Friday, March 02, 2012

"Jim Righeimer's Charter" Vote Comes Tuesday

Next Tuesday, March 6th, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, the Costa Mesa City Council will hold what will likely be a watershed meeting in the history of the city. It will be at that meeting, near the very end if the schedule shown on the agenda, HERE, holds true, that they will consider whether or not to place Jim Righeimer's Charter scheme on the June 5th ballot. More on that a little later.

As regular readers - and those of you that are sometime
s irregular - know, it is virtually impossible to predict how long these meetings will run. This one looks to have earmarks for a long one, but we'll have to see how it goes. Regardless, your humble servant will be there observing and will report on the events later.

After CEO Tom Hatch makes his report - we have no idea what he will cover Tuesday - the Consent Calendar will be considered. I perused both of the Warrants, #2409, HERE, and #2410, HERE, to see if we are finally going to see the January charges from high-powered law firm, Jones Day. Nope, can't find any reference to them. It's my understanding that their bill was finally received from contract City Attorney, Tom Duarte, at the end of this week, so the bill will be paid within a few days and probably show up on the warrants at the next council meeting on March 20th. The reason this is of concern is because Jones Day has been deposing employees for more than a month, with lots of $495 per hour lawyers in attendance, so the next few bills will probably be whoppers. You may recall that, during the last study session on February 27th, the staff announced their intention to request a budget adjustment of $900,000 for the Self Insurance Fund to cover these extraordinary expenses. We'll see in a couple weeks whether that is going to be enough.

Other big items on the Consent Calendar include a more than $250,000 cost for the upgrade of our antiquated telephone system by Merrill & Associates, HERE; an approval of
acceptance of $100,000 in measure M2 grant funds to provide catch basin screens, HERE; acceptance of nearly $69,000 of grant funds from the Urban Areas Security Initiative Grant Program to cover reimbursable public safety training costs, HERE and the resolution to appoint two members to the Oversight Board to supervise the activities of the Successor Agency to the Costa Mesa Redevelopment Agency, HERE. Mayor Gary Monahan has chosen himself and former RDA employee Dan Baker as the appointees.

The only Public Hearing, a conditional use permit for a helipad on the roof of an existing industrial building near John Wayne Airp
ort, will be continued to June 19th.

Under Old Bu
siness the only item scheduled to be considered is passage of two ordinances to facilitate the previously-agreed to new tier in the Miscellaneous Group employees contract of 2@60, HERE.

New Business presents
us with the most interesting, and potentially most time-consuming issues. First will be the resolution on the 2012 Orange County Marathon. The staff report, HERE, includes the schedules of the various components of this event and the maps and charts indicating street closures on that date. Since this event is just around the corner - May 6th - and it looks like it is going to be a major inconvenience throughout many parts of the city, we all would do well to review the maps and closure schedules and adjust our activities for that day accordingly.

The second item under New Business is the elephant in the room - Jim Righeimer's Charter scheme. You can read the staff report HERE. If the council decides to place this issue on the ballot, they will have launched the second-most important initiative in the City's history. In a nutshell - assuming the council decides to place this bogus charter on the June 5th ballot - they will consider five (5) separate resolutions. The first (a) proposes a measure for submission to the voters on whether the City should adopt Jim Righeimer's Charter. (b) calls for and gives notice of a special municipal election. (c) requests the Board of Supervisors to consolidate our Special Municipal Election with the Statewide Primary election on June 5th. (d) sets priorities for filing written argument(s) regarding a city measure and directs the City Attorney to prepare an impartial analysis. ( I'm sorry, but I almost choked when I read that last part.) (e) provides for the filing of rebuttal arguments.

I suspect there may be a few people who will attempt to talk the four members of the
council out of this bogus scheme. I expect Wendy Leece will vote against it. Of course, the council will listen, but not hear, those views and will certainly vote to place it on the ballot. And then the fun will begin. The groups around the community that have been meeting regularly to discuss Jim Righeimer's Charter will likely spring into action immediately in an effort to defeat this hastily-contrived and politically-opportunistic attempt to completely take over the City of Costa Mesa. It's going to be a very interesting spring.

The final scheduled item on the agenda, New Business #3 - added at the last minute late Friday afternoon - is Steve Mensinger's brainstorm to create annual performance audits, HERE. As you read through the staff report you'll see that there may be $50,000 budgeted in the next fiscal year for this plan - maybe more. My suggestion would be to wait on this issue to see what is left of the City Staff following the outcome of the OCEA lawsuit, THEN create a mechanism for these kinds of evaluations. The staff has plenty on it's plate right now without another brainstorm hatched (sorry, Tom) by a guy with too much time on his hands.


As always, the very end of the meeting may produce the most excitement. That's when the council members spring new initiatives on us during their "comments" segment.
After all is said and done, I'm thinking this meeting will finally wrap up at 11:56 p.m. Keep your fingers crossed. I'm taking a pillow with me this time.

