Sunday, January 01, 2012

Are You Ready?

Happy New Year to you all. Now it's time to take a big breath and get ready for 2012 because, as I've mentioned before, this year's going to be another doozy!

Kudos to our friends at the Daily Pilot for beginning the year (or ending it, depending on when you read these articles) by publishing in print this morning (online last night) two very provocative commentaries. These pearls of wisdom took up an entire page for what was a great start to the new year.

On the top of the page was non-elected councilman and self-anointed godfather of youth football in our city, Steve Mensinger's epistle titled, "Costa Mesa made many changes for the good", HERE, followed by activist Greg Ridge's contribution to community enlightenment, "Council majority wants to pull wool over our eyes", HERE. In my opinion, it was an excellent journalistic decision to place these to pieces in close proximity to each other.

Mensinger begins by vilifying what he calls "out of town union leaders" - I
guess he means folks like Helen Nenadal, president of the Costa Mesa City Employee Association, Tim Vasin, president of the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association and Jason Chamness, president of the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association - for spending "hundreds of thousands of dollars in propaganda". That is a crock - and typical of Mensinger and his ilk. He and the other members of the OC GOP-sponsored blitzkrieg who have attempted to takeover and re-make this city in a few short months have consistently prophesied financial ruin if we didn't follow their lead. Recent pronouncements by The City regarding our current fiscal situation proves they were - and are - just trying to cause a panic among those few folks who actually pay attention to what's going on in this town.

He beats his che
st about balancing the budget without the use of reserves and putting "away nearly $1 million in a contingency fund", but conveniently forgets to mention that this council is also spending money on legal fees like a pack of proverbial drunken sailors on leave. They budgeted $800,000 (averaging $68,000 per month) for legal fees this fiscal year and, based on the amounts on the warrants to be considered Tuesday evening, are actually spending at a rate four times that amount! In previous months they've authorized spending no less than double their budgeted rate. Their fiscal irresponsibility can best be demonstrated by the open-ended agreement with one of the highest priced law firms in the country, Jones Day. Despite repeated warnings by resident Eleanor Egan, a lawyer herself and long-time employee in Costa Mesa's legal department, that this was a bad management practice, the council majority went ahead with the contract. The Jones Day bill for December was over $133,000! Of course, I'm not surprised with his attitude since he is responsible for the City spending over $300 to retrieve his cell phone from the City elevator shaft recently.


Mensinger crows about hiring "leaders with strong ties to Costa Mesa", as i
f NOT living in our city is a bad thing. I have no reason to criticize those folks he mentions, but, as a guy who made a VERY good living as a recruiter for decades, I can tell you that if you limit the geographical area from which you can choose candidates, the chances of actually finding the best person available diminishes significantly. Personally I like each of those men he mentioned, including Police Chief Tom Gazsi, pictured here, but it's a faulty management practice that makes living in the city the first priority.

He amusingly list
s as an "accomplishment" of this council majority a "vow" to pay down unfunded liabilities. I guess that's how it works in his world - a vow is as good as an actual accomplishment. Give me a break! Any of us can make vows, but the proof is in the doing. They've already demonstrated many times this year that they can't execute their plans - at least, not legally.


Mensinger says they've "begun restoration of our emergency fund", but the
plans they have in the works that will be discussed at Tuesday's meeting are so draconian and unrealistic that the only way to accomplish them will be to drastically reduce city staff. With those reductions will come severe cuts in service levels - there's no way around it.


He says his mob has "been transparent in negotiations with our employee unions". First of all, we have no "unions", we have employee associations, none of whom, for example, have the right to strike. There is no question that the issue of employee pensions needs to be addressed, but Mensinger and his cronies have refused to sit down with the associations to discuss what kind of changes might be made. They're angry that the terms of the current agreements extend past their terms in office, so are doing their very best to vilify the employees instead of simply sitting down to talk with them. Mayor Gary Monahan, in a commentary last month, HERE, misrepresented that situation and Vasin set the record straight in a recent commentary of his own, HERE.


Mensinger takes credit for street and road repairs that were already part of the established schedule - this council had NOTHING to do with the repairs - except that some of them happened in neighborhoods where they live, so they could beat their chests and woof about it.

He also crows
about "transparency", claiming that Costa Mesa is the most transparent city in Orange County. He may be right about the amount of information available to folks on the city web site, but he doesn't address his penchant for texting and emailing from the dais during meetings or the bogus 2-person "working groups" behind closed doors, like the one composed of Monahan and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer that, in the comfy confines of Monahan's gin mill, managed to come up with the bogus "outsourcing" scheme that now has the City embroiled in a major lawsuit because they violated their own rules as they rushed to implement it. So much for transparency.


Another example of this lack of transparency is in his paragraph about
Righeimer's scheme to convert Costa Mesa to a Charter city. He says, "We are now working on a city charter...", but conveniently forgets to mention that the "we" is actually one man - Righeimer. He cobbled together the draft Charter to suit his own personal agenda and will soon attempt to convince the populace it's for their good. He, Righeimer and Colin McCarthy - president of the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association (a front group for the takeover of the city) - tell us they're hosting a "panel discussion" on January 19th on the Charter. The only problem with that meeting is that there will only be one side of the issue discussed - theirs.

