Friday, April 08, 2011

"ON TRACK TO BEAT CANCER" at Santa Anita Park

I suspect most of us have been touched by cancer. Personally, we've had many relatives and friends who were taken by one form of cancer or another. I lost my father and uncle to pancreatic cancer. We have friends who are cancer survivors and presently have a friend in hospice at the end stages. And, you will recall that my good friend, Bruce Garlich, recently succumbed to cancer after a long, painful battle.


Next Sunday, April 17th, the City of Hope and Santa Anita Park are hosting ON TRACK TO BEAT CANCER, which supports Women's Cancers and Women's Cures program. You can see the details, including an informative video, HERE.


This a chance to walk the track where Seabiscuit thrilled the crowds following the last race of closing day at Santa Anita and support one of the finest cancer treatment centers in the country. Take your family on a short drive to beautiful Santa Anita Park next Sunday, have fun and support a very worthy cause.

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

The News - Righeimer, Bad - The City, Good

It's been an interesting day in the news for Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and his minions. Our friends at the Daily Pilot had a couple articles that will obviously rankle Righeimer and his pals.


In no pa
rticular order, first we address the article by Joseph Serna titled, "Costa Mesa ambulance plan flatlines", HERE. In this article Serna explains that the scheme proposed by Righeimer and the other three members of the city council to change the way paramedics operate in our city is all but a dead issue now. He quotes Righeimer as saying, "We don't need one more request for proposals right now. It's not a pressing issue."

It appeared to some obs
ervers when this item was proposed that perhaps our current ambulance provider, CARE Ambulance, might have an inside track to take over the paramedic function - a perception only enhanced by the presentation of the CARE representative that evening. Later, though, the president of CARE, Rick Richardson, rejected the idea and confirmed in a letter to the city that the explanation by Costa Mesa Fire EMS Coordinator Larry Grihalva that night was exactly right - that we had the best possible system now and shouldn't change it.

Righeimer, in the last sentence in Serna's story, tells
us all we need to know about him and his plans. He is quoted as saying, "It just tells me we need to get a new ambulance company that's willing to give the services we need." That's it, folks - yet another example of the facts interfering with his plans! I sure hope the public wakes up to what he and his cronies are trying to do to this city pretty darn soon!


Then, in a separate article by Serna titled, "No wrongdoing found in 'stinkeye' case" HERE, we are told that the independent outside investigators, Norman A Traub Associates, looking into the bogus accusations of improper actions by members of the Costa Mesa Police Department last fall when they cruised past a location on the Westside of town where occasional councilman Eric Bever and his pal, Christian Eric, were posting Righeimer signs on a chain link fence, have been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Most of us paying at
tention to that situation at the time realized that this was just another fabricated "encounter" with the Costa Mesa Police Department by the Righeimer campaign to whip up animosity among the potential voters of this city. At a press conference at the site shortly after the event Righeimer and most of his posse, including his pit bull lawyer/brother-in-law, Mark Bucher, Supervisor John Moorlach, Mensinger hanger-on Jim Fitzpatrick and Colin McCarthy (pretending he was a concerned citizen as he postured for the press), showed up to offer support for the poor, abused Bever and Eric. It was laughable at the time and is pathetic now. This is yet another example of how Righeimer and his cronies attempt to manipulate a gullible public.


Today the City of Costa Mesa fired off a couple press releases, apparently in the interest of more transparency.


The first advises us the interim Police Chief Steve Staveley, shown in this photo with former Acting Chief Captain Les Gogerty on March 17, 2001, is going to initiate "Chief's Office Hours" each week. Yep, from 4-6 p.m. every Tuesday residents can come to the Police D
epartment and spend some quality time with our chief. According to the press release, Staveley - performing his second tour as interim Police Chief in Costa Mesa - is quoted as stating, "This effort should give us a chance to provide even better service to the community by getting to an understanding of their issue more quickly. We will, of course, forward issues we uncover to the appropriate agency or department when they arrive at our doorstep."