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Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

One little twist of irony here, even though this post is mostly about the charter. Righeimer recently almost came to tears over the OT earned by CMPD cops even though most is paid for by grant money (yes, I realize it is still taxpayer money, but it does not impact the city budget). Righeimer didn't seem to care about OT money last St. Patrick's Day when he and Mensinger forced 9 officers and a sergeant to work 6-7 hours or OT each guarding their homes while they ate pizza and hung out with Moorlach for what was likely an impromptu damage control meeting.

Further, the OC Marathon is forcing a majority of the CMPD officers to work OT against their will to provide security and traffic control for that event. It will cost the OC Marathon more money this year because more sworn officers will have to work it because the number of non-sworn is so low. Obviously, non-sworn earn less than sworn. Not exactly a great business decision now is it? But hey, who are we talking about? These guys claim they want to run the city like a business and yet all they have done is run their previous businesses into the ground while screwing up what was once (and can be again) a great city.

3/03/2012 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Fiscal Honesty said...

cmsanity shows what a deceitful person he is. With the rebounding economy and Costa Mesa's revenues showing huge increases last year with more increases this year. It is complete nonsense to claim this is council balancing a budget. Give council credit where it is due, when it is due. It in this instance is not due.

Council is not at all responsible for the increase in these recent quarterly revenue increases. But what they do have some responsibility for are expenses.
Which direction have expenses gone. Anyone?

cmsanity at 7:45 PM March 02, 2012
It must really bother the "haters" of the Council that they guys are able to balance a budget and protect the taxpayers from the squandering Union's. Now let get working on the pension problem. Way to go guys!

3/03/2012 01:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Fiscal Honesty....Credit should go to three entities. First, the taxpayers for seeing fit to increase the TOT tax which hadn't been increased since 1974ish. Second is the employees for making concessions to the city every year since 2008-2009. Third, some credit can go to the city council for downsizing the PD (I will let the folks decide if that was such as good idea). Unfortunately, the latter must be viewed against the backdrop of the many executive level positions the guys have created costing the city over $650,000 per year. Not to mention the near million dollars in legal fees due to their apparently illegal outsourcing scheme. Eliminate these two alone and the surplus would be almost $2 million this year. I certainly hope undecided folks are waking up to their scams.

3/03/2012 01:45:00 PM  
Anonymous almostdone said...

The council reduces the PD work force to below minimum levels and then force hires them to work beyond their schedueled work shift to provide necessary coverage.
Then they point out how those greedy pigs are at the trough sucking up all that over time money.
Next they'll be posting what they were paid last year and using those totals to fan up the anti public safety rhetoric.
Good job council!

3/03/2012 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

In my Smithwick's Irish Ale haste I neglected to mention the $500,000 savings the unfab four passed on from the firefighters. A $500,000 savings while continuing to work on more savings solutions. That would make the surplus $2.5 million. Again, what is their real goal here? Saving money and making government leaner is certainly not the aim here.

3/03/2012 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

Mr. Earp, help us please. You suggested that you would “let the folks decide” if downsizing the police department so severely was a good idea. Your apparent knowledge of the workings of the PD can help us decide if the downsizing was only “not such a good idea” or whether it was a really stupid one. Please educate us.

To laymen, cutting the police force below what even the councilmen’s chosen outside consultants recommended was a terrible decision. We’ve also learned that specialty details such as the vice and gang departments have already been severely cut: those cuts also seem penny-wise and pound-foolish.

On the other hand, we’ve learned that the 4-10 schedule--which councilmen insisted be replaced by 8-5 less than a year ago--has been reinstated by our new Police Chief, along with the addition of some 3-12 shifts, in order for the police to manage emergencies given the understaffed department; we’ve also been told that technology is taking up some of the slack.

We’re assured that the basic response is being covered, but what about prevention? Here’s where you could help provide information, especially in light of the reminder in today’s L.A. Times of the “broken windows approach...which emphasized a closer partnership between citizens and police and was embraced by law enforcement across the country.” What are the effects of downsizing on community policing?

Also, have any other specific cuts have been made?

Thanks for providing knowledgeable analysis.

3/04/2012 02:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Robin said...

Wyatt Earp, I appreciate how you line up the facts and just keep sending them out. The councilmen who claim to be fiscally conservative are really fiscally frivolous, and very inefficient businessmen as well. When I think of the money they just left on the table by rejecting the fire association’s offer to keep contributing extra toward their pensions while CONTINUING TO NEGOTIATE, then tried to spin it around to sound like fire refused to pay, I get really disgusted. That money would have gone a long way toward taking care of the City’s business. One night recently during the public hearing Jim questioned me after my comment. I replied, “It is my understanding that you rejected Fire’s offer” and he said “That is correct”.

They are coming up with even more creative ways to waste our money. I just read Tuesday night’s staff reports and saw that they want to spend our money to run newspaper ads to promote their charter proposal. They can't use City money to finance a political campaign, so what they publish must be "informational, unbiased"-of course! They will also vote on whether to spend our money on publishing the whole charter in the Ballot pamphlet. If they do that, they must also pay to translate it into several languages.

