Friday, April 13, 2012

Feet To The Fire Forum Video Now Available

The hour and a quarter video of the recent Feet To The Fire Forum held at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center on April 5th is now available for viewing.


It can be seen via streaming video on the Costa Mesa site by clicking HERE.

Or, for those who live in Costa Mesa and have either Time Warner Cable (Channel 24) or ATT U-Verse (Channel 99) connections, you can view it through the remainder of April on the schedule listed below. It's my understanding that CMTV will also include it in the playlist for May, too.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Anticipating Tuesday

The agenda for next T
uesday's Costa Mesa City Council meeting was released earlier today. As it's presently concocted it shows some interesting items, none of which are another end run to put Jim Righeimer's Charter on the June ballot. However, there's still time, so don't blink. The Closed Session begins at 5:00 and the regular meeting begins at 6:00 - depending on how briskly they move through the Closed Session. You can read the agenda HERE.

Of interest is
the fact that there are four (4) items scheduled for the closed session portion. As has been the case for months, one item is a conference with CEO Tom Hatch on labor negotiations. The remaining three are - no surprise here - all dealing with existing or anticipated litigation. Lawyers all over Southern California are smiling a lot these days.

The Consent Calendar - those items that would normally just be voted upo
n as a group - contain some interesting pearls. For example, the "Reading Folder" contains two requests for Alcohol Beverage Control licenses. One for the old Marie Callendar's in the 300 block of East 17th Street and the other is for Skosh Monahan's gin joint. I wonder what that one's all about? There have been rumors about a change of ownership - that maybe Monahan found a mountain of cash and bought out his partners recently - but we don't know. We have only enough information to raise more questions. Maybe Monahan will tell us about it Tuesday. Yeah, right!

There are two Warrants for our review, #2415, HERE and #2416, HERE. The latter has some good scoop for you. We have paid Jones & Mayer - our contract City Attorney outfit - $120,637.20 this time around - up by a significant amount from the previous month. We continue to rack up legal fees with them, alone, that nearly double the budget. There is also a charge from Liebert Cassidy Whitmore for almost $18,000 for personnel help. More on that outfit later...

There are two items authorizing agreements with the 32 Agriculture District - the Orange County Fair Board - for Traffic Management Services. The first one, HERE, is for an amount not to exceed $380,000 for the Fair itself. The second one is for an amount not to exceed $70,000 for "interim events" for the twelve months beginning April 1, 2012, HERE. Both represent costs to cover police services - one of the things this council conveniently forgets when they're yapping about overtime. Our police provide the protection - usually using overtime - and the Fair Board pays the bill. It DOES NOT come out of the General Fund budget.

The 7th item on the Consent Calendar is an agreement with the aforementioned Liebert Cassidy Whitmore for "special legal services pertaining to employment relations matters." This is another of this councils open-ended legal deals where we may pay up to $300 per hour for lawyers and $1.40 per hour for paralegal services - with no cap on the charges. Read about it HERE. Oh, yes - we're also going to pay $.15 per page to make copies and $.50 per page for faxes! And, even better, this deal is backdated to January 13th, 2012! How does that kind of thing happen?

Near the end of the Consent Calendar is an item requesting the council approve t
he paperwork necessary to receive the final grant funds for the Fairview Channel Multipurpose Trail, which is scheduled to be completed in August, 2012, HERE. The City received a grant for $500,000 and contributed another $321,000 of Park Development Funds for this project.

There are two public hearings presently scheduled. The first deals with the Target Store's request for holiday hour changes, HERE. You may recall the hub-bub caused at the end of last year on this issue. Neighbors brought this to the council because they felt the conditions of approval for the operations of the store had been intentionally, arrogantly violated. Having heard all the hearings on this, I agree. We'll see what the council does with this one.

The second is an amendment to the Master Plan for what used to be the 1901 Newport Plaza development. It was supposed to be 140 condos, including some affor
dable units. Now, under new ownership, it's 113 rental units. You can read the lengthy staff report and attachments HERE.

