Friday, March 16, 2012

Excellent Turnout For CM4RG Forum

Last night I joined at least 200 other interested parties at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center for a forum on Jim Righeimer's Charter conducted by the grass-roots organization, Costa Mesans For Responsible Government - CM4RG. I must say that it appeared to be a rousing success. The crowd was so large that the back wall of the room had to be opened to provide seating for an additional thirty or so attendees.

This forum, moderated by Harold Weitzberg and CM4RG President Robin Leffler, presented their views of some of the critical elements of Jim Righeimer's Charter via a panel discussion and a Question and Answer period at the end.

The panelists were retired Costa Mesa Senior Planning official Perry Valantine; retired former member of the Costa Mesa City Attorney's office, Eleanor Egan; former Mayor Sandra Genis; Back Bay High School teacher George Greenwalt and Eastside businessman Mike Harmanos. Former City Council member Katrina Foley, currently a trustee on the Newport-Mesa School Board, also helped provide answers.

Each panelist took five minutes to address segments of Jim Righeimer's Charter in which they had specific professional knowledge of the subject matter. Valantine, for example, discussed the land use elements. He emphasized that it won't change anything immediately, but, because the way the Charter is composed, the potential is there for very significant changes in the way the City would do business with developers.

Eleanor Egan discussed how elections could be handled under Jim Righeimer's Charter. She explained that, because of the way it is worded, it's possible for the City Council to just arbitrarily choose when an election is to be held. She worried about the consolidation of power in the hands of few without State oversight.

Teacher George Greenwalt discussed what it would take to amend Jim Righeimer's Charter, and compared the number of signatures necessary as opposed to those under a General Law city - 15% vs. 10% and cited an example of Huntington Beach - a Charter City - that had an issue qualified to go before the voters but the City Council stalled the vote for two and a half years.

Sandra Genis, a professional land use planner, discussed fiscal impacts of Jim Righeimer's Charter, including comparing some recent legal difficulties of other local Charter Cities. She mentioned the City of Anaheim's current difficulties with their outsourced graffiti removal program, which has been a dismal failure.
Non-resident panelist Reggie Mundekis, who was introduced as one of the people responsible for fighting off the sale of the Orange County Fairgrounds, addressed the issue of Prevailing Wages in public contracting and the negative side of Jim Righeimer's Charter in that regard. She spoke of the benefits of trained skilled laborers and advantages of getting jobs done by the lowest responsible bidder, as opposed to just the lowest bidder. She also, in response to a later question, read the Buena Park Charter - only a couple paragraphs long - which built in defaults to State General Law where issues were not specifically addressed in the charter. This is one of the major flaws in Jim Righeimer's Charter.

Mike Harmanos, an Eastside resident and businessman, discussed "What is the Truth" about Jim Righeimer's Charter, the outline of which is captured on this slide. Because of the lack of safeguards built into the document he likened it to the proverbial camel getting his nose under the tent. Eventually, little by little, that camel gets his whole body into the tent. This charter provides that little crack the camel needs.

Robin Leffler discussed one of her main concerns - the privatization of the TeWinkle Park Sports Complex. It is her view that Jim Righeimer's Charter would permit non-competitive bidding for a concessionaire and a 99-year lease, not the 55-year lease prescribed by a General Law city. She emphasized that no-bid contracts will be allowed, and that 75% of California cities ARE NOT Charter cities.

I must say that this forum turned out to be much more than I expected, both from a attendance standpoint and the quality of the presentations and the excellent questions that were posed to the panelists. I was impressed with their willingness to answer questions for which they KNEW the answers, to make educated assumptions based on their academic and professional backgrounds on others and to not answer questions where they didn't have an answer.

I was also impressed with the very positive tone of the forum. While CM4RG clearly opposes Jim Righeimer's Charter, their presentations and responses to questions were fact-based and carried no vitriol or emotion against the proponents. For example, when one question was asked about why proponents included certain of the segments of the charter - like forbidding payroll deductions for association dues - the response was that the panelist couldn't read folk's minds, so they couldn't answer the question.

Through it all, in the back of the room on the far right - seemed appropriate - sat Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and his sidekick, non-elected councilman Steve Mensinger. To my knowledge, neither of them submitted question cards to the moderator. They sat quietly and listened - a refreshing change.

