Saturday, June 02, 2012

Righeimer's Charter And More Tuesday Night

As most readers here already know, the Costa Mesa City Council will hold the first of the required Public Hearings on Jim Righeimer's Charter at its meeting Tuesday, June 5th.  This will be only one of several important issues discussed, but likely THE MOST IMPORTANT of them all.  You can read the agenda HERE.
Based on the announcement of the meeting, there will be NO closed session Tuesday night (unless they change their collective minds), so the meeting will begin at 6:00 and end who-knows-when?  The last meeting ran until 3:00 a.m. the next day!
As always, the Consent Calendar provides some interesting information and this time is no exception.  There are three (3) Warrants for the council to consider.  Among the bits of information to be gleaned are the following charges:

  • Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $13,710.00 for Labor Negotiations. (I'm guessing this is for the services of Richard Kreisler)
  • Newport Helicopter Service - $13,510.00 for the removal of equipment and preparation of helicopters for sale
  • Woodruff Spradlin & Smart - $52.50 for charges regarding Benito Acosta vs. City.  (This just never goes away!)
  • Management Partners - $6,200.00 for Interim Management Assistance
  • City of Huntington Beach - $51,800.00 for Helicopter services for February and March
  • CTS Language Link - $7553.60 for Special Election Notice Translation (I guess this is for that aborted special election they fouled up)
  • Filarsky and Watt, LLP - $2260.75 for Legal Services from March 3rd through Appril 25th.
  • Mobile Concepts Technology - $14,625.00 for Computer Tablets and Protection Agreements
  • Thomas J. Brodermann, PhD - $2170.58 for what appears to be three training modules entitled Manage Stress in the Workplace (5/1/12); Importance of Humor (5/2/12) and Tactical Communication (5/3/12).  I'm sorry, but I just couldn't help but chuckle as I read those titles considering the circumstances in City Hall these days.  It's not clear if these were training sessions, books or cartoons, like that Goofy cartoon you see in traffic school.
Item #6 on the Consent Calendar is a charge of $664,705 from Hogle-Ireland in Pasadena for General Plan Update and Environmental Impact Report.  Yikes!  I hope somebody pulls this item for discussion so we can get a little more information about how we spent more than a half-million dollars on this project.  You can read about it HERE.

Item #12 deals with the upcoming November 6, 2012 General Election.

Under Public Hearings, we have #1, the re-authorization of the additional 3% TOT for the Business Improvement Association.  The staff report is HERE.

Number 2 is for Bonds for the "Tower on 19th Street", currently known as Bethel Towers.  According to the staff report, HERE, these bonds will not exceed $37 million, which will be used to  finance the acquisition and rehabilitation of the building.  Theoretically, the facility will remain "affordable" housing.  I guess I'd like to hear more about this and I'm sure the seniors presently living there sure will.

Number 3 is the now-infamous Jim Righeimer Charter.  I expect we may see a few people stand to address this one.  It's going to be interesting to see if anything has changed in their pitch for this ill-advised attempt to takeover Costa Mesa government by a few political opportunists.  You can read the staff report HERE, which also includes nine (9) links to other helpful pieces of information.

Under Old Business we will FINALLY get to the appointments of volunteers to various city committees.  You will recall that this council apparently decided that the three dozen folks who applied for seats last fall were not adequate, so they pushed the process off until the spring.  Now we have a MUCH smaller contingent from which to select and they are just now getting around to it.  The staff report his HERE.

It is of interest to note that there is NO item set for discussion of how to replace resigned commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick on the Planning Commission.  This item requires public awareness and transparency, even though those of us who watch this council in action have ABSOLUTELY no doubt that they've already figured out what they're going to do.  This is going to be VERY interesting because some of their favorite players - like Ethan Temianka and Jeff Mathews from the Parks and Recreation Commission - are already making noises like they will run for seats on one of the special district boards - the Sanitary District or the Mesa Consolidated Water District.  If so, they could find themselves in exactly the same position Fitzpatrick was in by holding a seat on the Planning Commission, too.  Regardless, Fitzpatrick's term expires January 31, 2015, so it is not likely, nor prudent, for the council to permit his seat to remain vacant all that time.  This is going to be very interesting.  This issue SHOULD have been on the agenda for THIS council meeting.

