Monday, April 30, 2012

Righeimer Spreading The Gospel

Just in case you had not heard, our carpetbagger Mayor Pro Tem, Jim Righeimer, has managed to land himself yet another spot on national television - a bigger pulpit from which to spew his garbage.

Righeimer will present himself to CNBC's audience - all six of them - Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m.  I know, I know - I didn't tell you about this sooner, but I was conflicted about whether to expose you to more of his mantra or not.

Anyhow, I've got my VCR - yes, I still have one of those - and will record his magic mutterings and report on it sometime Tuesday morning.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another Busy Month Ahead

Well, Monday is the final day of April and I want someone to tell me where THAT month went!  Holy Cow!

Tuesday we have our first of what will be MANY meetings of the Costa Mesa City Council in May.  This one, the first of two regularly-scheduled meetings, has a pretty full agenda so we might see another long one.  The last one wrapped up just before midnight, so I may take a pillow and blankie with me Tuesday.  According to city sources there will likely be at least three more - maybe four - meetings this month because it's budget time and the City Staff is trying to figure out how to accomplish the wish list the council concocted with no study of the situation.  Another time for that discussion.

Tuesday the council holds a closed session at 5:00 p.m. and the regular meeting at 6:00 p.m.  You can read the agenda HERE.  There are nine (9) items on the Consent Calendar - "routine" items that may be voted upon in one vote unless someone on the council or public decides they want to discuss one or more of them.  Perhaps the biggest ticket item is #7,  the Fairview Traffic Signal Synchronization Project - a coordinated effort between Costa Mesa, Santa Ana and CalTrans.  Part of this item involves a budget adjustment of more than $650,000. You can read the staff report HERE.

Public Hearing #1 is a 4-unit, 4 story development on W. 20th street.  The units actually have 3 stories plus a rooftop deck.  You can read all about it HERE.

Public Hearing #2 is an ordinance modifying off-street parking requirements for establishments where food and beverages are served.  This ordinance, if passed, will relax the requirements.  It will be VERY interesting to hear the discussion on this one, since our city is full of small malls with one or more small food establishments that are severely underparked.  You can read the staff report HERE.

The only Old Business item is the second reading and adoption of a new ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from entering parks and sports facilities in the city.  This one's a no-brainer and should pass without any hassle at all.

There are six separate items on the roster under New Business, the first of which is a screening request for 40 so-called live/work units at 1527 Newport Boulevard, near the border with Newport Beach at Industrial Way.  This would displace the existing 40-unit Anchor Trailer Park, some of which are unoccupied.  I recall a few years ago when two trailer parks on the other side of Newport Boulevard were razed to make way for a medical office building and the turmoil that caused.  Theoretically, the City has a procedure in place to handle displaced folks when trailer parks are converted to other uses.  The staff report on this one is HERE.

Next comes what is turning out to be an annual event - the re-hashing of our Fireworks Ordinance.  Since the holiday falls on Wednesday this year, it's going to be interesting to see if anyone wants to sell the fireworks from the Friday before and authorize the discharge of them on other than the evening of July 4th.  The staff report is HERE.


Next come three items related to the Lions Club annual Fish Fry.  The first, HERE, is a request to move the event from Lions Park to Fairview Park and waive the special event permit and park use fees.

The second, HERE, is a request to sell beer and wine at the Fish Fry.  This one should be interesting. 

The third, HERE, deals with the demolition of the picnic shelter at Lions Park - an apparent magnet for homeless folks in our city.  Lions Park has been the epicenter for homelessness in Costa Mesa.

Finally, the last item on the agenda is a request to send Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger on an economic development boondoggle, er, conference in Las Vegas in May.  According to the staff report, HERE, they would be joined by several staffers to introduce and promote Costa Mesa to an international audience.  Unfortunately, there is no provision requiring Mensinger and Righeimer to stay in Vegas after the conference.  Seems like a missed opportunity to me.

All that, and the always exciting Council Members Comments, await us Tuesday.  I can hardly wait to hear Righeimer's latest rant.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Peter Naghavi Adds Responsibilities

In a press release issues this afternoon, Costa Mesa Communication Director Bill Lobdell announced that long time manager Peter Naghavi has agreed to assume additional responsibilities.  In addition to the responsibilities included as Economic Development Director/Deputy CEO Naghavi will now assume the leadership of the Development Services Department.

In my view, this is GREAT news for the City of Costa Mesa residents and staff.  Naghavi, through his more than two decades of service to this city, has demonstrated to be a solid manager and a person who gets things done.  It appears that development activities are beginning to ramp-up again, so his steady hand as head of Development Services will be essential.
According to the press release, Khanh Nguyen - who served as Interim Development Services Director -  will return to his previous assignment as Building Official.

Congratulations to Peter Naghavi on this new assignment and to Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch for having the wisdom to make this move. 