Personally, h
aving had some interaction with Chief Staveley, I think this is a terrific idea. I suspect residents will find him an approachable guy, eager to hear from them and get things done. This is a glaring contrast to former Chief Chris Shawkey's days in Costa Mesa, when he could seldom be found available, even during normal working hours. Congrats to the Chief for this approach. Residents are advised to call 714-754-5280 to be sure the Chief will be available and not on assignment in the field.

Second, I received a press release late this afternoon announcing the need for volunteers to serve on city committees, with a deadline of Monday. Applicants for any of the following committees have until 5:00 p.m. Monday to apply.

Access, Building, Fire & Housing Board of Appeal
- 5 regular member and 2 alternate member vacancies. Must live or work in Costa Mesa and have experience and/or training in building construction. Two members shall be physically handicapped persons; two shall be experienced in construction and one member from the general public. The Board meets as needed and the term of service is four years. Call Khanh Nguyen at 714-754-5322.

Cultural Arts Committee - 4 regular member vacancies. Works to promote the City slogan "Costa Mesa City of the Arts." Call Lisa McPherson at 714-754-5322

Historical Preservation Committee - 4 regular member and 1 alternate member vacancies. Serves to maintain, preserve, educate and promote the City's historical resources. Call Lisa McPherson at 714-754-5322.

Redevelopment and Residential Rehabilitation (3R) Committee - 3 alternate member vacancies. Promotes understanding of, and involvement in, the redevelopment of both housing throughout the City and commercial properties within the redevelopment area. Call Alma Penalosa at 714-754-5692

Application Process - Individuals interested in serving on any of the above committees are encouraged to request and complete a “Committee Interest Form” from the CEO’s Office or from the City’s website at The completed form may be mailed to: Costa Mesa City Council, Post Office Box 1200, Costa Mesa, California, 92628-1200; faxed to (714) 754-5330; or hand-delivered to the CEO’s Office at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa. The deadline for submission is 5:00 p.m., Monday, April 11, 2011. The City Council will make selections from applications filed in a timely manner.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Mandoki To Lawndale As City Manager

Reports are all over the news media tonight that Steve Mandoki, who resigned earlier this week as Costa Mesa's Director of Administrative Services, will soon begin a new job as City Manager in Lawndale, CA. You can read the Daily Pilot coverage HERE and a more detailed account from the Daily Breeze HERE. According to media reports, he will be confirmed at the Lawndale City Council meeting on April 18th. His last day on the job in Costa Mesa will be April 15th.

Lawndale is located in southern Los Angeles county and is bordered by Hawthorne, Redondo Beach, Torrance and Los Angeles County. It is bisected by the 405 Freeway. The 2010 Census tells us that Lawndale has just under 33,000 residents, with 61% Hispanic and 43% White. City Council members are paid about half what Costa Mesa's council members receive. The median age is 29.3 years, with nearly 50% between 25 and 54 years of age. Police and Fire protection are provided by Los Angeles County.


Mandoki's loss to Costa
Mesa is a very significant one. His departure leaves yet another department head vacancy at a time when stable, senior leadership is sorely missed. The city is currently without permanent staffers in the positions of Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, Fire Marshall, Finance Director, Assistant City Manager (CEO) and now Mandoki's slot as Director of Administrative Services.

From all reports this is a good move for Mandoki, who grew up in that part of Los Angeles county. Apparently this move has been in the works for some time and is not dire
ctly related to the fact that he, along with more than 200 other city staffers, recently received 6-month layoff notices.

We here at A Bubbling Cauldron admire Mandoki for the skills, both as a manager and technician, he brought to his six years service in our city. We wish him well. He will be missed.

I cannot close this entry without observing that I suspect this will not be the last departure of senior staffers in the near future. The current city council, led by Jim Righeimer and
Steve Mensinger, who, through their haste and thoughtless slash-and-burn management technique, have created a hostile work place - one in which the morale is the lowest in memory. In their haste to follow the Orange County Republican Party mantra and effect "pension reform" they've chosen to simply dump employees instead of inviting the employee bargaining units to the table to discuss possible adjustments to their contracts. The relationship between city management has gone from one of collaboration and cooperation to one of distrust and combat - as witnessed by the recent post on the OC GOP web site mentioned here in an earlier post. Righeimer and his handlers of the OC GOP have basically declared war on the municipal employees, to the detriment of every resident in this city. Unfortunately, by the time most residents of Costa Mesa wake up and realize what has happened, Righeimer will have moved on to the next step up the GOP ladder, leaving our city in shambles. Shame on him and his pals.