There is one item of Old Busines
s - Steve Mensinger's scheme for the implementation of an annual performance audit process. You can read that staff report HERE. Assistant CEO Rick Francis is the honcho on this project, so it will be the first time for most of us to see him in action. I read the staff report and got a smile from one segment - the one that says:
"1- Does the entity have clearly stated goals and objectives that are SMART (specif
ic, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) in nature?"


Now, I'm a guy that loves acronyms, so that "SMART" thing made me smile. I found myself wondering how long it took them to come up with it. AMEN! (Another Mensinger Expendable Notion)

Under New Business we find a new ordinance to prohibit sex offenders from entering parks and sports facilities. HERE. This is a great idea, especially considering the number of people so-designated that live in our city. See the California Megan's Law link on the right side of this page.


The final item on the agenda will make a lot of people in this city happy. The brief staff report,
HERE, explains with insufficient detail that the staff recommends the rescission of all layoff notices given to members of the Costa Mesa Fire Department - both sworn and non-sworn. This will be around 100 staffers who will have that dark cloud removed from above their heads.

What's this all about, you ask? Well, Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold, utilizing his more than 3 decades of fire department management experience, has been working for months on a reorganization plan for the Costa Mesa Fire Department and is just about ready to present it formally to the City Council - either at a Study Session or at a council meeting in the VERY near future. He's been working closely with bargaining unit president Tim Vasin. I hope this plan results in less highly-charged rhetoric and a more conciliatory relationship between the firefighters and the City Council. Frankly, it's kind of hard to trust this council when Jim Righeimer frequently rants about waiting until 2014, when the current contracts expire, at which time he will take care of them! I'm keeping a positive thought about this one.


And, so you know, much progress has been made with the remainder of the so-called outsourcing RFPs. You can see that progress on this chart, HERE. You'll notice that several of those items will be discussed at council meetings during May and June. Those discussions should be interesting because the injunction imposed by Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann is still in place. We'll see.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Memory Lane Echoes

Some of you may recall an entry I posted three years ago, which was a reprise of something I posted on my previous blog site three years before that.


Many of you are new to this blog so I thought you might enjoy it. So, for your reading pleasure, just click HERE for a trip down memory lane. Enjoy


An Evening Without A Charter Meeting

To wrap up the events of yesterday - one for the archives, for sure...

Even though the stealth meeting originally scheduled for sometime Tuesday afternoon was canceled - apparently after much heated discussion in City Hall - with only 90 or so minutes to go, some of the interested parties took the time out of their busy days to attend the meeting. Some didn't get the word about the cancellation and others attended "just in case"... By the way, neither Lobdell, Hatch nor Duarte ever responded to my letter to them about the meeting.

The brief S
tudy Session took less than 30 minutes, which means the bogus Charter meeting might have begun at that time. As it was, the council took a 90 minute break, then reconvened for their joint meeting as the Successor Agency to the now-dissolved Redevelopment Agency. They promptly took care of business, then adjourned. We were out of there before 7 p.m.

During the Study Session, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer took the opportunity during his comments segment to rail again against those folks who would obstruct his plans.
He went on and on, spewing half-truths and some that were not even that close, attempting to fan the flames for his scheme. The two dozen people in the audience were not buying it. He wants Costa Mesa to become the new Bell so bad he can taste it! In fact, this is just how it happened in Bell - the evil Robert Rizzo called a special election to convert that city to a Charter City and only 400 people voted - most by absentee ballot. After that the doors were thrown wide open for corruption. Don't think that can't happen here!


Then We
ndy Leece used her time to explain her position on the current issues and to plead for calm, but part-time, part-time Mayor Eric Bever tried to shut her down again. Again, the audience was having none of it, and shouted that he'd let Righeimer talk! Bever threatened to have the Sergeant-at-arms remove them. Most of us just smiled, since there was no law enforcement officer in sight anywhere in the auditorium. Leece continued with her presentation. The other council members declined to speak and that Study Session was adjourned to the next council meeting on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

So, is the scheme to put Jim Righeimer's Charter on the ballot for a special election on June 5th dead? Well, one would think so, since the clock continues to tick and they're running out of time. That bein
g said, I'm going to be sleeping with one eye open for awhile, just in case. As this most recent attempt to quick-pitch the system indicates, you just can't take your eyes off these guys for a second. But, then, I've been telling you that for more than a year.

