Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fireworks At Both Ends Of Council Meeting

OK, I'm finally back... last night's council meeting was a long, long, long one - finally finishing up just after midnight. Ugh. For the most part it played to a packed house - standing room only in the beginning for the first few hours as many kids, large and small, patiently waited to address the Fireworks and ROCKS issues. You can view all 6+ hours of the streaming video HERE - bring a pillow.

By the way, Eric Bever (Who?) was a no-show at this council meeting - again. Nobody missed him.

You knew it was going to b
e an interesting meeting when Pastor Mike Decker - pastor at Palm Harvest Church and the chaplain for the Costa Mesa Police Department - led the audience in his "moment of solemn expression". His prayer was long, passionate and pointed. I glanced up at the dais as he spoke, saw the "In God We Trust" sign behind the City Council and found myself thinking that I sure hoped Decker was well-connected "up there" - this city really needs the help.

A high point for me was the awarding of the Mayor's Award for this month to community volunteer extraordinaire, Mary Ellen Goddard, for her more than three decades of service to the community. Her recognition was certainly appropriate and well-deserved.


City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch introduced the preliminary 2011-2011 Municipal Budget. Copies of the document were handed out to the council and some staff members. It is now posted on the City web site, along with a Budget Summary and Hatch's cover letter. No discussion took place on the budget - it was not on the agenda - but the heavy lifting begins next Tuesday at the council study session. I will say that it's a bigger budget than last year, with more dollars allocated to Capitol projects. I'll dig into it later and report back.

Then we got down
to business, but not before non-elected councilman Steve Mensinger leaned over to Mayor Gary Monahan and requested that the Fireworks issue be moved forward on the agenda. Normal practice would be for Monahan to ask the council to vote on that agenda shift, but he didn't. He and Mensinger just moved it. Why bother with the formalities of established protocol, right? I was not surprised - this is how they work - the rules are for others.

During Public Comments long time city mechanic Billy Folsom led off and hit it out of the park. He's been peeved at the cavalier attitude of Planning Commission Chairman and President of the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association, Colin McCarthy, who has been heard to disrespectfully shrug off the efforts of our maintenance staff, asking why Jiffy Lube can't change the oil on our fleet. Folsom told us all just what his job involves - the very least of which is changing oil. I cannot do justice to his presentation so I suggest you take three minutes to watch Folsom on the streaming video.


The public comments segment was particularly interesting last night. One reason was that Monahan, again, ignored the rules and permitted speakers on the Fireworks issue speak during public comments instead of requiring them to wait until that agenda item was called. The first time it happened Wendy Leece tried to point it out - Monahan just waved her off and the flood gates were opened. I guess the rules are whatever he decides they are... more on that in a minute.

The issue of the exten
sion of the contract with Management Partners for Tammy LeTourneau's tour as Interim Administrative Services Director was plucked from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion. Speakers wondered why this was necessary and, in particular, if we're paying someone $145,000 for the rest of this calendar year, why are we also paying her a car allowance amounting to $500 per month? It was a great question that was NOT answered. At least nobody brought up the fact that LeTourneau had been fired from her job in Brea.


One of the really
interesting events during public comments was the presentation by Peter Adderton, the businessman mentioned in an earlier post, who has a plan to salvage the ABLE helicopter program. He didn't give details of his plan, but indicated that he'd been working with the City of Newport Beach and asked the council to extend the ABLE program for two months so he could put his plan together. Only Wendy Leece picked up on that - see below.

The fireworks issue was discussed for a long time, with many more speakers addressing t
he issue. In the end, it was decided to continue to permit the sale of fireworks for 5 days, but the council changed the dates on which they may be legally discharged to July 2nd - July 4th - Saturday, Sunday and Monday. They dropped Friday as a legal date of discharge. Thanks for small favors - the weekend is still going to be a war zone.

A speaker asked ab
out block parties, pointing out that the application process is underway now and wondering if neighborhoods will be permitted to hold block parties - and close their streets to do so - over the entire weekend. The council dodged this issue and, as it stands right now, block parties will be permitted ONLY on Monday, July 4th. So, if Aunt Mable and the cousins are driving down from Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday and want to participate in your neighborhood block party they're going to have to hang around until Monday. Lucky you.


The council decided to continue to fund the ROCKS after school program following a good presentation by the staff and hearing from many members of the public - mostly mothers and kids that would be negatively affected by the cancellation. The motion made by Righeimer was curious - he moved a 25% subsidy, but conditioned it on the program being budgeted for 40%... too strange.