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"The People" Spoke - Did The Council Listen?

As anticipated, the City Council chambers were packed last night well in advance of the beginning of the first meeting since the debacle of March 17th and 18th. In addition to the "usual suspects" - those dedicated activists who attend most meetings - there were a lot of new faces, too. I'm sure many of those new folks attended as a result of the publicity provided here and elsewhere.

By "elsewhere" I mean the email sent by non-elected councilman Steve Mensinger yesterday afternoon beseeching folks on his list to turn out
to, "boost the spirits of those of us that want more dollars spent on infrastructure, Parks and family attractants." And, it also includes the flier sent out by Parks & Recreation Commissioner Ethan Temianka, Righeimer lap dog and "Marketing Director" of the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association, announcing a "Call to Action" and requesting recipients attend the council meeting to "speak to your elected Councilmembers and tell them to prioritize Costa Mesa Residents first in their budget discussions". That's code for "tell those greedy out-of-town employees to shove it".

By the time the meeting began very shortly after 6 p.m. every single seat in the chambers was filled and there were more than 50 people standing on the porch, viewing the television screen placed there by the city staff. As events moved along some of those porch folks made it into the chambers as people left. Order was maintained by the eight (8) Costa Mesa police officers in the auditorium - the largest such security presence long-time observers can recall.

I'm not going to try to quo
te all of the more than 50 speakers last night. The predominant thread through the comments by those opposing outsourcing was, "Rescind the pink slips". Joe Serna in the Daily Pilot, HERE, Jon Cassidy in the Orange County Register, HERE and Norberto Santana, Jr., in the Voice of OC, HERE, captured the tone of the evening with their reports. There were at least 4 television crews parked outside, so this latest low point in Costa Mesa's history will be played over and over again across the country for our friends and relatives to see.

Mayor Gary Monaha
n kicked things off with a mea culpa in which he apologized for his "shortcomings" (I'd have found another word) as mayor recently and promised to do better. Although he alluded to it, he never did mention the suicide of Huy Pham specifically - he waltzed around it, but never mentioned his name. I found myself shaking my head and thinking that he's just never going to get this right.

Then CEO Tom Hatch launched off on a report discussing what is going on in the city and the status of certain overtures recentl
y announced. I'm not going to try to quote his entire presentation. It will soon be available on streaming video. He did mention the press release issued Tuesday responding to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). He then discussed four key focuses on the City agenda:

1 - Increasing communication with employees and the community.

2 - Reviewing the proposal from the Orange County Fire Authority. He told us it will be reviewed, analyzed and brought to the council at a Study Session on May 10th.

3 - Prepare 17 other Requests for Proposals for possible outsourcing.

4 - Command staff and consultant (Management Partners) review of police operations.


He also mentioned the budget, indicating that the council wants a balanced budget with no further use of reserves. I had to chuckle when he said that would be a real challenge... no kidding! Especially when you consider that, early in this budget process cycle and based on submissions by department heads, the city is looking at a $5 million budget deficit! And, as Hatch said, that does not include things the council and community want included - like 80 alleys being reconstructed and over $3 million in Information Technology enhancements - and more. Hatch mentioned that we've blown through $35 million in reserves over the past three years.

In terms of commitments to
the council and community he mentioned, specifically, that the RFP process for any outsourcing will be professionally managed and data will be made available to the public. He also discussed "projections", speaking specifically about financial projections and used PERS rates as an example.


He mentioned video taping managers for public viewing to explain things like budgeting and the need for enhancing the IT function to provide more transparency to the community. He mentioned the use of an expert to come in and explain underfunded liabilities. He also committed to having more communication and transparency.

At that point Monahan launched Public Comments and off we went, with more than 50 - my count was 52 - speakers lining up to let the council know how they felt. Clearly, the most vocal support came for those who opposed the outsourcing. I counted 38 of the 52 speakers in opposition to outsourcing. Costa Mesa Employees Association Presid
ent Helen Nenadal led it off with an passionate "thank you" to the community for its support of the employees over the past three difficult weeks. She received rousing applause when she finished.

