Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mensinger's Lament

This morning the Daily Pilot carries a commentary by non-elected City Councilman Steve Mensinger, "setting the record straight", in his words. You can read the commentary HERE.

He tells us that a group - Mensinger and his wife; some
of their kids; ABLE Commander Tim Starn and his wife; City CEO Tom Hatch and his wife; Costa Mesa booster Frank Albers and Mensinger's boot-licker, Sanitary District Board member and Planning Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick - all gathered together at City Hall on a Sunday to give Hatch's new office a general cleaning-up before he moved into it. From the sound of it one would think retired City Manager Allan Roeder left the office looking like a a scene from the movie, Animal House, for goodness sake.


According to his report, Mensinger spent $452.64 out of his own pocket on a new toilet, paint, cleaning supplies, etc. They apparently had what we used to call in the Army a good, old-fashioned G.I. Party.

Mensinger fe
lt it was important to tell the world about his efforts that day because "rumors started swirling immediately." Those rumors involved massive remodeling being done and thousands of dollars of city money being spent. I heard some of those. In fact, one of the rumors was that the new toilet installation was so botched that a city maintenance crew had to fix it the next day.

I really don't have a problem with Mensinger and his work crew helping Hatc
h "freshen-up" his new office. I've done the same thing myself in the past when I was beginning a new assignment. I understand...

However, what we have here is a perception problem and, in this highly-charged atmosphere created by Mensinger and his cronies on the City Council, perception means a lot.

There is the perception, amplified by this particular event, that Hatch and Starn - two highly-skilled and hard-working public servants - are in Mensinger's pocket. There is the perception that Hatch was appointed by the city council, led by Jim Righeimer and Mensinger, because he would simply be a "yes man" - and do the bidding of the council without question. There is the perception that Starn has the inside track to become the next Chief of Police in our city not because he has the resume and command experience required, but because he's in tight with Mensinger, etal. We know those perceptions exist because they are plastered all over the Daily Pilot blog comments and here, too.

Personally, I don't believe either of them are dancing to Mensinger and Righeimer's tu
nes. I think they both are running hard just trying to keep up with unreasonable demands and a bogus policy. Unfortunately, there are more than a few folks here in town that don't share my view of this situation.


We can thank Mensinger and Righeimer for that situation. They, through their actions, have created a hostile work environment at City Hall. Stories of Mensinger prowling the halls and sitting, watching people work resonate throughout City Hall. His mere presence apparently intimidates city employees. The council's avowed plan to oust at least half of the city staff just poured fuel on that fire. It is that atmosphere that fosters the kind of rumors Mensinger complains about in his commentary.

From what I've seen of the first three months of Mensinger's tenure on the City Council, his actions speak much louder than his words. Beginning last year about this time - when he sweet-talk
ed Katrina Foley to abandon her council seat to run for the school board, all the while denying he had any designs on her council seat - it was clear to some of us that he was just trying to move her aside so he could be appointed. And that's exactly what happened.

We see him so busy texting on the dais that he doesn't even bother to pay attention to speakers before the City Council. Not only is it unseemly, but he may, in fact, be violating the Brown Act if he's texting back and forth with other council members on the dais. He's like a little kid passing notes back and forth in elementary school. Somebody needs to rap him on the knuckles with a ruler and tell him to stop. Even better, someone needs to intercept those little love notes and read them to the public.


Steve Mensinger may be a great guy - most of the youth football crowd appare
ntly thinks he can walk on water - but he's just too used to commanding people to do things, or simply writing a check to get it accomplished. He's impatient with the rules in place for the protection of the residents and taxpayers of this city and seems more than willing to simply brush them aside when they present an inconvenient impediment to his plans. He needs to throttle back just a little bit and stop trying to bully his way through our government.

And, he needs to quit whining about people complaining about his actions. That's straight out of the Eric Bever song book. Is he, too, going to go home and pout when he doesn't get his way, or chide a member of the audience because she's shaking her head at his comments? He's brought this on himself.

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Anonymous mike m said...

That Bill Lobdell sure can write! The fact that this even needs to be published by the Pilot goes to show how ridiculous things have gotten in Costa Mesa.

