Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wendy's One-Woman Show

Monday night around 100 residents ventured to the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center to attend a Town Hall sponsored by City Councilwoman Wendy Leece. Leece reserved the Victoria Room which, as she observed, gave us a good view of the dozens of homeless folks hanging around the park. If your route took you from the library to the community center you were forced to step over and/or around several men sleeping on the grass between the buildings. It was a perfect preamble to a Town Hall on public safety.

I thought this meeti
ng went off well, especially for the first one. Leece carried the ball most of the night, although she did enlist support from volunteer organizations and members of the Costa Mesa Police Department and the Costa Mesa Fire Department for some answers.

She also provided an opportunity for Diane Hill of United Neighbors to present an overview of her community organizing activities and for the good folks who run the Costa Mesa Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program to make a brief pitch, too.


Several members of the current administration were present. Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, apparently taking time out from his China trip preparations, stopped in for an hour. His young sycophant, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ethan Temianka, left a little sooner. Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy attended with his young son. Planning Commissioner and Sanitary District Board member Jim Fitzpatrick stayed for a short while before wandering off into the evening. Councilman Steve Mensinger arrived early and stuck it out for the entire program. Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell was also present.


As mentioned earlier, this event WAS NOT taped by CMTV, which is a real shame. There was enough good information presented that home viewers would certainly have benefited from the chance to watch it.

Leece launched her program with a mini-history course to remind us all of the fr
eedoms we have and need to protect. Throughout the evening she provided some boilerplate safety information, but drove most of her program off the questions submitted that evening by attendees. She did not permit verbal questions, which probably kept the emotion of the evening down. The crowd was respectful and concerned. In my opinion greater care should have been taken while sorting the question cards.

There were way, way too many inquires about the burgeoning Medical Marijuana dispensary businesses around town. Most were redundant. We did learn that there are anywhere from 30-50 such businesses in town; that they are being visited by code enforcement and/or the police frequently, but selectively; that Federal laws are not being enforced and that we're currently embroiled in lawsuits with some of the dispensaries.


Another hot button issue for attendees apparently was the proliferation of half-way houses - drug and alcohol rehab facilities, of which there may be as many as 100 throughout the city. The police department attempts to monitor them to be sure they don't violate residency limitations. These facilities apparently are interwoven with the homeless problem in Costa Mesa and are part of the agenda being worked by the Homeless Task Force.


In response to a question about what kind of a promise she may have made to the OC GOP that has them so angry with her, she spent a good deal of time describing in great detail her falling-out with Scott Baugh, Chairman of the OC GOP and the circumstances that led to her being roundly criticized by him and the rest of the OC GOP hierarchy. Basically, she did what she felt was right for Costa Mesa - a view that Baugh apparently didn't like. Baugh's pal, Righeimer had departed by that time - I would have been curious about his reaction to Leece's comments.

A question was asked about the $10,000 donation given to Costa Mesa Pop
Warner Football recently, and wondered if other youth sports groups could expect similar generosity in the future. Leece's response was that, now that the precedent had been set, she didn't see how we could refuse any of them.


The out
sourcing plan was discussed and Leece opined that it is a good thing that the council policy - 100-6 - was identified and that we will now be following it. It will slow down the process and provide an opportunity for greater input by city staff. She said the council had been behaving recklessly with the outsourcing and that this change of pace should be helpful.

One audience member expressed concern for the duties of now-departed E
mergency Medicine Services Coordinator, Larry Grihalva, who provided a wide range of services to the city. Battalion Chief Diamond explained that he will be missed, and that most of the duties he had would be spread out among members of the Fire Department leadership and others would simply not get done.

A similar question was asked about the duties of the Fire Marshall, which we do not presently have. Diamond said the acting Chief, Kirk Dominic, would take up that slack.


Leece ended by reiterating a theme she followed throughout the evening. She said what's happened, has happened and that the city needs to learn from it and move forward. She encouraged eve
ryone in attendance to get involved, either through CERT, Diane Hill's United Neighbors and/or attend council meetings and write letters when they have concerns. Since she is termed out, Leece clearly was not campaigning last evening. She said, "We need to work together as Costa Mesans."


As an aside, I was pleased to be seated next to former Costa Mesa Police Chief Dave Snowden last night. He served this city for almost two decades as Chief and was instrumental in creating and implementing many of the excellent law enforcement programs in effect in Costa Mesa today. As most know, he is currently the Chief of Police in Beverly Hills. At a dinner in Beverly Hills on September 10th Snowden will receive the prestigious Jack Webb award for his 45 years of illustrious law enforcement service. This award is presented by the Los Angeles Police Historical Society. You can see the announcement at their web site, HERE. Congratulations to Chief Snowden for this well-deserved award.

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 Jeff Byrne / American Collective said...