I also saw councilwoman Wendy Leece, but there was no sign of new/old Mayor Eric Bever or Gary Monahan at the meeting. Costa Mesa Television DID NOT cover this meeting, but I do know that at least one video recording was made during the meeting. Perhaps that will find it's way onto YouTube soon.

Congratulations to the Costa Mesans For Responsible Government for presenting this excellent, informative forum for the residents of our city. Depending on how a judge rules on the issue of the tardy submission of the ballot measure to the Registrar of Voters, we may see more such informational meetings as this before the June election.

It is my understanding that offers have been made to the proponents of Jim Righeimer's Charter to hold a debate on it, but those overtures were rejected. I suspect such an event would be slightly less constrained.

The only real low point for me last night was seeing besieged Sanitary District Director and Planning Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick skulking around in the back of the room and then finding his own, personal fliers plastered over the windshields of all the cars in the parking lot - including mine. What a pathetic guy!

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Anonymous OCGOPfan said...

didn't Eagan tell council in the past that a sports complex at tewinkle would cause us to lose the whole park to the state (even tho we already have a private tennis entity and it did not cause us to lose the park)? Don't take her word as gospel, she is just an attorney with an opinion, not a legal ruling. Same with San District, they have NO actionable legal ruling, just some attorneys with an opinion. If a council member can serve on Sanitary, certainly a planning commissioner can. Fitz is correct, Board is wrong, Arlene won't get appointed by the others as they would like to do, contracts will be exposed, good governance may be instilled there after all. This will backfire on Perry, Ferryman, and Schaefer big time. Go Fitz! Pound your message everywhere, everyday, in all the media you can. I don't trust anything Genis, Leffler, Egan, or Valentine says either. Sometimes it is what they say, other times what they leave out, and all their talk of the dark evils and lawbreaking that "could occur" is puffery. Any councilmember, in any city, COULD break the law. Deal with it then, don't paint everyone with the same brush. Heck Leece could break the law, right? Outsource graffitti , IT, and Fleet maintenace ASAP

3/16/2012 06:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Camel? said...

Excellent report, thanks.

One question - just who or what is the camel supoposed to be?

3/16/2012 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Camel? said...
Excellent report, thanks.

One question - just who or what is the camel supoposed to be?


Everyone has their own interpretation, but I thought I saw CM's "camel" in the back of the room, on the far right..

3/16/2012 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

OCGOPfan wrote:

"...Go Fitz!"


Yes, Fitz. Please go back to the parking lot now strewn with flyers that you reportedly stuck on windshields last night, and kindly pick them up.

3/16/2012 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Question 4 Geoff? said...

I took Fitzy up on his offer and discussed the No Bid Trash contract. Seems pretty straight forward to me. Guy asks good questions, as an elected official is supposed to do. The other Board Members react poorly.

I asked him why Geoff West doesn’t support him on this, or the CM4RG folks who talked about No Bid Contracts? Like a good politician, he would not go to motive, that I would have to ask the others. He said he could not understand it either. And also suggested that I ask Geoff West how often he talked to one Board Member at the Sanitation District. Fitz indicated that Geoff West regularly talked to one of the Board members.

Geoff, if you do talk to one of the Board Members, and consider him a friend, is that why you have never written about the No Bid Trash contract since World War II? Geoff, are you part of the good Ole Boys network?

Seems to me that Fitz is the only one asking good questions over there, and you choose to call him pathetic?

3/16/2012 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Just a Worker said...

Great presentation! Saw Riggy in the back of the room looking unhappy. Oh well. Now he knows how we felt since he got on council.

3/16/2012 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Angry White Man said...

Dear Fitzy.....

Sec. 9-135. - Distributing on public property.

No person, either directly or indirectly, shall deposit, place, throw, scatter, or cast any handbill or any other printed or written advertising matter in or on any public thoroughfare, park, ground, or other public place, provided that the provisions of this section shall not be deemed to prohibit the handling and distribution of any handbills to any person willing to accept it.

(Ord. No. 74-69, § 2, 1-7-75)

Sec. 9-136. - Placing in or upon vehicle prohibited.

No person, either directly or indirectly, shall distribute, deposit, place, throw, scatter, or cast any handbill or any other printed or written advertising matter in or upon any motor vehicle or other vehicle where the owner or occupant of such vehicle has expressed an objection to such distribution; the provisions of this section shall not be deemed to prohibit the handing of any handbill or any other printed or written advertising matter to the owner or other occupant of any motor vehicle or other vehicle

once again this crew shows how laws are for the common folk and not for them.

