Thursday, August 09, 2012

Council "Fixes" A Mistake To Fool Voters

 In a short, but heated, emergency meeting of the Costa Mesa City Council this afternoon, the council approved changes to Exhibit A, Ballot Descriptions, Summary and Enumerations of PowersThe result has been called a cover-up by some.  They are probably correct.  The proceedings generated a lot of heat but not much light.  Read on..
Former contract City Attorney and current contract Special Council Kimberly Hall Barlow guided the council through the discussion, beginning with a lengthy apology to the council and public for having to be there in the first place.  She acknowledged that confusion between her office and the City Clerk caused this problem.  This process has been cursed from the beginning, when a "clerical error" - later defined as a "significant professional failure" - and another "clerical error"
(with a little help from yours truly) on the noticing requirements on an end-run they tried kept Jim Righeimer's Charter from the June ballot.

Before Public Comments councilwoman Wendy Leece wondered, since the changes are to a document already submitted to the Registrar of Voters, would the folks who oppose the Jim Righeimer's Charter and who authored the argument against it be afforded the opportunity to modify their presentation?  The answer from Barlow was, no, because the deadline for that document was August 7th.  Conveniently, the deadline for the document in question is on the 10th.

During Public Comments council candidate and lawyer John Stephens and an author of the argument against Jim Righeimer's Charter, led off with a clear, crisp presentation of just what the main modification being proposed does - hides the truth from the voters who will make their decision in November based in great part on what they read in that document.  Even though the entire charter will be provided to the voters, few will take the time to read it - they'll read the summary.  Stephens and others suggested that the major change - it deletes reference to no-bid contracts and thereby misleads the voters - may have been a direct result of proponents of the charter reading their opposing document, then modifying the Summary to attempt to neutralize part of their discussion.  He wrapped up his presentation with the following statement:

"So, what we have here is a situation, I think, where the council read our argument and did not want, in the ballot summary and enumeration, the term 'no-bid contract' because it tracks our argument.  So, essentially what's happening here, what I think, and you know - and I'm not speculating on what you think - is you want to take that language out so the voters don't know about it.  And what you're voting on is to cover up a 'bad fact'.  The bad fact is no-bid contracts.  When my opponent in a case tries to cover up a bad fact, I like that.  I like it for two reasons.  It highlights that the opponent has recognized that the fact is bad.  That is, that the charter allows for no-bid contracts under 401(c).  And it also undermines the credibility of my opponent.  So, I'm asking you today,  please vote in favor of these changes because I think it substantially helps the anti-charter movement because it gives us a great argument on the substance and the credibility of the pro-charter movement."


Another half-dozen residents rose to speak against this maneuver - there were NO speakers in favor of it - most of whom expressed significant concern about this move.
The real fireworks happened when former councilwoman Katrina Foley interrupted Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer as he questioned Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz about no-bid contracts - clearly reading word-for-word from the argument against the charter that had been submitted earlier in the week and filed with the Registrar of Voters.  She, in requesting a point of order, said the following:

"Member Righeimer is taking the ballot argument against the charter and asking questions regarding the ballot argument against the charter and asking the staff to give opinions about the ballot statement against the charter.  It's not appropriate."

Righeimer ignored her and went on with his train of thought, continuing to interrogate Munoz about no-bid contracts.  When he completed his interrogation and yielded the floor, Foley, again, stepped to the speaker's podium and said the following:

"Mr. Mayor, I'd like to ask the City Attorney and the City Manager if the public is going to be allowed to provide their opportunity to question staff in a public hearing regarding the statement in favor of the ballot?  As Mr. Righeimer has used guise of an emergency meeting to correct some grammar and fix some statements to the ballot argument in order to ask questions of staff in a public meeting on the record and use it as an opportunity to attack the statement against the charter.  It's improper and illegal."

All the while Mayor Eric Bever, obviously peeved at Foley, tried to get her to be quiet.  He talked over her - or tried to - called the Sergeant-at-arms and threatened to have her removed from the chambers if she interrupted again.  High drama, indeed.

It was VERY clear to the 35 people in the audience what was going on.  Righeimer was using his position of authority to stifle dissent of his Charter and to deceive the voters, once again.  I doubt if anyone in the audience this afternoon actually believed Barlow's protestation that she didn't know a thing about the arguments.  With the exception of the subterfuge to hide the reference to no-bid contracts, the other changes could have been as an administrative modification without the need for a council meeting.

I believe what the folks viewing the tape of this meeting will take away from observing this proceeding is that we're just seeing a little taste of what will be in store for us if Jim Righeimer's Charter is passed and he and his cronies remain in power.  They already have demonstrated over and over again an unwillingness to follow the rules that protect us from abuse.  If this charter is passed - with it's woefully inadequate safeguards from abuse - Righeimer and his pals will just make up the rules as they go along.  Based on their performance over the past 18 months or so, I certainly don't believe those rules will benefit the residents of this city.

So, now the fun begins.  We have five candidate forums ahead of us over the next couple months at which the voters will be able to form their own judgments of the candidates for city council and the wisdom, or lack thereof, of voting in Jim Righeimer's Charter.  It's going to be a very messy fall.

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Anonymous toohot toocold said...

let the people vote. the whiners who spend their life complaining about every little thing over and over have cried wolf once too often. things are not that bad, actually things are pretty good. every little thing is the subject to an hour of (coordinated) complaints dealing with where something is listed on the agenda, to who is "we", ...Nuts! I am tired of listening to them, hundreds of hours of complaints over the last two years. When can I vote yes on charter?

8/10/2012 06:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

And people like me get questioned about why I don't trust these guys (or simply dislike them and their way of operating)? How can ANYONE support the sleight of hand these guys operate with?