All in all it looks like yet another interesting - and possibly long - council meeting.  We find ourselves wondering if Mayor Eric Bever will grace us with his presence for this one.  He's ducked a couple more meetings recently, so placing the crown on his head didn't guarantee he'd participate.  You will recall that he "didn't sign up for this"... one of his many infamous comments from the dais.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I-405 Widening Public Hearing Monday

The much anticipated first public
hearing by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) on the proposed I-405 widening project will be held Monday, June 4, 2012 at the Student Center at Orange Coast College, adjacent to Lot B on the map below.  (Click on the map to enlarge it)  Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the meeting will last until 8:00.  The presentation will run about a half hour beginning at 6:30, followed by time to interrogate staffers.  You can read about the project HERE.
This project, purported to be necessary to mitigate anticipated dramatic growth in traffic over the next 25 years, presently has four options.

  • The Baseline Alternative - build nothing at all
  • Build Alternative #1 - Add One General Purpose Lane In Each Direction
  • Build Alternative #2 - Add Two General Purpose Lanes in Each Direction
  • Build Alternative #3 - Express Facility Alternative
All of the proposals fall generally within the existing right-of-way.

Each of the so-called Build Alternatives will require the demolishing of the relatively new Fairview Bridge in Costa Mesa. CORRECTION:  Only Alternate #3 will require demolishing the Fairview Bridge and part of a ramp at Harbor Blvd. 

Of the three, Build Alternative #3 - which adds a High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane to the existing carpool lane - seems to be the most troublesome to our Northside neighbors and is shown below.  That option actually provides revenue to the OCTA, which is why it is THEIR preferred option.  However, of all the choices, that one serves Costa Mesa the least.  In fact, it actually will make it much more difficult for many Costa Mesans to use the I-405.

Plan to attend this presentation on Monday to get a clear idea of exactly what's in store for us with this project.  This public hearing if the first of four scheduled and the only one in Costa Mesa.

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Hangin' With Tamar

Readers here will recognize the name, Tamar Goldmann, from several previous entries.  I've mentioned her in the context of her tenacious, yet cordial, comments presented to the Costa Mesa City Council.

I first noticed Tamar as she spoke to the council a few years ago.  She approached the speaker's podium almost as though she was trying to sneak up on it and, once there, she quietly, respectfully - almost timidly - said her piece and stepped away.  She made me smile.

Since that time events have caused her to become more assertive.  It's clear from her comments over the past recent months that she is less patient with this particular council, although never disrespectful.  Those of us who follow the antics of the male majority on the council can certainly understand why she - or anyone else - might be losing patience with them.


Well, recently Tamar Goldmann - a long-time educator at Orange Coast College - was presented with OCCs Hanging of the Orange award, bestowed upon faculty and staff members who have gone "above and beyond" their regular duties on campus.  You can read all about it HERE.  She's shown here receiving the award from Doug Bennett, Executive Director of the Orange Coast College Foundation

Congratulations to Tamar, and to her patient husband, Dan.  I'm proud to know you...

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Fish Fry Is Here - And It Has Moved!

OK, Costa Mesans and all the rest of you who read this feeble effort to inform the populace - it's that time of the year again.  The 65th annual Costa Mesa- Newport Harbor Lions Fish Fry is upon us.  
After decades at Lions Park, this year the Fish Fry has moved to Fairview Park and, for the first time, a beer and wine garden will be part of the festivities.

As you can see form the flier below, it's bigger and better than ever.  (Click on the image to enlarge it)  So, plan your weekend around this kick-off to summer event.  This year you'll be able to view the beautiful Pacific Ocean from the top of the Ferris Wheel!  See you there.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Military Affairs Team Meeting Wednesday

The second meeting of the Costa Mesa Military Affairs Team will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, May 30, 2012 in Conference Room 1A at City Hall.


The flier for this meeting is shown below.  Any persons interested in knowing more about this group, or participating in the activities of this group is encouraged to attend and/or contact Dan Baker at the number shown below for more information.  (Click on the image to make it larger)

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Claire Flynn Named Asst. Director of Development Services

In an email today Peter Naghavi, Deputy CEO and Director of Economic and Development for the City of Costa Mesa, announced that Claire Flynn has been appointed to the position of Assistant Director of Development Services.  I agree with Naghavi that this is an excellent move for the City and wish Claire well in this new assignment.

The text of Naghavi's announcement follows:

It is with my honor that I announce the appointment of Claire Flynn to the position of Assistant Director of Development Services effective immediately.

Claire is a graduate of Costa Mesa High, and received her Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UCI. She has 18 year of professional planning experience, and has been with the City of Costa Mesa since Aug. 2001.

Considering her professional qualifications, as well as her personal attributes, I am positive that Claire's appointment to this position will go a long way in making this department specifically, and the City organization in general, very successful in providing a high quality service to our residents and the development community.