The text of the press release follows:

Peter Naghavi to serve as Economic and Development Services Director/Deputy CEO

COSTA MESA, CALIF. - Peter Naghavi, the city’s Economic Development Director/Deputy Chief Executive Officer, will also oversee Development Services beginning May 7.  

Naghavi’s new title will be Economic and Development Services Director/Deputy CEO.

Khanh Nguyen, who served as interim Development Services Director for the past year, had recently requested to serve again as the City’s Building Official.

“I want to thank Khanh for serving during a challenging time and for his extra efforts in guiding the Development Services Department,” said Tom Hatch, the City’s Chief Executive Officer.

By eliminating the Development Services Director position, the city will save more than $225,000 annually.
Naghavi, who will receive no additional salary, will concentrate on several key initiations, including:
  • Increased focus on economic development;
  • Internal recruitment for assistant Development Services director;
  • Updating the City’s General Plan;
  • Overseeing several large development projects in the works;
  • Planning for the significant financial impact to the City due to state raids on redevelopment funding;
  • Overseeing stepped up Code Enforcement and appropriately regulating drug and alcohol rehab facilities.

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CMPD Plans Drug "Take Back" Tomorrow

The Costa Mesa Police Department issued a press release this afternoon announcing a "Drug Take Back" event Saturday, April 28, 2012 between 10:00 a.m and 2:00 p.m. at the Costa Mesa Police Department at 99 Fair Drive.  The full text of the press release follows:

On Saturday, April 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. the Costa Mesa Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public an opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free, anonymous, and no questions asked.

Bring your medications for disposal to the front desk of the Costa Mesa Police Department – 99 Fair Drive. 

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
Four days after the first Take-Back event in September 2010, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. DEA has begun drafting regulations to implement the Act, a process that can take as long as 24 months. Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies like Costa Mesa Police Department and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events every few months.

      For further information contact Sgt. Phil Myers at 714.754.5074.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jerome Hoban Named Fairgrounds CEO

In a press release following the Fair Board meeting this afternoon, Chair Joyce Tucker announced that Jerome Hoban, current Vice President of Operations at the Orange County Fair and Event Center, has been named interim CEO, replacing Dr. Steve Beazley, who will apparently leave his position effetive May 1.

The press release follows in it's entirety.  If you wish to view a larger version please just click on the image.

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Fair Board Like A WWF Match!

OK, I'm not a big WWF fan, but attending Fair Board meetings is clearly going to be like going to one of those events in person!  Geez!

I attended the most recent Fair Board meeting this morning and found it to be enlightening, to say the very least.  Suffice it to say that it's a darn good thing that fifteen feet and a big conference table separate new members Nick Berardino and Stan Tkaczyk from hold-over member Dave Ellis and his new pal, Ali Jahangiri.  A couple times during the two and half hour meeting I found myself wondering why we just didn't adjourn to the parking lot and let those guys go at it.

As expected, the recent spate of Daily Pilot articles - three of them - that appeared in one edition caused much controversy.  Speakers before the Board took exception to how some of the information had been presented regarding the costs of keeping horses at the Equestrian Center.  The writer of the article, Jon Cassidy, and the Editor of the Pilot, John Canalis, both were present and heard the complaints.  It's my understanding that a correction will be published soon.

Beyond that, it was clear from the heated discussion between Berardino and Ellis - with Tkaczyk occasionally chiming in - that the source of the information was most likely Ellis.

The second article dealt with the decision by the State Attorney General to step away - again - from the Fair Board as a "client", requiring the board to seek outside legal counsel.  Apparently the AG is unhappy that there remains on-going turmoil about the proposed sale of the fairgrounds by certain members of the board three years ago.  Lame duck CEO Steve Beazley explained the chain of events and correspondence that led to the AG rejecting the Fair Board.  In fact, on the agenda today was an item about the forming of a committee to investigate the whole sale mess.  More on that in a minute.

The first agenda item under "Governance Process" dealt with Nick Berardino's suggestion that there should be some kind of public art commemorating the contribution of agricultural workers to the growth and development of Orange County.  A very professional presentation was made by staffer Joan Hamill, showing examples of such art and describing probable methods of making a selection.  After a short discussion Chair Joyce Tucker appointed Berardino and Tkaczyk as a committee to get the ball rolling and report back to the Board at a future meeting.

The second item was the review and approval of the scope of work for the Fair Sale Review Committee and to provide direction regarding the appointment of committee members.  It all began smoothly, with Berardino announcing the names of various members submitted by community organizations that were involved.  The Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce had not been contacted yet, but would be, plus the chairwoman still had to name two at-large members from the community.  Apparently, from a comment she later made, two retired judges had declined positions in this organization.  At this point things really got interesting.


