Monday, December 05, 2011

The Week Ahead

December promises to be a slow month for City business, but it hasn't screeched to a halt just yet. Tomorrow evening, Tuesday, December 6th, the City Council will meet in what should be their final scheduled meeting of the year. The agenda has been published and there likely will be some interesting discussions before they adjourn for 2011. Wednesday there is a Special Meeting of the Costa Mesa and Newport Beach Parks Commissions to discuss the re-landscaping of Irvine Avenue.

For example, the regular meeting will be preceded by what has been announced as a "Special Meeting", beginning at 4:00. In fact, this is
a closed session in which there are five (5) separate items to be discussed by the council. One of those, item #4, also involves "Arnell Management Company, Inc.", so I find myself wondering whether councilman Steve Mensinger will participate since he used to work for Arnel...

The regular meeting begins in Council Chambers at 6:00 and, as usual, the Consent Calendar has some items of interest that may be pulled for separate discussion. The first warrant, #2396, HERE, includes a line item for Jones & Mayer, the law firm that provides City Attorney services, in the amount of $126,427.61. Since the City budget just over $800,000 for legal services, an average of around $68,000 per month, it looks like we are going to be way, way over budget for legal services this year. The spreadsheet the city maintains on the web site is not current - it only shows payments through September - so it's hard to get a handle on this.

There is also a resolution generated by Mayor Gary Monah
an to change the order of business at council meetings, HERE. This codifies what has become the council's practice and is not a big deal. It does place the closed session BEFORE the regular meeting, which forces the council to work briskly and keeps them from making those important decisions - usually involving litigation - in the wee hours of the next day. It also clarifies what happens to items on the agenda that are not finished before the magic "witching hour" of 7:00, when they plan to begin Public Hearings. This resolution says that anything listed prior to Public Hearings - like Public Comments, for example - will be finished AFTER Old Business, but before New Business. This arbitrary rule about Public Hearings starting at 7:00 has always been a problem. It has made for herky-jerky meetings and, quite honestly, has not been uniformly enforced. At the last meeting, for example, the folks from Sakioka had to hang around until 10:30 before their brief item was heard by the council. In my view, the Public Hearings should remain where they are in the agenda schedule of events, but NOT be forced to begin at 7:00, which stifles the Public Comment segment. In fact, if they pass this resolution Tuesday it becomes effective immediately - with that meeting.

Also in the Consent Calendar are two more outsourcing Requests for Proposals (RFPs). They are for Payroll, HERE, and Information Technology, HERE. As a sidebar on this subject, last week, on Thursday, December 1st, all the employees who had previously received layoff notices received notification that those notices were extended - again. This time they are extended until March 10th - 51 weeks after the original debacle in which they were originally issued and Huy Pham leaped to his death from the roof of City Hall.

Following the Public Hearings Old Business #1 is the appointme
nts to the TeWinkle Park Athletic Complex Task Force, HERE. This was continued from a previous meeting because, apparently, there were insufficient quality candidates who applied - at least in the eyes of some council members. This astounded me at the time, since they really only had to appoint one member and an alternate and had five candidates - each of whom applied on time - from which to choose. Among those was Gordon Bowley - a man who is deeply immersed in most youth sports programs in town. It's going to be VERY interesting to see who gets appointed to this task force.


The very last item on the agenda is the discussion of Jim Righeimer's scheme to turn Costa Mesa into a Charter City. The staff report includes a pretty benign draft Charter - which appears to be designed to stifle criticism rather than to reshape city government. The conversation on this one should be VERY interesting. The report includes a schedule of meetings to provide public input on this issue. In my opinion, this is the WRONG way to be going about this change. I'm NOT saying we should not convert to being a Charter City, but we SHOULD NOT rush the process. We should, as every credible source available tells us, select a Charter Commission, who would calmly deliberate and create a Charter for Costa Mesa. What will happen, though, is that the City Council, driven by the political ambitions of one man, will cobble together a Charter that will permit way, way too much opportunity for mischief. Yes, Righeimer predicted some might conjure up the specter of another Bell - appropriately so. Bell converted to a Charter City and then was pillaged by unscrupulous administrators and council members. Only 400 people voted in the election to convert Bell to a Charter City, for goodness sake!

