Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Council Meeting Wrap-up

The Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday night started off on a positive note with Estancia High School Football Coach Mike Bargas being awarded the Mayor's Award. Most of the football team was in attendance for the presentation and a couple of the young men spoke, praising Bargas. It was nice to see and an excellent counterpoint to most recent meetings.

Young artists from Sonora Schoo
l were also present and gave individual hand-crafted items to each council member, the City Attorney and CEO. I was feeling all warm and fuzzy by the time we got down to business.

City Chief Execu
tive Officer Tom Hatch briefed the audience on upcoming events, beginning with special Study Session next Tuesday, April 26th at 4:30 in council chambers for a Budget Briefing. This is something new - and welcome. Hatch told us that the following items will be discussed:

1 - PERS rates, with two experts - Rick Santos of the Orange County PERS organization and contract PERS expert, John Bartel. Sources tell me Bartel is the expert who recently spoke before the Huntington Beach City Council on this same subject and got rave reviews. We'll see how this goes, but I'm encouraged

2 - New PER
S rates are supposed to be posted on the City web site for review.

3 - A discussion will b
e held on Fund Balance, led by Interim Finance Director Larry Hurst.

4 - A discussion will be held about our cash flow situation.

5 - Budget deficit - estimated at $5 million at this time.

6 - Deferred Maintenance will be discussed, including long term capital projects

7 - The latest Sales
Tax numbers will be discussed, but he acknowledged last night that they look good - right on original projections. At the May 10th Study Session representatives of our contractor for Sales Tax will be available for questions.

Hatch mentioned that there will be a meeting of some kind - council, study session, budget briefing - every Tuesday thro
ugh May and the final budget hearing will be held on June 14th.

He also d
iscussed the process by which he hopes to select a new Police Chief. The applications are due by Friday, April 22nd. After some kind of "thinning process", applicants will be considered by three panels. The first panel will be made up of outside law enforcement personnel. The second will be from the non-law enforcement city staff and the third will be from the community at large. He said there will also be a workshop for members of the CMPD, apparently to get their input. Personally, I think this is a pretty complicated process. When push comes to shove it's going to be Hatch's call. I'm reminded of the old saying, "A camel is a horse designed by committee." We'll see how this goes.

Fewer than a third of the number of speakers rose to address the council than spoke the last time. Most of the 19 individuals that stepped up were critical of the council and addressed outsourcing in one form or another. Some were thoughtful and some were angry. After applause for the first few Mayor Gary Monahan reminded the crowd that he had asked for that kind of celebration to cease earlier - and that he would "trail" the remainder of the public comments to the end of the meeting if the crowd didn't cooperate. It turned out to be an idle threat, but he was obviously much more tense than in previous meetings. I guess having a brick tossed through the door of your business will do that to you.

The first speaker was Plannin
g Commission Chairman and President of the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association Colin McCarthy, who presented a slide show of the push poll his organization conducted last week. It was shameless huckstering for his organization and only the most obtuse observer would miss the fact that the questions in the poll were loaded to get the response McCarthy and his minions wanted. They really do hold the residents of this city in disdain!

A great counterpoint to that presentation was the one given by former
Parks and Recreation Chairman Mike Brumbaugh, who announced plans for a Picnic Pot Luck for employees and others who have lost, or are about to lose, their jobs. He emphasized it was a NON-POLITICAL event, saying that we just "want to pick up those that are down". Brumbaugh will send me more information on this June event and I'll publicize it for them. Kudos to Brumbaugh for his recognition that, "We could use a little unity now."

One youn
g woman, whose name I didn't get, stood to complain about Costa Mesa's image and the layoffs and offered some solutions. She kept on chattering as she left the podium after her time expired, yapping away at Monahan and the rest of the council until he told her to please be quiet. As she marched straight out of the auditorium she tossed this comment over her shoulder at Monahan: "You suffer from 'short man's complex'!" The crowd reacted with a mixture of muffled laughter and gasps. Me, I just smiled...

The final speaker was Helen Nenadal, President of the Costa Mesa Employ
ee's Association. She had not intended to speak, but felt compelled to stand and, once again, remind the council that they are dismantling the city before their very eyes. She told them that many employees are already looking for jobs elsewhere, choosing not to wait until the bitter end in September. She included mention of those who had not received layoff notices, too - implying that there may not be many people left by the end of the year, but that might be their plan all along.