By the nature of questions raised by Ellis - a person who logically would be one of the subjects of any investigation into the fair sale - it was clear to most observers that his intent was to encumber the process to the point that the group would be unable to do the job.  He presented the Board with a list (which he described as a "partial list") of 71 individuals he felt should be interrogated by the committee to get to the bottom of the issue.  Besides himself and every other then-sitting Board member, it included state and federal legislators, county officials, elected city officials (past and present), other bidders on the property, consultants involved in the process and many, many more.  Ellis also raised the question of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting law, indicating that this committee must be guided by the rules of that law.  He also suggested that every member should be required to complete financial disclosure forms.  As he indelicately put it, "You know what I make, now I want to know what you make."  That comment set the tone for the "discussion".  During one heated exchange Berardino accused Ellis of trying to stop the committee, stating, "I think you're hiding something!"   Newby Ashleigh Aitken helped un-muddy the water when it came time to vote specifically on the Scope Of Work segment, which eventually passed unanimously.

Then more jockeying about the participants on the committee ensued.   Member Ali Jahangiri threw a monkey wrench into the works by demanding that committee membership should be open to anyone and everyone!  Berardino reminded him that all this had been hashed out at a meeting he failed to attend and that such a request would make it virtually impossible for the committee to function.  I saw just the slightest glimmer of a smile on Ellis' face...  The Board rejected that irrational request and resolved to have a total of 5 "at-large" members on the committee, up from two, and that Chair Tucker would appoint them.   Eventually, after much public comment, the Board voted to move forward with the committee as recommended plus the additional at-large positions and a pending contact with the Chamber of Commerce.  Only Ellis voted no.

No provision has been made for legal guidance for this committee, no budget has been discussed and - despite several pleas by proposed members - the Board did not approve a mechanism to extend the life of this committee beyond the original 120 days.  If, in fact, Ellis' list of 71 names is just a starting point and if each of them must be interrogated to reach a decision AND if the Board and other entities will be required to provide the documents demanded by at least one member, I fear this committee will simply be spinning it's wheels and is doomed to failure.

A sidebar... some of the proposed members of the committee were in attendance at this meeting.  This afternoon I've been advised that some of them may be having second thoughts and will withdraw from participation.  It's hard to blame them after watching this disfunctional display this morning.  Chair Tucker had that perpetual "deer in the headlights" look on her face, failed to control the discussion didn't provide any leadership that I saw.  That's too bad.


The final item on the open session agenda was the presentation of the proposed remodel of the Pacific Amphitheatre.  It was a short presentation because the staff, after reviewing all the elements, have decided that it is just not possible to pull everything together - and find the money to perform this renovation - in order to begin this fall.  They asked, and the Board agreed, to extend the time for them to do further analysis.  By the way, the plans look GREAT!

So, another interesting morning in the land of Newport-Mesa is under my prodigious belt.  This one was certainly an exercise in frustration - like watching a ship steam at full speed through stormy waters without a firm hand on the rudder.  The residents of our county deserve better...  Maybe my friend, Byron de Arakal - who was quoted extensively by one speaker today - is right.  Maybe we SHOULD just sell the place!

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What Was He Thinking?!

Well, if my friend - maybe former friend - Tom Johnson wanted to shake things up in our neck of the woods when he took over running the Orange County Register's The Current recently, it looks like he's off to precisely that kind of a start.

You've read about his shredding of me for my characterization of his pal, Frank Mickadeit, on these pages.  Well, the edition of The Current that will be in news racks all over town on Friday will rattle a few more cages.

In his commentary, HERE - in addition to suggesting he might support new Democrat Bob Rush for Assembly instead of Leslie Daigle or Allan Mansoor - Johnsom alludes to a comment from Barbara Venezia's piece on an adjoining page titled, "Newport Business Task Force On Shaky Ground", HERE.  In that piece Venezia quotes Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce head Richard Luehrs - responding to her question about an interest-free loan allegededly offered to the Chamber to help it out of a huge financial hole -  as saying,
"This is highly confidential information and whoever leaked this should be shot in the head. I stressed to our board and executive committee how confidential this was."  Yikes and Double Yikes!

I'm trying to imagine a circumstance where a respected member of the community - and a very highly visible one, at that - could possibly make that kind of a statement to anyone, much less to a columnist for a local news outlet.  This is fresh news, so it's unclear if this is going to be Luehrs' "Dick Nicols 'Mexican on the Grass'" moment or not.  Some will recall that then-councilmember Nicols made that unfortunate comment to then-Daily Pilot reporter June Casagrande several years ago and that gaffe stuck with him forever.
Silly me - I thought the only controversial stuff happened on the Costa Mesa side of our common border.  There's never a dull moment in the land of Newport-Mesa.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fair Board Meeting Thursday

So, after all the turmoil about the trifecta of articles involving the Orange County Fair and Event Center in the Daily Pilot today I've decided to matriculate over to the Fairgrounds tomorrow at 10:00 to check out the action at the Fair Board meeting.  Although the agenda is long - 80 pages - the actual program may not be all that lengthy.  You can read the agenda HERE.

