Wednesday, February 08, 2012

City Council Meeting Wrap...

Yes, the Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday night was another long one. While it began a little late, at 6:15, because of an extended Closed Session, it actually ended before midnight, 11:40, for a change. It was still a very long evening. You can view the streaming video of the meeting HERE.

One of the reasons for the length of this particular meeting was the attendance of several proponents of Medical Marijuana, angry and frustrated by the recent closure of so-called dispensaries throughout our city and by the abrupt removal of a marijuana advocacy radio program, Cannabis Community, from local radio station KOCI-LPFM, 101.5 FM last Sunday morning. I'm not going to talk about that event again here - I covered it at length in my earlier entries.

Of the 31 people
who spoke in the Public Comments segment of the meeting, 14 spoke on the medical marijuana issue. The first speaker, Sue Lester - a former operator of a dispensary in Costa Mesa and also a former city council candidate - tried to explain her version of events around the removal of the program from KOCI last Sunday. The second speaker, who identified herself as Joyce Weitzberg, tested Mayor Gary Monahan's patience as she passionately used her three minutes, then refused to stop talking until she passed the five minute mark. As Monahan continued to remind her that her time was up I watched as the security officer behind her began to pace. I was fearful that, if she didn't stop talking, Monahan would have her removed from the dais. Visions of Benito Acosta being dragged from council chambers a few years ago flashed before my eyes.

As I said, more than a dozen s
peakers presented impassioned pleas to the council, many worried that they would have to either go to Santa Ana to buy their "medicine" or buy it "from a gang member outside the 7-11". Of the many memorable speakers on this issue, the video clip below may have been the most memorable. In all the years I've watched council meetings, I can tell you this is the first time I've heard that word spoken from the podium.


After the Public Comm
ents segment, which stretched until 8:00, CEO Tom Hatch made his presentation. He told us that the Front Desk at the Police Station at 99 Fair Drive will now be open from 9-5 on Saturdays to better serve the public. He also mentioned a new schedule for the Police Department that will provide more efficient coverage with the reduced staffing levels that have been imposed by this council. That's good news for us all.

Hatch also mentioned the second public hearing on Righeimer's Charter, which is scheduled for next Monday, February 13, 2012 in City Council chambers beginning at 7:00 p.m. He also mentioned that there will be an informational mailer to all city residents about Righeimer's Charter this week. Monday will be the LAST chance for items to be added to the Charter before the final vote is taken to place it on the June ballot on March 6th. Items can be deleted from the proposed language following next Monday's meeting, but not added.


He also mentioned the special study session on February 28th that will
include discussions on the Mid-year Budget Review and the final report from the Costa Mesa Homeless Task Force.


The only Public Hearing on the agenda, that of the new policies, fees and bylaws for the two community gardens, was approved as written. The gardens will, henceforth, be only available to Costa Mesa residents. I gave you the link to the staff report in my earlier entry.


The General Plan Screening Request for a Walgreen's Pharmacy at the site of the now-defunct Tower Records site along Newport Boulevard breezed through. This is just the very beginning of a process that will, hopefully, finally place a viable business at that very visible, busy location in our city. The process now moves forward through the Planning Commission.

The elephant in the room, the resolution to, once again, affirm the City's rejection of a bridge over the Santa Ana River at 19th Street, generated a lot of discussion. Fourteen people spoke against the bridge and one person, Mesa Verde resident Phil Morello, spoke in favor of it. He's also a property owner on the Westside and apparently feels the need for more traffic down 19th Street to maximize the potential of the revitalization plans for that part of town - and the enhancement of his property values in the process. Mesa Verde resident and activist Cindy Brenneman, when speaking about the bridge, made her point (s) in a very special way. You can watch it in this short clip.

Many of the speakers wer
e critical of the council and suspicious of their motives in meeting with county officials. It has been rumored that Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer was at the meeting in which Newport Beach councilman Steve Rosansky met with Supervisor John Moorlach to request his help in securing a 19th Street Bridge. He acknowledged being at that meeting during the discussion. Righeimer, during his campaign for council, told a group of folks at a candidate forum that he was in favor of the bridge. At the end of this discussion, before the council voted 5-0 to approve the resolution, Righeimer had a minor meltdown, apparently because of the criticism he's been getting on this and other issues. You can watch the short video below.

