Thursday, August 02, 2012

City May Scuttle Marijuana Initiative

In a press release issued late Wednesday the City of Costa Mesa may have thrown a serious impediment before the proponents of placing a medical marijuana initiative on the November 6th ballot.  You can find that information on the City web site, HERE.

The petitions were turned in to the  City Clerk around noon on Wednesday who date stamped each page, counted every signature and hand-delivered them to the Registrar of Voters.that afternoon.

However, the City MAY require the proponents to present information about the impact of the proposed ordinance on zoning and other elements covered in the press release. Because that information typically takes 30 days or more and the final date for the Registrar of Voters to certify the item for the November ballot, the City may have driven a stake in its heart.

The agenda for the council meeting on August 7th was published today and it DID NOT include anything about this issue. It could be added as an emergency item but it seems impossible for the deadline to be met. We'll see.


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Krupp Pulls Out

HE'S OUT... Costa Mesa City Council candidate Marshall Krupp announced on the steps of City Hall today that he has decided to withdraw his candidacy effective today.

Unfortunately, not only has he chosen to extract himself from the political turmoil that is sure to come later this summer and fall, he basically dropping out from ANY involvement in ANY community activities. Based on the items he handed out at his press conference today, and his comments to those of us who showed up to hear him, he was VERY disappointed when was not chosen by the grassroots organization, Costa Mesans For Responsible Government, as part of the group they recently endorsed.

While I do believe that his presence on the ballot would have been a distraction to the voters and would likely have been an impediment to defeating the OC GOP-endorsed slate of  Gary Monahan, Steve Mensinger and Colin McCarthy, I think his decision to extract his voice from the debate of important issues is short-sighted and, quite frankly, selfish of him. I hope, upon reflection, he will change his mind and return as a participant, if not a candidate, during the upcoming campaign season.

Krupp apparently felt that, despite his considerable skills and background, CM4RG rejected him as an endorsee because of his history with The ManKind Project - the program that had him leading groups of naked, blindfolded men through the forest and sitting around speaking to a wooden dildo. I don't know if that's a fact or not..

When asked who he thought he should have been paired with by the folks at CM4RG, he said that he, Sandra Genis and John Stephens would be a strong slate. CM4RG chose activist and entrepreneur Harold Weitzberg.  Krupp figures that the Weitzberg choice was because he is related to CM4RG president  Robin Leffler.

While I understand part of Krupp's reasoning, his reluctance to be an active participant and strong voice in what he acknowledges is a critical juncture in the history of this city seems a little like a kid who doesn't get chosen near the top in a pick- up football game, so takes his ball and goes home.  It seems to me that, if he seriously had the interests of THE CITY at heart he would swallow his pride ans find another way to participate. Maybe not.

So, we are down to eight candidates with nine days to go before they have to make their final decision to run or not. We'll see how this plays out next week.

Sorry for no images. My computer sprained it's brain so I'm left to using my IPad.

I'm back, computer is operating again, so I added images.  That darn Ipad is too much work! 

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Marijuana Petitions Submitted To City

Today, shortly before noon, proponents of the movement to place an initiative on the November ballot which, if approved by the voters, will permit "certain Medical Marijuana activities in the City of Costa Mesa".  You can read the text of the message that appeared on the petitions as well as the entire proposed ordinance HERE.

Several proponents stood before the main entrance at City Hall and presented their pile of petitions.  It was required for them to gather roughly 5,800 signature of registered Costa Mesa voters - 10% of the number of the total registered voters.  According to the proponents, they gathered 6,780 valid signatures.  Shown here with Acting Deputy City Clerk Christine Cordon in the background.

Robert Martinez
- a name with whom some of you may be familiar as the fellow who broadcast his weekly marijuana radio program from then-mayor Gary Monahan's pub several months ago, then had the program removed from the airwaves - was the primary spokesman for the group.  He's shown here reading the text of the item on the petitions.

The pile of papers were turned in to Interim City Clerk Brenda Green for processing.  She's shown here exchanging details of the process with Martinez and others. 