3/16/2012 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous tent said...


I like to think the camel is the actual taxpayers. It will be tough for the camel to get in, the associations/unions are filling the tent now. Easy to cling to the MOUs they got passed in October and say they don't trust Riggy and won't negotiate . They keep gettin' paid, and we keep paying.

3/16/2012 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous TrashMan said...


Here is a hypothetical question for you. If through Jim Fitzpatrick’s efforts it is discovered that some people at the Costa Mesa Sanitation District have been in collusion (secretive, illegal, misleading, fraudulent activities) and have been receiving kickbacks in exchange for long term contracts. What if hypothetically this was happening under all our noses for years, and because of Jim Fitzpatrick, it now becomes public and he is vindicated. Would you then change your tone toward him? Could you possibly find it in your dark heart the words to thank him? Could you apologize for the severe chastising you keep giving him every day seemingly forever?

What would you do if that hypothetical becomes a reality? Please tell us.

For me, it seems clear that the CMSD is hiding something. Simply wanting to know if we can get a better price for a service is not grounds for dismissal. It is simple business. We all want more than one quote when we hire out a task. Same thing applies here. I watched the KOCE 50 piece on this subject and my suspicions were increased, not reduced. I saw the body language and lack of straightness when people were interviewed. Stay tuned. This one is not going to go away that fast.

All of a sudden trash is interesting. Go Fitz!

3/16/2012 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

IF it is proven that there has been the kind of illegal activities you describe then the parties involved should suffer whatever consequences the law provides.

Will I apologize to Jimmy Fitzy for his behavior in the past and present? No, of course not. He is who he is.

3/16/2012 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Amateur Shell Game said...

The whole "trash collusion" thing is a distractor from Shrek/Fitzpatrick's conflict of interest problem.

Typical extremist behavior in this town.

3/16/2012 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin said...

The Camel’s nose in this case is the proposed City Charter as a vehicle that grants broad powers to the City Council, without the restraining protections of General law to protect many of the rights and safeguards we now enjoy as residents, voters and taxpayers. As our panel demonstrated last night, there are many areas where the charter proposed for Costa Mesa is the “nose” that could allow that ol’ Camel to get clear into the tent of our City and pretty much do anything it wanted to. We were specific about those areas, not general. There are several others we did not have time to cover. Whether this or any future council would chose to exercise those powers granted to them in harmful ways is not the point. The point is such opportunities exist, and even abound in the proposal that may (or may not) go on the June ballot. With a carefully written charter, those opportunities could be removed. It’s not rocket science!
Robin Leffler, for Costa Mesans for Responsible Government

3/16/2012 04:00:00 PM  
Anonymous TrashMan said...


Can you tell me what behavior of Fitz you find so objectionable?

He seems to me to be an energetic and engaged servant of the city. We all have flaws and I am no exception but I find him exceptionally interested in doing what is best for our city. You seem to have something out for him as you do for so many of the members of council. I understand you hate the males on council but Fitzpatrick is on the Planning Commission and is an active supporter of the council. Has he ever done something to offend you to deserve your barrage harsh words and taunts? Is he guilty by association? Is he bad because he does not agree with your liberal ways? What gives man?

3/16/2012 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Annoyed Citizen said...

"All of a sudden trash is interesting. Go Fitz!"

Did he GO to the parking lot and clean up his flyer mess yet?

3/16/2012 04:22:00 PM  
Anonymous TrashMan said...

@Amateur Shell Game,

Why is it acceptable to be on Council and the Sanitary District (Monahan) and not acceptable if someone is on the Planning Commission and Sanitary District? Seems like a CC member would have much more influence and potential conflict than an advisor to the CC. Please explain why you think there is a conflict of interest. Do you think it was a conflict with Monahan also?

3/16/2012 04:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

@OCGOPfan - No, I didn't say that. I pointed out provisions in the deed for TeWinkle Park that said (1) the property was to be used in perpetuity as a public park and only a public park, (2) that violation of that deed restriction would allow the U.S. Government - not the State - to take back the entire park property and (3) that even if the U.S. Gov't. didn't exercise the forfeiture option in one case [such as the tennis courts] it could still exercise the forfeiture option in a later situation. This is all language in the 1973 deed from the U.S. to Costa Mesa, and not an opinion.