She was followed immediately by unemployed Planning Commissioner and Mensinger boot-licker, Jim Fitzpatrick, who offered up such an affectionate, slobbery proclamation of support for the council that I half-expected him to leap the barrier and give Monahan a big, wet kiss when he praised him for his apology. I thought I saw him wipe something brown off his nose as he headed back to his seat with faint applause. Things went up hill from there - how could it not?


Susan Meyer, a College Park resident for 18 years, shredded Monahan, told him he was an embarrassment and, since he has so much experience firing people, asked him to fire himself.

Joel Flores stood, turned to the audienc
e and said, " This is what happens when we elect certain people to City Council who care more about climbing the political ladder than they do about our city." Later he said, "These attacks on city workers are political, self-serving examples of shameless opportunism." A little later he said, motioning to the City Council, "This is irresponsible leadership that lacks creativity whatsoever to solve the problems. You have cooked the books, cried poor and then pretended that this is something you have to do. We demand that you rescind the layoffs. We demand that you restore Costa Mesa." As he walked up the aisle and pushed open the door to leave the auditorium you could hear the cheers from the throng assembled on the porch outside.

Perry Valantine, a 3
9 year resident and retired 32 year employee, stepped up once again and presented his calm, reasoned view of the issue. He presented the council with irrefutable facts, pointing out misstatements by members of the council in the media. He ended his presentation with a question: "Based on the evidence, is balancing the budget the real objective, or is there a political motivation that takes precedence over best interests of the City of Costa Mesa?" Seemed like a very good question to me.


Several speakers refuted the claim that outsourcing is more cost effective, including 12-year resident Michele Martell, who t
old us she does outsourcing for a living. Based on her experience, she just didn't believe the numbers she'd been hearing about the projected savings by outsourcing. She ended by saying, "It just concerns me that this city council is selling us a bill of goods and expecting us to be uneducated and uninformed or so complacent that we will believe this bill of goods you're trying to sell us. But when you leave for bigger GOP jobs we're stuck with the decisions you've made for us, because none of us want to move."


Resident and activist Greg R
idge started by bemoaning the "leadership vacuum and lack of leadership that has brought us here." He said, "We're told that the brand of Costa Mesa is all-important. And yet, I've seen the brand of Costa Mesa broke and splashed across 500 national news outlets." He later told the council that, "You do not produce a product, you provide a service and these services are more important to the shareholders than anything." He ended by telling the council that they've ruined the brand of Costa Mesa.

Former Fountain Valley councilm
an Gus Ayer presented facts to the council that refuted the claims that our pension numbers are going up, and gave chapter and verse to support his view. Of course, rising pension costs are the cornerstone of their whole scheme.

It went on and on
, with speaker after speaker rising to express their views. Almost all of them were polite, considerate, articulate spokespersons for their opinion - on both sides of the issue.

When it came time for counc
il members comments Righeimer led off and tried to explain why outsourcing was in play - not very effectively, by the way. He frequently has problems getting his thoughts out coherently - last night was one of those times. At one point, as he began to explain "contracts", he said, "If you look at basic contracts, I'll tell ya, you look at the contracts and you've got some great negotiators on your side, I've gotta tell ya, you've got the best. And you did a great job. The problem is, we're just having a hard time paying them." When I heard those words I couldn't help think of his own, personal financial difficulties in the past. He's told us repeatedly that he never filed for bankruptcy - that it took him nine years but he paid off all his debts. I can hear those very words coming out of his mouth back then - "...the problem is, we're just having a hard time paying them." He just walked away from those contractual obligations back then and excused it by taking nearly a decade to pay off the debt. I still wonder what happened to those "little guys" that he stiffed all those years ago.


As he attempted to show the audi
ence how greedy the employees are, he went on to muddle his explanation of sick days and vacation, eventually combining them and calling them "vacation". I'm not sure he really understands this stuff. And, oh by the way, one of the guys who could help him understand this stuff, Director of Administrative Services Steve Mandoki, resigned yesterday. We don't know why, but can certainly assume having been given a pink slip three weeks ago might have had something to do with it. That, and the hostile workplace that's been created at City Hall by this current council.