A few interesting tidbits came out during Council Members Comments. Wendy Leece reminded the council that our General Plan - our "constitution" - is due for review, and referred them to the section that talks about providing police protection. She also said she's been reviewing the City's legal bills and - at the end - called for a public apology from Eric Bever for his mistreatment of her daughter from the dais at the last council meeting. She didn't get one.

Steve Mensinger mentioned "problems at the Senior Center", but didn't elaborate. I fear that he may go stomping through there like the rogue elephant he sometimes is. He has apparently been "hearing from citizens" about it - whatever that means.
He suggested, in response to Leece's observation about the legal bills, that they all be posted on the city web site. Talk about micro-managing! Same with the warrants that are usually part of the Consent Calendar and never, ever considered as separate items.


At the end of his little speech he said something that I didn't write down word for word because he caught me off guard. When the replay is available I'll provide you with the verbatim quote. Until then, paraphrasing, he said "people who live here have opinions that matter and those that don't live here don't matter as much." He then complained about "outside interference" in city affairs.


Now, one s
imply must assume Mensinger was referring to speakers who address the council during public comments - many of whom are residents and employees. Is he telling those employees whose careers are at stake and the lives of their families in peril by the current plans that their opinions don't really matter, so shut the heck up? Is that what he's telling us? Sure sounded like it to me.

As to that "outside interference" comment, I guess he must have been referring to the Orange County Republican Party hacks who have been providing the playbook for Jim Righeimer's power play into our city, right? Or, is he referring to the men and women who work in the city but live elsewhere? This is his style - using a sledgehammer when a fly swatter will do.

r ended the evening with a suggestion that, since July 4th falls on a Monday this year, the city consider abandoning our fireworks sale policy and permit the sale and ignition of fireworks the ENTIRE July 4th weekend, beginning Friday night! I found myself wondering just how he planned to have our shrinking police and firefighters schedule that coverage, especially since we will be without air support for the Independence Day holiday this year for the first time in 40 years. ABLE goes into mothballs the end of June. Yet another example of his "Ready! Fire! Aim!" method of operation.


A reminder - the
Homeless Task Force meets Wednesday at the Neighborhood Community Center at 5:30 in the Adams room. It might be kind of fun to invite a homeless person from Lions Park into the meeting to add some local color to the proceedings. Or, maybe not... :-)

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Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

You know the same could be said of Mensinger's opinion. He was NOT voted in. The people did NOT okay him being a part of council therefore his opinion does not matter.

4/20/2011 07:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked Reggie Mundekis' public comments that had us reflect back just a short 6 months to Allan Mansoor's term as Mayor, before the someone walked onto campus and seemingly flipped a switch that created a Tsunami of budget crisis that quickly overwhelmed our little community. Reggie spoke about a political tactic she referred to as a "manufactured crisis". The politician will grossly over-exaggerate a made-up scenario of impending doom and gloom that can only be diverted by immediately taking the most drastic steps to ward off the unseen evil lurking in the shadows.
We have already witnessed Mr. Righeimer's propensity to cause chaos, (Fairgrounds Sale), bend the truth (stink-eye police incident), over-exaggerate ($176,000 salary for 911 operator).
If you watched his performance last night during the council meeting you witnessed more doom and gloom unsubstantiated inflated numbers being thrown in the publics face $50k check to a retired fireman for unused vacation pay).
Doom and Gloom, Fear, sensationalism, exaggerations, no supporting documentation, made up numbers, full speed ahead, chaos. These are not the traits of a stable, level-headed leader, these are the traits of dishonesty, diversion and trickery.

4/20/2011 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

Every Wednesday, including today, the local churches host a picnic at Lion's Park at noon. A lot of folks dealing with homelessness attend and enjoy both the food and the hospitality. There's lots of conversation and even music. Bring some food to share. Bring a friend.

4/20/2011 08:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Puzzled said...

Mr Mensinger, were you elected? Or were you given a handout like your badge? Are fox news or John and Ken citizens? Who is it you have to listen to that fills your head with noise? Just because people don't agree with you, your plan, or your tactics doesn't make them union thugs? Is it conceivable that your hearing so much noise because what your doing appears corrupt? When it takes so much effort for your group to "create transparency" something is wrong. A first step could be to actually answer questions that yourself and Mr Righeimer get at council meetings from actual citizens instead of hiding behind the meeting format. Are you guys not prepared to answer for what you've done and said? And remember, building a bridge that's already been torn down is hard to do.

4/20/2011 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Face Reality People! said...


If Mensinger is not entitled to an opinion, neither are you.


