Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Short Meeting - No Surprises

An a very short Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday evening - it only ran a little over two hours - there were no surprises, unless you count those folks who arrived expecting to do battle for Wendy Leece on her request for a re-hearing of the Banning Ranch Traffic Mitigation payoff.  That item was pulled from the agenda earlier in the day - I reported it in my earlier entry.  Even so, several people stood and offered their views on the subject - none in support of the council action.

The remaining "big" item on the agenda, the appointment of a replacement for Jim Fitzpatrick on the Planning Commission offered no surprises.  Parks and Recreation Commissioner Jeff R. Mathews was appointed on a 4-1 vote - Wendy Leece voted no - and will serve out the remainder of Fitzpatrick's term which ends in January, 2015.  Unless, that is, he is runs and is elected to a seat on the Costa Mesa Sanitary District.  Then he would face exactly the same situation that Fitzpatrick faced - the incompatibility of the two positions.  In Joe Serna's coverage of the meeting, HERE, Mathews is quoted as saying he would resign if elected to the Sanitary District Board.

Serna also raises the question of Mathews campaign contribution to Steve Mensinger in June.  This will require a little more research tomorrow, but if Mathews DID contribute $250 or more to Mensinger in June, then Mensinger should have disqualified himself from the vote.  Also in question is whether Mathews contributed to Colin McCarthy's campaign, too.  If so, that also creates a problem with his appointment because McCarthy, as the Chairman of the Planning Commission, was the biggest proponent of Mathews for this position and led the vote that recommended him to the City Council.

The council also passed the Bicycle Ordinance, although not without some controversy.  In fact, Mayor Eric Bever voted against it, stating that it penalized residents just to address a problem with homeless people.  Staff members indicated that, although this ordinance would become law in 30 days, it would NOT be enforced until sufficient bike racks are in place in public spaces - probably not until the first of the year.

During council member comments Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer expressed, in very aggressive terms, concern for the issue of the proposed turnover of the TeWinkle Park Sports Complex to Big League Dreams.  The task force formed to study this issue had many unanswered questions when it was disbanded - much to the consternation to many of the members.  Righeimer mentioned several, including parking, alcohol being sold too close to a school - both of which are issues that need to be resolved with the Newport Mesa Unified School District.  I chuckled when he mentioned that some of the problems might be resolved "now that we have a professional Recreation Manager, Bob Knapp".  Well, as great a guy as Knapp may be, and as "professional" as his background is, he is NOT an experienced municipal Recreation Manager.  Personally, I hope the experience he DOES bring to the job he was just handed helps make our municipal recreation programs stronger, especially since this council seemed determined to gut them only a year ago.

And, in an another stream-of-conscienceness rant, Righeimer fantasized about folding Fairview Park, Talbert Park and part of Banning Ranch into one grand, 1,000 acre Santa Ana River Park - that would belong to Costa Mesa and would provide trails to the sea.  Where the heck is that coming from?  Does he know something about Banning Ranch that he's not telling us?

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Anonymous MASERATI said...

Riggy would LOVE to create his own Banning Ranch type project in Fairview Park...he and Messy must salivate when they are near open space.

8/08/2012 12:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Truth and Justice said...


Eleanor, For the good of the City of Costa Mesa please reconsider your decision to no longer offer commentary to the Daily Pilot. It just plays into the hands of those who want to run the City like a junta for there own interests unfettered by the annoying contrary views of its residents.

8/08/2012 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Actually the River Park Plan has been around a long time,.......

Friends of Harbors, Parks, and Beaches have been trying to get all the disparate municipalities and agencies that all have a piece of jurisdiction in this area, to all move in the same direction.

Many view the project as one continuous open space leading to the ocean.
Righeimer views it with 400 acres taken up with the densest development ever proposed in OC history.

......but it would have a bike trail.

8/08/2012 07:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

There are so many assertions of conflicts of interest. You cited two here, Mr Monahan voted on the sales tax issue even though he openly stated he opposed it because of personal impact and Eleanor Egan cited Mr Bever's connection to the Banning Ranch project in her letter to the DP, yet Mr Bever accused Ms Leece of this in his letter. She at least sought advice. Where are the ethics in this community? And how can these rule benders be trusted with another term let alone the powers granted in the proposed charter?

8/08/2012 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I didn't see a problem with the Matthews appointment- he dutifully paid his $2000 and got the position.

Mensy's anti-union rant was right by the book. Too bad everyone sees through it and will support cops over him ANY day.

Anyone else catch the handoff of the flyer to Monahan at rant's end? Mensy thought he was doing a baton thing at the HS track meet. Do you think they planned this out ahead of time? Or practiced it over drinks?