4/14/2011 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Kent Morrow said...

I've read the piece in the Pilot. Does Mensinger think readers will believe him just because it is in the Pilot?

4/14/2011 08:00:00 AM  
Anonymous checkyoursix said...

I don't consider putting out the truth about the office clean up whining. I immediately heard Mensinger's wife got a remodeling contract and there was new furniture and big screen tv for watching soap operas during the day. Elected officials cannot/should not respond to every incorrect statement about them, they need to have thick skins, but it was time to set the record straight on this before RepairCM produced another video concerning this. Where can you find fault with the efforts of this group to help out city hall out of their own pockets? It is unfortunate the toilet probably had to be reseated but that costs very little for a wax ring. Thanks Steve for your efforts.

4/14/2011 08:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry said...

Speaking of whinning, this blog's constant whinning about Mensinger and Righeimer is getting pretty stale. Isn't there anything else happening in this City of interest for me to read about here. Yawn!

4/14/2011 08:10:00 AM  
Anonymous cestom said...

You are quick!
Is it considered bribery?

4/14/2011 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

checkyoursix, well, one local council member posted on my Facebook page that Mensinger may have violated "gift" laws when he wrote that check. We'll investigate that and report back.

Barry, bored, are you? Maybe I should report on the occasional car chase for you.. get a grip, dude. If you don't like what you read here simply stop reading!

4/14/2011 08:19:00 AM  
Anonymous checkyoursix said...

I will be interested in the outcome of the gift violation investigation. Hard to believe Mensinger will get leeced on this but gift laws are pretty tight so maybe next time just spend city money on this Steve. Again, thanks for your efforts, maybe get the city to reimburse you pronto, I think you may have thirty days to clear this up.

4/14/2011 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

checkyoursix and others,
According to information from the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) regarding the government code rules on gifts, the following statement applies to this situation:

If you are an employee of a local government agency who is designated in the agency’s
conflict of interest code, you may not accept gifts from any single source totaling more
than $420 in a calendar year if you are required to report receiving income or gifts
from that source on your statement of economic interests. (Section 89503(c).)

Now the question becomes, "Did Hatch report this violation and/or return it within 30 days as required?"

4/14/2011 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Watacher said...

The "office clean up" just goes to illustrate, "if it looks bad, it probably is." Both Hatch and Starn are attached at the hip with this Council. That's how Hatch got his new job without the city even searching for a more qualified candidate. And if Starn gets the Chief position, we'll know why. It won't be because he's the most qualified. He'll say yes to everything the Council wants, just like Hatch. It's obvious.

4/14/2011 08:47:00 AM  
Anonymous West Misses ... again said...

Wow, rather than celebrate the particiaption of community, this is how it it treated?

With this response, why would residents spend time away from families?

West completely misses the point ... again

4/14/2011 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

No gift violation. Any gift by Mensinger went to the City, not to Hatch. Office belongs to us, the City, not Hatch. Mensinger gave this gift to all of us.

Why not just thank Mensinger for his kind thought and effort and leave it at that. FPPC violation for a good deed. Let's just call you the "Bubbling Scrooge" Where's John Stossel--Give me a Break!

4/14/2011 09:04:00 AM  
Anonymous BC Reader said...

Why you say thank to that such a dumb act of bribery?
Try to be "dumb and dumber" or what?

4/14/2011 09:14:00 AM  
Anonymous WW said...

Babbling Crackpot,

You want to make an issue of a council member donating his own money to fix a city hall office? you have got to be kidding! You're starting to sound like the cooks at repaircostamesa.

4/14/2011 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Talk about making a mountain out of a mole hill. Good Grief.

I doubt this would be considered a gift to hatch, it was like planting trees in a public park. My scouts do that all the time. They have yet to be hit with a FPPC violation.

This reminds me of all of the times we have done clean-up and refurb work at schools. I personally have written bigger checks for stuff to make computer labs work and science rooms functional.

Let's stick to policy problems and leave the community cleanup crews, that I am one of, alone. We are not looking for a pat on the back. We are just looking to make the community better.

4/14/2011 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Will Mr. Mensinger be visiting the homes of all the city employees who get laid off and helping them too?