The entire country is experiencing the exact same "doom and gloom" Costa Mesa has going on. It sounds to me like you are so sufficiently out of touch with reality that you should be deemed mentally ill.

Flo Martin:

Way to go Flo, let's invite the homeless from all over California to have a picnic in our downtown park. Make sure you bring extra because there will be a really big crowd to feed.

4/20/2011 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

A couple of reality checks:
1. Mr. Righeimer complained about a fireman who cashed in his (earned)vacation hours for $50,000. He repeated the number for emphasis, implying that that was an unconscionable number. For perspective on Mr. Righeimers's values, let's just take note that Council is about to give exactly the same number of dollars, $50,000, to a vendor to redesign the city's website.
. So, surely, there must be a crying need for website redesign? Especially given the supposedly parlous state of city finances that has supposedly justified these draconian -- but now apparently standard wherever Republicans get a hold on the levers of power -- measures to shed employees with pensions.
. Yeah, right. I know a lot about websites and have even managed two, and I say the city's website is good, and has constantly been updated by -- guess who? -- our loyal city employees. It does not need redesign.
. The obvious conclusion? Council members, even those who aren't carpetbaggers, don't value our employees and are intent on shoveling every taxpayer dime they can out to their friends in the business world.
2. Pot Stirrer, I propose that the order of Mr. Righeimer's approach to solving a problem is more accurately stated as, "Fire, Aim, Ready."
. Unless, of course, he is simply executing a script given to any Republican who wants to get promoted. Then it would be "Fire, Fire, Fire."

4/20/2011 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

I spoke at the meeting last night, and was one of the ones that wanted a withdrawal of the pink slips. Jim basically said that's not going to happen at the end of the meeting. So I think the next step is to hold them to the RFPs. How come no one on the council asked the citizens what they expect from the outsourced companies ? How come we can't have a service requirements document, which lists our ( citizens) requirements for outsourced companies, things they need to be held to, performance metrics, and penalties for not adhering to those standards ?

Bever mentioned that the services have to have the same level of performance or better to be considered. I don't think outsourcing can achieve this in a manner that the city employees do now. We need to take away the framing of the debate that Jim wants to setup, which is you will do it our (the council’s) way, since the world as we know it is on fire. We as a city have requirements, if these requirements cannot be met, then the outsourcing project cannot achieve it’s goals and therefore the project must be scrapped. This is how it’s done in business at Fortune 500 companies, and if they want to run this city like a business, then this is what needs to happen.

4/20/2011 01:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Re Public Comments said...

In case no one has noticed, most of the speakers during the public comments part of our city council meetings speak only because they are seeking their 15 minutes of fame in front of the television cameras.

The same people tend to seek it at every meeting. They like to play loose with the truth, and if all else fails, instill doubt in the minds of the viewers. Anything for attention. They serve no purpose other than to wreak havoc and besmirch the reputations of honorable men. It is a real waste of time for our council members to have to sit through such nonsense.

Rarely are any real suggestions made, and most of the complaints are of a personal nature and are either agenda driven, or meant to demean our council members.

4/20/2011 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

Re Public Comments - This is not true, I spoke last night, and I hate being on camera or in the public eye, period. These guys have been so offensive, so disregarding of what people think, that it would be a disservice to the community to not speak up. Not everyone shares your views, and not everyone is just about themselves, so why don't you have some empathy and try to place yourself in other people's shoes. I think that's the big thing missing from this council.

4/20/2011 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous re Public Comments said...

Colin, there is NOTHING offensive about the council's effort to save taxpayer dollars.

You must be a renter, or more than likely, an out of towner.

People who pay taxes are usually a whole lot more conservative than those who do not.

4/20/2011 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

Yes there is something offense about saving tax payer dollars by threatening families with their incomes. If you can't see that, then we disagree on how people should interact with each other, and I beileve you are fundamentally wrong in this aspect of human behavior.

I am a renter, I choose not to be a homeowner in the current market, and have lived in Costa Mesa for over 6 years and am a SoCal native. I pay my taxes every year, and have been employed at various companies since I was 15. Just because you pay property tax (one more tax category then I pay) doesn't make you a better person then I am. We all put our pants on one leg at a time, no matter who we are.

4/20/2011 04:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Puzzled said...

Wow, more exclusions. Unless you own a home in Costa Mesa, your opinion doesn't count. Renters are not citizens? More like unless you agree with me, your opinion doesn't count, because if you don't agree with me, you don't get it or your a union thug. It's a good tactic to deflect opposition, but it's not honest and lacks integrity.