Here is a related tidbit about one of the differences between a Charter City and one governed by General Law. A charter City can use the public’s money to finance political campaigns, a General Law city cannot. Hmm. Maybe they think the law says a General Law city can use public money to pay for a political campaign if they say a political campaign is not a political campaign and all their efforts to push and promote a charter full of political hot potatoes is just informational and educational. I don’t really think so, but from attempting to lay off employees without following the simple little legal steps required, to jabbering on the phone while driving, this council seems to think the rules don’t apply to them.

3/04/2012 02:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Robin said...

Oh, as I wrote that last post, I just realized, if Costa mesa adopts this charter city proposal employees will be bound by all kinds of micromanaging rules about how they are allowed to pay their own money to an association they chose to belong to if they want a portion of the money they earn to go to that associations’ political causes, HOWEVER, Taxpayers will have to donate to the City’s political campaign fund whether we want to or not. There’s no mechanism proposed whereby we can opt out of contributing. That’s just another dissonant note in their whole “We’re the real conservatives” song and dance. They are sure big on Nanny State mandates for supposed small government guys. And they aren’t very careful with other people’s money. You’ve gotta look at what they do, not just listen to what they say. There’s a whole lotta difference between the two.

3/04/2012 02:56:00 AM  
Anonymous friendsinhighplaces said...

this "takeover" of our affairs by us from the State must be stopped!! We have good union friends, including the AG (who writes "impartial" ballot titles) here in Sacramento. Sacramento must continue to guide our City folks, don't be fooled by local control. The Assemblymen from Stockton and Bakersfield, San Francisco, etc. are the ones who know what is best for our City. Stop the Charter!

3/04/2012 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Lets not forget about the business license "study", that has been repeatedly promised us. This mad dash to save us "millions" through the charter scheme, yet no basic hard look at our business license fees. Other surrounding Charter cities reap in millions more a year than CM. We've been asking for this, for over a year, even Mensinger at one time brought it forth. Tom Hatch says they are working on it. Although I've already found previous studies already online that have been published from previous city councils.
They should just go a present the previous studies already prepared.......they are probably sitting on top of the 1971 Costa Mesa Charter Commission Findings , in some empty office where an employee used to know where it was. Next to the original RDA loan docs.

3/04/2012 08:37:00 AM  
Anonymous again? said...

In other news it looks like Mensinger may be promising more public funds to a local sports league in the comment section of the register... cuz what he says goes.

3/04/2012 08:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Central Valley Farm Animals said...

again? wrote:

"In other news it looks like Mensinger may be promising more public funds to a local sports league in the comment section of the register... cuz what he says goes."

"I'm Steve and I'm a bully."


3/05/2012 08:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp is right on! said...

I seems that folks are getting the idea that a charter will null and void pension obligations.....I don't this it does, right?

3/05/2012 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

That's right, Wyatt. A charter will have NO effect on existing pension obligations, and will give the City NO more power than it already has to change pension programs in the future.

3/05/2012 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Jello Boy said...

The charter as they're selling it now won't do anything for the pensions in place, those can't be touched/changed/altered, it will allow the City to outsource positions, positions that have pensions, and that's how it will affect pensions,by getting rid of those that will draw a pension and replace them with lower paid contracted people that won't receive a pension from the City.

An interesting thing to remember is that just because the City terminates positions, they'll still receive a pension, that's owed to them, it might be a lower amount based on years of service, but they'll still will get it, and will continue to get it until the day they die. The charter can't change that no matter how hard they try.

3/05/2012 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous strawberry said...

Jello- you left out the part where that pension payment becomes due immediately instead of being a future obligation. Simply unaffordable.

3/05/2012 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous nevernervous said...

the myth that the charter will get rid of pension obligations is a "shiny object" put out by the anti charter folks.
As far as outsourcing jobs and then the pensions of the replaced workers being due immediately: this just shows how underfunded the pensions are. If they were sustainable the monies would be in place in the plan. This is why we need to reform pensions, it is a ponzi scheme that needs to constantly recruit new payers to pay off the old ones, Unsustainable is correct.

3/05/2012 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Ladies and gents, I apologize for not answering Tamar's challenge. Unfortunately, both kids have been really sick this weekend and now dear old Dad has it. Add to this the fact my keg of Smtihwick;s ran dry and it has been a tough weekend.

3/05/2012 05:43:00 PM  
Anonymous an alternate universe said...

a ponzi scheme? can you actually say that with a straight face???? are you really that ignorant?

I will answer the questions for you: no, no, YES!

3/05/2012 08:43:00 PM  
Anonymous maserati said...

I loved the part in last night's meeting where the Mayor calls you out GEOFF BOYCE for your reporting and your Bubbling Blog. My jaw dropped and I couldn't believe my ears...but I saw it come out of his mouth.

Anyone can blog...or wave a piece of paper for that matter. What country is he from?

3/07/2012 09:42:00 AM  

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