Please join me in congratulating Claire on her new appointment, and wishing her the best for years to come.
Peter Naghavi,  Deputy CEO
Director of Economic and Development
City of Costa Mesa, CA

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Another Special Study Session This Afterrnoon

The Costa Mesa City Council will meet at 4:30 p.m. today in council chambers for the latest Special Study Session.  These special meetings have become a habit this month - this is the third one - due to the need for more time to discuss the extraordinary budget demands of this council.

Today the agenda includes:

1 - Review of Fairview Park Master Plan Improvements

2 - Summary of Capital Improvement Program and  Discussion of Funding Opportunities and Priorities

That first item shouldn't take too long, but I'm not so sure about the second one.  You will recall that Jim Righeimer added several million dollars worth of capital improvement items from his 5-year wish list to the original budget - the one that was within a couple hundred thousand dollars of being balanced.  The second version of the Preliminary Budget, HERE, shows that we will be several millions in the hole if Righeimer and the rest of the male majority on the council persist in placing potholes before people.  The only place money can be found for the kinds of capital projects they say have been "ignored" by previous councils - which, of course, included some members of the current council - is in salaries and benefits.  This should be a very interesting meeting, since they plan to "prioritize" the budget this afternoon.

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74th Assembly District - My Decision

Today is the day I'll complete my absentee ballot for the June 5th primary election.  It will be in the mail Tuesday.  As always, part of it is cause for consternation.  For example, we have twenty-five (25) candidates for the United States Senate!  Who in the world has the time, or inclination, to try to sort through all those folks to make an informed decision?  Even if you try to vote a straight party line, trying to sort out those of your party from the others can make your head hurt.

But that's not the reason for this post.  Nope, today I'm going to tell you who I'm casting my ballot for in the race for the 74th Assembly District, and why.

We've thrashed this issue around on this blog for a couple months.  To refresh your memory, you can read what I wrote about the Feet To The Fire Forum in April, HERE, and Leslie Daigle's reaction to that particular post the next day, HERE.  You can also read what I wrote about the candidate forum in Laguna Beach last Friday night, HERE.  That's the one Daigle decided to avoid, leaving only Allan Mansoor and Bob Rush to face the public and discuss issues.

So, off we go.  Let me preface my comments by saying that I don't ever expect to agree with every candidate for any office on every issue.  While a lovely fantasy, it's not the way the world works.  I look at each candidate based on what they potentially bring to the office they're trying to achieve.  I look at their track record.  If they've held elective office before I want to know what they accomplished.  I want to know if they have the intellectual horsepower to handle the new job.  Does their academic history form a solid foundation for the rigors of the work ahead?  What kind of preparation for this job has their employment history provided?  Politics is, in great part, the art of negotiation, so I want to know if the candidates have shown us that they are skilled in that area.  Are they willing to compromise where necessary for the greater good, or do they dig their heels in and not give an inch?

I also want to know if they've demonstrated the ability to build consensus in difficult situations.  Have they taken a leadership role when tackling tough issues?  Does their style unify or divide people?  In the case of the Assembly, since California is a very diverse state demographically, have they demonstrated the ability to reach across ethnic boundaries to solve problems?  Have they been effective in their professional lives and in other public positions they've held?  Will their personal lives - financial and otherwise - permit them to spend enough time in this new job?  What is their personal philosophy of governance?  What, or who, do they look to for guidance, mentoring, inspiration and financial support?  These factors, among many others, are things I consider when assessing candidates for any elected position and are among those I will look at when considering candidates for the 74th Assembly District.  Let us begin...

Allan Mansoor is a man about which I know a great deal.  I've watched him in action for eight years as a Costa Mesa City Councilman, including his multiple tours as mayor.  I actually knew a little bit about him before that, too.  He was a frequent commenter on the now-dormant Concerned Costa Mesa Citizens web site - basically a chat room created by some Costa Mesa residents as a place to "discuss" issues in the community.  Without going into all the lengthy details, suffice it to say that several items caught the eye of the local media - Daily Pilot reporter Lolita Harper wrote a 3-part expose' on the site - and the Orange County Human Relations Commission became aware of it and started nosing around.  One of the issues was the posting of anti-gay articles by Allan Mansoor who, at that time, was a member of the Costa Mesa Human Relations Committee.  Following the public scrutiny the owners of the site eventually just folded it up.  As a sidebar, during Mansoor's tenure on the city council the Human Relations Committee was unceremoniously defunded then disbanded without so much as a simple "thank you" to the participants, some of whom had devoted decades to the work done by that committee.