All in all a step in the right direction as far as getting input from residents on the issues. However the information provided was far from accurate. Especially on the most asked about topic of the night, Medical Cannabis. "The problems is federal law is not being enforced".. please refer to this link http://www.steelescase.org/ .. a Federal Judge has set precedent and will allow the jury to hear the 'medical defense' in a federal trial. Important to note that Steele's dispensary has not shut down and is still operating. So waiting for feds to storm CM with Riot Gear is not going to halt demand or operations. Not to mention the fact that the Ogden Memo from Obama states that it is a waste of fed dollars to contradict state laws. Bottom line: and the council knows this; Sacramento and Garden Grove are doing it right and have successfully embraced the well run dispensaries and the poorly run dispensaries have left town. Both cities have cut the number in half by simply raising the standards by which they operate. Until we embrace the good dispensaries, expect the bad to keep coming. We also heard a lot of flat out prejudice. Politicians actually diagnosing patients based on how they look from across the st.. wow. ever had a friend doing Chemo therapy.. there are good days and bad days. check the CDC for stats on chronic pain. also 1-12 will be in a car wreck every year. There are hundreds of dr's in CM and i don't here anyone questioning the need for so many or judging their patients with absolutely NO medical background or even a science back ground. If the feds think Cannabis is so bad why do they hold a patent on it's 'anitoxidant' and 'neuroprotective properties'? (google it) Where are the Tea Baggers on this issue? 2012 only promises more of the legal morass. Please ask yourself, if Sue Lester and Jeff Byrne aren't doing this for our community, who will? and can we trust them?

8/16/2011 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

A very interesting event. My SO asked me to describe it and I told her it was "multi-dimensional."

Level 1:
Concerned council member talking about working together for mutual safety;
Level 2:
Good Guys vs. Bad Guys (Cowboys vs. Aliens);
Level 3:
Shootout at the OK Corral that never happened;
Level 4:
New Beginnings

8/16/2011 07:49:00 AM  
Anonymous C L said...

So says the convicted felon who owns one of the worst medical dispensaries in the city. (FACT)

Expungement or not, most people know exactly what you are all about.

So says the man who spends his associations $$ on brown nosing the council members at their local watering hole.

8/16/2011 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous C L said...

Oh, for the record, I suport safe access 110%.

What I don't support is former dope dealers turned legit under the guise of SB420.

8/16/2011 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Byrne / American Collective said...

@ C L.. Convicted, yes, more like pled out. .. and this is a 'right to work' state. The system is the system and anyone that knows me knows what I am all about. That part you got right. Could you define 'worst' collective? I would be more than happy to give anyone a tour and show anyone the extent to which we go to ensure we are following attorney general guidelines. And yeah, I do my drinkin' at the Mayor's bar, that is where the majority of the political discussions happen in this town and they happen to serve hemp ale ;) Come on down and I'll buy ya one. I would love to show you how we lab test all meds, take care to make sure it is all grown locally and to employ locals. I am not going to make a million bucks running a collective in CM, but I love what I do, I love CM and if you have a problem with how I am doing something I am sure you can figure out a way to get a hold of me. If we sweep it under the rug the pile just gets bigger.. Am I wrong? Clearly the majority of the questions from the community were about the cannabis clubs, yet they did not get any real answers. Come on Air It Out. ask what you want to ask, what are you concerns? let's talk about what works and what doesn't, let's talk about the science.. CM deserves that.

8/16/2011 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger feral390 said...

On the dispensary issue,perhaps instead of spending untold amounts of time, resources and of course money on what appears to be a totally failed effort to shut them down. Why not regulate and impose fees on them?
60 seconds of research and I found this....

Jeff Byrne, are you and your dispensary visited frequently by code enforcement and cmpd? or does this friendship with the mayor preclude you from any such legal hassles?

8/16/2011 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous C L said...

PM is not medical.

8/16/2011 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous cm jess said...

Leece is a liar.

8/16/2011 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous RickandJenn said...

Jeff, don't the nameless and faceless haters on this blog discourage you from shedding light on the dark of this issue. It's refreshing that the pot folks in this City embrace our community and take part in it. It's a changing issue. We see you and Sue Lester at everything, helping out the City in so many ways. Those that criticize are simply hiding behind their keyboards because they see how involved you are and they're jealous. It was cool to see you at the forum last night.

8/16/2011 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Surprised said...

CM jess....Name calling? Really? What about the Council Majority? Are they liars too? Seems to look that way to me.

8/16/2011 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Byrne / American Collective said...

@ C L you are correct. (P)owdery (M)ildew is not medicine. It is a mildew that develops on plants when there is too much moisture and/or not enough air circulation around the plant. The novice cannabis user can't spot it as it is often times white like the thc glands. That is why we test our meds with every lab that we know. It also might interest you to know that we purposely send in bunk samples with pesticides sprayed on them etc to constantly keep the labs on their toes and I can document that for you if you would like.