4/14/2011 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Judy Lindsay said...

Here is what Tom Duate answered regarding my concern about the texting and meeting at Gary's Pub:

Subject: FW: Question about Breach of Brown Act


In general, texting during a council meeting by a council member is not a violation of the Brown Act. No law exists that prohibits a council member from texting for personal reasons during a council meeting. However, as you know, the Brown requires that all communications by a council member during a council meeting concerning an item on the agenda be open to the public. So, if the contents of the text message by a council member concern an item on the agenda there may be a possible violation if the contents of the text message are not restated publicly by the council member at the instant meeting.

With regard to the taxpayer event, Government Code section 54952.2(c)(3) states that a majority of a legislative body of a local agency may attend an open and publicized meeting that is held by an individual or organization (other than the local agency) on a matter of local interest. However, the legislative body may not discuss amongst themselves issues of a specific nature related to the subject matter jurisdiction of that legislative body unless the issues are discussed as part of the scheduled program of the meeting.

As it applies to the taxpayer event, a quorum of council members is allowed to attend the event so long as:

1. The event/meeting is held by a private individual or organization.
2. The event/meeting is open and well publicized in advance.
3. The council members do not discuss amongst themselves specific issues that are within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Costa Mesa City Council unless it is part of the scheduled program of the meeting.

As always, if you should have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me at 714 446-1400.


Tom Duarte

So now the question who as he texting and what and why not be listening intently to citizens and staff???????

4/14/2011 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Ann Landers Fan said...

Council Meetings require that audience members must silence there cell phones, so as not to disturb, or interupt the formal public meeting.

So maybe ALL Council Members should be required, or at least volunteer to place there cell phones, lap tops, etc... on top of the dais, in full view of the audience. So as to convincingly demonstrate their undivided attention towards the professional business meeting with their CM constituents, fellow Council Members, and City Staff. I strongly encourage you to set a better example for our children, and other impressionable youth within the Council-Chambers audience, as well as the many forgotten webcast viewers too. (And just remember: "first impressions are a last impressions" for those "first time" attendees/online viewers.)

Maybe Repair Costa Mesa will edit a viral video-clip of certain Council Members texting/tweeting away during the Public Comments ( i.e. a CM constituent's measily 3 minutes to address their meaningful concerns with the City Council) to potentially use as future evidence of possible Brown Act violations.

Once again, I politely ask you to always conduct yourselves with a polished & professional appearance on the dais, by turning off all of your electronic devices. Because remember you not only represent our City & Staff, but also, all us long-time CM residents who are guaranteed a brief yet adequate opportunity to personally speak to the Council. And never forget you're currently representing the hundreds of well-distinguished CM business owners that whole-heartedly understand & exude true professionalism on a daily-basis.

4/14/2011 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

The best "community cleanup" I can think of right now is Mensinger, Righeimer, Bever, and Monahan removed from office.

4/14/2011 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous BC Reader said...

Issue? What issue?
Planting a tree in the park is not the same as planting a tree in the big boss backyard.
Boy scouts car wash to raise money for Japan earthquake victims is not the same as geting together to remodel the CEO office.
Give $2 to a homeless person is not the same as buying $452.64 worth of supply to remodel the CEO office.
The CEO office is ... the CEO office, employees are not allowed to use it.
The CEO couch is ... the CEO couch, employees are not allowed to use it.
The CEO toilet is ... the CEO toilet, employees are not allowed to sit on it.
The CEO big screen TV is ... the CEO big screen TV, employees are not allowed to use it.
The CEO ...
On the next "event", please post it here so some of us may want to "donate" money to the poor CEO.

4/14/2011 03:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Mensing your pants said...

Wow the Righeimer scum sure are doing damage control here today. They must be shadoobie'ing their pants right now.

4/14/2011 07:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Recall Riggy and Mensinger said...


Interesting theory of why Mensinger was sooooo adamant about the City Manager's name change to CEO.

