Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Fireworks, Greed, Civility and Real Business

Tuesday night, during a long meeting that was generally civil, the most memorable line of the evening was delivered by second-term councilwoman Wendy Leece to non-elected councilman Steve Mensinger.

Following a long
discussion about whether or not to expand the sales of fireworks an additional day, add "spinner-type" fireworks and permit the discharge of those fireworks on four consecutive days beginning on July 1st instead of only on July 4th as in years past, during which nearly two dozen residents and interested parties stood to voice their views on the proposed change and fireworks in general, Leece made a lengthy plea for wisdom on the part of the council, suggesting that they approve the additional sale day but to restrict the discharge to the 4th. During one of her comments she referred to the youth sports groups that would benefit significantly as being "greedy", a characterization that apparently rankled Mensinger.

When it was his turn to speak, his voice choked with emotion, he delivered the following backhand blast at Leece: "Councilwoman Leece, I'm not sure, ah, I don't know how to react to the fact that you think that the kids in the youth sports groups are greedy. But let it be reflected in the record, I haven't, ah, I've been involved again in youth sports for a decade. I haven't had fireworks or had the opportunity to light fireworks myself because I'm always in a booth. In that period of time I haven't seen you there. And in that period of time I haven't seen you do a lot of fund raising for the, ah, youth sports groups, but I appreciate your concerns and and I do, ah, do understand your points. I do think your anger at the youth groups is misappropriated." I have no idea what that last word meant - maybe "inappropriate".. who knows?

Later, following further di
scussion and as the vote was about to be taken, Leece responded, "I don't think that when we're up here representing the residents we need to get personal and attack each other personally. I have lived in this city almost forty years, raised five children and I have worked in fireworks stands to raise money for many people. And, actually, I have bought fireworks last year. I think I still have the sparklers in the closet that went unused. So I don't appreciate it, Councilman Mensinger. I have been elected to this office by the people of Costa Mesa. And for you to sit up here and to demean me and to criticize me when I have given to this community over and over again with my time and with my money, you have no business, you have no right and you will not, Mr. Mensinger, bully me!" And the crowd roared... And the motion passed, 3-2, with Eric Bever joining Leece in voting No.

Almost lost in this debate was the position taken by Jim Righeimer and Gary Monahan that we should "give it a try" and if it doesn't work out we can talk about changes. So, we're going to have a long weekend of noise, smoke, frantic pets and overworked public safety staff so youth sports groups can reap a windfall at the expense of the half of the residents of this city that prefer NOT to have ANY fireworks, but have tolerated them for nearly two decades since the question was placed on the ballot that ended up virtually tied.

I'm not a big fan of fireworks in nei
ghborhoods and I certainly hope that there are no tragic incidents attributed to them this year. If our already diminished public safety teams are unable to promptly respond to emergency calls due to the heavy demand over that weekend there will be three council members with some serious explaining to do.

There were other things on the agenda, too, which the council finally began discussion at 9:00 p.m. Public Hearing Item #1, a review of a planned project on Maple Street, was approved with a condition applied by the Planning Commission removed and #2, the discussion of the awarding CDBG funds was continued to a later meeting.

Under Old Business, the appointments to city committees, Monahan moved to have the recruitment process re-started. Lee
ce balked, saying that there were plenty of good, qualified candidates in the pool available to them right now. She lost and the recruitment effort will begin again.

During the update of Working Group activities Righeimer, once again, demonstrated his disdain for previous councils, and for the employee groups. He misrepresented facts and, during a reply to Leece regarding the possibility of engaging in a "meet and confer" process, he went on a little mini-rant, stating, "I will just say that the contracts and the MOUs that we have are something that nobody in their right mind would sign." Leece subsequently reminded him that both she and Monahan were members who voted on the current agreements, as were many previous councils that considered the circumstances at the time and felt it was necessary to remain competitive, hence the current contracts. Righeimer has apparently forgotten the portion of the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act that compels a "meet and confer" process - probably because it's not convenient for him.

The council dispatched with the four New Business items promptly. The discussion of possible revisions to the Sign Ordinance proposed by the Planning Commission resulted three items being passed - changes to the way building wall signage is calculated and two items dealing with free-standing signs - one, the size limitation of painted wall signs, was sent back for a review of what other cities do on the issue and the final item, LED signs, was kept under the current plan to the relief of many residents who had done their homework and spoke with passion on the issue.