Three items appear on the "Governance Process" segment of the agenda.

A.  Proposal for Creation of Worker's Memorial - This is Nick Berardino's idea to create some kind of a permanent monument at the Fairgrounds comemorating the contributions of agricultural workers to our state.

B.  Review and Approve the Scope of Work for the Fair Sale Review Committee and Provide Direction Regarding the Appointment of Committee Members - This is going to be a VERY interesting issue, particularly when we see who will be appointed to the committee.

C.  Review and Approve Pacific Amphitheatre Renovation Project - This project, originally scheduled to begin in October of this year and be completed by July of 2013, will cost over $15 million to complete - significantly more than originally projected.  Because of the additional costs involved it is unlikely that the project will commence at the original date.  The staff is looking for direction from the Board.

I'll report back tomorrow sometime - hopefully before I join councilwoman Wendy Leece at the Costa Mesa Military Affairs Team meeting at 6:00 at the Emergency Operations Center adjacent to the Police Station at 99 Fair Drive.


Curious Timing Or PR Spinning At The Fairgrounds? (Amended)

Tonight I write to you about a curious phenomenon that occurred in one of our local newspapers today.  After what seems like months of absence from the pages of the Daily Pilot - it's really only been a few weeks - all of a sudden today there are three (3) big news stories dealing with the Orange County Fair and Event Center online Tuesday night which will likely appear in print Wednesday.  Yes, I know there is almost always some little piece in the Daily Pilot about this or that event at the Fairgrounds - it's what they do across the street from City Hall, after all.  While informative, I'd have to describe most of those as benign.  Not so with the pieces that will appear today.  NOTE:  Before I was out of bed this morning former Fair Board President Dave Ellis signed in with a couple clarifications.  You can read them below in green italics.

The last "news" story about the Fairgrounds before today was an article on March 22nd describing the cessation of elephant rides during the annual Fair.  Before that was a story a month earlier about two new Fair Board members - Ashleigh Aitken and Stan Tkaczyk - being appointed by Governor Jerry Brown.  Today the Daily Pilot made up for lost time.  In no particular order, here are the three stories regarding the Fairgrounds that appear today.

First, is a piece by Jon Cassidy - former Orange County Register reporter who now writes the occasional story for the Daily Pilot as a contractor - titled, "Fair collects little from Equestrian Center".  You can read it HERE.  It outlines the financial part of the equestrian activities at the Fairgrounds with a slant on the story that would lead one to believe there may be a move afoot to further reduce - or completely eliminate - the equestrian activities at the Fairgrounds.  In recent years the footprint of that activity has been reduced by 50% and it is widely known that former Fair Board president Dave Ellis was a main proponent of ousting the horse folks and paving over that area and using it as additional parking.  No mention is made in this particular article of the value to the community of the equestrian activities on the Fairgrounds property.  Nor is there any historical context of those activities - only raw numbers.  It seems one-sided. (Dave Ellis says,"
in 2009 former Fair Board President Julie Vandermost led the effort to terminate the equestrian operation, not me.  It has never come to a vote so you do not know what my position is, or might be.  I think you might be listening to some folks that have a different agenda.  However, I do have a concern fair revenues subsidizing private clubs operating on public land.")


The second article appearing today is another piece by the recently-ubiquitous Cassidy titled, "Attorney general drops Fair Board as client."  The thrust of the story, which you can read HERE, is the fact that the State Attorney General has, once again, refused to represent the Fair Board in matters involving the lingering questions about the bogus sale scheme that occurred a couple years ago, citing conflict of interest concerns.  Again, the equestrian users are a centerpiece of this article.  And, again, this piece seems to have a distinctly pro-Fair Board slant.

The third article appearing today is columnist Steve Smith's little epistle titled, "Fair Board gets it right when helping foster kids."  You can read Smith's disjointed piece HERE.  OK, some of you will say the use of "disjointed" is a little harsh, but that's how I view it.  He begins with a supposed quote from Robert Kennedy, then follows up with a couple other unattributed numerical quotes, including his statement, "80% of complaints will come from 20% of the citizens."  I don't know where he got that one, but I suggest it's not even close.  I suspect that most of the complaints by citizens come from a very small percentage of the populace - maybe 5% or less.  I state that based on a decade of watching our local government in action and realizing that fewer than 50 people regularly speak up at public meetings - those people that actually pay attention to issues.

