Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another Grass Roots Organization Pops Up

Yoo Hoo, City Council! Are you paying attention? Remember these names - Michelle Simpson and Bonnie Copeland. They've provided the womb for yet another group of concerned residents to meet, talk and strategize about issues important to them. It will be interesting to see what happens to this embryo of concern.

Based on reports from the scene, last night an angry, frustrated group of resident
s met at Simpson's home in the heart of the Westside to address their concern about a possible 19th Street Bridge across the Santa Ana River. According to Joe Serna's Daily Pilot article this evening, HERE, more than five dozen people met to vent their collective spleens, apparently in response to out-of-touch carpetbagging Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer's position that he was in favor of such a bridge. Other reports from the scene indicate numbers greater than the 60 or so Serna reported - 100 and 200 were mentioned. The number really is not as relevant as the fact that, again, from reports from the scene, most were "new" faces - folks not normally in attendance at council and commission meetings.

Of course, the Banning Ranch and Sunset Ridge Park issues in Newport Beach have many Westside residents very anxious about the future of that side of town. The traffic that would result from the current proposal for the development of Banning Ranch is very significant - thousands of NEW car trips each day would be generated by Banning Ranch and most would flow along Costa Mesa streets. And, there is a perception that the development will also increase the demand for that 19th Street Bridge.


What we're seeing here is yet another group of residents made ve
ry nervous about the way our city is being governed these days. The current city council majority has demonstrated, month after month, that they are not concerned so much about the future of the city as they are about the political future of some of their members.

It appears to me that we are finally seeing that silent majority - that group of residents that Righeimer assumes support him because they've not said they don't - awakening from their hibernation and are looking around and seeing things they don't much like. Are you grumpy when you first wake up? I know I am, and I suspect these folks are not going to get any happier as they learn more about just what's going on.

It's going to be very interesting to see what kind of activism emanates from this group.
Will some of their number step up to the speaker's podium and tell the council of their concerns? If so, will the council take them seriously or simply brush them off as a bunch of kooks and give them the cold shoulder, as they do many others who take the time to air their grievances before them? I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

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Righeimer To Propose Charter City Tuesday

In a Daily Pilot commentary online HERE, Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer tells us that he's going to propose to the City Council that they immediately begin the process of converting Costa Mesa from a General Law city to a Charter City. We reported on his plan to do this HERE and in a commentary in the Daily Pilot HERE.

This move comes as no surprise, but, like most everything else Righeimer and his cohorts have proposed since taking office this year, is being done with undue haste. It's almost as though he's in a feeding frenzy, trying to quick pitch major government changes before the residents of this city figure out what he's up to - the ill-conceived "outsourcing" scheme is a perfect example.

In his commentary Righeimer asks himself, "How does it work?", then tells himself, "It is very simple". If only that was true. There are two methods for a city to convert from a General Law city to a Charter city. The first, and most appropriate considering the complexity and impact of the change, is for the City Council to propose to the voters that a change be made to become a Charter city and place that issue on the ballot. AT THAT TIME candidates for a "charter commission" would put themselves forward on the ballot - fifteen people would be elected to the commission IF the voters choose to move forward with the proposal. Once elected that charter commission would proceed with the creation of a city charter, which would subsequently eventually be placed on another ballot for the voters to consider. This is the preferred process.

The alternate process is to do what Righeimer will propose. He will propose that the City Council create the charter - in his piece he says, "We will have more than three months of public meetings and community gatherings to tailor the charter to Costa Mesa needs and to put proper checks and balances into the system to insure we have the best and most transparent local government possible." Well, that's all well and good, but the final decision on what is in this charter under this method is COMPLETELY UP TO THE CITY COUNCIL - the four-member majority of which has already shown an impatience with rules and controls in place to protect the residents of this city. Quite honestly, I just don't trust these guys to do what is right for our city in this matter.