Just before they adjourned to what was probably a very long closed session involving 5 items at 11:00, under Council Member Comments, Righeimer expressed concern for "threats against council people, staff and appointeds", and went on to suggest that we need a "policy or something" to prove it's not funny. He suggested that a reward program be implemented and instructed CEO Tom Hatch to come back with something. I'm not exactly sure what he was talking about other than the brick that was tossed through Monahan's door recently and the reported threat against him by a mentally-deranged person already in custody. He nodded toward the staff when he made his statement, so it's possible there have been threats made there, too. This "reward" thing smacks of over-reaction by someone trying to quiet critics. We'll see.

The next meeting will be a Study Session on the Budget again on Tuesday,
May 10th in Council Chambers at 4:30.. "transparency" on the march. There are meetings scheduled EVERY Tuesday from now until, and including, June 28th.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Anonymous Pentagon Hexagram said...

Yeah! Costa Mesa adopts the Garden Grove model for fireworks sales.

If we need to find a City to emulate, there's no better example than that paradigm of good government.

5/04/2011 06:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Brad Shefmire said...

My Wife and I (including several volunteers) have spent every 4th of July for the past 8 years, down at the OC Fairgrounds baby sitting the horses because of all the loud obnoxious drunk fireworks revelers that the City allows.
Did anyone on the council or from the fire department even broach the issue of safety in respect to this issue? It's the start of May and yesterday, felt like FIRE SEASON already. That coupled with the loss of the helicopter patrols spells potential disaster in my mind.
And Mensinger's personal attack on Ms. Leece from the Dias is appalling.

5/04/2011 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

I was surprised there were no folks from the animal groups last night. It's going to be a HUGE problem for 4 nights this year - a VERY long holiday weekend for you all.

5/04/2011 07:48:00 AM  
Anonymous ttularc said...

The fireworks change is a boon to families in Costa Mesa that send their kids to public schools or participate in community organizations. I don't value a dog over a child. It's crazy that people want to take away money from kids because of one night (now more) of loud noise. I still look back at Fourth of July and lighting fireworks as a great experience, and one that I want my children to enjoy. For most people it is actually a chance to teach our children a little responsibility.

5/04/2011 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

Wendy doesn't care about kids in this City. She lives in a gated community and as someone who's worked with our kids for years, I've never seen her involved in anything youth-oriented. She's become the cranky old woman who steals kids baseballs when they fall in her yard! We're so done with her nonsense. Thank you to the Council for helping our kids

5/04/2011 07:59:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Watacher said...

If this city council doesn't have anything better to focus on other than fireworks, then all is truly lost! Fireworks are the least of this city's problems. But it's a very good diversion - smoke and mirrors for sure.

5/04/2011 08:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Pentagon Hexagram said...

Twenty-eight cities in Orange County manage to support youth sports without selling fireworks.

Santa Ana, Stanton, Garden Grove, Westminster, and Buena Park are the other cities in the club of second-tier cities who have convinced themselves that "It's for the kids".

Did I hear that somebody authorized a lot of money for new football uniforms that weren't budgeted?

5/04/2011 08:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Stepped in it... said...

Brad - three simple word...they don't care.

5/04/2011 08:33:00 AM  
Anonymous mike m said...

I don't have a problem with extending the sales of fireworks - this is an important tool to raise money for these groups as cuts are rampant in those budgets for school and non-school programs. I just wonder if the booth I have to volunteer for is going to have problems filling the schedule now that it's been extended.

But it's a bit crazy to go ahead and OK the number of days people are allowed to fire them off - stick to the 4th - particularly because of the strain it will put on an already strained PD and FD, which is strained because of these idiots calling the shots in the first place. No ABLE? Hey, no problem! I have pets and little kids that will freak out a bit, but they could live with it for one night. Four nights - that's gonna be some wild weekend! We had an 'incident' involving fireworks on our street that involved a garage nearly burning down and requiring extensive repairs a few years back. Under this new scenario, that whole house could've gone down.

Whatever happened to compromise? I will at least give Bever props (for the first time EVER) for not supporting this. Can't wait to see that new Mel Gibson movie about him that's coming out ("The Beaver").

5/04/2011 08:51:00 AM  
Anonymous take cm back said...

