Monday, June 18, 2012

Another Marathon Meeting Anticipated Tuesday

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 the Costa Mesa City Council will hold its next regularly scheduled meeting beginning at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall.  The meeting will be preceded by a Closed Session starting at 5:00 p.m.

Ahead in this edition you'll read about, not necessarily in order:

  • The potential approval of the Fiscal Year 2012/2013 Municipal Budget
  • The potential resolution by the City Council about the proposed I-405 Improvement Project
  • The extension of the helicopter services Memorandum of Understanding with Huntington Beach for 3 more years
  • The legal bills keep on stacking up
  • The RFP for Facilities Maintenance to be modified and re-issued
  • A contract with five (5) separate companies to provide building safety and fire prevention plan review and inspection services
  • The renewed Measure M (M2) Eligibility
  • Public hearings on Federally-funded programs
  • The re-naming of the Redevelopment and Residential Rehabilitation (3R) Committee
  • The possible termination of the annual independent financial audit services with Mayer, Hoffman, McCann, P.C.
  • RFPs for Graphic Design Services and Reprographics
Right off the bat, the Consent Calendar is chock full of items that are ripe for picking.  Council members or residents can pull any item for separate discussion and vote. 
  • Among those of special interest might be Warrant #2424, HERE, which includes a payment to Jones and Mayer of more than $112,000 for legal services.
  • An agreement, HERE,  with five companies to provide building safety and fire prevention plan review and inspection services for more than $500,000.
  • Extension for 3 years of the Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Huntington Beach for helicopter services, not to exceed $300,000 annually, HERE.  We paid that city just under $24,000 for those services for April, 2012 based on the warrants attached to the staff report.
  • Measure M (M2) Renewal and 7-year Capital Improvement Plan, HERE
There are five (5) Public Hearings on the agenda Tuesday, although #1, a helipad on a roof near John Wayne Airport, has apparently subsequently been withdrawn. 


Items 2, 3 and 4 deal with Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) funding.

Item #2, the 2012/2013 CDBG Public Service Grant Allocations, HERE, informs us that there has been a reduction in funds available for this program of more than 15%, so this year we will have only $157,502 available to distribute to those organizations who apply.  A review of the proposed grant recommendations by the 3R Committee, HERE,  provide an interesting picture for your consideration.  EVERY organization will receive less than they requested and less than the current year's allocation with two exceptions.  Mercy House - Homeless Prevention (Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer is on the board of this organization) will receive $19,002 - double the allocation for the current year and less than half what they requested even though they were among the lowest ranked by the 3R Committee.  The City of Costa Mesa HCD - Homeless Outreach will receive $35,000 - the full amount requested.


Item #3 , Funding Priorities for the CDBG and HOME programs, HERE, is an interesting story.  Basically, the program has been gutted of staff as you can clearly read in the staff report.  I won't go over them - you can read about them if you wish - but another big part of this item is the staff recommendation to completely reconfigure the 3R committee and make it an ad hoc committee instead of a standing committee.  This is  very big deal because that committee has arguably been the most powerful committee in the city in recent years.  The city will have $1,344,664 in CDBG funds and $461,320 in HOME funds to use in FY 2012/2013.


Item #4, Approval of an amendment to the 2011/2012 Action Plan, HERE, is a discussion and possible resolution on the use of the funds mentioned above.

Item #5 is the 2012/2013 Municipal Budget, HERE.  This one may take you some time to digest, especially when the staff report jumps right in with the elimination of four (4) positions as the preamble to the remainder of the discussion.  In fact, the four individuals who occupied those jobs until last Thursday, when they were unceremoniously shown the door at City Hall, are officially on paid leave until the budget passes.  At that point they will be given 30 day notice of their jobs being eliminated and will be off the payroll at the end of a month.  And, the choices of individual positions to be eliminated is curious, to say the least.  For example, at the busiest time of any year for the City Clerk's office - the run-up to and through a municipal election - somebody decided to dump an Office Specialist II slot.  And this happens when the City Clerk is on paid administrative leave while a "clerical error" is being investigated and a temporary, Interim City Clerk has been hired.

Even stranger is the elimination of the Information Technology Manager position.  That organization, which has been burdened with an antiquated system for years, is apparently scheduled for multi-million dollar upgrades to everything - every computer, wire, connection, etc. soon.  One would think that the IT Manager would be our de facto Project Manager on this kind of a undertaking.  Bobby Young, Director of Finance and Information Technology has a platter that is already overflowing, so he can't take on that job.  What I expect to see is another consultant hired to ramrod this project - sound familiar? - leaving NO CITY EMPLOYEE in the loop.

The other two sliced positions are in the Building Division of the Development Services Department, where two Office Specialists were axed on the assumption that the addition of two new Code Enforcement Officers will pick up the slack - even though one of them will be assigned full time to the Police Department.   Funny, we're ramping-up a huge effort to attract businesses to our city and to encourage folks to buy and upgrade their homes yet we slice two persons with very significant experience and institutional knowledge from the very staff that would be needed to provide services to that effort.  Will somebody explain that to me, please?