Once Green and her staff timestamped in each petition page those documents were taken to a private room where Green counted each signature in front of a representative of the proponents.  Once that was completed the documents will be delivered to Neal Kelley, Orange County Registrar of Voters, where his staff will certify each and every signature as valid.  If sufficient numbers of signatures are found to be valid this item will appear on the November 6th ballot.

According to Green, the counting is complete and she is leaving to deliver the 6777 signatures to the Registrar as I type this.  His staff will certify each signature to the point where they reach the minimum for placement on the ballot - 5811.

Green also tells me that the city will pay for this item to be on the ballot if it qualifies, but the numbers are unknown at this time.  The Registrar's office determines the cost based on several variables that cannot be quantified at this time.

I think you'll find this initiative to be an interesting document.  Here are some of the highlights as presented in the petition language: (the emphasis below is mine)

  • It authorizes the establishment of storefront, mobile and agricultural medical marijuana operations, not operated primarily for profit, in the City.
  • No approval is given or required by or from the City to establish such operations.
  • The City cannot ban such operations.
  • The City cannot punish property owners for such operations.
  • It specifically exempts such medical marijuana operations from being required by the City to obtain a business license, special site plan or variance.
  • It prohibits the City from cooperating with county, state or federal law enforcement agencies in enforcing laws contrary to the Initiative.
  • It basically "grandfathers-in" ten (10) medical marijuana establishments deemed to be in good standing and free to begin operating.  Go to the link above for the identities of these establishments
  • Inspections of these establishments for normal fire and other safety inspections, appropriate parking per square footage and similar requirements for a private club may be performed so long as these are not different for any other business or private club in the City.
  • Storefront locations are prohibited within 1,000 feet of a public or private school where K-12 grade classes are held.
  • It requires medical marijuana establishments to have a closed circuit video camera system for security purposes; an active centrally-monitored burglary alarm system and proper lighting.
  • If found in violation of any of those regulations the City may fine the establishment a maximum of $1,000 per week per infraction but may not order the closure of the establishment.
  • The City would be limited to one inspection a year to insure compliance with these regulations.
  • The City may not impose any further regulations or regulatory procedures on medical marijuana activities, unless they are approved by a majority of the City of Costa Mesa voters in a regularly scheduled or special election.

Each of those items I highlighted are very problematic for me.  It looks to me as though any of these kind of facilities will operate beyond any reasonable application of the law.  If this item is certified and placed on the ballot I will vote NO.

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Costa Mesa Charter On November Ballot

Only kidding...
To absolutely nobody's surprise among those 100 or so folks gathered in the Costa Mesa City Council chambers last night, the council voted to place Jim Righeimer's Charter on the November 6th ballot.  Actually, there were fewer than 30 people left when the vote was taken.  Many of the rest bailed out after they took their three minutes at the speaker's podium.  In fact, we were out of the auditorium well before 10:00 p.m.

I arrived early - 5:00 p.m. - for the meeting that was to begin at 7:00 - because I wanted to be there for the closed session and I wanted to see what kind of a crowd might assemble based on the OC GOP appeal to the Orange County Young Republicans.  Based on the email message I'd seen earlier, I expected to see dozens of bright young people, all dressed in red shirts, scrambling for pizza before they were handed their scripts to read before the council.  I didn't want to have to arm-wrestle one of them for a seat.  I shouldn't have worried.  The only red shirt in the house was on the back of resident Phil Morello, President of the Costa Mesa Republican Assembly, who actually suggested bankruptcy as a solution to our fiscal woes!  The rest of the freshly-scrubbed Young Republicans apparently didn't get the "red shirt" message.

Just before six a couple of them arrived, expecting to find their cohorts on site already.  Seems they'd been told the meeting was at 6:00!  Maybe they read the city flier that was mailed to all residents which showed that time.  I went outside a few minutes later and found a few folks chowing down on pizza from the rear end of a SUV- and few of them looked like "young" Republicans.  As it turned out, all of them were from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) who came to sing the praises of Jim Righeimer's Charter.  I don't think any of the young folks got pizza.

Mayor Eric Bever, who showed up late for the closed session an hour earlier, kicked off the Charter meeting at 7:05.  Ninety-five minutes later 42 speakers had addressed the council and 69% of those spoke against it.  Of the remaining 13 speakers, nine were either Young Republicans or ABC spokesmen (two of which were Costa Mesa residents).  The remaining four were actual Costa Mesa residents without a script or an agenda.