Playing loose with the truth? (Calpers 5yr projection), instilling doubt? (city is almost out of cash, yet hire more consultants who aren't competing for their position), seeking attention? (Fox News, John and Ken)

4/20/2011 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Dear Public Comments,

Marginalizing someone because they rent is just another device to shut down opposing viewpoints. Colin's landlord is paying taxes out of his rent therefore Colin is paying property taxes.

If you stick to rational discussions your opinions will at least be considered by a broader audience.

Personal attacks just tell us that you have nothing of value to add to the discussion.

4/20/2011 05:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Re Public Comments said...

Like all renters Colin, you are clueless as to how hard it is to come up with many thousands of property tax dollars each year, only to have it handed over to government employees for greater pay than you could ever hope to earn.

I was recently laid off and I did not whine, cry or throw bricks at people's windows People who truly want to work will find work. I did. My family survived, and we
have moved on.

My friend, any opinions you have on this subject are completely baseless. You can't even begin to relate.

4/20/2011 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary W. Craig said...

I was born ad raised in Costa Mesa, still live here, and own a home.

Your comments Public Opinion are highly discriminatory.

Renters opinions are as valid as property owners opinions.

Kudos to Colin for having the fiscal responsibility and foresight to not buy a home in this recession.

And yes, property taxes come out of his gross rents, so he pays them. I am a landlord too.

4/21/2011 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

Just a side note to this renter talk. I would love to go back and rent again, it is more cost effective in todays depreciated market! However I do own, pay a 5 digit property tax bill on my home AND business, but I do not feel I have more rights than my neighbor who does rent. The thing I do have a problem with is the fact that this council makes me feel I have no say in how my money is spent. I only voted for one of the CC members that are currently seated. At least when I tithe to my church I can choose whether the money goes to the general fund, or to missions, or childrens ministries or even benevolance. However, it is not my money, it is Gods and I give for him to use.
The CC are not gods and we must keep them focused on our agenda, not theirs.
Secondly, it is warm and fuzzy that Bargas got the award, yippee! But, isnt it ironic that mensinger nominates him. After all, it was Bargas and all the kids that came to speak in favor of mensinger the night of the appointment. Political payback? Cynicism aside, and being a (ex) Mesa football player as well, it is good to see the coaches making chnages in kids lives. Never know how a single word or action can change one of these kids lives for the better, I hear Bargas is that type of guy. Congrats

4/21/2011 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

First, dittos on Mesiahinger's Non-Election.

Second, I found it so typical The Beev comment towards Miss Leese's comments during her allotted 3 minutes to speak. I fine it appalling that The Beev finds it "OK" to speak to any citizen in the manner that he did. If he had made the same comment towards any other citizen of CM, I would bet their would be a bit more of an outcry for an apology;just because this young lady has the same last name of someone Beev disrespects, does not justify snide comments

Although... RePub would think it fine because she doesn't pay property taxes.

Geoff, I see that you didn't find it curious that only Beev did his due-diligence and made his committee appointments; every other committee adviser passed to a future meeting.

NOTE: The only NEW appointee to the Cultural Arts Comm (1 or 13 applicants) was the only person to apply that didn't reference how long he (or if he even) lives/lived in Costa Mesa.

Also, will we be seeing new names magically appear on a revised list of applicants... you know, application turned in after the closing date?... Inquiring Minds want to know.

4/21/2011 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

Hey LongHair, I don't know the guy who got elected to the Cultural Arts Committee personally, but if I remember right, his name was Justin Fox, and looks like he is a muscian here in Costa Mesa:

Which actually is probably a much better fit then my application to the Cultural Arts committee. A musican might know a little more about the arts then an IT Project Manager :)

But I completely agree about the other 3 commitees. Maybe some ringers are being put into place ?

4/21/2011 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Take CM back said...

Riggy's firework support is political payback to Tom Hatch and Mensingers association with Costa mesa united and the football buddies. They can take the money from firework sales without balancing the budget. Also, If they dismantle the fire department and we have 4 days of fireworks, we may need more carpet bagging deveopers and their out of work bankrupting political wanabees to come in due to the fires the fireworks create. Check on how many calls the cmpd and cmfd go on that weekend. No able to spot fires. No helo,no fire deptment and more days of fireworks. Nice riggy+mensinger+hatch

4/22/2011 01:39:00 PM  

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