When this issue first came up
I began contacting folks who had intimate knowledge of the process of creating a city charter. Some had been elected leaders during the process, others had been part of the process of creating and/or modifying a charter. WITHOUT EXCEPTION they shared the opinion that the creation of a charter commission is, by far, the preferred method of proceeding. This would be the second most important event in the history of Costa Mesa - the first being the original decision to incorporate. This kind of a decision DEMANDS calm deliberation by a charter commission selected by the voters who represent a broad cross-section of constituencies in the city and who will place the future of the city - not personal political gain - first.

Although I knew this from the beginning, as you read through Righeimer's commentary his motivation is crystal clear. He uses terms like, " has become clear to me that in order for our town to thrive in the 21st century, we free ourselves from the way union-backed politicians..." and "...unsustainable pension costs and byzantine work rules..." and "When a general law city puts a charter up to a vote — the only way the change in governance can occur — the unions rush in with huge amounts of money and misinformation campaigns to defeat the measure." to misdirect the readers.

Righeimer is intent on busting the Costa Mesa employee associations and apparently views the creation of a Charter city as the method du jour to do it. He complains about "dubious lawsuits", ignoring completely the fact that it was the illegally-implemented outsourcing scheme that caused the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association. Righeimer and his cohorts on the council - by not following their own policies - caused the lawsuit. I mentioned earlier that he doesn't like to follow the rules - this is an example.


In his commentary Righeimer suggests readers visit the California League of Cities website for information, but doesn't give a link to do so. Well, you can find that information HERE - I suggest you read it for yourself before jumping aboard this runaway train. Take some time to navigate through the various pages, paying particular attention to the chart that compares General Law cities to Charter cities. Also take a few minutes to read the California Constitution section dealing with Charter cities, HERE.

I am NOT saying that Costa Mesa shouldn't consider becoming a Charter city. It is very possible that the advantages of such a form of government would, indeed, benefit the city. However, every resident should be asking themselves this question: What's the rush? If converting Costa Mesa to a Charter city is such an important issue, why should this process be rushed through? If it's so important why is Righeimer treating it like he's a sixteen-year-old boy trying to get to third base with a girl in the back seat of his father's Buick? Could it be that the voters of this city may actually be waking up to what this council majority is doing to their city and are ready to make a change next November? Three seats are available next year - enough to bring reason back to the deliberations being conducted on the dais. Three seats are enough to, once again, make the future of Costa Mesa - not the political future of one hack, carpetbagging politician - the primary concern of the City Council.

I suspect there will be more than one or two speakers addressing this issue before the City Council Tuesday - the last meeting of the year. If history is any guide, the council will show impatience with opposing views, shrug them off and do as they please. They will vote to move forward with this plan, create opportunities for residents to address this issue in workshops and public hearings - then ignore the cautions proposed and do as they darn well please. They will put THEIR version of a Charter on the June ballot, rolling the dice that low voter turnout will carry the day for them.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sanitary District To Discuss "Incompatibility Of Office"

In an earlier post I mentioned that this was a slow week for City business, but it's not completely devoid of activity.


For example, on Wednesday, November 30th, the Costa
Mesa Sanitary District - those wonderful folks who pick up our trash and make sure our sewers work - will hold their regular meeting at District Headquarters at 628 W. 19th Street, Costa Mesa beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Most of the agenda seems to be pretty routine, with reports from various committees - Recycling, Sewer, etc. However, buried way, way, way down at the end of the agenda report, Item XVII, A. appears. The title of this item is, "Incompatibility of Office between Costa Mesa Sanitary District and Mesa Consolidated Water District", and is on the agenda for "discussion".

Now, based on the title of the item alone, there would seem to be a need to discuss this issue if, for example, a Director of the Sanitary District planned to run for a similar seat on the Mesa Consolidated Water District Board. I don't know what brings this issue up, since there is no staff report available to review.

However, one wonders if this discussion might take a broader approach - to deal with the question of Sanitary District Board members also serving on other elected or appointed government bodies. You will recall that current Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan, during served on both the City Council AND the Sanitary District Board recently. And, of course, Planning Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick currently serves on the Sanitary District board while a planning commissioner. I wonder if the District Board will address this apparent "incompatibility"? And, if so, what the outcome of that discussion might be?


I don't have any plans to attend the meeting Wednesday. It's a cozy room, with a conference table way, way too large for the venue and seating for only a few guests - maybe a half-dozen, at most.

