Monday, January 03, 2011

Contemplating Steve Mensinger

The other day I was thinking about Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner and City Council applicant, Steve Mensinger. He's quite an enigma for me.

On the one hand, he's a big, confident g
uy with a successful business career and a terrific family. He's contributed a lot to our community through his activities in youth football where, some say, he's almost single-handedly resurrected it over the past couple years. I imagine much of his interest there is because his sons are now football-playing age.

On the oth
er hand, he's used to calling the shots - directing others to do his bidding and admits that he just has vision going for him. He's a "big picture" guy, not bothered by the details of a problem, only getting it solved. He's a "man of action" - a "commander", not a consensus-builder. That, in my opinion, is a mixed blessing.

He's done a tour on the Planning Commission with his buddy, Jim Righeimer, and is now odds-on to join him on the City Council as an appointee to replace Katrina Foley for the remainder of her term. There are some who believe he cajoled Foley into running for the School Board and campaigned aggressively for her so he could have a shot at her council seat without having to bother with the inconvenience of an election, where he would have to convince the electorate of his worthiness.

If placed on the
city council he'll go from the frustration of having to deal with the minutia of planning issues to the big table - where a man of action with vision could certainly contribute to our city in a major way. In my opinion, our city has recently lacked such people - at least, those who could implement plans as part of the majority. Foley has vision and the energy and tenacity to present ideas, but not a majority to get them implemented.

Here's my problem with Steve Mensinger. In his personal life - as chronicled in news articles about him flashing a "Mike Carona" badge combined with threats - and during his tour on the Planning Commission, he has demonstrated that he is a bully, more than willing to throw his weight around to get his way. He's been viewed time after time berating applicants and attempting to micro-manage projects presented to the commission. He also occasionally treats applicants and the staff like they are serfs. In fact, at a recent public meeting he persistently chided Assistant City Manager - soon to be City Manager - Tom Hatch. He also seems to find the need to follow the rules of conduct as prescribed by The Brown Act to be an unnecessary nuisance. In my view, these are big problems. The City Council is no place for a person who thinks this kind of behavior is acceptable.


I want to remind Mr. Mensinger of the recent plight of his beloved University of Southern
California Trojans, in which the transgressions of one football player (Reggie Bush) and his family led to the sanctioning of the entire program and cost them recruits and treasure because they will not be able participate in bowl games for two years. This is a perfect example of the damage one player - no matter how much talent that player has - can cause if he's unwilling to understand and follow the rules. Mensinger, if he is appointed to the City Council, will be part of a team and a spokesman for our city. As such, he needs to follow the rules. If he's not willing to do that he should withdraw his candidacy and look for a role in which to serve the city that fits his particular skill set better.

I expect Mensinger will be appointed to the City Council on Tuesday and that he will bring "vision" to their deliberations. I worry, though, that he will be frustrated by the requirements of The Brown Act and find ways to circumvent the open meeting law to the detriment of the residents of our city and, potentially, create even more legal problems for our city.


Because there is a large and talented pool of applicants available for the council to consider
as they decide on the replacement for Foley on Tuesday, I think they should thank Steve Mensinger for his community spirit, encourage him to remain involved in youth sports - and choose another candidate for the council seat.

Labels: , , ,


Anonymous Scotty said...

Mr. Mensinger is the best choice and has my full support. The "flaws" you cite are going to be assets not determinants. Who is not frustrated by limitations? In many of my discussions with him, he has been the one to bring up the Brown Act which curtailed our conversations.

Finally, I do not want a wimp running my city. None of the other candidates I have seen thus far are as qualified. Steve will most effectively deal with the very tough problems we now face.

1/03/2011 07:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Wait and see... said...

My lasting memory of Mensinger is how at a PC meeting a year or so back, he made a point of telling the audience and his colleagues how much time and money he had spent on the football program. That he would do such a thing told me a lot about his motives. Those comments tell me now that as a city councilman, he will expect residents to be thankful he is on the council, rather than the other way around. We do not need any more "gifts" of people to help us. We need people who understand that they work for us and that they need to serve us, not feed their egos or their pals.

1/03/2011 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Max said...