The "best" was yet to come when the microphone was passed to Eric Bever - who must have been sick recently because he looked like he's lost 20 pounds. He stated off by telling us how depressed he was last October during the negotiations that he just walked away from the table. Yeah, Eric - we remember. You abandoned your responsibilities to the residents of the city because you were peeved. Bever, ever the class act, was bemoaning our fiscal condition, said that he wanted to keep everyone employed and that he said that as "far back as 2008 - November, when we realized that the shit was hitting the fan." I apologize for that word, but that's what he said from the dais. Ever the class act...


Later he pointedly aimed a negative comment directly at Wendy Leece's daughter, Amy, who he referred to as "Wendy Leece Junior". When members of the audience chided him he went off on a little pity trip, saying among other things, "I didn't sign on for this." He said, "I wish that the community members, instead of being snide and vindictive and hateful, would actually try to pitch in and help out." Oh, woe is me! Here's the deal, Eric. You did, in fact, "sign on for this"... it's part of the job. Either stop whining and cursing from the dais and do the job you were elected to do - and are being paid to do - or step down. It's a simple choice, even for you. Many of us out here are getting VERY tired of your petulance. Grow up, for goodness sake!

People asked me last night if I thought the large, vocal turnout would change anything. Sadly, I said NO.... this council has demonstrated ever since it was seated in January that it has no plan to listen to public input on any issue. No, I think they will just proceed as they are doing now, bending or breaking the rules when it's not convenient to follow them and ignoring the voice of the people and what is best for the city. I expect that the political dogma preached by the Orange County Republican Party will continue to drive the agenda in Costa Mesa, to the detriment of us all.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Steve Mandoki Resigns!

This morning Costa Mesa Administrative Services Director Steve Mandoki tendered his resignation to City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch. Hatch confirmed the resignation to me a few minutes ago.

LAST DAY ON 4/15/11
According to the email Mandoki sent to city staff today, his last day on the job will be April 15, 2011 and ends his nearly six and half year tenure with The City. No mention has been made about his plans for the future and he is presently away from the office the remainder of this week, returning next Monday.

In my view, this is a painful loss for The City, particularly at this time. Steve Mandoki is a good man, good at his job and will certainly be missed. Since he was among those receiving 6-month layoff notices two weeks ago, we must assume that Hatch will likely not be in a hurry to replace him, either. We here at A Bubbling Cauldron thank Steve Mandoki for his exemplary service to The City and wish him well.

Because of the hostile work environment that currently exists at City Hall - created by the ham-handed way the current council majority is handling things - I doubt this will be the last senior staffer to bail out. This is just the most recent bad news for our city.

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Tonight's Council Meeting Could Get Rowdy

Today, Tuesday, is going to be a very interesting day for the residents of Costa Mesa. This is the day when the first real City Council meeting since the disastrous events of March 17th and 18th will take place. This is the first time the residents will have a chance to stand and address the members of the City Council on the subject of outsourcing since nearly half the city staff received 6-month layoff notices and young Huy Pham leaped to his death from the City Hall roof. Maybe someone will ask Steve Mensinger what a "Report for Proposals" is. We all know he meant to write "Request for Proposals" in his commentary in the Daily Pilot last week. But, then, close is good enough for these guys...

This will be the first time for folks to address Mayor Gary Monahan following his despicable behavior on St. Patrick's Day, when he chose personal profit over his responsibilities as the mayor of our city. It is also the first time residents and employees will have a chance to let Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer know how they feel about his face being all over the media since the middle of last month, misrepresenting the facts of our financial condition so he can implement his marching orders sent down from "God" - Scott Baugh - and the rest of the Orange County Republican Party honchos.

While we're speaking about Righeimer, just in case you've missed it, this image is from the OC GOP web site. Any doubt you might have had about their attitude about Costa Mesa and our employees should be gone when you read that banner. It's clear that they, and Righeimer, consider themselves at war with the Costa Mesa employees and are pulling all the stops to win that war.