8/08/2012 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Leece and her conflict of interest. This one is a conundrum. Should a council member be disavowed of her elected rights when a project falls outside of the cities jurisdiction? Yes she lives by Banning Ranch and has an interest, but is it a conflict? Anymore so than Katrina voting about the fair, Monahan voting on towing contracts for his business partners, or Mansoor voting for "rule of law" while living in a predominant hispanic neighborhood? Those were all "interests" but where is the financial conflict? ( Well, for Gary that was obvious, but I digress.)
For the very same reason this council is crowing about getting money,(too little , I might add), from a developer for a project outside the cities jurisdiction, Wendy Leece should be allowed to vote her conscience. This project lies outside of the city but will directly affect every westside resident.
The much more egregious and "conflict of interest" vote was when Mensinger voted for Mathews. Council members are supposed to recuse themselves from any issue where campaigns donations have been given for one year. Say what you will, but this morning an HB council candidate and planning commissioner was just fined $2000 for a similar breach. Mensinger should have stepped back because Mathews already had the vote,that was just reckless, but not unexpected.

8/08/2012 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Sad but True said...

Mary Ann sees issues like Geoff West, seeing and hearing only what they want. Oh, Wendy really listens to us … so we give her a free pass. Forget the FPPC, Wendy Leece clearly violated the City policy for Council Members and Commissioners that if a project falls within 500 feet of your home or business you must recues. Period, end of story. You don’t get to whine about how important an issue is. And the city attorney told her she was in violation.

For just one moment, think what Geoff West or the other Council critics would say if the shoe were on the other foot. If our good council members decided to ignore a policy and the advice of the attorney. Geoff would be taking all sorts of crazy and immature pictures of that person and posting , then not filter any of the angry posts that would follow.

Disturbing double standard this group follows.

8/08/2012 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

'Sad but true' sounds like JF, based on the sparring I had to endure the other day with him via the DP's new comment system. All's fair in politics, though. I never did get an answer to my question about Monahan's conflict of interest, though. Still waiting.

That said, that new Facebook system with the Pilot is really the only option they had, but they are still screening comments. I wish I could say it's part of some grand conspiracy between the editors and the city council, but I don't buy that. I don't particularly like it, but it won't stop me from voicing my opinions (i.e. no facts, lots of unsubstantiated claims, etc. - at least my message of dislike of the council was recognized). I already had several comments cut, or it was an ID 10 T Error on my part (idiot), because they were fairly innocuous, or so I thought - my explanation to Jim about what I do in the community (one of their favorite questions) and something else about the cut-through traffic from HB and how I'd like to toss water balloons at the worst offenders.

The comment stream has certainly shortened, but you'll notice in the Register that it hasn't stopped people all that much. I think things will pick up, since it's been awfully quiet. But I don't think it ties to the upcoming election, etc. Now you just have to back your words up with your name, and that's really the way it should be anyway.

8/08/2012 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Facts said...

Re Maserati's post - so much for screening irrelevant posts!

Re comment on OC River Park. Banning Ranch LLC will remediate the property, provide recreation facilities and preserve 75% of the project as publicly accessible open space. Banning Ranch Conservancy has not, despite years of effort, been able to do anything close. Further, they have no plan for cleaning up the property and stated at the Costa Mesa public hearing that portions of the site would be off-limits to the public.

8/08/2012 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

To remain transparent... another ID 10 T error... meant to sign that as Mike M (not Mesa Verde Madman, who retired some time ago)...

8/08/2012 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger feral390 said...

Sad but true....Like mensinger giving $10,000 taxpayer dollars to his kids football team that his wife is/was treasurer of ?

8/08/2012 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Sam I Am said...

Was Mr. Mensinger Mr. Monahan trying to imply that the Costa Mesa Fire & Police Associations are behind these anti-charter flyers? It just said Fire & Police, not Costa Mesa, and that is important to know.

They seemed like they were trying to throw our fine groups under the bus with these flyers.

Nice try but we all saw what they were trying to do.

8/08/2012 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Marquis said...

I find it interesting that Jim Righeimer and his guys keep finding ways to antagonize so many diverse groups in the city. It seems like a really bad political move for them to anger so many people, creating fights on multiple fronts and driving all of their opposition together.

No west side resident wants Banning Ranch developed. But the council majority goes out and picks a fight which seems to me to have no political upside for them. The $4+m will still be on the table later. Like any offer, even "Call before midnight tonight!", once it's on table, it'll stay on until the project gets approved or killed at the Coastal Commission. There's no short term cash. They can take the issue away just by tabling it for a year. So why fight this now? Or ever?