4th of July is a Patriotic holi"day". Maybe boycotting fireworks and teaching our children something other than bullying and partying for 4 days. Even football and baseball is teaching more bullying. Watch mensinger,watch the dodger fans. Lets take the $80 and send care packages to our men and women of the military. Or instead of cleaning up the streets ,go clean up a Veterans yard. Real lessons in life not just chest bumping. Anyone know where to send my donation
P.S I'm sure are vets like sitting at home listening to explosions in our neighborhoods. Tradition,bah, just another comercialization of something serious.

5/04/2011 08:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Witch hazel goes down smoothly too said...

I bet they clubs don't even make more money with the extended days. This year I am not buying any fireworks and will instead give my money to a bum to buy cheap vodka or rubbing alcohol to drink, which seems to be the safer of my two spending options this year. I may drink the rubbing alcohol with the bum now that I think about it, now that is what I call a party!

5/04/2011 09:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

What a crock. Wendy can't use fireworks at her home. The gated community HOA that she lives in does not allow them. I checked.

Get over yourself Wendy Leece.

5/04/2011 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

They may think this is a good idea, and I'm completely down with helping public schools, but by the time the 10,000th Piccolo Pete is lit off at night, they will be rethinking the decision. Fireworks are cool for a night, annoying for 4 nights. They should have extended the sales, but maybe kept the fireworks to only Monday (maybe Sunday, maybe).

I was unable to attend the meeting, due to work, but did anyone address the 30 million we will have to pay per year to make up for the CalPers obligations and if the outsourcing is going to save at least 30 million a year, for 10 years, that we would have to pay out ? If not, then the outsourcing is a non starter, since it would put Costa Mesa in the hole for 30 million a year, for 10 years.

5/04/2011 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger feral390 said...

Would it be stating the obvious to say?...This council sucks

5/04/2011 09:53:00 AM  
Anonymous ProudAmerican said...

U.S.O. Google that and get on their website. And, THANK YOU.

5/04/2011 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous ttularc said...

Take CM Back,

You are ridiculous if you think the sports isn't a valuable compenent of a child's upbringing. You are also forgetting that the sale of fireworks helps out high school bands, charity organizations, etc. I can never wrap my head around the reason some people don't value tradition. How about we do away with other traditions like supporting public employees until they die and supporting/campaigning for inefficient, and often redundant, government segments/practices. Keep looking our for number one.

5/04/2011 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Question said...

Was Greg Ridge the "mentally deranged person" you mentioned?

5/04/2011 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Eric the Bever
A) Showed up;
B) Voted in favor of the citizenry??

Lemme guess- Someone called him up ahead of time and said there was going to be a big estate sale in the council chambers..

And Geoff, I hope you're proud of yourself labeling Menssy a bully and now having Wendy Leece use the moniker.. ;>

5/04/2011 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

Jennifer, from my point of view, it's the people that want more days of fireworks that don't care about kids, people, property or the meaning of the holiday.

The Fourth of July is the day we adopted the Declaration of Independence, Our forefathers weren't trying to make money off of fireworks.

Plus, this is a major safety issue. Many years I have had a situation were an illegal or legal firework could have caused a major problem. At least with the old ordinance I just had to worry about 1 day and make sure I had a hose at the ready. Now I have 4 days to think about how to make sure Mr. Greedy Pants doesn't get elected next go around.

So Jennifer, will you hope that only your house burns down or your kids get hurt with the extra four days of fireworks?

5/04/2011 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Some observations from an unabashed fireworks supporter:

I am curious as to why the horses at the fairgrounds are any more upset by fireworks than they are the speedway races and other noisy events at the fairgrounds.

Bever has consistently support fireworks in Costa Mesa. It is interesting he voted against this.

I suspect this is much ado about nothing. I don't expect the groups to see significant revenue because of the extended hours of sales or the additional days for legally discharging.

5/04/2011 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous almostdone said...

Under normal circumstances fire depts handle their manpower needs on fires by calling for multiple engines and trucks to supply the number of firefighters needed.
They have to do that because running 3 and even 4 man engines is actually under staffing when it comes to fire fighting with less than a second alarm.
They get away with those staffing levels day to day because there is almost never more than one structure fire at a time in cities like Costa Mesa, and that means that they can send damn near the whole dept every time there's smoke.

Come 8 oclock on the 4th of July when every engine in the city rolls out of the station on grass fires and trash fires and roof fires and... at least one (and always spectacular) house that is completely on fire, all the engines will be busy.