If you go to the web site, HERE, and see that banner you can click on the little red box and see a video clip. I've embedded it here to save you the trouble:

This is 3 minutes of Righeimer at the recent fundraiser/launch party for Colin McCarthy's Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association, held at Monahan's bar a couple weeks ago. As you watch that video you'll hear and see Righeimer portray members of the Costa Mesa Police department as monsters, recounting something his 6-year-old daughter said to him apparently after seeing his photo on the ad trailer the CMPD was towing around town - the one with the circle/slash over it. He tells the room of supporters that she said, "Daddy, are they going to come into my room tonight?" It's as though we're right back in the fall last year!

Then you will hear him tell the crowd, "Let's keep the rhetoric down.", but goes on to fan the flames of discontent. While talking about those nasty pensions and the employees who have them he says, "We'd all have taken the deal, let's be honest." And yet he's going after the employees as though they were some kind of thieves in the night, trying to raid the municipal coffers. Yeah, Jim... let's keep the rhetoric down, by all means.

It's going to
be the same old fabrications from him and his pals. They are making up numbers that support their plan to get rid of the pensions - by getting rid of the people who will draw them.

ortunately, today Joe Serna in the Daily Pilot finally shines some light on this issue. In his piece HERE, titled, "Finance officials: High pension estimates are subjective" he opens by telling us that the pension cost estimates Righeimer and his buddies "are using to rationalize their dramatic restructuring and layoffs efforts hinge almost entirely on a single, negotiable premise." That's right... the numbers are bogus.


Serna goes on to quote Budget and Research Officer Bobby Young, referring to his 5-year projections provided to the council earlier, as stating, "It's an assumption. It's subjective, because if employees are requested to, if they come to the ta
ble, it would reduce future costs." Unfortunately, the numbers the council demanded of Young could only be achieved by making assumptions - very conservative assumptions - that the employees WOULD NOT come to the table and negotiate a continuation of what they are currently paying. That is a false premise...

And, the most interesting part of this scenario is that nobody has asked the employee bargaining units if they are willing to sit down and talk about this issue. Nope, the numbers demanded by the council and presented by Young play right into their plans, so they're not about to negotiate with the employees - they're just going to dump them all eventually.

At the close of the meeting tonight there is a closed session scheduled and one ite
m on the agenda for that section of the meeting is a discussion with CEO Tom Hatch and Administrative Services Director Steve Mandoki (who received HIS 6-month layoff notice two weeks ago, too) about the employee bargaining units.

Rumor has it that the
meeting tonight - theoretically a short one based only on the published agenda - is going to be playing to an overflow house, including a very strong police presence to maintain order. I fully expect dozens, if not more, residents and employees stand to ask questions of, and make comments to, the council. It will be interesting to see if Righeimer simply dismisses them with a wave of his hand as he did a couple meetings ago as, "just employees". We'll see...

If you attend the council meeting tonight please keep it civil. I won't be surprised if t
here is very little tolerance for rowdy behavior this time around. That almost guarantees that former mayor Sandra Genis will get tossed from the meeting - she just can't stop chatting. If you're going to ask questions or make comments, don't be rude, crude or insulting to the council. While they certainly deserve it, bad behavior will only get you tossed from the meeting and your chance to express yourself will be lost. I remind you that Allan Mansoor had Benito Acosta dragged bodily from the council chambers and arrested a few years ago.


Almost forgot... I've asked Tom Hatch and City Attorney Tom Duarte to look into the probability that the City Council Working Groups are, in fact, "legislative bodies" as defined by Section 54952 (b) of the Brown Act. If so, the way the meetings are being conducted violate the act. You can look it up if you wish. I've provided a link to the text of the Brown Act over on the right side of the page. As of the close of business Monday there had been no response, but I think I'll hear later today.

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

"Outsourcing" Polarizes Community

As mentioned previously, the hit counter at the Daily Pilot has been spinning like a top at record pace recently. The motivator is "outsourcing" and all the ugly tentacles that subject seems to have sprouted.

Since the new City Council was seated in January "outsourcing" ha
s become yet another irritating buzz word thrown around by the new power elite in our city, along with equally irritating "new normal" and "kick the can down the road".