@feral390, It would be great if my friendship with the mayor gave me those kinds of benefits, but the reality of the matter is that as a friend I would not ask him for special treatment. However as his friend I am apt to have a hemp ale or two too many and let him know how I feel about it ;) and at times I've let the whole bar know it.. but that is all in good fun. The FACT of the matter is that American Collective has received more citations than any other collective in the city. The difference is, we fight them all the way every time. Ms. Leece would have you believe that we just pay fines like we have money to burn. We pay them so we can litigate them. So if anything. my friendship with the mayor has hurt my image with rank and file city staff, which is unfortunate but as you stated previously, anyone who knows me knows what I am all about and I won't ever apologize for being someone's friend no matter their lot in life.

@RickandJenn.. Thanks. I hear that every day from someone who is quietly suffering and I'll tell you it never gets old. those kind of comments keep me going. Thank you very much for that.

8/16/2011 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

As at last night's meeting; this posting has gone 'up in smoke'.

You guys need to hold your bongs and keep your papers dry; just let this whole thing take its course. Leece said last night that 'this issue is going to take a lot of time to move through the courts' and 'you need to be patient (me: not a patient) because, as we all know, things in politics moves very slow.'

I thought her attention to the 'way to many' questions on your Collectives was handle with extreme grace and honesty. Instead of saying 'Asked and Answered' she attempted to give her opinion (to whatever she is allowed with an ongoing lawsuit) to each card presented.

For ME; it would have been 'What part of NO don't you get'; that's why SHE is up there and I sit with you in the Peanut Gallery.

So light up, chill out and have a couple of quarter-pounders (with cheese and extra onions; NO pickles; light ketchup) and wait to see what happens next. Remember - even at Star-Date 3658, some planets still ban the use of Canibus. These things can take a long, long, long ago and far, far away... Dude, sorry.

OOOOOh, say R O A D S, Rooo Adds... Row Adds... some words just sound so weird...

8/16/2011 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Back to the Town Hall sans weed:

Wendy needs to do more of them and publicize them more. This is the classic Good Guy vs. Bad Guy scenario. The bad guys (council members without Leece) are running scared after the recent reversals:
Berardino on Fair Board, Superior Court Injunction, Discovery of the 1994 Rule Violation.

Riggy sees his little plan frozen and on the road to defeat. That's why he took an hour plus and appeared in person on his way to the airport even though his minions (Menssy,Tamianka, Fitzpatrick) attended as ordered.

Menssy seemed very angry. His cheeks got beet red a couple of times. He should stick to smirking.

Despite extremism, Costa Mesa remains a great place to live.

8/16/2011 05:18:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

Well Joe, when you put it like THAT... of course it's gunna look bad.

8/16/2011 06:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Vicki said...

Is it just me, or does OC Longhair sound like a mental case?

To quote:

"OOOOOh, say R O A D S, Rooo Adds... Row Adds... some words just sound so weird..."

Maybe I'm stupid, but I don't get it. Sorry. Maybe OC's been ingesting too much medical marijuana.

8/16/2011 07:00:00 PM  
Anonymous joel warrick said...

Everybody relax.

8/16/2011 10:25:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair-itage said...

OK, the need to Vikipedia my JOKE... not unlike A.B.L.E., this was over her head and not returning any time soon;need I explain this also?

In my post, I referenced 2 comedic duos… Cheech & Chong; David Spade & the late, great Chris Farley. If you’re over 71 (for Geoff) Martin and Lewis may be an equivilent. Cheech & Chong in late 60’ - 70’s, Farley & Spade in the 90’s. Both teams were known to experiment with controlled substances and portrayed, to the extreme, the effect it had when used; so much for the history lesson.

Spade & Farley made two movies “Tommy Boy” in 1995 and “Black Sheep” 1996; both hilarious, Tommy Boy being the best of the two. During a road trip Farley & Spade inadvertently got “Toasted” and the word “ROAD” became the focus of “Do you notice that some word sound strange… road… roooow ad… row aaaad… JUST rent the movies.

As for my lengthier coiffe, is a choice to honor my mother’s Cherokee heritage and is undeserving the presupposition to drug use; medical or otherwise.

Vicki, your choice to profile and spawn rash assumptions in no way makes you look stupid… your ignorance does that.

... and I thought I'd be taking hits on the 1/4 pounder reference

8/17/2011 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Hey! I am NOT 71! :-) But, here's hoping...

8/17/2011 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

ET TU Geoff, A.B.L.E. joke?

Explination: I was going to use... never mind. I give up.

8/18/2011 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Vickivodka said...

Vicki: sober up and he sounds fine.

8/19/2011 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Alex Quinn 82 said...

It is one of the saddest things to see when someone you know is going through an addiction. Most addicts can not help themselves and need the support of family and friends to get them healthy. Having the moral support of loved ones and a good alcohol rehab facilities to be placed in can lead to the road to recovery. Please do not ignore anyone struggling with this disease.

10/24/2011 12:35:00 PM  

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