Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Two Sides Of "Transparency"

This afternoon we'll deal with two sides of "transparency", a word that has taken on a life of its own locally over the past few months.


Today Costa Mesa's Interim Communication Director, Bill Lobdell, issued a Press Relea
se, HERE, that announced to the world that a national nonprofit watchdog group, The Sunshine Review, awarded the City of Costa Mesa with a A+ transparency grade for the quantity and quality of public information available on the website. According to the press release, this places Costa Mesa in the top 1% of the more than 6,000 municipal web sites reviewed. The press release includes links to interesting segments of the web site and the most recent Sunshine Review of the site.

While I do not agree with many of the moves our current city council has been making, the emphasis on transparency in recent months is noteworthy. I've only been paying serious attention to city business for a decade, but we've seen more and better information in the first few months of this year - basically, since Lobdell came on board - than I can recall at any time in the past. The planned revamp of the city web site will, hopefully, make a good site even better and more user-friendly.

And, to add a little frosting to that cake, in his E-Briefing last week CEO Tom Hatch announced that there will soon be a wifi hotspot in the council chambers to facilitate the timely reporting by journalists, who presently struggle with slower internet connections while trying to make deadlines. This is also excellent news and yet another example of a city trying to make government more accessible. It is hoped that this new technological enhancement will be available by the September 6th meeting. And, no, it's not going to break the bank to provide this capability. Lobdell tells me that it will cost less than $2,000 for the installation - money well-spent, in my opinion.

However, while the presentat
ion of information to the public is admirable, the attitude of the City Council toward personal "transparency" is not. In recent weeks we've seen the mayor, Gary Monahan, attempt to stifle free speech of Terry Koken, a resident who presented himself at the speaker's podium to address his grievances in song. Combine that with councilman Eric Bever's obvious attempt to quash councilwoman Wendy Leece's ability to place items of interest to her and her constituents on the council agenda by trying to require more than one council member's approval and you see a very focused attempt to abridge the free speech guaranteed by the constitution and to disregard the opinions of thousands of voters who selected Leece - twice - for a seat on the council. And, of course, we have the actions on the dais where individual council members personally vilify and chide speakers before them in an obvious attempt to intimidate them and give them pause before they step up to address the council. This willingness to stifle dissent is more than a little upsetting. Yes, transparency is great, but, where the rubber meets the road, our municipal leaders leave much, much to be desired.


And, in an interesting bit of timing, Orange County Employee's Association
General Manager Nick Berardino - a recent appointee by Governor Jerry Brown to the Orange County Fair Board - sent out a note today announcing that Fair Board President Dave Ellis has rejected Berardino's attempt to establish a citizens oversight committee and to conduct a forensic audit of the Orange County Fair and Event Center. According to Berardino's note, Ellis refused to have the items placed on the agenda for the August Fair Board meeting.


Berardino will appeal to the Fair Board at the August meeting to vote to place those two issues on the agenda for the September meeting. When I spoke with Berardino about this issue earlier today I encouraged him to check the weather report for Hades on that date, because - considering political make-up of the board - unless a freeze is predicted, he has no chance of getting the board to go along with him. While I think it's a good idea to have divergent viewpoints represented on any public board, Berardino is going to find himself in the same position that Leece occupies today on the Costa Mesa City Council - a lone voice against an overwhelming majority.

If you attended the Town Hall at the Neighborhood Community Center last night
and drive a Scion XB - that boxy little cruiser, similar to the one in this photo - that is gold, bronze or orange in color, or you know someone with that kind of car at the meeting last night, please contact me directly using the email address on the profile page of my blog. I have very important information for you.

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Anonymous Never too Late said...

Come on Gary step up and be a mayor. Two years from now, you either be a washed up bar owner with little or no business trying to support your wonderful family, or you van step up to the plate and call these jerks what they. Try and be a hero. You used to stand for good things. What happened to you?

8/16/2011 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

it's Too Late:

My guess... Political Castration; maybe Pinot envy; a Mashed Banger... maybe all of the above.

What ever motivates him these days appears not to have given him a leg up; in business,politics or personally.

8/16/2011 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Nick is a Thug said...

I can’t wait to see Gericult completely loose it when the Fair Board cuts back on the horses.

Why is Nick the Thug allowed to serve on a Board that is community oriented? His thug mentality will soon get him into trouble. He has no idea that he has to conform to rules & regulations. Nick will soon step in it deep enough that even the cute Jennifer Muir will not be able to pull him out. Either way, Nick will not be there long

8/16/2011 03:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Some Serious Suggestions said...

Personally, I think the fair board needs to form a "Board Oversight Committee" to keep an eye on Nick Berardino. That's one rabid critter that needs to be watched.

Also, when is someone going to get around to asking for a forensic audit of the O.C.E.A.? Nick has his hands in a lot of pockets so omeone should be checking the till on a regular basis. You can never be too careful nowadays.

8/16/2011 04:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Nick Makes $208k a Year! said...

Come on guys, Nick is the "white knight." Asking for an audit that they already perform yearly so you can pander to your base is typical OCEA. By the way, has Nick's sidekick Jennifer Muir yet explained why she published a Register article in 2010 with County salary info, but criticizes the City for publishing its own salary info. Still waiting on the "spin" for that one! What a major screw up for the union.

8/16/2011 04:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Recall the BULLIES said...

The only screw-up... is Righeimer, Mensinger, Bever and Monaham.. give me a break.. they are the bullies and thugs. Step aside and let the people of Costa Mesa have a RECALL!

8/16/2011 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Nick Should make $210k aYear! said...

Who cares?

8/16/2011 05:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Beth said...

If you want some suggestions, I have some. Hello!