I've been thinking about it and hearing lots of talk about why Mensinger, who really is just a Righeimer whipping boy and not a politician, would really care about a name change. WELL, because of the Name change it opens the door to changing the job description of the City Manager. Thus making it very convenient to change the requirements and allow HIM TO APPLY FOR THAT POSITION. Remember, the City Council "appoints" that position. Mensinger has far too much dirty laundry to ever get voted into office so why not let his buddies in the council give him a job ( since he is unemployed except for being a council member) PROBABLY WHY HE WAS WILLING TO "WRITE A CHECK FOR THE LETTER HEAD CHANGE" AND WHY HE BOUGHT A NEW TOLIET (HIS NEW THRONE)

Just like this council, "favors pay for favors" Probably why Righeimer could afford a $1.5 million dollar house while only working on the planning commission at under $500/month.

Probably why butt kisser Starn is willing to clean bathrooms, because he is up to his elbows in political crap, and is bucking for police chief.

Costa mesa is the new BELL- problem is BELL officials were greedy and dump, while our council is greedy, power hungry and smart.

PS--- HEY RIGHEIMBER, pay your taxes tomorrow.... hate to have you add to your dozen tax liens.

4/14/2011 10:02:00 PM  
Anonymous brown nose said...

Doesn't the city contract out office cleaning to a private contractor? If the office was such a mess, who is responsible? Did Fritzpatrick leave a note on the new toilet "think of us when you flush"? Well, I have to go and mow my bosses yard, then wash his car.

4/15/2011 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Dear BC Reader

If a local church group did the cleanup at City Hall instead of Mensinger, would you still be as critical? Please point me to your posts criticizing the mounting of the “In God We Trust” sign in the council chambers. That was done as a “gift” to the city with privately raised funds.

To respond to you points (in bold):

Planting a tree in the park is not the same as planting a tree in the big boss backyard.
You are right, the Boss’s back yard is his personal property (presumably) and by planting the tree you are enhancing his personally owned property. What has that got to do with fixing up a room in City Hall?

Boy scouts car wash to raise money for Japan earthquake victims is not the same as geting together to remodel the CEO office.
I never mentioned raising money for charitable causes; I mentioned improving public property, like City Hall.

Give $2 to a homeless person is not the same as buying $452.64 worth of supply to remodel the CEO office.
Not sure where you are going with this, but you are right. There is a $450.64 difference. I am glad to see your math classes weren’t wasted on you. (OK, that was snarky and as much as I am trying these days not to be snarky in my posts, I admit I am weak and couldn’t help myself that time.)

The CEO office is ... the CEO office, employees are not allowed to use it.
Incorrect. The CEO’s office is public property paid for with your tax dollars. It is used to conduct the peoples’ business. Hatch is an employee and I am sure he is using it.

The CEO couch is ... the CEO couch, employees are not allowed to use it.
Incorrect. See above.

The CEO toilet is ... the CEO toilet, employees are not allowed to sit on it.
Incorrect. See above.

The CEO big screen TV is ... the CEO big screen TV, employees are not allowed to use it.
Incorrect. See above.

The CEO ...
On the next "event", please post it here so some of us may want to "donate" money to the poor CEO.

And yet again, how is fixing up Hatches office enriching him personally? Did he get to take his wife and family on a trip with that $452.64? No. Our public property was repaired with those funds.

The real question here is why you are so bent about fixing up public property? If Mensinger had done the same thing for any other room/office/facility in the city, would you have the same visceral reaction or is this just a case of anything Mensinger does is obviously bad? This reminds me of a friend of mine who hates that Obama is President. Anything Obama does is immediately lambasted by him. I am quite sure that if Obama resigned, he would be pissed and call him a quitter. I sometimes feel that is what is going on with both sides of this debate.

My disagreement with Righeimer regarding his leadership style, methods and motivations are well documented. I could hardly ever be included in the mindless throngs of sycophants that support anything he does. That does not mean, however, that everything he or any of his colleagues accomplishes is wrong. When can we get past seeing red every time he or any of the others do something and start discussing the important issues at hand? There really are more important things for us to worry about than new commodes in City Hall and who paid for them. Or haven’t you noticed?

4/15/2011 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

Mensinger as CEO ???
reading that post made my skin crawl. That is without question the most frightening scenario to slither out of this political cesspool. If that happens they won't need to do layoffs, everyone would simply quit.

4/15/2011 02:23:00 PM  

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