Monday, February 14, 2011

Of Planners and Despoilers

This week is going to be a very interesting one for the City of Costa Mesa. Monday the new Planning Commission meets for their first meeting of this tour and will elected a new Chairman and Vice Chairman to guide it for the next couple years. Tuesday is the second City Council meeting of the month with lots of watershed issues on the agenda.

Following the election of officers the Planning Commissioners will hear staff reports on Code Enforcement Updates (HERE); 2010 Annual General Plan Review(HERE) and the 2009 Development Phasing and Performance Monitoring Program(HERE). After that they will hold four public hearings that include a review of the Development Agreement for Pacific Arts Plaza master plan(HERE); a request for a time extension on an East 23rd Street condominium development(HERE); a time extension of a project at 3003 Newport Blvd.(HERE) and, the most interesting one of all, former mayor Peter Buffa's pitch for the Sutra Lounge(HERE) at Triangle Square to abandon it's food service and convert itself into strictly a night club and booze dispensary.


They'll wrap up the evening by hearing a staff report on Arterial Wall Standards(HERE) and discuss the 2010 Planning Commission Design Awards and Mesa Green Design Awards Selection(HERE).

The City Council will consider many issues cr
itical to the future of our city - many of them on the negative side of the ledger.

Right off the bat, so to speak, the council will consider a proposal to dramatically increase fees charged and new fee categories for the rental of utility fields and ball fields. (HERE) This may generate a lot of interest among the various user groups since they will be hit hard by these new fee increases.

They then vote again on the prev
iously approved "cost sharing" agreement(HERE) with the local safety and miscellaneous employee plans. There's no way they will vote to disapprove this issue - it would be much too costly for the city at this juncture and breaks faith with the employees of this city. If passed this will require an "urgency ordinance", as well.

The council will then vote in open session on the employee agreement with new City Manager Tom Hatch, which will take effect on March 5, 2011, one day after Allan Roeder retires. You can read the staff report (HERE). In a nutshell, Hatch will be paid an annual salary of $207,288 and will have a package, including the salary, worth $274,707. His compensation will be at a step lower than what was budgeted for Roeder. And before everybody goes nuts about these numbers, based on recent City Manager salary numbers around the county these look just right, if not slightly low.

Next on the agenda will be reports from the council working groups, although at the time I
write this there are no staff reports available. Those group reports are:

1- Economic Development and Development
2- Sports and Recreation
3- Policies, Procedures, and General Plan/Circulation
4- Budget and Capital Improvem
5- Motel Issues

New Business will include many items of extreme importance to the future of our city. I suspect several of these items will generate a lot of discussion and have very significant community input.

Council wil
l consider a staff request for modification of the current field use and allocation policy, (HERE), to include specific "rest times" for certain playing fields.

The council will consider a $200,000 budget adjustment so the city can hire a consultant for the city-wide organizational review(HERE). Having watched Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer in recent meetings, I assume he's going to be looking for someone who will affirm his belief that we can outsource every city function and thereby avoid all this nasty discussion about pensions. We'll see.

Based on the staff report (HERE), the council majority
will likely vote to dissolve the ABLE helicopter program as soon as possible. I watched the discussion during the recent study session and have read the new staff report, which includes new information in an attempt to save ABLE and/or offer alternatives to flat-out shutting it down. I think ABLE is toast at this point and I, for one, will not sleep well knowing this marvelous, forty-year law enforcement tool is no longer available to us.

he council will almost certainly follow through and eliminate two police officer positions that have been open for several months. (HERE) This move, plus the dissolution of ABLE, certainly does raise questions about this council's position on public safety in our city.


This is a strange one. (HERE) Unelected councilman Steve Mensinger appar
ently feels it's important for our city council to proclaim that local businesses should hire Costa Mesa youth. Clearly, he has way too much time on his hands these days - more on that later. Is it REALLY necessary to issue this proclamation? Doesn't the staff have plenty of real work to do these days without this kind of fluff? Good grief!

Apparently Hatch's contract is at
odds with the current policy about Executive Severance so the City Attorney and City Manager felt it was time to re-visit that policy.(HERE) OK, if you say so...

Unelected councilman Mensinger, in another example of a guy with too much t
ime on his hands, ginned up this scheme to change the title of the City Manager to Chief Executive Officer. (HERE) In my view this is a bit of superfluous fluff designed to give Mensinger a reason to say, "Hey, look what I did!" instead of being an actual, concrete improvement to anything in our city. This is unnecessary and, to use an Allan Mansoorism, silly. What are they going to call the new Assistant Tom Hatch hires to replace himself, Assistant Chief Executive Officer? C'mon, Steve. There are many more important issues to be considered instead of this bit of window-dressing. Just leave it alone, for goodness sake! Geez!

At the
end of the meeting each council member will present his or her comments and/or suggestions. You will recall this used to be done at the beginning of the meeting, when most residents were in attendance. By moving this to the caboose of the meetings there's a real temptation for some council members to "sneak" new schemes into the mix for future meetings with very few people knowing about them. Now, even the members of the media will have departed to meet deadlines. So, I caution you to watch the tape replay of this if you don't watch the meeting live, or to watch the streaming video to see what your leaders are up to next. Don't blink...