3/16/2012 04:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Confused said...


Fitzpatrick is posting here trying to build himself up, wanting the reader to see him as someone who should stay on a board responsible for trash pick-up in our city, yet he apparently littered on city property and might have violated city ordinances.

How is that helpful to his cause?

3/16/2012 08:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Fitz Hater said...


Clearly his desperate attempt at "bonding with his constituents" (or their car windows) is violating his zero waste plan, don't you think?


Maybe you should take a break from admiring your own reflection in the mirror. If you did, you might see that it broke a long time ago. We're sick and tired of reading about how great you think you are in all your blog posts. The fact is, Geoff's right, you're nothing AND you're pathetic.

GO FITZ? Can't argue with that...go jump off a cliff.

3/16/2012 10:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Flip Side said...

Not sure how this turned into a hotbed of JimFitzy activity, but... while living in Irvine I paid about $11/month for trash disposal. According to my property tax statement I'm now paying upwards of $20/month. Never considered myself a tightwad, but the guy just MIGHT have a point.

3/17/2012 12:04:00 AM  
Anonymous backatya said...

interesting that Fitzy's flyers upset those who TRASHED OUR WHOLE CITY with cancel the layoff signs , putting them in illegal spots all over town (NMUSD, fire stations, roadway medians, chain link fences, and leaving them on public proiperty Monday thru Thursday).

3/17/2012 06:18:00 AM  
Anonymous TrashMan said...

I assure you I am not Fitz. He always uses his real name. Strange how Geoff ignored my request as to why he hates Fitz so much. Perhaps he has no reason really.

3/17/2012 07:37:00 AM  
Anonymous echnoma said...

Not sure how this turned into a hotbed of JimFitzy activity

It's simple, the man is an idiot.
Fitz acts like a 5yr old girl.
I personally enjoyed watching the loser do his best to engage two CMPD officers in an altercation.

Fitz do us all a favor and stfu!

3/17/2012 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

If Fitzpatrick cared so much about trash he could just resign his planning commission seat and this wouldn't be an issue. But it seems he is more concerned about his political career.

3/17/2012 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous IonCM said...

Perhaps this post should get back to the main topic - the CM4RG Forum. Post your Fitzpatrick comments elsewhere. I would like to hear what most people felt about the forum. I attended and I think the group did an excellent job researching and offering up very important information and also taking the time to respond to questions - something the council majority has refused to do time and time again. I hope that CM4RG holds future forums so that we can really hear the truth before we have to vote - if and when.

3/17/2012 05:28:00 PM  
Anonymous godfather said...

dang right you pay more for trash here. and get this: they have not had to raise rates here for YEARS and do not anticipate doing so this year. Ever hear of something like that? Maybe we have been overpaying so much our price still has not caught up to market? Art Perry cannot afford an investigation, thus, get rid of Fitz.

3/17/2012 06:02:00 PM  
Anonymous logic said...

trashman, the only person that could know fitz only posts under his real name is either fitz, or the person sleeping with fitz. which are you?

3/17/2012 09:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Other Mike said...

I suspect Irvine and others pay less for trash because they are given multiple color coded containers. One for green waste, one for recyclables, one for trash etc. we get one can, throw it all in and CR & R does the sorting for us. I for one prefer to not have to personally separate my refuse or think about what color can to use for what. Am I willing to pay extra for that? Yup.

I know that the Fitzpatrick supporters on here want to throw up the red herring that the rest on the San Board have some nefarious dealings to hide, so they want to get rid of Fitz. Nice try. Funny how the shoe is on the oter foot here. You have no "union thugs" to blame so you have to vilify someone else. Bottom line? People in this city are growing tired of the divisiveness that council has created. Fitzy has been one of eir biggest coat tail hangers on and he is going to be guilty by association. He is widely considered to be a tool. He ought to just change his name to "Stanley".

If he did his own thinking and quit the "Eddie Haskell" shtick at public comments "Gee Mr. Righeimer you sure look nice in that tie, Mr. Mensinger have you lost weight? Love what you guys are doing with the city, by the way." Maybe then we could muster a modicum of respect for the guy.

3/17/2012 11:49:00 PM  
Anonymous trashfan said...

or, other Mike, Fitz could resign ala Stavely with a scathing letter. Or he could fight on and expose San District Board. Hope he chooses the latter.

3/18/2012 12:38:00 PM  

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