I will, however, do my best to provide a summary of how this issue plays out. It seems to me that Jimmy Fitzy might just find himself in a very uncomfortable situation because I recall that, if it is determined that he cannot hold both seats simultaneously, he would be required to give up the Sanitary District seat because he accepted the Planning Commission position AFTER he was seated on the Sanitary District Board. I guess we'll see...

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Costa Mesa Announces Photo Contest

Late this afternoon Interim Communication Director, Bill Lobdell, announced the inaugural Celebrate Costa Mesa photo contest. The text of his announcement is below.

OH, BOY!...

This could be a lot of fun, especially if you decide to enter the "Altered images" category. That presents so many opportunities that it already has me salivating.

COSTA MESA, CALIF.—Amateur, professional and youth photographers are encouraged to enter the inaugural “Celebrate Costa Mesa” photo contest that features cash and prizes worth more than $1,000.

The finalists’ photos will appear on the City’s revamped website scheduled to be unveiled early next year.

Photographers can enter six categories:

  1. Costa Mesa Characters (photos of local people)
  2. Costa Mesa Environment (open spaces, parks, wildlife, skylines, landmarks)
  3. Costa Mesa Life (education, sports, nightlife, events)
  4. Costa Mesa Pets
  5. OC Fair (photos taken at the fairgrounds)
  6. Altered Images (artistically manipulated photos)

The winners will be selected by a panel consisting of professional photographers and representatives from the Costa Mesa Conference and Visitor Bureau and City of Costa Mesa, including members of the Cultural Arts Committee.

Winners of the six categories will be posted online for public voting, and the photo with the most online votes will be awarded the grand prize.

The contest is free, and entrants may submit up to six photos per category. The deadline for entries is Jan. 9 at 5 p.m. Photos must be taken in Costa Mesa. Interested photographers can find contest details here (

Winning photographers will receive recognition by the Costa Mesa City Council and the Costa Mesa Conference and Visitor Bureau. Their winning entries will be published on the City’s website and annual calendar; featured in the City’s CEO E-Briefing digital newsletter and “Costa Mesa Minute” video broadcast; and may also be used in other City publications.

Cash prizes will be awarded as follows: Grand Prize: $250; First Place: $100; Honorable Mention: $25.

Photos must be taken within Costa Mesa city limits. Judging will be in January and all participants are invited to a City Hall gallery exhibit of winners in February 2012.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Easing Back Into It...

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you're like me, you are still suffering from the tryptophan stupor that gorging on too much turkey creates. You have my sympathy...

My solution was full-immersion football-watching for two, going on three, days straight. It might not help the stupor, but the football was great - especially the USC-UCLA debacle. It the same Bruin teams shows up in Eugene to play the Oregon Ducks in the much-touted inaugural Pac-12 Championship game, the quackers might explode the scoreboard! If that 50-0 Trojan drubbing of the hapless Bruins was, in fact, junior quarterback Matt Barkley's final game for USC, he sure went out on a high note! And, yes, he should be invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony... And, yes, Rick Neuheisel should begin packing up his office...

And, congrats to the Estancia High School Eagles for winning their playoff game Friday. Lots of hard work and skill plus some pretty good coaching paid off for those young men.


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I invite you, once again, to visit the blog o
f my friend and former Daily Pilot photographer, Kent Treptow - - which chronicles his amazing solo walk across the country - from Maine to southern California. If all goes well he should be dipping his toes in the Pacific Ocean sometime in the next few days. His adventure, which has covered the past 170 days, has been fascinating to follow. This photo, courtesy of his blog, shows him "on the road" not too far from home.

That's all for this one. It's a slow week at City Hall next week, but I'm sure there will be news to cover. Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Reason To Give Thanks


In a decision guaranteed to make Thanksgiving just a little nicer for employees of the City of Costa Mesa, today Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann rejected a request from lawyers for the City to dispose of two of the four causes of action in the lawsuit filed on behalf of city employees. You can read the Daily Pilot report on this decision HERE.