VOTE NO ON THE CHARTER, and No on the '3 Ms'!!!!!!

8/10/2012 06:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Honeyman said...

toohot toocold said...

.............When can I vote yes on charter?...........

Make sure you're at the polls Wednesday, November 7th! We want your voice heard!

8/10/2012 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

It's a miracle! The Brown Act prohibits certain kinds of communications between our councilmen, yet they move and speak with one voice like they did yesterday! Stanford is sending a team to Costa Mesa to study this obvious evidence of ESP and telepathy!

Oh, correction: The State Attorney General's Office should be sending a team..

8/10/2012 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Geoff, you couldn't have said it better. It was so obvious that the council majority was trying to pull a fast one. The guilt was palpable. They even looked embarassed themselves.

I hope the voters get the message on this shifty "Rigged Charter".

8/10/2012 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

To quote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia, "Words matter." The Council is well aware of that, and that's why the majority voted to delete the "no-bid contracts" language from the description of the charter.

Other changes were a smoke screen to hide their deception of the voters.

8/10/2012 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

too hot too cold:
So you're okay with the ability to award no-bid contracts to their friends? What happens if this passes, is that contractors and vendors who cannot submit bids for jobs, will have to "buy" their jobs from the council members. (Which is what they had in mind all along).
Are you telling me this is okay with you?
Surely you can't be that dumb...or maybe you can.

8/10/2012 08:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Beaver Pelt For Sale said...

Let Mr. Bever have his few minutes of power because it's all coming to an end and then this City will be rid of his childish and immature ways. He has zero class and has done NOTHING for this City, except follow those that want nothing more than to turn this once great City into another failed City. Shame on you Bever.

8/10/2012 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous criminal or civil said...

I think the question is "when does this all become criminal" when can Police Chief Gazsi arrest these bafoons. Are these all just civil acts or will the D.A investigate.

Barlow has stepped back in to cover for Duarte. The heat is up on the danc'in chickens.

8/10/2012 09:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Waterloo said...

Another MAJOR blunder by Napoleon Righeimer, just like last week with the contractors and Young Republicans reading scripts they were handed moments before.

Regardless of one's political affiliation, it's becoming clearer each day that the Righeimer Gang is actually a group of incompetents who insult the intelligence of the citizens almost daily, and don't have the political or intellectual skills to sell their agenda. Or run the city.

8/10/2012 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Proud to be a whiner said...

Dear toohot toocold:

You are so wrong! The whiners, as you call us, are actually filled with purpose. We are not simply complaining. We have been jolted out of a quiet slumber and have decided to keep YELLING the truth to anyone who will listen. The residents of the old, wonderful Costa Mesa will continue on this quest until we have a City Council in place that is worthy of respect. See you at the polls Fitzpatrick. Stay tired my friend.

8/10/2012 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

The ad barrage will be unprecedented and intense, and they will try to take advantage of the fact that people are not typically well-informed, but I think the residents are starting to really take notice.

From Starbucks on Cabrillo (a drive-thru open until 11 p.m.!) ticking off Eastsiders, to the great Banning Ranch giveaway on the Westside, to myriad other issues too numerous to mention here, I think the word is getting out. If they approve the 24-hour 7/11 right off Adams and Royal Palm, that's going to tick off another neighborhood. Keep on blunderin'!

NO on the CHARTER and NO for the 3Ms!

8/10/2012 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Message to Riggy said...

8/10/2012 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Heart for Costa Mesa said...

That meeting was phenomenal! I hope every Costa Mesan watches the video and understands just what is going on! A few days ago they were proud of the "No bid contracts" feature of the Charter and included it in the “impartial” Ballot Summary. The ballot argument against the charter made a point of calling that out. Now they want to hide it from the summary, but make no mistake, it’s still in the charter.

On very short notice, in the middle of the day, about 30 people showed up, some who seldom come to council meetings. A young woman, obviously very nervous, gathered the courage and walked to the podium to tell them she didn’t like what they were doing or how they were doing it. I think she was a young Republican, but without any script except her own heart.

I have never seen Jay Humphrey speak like he did. He has been excessively polite, even differential. Thursday afternoon, he called it like he saw it. He wasn’t disrespectful, but he didn’t pull his punches, either. For that he got “lectured” by Steve Mensinger for about a half hour after the meeting.

I sat there in amazement, and hung out on the porch with the small crowd after.

Costa Mesa is in a mess.
Let’s clean it up in November!

8/10/2012 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous responsiblegrowth4cm said...

yep, they are allowing businesses to open. Where is the AG on this? Stephens and Foley don't scare them, we need Kamela. this business opening stuff is against our cause. No new growth, no new business, higher taxes, no new water because that equals growth. Come chalk with us tonight!

8/10/2012 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

It's hard for a city that's already built out to grow. Banning Ranch isn't even in Costa Mesa, but it will negatively impact it with traffic and pollution, while Newport gets the tax dollars. Fast food restaurants and convenience stores are hardly 'positive growth,' but hey, we needed another Starbucks on 17th as much as we need another 7/11 one block away from ... 7/11. Now people don't have to walk another block for a pack of smokes and a tall boy!

8/10/2012 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Laughing that Riggy felt he had to justify himself for last week's fiasco of a meeting. In the D.P., he states that Katrina interrupted the meeting. Good thing too, as what he was doing was illegal at that particular moment. RIGHEIMER IS A LIAR.

He was so out of line in that meeting it was just short a riot. It his fault, and no one else's

8/15/2012 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

*laughing so hard* That commentary is so laughable, Riggy sounds like he's going to cry because he thinks Katrina spoke out of turn. POINT OF ORDER, RIGGY..YOU WERE AND ARE OUT OF LINE.

8/15/2012 02:49:00 PM  

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