He then veers into the excellent program wherein the Fair Board provides a "foster family night" - an evening at the Fair before it's open to the public where foster families may attend and not have to deal with the rest of us.  It's a good program and, according to Smith, was previously paid for by private funds.  This year the Board hopes to attract 25,000 people to the event - nearly three times last year's number - and it will be funded by an additional dollar charged on tickets for shows at the Pacific Amphitheater.  (Dave Ellis says, "
One more small detail in your Foster Family story.  Steve Smith posted this comment (below) to his story as a clarification on the funding of the event.  This is an important item … Joyce Tucker and I start raising the 150K in the next couple of weeks … I’d like to make it clear that the vast majority of the funds for the event will be from private sources.  The $1 per PacAmp ticket is designed to help if we fall short.  In the event of a surplus of funds the remainder will flow to a college scholarship program for foster children.

smi161 at 3:32 PM April 24, 2012
Readers, please note: Funding for the foster family night will include significant private donations in the range of $150,000. Any leftover funds will be used to establish a scholarship program for Orange County's foster children. SS")

He then gets into the "is that buck a tax?" issue, and whether people should be subjected to paying an additional tax.  He decides that, yes, we members of the public should fork over another buck to pay for this program.  According to him, "it's the least we can do".  Really?

Smith then brushes aside criticism of the program wherein some apparently have suggested this is another "deal" contrived by the Fair Board.  I don't know if it is or not - Smith cavalierly dismisses that thought - but it speaks volumes about how at least a few members of the public feel about the Fair Board.  They've learned not to trust them.

In his final sentence Smith says, "One night at the fair is the least we can do to say thank you to these families through a small charge, even if the malcontent 20% believe otherwise."  I highlighted that word because it rings of a phrase planted by someone pushing the Fair Board view of anyone who dares to criticize them.

My point here is that each of these articles have managed to appear all at once on the pages of our local newspaper of record and have just the slightest whiff of PR-flackery in them.  I'm not suggesting that Cassidy nor Smith are biased in their reporting, but none of the three articles seem to carry the kind of balance one might hope for.  Yeah, I know - Steve Smith is a "columnist" and, therefore, not required to be "fair and balanced" in his presentation of issues.  And, of course, he makes his living as a PR flack.

What I AM suggesting is that this kind of smells like the work of a good Public Relations person - someone hired to pump out "news" with a definite slant in favor of the Fair Board's views.  In my view, there's nothing wrong with that as long as the local media is not complicit in presenting only one side of the issue.  It's something to consider.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

City Announces First Meeting Of Military Affairs Team

In a press release yesterday afternoon Director of Communication Bill Lobdell announced the first meeting of the City's Military Affairs Team.  The complete text of that press release follows:


First meeting of the City’s Military Affairs Team scheduled for Thursday
COSTA MESA, CALIF.—The public is encouraged to attend the initial meeting of the City of Costa Mesa’s Military Affairs Team at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Police Department’s Emergency Operations Center at 99 Fair Drive.

The team, led by Councilwoman Wendy Leece and Planning Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick, will focus on three areas:

*Continued support for the the city’s adopted infantry battalion—the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines—and its families through the Care-Pac Program and various community fundraisers.
*Help at-risk Costa Mesa veterans who by working with nonprofits to ensure the veterans who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness receive the best care possible.
*Collaborate with community stakeholders to honor all branches of the military in a variety of ways such as holding welcome home nights, erecting memorial plaques throughout the city and providing assistance with job placement.

For more information, please call management analyst Dan Baker at (714) 754-5156 or e-mail
him here.

Committee Application Period Extended

The City of Costa Mesa extended the application date for those residents interested in volunteering for several city committees.  Those committees are:
Cultural Arts Committee
Historical Preservation Committee
Investment Oversight Committee

The original solicitation for these committees this year was announced on April 12th with a deadline for submission of applications of April 19th.  Apparently the response was low because, on April 20th, the deadline was extended to April 27th.

Quite honestly, I'm not surprised if there has been a small response to this solicitation.  Some history....

Last October, in response to a similar request for volunteers, three dozen interested parties replied with applications for these committees plus the Redevelopment and Residential Rehabilitation (3R) committee and the Costa Mesa Senior Center Board.


At their meeting on October 18, 2011, after a lengthy discussion, the City Council apparently decided - on a 4-1 vote with Wendy Leece voting No -  that they didn't like the responses so appointed certain individuals asking to be re-appointed, deferred the selection of new applicants until this spring and modified the policy in question significantly.  Here are the comments taken verbatim from the minutes of that meeting:

MOTION: Amended Council Policy 000-2 with the following changes:

1. That membership of the Cultural Arts Committee, Historical Preservation Committee and the 3R Committee be reduced to 9 regular committee members and 2 alternate members.