Back to the budget.  This year the "conservative" council is proposing a $132,676,130 All Funds budget - up 15.45%!  The General Fund budget is proposed for $101,119,710, up "only" 6.84%.  The Capital Budget - roads, streets, parks and other infrastructure - is $20,796,936, a whopping 98.17% increase!

In the General Fund budget we actually have a $55,225 surplus, but in the All Funds budget - the whole enchilada - we must use almost $8 million in Fund Balances to make the numbers work.  Does this sound "conservative" to you?  Of course not!  No, these guys have gutted the staff, refused to permit filling of vacancies in public safety areas (Even though Chief Tom Gazsi has taken the initiative to begin a three-pronged recruitment effort for police officers because of the long lead time necessary to fill those jobs) and still nearly double the Capital budget!  Read Attachment A from the budget proposal HERE.

As of last week the actually city head count was hovering just below 430 individuals.  This is down from a high of 611 before the economy kicked us and everyone else in the teeth beginning in 2008.  Virtually every department in our city government has realized very significant staff cuts - except one.  That would be the CEO's office, which has increased the headcount by more than 50%.  Note Jennifer Muir's recent commentary on that subject HERE.
It's clear to me that this council, with the actions they have and are taking, have absolutely no idea what "service to the public" is all about.  They are gutting the staff and building an upside-down pyramid, with large numbers of managers at the top and very few workers at the bottom.  Eighteen months ago, when Righeimer and his crew first initiated their "outsourcing plan" I joked that their idea of a perfect city staff would be Tom Hatch and a half dozen contract administrators to manage the outsourced operations.  Well, that was funny at the time... not so funny now.
Under Old Business on the agenda the first item is the discussion of councilman Steve Mensinger's demand that the City divorce itself from  the audit firm of Mayer, Hoffman, McCann, P.C., whom we just hired to perform those services for us, because of their role in the City of Bell debacle.  The staff is recommending that we NOT terminate the contract and the staff report, HERE, provides the reasoning behind it.  This should make for an interesting discussion.

Item #2 under New Business is a discussion of a resolution by the City Council to support Alternatives 1 and 2 and opposing #3 in the I-405 Improvement Project, HERE.  It is anticipated that there will be a LARGE crowd on hand to hear this item, and there is some thought that it might be moved forward on the agenda for that reason, so I suggest you arrive early if you expect to have a seat.  It has become apparent to me as I attended two of the four community meetings on this subject conducted by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and Cal Trans that they seem locked into Alternative #3, the one that establishes a High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane for the 14 mile length of the project.  The only reason I can see for doing that is to generate revenue.  Some folks in town suspect those revenues might be used to help pay down the debt for other toll roads in the county - like the 73 Toll Road, for example.  I've also heard a few minutes ago that the period for public review on this issue has been extended until July 17, 2012 and that OCTA Regional Planning and Highways Committee will consider a locally preferred alternative on August 6th and the item goes to the full board on August 13th.  You'll find this essay from the Orange Juice Blog by Major Quimby of interest on this subject, HERE.  He tells us we, the people, are entitled to vote again on this issue because a toll road was not anticipated in the Measure M 2 dialogue.

Item #2 is the RFP for Graphic Design Services, HERE.  The City is going to try to figure a way to immediately implement this proposal because, except for the retirement of an individual, other staff reductions are anticipated under this contract.  It should be interesting to hear what the Costa Mesa City Employees Association has to say about this.

Item #3 is the RFP for Reprographics, HERE.  The proposal is from the Orange County Publishing Services - a government entity.  As a result, the City plans to immediately implement this contract, close the print shop and eliminate the Offset Press Operator position when the incumbent retires soon.

It's going to be a full evening tomorrow... I'll be very surprised if we get out of City Hall before midnight.  And, as I've said many times before, these guys don't make good decisions after midnight.

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Anonymous Seriously? said...

$83,000 (staff costs) will result in only ONE Neighbors to Neighbors program??

Microcosm of EVERYTHING that is wrong with government administration of taxpayer funds. Please tell me what that staff member is doing for even 6 months that justifies only one NTN program!

One NTN will mean a few houses get paint. Give that $83,000 to local service organizations or even hire painting contractors who will actually help rehab multiple homes and get real value for the money.

This year it was cancelled because of rain. Where did that money go?

6/18/2012 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous interesting times said...

Geoff, you mentioned that you joked about hiring managers to handle outsourced operations. Actually if you are going to outsource operations that is exactly what you would do, like our South County cities do. I am not stating I am for outsourcing everything, just that having managers in place to handle the contracts is the correct action. As for IT department, that is the first one that jumped out at me as ideal for outsourcing. Second was the helicopter program. The city clerk staff cut is puzzling though. These are indeed tought times for cities everywhere. I wish we could have cut the pensions for public safety and kept the regular staff folk AND fixed our infrastructure. Public safety pensions take away too many dollars from everyday business.

