Thursday, January 05, 2012

Apathy Equals Surrender

If the turnout at the informational meeting on the proposed City Charter at the Neighborhood Community Center last night is any indication, Jim Righeimer's plot to takeover the city is a slam dunk. Wednesday night fewer than 100 residents showed up to gather information on this scheme and to leave comments. The City staff members counted 90 heads that were not staffers or invited experts. So, depending on what you think our population is - I use the official census number of 109,500 - only 8/1000th of 1% cared enough to show up. And, many of those were folks who had already been engaged in this issue through attendance at council meetings. As I gazed around the room I saw fewer than 50 unfamiliar faces. I find it curious that there is such a low turnout on an issue so important to every resident of the city - the second most important issue since the city was formed more than a half-century ago.WAKE UP, OR ELSE...
So, dear neighbors, it looks like you are going to get this Charter jammed down your throats if you don't wake up pretty soon. I say that, knowing full well that virtually everyone reading this on my blog has already formed an opinion on the issue, one way or another.

(Bill Lobdell, Tom Gazsi, Mark Manley,
Jason Chamness and Sue Lester)

The City Staff was prepared with handouts - including a copy of the Charter Righeimer drafted by himself, a timetable of events and comparisons of Charter vs. Non-charter cities provided by the League of California Cities - and "booths" where attendees could hear from a variety of "experts" on important segments of this issue. There were plenty of lawyers - Contract City Attorney, Tom Duarte, who addressed issues specific to the Draft Charter; Contract Deputy City Attorney Robert Khuu from Jones and Mayer, a Charter expert and Michael Houston, an attorney from the Association of California Cities, Orange County and also a Charter expert. City Clerk Julie Folcik also had a "booth" at which she answered questions dealing with the timing of the election and costs. Following his opening remarks City CEO Tom Hatch also stationed himself at a "booth" to answer general questions.

(Julie Folcik answers questions for Daily Pilot reporter Joseph Serna)


Information, including a button that takes you to the form with which you can easily submit questions and suggestions, are on the City web site.

(Resident Katie Arthur learns of Peter Naghavi's promotion)

Hatch kicked the meeting off with a very brief overview of the issue, then tried for all he was worth to NOT answer questions from the crowd, preferring the attendees seek out the "experts" for answers. He was cornered into answering one nagging question, though. When MUST additions to the Charter be submitted to be considered? This is a question that was vague at Tuesday's council meeting, too. Finally, when cornered, he told us that they, the staff, preferred that all the suggestions for additions and/or deletions to the Charter be submitted BEFORE the next meeting on this subject - the first mandatory Public Hearing at a Special Council meeting on Tuesday, January 10th at 7:00 p.m. When pressed further he acknowledged that more suggestions could be submitted before the second mandatory official public hearing at another Special Meeting on Tuesday, February 14th. The final vote by the City Council on whether to place the Charter on the June Ballot - and specifically what that Charter will look like - will take place at the meeting of March 6th. So, basically, if you want to provide input into this process - runaway train barreling down the tracks - you'd better get cracking!

(Lobdell sets Serna straight while Tom Duarte referees)

Earlier I had written to Hatch and Duarte about the possible impact of Senate Bill 202, which went into effect January 1, 2012, on the timing of the Charter placement on a ballot. It was unclear whether SB 202, which requires initiatives to be placed ONLY on the General Election ballot, applied to this issue. According to Duarte and, second hand, from Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelly, local issues are NOT subject to that restriction, so this train can continue at break-neck speed toward the June, 2012 ballot.

(Soon-to-be Assistant CEO Rick Francis and Jason Chamness)

There were plenty of officials at the meeting. Apologies to those I missed, but I did see
Wendy Leece and Steve Mensinger from the City Council and Jim Fitzpatrick and Rob Dickson from the Planning Commission. Former Planning Commissioner and City Council candidate and current Mesa Consolidated Water District Director Jim Fisler showed up. Among the City Staff present, in addition to those mentioned above, were new Economic/Community Improvement Director/Deputy CEO Peter Naghavi, Interim Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz, Police Chief Tom Gazsi, Costa Mesa Police Officer's Association President Jason Chamness, Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell, Interim Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce and soon-to-be Assistant CEO Rick Francis.

(Lobdell with friend and mentor, former Daily Pilot Columnist Joe Bell)

Hatch's presentation plus other vignettes of activities last night were taped by Brad Long of CMTV and will be placed in the CMTV rotation for viewing on Channel 24 (Time Warner Cable) and Channel 99 (ATT u-verse), plus will be available for viewing on streaming video, too. I'll let you know the play schedule when it's available.

(Staffers Christine Cordon and Chris Goldsworthy)

I'll leave you with this message. If you and I and other residents don't do our parts
to present alternatives to the present Charter being proposed by the City - a document created by one man to suit his own personal political ambitions - then we have decided to give over control of our lives and those of our neighbors to a carpet-bagging political opportunist with no long-term ties to our city. It's up to us...

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Anonymous Pathetic said...

Perhaps, just perhaps the citizens of Costa Mesa just dont give a rats hind end about the charter issue.

If Costa Mesans choose not to participate and allow the lunatic few rule, we deserve what we get.

ps....I think MM has a man-crush on you! How cute!
He has lots of pics in his collection and even shared his favorites on your blog.