2. Limit appointees to only Costa Mesa residents.

3. To no longer consider late applications.

4. To reduce the recruitments to once a year in the spring (April).

5. That those applications received for reappointment be reappointed to fill the current vacancies.

6. Directed that all the applicants that submitted, and not appointed be considered at the Spring realignment and recruitment.

7. Directed that the numbers of the membership would be ultimately reduced with the spring recruitment.

The following reappointments were made:
Anthony S. Manqrique was reappointed to the Cultural Arts Committee as a regular member;
John McQueen, was reappointed to the Historical Preservation Committee as a regular member; Terry Shaw was reappointed as a regular member and David Stiller was reappointed as an alternate member to the Investment Oversight Committee; Robert Dickson, Philip Morello, Arlene Schafer, Cambria Briggs and Bob Wakeham were reappointed as regular members and Andrew Smith was reappointed as an alternate to the 3R Committee.

The remainder of the applicants didn't receive so much as a thank you for applying after being stiff-armed by the council.  I know more than a few of those summarily rejected.  They are good, solid citizens with an interest in serving their city.  The behavior of the council last year was not only unexpected, but unacceptable. 


This is not the first time something like this has been done by this council.  Their arrogant attempt to mold this city into some kind of Irvine-esque utopia is falling well short of their mark simply because of their tactics.  Hopefully, the voters will finally wake up and vote some of these guys out of office in November.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Planning Commission Agenda For Tonight

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission, under the direction of Chairman Colin McCarthy - also president of the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association and main shill for the OC GOP attempt to take over Costa Mesa government - has an agenda that could generate some interesting discussions and evoke comments from the public, too.  You can read the agenda HERE.  The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers.

In the Consent Calendar there is an item requesting yet another liquor license for The Triangle (formerly known as Triangle Square).  You can read the request for the transfer of this license from another location just down the street to this location HERE.  In my opinion, we have more than plenty of places where a person who wants to get soused can do so, including just a stone's throw up the street at a pub owned by a current council member.  I'm hoping that a city council in the future will seriously look at the proliferation of liquor stores and bars in our city.  There's a reason members of the CMPD consistently rank high in the number of DUI arrests they make each year.

The first Public Hearing deals with a new Recycling Center on the Westside.  The applicant has requested a continuance until the May 14th meeting.

The second Public Hearing is a request to convert an existing building at 450 17th Street into a drive-thru Starbucks coffee dispensary plus something described as "another food use".  It's my understanding that many of my Eastside neighbors are not happy with this and may show up tonight to speak against it.  You can read the staff report HERE.  As an aside, I have a question... Just how many Starbucks stores do we need in a two block stretch?  This would be the third in basically three blocks!  Yikes!

The third Public Hearing is a request to convert a residential lot at 164 Flower Street into two parcels so a two-unit common interest development can be constructed and each sold separately.  The variances for this one seem minor.  You can read the staff report HERE.

Finally, the fourth Public Hearing deals with a request to build a six-unit common interest development at 2070 Maple Avenue - another attempt to upgrade the Westside one development at a time.  The staff report, including all the requests for variances, can be read HERE.

In case you've not noticed, our Planning Commission has begun to have more meetings lately.  That's a very good thing.  That means that folks with money have finally decided to spend some of it developing and re-developing properties in Costa Mesa.

My blog host has apparently has had a temper tantrum and is refusing to let me post most images in locations I want.  So, for the near term, I'm just going to have to deal with it the best I can.  Some of you who come here for the fun images are just going to have to suffer along with me until we get this sorted out.  I don't know how this will affect comments or other features.  Please be patient.  Sorry...

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Monahan's Gin Mill Burglarized!

In a press release just after 9 p.m. this evening the Costa Mesa Police Department announced that former Mayor Gary Monahan's business at the corner of Newport Boulevard and 20th Street was among at least three burglaries perpetrated by one individual.  The suspect, Connor Craig Schryver - a 24 year-old from Santa Ana - was arrested shortly thereafter and was transported to the Orange County Jail.  

Kudos to the CMPD and the concerned citizens who facilitated the rapid apprehension of this guy.  His booking photo is shown below, just above the text of the Press Release.