Righeimer implie
d that the Charter would sweep to victory in November, but that may have just been a feint, to cause everyone to just relax enough so they can try another stealth maneuver.

I mentioned to someone today that this just may be karma. These guys ha
ve consistently failed at every bogus, stupid scheme they've tried. They're like "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight". Maybe they should finally try what Wendy Leece suggested - meeting with employee groups in good faith to try to find consensus on how the current fiscal situation can be addressed. Of course, that doesn't fit with Righeimer's plans, so don't hold your collective breath waiting for it to happen.

So, I'm hoping the rest of the week will be calm and peaceful. You'll recall that the last time I expected it to be that way they dropped that "special meeting" bombshell. Well, keeping our fingers crossed...

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Special Meeting Canceled!

In a brief announcement distributed just after 3:00 today Costa Mesa Communication Director Bill Lobdell announced that the Special Council Meeting called to place Jim Righeimer's Charter on a special ballot in June scheduled for this afternoon following the Study Session has been canceled!

Here's the full text of his message:

The special Costa Mesa City Council meeting scheduled today to discuss holding a municipal election on the City’s charter measure has been canceled. The regularly scheduled Council Study Session will begin today at 4:30 p.m., as planned.

The question now is - What happens to the Charter Scheme at this point? The clock is ticking and if they're serious about getting this thing before the voters in June they may not have enough time.

Lobdell was unavailable for further comment at this time. I'll post more when I know more. The remainder of the meetings originally scheduled for today - the Study Session at 4:30 and the Successor Agency meeting at 6:30 - are still going forward.

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Monday, April 09, 2012

Is The Special Meeting Legal?(Updated)

Per a note from Bill Lobdell at 3:10 today, the Special Meeting called for today to discuss placing Jim Righeimer's Charter scheme on a ballot in June has been CANCELED without further comment. I posted another new post about it.


Well, loyal readers, as of 2:50 p.m. Tuesday there has been no response from Lobdell, Hatch or Duarte to my question on this post. I suppose there's still time, but... If I do receive word before I head over to City Hall I'll post it.

I just wrote to Tom Hatch, Tom Duarte and Bill Lobdell with the following message:


Regarding the special City Council meeting called for Tuesday, April 10, 2012:

At 4:42 p.m. Monday, April 9, 2012 I received email notification of the Special Council Meeting to be held the next day. Here's what the text looked like when it arrived to me:

There is a new City Council Agenda posted on the following link:

There was more verbiage at the bottom about not replying to the message, etc.

When I clicked on the link I was taken to the City Web Site to a page that looked, in part, like this:

When I clicked on that link to the Special Meeting I was taken to the announcement:

That .pdf file contains two pages. The first one is the agenda for the special meeting and the second is the actual Notice And Call for the special meeting. Here's an image of that notice:

The following is an extract from section 54956 (a) of the California Government Code. I did not include the remainder of the text, only what I feel is relevant to this issue. I have highlighted the section in bold italics the portion in question.

54956.  (a) A special meeting may be called at any time by the
presiding officer of the legislative body of a local agency, or by a
majority of the members of the legislative body, by delivering
written notice to each member of the legislative body and to each
local newspaper of general circulation and radio or television
station requesting notice in writing and posting a notice on the
local agency's Internet Web site, if the local agency has one. The
notice shall be delivered personally or by any other means and shall
be received at least 24 hours before the time of the meeting as
specified in the notice. The call and notice shall specify the time
and place of the special meeting and the business to be transacted or
No other business shall be considered at these meetings
by the legislative body. The written notice may be dispensed with as
to any member who at or prior to the time the meeting convenes files
with the clerk or secretary of the legislative body a written waiver
of notice. The waiver may be given by telegram. The written notice
may also be dispensed with as to any member who is actually present
at the meeting at the time it convenes.
The call and notice shall be posted at least 24 hours prior to the
special meeting in a location that is freely accessible to members
of the public.