The staff report
, HERE, includes some excellent background information, including easy-to-use charts comparing General Law cities to Charter cities. The proposed time line of events is VERY aggressive. It begins with the council meeting Tuesday where the initial discussion and public comments will be heard.
  • On December 6th the report on possible City Charter will be discussed and public comment will be taken
  • On December 13th a notice will be posted for the mandatory First Hearing, on January 3rd.
  • On the 3rd - the first council meeting of the year and following City Hall being closed for a week for the holidays - the council will look at potential provisions to include in a Charter, take more public comment and may vote on a first draft!
  • On January 10th a Town Hall meeting will be held to present charter information.
  • On January 17th the notice for the second mandatory hearing on February 7th will be posted.
  • On January 24th and/or 31st more Town Hall meetings MAY be held.
  • On February 2nd the Second Hearing on the charter will be held.
  • On February 14th another Town Hall meeting MAY be held.
  • On February 28th a SPECIAL MEETING will be held to vote on the resolution directing that the Charter be submitted to the Voters.
As I've said many times, this process is being rushed by this council to the detriment of the future of our city and all the residents, current and future. IF converting Costa Mesa to a Charter City is a good idea, then it's an idea that SHOULD NOT BE RUSHED.

Wednesday the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission and the
Newport Beach Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission will hold a special joint meeting in Costa Mesa Conference Room 1A at 7:00 p.m. to discuss the plans for the re-landscaping of Irvine Avenue between 17th Street and 19th Street. You can read the agenda item HERE. This, as you are aware, is a result of the removal of 104 eucalyptus trees following the death of a driver when one of the trees fell on her car a few months ago. The hour of the meeting is unusual for any meeting in Costa Mesa, so make a note.

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Anonymous Put out the fire said...

An angry morning to you Geoff ...

Here is a link to the Daily Pilot comments by the Mayor.,0,2014360.story

I appreciate the transparency and the insight. I think our Public Safety should step up and pay up.

12/05/2011 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Charter Commission is the Right Choice said...

Can the residents force a charter commission be included in the June ballot instead of the council majority writing the charter? I think a charter may be just the thing for Costa Mesa, I just don't want Righeimer and company to be involved in the drafting of it. I just don't get why my fellow residents would not want this? Residents should be drafting the charter not four egomaniacs with an agenda.

12/05/2011 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Common Sense said...

Lets have Genis, Leffler, Humphries, Tamar, Perry, and Cindy write the charter. They are the ones the real residents want to have the power, not the ones that were elected by the "other" residents, those pesky OCGOP voters. Need I remind you Mensinger only got three more votes than the Genis group? And the rest of the council just a few thousand more. The people have spoken-give the power to the Genis group!

12/05/2011 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Surprised said...

Put out the fire... This is the question you need to ask Mayor Monahan and the other council members: Why has Costa Mesa not contracted with OCFA for Fire Services? CMFD wants to go to OCFA. Let them go and this problem over pension contributions goes away. OCFA proposal to the city is a sound one. A competent businessman would of jumped on this months ago. OCFA employees pay 9% towards their pensions. This is still not their entire half, but it is a better deal then what Costa Mesa is getting. So all you council supporters, why has the city dragged its feet on this?

12/05/2011 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Firehouse or Paramedics House? said...

I am not surprised that NOT SURPRISED is not surprised. As they sit around the firehouse, if they say these things long enough, they definitely start believing it.

Not Surprised, why don’t you ask the Union why it is OK to reduce minimum staffing with the County, but unacceptable to reduce minimum staffing levels as a City? Isn’t that where the savings is coming from in Santa Ana and would be the point of savings for Costa Mesa?

Why not just come clean and let everyone know why Costa Mesa Fire wants to run to the County?

Or, you could behave like Newport Beach and start sending out emotional mailers? Your choice.

12/05/2011 04:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Surprised said...

Firehouse or Paramedics House?...Ok I'll ask the question and maybe a union person will answer. Why it is OK to reduce minimum staffing with the County, but unacceptable to reduce minimum staffing levels as a City? Isn’t that where the savings is coming from in Santa Ana and would be the point of savings for Costa Mesa?

Sorry, I do not have the answer to the question of why Costa Mesa Fire wants to run to the County.

Do you have these answers? I know the OCFA proposal was presented last July. I am just wondering why nothing has been done. If I had the answers, I certainly would not have asked the question towards Mayor Monahan. I believe all public employees shoud pay their portion of PERS. Public Safety gets a sweet deal, but all I hear is whining and no viable solutions. Maybe police should be outsourced too and it does not have to be with OCSD. I believe Brea provides police services to Yorba Linda.