On 4/22/12, at 0648 hours, CMPD officers were dispatched to a report of a male climbing down from the second story rooftop of Skosh Monahan’s restaurant and bar, located at 2000 Newport Bd.  Skosh Monahan’s is owned by City Councilmember Gary Monahan.  A witnessed observed the male carrying a stick and appeared to have been bleeding from his arm. 
Within minutes, CMPD officers responded to the immediate area and did not locate the suspect.  Officers quickly established a perimeter around several blocks of the surrounding residential neighborhood.   While conducting a thorough search of Skosh Monahan’s, it was determined a commercial burglary occurred as officers located an exterior broken window and several damaged items inside the business. 
As officers maintained a prolonged, coordinated search of several residential square blocks east of Newport Bd., a witness flagged down CMPD officers reporting a suspicious male jumping over fences in the 2000 block of Marian Av.  Officers quickly converged and observed a male running and jumping from residential rooftop to rooftop.  The suspect was subsequently detained and arrested without incident in the 2000 block of Orange Av.    
The male, identified as Connor Craig Schryver, 24 years old from Santa Ana, was found carrying an approximate 18” decorative dagger tucked through the belt in his pants.  He was also carrying a large roll of rope wrapped over his shoulder, as well as several other miscellaneous small tools in his possession.  The decorative dagger was later identified as stolen from Skosh Monahan’s.  Schryver was found with an approximate 6” laceration on his left arm. 
As a result of the preliminary investigation, Schryver is also suspected of committing a residential garage burglary in the 2000 block of Marian Av. and a vehicle burglary in the 2000 block of Orange Av.  It appeared Schryver fled Skosh Monahan’s prior to CMPD’s arrival and ran through several backyard throughout the residential neighborhood east of Orange Av. and south of 21st St. prior to being apprehended by CMPD officers. 
A number of witnesses and victims, including Councilmember Monahan, assisted with CMPD’s preliminary investigation.  Schryver admitted to officers that he had been drinking alcohol throughout the previous evening and had also made incoherent statements indicating he had collected the stolen items to preserve his “survival.”  It appeared Schryver was unfamiliar with the area and was not purposely targeting Skosh Monahan’s or any of the other victims.
Schryver has been charged with three (3) counts of felony Burglary, one (1) count of felony Possession of Stolen Property, and one (1) count of felony Vandalism.  He was transported to Orange County Jail and is being held on $50,000 bail.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Will The Real Tom Johnson Please Stand Up?

STUCK ON THE HORNS...Tonight I find myself on the proverbial horns of a dilemma. Tonight I'm going to write about someone I've grown to consider a friend, but I'm afraid I'm not going to write about him in very friendly terms.

Way, way back in the dark ages - shortly after the turn of the century - I wrote my very first "Letter to the Editor" to the Daily Pilot in response to something then-columnist Byron De Arakal had written about the Costa Mesa City Council. It struck a chord with me, so I fired off a little note and, much to my surprise, it was published. Tom Johnson was the publisher of the Daily Pilot at the time and he, along with his pal, Bill Lobdell, had managed to salvage our local newspaper of record from dire times.

I had lived in Costa Mesa for almost three decades at the time and, like most of us, paid very little attention to local political issues. I just trusted the elected officials to do the right thing, keep our city safe and clean and do so with a minimum of fuss. Like most of us, I had been busy making a living. But, with my then-recent retirement I began to pay attention and, knowing just a little bit about management, didn't much like what I saw evolving. Those were the days when Chris Steel finally got elected after being rejected by wiser electorates nine times before. This was the beginning of the politicizing of Costa Mesa politics.
A month later something else
provoked me, so I wrote another "letter" and it, too, was published. That relationship grew and, at one point, the Daily Pilot was publishing my submissions three times a week. That's how all this began, so Tom gets some of the credit/blame.

Over the years Tom and/or his lieutenants and successors have offered me a chance to write a weekly column in that fine newspaper eleven times. While extremely grateful for those opportunities, each time I politely rejected the offer. I can't write on someone else's deadline, nor can I write "on assignment". I write what I write, when I write it because I'm moved to do so. And, as the years passed, I continued to submit commentaries - most of them much too long - and each successive editorial team has chosen to publish most of them. I was, and am, very grateful for that. I've always been grateful for the opportunity to present my views to my neighbors, both in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

Tom and I shared a mutual disgust for the rantings of one local writer - a man of international infamy as a voice of intolerance. Tom coined the nickname "Mensa Marty" for this fellow - you know who I mean.
When Tom departed the Daily Pilot in a huff a few years ago after the leadership of the Los Angeles Times and the Tribune Companies - the owners of the Times Community Newspapers, of which the Daily Pilot is a large part - began to have major difficulties, he and Lobdell teamed up to create what they envisioned to be the probable future of local news - a homogenization of news delivery with online first and print in a secondary role. They asked me to be part of their advisory board - a role I happily accepted. I was excited and energized by this new concept and hoped it would succeed.

That publication, The Daily Voice, had modest success. Lobdell departed to go work with the infamous Barry Minkow and Tom eventually folded the operation into what is now the Newport Beach Independent. He left that organization last year after disagreeing with the direction the owners were taking.


Quite frankly, Tom Johnson's departure from the Daily Pilot left a void that was never filled. Oh, yes, there have been some excellent newsmen who have become editors, including John Canalis - but Tom's presence as publisher was very special. He was involved in the community at a level not matched by anyone since his departure. Tom was everywhere, on boards of this and that and was the real face of the Daily Pilot. If someone needed to reach a mover and shaker locally, Tom could find a way to make that happen.