The council approved the two pension-related issues, the 2%@60 program for new hires in the so-called "miscellaneous employees" group - basically the non-management, non-safety employees, and the voluntary contributions by certain Executive employees, but not without some distressing discussion.


Righeimer pointed his cross-hairs directly at former City Manager Allan Roed
er as he criticized the pension adjustments that were negotiated in 2008 as part of the City's effort to weather the storm of the nationwide financial collapse. He referred to benefits that were "handed out to people", and criticized the council at the time of not knowing what they were approving. He basically accused Roeder of feathering his own retirement nest - an allegation later also leveled by non-elected councilman Steve Mensinger during council member comments. Not only is that despicable, but it's also ironic, since Righeimer had earlier griped about speakers before them "not knowing what they're talking about". Well, those guys were not involved at that time and don't know what they are talking about. It really torques my jaws when those two, a carpetbagging political opportunist and his unemployed bully sidekick, criticize a man who devoted his entire working life to this city - three dozen years - and was renowned as the best city manager in the county - at least. They've demonstrated to me that they certainly do not have the strength of character necessary to effectively represent this city. They make me want to puke!

It was absolutely no surprise that the council rejected Wendy Leece's request for staff time to review and recommend a policy/ordinance guiding the use of electronic communications devices while council members are on the dais. This issue arose from Mensinger's penchant for communicating via cell phone or, now Ipad, with other members of the council or outsiders during deliberations on the dais. Even if you discard Mensinger's egregious behavior, it's important to consider this issue because the council is moving forward toward having a paperless agenda - perhaps providing electronic tablets to each of them with which they would access the staff reports. A policy should be in place to define proper use of those devices during council meetings. One of the sad ironies of this segment was that Righeimer was on his cell phone, apparently texting someone or reading emails, while Leece was making her pitch. Following a discussion she made a motion and there was no second to it, so the issue died.


During her comments segment Leece asked Hatch about the Fish F
ry. A resident had brought the question up in Public Comments. Hatch told us that the City had been meeting with representatives of the Lions Club to try to find an alternate site. The current site, Lions Park, won't work because the recently-renovated Luke Davis Field is no longer available for the carnival rides. Fairview Park was mentioned as a possible alternative. However, hot off the presses, representatives of the Lions Club met today with City officials, including Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce, and advised them that it is their hope to produce a scaled-down Fish Fry this year at Lions Park - an event without the carnival rides. It is hoped that this event - the 65th - will still attract many residents. I guess we'll find out.

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Blogger Joe said...

When Das Riggmarshal told everyone to CALM DOWN, was he talking about his former attorneys who allegedly got stiffed?

2/08/2012 06:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Facts Don't Lie said...

The 2% at 60 includes management. It is everyone but public safety. Hatch made sure his recent hires got in before the change so that they could benefit from 2.5% at 55.

Also here is the minutes from May 20, 2008, approving the enhanced retirement for miscellaneous employees. It was unanimously approved. Check out who was on the council at that time.

1. Resolution of Intent to approve an amendment to the contract with the Board of Administration of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to implement the 2.5%@55 retirement formula for eligible Miscellaneous employees.
City Manager Allan Roeder introduced the item and Human Resources Manager Terri Cassidy summarized the report and responded to questions from the Council.
The Mayor expressed support of the employees paying for the benefit.
MOTION: Adopt Resolution No. 08-38, a Resolution of Intent to approve an amendment to a contract with the Board of Administration California Public Employees’ Retirement System; approve and authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to sign; and authorize the City Clerk to execute the Certification of Governing Body’s Action and the Certification of Compliance with Government Code Section 7507. Moved by Mayor Eric R. Bever, seconded by Council Member Wendy Leece.

The motion carried by the following roll call vote: Ayes: Mayor Eric R. Bever, Mayor Pro Tem Allan R. Mansoor, Council Member Linda W. Dixon, Council Member Katrina Foley, Council Member Wendy Leece Noes: None. Absent: None.

The City Manager can only recommend. The City Council has the ultimate authority. Does Righeimer think that Mansoor and Bever were "bullied" or does he think they were too "stupid" to understand the implications at the time.