1/05/2012 05:11:00 AM  
Blogger Angry White Man said...

The charter vote is coming, no charter commission, no citizen input and no thoughts from the council about what the citizens need or want (refer back to Bevers if you don't like it tough luck comment).
This is going to get shoved down our throats and all we can do is vote NO in June.

1/05/2012 06:00:00 AM  
Blogger CMResidents said...

This was sent to me by a NB resident who is watching the CM debacle unfold....."By far the worst thing about the proposed charter is that, if adopted, the people of Costa Mesa will be giving their Council essentially unlimited power over the conduct of municipal affairs with virtually no restraints written into their charter. This is extremely dangerous because California case law has, since 1914, held that when a general grant of power is made (as in this proposal), NO limitation can be enforced unless it is explicitly enumerated in the charter. That is why most city charters are either much longer and more carefully thought out, or else assume the "home rule" option in only a few limited areas of activity".....Personally, I thought the informational meeting put on by the city went really well. Hardly anyone showed up to participate , but the ones that did .....didn't seem too impressed with why we are doing this scheme. I think we need to wait and see what happens at the first public meeting where people are allowed to actually comment. Jan 10th will be different.

1/05/2012 06:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Bob Dylan said...

I hate to say this but.... It's why Costa Mesa was targeted as "ground zero", it's why Righeimer was able to get in the door and give a position to a supporter, and it's why their agenda is going to happen and the few trying to stop it are going to be as successful as the PD was in keeping the appointed one out.
The vast population here doesn't give a damn, there are just enough stupid sheep to buy into demonizing the employees and too few with a long term/big picture brains to do anything about it.
It's a hard rain gonna fall.

1/05/2012 09:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

While I agree a large turnout is preferable, I don't think it necessarily equals a win for Righeimer. First, it is entirely possible folks have already made up their minds on this issue one way or the other and attending would not have swayed them. Second, I think it is fair to say anyone who has been paying even minor attention to CM council meetings this past year knows the unfab four has no interest in listening to the citizens on issues. This unwise charter is going to a vote in June, rather than the more appropriate and better way of a citizen charter committee, and no number of persons showing interest at an information meeting will change that. So, maybe folks are simply ready to vote on it one way or the other (hopefully against!).

1/05/2012 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

I agree with others here, don't get down Pot Stirrer !! Just because they set up a dog and pony show full of lies, doesn't mean we have to attend. I just don't feel like wasting my time being lied to, and then not even listened to as a member of the community. The best we can hope for is get out word to stop this thing, and maybe get more of the youth involved. There were lots of young people out when the pink slips hit, maybe they can be roused for voting in June.

Riggie has a huge credibility gap. He could offer me a free puppy and a bottle of 18 year old scotch and I would still refuse. I don't trust him at all. It's not the charter I dislike, it's the person offering it up. He can lie and say it's the best for the city, but his actions are saying dismantle the employee associations. You can only lie so much, before your actions give you away.

Let's see what the next meeting offers up, where we can actually get a say.

Curious Pot Stirrer, what was your take on the opinions of the city people involved, the operations folks, were they ok with it ?

1/05/2012 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous RickandJenn said...

Still waiting to hear the criticism of the Charter. I've heard the criticism of the process but what about the document?

I've read it. I will be voting for it. I do think the process could be better, but in the end, letting Costa Mesa control itself versus Sacramento is a no-brainer. This Council won't be here forever.

1/05/2012 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous RichyD said...

Does Hatch's statement that questions must be submitted before the next meeting, mean that questions that arise from the audience in attendance at that next meeting will not be addressed? Is this meeting supposed to be a public forum???

1/05/2012 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

None of the city staffers offered an opinion one way or the other that I heard last night. I DID hear lots of negative comments from non-staff attendees.

1/05/2012 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

You're at the nut of the problem. The final word that I heard, along with four other people, was that comments, additions and other suggestions would be considered if submitted by February 14th, but that they MUCH preferred to have those suggestions BEFORE next Tuesday's Public Hearing. The clock is ticking for them because of the requirement by Righeimer that it make the June Ballot.

1/05/2012 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

Rickandjenn - I think cmresidents laid out why this is a bad idea, for this council and future councils, regardless of political affiliation. Just curious, why do you think Sacremento is the problem? I don't mind state governments, but any higher and I think you really lose citizen input.

1/05/2012 06:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Not a bad charter said...

I don't see what all the histrionics are about - except reflexive opposition to anything this Council does. The catch-all provision below preserves all existing Costa Mesa ordinances, resolutions, regulations, etc.

Section 101 excerpt:

All lawful ordinances, resolutions, rules and regulations, or portions thereof, in force at the time this Charter takes effect and not in conflict with or inconsistent herewith, are hereby continued in force until the same have been duly repealed, amended, changed or superseded by proper authority.

Another section prohibits council interference in the adminsitrative functions of the City:

Section 205. Interference With Performance of Duties of City Manager

No member of the City Council shall in any manner attempt to influence or coerce the City Manager in the making of any appointment or the purchase of supplies in accordance with the Charter, City ordinance, or applicable state and federal law.

Except for such direction that it provides to the City Attorney, the City Council shall deal with the administrative functions of the City through the City Manager. The City Council shall only have direct contact with the directors of the City’s departments for the purpose of asking questions.

1/06/2012 10:47:00 AM  

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