But, more than a simple buzz word, the philosophy of outsourcing - replacing municipal jobs with theoretically less costly private contractors - has been the meat cleaver wielded by Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger that has divided this city almost exactly in half. This festering wound came to a head on St. Patrick's Day, Thursday, March 17th, when the first round of more than two hundred 6-month layoff notices were handed out to employees all over the city and maintenance worker Huy Pham leaped off the roof of City Hall. That act turned what was probably one of the darkest days in the city's history into one that guaranteed that status and received unwanted national notoriety.

Since then there has been much rhetoric on
both sides of the issue, with St. Patrick's Day AWOL Mayor Gary Monahan attempting damage control for his unwillingness to leave his gin mill on "the biggest day of my life" to do his job as mayor. Mayor Pro Tem Righeimer's bloated face seems to have been everywhere on local and national media, bleating his misinformation about the fiscal condition of our city to drum up support for the Orange County Republican Party's plan to make Costa Mesa the tip of the lance in their effort to effect state-wide pension reform. Righeimer is using this issue to garner national recognition for what some feel is a possible run for his buddy, Dana Rohrabacher's congressional seat in the near future.

As I mentioned before, last week Mensinger and I, unbeknown to each other, both submitted our views in commentaries to the Daily Pilot, which cleverly chose to run them Wednesday and Thursday, HERE and HERE, and paired them up in the online editions. The hit counters began spinning with those two.

On Wednesday Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis wrote a column titled "Let's talk about Costa Mesa's future", HERE, which hyped the up-coming Feet To The Fire forum hosted by the Orange County Register's Barbara Venezia on April 18th also began tallying up hits and cranking out comments.

On Friday, April 1st, Eastside resident, land planner and really smart fella Jeff Harlan had published his commentary which eventually carried the title, "Long-term growth, value of city is important", HERE, which gave us a less emotional, more thoughtful view of this situation.

Then, on Sa
turday afternoon Joe Serna wrote an article in the Daily Pilot about a poll recently conducted by Tulchin Research, titled, "Poll: Most voters don't want Costa Mesa to outsource", HERE, in which nearly 60% of the polled residents opposed the outsourcing scheme and the dam seemed to break. Before it could make print this morning the hit counter was burning up and, as I type this Sunday afternoon, there are over 180 comments posted on it. The "conclusion" of the poll, a copy of which is in my hands, states the following:

"In conclusion, this poll clearly demonstrates that Costa Mesa voters are solidly opposed to the City Council's approach to balancing the budget and object strongly to the proposed lay-offs of nearly half the city workforce and to outsourcing most city services. This opposition transcends ideological lines and should serve as guidance to the city's elected officials that their actions defy the will of Costa Mesa voters."

In a separate, non-scientific poll, the Daily Pilot asked readers to respond to a question relevant to the outsourcing
issue. Here are the results:As you can clearly see, the responses indicate a community split right down the middle.

While all t
his is going on, around town there have been small knots of residents trying to meet and form groups to present opposing views of our current "financial crisis" that the current council majority is attempting to use as a wedge to bust the unions that carry the "unsustainable" pensions and salaries.


One of these groups included former mayor Sandra Genis and Westside activist Greg Ridge. Based on reports from those who attended, their first meeting resulted in very little in the way of goal-setting and officer-electing. They were unable to identify a name for the group, but planned to meet later to continue to plan.

However, an impatient Ridge put the pedal to the metal and took off on his own without consultation with his associates. He apparently created a name on his own - REPAIR COSTA MESA - set up a web site and, apparently with the help of the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) and it's president, Nick Beradino, was complicit in the creation and distribution of the now-infamous ad, HERE, denouncing Monahan for his shameful acts on St. Patrick's Day and then at the bogus press conference the next day. This poured gasoline on an already out-of-control situation and generated a huge backlash within the community and nationally, too.

At a subsequent meeting of the group-that-isn't-a-group Ridge took full responsibility for that act, but shrugged it off as inconsequential. It was dur
ing that meeting that copies of the poll mentioned in Serna's article, above, were distributed. Serna tells us that the poll was funded by the OCEA, but in the last sentence of the poll document itself it clearly states that it was paid for "by Repair Costa Mesa, a non-partisan coalition of community members, city workers and business leaders united to repair Costa Mesa." The problem here is no such organization exists! That was the name Ridge pulled out of thin air when "the ad" was distributed.