Maybe Righeimer should ask Bever and Mansoor why they voted they way they did.

2/08/2012 07:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Facts Don't Lie said...

Here is a link to the actual staff report of May 20, 2008. - Council Agenda Report - CalPERS Contract

2/08/2012 07:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Stop blaming Roeder said...

Facts Don't Lie,

Thanks for the link. I share your and Geoff's concern about the characterization of Roeder and Mandoki's role in this - the very short - 4 page - staff report is clear. It states:

"Employees who retire after October 1, 2008 will then be eligible for the 2.5% @ 55 factor in their retirement calculations. All prior years of City of Costa Mesa service will be converted. This will be used in addition to age and years of service in calculating their pension benefit. It will not affect any retirees or former employees of the City of Costa Mesa."

The City Council had every opportunity to delete that provision or modify the date.

Personally, I believe that it was a terrible deal that underscores Righeimer's main point - no council should be able to make deals like this.

As with 3%@50, this deal granted massive retroactive and unfunded increases to long-term employees. We all pay for those.

The only 5 people to blame for this and other pension fiascoes are the members of the City Council.

2/08/2012 07:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Stop the presses said...

Wait, so it is true that Roeder got a big fat retirement benefit that we are all paying for and will pay for for some time?

West shows true colors to stop the presses to share something about Righeimer that is in dispute.

Bit refuses to comment on Roeder?

Got it. Some glasses West sees the world through

2/08/2012 08:13:00 PM  
Anonymous sadie1 said...

All local government agencies were moving to higher and higher pension benefits at that time. An agency had to step up benefit plans in order to hire employees from other local governments. There was not a large unfunded liability at the time. The increase in the unfunded liability was a result of the housing bubble and all that went with it. So if you want to place blame look to the people who made money off the mortgage/housing/banking mess. And I can't believe what a whiny baby Riggmarshal is.

2/09/2012 07:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Unfunded liability said...


You are wrong. Retroactively increasing retirement benefits such as happened in this case and with the 3%@50 absolutely creates unfunded liability. When contributions are made at a lower formula, but benefits paid at the higher formula - that is an unfunded liability and has nothing to do with the housing market.

The staff report clearly shows that costs go up, that is why the employees picked up more of their share in order to get the increased benefit.

These deals are awful, and should never have happened.

2/09/2012 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous i see u said...

I wonder if this ever happened ...

Geoff says to Roeder ... Don't worry, if you are ever outed for your back room pension gift, I will just express my anger at Righeimer and others to deflect. I will not lift a finger to ask questions.

Heck, by then I will be a flaming liberal with peers of Moxley & Gustavo. I will have so many convinced I have lost it, it will get buried on my blog.

Secret is safe with me. Hey, how about you buy coffee at Cocos and I get to tell stories about how I fooled Council all these years, like you, buddy ...

2/09/2012 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Barry said...

Roeder did "feather his own nest" Look at the records. Has nothing to do with Council, has to do with conflict of interest and State law. Roeder can't blame the City Council for this theft.

Certain you will hear more about this.

2/09/2012 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Facts Don't Lie said...

i see u said and Barry have to be the most clueless people. The facts don't lie and thanks to the internet and archived information that is available for everyone to see on the City website. The City Council approved the increase in PERS benefits. I posted the links and staff report. I guess there are some that can't read what is right in front of them.

2/09/2012 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous sadie1 said...

To unfunded liability
Yes the retroactivly increasing the benefits did increase costs, but the disaster came from the housing/mortgage/banking fraud.

This is from Bloomberg news service: "CalPERS made a series of disastrous bets on real estate after letting its internal risk controls break down and ceding too much control to outside investment advisers during the housing bubble. ... On top of the fiscal mess, CalPERS is also caught up in a corruption scandal involving middlemen who help money managers win investing assignments from pension funds."


In 2000, more than half of the 50 states had the funds to cover what they owed. By 2008, that number had shrunk to four -- Florida, New York, Washington and Wisconsin -- as total unfunded liabilities reached a record $1 trillion, according to a February 2010 report by the Pew Center on the States that uses the latest available data.

2/10/2012 08:20:00 AM  

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