The council a
pproved the request by a resident on Gleneagles Terrace to forgive his construction mistakes on an expansion of his home. It took a long time to hear this issue - I'd previously watched the owner's pitch before a much less sympathetic Planning Commission.

I-405 IMP
The council heard a long, long presentation by staff and a project manager from the Orange County Transportation Authority on the proposed I-405 Improvement project, which begins in Costa Mesa and stretches to the Los Angeles County Line. No decision was made.

The clock ticked off at 11:20 before the representatives of the Business Improvement Area (BIA) had a chance to make their pitch for re-authorization, but the council appr
oved it and the issue will be heard again on June 7th.

At just before midnight the staff and members of the Costa Mesa Community Foundation made their pitch for the sale of wine and beer - a Beer Garden - at the "Concerts in the Park" this year. After surprisingly little discussion the council approved it 4-0, so those who wish to drink legally at the concerts this year will have a little penned-off area in which to do so. Expect some of our homeless to take advantage of this opportunity.


Are you tired of reading this? Well,
now you know how I felt as the clock struck 12 and the "council member comments" segment had yet to be heard. However, it was worth waiting for - at least for the three of us non-staff members left in the auditorium at that hour. I can't remember when there has been such a "whine fest" in the chambers before!

Steve Mensinger kicked off the moaning by complaining to Monahan about the "number of people that are clapping and jeering and yelling and making comments and innuendos". He went on to say he gets emails from people who complain that they can't hear what's going on because "so and so was sitting behind me making comments". He asked Monahan to review the decorum of council meetings. I had to chuckle when he said that, especially considering how he and Monahan violated the procedures in the beginning and also considering how he frequently berates fellow council member Wendy Leece on the dais. Yes, Steve, some review of the decorum is CERTAINLY necessary.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer started by saying he was going to keep his comments short, then didn't. He started with this comment: "Just for a
heads-up for everybody in the community. If you haven't figured it out already, the labor unions have decided to do a recall of at least two or four of us. Um, that's, polling's been done in this city, it's been three polls now. The State Democrat convention, um, the three words they use constantly, constantly, constantly were Wisconsin, Costa Mesa and Tea Party. They're going to do everything they can to stop it. Ah, we had Nick Berardino here, who also represents our people, telling people that Costa Mesa is Ground Zero for this across the country. They had Mr. Pulaski - whose the, what is he, the treasurer, secretary, secretary- treasurer of the California Confederation of Labor saying that this is Ground Zero for it. If you haven't figured it out, all the craziness that's going on here with the ads and all these things that are being bought are because a recall is going to happen in this city. It's probably going be seven figures. It will be in the millions of dollars spent to remove this city council and, ah, I'll talk about it at some other time, I think it's a little late to talk about it. That's why it's getting crazy. That why every time you turn on your computer you see ads. They're not reporting because they've not started that process yet. They're looking to make sure the recall does not hit if Jerry Brown is going for a tax increase. They don't want to do a recall at the same time as a tax increase because they would obviously lose."

He went on to complain about people addressing the political ambitions and accusations of the council trying to make a profit on outsourcing. He talked about the Working Groups, too. Go to the streaming video, scroll d
own to the link with his name under "Council Member Reports, Comments and Suggestions" and click on it to hear his entire rant.


Wendy Leece asked Hatch to move forward with Peter Adderton to try to
save ABLE.

She asked for a summary on the Fairgrounds because she
"can't get all my information from blogs and out of the newspaper". She complained about having been removed as liaison and said she's "out of the loop".


During a comment about the Budget Working Group, she asked, as a formal public records request, for "all documents, minutes, notes from those twelve meetings of the Budget Working Group. I believe the public is owed an explanatio
n and the reason and justification for the massive outsourcing which are still unclear as they were in March. And, there were a lot of exaggerations and the numbers as far as five million, fifteen million and yet there was no justification or detail as far as public discussion or discussion in public of where that that money was, in other words, what the shortfall was. And to make the decision based on a two-member working group to outsource, have the massive outsourcing I think was reckless and I think that, down the road, that we'll have unintended consequences. So, whatever public records are available I would like to formally request those."


Monahan curtly tossed Leece's complaint about not knowing about the Fairgrounds
information and having been restricted from attending the meetings because they would have been a Brown Act violation, "as I'm sure you bring up all the time." He also justified the Working Groups as a concept, pointing out that they are widely used by other elected bodies. Watch the video...


