costa Mesa City Manager Allan Roeder. As I am sure you realize, the City's decision to contract with Facilities Management West for a ground lease of the Orange County Fairgrounds is a legislative act. The Council was and is free to consider whatever factors it chooses in determining who should be the ground lessor of the Fairgrounds. The competitive bidding requirement you refer to in your letter does not apply to the lease of the Property.

While you may feel that the City's objectives have not been met by the MOU entered into between the Joint Powers Authority and Facilities Management West, the Council/JPA Board obviously disagree with your assessment. There is no administrative appeal process currently available to your client with respect to the Council's decision. The MOU was entered into on June `8th. Any request for rehearing or reconsideration would have been required to be filed within seven days of the date the MOU was approved. See Costa Mesa Municipal Code Section 2-305. This, even if there was a basis for your client's "appeal" of the decision, your request was not timely. Thus, no rehearing request will be agendized for discussion.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should have any questions.

Very truly yours,

Kimberly Hall Barlow
Costa Mesa City Attorney


So there you have it. It appears to this layman that the city has responded in the spirit of the original letter with a short and sweet response. We have effectively said, "Too Late, Sucker!"


Now we wait to see what happens next. Will there be a lawsuit on this issue? Will this nuisance create a problem in Sacramento with the legislators that will be required to pass a bill to permit the sale go forward? Will they get it done before August 27th, when they all bail out and head home to campaign for their seats?

Further, will our lame duck Governor decide he's had enough of this hassle and tell the Fair Board to proceed with their revenue sharing scheme and pull the Fairgrounds off the table? So many issues, so little time.


Perhaps we'll receive some enlightenment tomorrow, Tuesday, at the meeting of the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority/City Council at 4:30 in City Council Chambers. The meeting will be televised live on Costa Mesa TV (Channel 24 on Time Warner Cable and 99 on ATT UVerse). It will also be live on streaming video on the City web site.

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More Fairgrounds Fun, Legal Style

Late Sunday night an interesting item floated my way in the form of a copy of a letter to Costa Mesa City Manager Allan Roeder, ostensibly from a Los Angeles law firm, Adorno Yoss Alvarado & Smith, representing American Fairs and Festivals, "appealing" the process by which American Fairs and Festivals was rejected as a partner in the Fairgrounds purchase and replaced by Facilities Management West.

Since the City Council meets as the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority on Tuesday at 4:30, it will be very interesting to see if this letter gets any mention.

To me, it seems unlikely that this letter will result in American Fairs and Festivals being re-instated as a bidder on this project. One could assume that this is simply a stalling tactic, designed to create unease about the current deal in Sacramento which might result in killing it. That, after all, appears to be the main objective of the most strident speakers on this issue and, of course, the current vendors and management of the Fairgrounds.

Our old pal, Vern Nelson, has already posted an entry about this letter on the Orange Juice Blog, including the entire text of the letter, which you can read HERE.

The intrigue never stops!

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Candidates And The "Signing" of Triangle Square

The filing closing day for the November elections was last Friday, August 6th with the exception of those races in which the incumbent chose not to run. Potential candidates in those races have until 5:00 p.m. on August 11th to complete and submit papers. Locally, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District race in which incumbent Gary Monahan has chosen not to run remains open until Wednesday.

Here's a rundown for the Costa Mesa-related races:

With 2 seats being contested, here are your 5 candidates: Incumbent Wendy Leece; carpetbagger and Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer; former candidate and school teacher Chris McEvoy; newcomer and proponent of medical marijuana dispensaries in our city, Susan Lester and last-minute filer Chad Petschl. Nobody has heard of him, so I'm going to try to get information on him soon.

With 3 seats being contested: Incumbent Arlene Schafer; Incumbent Bob Ooten; Former board member, council member and Mr. Fish Fry, Mike Scheafer and rookie Planning Commissioner and self-anointed water guru, Jim Fitzpatrick.