One of the speakers from the ABC was Dave Everett, freshly-minted Government Affairs Director - more recently the Executive Director of the Orange County Republican Party - who apparently provided the script for the young folks and read his own later.  As each of them spoke you could almost predict the words since they were all using the same song book.  If there was any doubt about the cross-pollination of those two organizations, Everett's presence herding a covey of Young Republicans removed it.

I felt just a little sorry for those bright Young Republicans who stepped up and read the script handed to them just a few minutes earlier.  It was very clear that few of them had any real knowledge of the issue, and yet they stood and spoke - like a pup "speaking" for a treat.  Folks around the auditorium chuckled to themselves as speaker after speaker laid that prepared text in front of them at the podium and tried to read parts that made sense to them.  They didn't pull it off.

Of those speakers who spoke against Jim Righeimer's Charter, several were members of Costa Mesans For Responsible Government and also included council candidates Sandra Genis, Sue Lester, John Stephens and Harold Weitzberg.

Over that hour and a half most speakers addressed the council with respect, outlining their concerns with varying levels of detail.  Several pointed out specific deficiencies in the Charter while others delivered their message with more emotion than facts.  I had to chuckle when CM4RG President Robin Leffler stood and used valuable time to set the record straight about this blog, which had been identified by Everett in his call to action earlier this week as a "liberal blog".  She pointed out to the council that I, by name, was a "Big R" Republican and that the only thing liberal about me was my liberal criticism about "this half-baked Charter".  I smiled.  Later one friend asked if she had said "Big Arse" - I smiled again, knowing that she didn't say that, but if so, that Fruedian slip was pretty darn close to home.  As a sidebar, I saw Everett as he sat in the audience before the proceedings began and I introduced myself as a life-long Republican and the author of A Bubbling Cauldron.  He was courteous and a little flummoxed.  Thanks, Robin... 
Once again, in addition to the "usual suspects" - those residents who actually care enough about their city to study the issues, step away from family obligations and actually address them to the council - there were a sprinkling of  unfamiliar faces taking the speaker's podium for the first time.  It takes guts to do that, especially knowing that one or more of the council members may throw a caustic, snide remark at your back as you depart.  In fact, one speaker pointed that out to the council, but that didn't keep Bever from demonstrating that he simply has no self-control.  Time after time he tossed juvenile retorts at one speaker or another.

Speaking of Bever, he again demonstrated an uneven application of the rules last night.  When  34-year Costa Mesa resident Bill Henniger (sp?) attempted to explain his concerns about the Charter by presenting a summary of the reasons he didn't trust this council with it, Bever tried to shut him off, telling him to stick to the Charter.  Henniger tried to explain that's what he was doing, but Bever's interruption did what he apparently hoped to accomplish - he knocked Henniger off his stride, but he did finish.  The next speaker, Jim Kerr (above) from Huntington Beach - one of the pizza-eaters, a spokesman for the ABC and a proponent of the Charter - rambled on with an explanation of the ABC, using up at least two minutes on that irrelevant drivel and Bever never said a word.  Despite the fact that he kept on tossing mini-grenades at speakers, I guess we should all consider ourselves lucky that he didn't curse us out and tell us to go home.

Special council for this issue, Kimberly Hall Barlow - former City Attorney and member of the law firm Jones and Mayer - was on hand to guide the discussion and answer questions about the most recent minor modifications made to the Charter.  Resident Tamar Goldmann expressed an opinion during her three minutes that City Attorney Tom Duarte should NOT be permitted to compose the "impartial analysis" of the Charter that will appear in the voter handbook because he answers to the majority on the council that will approve it and is hardly impartial.  Barlow addressed this with the following comment:

"I do want to address one issue that was raised by a speaker with respect to the impartial analysis.  The City Attorney is a public officer designated by the Elections Code and the Government Code to prepare the impartial analysis.  Mr. Duarte is not a city employee and neither am I so I'm sure that I will work with him to insure that the impartial analysis is what is required by the code and other than that I'd be happy to answer any questions."