The same is true of Tewinkle Park. Nobody in Mesa Del Mar wants that abominable give away of precious park land to a private interest, so by continuing to back it they fire up that group in general opposition.

Righeimer and his team should take a lesson from their philosophical predecessor, Mr. Mansour. He fought on one front and one front only - the scourge of illegal immigration upon Costa Mesa. He would not be distracted by non-issues like fiscal responsibility or pension reform. Once we got rid of those darn taco trucks, all would be right in Costa Mesa.

Righeimer is clearly not a chess player. Banning Ranch and TeWinkle Park are expendable pawns, mere distractions from the new scourge of Costa Mesa, the employees of the city, with their now-crazy Mansour-agreed contracts. If Righeimer, Mensigner, et al came out tomorrow and said, "We won't privatize TeWinkle Park and we won't actively support Banning Ranch development", they give up nothing politically important to them, neutralize two opposition groups and get the focus back on what really matters to them, which is busting the unions.

This seems like pretty obvious and basic political strategy to me. It'll be interesting to see if these guys continue to let their ego and bluster obscure their perception of political reality. It seems to me that they think they're politically bulletproof, so I'll be surprised if they can muster enough faux humility to back off of anything, even if it's the wisest political course for them.

8/08/2012 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Robin said...

You may think Fairview park is out of danger, but terms of the proposed charter allow 99 year leases of parkland. So Hotel Fairview Spa and Event Center could happen under this or a future council if the charter passes.

It's one of many booby traps, you won't find these spelled out in the charter. It's another protection of state law that was not enumerated back into the charter for our protection. That's why we (at say, "The biggest danger is not what the charter says, its what it doesn't say"

8/08/2012 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

With regard to the possible campaign contribution conflicts: As the Mayor pro tem was quoted the other day, "It's about the results, not the process".

That's the kind of thinking that should worry Costa Mesans -- especially when thinking about the proposed charter. Do the ends justify the means? Are the residents part of the process - which "it's not about"?

8/08/2012 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

No, Fairview Park is not out of danger. There is potential there, as long as its park land, for the City Council to grab it...and I don't mean for the city. Now if they wanted to put a nice marina in down below the bluffs, I'd get behind that, but not the development of the open space above the flood plain. *tsk* *tsk* Thats just stupid.

Geoff, I can't read the numbers below. Where'd you get this stuff? *LOL*

8/08/2012 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Facts said...


Please point out just where the proposed Charter allows for 99 year leases of parkland. Specifically - the

"...terms of the proposed charter [which] allow 99 year leases of parkland..."

This is why CM4RG and the chicken littles have ZERO credibility.

You misrepresent the facts - plain and simple.

8/08/2012 06:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin said...

Oh yes, parks are in danger!

This just points up why the charter is so dangerous. We are losing protections not mentioned in the charter, simply because they are not added back in as basic protections. They are myriad.

Regarding parks:
Under state law, if cities lease out public land, like parks, for up to 99 years, they must

1. provide for periodic review of the lease
2. adopt the lease by ordinance, which means it is referendable
3. they must have offically noticed public hearings with notices published in the newspaper and mailed to nearby residents
3. They must find that the lessee will bring the best return to the city based on competitive bids held in accordance with other stuff in the codes, including a requirement for a notice inviting bids in the newspaper.

Here's the sneaky charter part: Charter cities only need to do #1. They don't have to do 2,3, or 4

It's not what's IN the charter, it's all the land mines they didn't talk about!!!

8/09/2012 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

To follow up on Robins point....

The City of Huntington Beach goes even further in their charter to specifically address this issue.
It's enumerated into their Charter that any leasing of public parks must go before the voters.

"No public utility or park or beach or portion thereof now or hereafter owned or operated by the
City shall be sold, leased, exchanged or otherwise transferred or disposed of unless authorized by
the affirmative votes of at least a majority of the total membership of the City Council and by the
affirmative vote of at least a majority of the electors voting on such proposition at a general or
special election at which such proposition is submitted."

The reason is , HB they carefully drafted their charter to provide protections, where as , CM has hastily cobbled together a charter to remove those protections.

8/09/2012 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Local Control said...

I just went on the Daily Pilot to read the write up about the Council Meeting I missed. Much to my pleasant surprise, there we no comments. This is great news.

I have always said we are OK, we will be OK, everything will be OK. We don’t need all the unions, disgruntled employees, out of towners and yes, right wing nuts stirring up the pot.

This is a great turn of events coming into the craziness of an election season. Nice calm discussions.

Now we need to clean up this blog thing. Or we can declare it home for the disgruntled. Our choice.

8/09/2012 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Local Control...or you can simply not log on and read it. Very simple.

8/10/2012 09:37:00 AM  

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