So how's this year going to be different?

Until now, fire depts could hire overtime to up-staff their engines and even put additional equipment into service on the 4th so they could handle more calls and not be overwhelmed every time somebody called in saying "I see smoke".

Well guess what... there's no OT anymore due to budget cuts and all those engines are going to have their hands full doing what they can with minimum staffing.

That means that calls for help are going to have to wait their turn.

And.... after the 1st, there won't be any helicopter to run around spotting for the FD so maybe a neighborhood roof watch program with a neighbor with a garden hose for every roof wouldn't be a bad idea.

Anyway, the point is... with the reduction of public safty services that have and are taking place maybe this is the wrong time to be increasing the hazard potential with increased fireworks.

5/04/2011 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary Craig, CPA said...

Its utterly ridiculous that kids need to fund education and athletic (sports) activities through any outside fundraising.

This is a direct effect of poor fiscal management at the state and local level.

All year kids from the local schools in my neighborhood (nice kids!) are selling utter cr*p to my family: wrapping paper, cookie dough, chocolate, fireworks.

Support for these activities should come from tax dollars and user fees, and kids should be playing and doing homework.

5/04/2011 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I love fireworks and the 4th and my kids play sports at Estancia but to allow the use of fireworks for 4 days is ridiculous.
Once again, this council does not listen to what the people want, they aren't fiscally responsible and they support their private interests. Is there no end to their brazen folly?
As for the horses, an exploding firework sounds different than any other sound, it sounds like guns and bombs...that's why we shoot them off, remember? Our poor animals (horses and dogs) will have to be drugged or suffer, which means we suffer. Thanks again council. And please stop picking on Wendy, it's so pathetic.

5/04/2011 02:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Barry You Suck said...

"What the heck are the UNFAB "3" thinking?" They have reduced and eliminated any OT for Fire Services reduced servies at Fire stations and eliminated the ABLE Program. FOUR extra days of fireworks scheduled when the fire danger is escalated? This is more than an error in judgement this is disregard for the public and regard for their own personal self interests. So, we are going to wait and see if fire dangers increase, property damage ensues and citizens are hurt? Good idea?

5/04/2011 05:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Shefmire said...

Hey Bruce,
Thanks for asking about the horses.
Horses (as you may know), are prey animals, therefore, when they see or hear a perceived danger, their first instinct is to react (run, kick etc..).
Speedway and the Fair, are both a pretty consistent noise, like white noise.
Fireworks on the other hand are not only loud, but typically accompanied by flashes of light, the smell of smoke, and these noise and light flashes comes from almost every angle. In the case of the BIG fireworks shows, you can even feel concussions in the air.
Spooked horses can be an extreme danger to themselves and if you didn't already guess, that can be very expensive (emotionally and financially).
We typically stuff their ears full of cotton, play loud soothing music in attempts to drown out the "bangs" and in extreme cases we will sedate some of them.
From a Safety aspect, we all know Fireworks are dangerous. Fire and personal injury occurs every year. Extending the days allowed only increases the risk of (kids and adults) getting injured.
I think this is just another poor decision by this council and It makes me question their logic and motives.
We're at Gate #9 off Arlington if you're not busy that weekend, stop by and say hello.

5/04/2011 05:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Lost on the DAIS said...

Hey Bell 4 and Jennifer, why don't you stop the wasteful spending of non budget monies on hiring your friends and donate the money to the "Kids" or Messigners rail road then you can recind the discharging of fire works for 4 straight days....and the mess that is to come......

5/04/2011 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

I think the real issue here is that once again the residents of this city voiced their opinions and once again the elected and appointed ignored the residents and did exactly what they wanted to do and what they planned on doing all along.
At this point the council could really stop having open meetings and public comments because as we have seen time after time they do not listen, don't care and we don't matter.

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable"
John F. Kennedy

5/04/2011 08:06:00 PM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

Wendy is right....To go this route of earning money for sport programs and other youth programs knowing damn well the risks and hazards that are involved is GREEDY. And this is coming form a person who has been working with children in various ways for 17 years and I will bet I am a hell of a lot younger than you! There are tons of other ways to go about this. You and the stupid council boys are just not smart nor creative enough to come up with them. Host community movie nights. Have silent auctions. Have a huge community garage sale and ask the community to donate as well as the businesses in the city.