The next council meeting will be Tuesday, May 24th at 4:30 for a Study Session, which will likely be devoted entirely to the budget.

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Anonymous John Ringo said...

Hey, Piggy is right on about the recall..Now that an injunction has been filed against the council's outsourcing effort (oh my, someone thinks they are wrong?)the movement will being gathering monmentum quickly. It isn't too late to get the three little Piggies blown out of office by a strong wind while they are still in the straw house..
They should never have politicized the council race in the first place. As I recall reading, Piggy tried to win in two other cities and once before here in CM before he got his foot in here. I can't wait to hear their response to the injunction ruling. Lobdell is probably already on his spinning wheel and Menacinger is probably on his way to court to chest bump the judge..
Love it.

5/18/2011 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Jackson said...

Whew, what a recap. Can't criticize Folsom too much, at least he lives in Costa Mesa. Problem is his $97,000 salary/benefits is way too much for a "equimpment mechanic." Of course he wants his job; he'd get paid half as much in the private sector. They will be the first to get outsourced, you watch. My view, outsourcing some of the non public safety departments will be a good thing in the long run. Everyone grumbled about the golf course when it was going to be outsourced (including the union) and it has worked out very well. It's always hard at first.

Fairgrounds didn't get enough attention. No one wanted to stay up late enough to hear Monahan's explanation for his letter. People are still puzzled. Doesn't look like we got an explanation.

Where's the Beve????

5/18/2011 04:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Pentagon Hexagram said...

Monahan notes that other government agencies use working groups and committees very successfully.

And he is right. As a board member of OCTA, Monahan has had the experience to work on committees and working groups. The only difference is that these meetings are considered legislative bodies, with agendas, open meetings, public comments, and minutes. (You can look at the OCTA website to confirm this).

Look at what other cities do. Sure Newport Beach has a Finance Committee, but anybody can attend, and you can read the agendas and minutes. Google is your friend. You can look this stuff up, rather than making it up.

It's not that hard, if you actually want to follow the law.

5/18/2011 04:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark C said...

This is where it is going to get really interesting. Riggy's fan club has been on this blog and in the Pilot double dog daring the opposition for a recall. Well if it is to come, it will be solely due to their unbelevable arrrogance.

Based on the actions of this council, it is clear they did not expect this kind of push back. Sure, people want reform, they just want it done the right way. Their idea hasn't been it. They didn't take that in to account when they listened to thier inner circle. When you only listen to the voices in the circles you run in, you will only hear the things you want to hear, thus it seems like your following is much larger than it is.

Arrogance and greed have been the downfall of many a man since the beginning of mankind. Perhps these men should begin to practice some humility and set aside future aspirations.

It's a shame, I initially liked the message, the delivery was unacceptable.

5/18/2011 04:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

I would support a recall of Righeimer and Mensinger. Righeimer just never seemed to understand Costa Mesa. He seems like he would rather be in Newport Beach anyway. As far as Mensinger goes, he seems like a nice guy but he was never elected or appointed by the people of Costa Mesa. That whole draft Katrina Foley thing was a dirty trick.

5/18/2011 04:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

Just read union got spanked in court today. No surprise. Hope they pay our legal bills. Maybe go after them for filing a meritless lawsuit.

5/18/2011 05:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

Jackson, I know plenty of auto mechanics that make much more than $97K in salary and benefits. It's because most auto dealers charge by the flag hour. They might only spend 20 minutes on a job but will bill for an entire hour. Outsourcers will want to bill us for just about everything.

If you want to run a corporation efficiently, you don't outsource everything. You first have to make a decision as to what's best for the corporation. I don't see how outsourcing will improve the quality of life in our city. Maybe city employees should take a pay cut. However, I don't want our quality of life to suffer or have Little Piggies making themselves and their friends rich off of city contracts at the expense of my tax dollars.

5/18/2011 05:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

The bad news for Riggy is that Brown is only going for tax extensions and... if he were to go for an increase, it would only be by a vote of the people.

If Riggy gets the boot, I feel sorry for any company that would hire him because he'll just want to outsource all jobs to China or India.

Hopefully we can get a good conservative in that's actually lived here long enough to understand our city. Hopefully someone not ashamed of the city we all choose to live in.