Finally he ya
ps about "saving Christmas" in the form of the Snoopy House. Well, as you know, I'm all for the salvaging of the Snoopy House and am glad it was done. I think it did much for community morale. However, he's very misguided if he thinks that year-end event can distract folks from the year's worth of damage he and his pals have done to this city! Each time I visited the Snoopy House - during the planning and construction, the grand opening and during the evenings when Santa, was present I couldn't help but think that this lovely display was only a few yards from the spot where poor Huy Pham leaped to his death after learning that he would be among the more than 200 employees receiving layoff notices last March. As I watched Monahan perform during the grand opening I couldn't help recall his dereliction of his duties as mayor on St. Patrick's Day, when he chose to stay at his bar in his leprechaun outfit and poor beers for his customers on what he described as "the biggest day of my life" instead of going to City Hall to oversee the horrible event and console the staff.

Take a few minutes to read Mensinger's commentary, then just keep on re
ading - visit Greg Ridge's excellent piece that was placed on the page below it. He lays out many good reasons why the residents of this city should be cautious about the snake oil being peddled by the current council majority.

This week is g
oing to be a very busy time in our city. I've already given you the schedule of events for the various meetings already scheduled. I'll write more about them individually later. It's time to start paying attention...

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Blogger Angry White Man said...

Sorry I don't have anything more substantial as I will simply state that mensinger is a full and complete moron.

1/02/2012 07:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Bahhaha! said...

I feel sorry for pathetic Steve Mensinger. He got sucked into the Righeimer vortex.

130k in December for lawyers? He WILL run this city like his business...

Into the ground! Bah!!!


1/02/2012 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Charter may have to wait said...

This new law came into effect on January 1, 2012. It sounds like the charter initiative can't go on the June ballot, but must wait until November as this law seems to affect both state wide and local initiatives. Any attorney's out there want to give a definitive answer? Here is information from the La Times article.

Ballot measures: requires all ballot initiatives and referenda to be decided in November general elections, which typically have higher turnout — and more liberal voters casting ballots — than do June primaries. Excludes measures placed on the ballot by the Legislature.

1/02/2012 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

You're correct.. SB 202 implies that such a measure must wait for the General Election. I've written to Hatch for an opinion.

1/02/2012 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous HereWeGo! said...

Wanna wager they will do it anyway and welcome the lawsuit?

It's the new normal for these schmucks.

1/02/2012 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

As much as I would like to believe SB202 would postpone this rushed Charter proposal from being shoved down our throats in June, reading the amendment it states that it applies to "statewide" initiatives and referendums, so therein, I would venture to guess, it doesn't apply to citywide initiatives.

but we'll see what Tom says.

1/02/2012 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous level the playing field said...

Darn those pesky rules. I thought the illustrious Costa Mesa City Council was exempt from the law (note sarcasm please).

1/02/2012 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Charter may have to wait said...

In reading the bill, I could not find where it said it was only limited to statewide elections and not local elections. However I may of missed that clause. Maybe Gericault or someone else can find it and post it.

1/02/2012 02:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Never a union member said...

Wow! Sore losers!

1/02/2012 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

I second Gericault's concerns. We should plan to get our comments in according to council's schedule and plan to come to the meeting and voice our opinions whether or not this law applies.

1/02/2012 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Likely it would come down to what the legislature intended the law to apply to (ie, statewide initiatives only, or statewide initiatives and local measures) and what the definition of initiative is (ie, statewide only, or any change in local, county or state law). As you can see, this may require looking at prior case law decisions, and/or prior legislative intent on similar laws.

1/02/2012 04:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Don't Stop said...

Typical Union speak ... Slow it down, let's not rush things ...

Code words for we need to stall this thing until they can get Union buddies to fund an opposing candidate in November.

If Geoff, Greg, Sandy, Tamara, Union folk do not come up with specific tested language to be considered, I suggest they all be labeled whinners.

1/02/2012 06:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Really? said...

@Never a Union Member---

Interestingly, I don't think Costa Mesa has ANY "Union" Members....???

I believe the FF and PD are associations with different governing laws....???

Thanks for playing!

1/02/2012 06:09:00 PM  
Anonymous AWOL Half the Time said...

After the recent Daily Pilot propaganda pieces by Monahan, Righeimer, and Mensinger, I suppose Bever's is next.

But what can this guy possibly write about?

1/02/2012 10:56:00 PM  
Anonymous payment due in full said...

Here is some lawyer speak:

SB202 say applies only to statewide laws/initiatives... CM is a general law city, governed by state law/initiatives. Therefore, a change to a charter that is mandated by the state and follows state laws means SB202 does in fact apply to local initiatives placed on the ballot in general law cities.

If I worked for Jones Day that short amount of work just cost you $550. My family (especially kids) thanks you citizens for being so willing to be fleeced by my firm... My kids now can get their 4S IPHONES because quite frankly the IPHONE 4 is archaic.

1/03/2012 12:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

As “Don’t Stop” claims to do, I firmly believe in “specific tested language” to govern Costa Mesa. The specific tested language that we have is the set of ordinances governing general law cities-- ordinances that have been created and tested by bipartisan deliberation, open decision-making, and judicial review over a period of many years. These ordinances have served our city well since its incorporation.

Could a reasonable thinker possibly believe that a charter to be decided on in a couple months by four men without legal background and little to no government experience, but with a very definite agenda can improve on our current laws’ protection of Costa Mesa residents from deep-pocket out-of-town developers out to make a profit at our expense?

I'll stick with truly "specific tested language." We have it.

1/03/2012 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Thinker said...

Is the development of Banning Ranch some "jewel" for Mensinger's former employer?

Is a 19th Street bridge needed to make it happen?

1/03/2012 02:25:00 PM  

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