Mansoor was a career Orange County Sheriff's Deputy and, despite his presentation that he spent time in patrol and other assignments, most of his tour of duty was spent as a jailer.  That's not necessarily bad - those jobs are essential - but his performance on the city council clearly demonstrated that he had little, if any, grasp of real law enforcement.

During his tenure on the Costa Mesa City Council Mansoor was a divisive figure.  Although the son of immigrants - a badge he proudly wears and brings tears to his eyes in public - is personal animosity for the immigrant population of our city was evident in many of his actions.  Few will forget the night he had immigrants-rights activist Benito Acosta dragged from council chambers by a half-dozen officers and arrested.  That ham-handed handling of an already volatile situation split our city and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and Acosta's name continues to appear on warrants for payment to our legal counsel years later.  He was embraced by the radical right because of his "bravery" and made an honorary "Minuteman" by the Grand Pooba of that organization himself, Jim Gilchrist.

Mansoor's platform for the Assembly seat is founded on Pension Reform, yet during his tenure on the Costa Mesa City Council - including his time as mayor - he accomplished NOTHING in that area.  In his two years in the Assembly he has accomplished NOTHING.  He has shown no leadership in either job - which is not surprising to me, having watched him in action for more than a decade.  He is academically and intellectually unprepared for this job and his philosophy is only an echo of words provided for him by the leadership of the Orange County Republican Party, who have plowed lots of money into his campaign in the form of Independent Expenditures.

In a recent post on his blog, Civil Thinking, my friend, Bruce Krochman addressed this race and said the following:
"What Mr. Mansoor does bring, is the ability to stay in line with party leadership. In the broader scheme of things, of this group of candidates, that is the one quality that above all else makes Assemblyman Mansoor the one to vote for. "  And, in my opinion, that single characteristic is what makes him unworthy of my vote.  What we need in Sacramento are people willing and ABLE to work across the aisle to make things better for all Californians.  Mansoor does not possess the skills to do that - never has and probably never will.  He won't get my vote.

Leslie Daigle has been a HUGE disappointment to me.  I had high hopes that she would be a very viable alternative to Mansoor in this race.  She's been a member of the Newport Beach City Council for several years but I don't have a sense that she's been a consensus-builder in that role.  She won re-election two years ago, so I'm assuming the voters in Newport Beach thought she was doing a good job.  I WANTED to like her as a candidate and tried to establish a rapport with her early in her campaign.  Then came the Feet To The Fire Forum.

At that event, which pitted the egos of some journalists against the egos of politicians, Daigle failed miserably.  She was clearly uncomfortable trying to field questions from some members of the press who may have had an ax to grind with her.  I was not the only person who felt that way following the event and when I wrote about it Daigle took extreme exception to my characterization.  I wrote about that, too.

Daigle has managed to win very significant financial support from the Chairman of the Santa Clara County Republican Party, Charles Munger.  His group has plowed somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 into her campaign.  My mailbox has been flooded with literature supporting her and bad-mouthing Mansoor - and vice versa.  I've saved them all.  I'm not so naive to think that tons of cash wouldn't be thrown into this race - there's a lot to lose.

Despite my plea - which went unanswered, by the way - Daigle decided to NOT participate in what is likely the last chance for the three candidates in this race to meet face-to-face and discuss issues.  Last Friday night only Mansoor and Rush showed up at the Laguna Beach City Hall for the debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters and other community groups.  A chair on the dais with her name on it remained reserved for her the entire evening.  I suspect, considering her poor performance at the Feet To The Fire Forum earlier, she and her advisers may have decided tactically to just blow off this event for fear of doing more damage.  Well, it didn't work.  I heard not a single comment in support of her absence from that event that evening.

Despite her otherwise attractive - to me - more moderate positions on issues, if she is unwilling to discuss important issues with her opposition during a campaign, how in the world can we expect her to handle the interests important to the voters of the 74th Assembly District in Sacramento?  If she is afraid of confrontation she has NO chance of being effective up there.  Much to my disappointment - because I feel the Republican Party is letting this state slip away, and I feel we need strong, competent elected Republicans in both houses of the Legislature to improve things - I cannot support Leslie Daigle in this race.

Which brings us to Robert Rush - the political neophyte and freshly-minted Democrat.  I must tell you right off the bat, I wish Rush had chosen to register as a Republican for this race - he could have, after all.  His views on most issues are moderate, although he differs with the GOP party line on abortion and same sex marriage.  So, he switched from "Decline to State" to Democrat to run in this race.  I guess I understand why.