Gary and Wendy should be thrown off the city council (due to their absolutely insane voting record), Nick Beraradino needs to be run out of Costa Mesa (due to his crappy attitude, and suspicious actions), the medical marijuana businesses should be shut down if they are not charging sales tax on their "donations" (an obvious tax dodge), and the equestrian center needs to be relocated (because they are not a part of the fair).

More whys?

Because Gary and Wendy do not have the best interests of Costa Mesa in mind, Nick appears to be a deeply disturbed individual, the medical marijuana junkies are nothing more than junkies, and the fairgrounds definitely needs more parking. Move the equestrian center over to the armory property, for God's sake!

If ever there was a time for change, it is NOW!!! Let's go back to the future. Costa Mesa used to be a decent place to raise children.

8/16/2011 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

The tide has turned. The bad guys are on the run.

The Riggmarshal might have to stay in China and run one of the factories there.

8/16/2011 05:48:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

Your suggestions are obviously well researched; are poignant and provocative. It is inspiring to see such passion for the return of ‘Tar and Feathers’. What an amazing example and invaluable tool for those now deprived Costa Mesa children of whom you speak so caringly about.

What an amazing site that would be, grand steeds herded into an area 1/4th size they have now; lumbering on hot asphalt; dogs barking, attempting to scale the fence. We could move them to bark park; imagine the exercise both horse and dog would get.

When reading such an eloquent, well written comment such as yours; brings a tear to my eye and is evocative of those immortal lyrics by Joni Mitchell:

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
‘Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

8/16/2011 06:51:00 PM  
Anonymous what's up? said...

What is your infatuation with this car? Did CMPD place another tracking device? Do you have your gum shoes on? Do tell.

8/16/2011 07:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Robert the Drake said...

Of course, something Nick is missing is that the board cannot vote on something that is not agendized.

So asking the board to vote on including these items on the next agenda will never happen since they are not allowed to vote on something not on the agenda. Oh, those pesky open meeting laws.

Nick might want to stop posturing and learn the ropes first.

8/16/2011 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Actually, Robert the Drake, they can. During "board member comments" he can request his fellow board members to vote to place those items on the next agenda. As I said, unless Hades is freezing over, there's not much chance of that happening.

8/16/2011 08:19:00 PM  
Anonymous going away party said...

As for the car I think Riggy probably left a going away present- a big steaming pile of sheet(s) right where the driver's door opens. Riggy we all thank you for your contribution.

8/16/2011 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Beth said...

Beth said ..........

OC Longhair, you may need a shorter hair cut so that you can see better.

The armory property appears to be exactly the same size as the equestrian center. Take a helicopter ride and look down (as opposed to up). The objective would be to pave one area, and un-pave the other area. The consequences would then be zero and Joni Mitchell's lyrics wouldn't apply. :-)

Installation of tall, green, fencing on two sides, such as Italian cypress, would then privatize the armory property so as not to spook either horses, neighbors or traffic. It's really nothing more than eminent domain wrapped in a pretty package, with a bow on top. The public good always out weighs private property ownership, thereby making this fairgoer suggestion a potential action.

It's something to think about ....

8/16/2011 11:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Uh Beth? said...

Except that the armory property belongs to the state and is currently under federal control, as it is occupied by an Army Reserve unit. So, ummm, where would they go so we could put horses there?

8/17/2011 03:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Robert the Drake said...

Actually Geoff, right at the top of the agenda, under Call to Order, it states: "All matters noticed on this agenda, in any category, may be considered for action as listed. Any item not so noticed may not be considered."

8/17/2011 04:21:00 AM  
Anonymous If Horses Could Talk said...

Can anyone tell me how much land is allocated for horses?

How much money the horse folk pay in rent?

Or should I ask Nick?

8/17/2011 08:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Ain't No Gum Shoe said...

Geoff is no gum shoe detective. Have you seen his old man shoes? Or should I say tiny old man shoes. Do you think that is why he drives that hot rod car?

8/17/2011 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Actually, Robert the Drake, Fair Governance Policy 4.3 (c) provides the mechanism for an individual Director to, during Director Comments (way, way down at the bottom of that agenda you were looking at, below the Closed Session) to bring up for discussion any item he wishes. That includes requesting his fellow board members to consider an issue at a future board meeting. He asks, they vote. NEXT...

8/17/2011 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Actually, Ain't No Gum Shoe, those shoes are not that tiny, do have gum soles and I'm sorry you envy me for the car - a gift to myself for a lifetime of hard work. Identify yourself and I'll take you for a spin.

8/17/2011 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous The Armory Property said...

About a year ago I read somewhere that the armory property might be available for purchase. Maybe it would be worth checking out.

8/17/2011 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous wikileak said...

The other side of this kind of transparency is a "self promoter" of the no-bid-$3,000-a-week-spin-doctor. Anyone can change the content of that page

8/17/2011 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous eddie said...

$2K for a $70 wifi router install? Ha!

8/17/2011 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

eddie, Lobdell told me LESS than 2k... hopefully, a lot less.

8/17/2011 04:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Robert The Drake said...

The equestrians take up about 7 acres and bring in about $40K per year to the fairgrounds.

It has been stated before that turning the same space into a parking lot would net the fairgrounds around $400,000 per year.

And, Potstirrer, thanks for the clarification about the voting.

8/17/2011 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous billy lobdud said...

it was $1999.99 out the door

8/17/2011 07:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Bye Bye Gericult said...

Robert the Drake, that is an incredible figure. $40k for 7 acres.

Pave it so we can watch Greg Ridge freak out. Please have someone sell tickets so we can all observe the inevitable breakdown of the unmedicated or under medicated Gericult. Please.

8/17/2011 08:47:00 PM  

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