5/18/2011 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

Jackson - If he's a manager or supervisor, and has been there awhile, then I can see that. Is it too much, probably, I would say 80K would be fine, if the above critera fits. Too much if he's just a floor line mechanic, I haven't seen the video (slow streaming for me). And some depts can and maybe should be outsourced. But the manner in which they are dealing with it, is just unprofessional. Seriously, Colin should know what a city car service does, as far as work. He could have made a better arguement in terms of level of service (not that I want him to, he can sit around polishing the brown shine on his nose for all I care).

I don't get this - "They're looking to make sure the recall does not hit if Jerry Brown is going for a tax increase. They don't want to do a recall at the same time as a tax increase because they would obviously lose."

How would they lose ? These are two seperate issues, and unless the outsourcing has substantial savings, I seriously doubt they would get traction on conflating the outsourcing with the tax increase. That's not a very strong defense and it makes it look like he thinks the voters are stupid and can't see between the two issues.

This whole thing reminds me of some old wild western movie, where the cattle rancher (OCGOP) bought out the town mayor, newspaper and lawyer, and they expected the public to be cowed, while they ran things for their privilege.

5/18/2011 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

Jennifer - Per OC Register - "Restraining orders are used to maintain the status quo until the court can decide on an injunction. The ruling was unrelated to the merits of the case."

The restraining ruling wasn't in the employees favor, but it doesn't mean the suit doesn't have merit. When the facts of the case are presented, it will show to have merit.

5/18/2011 05:39:00 PM  
Anonymous recruiters heads up said...

Billy Folsom is a steal. Costa mesa is very lucky to have such a diversified quality employee. I hope an oil company or large ranch picks him up. He has a right to be upset when compared to an oil changer. His qualifications and service is taken for granted by the elected,non elected and the appointed

5/18/2011 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Um Ahh Umm said...

After watching the video of steve menacing's whining about applause. I wish the city had $5 everytime he said" um or ahh" it would close the budget gap fast. I'm sure he feels that the noise is counter productive to his un elected opinion thus doesn't count.
That's the sound of the people,by the people and for the people.

5/18/2011 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

recruiters heads up, you're right. He's not taken for granted by his co-workers and friends, though. He's quite a guy!

5/18/2011 08:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

P.S. --
I appreciate all the fine work you do to add meat to the bones (crumbs?) of the little bits of info that are available from other sources. And this includes your weaving of the tsunami of daily raw data into tapestries of information.

And I like that the meat is flavored with genteel attitude. It make the city (what's left of it) come alive!

(Apologies for all the metaphors.)

5/18/2011 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Tom Egan, Ah, shucks.. you're too kind...

5/18/2011 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Chest Bumper said...

Law Enforcement Consultant

Mr. Staveley is a consultant to Jones & Mayer, and its clients, with great knowledge in law enforcement issues. He conducts the firm's internal affairs investigations, as well as its review and revision of policy and procedure manuals. He provides training in a variety of related areas, such as United States Department of Justice investigation practices.

Mr. Staveley assists Jones & Mayer in its development and processing of grant funded training for law enforcement. He represents the firm in certain meetings, providing knowledge of law enforcement operational tactics and technical information.

5/18/2011 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Diogenes said...

There were a lot of pleas from the car dealers on Harbor to retain the ABLE helicopter. Are any of them ready to put up some money to grant the program the eight-week extension that the gent who is interested in privatizing the program, whose name I don't recall, proposed? Any investigation of what an eight-week extension would cost, maybe divided by the number of car dealers on Harbor? It'd be a little more than a twenty-dollar bill each, but p'r'aps worth it to them... Hell, I'd kick in a hundred bucks. Anybody else out there willing?

5/19/2011 01:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Sonic the Hedge Hog said...

mike m,
I really don't think he's actually "texting" anymore. It's really his son's PSP, and he's just a very serious "gamer" that is obsessed with advancing to the next level. I'm quite surprised that he hasn't jumped up & down yet, while exclaiming "UH-HUH! UH-HUH!, THAT'S RIGHT... WHO DUH MAN?!" And then fist bump/chest bump the Hatchster sitting right next to him. He's like Edward Scissor Hands with that thing! I wonder if the IT Staff could use his mad skills for something instead of just wasting it on blocking out unnecessary "noise" from his concerned CM constituents.

5/19/2011 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Sad about Costa Mesa said...

Mensinger is probably reading his script for the meeting and can't figure out which page he is supposed to be on. Doubt he could master texting.

5/19/2011 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Please post and let us know when and where there are any recall papers to fill out. We'll be there with all our neighbors.

5/20/2011 09:18:00 PM  

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