Rush, while never a candidate for any office before, has become an avid community activist.  He launched and led the battle against the proliferation of rehabilitation facilities in Newport Beach, a baptism by fire in anyone's book.  That activism didn't make him popular among many of the entrenched politicians in that city, but he plowed ahead.  And, he's a CPA and a very successful businessman, both of which are extremely desirable attributes for someone charged with trying to sort out California's abysmal fiscal situation.  He knows how to negotiate deals.

He was, in the view of many people, the "winner" at the Feet To The Fire Forum, demonstrating an ability to think on his feet and speak off the cuff and knowing when to just quietly sit there and let those around him implode.  At the Laguna Beach forum he also did well, handling himself with self-assured maturity and never hesitating to answer tough questions.  He just seemed confident.   At the time I felt he and Mansoor had a draw for the evening.  My opinion was based purely on how they each did that night.  Their differences were clear, as were the many areas in which they shared a common vision for change.  The question, of course, which of them can get that change accomplished.
The Orange County Democratic Party apparatus has been slow to embrace him.   I suppose that's understandable, since he's an unknown to them, too. 
I'm OK with that.  It actually makes him a more attractive candidate to me.  However, he's done a good job of reaching out to Democrat enclaves over the past couple months and has generally avoided the mud-slinging that Mansoor and Daigle have employed in their campaigns.

And so, as this new, scary Open Primary permits - and although I'm a life-long Republican who has NEVER voted for a Democrat in a partisan race before - I'm going to lean over and mark my ballot for Bob Rush for the 74th Assembly District seat.  I've decided that it is unacceptable to place an incompetent ideologue - Mansoor -  who has no chance at all of accomplishing anything in Sacramento, in that chair.  And Daigle - who might have been my choice except for her unwillingness to engage her opponents - leaves me no alternative.  Although I disagree on some issues with Rush, his centrist leanings lead me to feel he has a much better chance of influencing issues that cry out for change than either of the other candidates.  If he manages to be one of the two candidates left standing on June 6th, the November election will be even more fun.
Now, back to the rest of the ballot.  Heck, since Diane Feinstein will probably have this thing wrapped up again, I might just vote for Orly Taitz for Senate, just for fun.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

"Anonymous" Is Over And Out

Just a short note this evening to let you all know that this blog has been the focus of a spam attack in the form of messages signed "Anonymous".  When opened they contained gibberish and who knows what else!

As some know, in the past I've preferred to NOT have messages signed as "Anonymous" because it caused comment threads to get garbled.  I asked you to pick a pen name instead.  Most of you have done so and I'm grateful for that.  Some of you didn't.

Because of this spam attack on my blog, henceforth no messages signed "Anonymous" will be opened.  Each will be deleted as they arrive in my inbox without being read.

If you want to post a comment, pick a pen name that's not already being used and fire away.

If you simply want to tell me something, use the email address on my profile page.

Thanks for playing...

Editorial Got It Wrong

As a Vietnam-era veteran who lost several compatriots in that meaningless war, whose uncles proudly served this country in World War II and whose grand-nephew presently serves in Afghanistan, I was profoundly offended by the editorial published in the Daily Pilot online May 26th titled, "Honor the fallen in the civil rights war too", HERE.

The reason for the Memorial Day holiday is to pause and reflect on the hundreds of thousands of men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in ALL our military engagements, whether we called them "wars" or "police actions" or "skirmishes".  It is to pay our respects to those brave people who died in the military service to our country - ALL of them.

For the Daily Pilot to publish an editorial that attempts to somehow equate the death of Harvey Milk - a military veteran and openly-gay politician who was murdered by a deranged colleague -  to those men and women who died in military service to this country is a despicable act of disrespect to all who served and died, to those who served with them and to those who survived them and honor their memory this weekend.

During my tour of service nearly 50 years ago I served with men I knew to be gay and some women who were lesbians.  They did not hide their sexual orientation, but neither did they flaunt it.  All I saw were men and women proudly serving their country and I was proud to serve along side them.

In my view, it is completely inappropriate for an editorial that begins purporting to honor those who died in military service to this country to be morphed into a a gay and lesbian rights manifesto.  Whether the Orange County Board of Supervisors fails to designate recognition of Harvey Milk's birthday or not may be a subject for ANOTHER editorial, but not one that honors fallen military men and women.

I would be very surprised to learn that ANY member of the Daily Pilot Editorial Board has ever served in the military.  If they had,  they would understand just how inappropriate and offensive this particular editorial is to those of us who have served.  My comment is NOT an anti-gay screed, although I suspect some will attempt to characterize it as such.  It is simply an expression of my disappointment in the Daily Pilot Editorial Board for its insensitivity - nothing more.

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