As might be expected, each side viewed this action a little differently. Orange County Employee Association spokesperson Jennifer Muir, in a press release this afternoon, said the following:

"In another incremental victory for Costa Mesa employees, a Superior Court Judge on Tuesday afternoon rejected the City of Costa Mesa’s motion to dispose of two of the four causes of action in a lawsuit challenging the layoffs of nearly half the City’s workforce.

The employees are grateful that calmer and more reasoned minds continue to prevail over the politically motivated agenda of the City Council majority,” said Helen Nenadal, President of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association.

More than 200 Costa Mesa employees received six-month layoff notices in March after the City Council voted to outsource their jobs. In May, the Costa Mesa City Employees Association filed a lawsuit to block the layoffs and outsourcing. Orange County Superior Court Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann issued a preliminary injunction in July halting the layoffs and prohibiting the City from outsourcing to private contractors.

Judge Schumann’s ruling on Tuesday does not affect a previously ordered preliminary injunction prohibiting the City from outsourcing to private contractors. Trial is scheduled to begin April 9."

A few minutes later this afternoon Costa Mesa Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell issues his statement, which said in part:

“The judge accepted the union’s ‘interpretation’ of the labor contract between the employees’ association and the City,” said John A. Vogt, special counsel for the City of Costa Mesa. “However, the City maintains the union’s alleged interpretation is not an interpretation at all, but rather a contradiction to the contract, which allows for outsourcing and even provides for a six-month notice for it. Unfortunately, the judge believes that she needed to accept the union’s ‘interpretation’ in ruling on a pleadings motion.

“This ruling doesn’t mean the union’s interpretation will survive summary judgment or trial or otherwise withstand scrutiny on appeal.”

So, unless one side or the other has another card up their sleeves, it looks now like we wait until the trial date, April 9, 2012. In the meantime, based on the injunction in force, no Costa Mesa functions may be outsourced to any private organizations.

In case you've
not already seen it, the Daily Pilot published another of my commentaries today, just in time for Thanksgiving. You can read it HERE. And, for your reading pleasure, here's a very similar version of that message for you all here on the blog.


There are many things for which I'm thankful as we approach Thanksgiving Day this year.

As always,
my wonderful and patient wife of more than 44 years is right at the top of my list. She makes my life very special with her love and support in all that we do.

Of course, I'm very thankful for my family and our cadre of dear friends
who stay in touch with us and offer encouragement when we most need it. And, I'm thankful for the opportunity to present my views of the world around us to the readers of my blog. I'm thankful for their support and comments - even those who disagree with me - because they usually enhance the debate of important issues.

This year, though, I'm especially thankful for a very special group of people - many of whom have become friends. I'm speaking of the employees of the City of Costa Mesa. For the past couple years they've had to endure the uncertainty of this terrible economy, which included making sacrifices to help the City balance the budget. Some have lost their jobs and all have had their wages frozen. They've watched the staff size shrink to levels not seen for more than two decades.


This year, however, has been a real test of their fortitude and loyal
ty, beginning with more than 200 of their compatriots receiving layoff notices on St. Patrick's Day - which may have been the darkest day in the history of our city. Hundreds gathered that sad night to pay their respects to a fallen fellow employee. A few days later more than one hundred residents circled City Hall on a rainy day to stand in a silent vigil of support for the employees.

The employees have endured the chaos that has swirled around the actions of a City Council majority apparently determined, through outsourcing, to reduce the City Staff to a handful of Contract Administrators charged with managing the contract employees who will eventually perform every job in the city - or so it seems.

The employees of Costa Mesa have seen and heard some of the elected leader
s of our city and their appointees chide, vilify, demonize and belittle many of their friends and co-workers. They've seen their revered long-time leader, City Manager Allan Roeder, retire and be replaced - if that is actually possible - by his loyal assistant, Tom Hatch. They then heard Hatch tell a group of their fellow-employees that "they" - meaning the City Council - "don't trust us" - meaning the employees. It must be difficult to stay focused on your job with that cloud of disrespect and uncertainty hanging over your head.

