Saturday, December 31, 2011

DP 103 And A Year-End Chuckle

Well, the much anticipated DP 103, the Daily Pilot's annual roster of folks and things the editors feel have been influential in the Newport-Mesa communities has been published. Those of you who subscribe to the Los Angeles Times and, as a result, also receive the Daily Pilot should find that segment in your morning newspaper. For those who do not, you can read the list online HERE. (Photo courtesy of the Daily Pilot)

I'm sure you'll have some fun with some of the names on the list, probably beginning with the very first two - Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and Orange County Employee Association General Manager Nick Berardino.
I'm also sure, if you think about it, you'll have to agree that both men should be high on this year's list.


As you scrol
l down the roster you'll see many familiar names and will probably nod in agreement with most of them. Of course, there will be a few to which you will think, "What?! Why's that guy on the list?", or words to that effect. Such is the life in a world of lists. Regardless, congratulations to all those on this year's DP 103 list. Each person listed has, indeed, been influential in our communities.

And, yes, I'm on the list again this year at Number 43 - up a couple notches from last year. I'm always grateful th
at some folks think my meager efforts here are worth this kind of recognition - but that's not why I write this blog. I must admit, though, some satisfaction that I'm not listed below a dead swan this year, as was the case a couple years ago.

Before I close this entry - the final one of a very tumultuous year - I must leave you with a smile. A friend pointed out to me that one of the Warrants on the Consent Calendar for next Tuesday's City Council meeting - #2400, which can be read HERE - contains an amusing entry. On page 4 it shows a charge to Amtech Elevator Services for $335 for the retrieval of Steve Mensinger's cell phone. Now, that is FUNNY! Our non-elected councilman has generated plenty of controversy with that cell phone this year, sending and receiving text messages and emails while conducting business on the dais, so it seems somehow appropriate that he managed to lose the thing in an elevator shaft in City Hall! Perhaps the city should impose a rule, much like the State's rule against texting and driving, against using a cell phone in a city elevator.

Once again, a tip of my hat to each of you who visit this site. I do appreciate your interest and I always appreciate the comments some of you choose to leave - even the ones that are nasty and mean-spirited. I'd much prefer you to make comments that actually add to the discussion, but I know that's beyond a reasonable expectation for some of you. I'm especially grateful to those of you who DO attempt to enhance the discussion - that's why I publish these posts, after all - to provoke debate of what I feel are important issues.


Number 43 signing off until next year. My very sweet and patient wife and I celebrate the 45th anniversary of our first date today and we both wish you a very...

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year Fast Break

For the residents of the City of Costa Mesa the new year will break fast out of the gate. Before the year is two weeks old residents will have at least four very important meetings to consider. Here's a rundown on each.

On Tuesday, January 3, 2012 the City Council will hold its first meeting of the new year. It will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers and will be preceded by a closed session an hour earlier. Although the posted agenda might lead you to think this will be a relatively short meeting, we've learned that one should be prepared for anything.

For example, in the Consent Calendar which might simply be passed with one vote without comments, there are some items that might provoke a council member or resident to pull them for separate discussion and vote.

Two of the three warrants hold some interesting information. #2400, HERE, lists a payment to Jones & Mayer in the amount of $113, 336.85. On the next warrant, #2401, HERE, there are two entries for legal fees. The first is to Hanson Bridgett, LLP for $20,190.17 and another to Jones Day for $133, 782.21. Those numbers total $267,309.23! If you multiply that number by 12 you get $3,207,710.70! Since this "fiscally conservative" council approved a budget for legal fees of $800,000, you can see that their actions have forced the city to exceed those projections by four times!

The council may also consider increasing towing fees, HERE and for community garden space rental, HERE.

Later they will discuss Athletic Field Allocation, HERE.


The last item in the Consent Calendar is the new Request of Proposals for CMCEA President Helen Nenadal's Facility Maintenance operations. This RFP has been delayed from previous meetings and will likely generate discussions by council members, the public and city workers, too. You can read it HERE.

Two items that will probably produce some discussion late in the meeting. The first, the creation of a brand new position in city government - Economic Development Director - is consistent with previously announced plans by this council. Based on an analysis of the staff report, HERE, it is easy to assume that former Director of Public Services and current Interim Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Peter Naghavi, has the inside track for this slot. The staff report includes a clue when it talks about how this job will be funded - by NOT filling the City Engineer position previously occupied by Ernesto Munoz - currently filling Naghavi's old slot as Interim Public Services Director. Personally, if Naghavi does get this job I think it's great news for the City. He's a man who has served Costa Mesa honorably for more than a quarter century and has shown that he can get the job done. I hope the council approves the creation of this position and then immediately fills it with Naghavi.

The other issue is the discussion of new financial policies for the city. This one is a doozy! You can read the staff report HERE. If passed as written, this council will require tens of thousands of dollars to be earmarked as savings and and require specific percentages of the budget be earmarked specifically for capital improvements. Unless this council finds HUGE new income sources, the only way they can meet the goals stated in this staff report is to cut staff - that's where the money is.

On Wednesday, January 4, 2012 there will be an informational meeting to discuss Jim Righeimer's scheme to turn Costa Mesa into a Charter City. This meeting will be held at 7:00 at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue - at Lions Park. City staff will present an overview of the draft Charter that Righeimer created and will take questions from the audience and accept suggestions for modifications to the Charter.

This scheme will fundamentally change city government forever, but it's not getting nearly enough publicity. Although Righeimer promised between 8 and 10 public meetings on this subject, it appears that timing will permit only THIS meeting before the council finally votes on whether to place the issue on the June ballot. There are other public hearings scheduled, but this is the only informal meeting on the agenda now.

Then, on Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 7:00 at Eaders Elementary School in Huntington Beach, Supervisor John Moorlach will hold a public meeting on the 19th Street Bridge. It's unclear why this long dead issue has been resurrected at this particular time. Cynics - like me, for example - suspect it may be part of the smoke screen to distract Costa Mesa residents from the Charter issue. Regardless, the issue of a bridge over the Santa Ana River at 19th Street - officially opposed by the City of Costa Mesa for decades - will be discussed and concerned residents are encouraged to attend to hear what Moorlach has up his sleeve. I provided you with a map of the location in an earlier post.

Finally, on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 the Costa Mesa City Council will hold a Special Meeting in Council Chambers at 6:00 to discuss the Charter proposal. At this point no agenda for that meeting has been distributed. It is a mandatory meeting, required by the schedule to get this issue on the June ballot. The City is in a full court press on this issue, with additions to the City web site to facilitate public input on this subject and to provide lots of background information. Go to the web site and follow the links.

It's going to be a VERY busy year if the first couple weeks are any indication. In anticipation of that pace, we here at A Bubbling Cauldron wish all of you a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR. It's going to take a lot of effort by a lot of people to stop the current City Council. Like a runaway train, they seem determined to just keep throwing coal into the boiler until it explodes or derails.

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