You will note that this section of the government code REQUIRES that the call and notice specify the time and place of any such special meeting.

Nowhere in your published and posted Notice and Call does it specify the time of the meeting. It does say that it will "begin immediately following the Regular Adjourned Meeting/Study Session", but that assumes the reader of the announcement will know the time of THAT meeting. Since this special meeting deals exclusively with The Charter and the Study Session has no segment on that subject, folks who might be interested in the Charter could not be expected to know about the Study Session.

In my view, your Notice And Call has failed to meet the noticing requirements of the California Government Code. If you hold that meeting Tuesday afternoon or evening you will be doing so in violation of state law.

Geoff West
Costa Mesa


I have no idea if they will reply to me or not. Guess we'll see

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Costa Mesa Plans Charter End Run

Sneaking in just under the
wire, the City of Costa Mesa announced this afternoon - just under the deadline for notifications of an emergency council meeting - that the City Council will hold a special council meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - immediately following the scheduled study session - in council chambers to discuss the placement of Jim Righeimer's Charter scheme before the voters in a Special Election coincident with the June 5th state-wide primary election. You can read the staff report for that meeting HERE.

You will recall that the original plan was to have Jim Righeimer's Charter placed on the consolidated ballot, but either a clerical error or a screw-up of biblica
l proportions, depending on which version of the story told by the attorney's from Jones Day you choose to believe, kept that from happening. Because of that gaffe City Clerk Julie Folcik was placed on Administrative Leave and an investigation is being conducted to try to determine just how the deadline was missed.

In the meantime, I suspect Righeimer has not enjoyed the broad-based euphoria demonstrated by opponents of his scheme and was certainly looking for a way - any way - to keep this issue from being forced onto the November General Election ballot, where a larger cross-section of voters would be lured to the polls by the presidential contest.


According to the staff report, if the council chooses to conduct its own election on June 5th, it will cost nearly 50% more than if it had been considered on the consolidated ballot and much more than if it was to be placed no the November ballot. The staff report states it will cost more than $153,000 to conduct this special election. You can read that 5-page report breaking down the costs HERE.

Again, I ask, what's the rush
? Every step they've taken in haste on this issue has been disastrous. Now they will ask the taxpayers of this city to foot the bill to assuage the anger of one petty political operative eager to show his pals that he's got what it takes. Well, he doesn't - everything he has done in this city has been detrimental to all of us. IF - and that's a VERY BIG IF - a Charter is right for our city, then there should be no rush to get it on the ballot and there should be every precaution taken so the largest possible cross section of the electorate has a chance to consider the issue.


Oh, yes... remember in my last post when I said this was going to be a slow week? In the immortal words of Gilda Radner as Emily Litella - Never mind!

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A Slow Week In Costa Mesa - Maybe

I cross my fingers as I write that title. One just never knows what kind of mischief some of our elected leaders will come up with these days, but the public meetings scheduled for this week could lead one to believe it might be a much-needed breather after all the "Charter" chaos of recent weeks.


Tonight, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambe
rs, the Costa Mesa Planning Commission - chaired by Colin McCarthy - will hold their monthly meeting. Actually, this will be the first of two (2) meetings this month if the agenda is to be believed. They're talking about a second meeting on April 23rd, as well.


Tonight they will review Code Enforcement activities and discuss reducing the parking requirements for establishments serving food. The staff report for the meeting is HERE and you can follow the link to that particular issue once on the agenda page. I'm concerned about this one because our city has typically produced under-parked sites and the businesses typically suffer when they lack sufficient parking. This seems to be especially so in the case of shared parking with other businesses. Let's hope they get this right.


Tomorrow, at 4:30 p.m. in Conference Room 1A the City Council will hold a study session that, based on the agenda, should be brief. They will recognize winners from the "Celebrate Costa Mesa" Photo Contest and hear a presentation of the Orange County River Parks (OCPR).


Following that meeting at 6:30 there will be a meeting of the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency.

And that's pretty much it until next week when we have another council meeting on the 17th that promises to be full of fun stuff.

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