I was overjoyed that Tom recent
ly surfaced again as the General Manager of the struggling local supplement to the Orange County Register, The Current. He immediately changed the "look" of the paper and seemed to have some great ideas for it downstream. And, it was great to see him involved in community events again. At the recent Feet To The Fire Forum, at which he was one of the interrogators on the panel, he seemed very engaged in the issues. And, following the program, I saw him doing his "newsman" thing, schmoozing with folks like Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger. That's just what you'd expect him to be doing as the head guy of a local news outlet.

ER OFFER, AGAIN GRATEFULLY DECLINEDAt a recent Costa Mesa City Council meeting which also Johnson attended we had a nice chat and he offered me a column in The Current. Again, I politely declined, citing the same reasons I had declined his previous offers with the Daily Pilot. We departed from that meeting completely satisfied with how it went - or so I thought.

Last Monday, April 16th, out of the blue Tom sent me a short, cryptic note. Here's what he wrote:

"I find it interesting that you haven't referenced Frank Mickadeit's column on the firefighters. Is this just an oversight or something you disagree with?
TJ" You can read Mickadeit's column HERE.

I wrote back to him that I was just one guy with a lot of territory to cover and that I'd seen Mickadeit's column and hadn't decided whether to write about it or not. However, his little prod forced me to set aside some other stuff I was working on and write about it. You read it HERE. I sent Tom the link to my blog entry the next morning and heard nothing from him since then.

Today he penned (can we actually use that term any more?) this scathing piece about me in The Current, HERE. I was surprised and, quite frankly - after a day of jury duty and running on fumes from 3 hours sleep following the publication of my blog entry after Tuesday night's Council Meeting - left a little dismayed.

Tom is clearly very critical of what I wrote and how I wrote it, but he had just offered me a job to do that very thing for him two weeks earlier. This quantum shift made me more than a little curious and, since I hold him in such high esteem, got my juices flowing.

Certainly, it's possible for Tom to disagree with my views of the local situation. After all, I actually live in Costa Mesa and have a perspective one can only achieve by having a dog in the hunt. That being said, Tom Johnson has been so fully-immersed in Newport-Mesa affairs for decades that his voice is one that should be heard. Considering our decade-long relationship, I guess I expected to hear from him directly first.

As you read through Tom's column you'll find that he quotes extensively from my blog entry about Frank Mickadeit. He, apparently, is unhappy that I've chosen to criticize another Register writer for only presenting one side of the issue. Then, again, Mickadeit is a columnist, where his opinion is presented prevalently - that's the way it should be.

Tom criticizes me for presenting MY opinion on MY blog where the objective is clearly stated in the masthead. I present the readers with my views, based on the facts as I understand them, along with my opinions. Those who might be offended by my characterizations or the images I choose to use to emphasize a point can simply not read them - it's pretty simple.

Near the end of his piece Tom says: "I don't look at journalism as a way to fan the fire. I'm proud of the fact that my newspapers in the past have been community watchdogs, forums for equal discussion, reservoirs of information and most importantly, community cheerleaders." OK, I agree with his characterization of his former publications and accept that, but "fanning the fire" is EXACTLY what he did during his participation in the Feet To The Fire Forum. Watch the tape, HERE. That's a pretty mixed message, don't you think?

Early in his piece Tom calls me a bully, and yet he uses his "bully pulpit" - yes, I know the definition of that phrase - to bully me! His distribution reaches tens of thousands of readers each week - a claim I only wish I could make. He refers to what I write as "editorializing at its best" - which I fully accept as an accurate description of what I do here. However, I think he meant it as a criticism, not a compliment.

A more cynical guy - yeah, I admit to being cynical - might find it curious that Tom's incendiary criticism of me occurs just about the time that Will Swaim got a real journalism job again and has, apparently, stopped lobbing literary grenades into my backyard from his cozy home in Irvine. I'm sure that's just a coincidence, but...


With great power comes great responsibility. As the General Manager of a significant local news source, Tom has great power at his fingertips. Back when he used to write the occasional column as the publisher of the Daily Pilot I would tease him when mistakes were made - asking him "who edits the editor?" We would chuckle about that at the time. Well, the question remains today. Does he plan to use the power of his position to pillory folks with opposing viewpoints or those who criticizes his friends? If so, is that REALLY an appropriate use of the power of his position?

Some readers may throw that back at me, but it's not the same thing at all. This blog is not part of a major regional newspaper organization, nor does it sell advertising and subscriptions. The facts I present represent the best information I have available to me and the views here are mine. Most visitors to this site understand that and also understand they are free to read and comment or simply not click on the link and move on.

I'm not sure where we go from here, but I suspect I've had my last job offer from Tom Johnson.

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