Mr. Shefmire, you explained the hazards in regards to the animals very well. One would hope that they would think about that a bit more but as been proven time and again there is no hope for these fools.

5/04/2011 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Ironic said...

Isn't ironic that the Fire Department and Police will have to staff with additional personnel to handle the "I heard a Piccolo Pete at 3am" for all 4 days!

This City Council just essentially taxed themselves. Ha!

All this to support youth clubs. Don't get me wrong youth activities are great. But, we have become a second tier city like Westminster, Santa Ana, and Garden Grove.

5/04/2011 09:05:00 PM  
Anonymous mike m said...

Can't imagine they would care about animals if the only people they seem to care for our themselves and their friends...

5/04/2011 10:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Byrne / American Collective said...

Dear CM Peeps, All these good points aside, I'd like to offer these tid bits.... I've lived on every side of CM and my first day in my house on the West Side my neighbor told me to water the house and yard down for a few days before the 4th and don't go anywhere.. and sure enough I thought I was in the Gaza Strip the first year.. it has been my experience that no matter what people are going to be "discharging" ILLEGAL fireworks. and there is virtually no way to combat that except to capitalize on the safe and sane stuff..Then again the stats say sparklers are the biggest cause of injury. The mission of this council is to attract families and that is exactly what this long weekend will do.. As a dog lover and owner of Many big dogs, i have to say that your dog is not a stable dog if it can't handle fireworks.. this can be fixed.. Give your dogs plenty of exercise, food and loud music on the surrounding days. Also Valerian root and Chamomile work wonders for calming the nerves of people, horses and dogs. For the record I haven't purchased or lit a firework in many years... I'd rather light doobies, crack cold ones and keep my fingers :)

5/05/2011 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...


Thanks for the explanation. It helps when you have details. Best with the horses. I will try to make it a point to swing by and say hi.

Do you spend any time blanketing the neighborhoods that surround the fairgrounds with this info? Just thinking it may have an impact on at least some peoples decisions. Maybe give them a list of horse friendly fireworks? Just a thought.

5/05/2011 09:41:00 AM  
Anonymous TT said...

Darn those "greedy" sports groups and kids they're sending us to the poor house, right Leece?

Her response to Mensinger is pretty funny. I bet shes glad to live in a gated community to keep all those "greedy" girl scouts from knocking on her door.

Is she even allowed to light fireworks in her gated community?

5/05/2011 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

TT, according to Ms. Leece, they do permit fireworks in her community, contrary to lie posted by Jennifer earlier. She also tells me she has NEVER had baseballs in her yard - another lie.

5/05/2011 12:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Maggie said...

Four days of air filled with smoke and streets littered with fireworks debris is too much. The desire for youth groups to make money should be balanced with the quality of life concerns of other residents, It is, indeed, all about money when it comes to the Council majority; the rest of us be damned!

5/05/2011 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Re Transparency said...

If the city wants to be more transparent, why don't they reveal the contents of the note thrown through the glass at Monahan's?

Also, why don't they tell residents who the witnesses were that saw Huy Pham jump to his death?

Why all the secrecy? It looks like the city is trying to hide something.

5/05/2011 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous no balance said...

Sports revenue can come from a more defined group than making the public the victum. One of the costa mesa united sites said 248 kids had signed up. The golf tourney brought in 100k. from people who signed up for giving. The fireworks are an invasion of privacy for those not purchasing and too much over comes ones quality of life. Sports fans have Jim Scott stadium to raise funds and last heard mensinger wants the trains in fairview park out so he can put sports fields. The master plan will be opened soon for that purpose. wait and see. 30,000 plus ride those trains a year. But again the few will control the many So, some fire works are fun to many are annoying just to please a small few. No fireworks a shame. But balance was achieved. But now there is mensinger and riggy. The city lacks balance

5/05/2011 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Paco said...

Jennifer is your idea of "helping our kids" include, a youth fundraisers at that dive bar on 20th and Newport(opps, family restaurant) wait, the good thing is happy hour will be extended? How about buying new football uniforms on credit and then later hold funderaisers at El Ranchito to help pay for them? Thats the council I want.

5/05/2011 07:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Someone muzzle the alpha dog... said...

Is anyone else tired of hearing Riggy run off at the mouth? I thought Monahan was the mayor....he needs to get his nose out of Riggy behind...and take control.

I've never seen anyone so in love with hearing his own voice.

5/05/2011 11:40:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home