I want someone that understands Costa Mesa. Mensinger and Righeimer will make a horrible couple on the council. They will no doubt try to sell the fairgrounds, ban boats and RVs, put more old folks homes next to nightclubs, allow LED bill boards, and increase traffic and congestion throughout their terms. Mensinger should stick to football. There are plenty of other better choices.

1/03/2011 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Friend said...

I know Steve personally, I have for years. He wants things done his way, and he does expect everyone to cater to his expectations and does not like to compromise, which leads to his very strong, which some people call bullying, personality.

However, what Steve does do is care. He cares very much for his family and friends, will not hesitate to help ANYONE in need, and he cares very much for the city of Costa Mesa. I mean, let's face it, he could afford to live in Newport, Corona del Mar, Laguna Beach...but he chooses to stay in Costa Mesa, and has been a CM resident for over 20 years.

I say give him a chance. See what he does. I truly don't think he is taking this on for his ego, I think he really wants to improve Costa Mesa. I personally don't agree with alot of his political views, and I think some of his friendships do him more harm than good, but I do think he will be good for Costa Mesa. I understand your viewpoint about him, he can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes, but let's see what he can do.

1/03/2011 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Booster said...

I have a great deal of respect for Steve, he tells it like it is - to your face. He will debate with you, and tell you why he thinks the way he does. No BS, no ambiguity, no waffling. He will be one man on a five person council, and he will forcefully advocate for his positions. Friend is correct about Steve's passion for Costa Mesa and how much he really cares about making Costa Mesa a better place for everyone. Costa Mesa needs action and Steve would be a great addition to the council.

1/03/2011 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

As I type this we have 5 comments - three for and two against. This is not a poll, but I do think the comments so far are fascinating.

"Scotty" doesn't want wimps running the city, but I guess bullies are OK.

"Wait and see" recalls a situation I also recall and also found offensive.

"Max" worries about some of the same things I do...

"Friend" comes close to expressing how I feel in my gut. He has much to offer, but I think "Friend" and I would both be watching with our fingers tightly crossed.

"Booster" is clearly more positive about Mensinger.

I suspect we'll hear some interesting comments tomorrow night before the selection is made. Should make for interesting theater for those watching at home.

1/03/2011 02:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

Pot Stirrer, Another thing about Mensinger is that he will most likely ditto everything Righeimer suggests. If Righeimer wants to run up a deficit and declare bankruptcy, Mensinger will probably support him no matter what.

1/03/2011 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

My fear is that the Brown Act has already been breached. Riggy already have his nameplate made and seat chosen. How is this a democratic process when their are other candidates? It will be like December 7th all over again. People will speak their hearts out for McEvoy (Leece), he will make great comments for his purpose, as well as the others, all to be shot down because Steve is inked.
I do not know Mensinger, but I do know that their will always be 4 of the same vote if he is appointed.

1/03/2011 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

"Rich" and "Max", I share your apprehension. But, if Mensinger is appointed - I hope he's not - I will be willing to give him a chance to prove us wrong. If his actions confirm our fears he's in that seat for two years before he would have to run for it on his own. With fingers tightly crossed...

1/03/2011 07:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Bully for you said...

How interesting... Despite his apparent reputation as a bully, Mensinger gets a "wait and see" but bully Righeimer will make the CM sky fall - no question. Can't wait to hear the excuse for this...

1/03/2011 08:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scotty how can your converstation with Mensinger create a Brown Act violation?


1/04/2011 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Scotty said...

Hi Anonymous,

Good question. It was a violation because my request involved other PC members. I have since learned what is legal and what is not.

I should also mention that Cmmr. Sam Clark is also an excellent choice and he too would get my full support.

1/04/2011 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Before you start giving me flack about the "Anonymous" post, be advised that he or she signed it as JWA, so I let it slide.

1/04/2011 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Honeyman said...

What dog is CM Press backing in this fight? I'll take the other pooch.

1/04/2011 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Honeyman, I'll give you one guess...

1/04/2011 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Shaw said...

Scotty - re your brown act violation comments: your conversation would only be a violation if you conveyed what was talked about with another commissioner and their respose to another or if the commissioners had talked among themselves about their discussions with you. it's ok for you to talk to any and all of them separately as long as there is no "serial" discussion.

1/06/2011 06:55:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home