All the while, Planning Commission Chairman and Righeimer/Mensinger sycophant, Colin McCarthy is the front man for a group called Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association, which professes to be "grassroots, non-partisan taxpayer advocacy group" and yet their mantra is straight from the OC GOP playbook. As is the case with Righeimer and Mensinger, this group's leadership already has it's mind made up, is using the same fabricated numbers that the council majority is attempting to sell the public and apparently made it clear to the assembled group at the first meeting at Monahan's pub that divergent views would be unwelcome.


An amusing sidebar of tha
t event was the red-meat rant by my new Eastside neighbor, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, attempting to whip the crowd into a frenzy with an anti-Barack Obama screed that seemed completely inappropriate to the event. I've seen the video clip of his "speech" and, as a lifelong Republican, can only say that I was completely embarrassed by it.

On Tuesday, April 5th, the Costa M
esa City Council will have its first "official" council meeting since the St. Patrick's Day debacle and the bogus press conference. I say "official" because I don't know how many unofficial meetings they've had since that time. We do know that a quorum was present at the above-mentioned Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association meeting, so it's likely that a Brown Act violation occurred that evening. The agenda is thin for Tuesday's meeting, but we do look forward to the reports from the 2-member sub-committees - "working groups" - to find out just what decisions have already been made without the inconvenient need to include public input. And, there is always the much-anticipated "council member comments", which usually give us huge clues to just how this group plans to further violate our rights and disassemble our city in the name of "pension reform". I wouldn't be surprised if there is a pretty good crowd at Tuesday's meeting. I wouldn't be surprised if a few members of the public rise to ask about all the consultants that have been hired in the past couple weeks - to see how the council justifies those very significant expenses, yet move forward at warp speed to dump more than 200 employees - and that's just the beginning. I also wouldn't be surprised if members of the public ask the council about their reported plan to add an additional $15 million to an already-projected $5 million deficit for the next budget and yet move forward with their plans to flush employees down the sewer. I wouldn't be surprised at all...

There have been many interesting questions asked on this blog and on others. One
of those is, "With all the angst this council has about out-of-control pension and benefits costs - and with all the disclosures of employee pay packages by Righeimer and his buddies - why has the council not stepped up to offer concessions on their compensation packages?" Of course, it's quite possible that they have no clue as to precisely what their packages include. We did see Righeimer tell a television interviewer, when asked what the Mayor Pro Tem of Costa Mesa makes, say "...around $760 a month and I've got a 401K". Well, Mr. Righeimer, you were only off a little. Council members earn $904.40 per month and DO NOT have a 401K - they participate in the same CalPERS program other employees have. We know, in the game of horseshoes you call your life, close is good enough.

We're also eag
er to hear how Righeimer and Mensinger - who both rode divisions of SunCal Corporation straight into bankruptcy - plan to apply those management skills in Costa Mesa. We already know, because he's told us several times during his campaign, that Righeimer never filed for personal bankruptcy - that he took 9 years, but paid off all his debts. What he didn't tell us was what happened to all those vendors he stiffed, and whether they somehow avoided their own bankruptcies while waiting for nearly a decade for him to pay his debts. Nope, we don't hear about that.

And we don't hear much from our non-elected council member, Mr. Mensinger, about his own l
ittle jousts with the legal process. He's not talking about his abuse of authority documented by the Los Angeles Times in 2006 when he flashed his "Mike Carona" bogus badge and threatened to have a airline employee fired. And we don't hear about the lawsuit filed against him while a honcho at Arnel. We don't hear about that stuff because he managed to sweet-talk Katrina Foley into abandoning her seat for the school board run so he could avoid all the inconvenience of an election and simply be appointed to her empty seat by his pal, Righeimer, and his cronies. Nope, we don't hear about that stuff.

Maybe we'll hear about som
e of that stuff, including the whereabouts of Eric Bever during the past few weeks, at Tuesday's council meeting. Or, maybe not...

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