6/18/2012 05:06:00 PM  
Anonymous History Channel said...

What will the little emperor rant about?

6/18/2012 06:21:00 PM  
Anonymous 41onymerea said...

the emperors rant is my favorite part of the council meetings. Who knows what lies/accusations from the speakers he will correct in his rant but no doubt it will be good. Long agenda=lotsa room for the public speakers to spin and the emperor to bob and weave. Excellent stuff. Pity on the average Joe who has joined viewing this circus late. His head will spin as the two sides jab back and forth, not knowing what to believe. Someone should give him a clue word: "unions". then he will get it.

6/18/2012 07:00:00 PM  
Anonymous E. Crouse said...

Logic or idiocy?? The logic of dismissing four critical positions is lost in the air. The City Clerk's office has an on-going need for assistance. Ms. Debbie was the key to that organization. She spent over 5 years in dedication to the City. The Building Division has been asked to "absorb the work" done by an OSII who was the sole (and soul) of the Building Division. Ms. April's dedicated expertise over 12 years in the Development Services department will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Building Inspectors are unable to do inspections on a daily basis with a part-time staff. The complaints have tripled since January of this year with the minimal building staff. The administration staff consisting of Ms. April took care of customer service, complaints, inspections, correspondence which will now inevitably be left to collect dust. A crisis is brewing with the loss of Ms. Rachel who spent over 8 years navigating the complaints through the Code Enforcement Division. Rachel was dedicated to creating an atmosphere whereas work was done efficiently and with care. Mr. Rick's knowledge and consistency can't be replicated. His leadership, expertise in guiding the IT Department is second to none. These four crucial positions are being eliminated and can't be replaced by a contractor or temporary employee. How does one eliminate customer service in divisions whereas the work is overwhelming and at the peak of the busy season?

E. Crouse

6/18/2012 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Answer for "History Channel"

Choose one of the following:

A. "Noun" + "Verb" + "Unions"
B. "Noun" + "Verb" + "Pensions"
C. Both A and B.


6/18/2012 07:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Made Up Problems said...

Interesting times, there is an offer from the CMFD Association to address this problem in the hands of the City Council, and they refuse to take it. How do feel about this? They refuse to accept an offer that will save the City and taxpayers millions of dollars. How do you feel about this?

6/18/2012 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Made Up Problems:
Interesting times, there is an offer from the CMFD Association to address this problem in the hands of the City Council, and they refuse to take it. How do feel about this? They refuse to accept an offer that will save the City and taxpayers millions of dollars. How do you feel about this?


Same as yesterday. It's always been about the OCGOP crushing the middle class using the Wisconsin playbook. Its pointman Riggy gives a lot of orders but is also following orders.

We already see some results in Costa Mesa. Crime is up and one city worker is dead.

6/19/2012 06:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry said...

"Made up Problems", the last time CMFD "offered" us a solution that would save us millions we got suckered into that awful 2009 contract extension that solidified 3% at 50 and stuck us with their manning schedule. Sorry if we are all a bit skeptical of the bag of goods the fire union is trying to sell us. Their track record is pretty bad. Glad the Council is finally looking out of the residents on this one. They have our support over the out of town union guys any day! I think the voters have made that much pretty crystal clear year in and year out!

6/19/2012 07:52:00 AM  
Anonymous CM 1953 said...

Barry, I don't how you can say that the Fire Departments" track record is pretty bad", what does that mean? What are your facts?

Do you have some sort of special insight into the "bag of goods", what are the crazy things that they are asking for?

6/19/2012 08:25:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Whine Press said...

Why is Neanderthal Mensa, CM's other blogger, dumping here as "Barry?"

6/19/2012 09:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Sickened insider said...

I cant believe they are getting rid of some really hard workers from dev svcs. As an insider, I can tell you that additional cuts should be made in the city clerks office for those employees who use city time to run their side business.

6/19/2012 07:10:00 PM  
Anonymous cm4lol said...

TELL US what u did in Vegas you criminals!

NO wait, don't tell us, that would be a "campaign" speech and not fair to other candidates

6/20/2012 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Ender's Game said...

"TELL US what u did in Vegas you criminals!
NO wait, don't tell us, that would be a "campaign" speech and not fair to other candidates"

Hahaha! Sounds like the Righeimer gang is officially on the defensive. So does Stevie have a real job or is he just living off earnings from the Mrs?

6/20/2012 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous cm4lol said...

Hahaha! keep wishin' Joe. trolls win BIG in Nomvember. Haha!

6/20/2012 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

cm4lol wrote:
Hahaha! keep wishin' Joe. trolls win BIG in Nomvember. Haha!


Sorry troll, I can't take credit for all anti-troll or anti-Righeimer posts.

But do have a nice day regardless.

6/20/2012 04:11:00 PM  
Anonymous double standards are "Us" said...

Barry- "We"?
They got pills for that.

6/21/2012 12:05:00 AM  

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