12/05/2011 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Wake-up call said...

Public Safety - police and fire - should pay 100% of their PERS contributions. That they aren't and are defending not doing so on this blog, while other members of the CM "family" are, should be a huge wake-up call to every single general employee and resident. For CM employees, they'll let you get laid off before offering up a penny, all while blaming Righeimer for doing exactly what he was elected to do and what he promised to do when he ran for Council.

Hide behind the contracts you bought last October, and keep pointing fingers.

12/05/2011 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

Sounds like Riggy is getting a lot done behind closed doors where he can do his governing in secrecy. Government loves secrecy and hates transparency.

I am on board with the charter city, however, I am not for the political gain that Riggy is looking for in getting this done on his watch and in such short time. If he and his commission are going to cut and paste from other cities charter constitution(s), then why not keep what we have. Besides, I thought we are a "Rule of Law" city...

12/05/2011 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Surprised said...

Wake Up Call...They won't pay 100% of their pension contribution because they do not have to and they do not have to negotiate until their current contract is up. In some respects they are just as bad as the city council by not bargaining in good faith. This is why I asked why did the council not embrace the OCFA proposal. I am then accused of being part of the union or something because I asked a question about a solution that seems to solve the pension problem. For some reason, no one can answer that question; not the union people and not the council people. There are just so many conflicting reports coming out. Everyone agrees that a two-tiered pension formula for new hires is needed. Yet the city is still recruiting and hiring new employees with the existing pension formulas like the new ACM. Since Fire and Police can't be forced to pay more, what is the solution if outsourcing is not an option?

12/05/2011 05:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Central Valley Farm Animals said...

Anyone else tired of Mensinger's posts here?

12/05/2011 06:30:00 PM  
Anonymous X said...

the reason Costa Mesa Fire wants to go to OCFA is staffing and saving their butts.

12/05/2011 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Appointed Fool said...

Let X/Mensinger say whatever. Much safer than him bullying people in person.

12/05/2011 09:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Saving Butts said...

How can going to OCFA "save their butts?" There butts are pretty secure in Costa Mesa. The council is stuck and they know it.

12/05/2011 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Pain in my Coffee said...

Geoff, you have promised us your insight into who will run for Council from the "other" side.

We have a very important discussion in front of us with Charter City vs General Law, and how to go about it.

I would like to know what candidates are available, and start to understand where they are on this issue. February does not give much time to assert oneself.

When do you plan on coming out with this?

12/06/2011 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Be patient. I'm trying to figure out just which residents would be willing to throw themselves open to the character assassination that is sure to be part of the campaign. Like last year, when Chris McEvoy was attacked mercilessly by Righeimer's mob. It's going to take a very, very thick skin - and lots of money.

12/06/2011 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous woof said...

Gary Monahan has a nice piece of lies that was not written by him published under his name in the Pilot today. Does he think people are really that stupid? I wondered this, scrolled down to the comments, and discovered that perpetual kneeler Fitzy is indeed still playing lap dog. Beautiful.

12/06/2011 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Justin Bieber is right said...

It won't matter if it's the OCFA or the Costa Mesa FD that reduce the staffing levels, it's the residents and visitors to this city that will suffer. Longer wait times and reduced service are the end results, and when that happens to you you'll be the first ones running to city hall to complain. We'll all pay the price.

12/06/2011 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Traitor Bartender said...

Regarding the DP piece under Gary Monahan's name:

The 33 comments up at approx 1 PM are now mysteriously gone. They weren't running pro-Gary/Riggy.

12/06/2011 01:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Big Shinny Red Truck said...

Ah Justin Bieber, I agree with you. I am concerned about public safety and I surely so not want to pay for it any more than I have to.

Do I have your support to restructure the fire department to better reflect today's service requirements.

We need more paramedics than firemen and we can provide that service without the burdens of the outrageous pensions and benefits.

Or, are you just a union guy that only supports bodies in uniform? Can't technology help? If FD can get through lights quicker, doesn't that improve response time?

12/06/2011 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Don't panic... that's a glitch in the Tribune system... happens a lot lately... they'll be back.

12/06/2011 02:09:00 PM  

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