The employees watched as Interim Police Chief Steve Staveley, a man with four decades of law enforcement under his belt and one of the most respected law enforcement leaders in California, abruptly ended his second tour as temporary chief in Costa Mesa in disgust with the elected leaders of our city. As he left he tossed a grenade of criticism of the council over his shoulder, saying, "They are, in my opinion, incompetent, unskilled and unethical."

They've seen the management ranks decimated as many senior staffers chose to move on rather than tolerate the lack of respect and the systematic destruction of the city. Many were replaced by con
sultants - mercenaries, whose fees were mind-boggling and their loyalties unclear.

They've seen some of their elected leaders attempt to break labor agreements rather than seek concessions from the employee groups - actions which forced some employees to court to protect their rights. They've seen themselves castigated in the public press and from the council dais for that action by the men who caused the situation. They've seen their very livelihoods and careers placed in jeopardy to satisfy personal ambitions of a few hack politicians.

And yet they soldier on, doing their very best to provide the kind of service the residents and visitors to our city have become accustomed to. They patch and sweep our streets, provide public safety and recreation programs and perform all the other tasks that make Costa Mesa a great place in which to live, work and play. You have to admire them because it's hard to keep your nose to the grindstone while looking over your shoulder, waiting for the ax to fall, at the same time - but they do it with pride, poise and competence.


So, for all they have done and for all that they continue to do, I am particularly thankful this year for each and every employee of the City of Costa Mesa. Thank you all. We here at A Bubbling Cauldron wish the Costa Mesa Employees and all the rest of you very Happy Thanksgiving.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Throttling Back A Little

This weekend begins what is normally a big vacation time for us, so the old Cauldron will be turned down to simmer for a few days. I might post something - or not - for
the next few days. It also might take just a little longer for your comments to get posted as we do Christmas shopping.


We here at A Bubbling Cauldron hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Here's a little something to get you in the spirit. Take it, boys


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Battle Of The Bell Video Available For Viewing

Our friends, Dane Bora and Brad Long of Costa Mesa Television, have released the coverage of the epic "Battle of the Bell" football game between Estancia and Costa Mesa high schools that was played on Friday, November 11, 2011.

Their coverage of the game, plus some bonus footage of halftime act
ivities provided by each high school, is now up and available for viewing on Channel 24 (Time Warner Cable) and Channel 99 (ATT U-verse) beginning at 6:00 p.m. this evening and subsequently on the following schedule.


Additionally, it will also be available on streaming video next week, but we don't know exactly when. To check to see if it's available go to the City site, HERE, then scroll down to High School Sports until you see that image, below. The game will appear under that tab on
ce it's available.
Thanks to Dane and Brad for this great effort to cover this wonderful event.

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Fair Board Unanimously Rescinds Tel-Phil Termination

Sources from the meeting of the 32nd District Agriculture Association (Orange County Fair Board) today advised me that the Board voted unanimously to rescind the termination notice previously issued to four-decade swap meet operator, Tel-Phil Enterprises. Apparently Dave Ellis and Dale Dykema were absent from this meeting. Sounds to me like they were able to wet their finger, stick it in the air to see which way the wind was blowing and decided to absent themselves rather than be seen voting against the majority on the Board - but I don't know that for sure.

I'm also told that the next item on the agenda involving Requests for Proposals for a new Swap Meet operator was pulled. Naturally, since it is now irrelevant.


This is good news for Jeff and Bob Teller who own Tel-Phil, the vendors at the Orang
e County MarketPlace (swap meet) and the residents of Orange County who visit the MarketPlace each week. It also makes a new tone of conciliation between the Fair Board and those who have opposed some of their recent moves - the sale, etc. Norberto Santana, Jr., in an article in the Voice of OC, HERE, had this to say:

Fair Board Chairwoman Joyce Tucker, who took over the reigns from Ellis, said she wants her tenure to be known for peace, civility and transparency as opposed to the heated
debate, secret negotiations and controversy of the past two years.

"The sale is behind us," Tucker said. "We're trying to move forward."

So, let's see how this plays out. I think Joyce Tucker has it right and that, perhaps, we can put this rancorous chapter in the Fairgrounds saga behind us.

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