In the past couple weeks I've permitted a few comments labeled as
"anonymous", contrary to my stated policy and belief that comment threads are just to difficult to follow if we have a couple people using that moniker simultaneously. Since it is EASY to conjure up a moniker to use when commenting here I assume those who choose to use "anonymous" are just plain lazy. So, after trying to give this situation a chance to work, we're back to the original rule - no "Anonymous" comments will be published. I'll just reject them as they arrive. On the off chance that you simply cannot figure out how to do it, send me an email and I'll reply back with specific instructions - I cannot believe that anyone smart enough to read this blog can't figure this out?

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Anonymous Please mention this said...

I'm not sure why, but you failed to report that there is a school board meeting tomorrow night. Katrina Foley has already made a difference. At the last meeting, she questioned the billing tactics of the board's attorney. Three days later, the attorney changed his policy. Schools are important too, and this board needs a lot more oversight.

2/14/2011 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Please mention this... You're not sure why? Did you see the length of this post? Too many words, too little time.

Of course, you're correct. The School Board meetings ARE important and have long been ignored by the public unless they had a child receiving recognition. And now, with Foley on the board, it's pretty good theater, too. We'll try to fix that lack of recognition as best we can.

2/14/2011 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Please mention this... said...

Yes, I saw the length of your blog. So what? It's not my fault you're not a good editor. Stop whining.

2/14/2011 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

And that attitude is intended to encourage me to publish what YOU want, right? Perhaps you should seek another forum...

2/14/2011 05:51:00 PM  
Anonymous WWrigD said...

Pot Stirrer.. well said. It is your forum..I might not always agree with everything you post but it sure keeps me informed and up to date.

keep it up!

2/14/2011 07:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Please mention this... said...

I read Millard's blog, too, and though much of what he writes is disturbing, I've never seen him reply to a post with the hostility you are showing. And for such a minor comment! Yes, perhaps I should seek another forum. But perhaps you should seek some counseling for your hyper-sensitivity.

2/14/2011 11:47:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

And we bid "Please mention this" and the attitude a fond adieu.

2/14/2011 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Please Mention this...said...

You started out with some great suggestions and comments.....but it, quickly, went downhill from there.

We all know this is Potstirrers party....but every now and then..

He gets cranky and says "Get off my lawn".

2/15/2011 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Hyper-sensitivity? I thought most people considered you insensitive... what a fickle community you have here Geoff! :)

2/15/2011 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Gericault, you're absolutely correct. I'm usually pretty patient with antagonistic commenters, but there's only so much poking with a stick one should be expected to take. As you said, this is MY ballgame. :-)

Bruce Krochman, you noticed! :-) I think I understand why you post so infrequently on Civil Thinking...

2/15/2011 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger ERIC said...

Costa mesa must be latin for "run the city backwards",
Still amazed that after tonight, ABLE will be gone. Its an amazing asset. The criminals must be salivating. A reduced police force, hardly any detectives, no gang unit and now no Air Support.

Lets see, maintain ABLE and more police or...... better asphalt for bikers... hummmm

And the council really wonders why the city is having these "so called" financial problems. Oh, that is right..... its the pensions. GEZZZ

2/15/2011 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

So Riggy wants to spend our tax payer dollars on something our elected officials and city staff should be doing?

It sounds like cronies will be hired to loot what's left of the budget just to give Riggy a pat on the back. That's an expensive affirmation!

I liked Costa Mesa before Righeimer was elected. That's what happens when people elect someone who hasn't lived here long enough to have a clue.

Regardless of ideology, not being a Costa Mesan really shows through. That's why I consider Riggy part of "Costa Mesa Last".

2/15/2011 02:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

Eric, Costa Mesa did not spend 2 million on the bike trail. The total cost was 1.7 million and most of that was grant and stimulus money. It's hard to turn away free money. I mean, who turns away an employers matching 401K funds for retirement?

Same thing happened with Newport Blvd. Most of that money came from outside of Costa Mesa.

I say quit spending money on consultants and have all city employees that make over $48K a year take some kind of temporary pay cut (whether or not it comes from pensions, salary, or other benefits). When the economy gets better, they can go back to their regular pay.

2/15/2011 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

I like what Eric said that the criminals must be salivating.
Spoke to several cops regarding the helicopter and they mentioned how many lives it has saved, both police and public. I wonder how much money the amigos put on a life. If a life could have been saved as a result of that helicopter, and it is a proven point in court, this city will be bankrupt.
I feel a lot safer looking out my window and seeing those flashing lights at night, and hearing it during the day. If it is removed it will turn the casual criminal into a larger threat.
Maybe furlough some flight hours. You can not let a helicopter sit around very long the maintenance on that is more expensive. Maybe retire some of the 7 high paid captains and look for new recent military recruit pilots. Maybe try to restructure the hanger lease, or increase the fees to Santa ana and Newport. Maybe seek to get into Irvine and or HB a bit. But there has to be a better answer than shut it down, because it will cost a ton to reinstate it.

2/15/2011 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

Please mention must be Vicki's partner... or illegitimate child.

We not only lost the Choppers, but two police positions and once the ABLE officers move back to the ranks at Fair Ave, we lose a couple of more... visions of MAD MAX haunt me in my sleep.

Now, at least, the Westsiders will have a good night's sleep from now on; until they are wakened by thugs kicking in their back doors... will this be in the Consultant's report?

2/16/2011 03:44:00 AM  

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