Division 4: Incumbent Jim Atkinson

Division 5: Incumbent Shawn Dewane and Tax Professional Peter Meuter

Division 2(short term): Appointed Incumbent and former Planning Commissioner Jim Fisler; Current Sanitary District Board Member and recently-retired long-time coach and teacher at Estancia High School Art Perry; Business owner and former Sanitary District Board Member and long-time community activist Dan Worthington.

Trustee Area 2: Incumbent Michael Collier; Lawyer and Costa Mesa Council Woman Katrina Foley
Trustee Area 4: Incumbent Karen Yelsey
Trustee Area 5: Incumbent Judy Franco; Retired Municipal Administrator, Loretta Zimmerman
Trustee Area 7: Gloria Alkire; Incumbent and former long-time Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner Walt Davenport

By the way, I see from his ballot statement that Mayor Allan Mansoor and candidate for the 68th Assembly seat being vacated by Van Tran is perpetuating the falsehood on his ballot statement that he's a Deputy Sheriff. He quit that job the end of last year and it's a real shame that the system permits him to mislead the voters with such a blatant lie. Such is life, I guess. It probably won't be the last time he lies to his constituents...

Monday's Planning Commission meeting should be very interesting. Among the items on the agenda is the proposal, ramrodded by former Costa Mesa mayor, all-around funny guy and consultant Peter Buffa, to turn Triangle Square into a mini-Las Vegas. Yep, the pitch will be to permit two HUGE LED (light emitting diode) signs on the facade of Triangle Square, one at the intersection of Newport Blvd. and Harbor Blvd., that will be 15 feet wide by 20 feet high! The second, and even more fun, will wrap around the facade just below the former NikeTown dome and will be - are you ready? - 10 feet high by 96 feet wide! That's right, almost a third the length of a football field wide! According to the drawings included in the staff report, you'll be able to see parts of that sign from Broadway, near the corner of Newport Blvd., all the way around to 19th Street nearly to Harbor Blvd. - a more than 200 degree arc!

Now, we're told that there will be no spill-over illumination from either sign into residential neighborhoods. OK, if you say so.

These signs are apparently necessary to draw folks into the nearly dormant municipal white elephant and oxymoron. Several owners have tried, and failed miserably, to make things work at Triangle Square. The current owners are attempting to rejuvenate it and think these signs will do the trick. They will advertise stores and events at the shopping center and, at least as originally proposed, will also advertise national and regional products and events. I suspect that, with more than 100,000 cars passing that location each day, the owners will be able to make a tidy pile of money for advertising on the signs. According to the information provided, the signs will display an image for a minimum of 4 seconds before changing. I imagine Councilman Gary Monahan will be very happy that the patrons of his gin mill will be able to walk out the front door and see ads for his competitors, The Sutra Lounge and The Yard House glaring away only a block down the street.

What will those signs advertise besides Triangle Square businesses? Will they advertise our massage parlors, tattoo parlors and medical marijuana dispensaries? Will they carry political ads? Imagine an array of Allan Mansoor smiley faces looking down at you as you are heading for the beach! Yikes!! Who decides the content? Once that genie is out of the bottle will there be any restriction of the content?

So, do you think the City of Costa Mesa needs any more garish signage? Is this the way our city is going? Just drive down the 405 through Westminster and Huntington Beach any night to see what this may end up looking like. The lights on some of the signs adjacent to the roadway are so bright they almost fry your retinas! Do we really want to emerge from the ditch at the end of the 55 Freeway to find ourselves forced to put on sun glasses at night as we wait through two or three cycles of the traffic signals at 19th Street and Newport Blvd.? Do you want to be distracted by a 15X20 image of a scantily-clad model luring you to the Sutra Lounge while waiting to make a left turn onto Harbor Blvd. off Newport Blvd.? Hmmm. Maybe this isn't such a bad idea after all! The discussion is going to be interesting, regardless the outcome.

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