I think that the fact that this question was even raised gives a good idea of how little trust some residents of this city have for this council and its administration.

The vote to place Jim Righeimer's Charter on the November 6th ballot passed, 4-1.  Wendy Leece voted no after delivering a clear, concise explanation of her reasons during which several council members rolled their eyes and smirked at her. And, after Leece ended with this sentence, "Whether we adopt the Charter or not in November or the voters approve, I know that we will continue to work hard and the residents will help us to continue to make Costa Mesa a great city to live in and that's clean and safe and has great parks and and a great place to raise our families.  So, I'm sorry, but I cannot support this Charter in its present form.", Bever, in his own infantile way, threw this comment at her, "And a great place for grandstanding."  I seriously think this poor man needs some professional help.  He just CANNOT stand it unless he gets the last word in!  He just needs to keep his snide, caustic yap shut and move on.

Several speakers suggested to include the ENTIRE Charter on the sample ballot.  The council agreed and CEO Tom Hatch said that, in addition to the initial ballot cost of nearly $100,000, it would cost around $14,700 to include the entire Charter.  Printing of the proposed informational mailers suggested in the staff report would cost around $10,000 each.

So, now the fun begins.  Jim Righeimer's Charter will now become the cornerstone of debate during the city council campaign.  So far no entity has expressed interest in holding a "Charter-only" debate during the campaign season but questions on it will certainly be addressed during the council candidate forums this summer and fall.  Each side will undoubtedly find ways to get their messages out.  It may boil down, as Daily Pilot columnist Jeffrey Harlan suggested recently, to a matter of trust.  If that's the case, this Charter will be DOA at the ballot box.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Unified Voices on I-405


In the press release shown below Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever joined other elected civic leaders to oppose Alternative #3 and unanimously support Alternative #2 as the Preferred Local Option for the expansion of the I-405 Freeway between Costa Mesa and the I-605. 

COSTA MESA, CALIF.—Five Orange County mayors and a mayor pro tem jointly signed a letter today that details their united opposition to an option pushed by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) requiring the installation of toll lanes on the 405 Freeway from Seal Beach through Costa Mesa.

Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach and Westminster have come together to oppose Alternative 3, which would use taxpayer funds to build toll lanes as part of a major expansion of the 405 Freeway in Orange County. The cities endorse Alternative 2 as the locally preferred option. That plan would improve traffic flow by adding more general purpose lanes but not require tolls.

Mayors Eric Bever (Costa Mesa), John Collins (Fountain Valley), Troy Edgar (Los Alamitos), Michael Levitt (Seal Beach), Margie L. Rice (Westminster) and Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Devin Dwyer will submit their letter (see attached) to each member of the OCTA’s Board of Directors. City representatives will speak at the OCTA’s scheduled public meetings on the proposed expansion on Aug. 13 and Sept. 24.

The city councils of Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Seal Beach and Westminster recently have voted against the toll-road Alternative 3.

Alternate 2, which is unanimously supported by the six cities most affected by the proposed freeway expansion, essentially adds two lanes both north and southbound between Euclid Street and the 605 Freeway.

The OCTA Board is expected to select the “locally preferred alternative” at its Sept. 24 meeting, and Caltrans is scheduled to make the final decision in the fall.

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They're Back! (Amended)*

You will recall that, back in May, I told you about a probable infestation of our City Council meeting by outside agitators from the Orange County Young Republicans, HERE.  We'll, they're back at it again.

In an Action Alert sent out this week those rabid young misguided folks are being asked, once again, to flood our city council chambers at the meeting tonight - when the council WILL vote to place Jim Righeimer's Charter on the November 6th ballot.

This time the flames of this Action Alert are being fanned by a guy named Dave Everett, HERE, who apparently recently left his position as Executive Director of the OC GOP for a position with the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).  In correspondence provided to me he exhorts the troops to rally at City Hall at 6:30, luring them there with the promise of pizza and a chance to visit the Fair.  Well, the Fair is dark on Tuesdays, so these gullible, easily-manipulated young folks will be disappointed.  That's a lesson they'll learn more than once in their young lives if they don't begin thinking for themselves instead of following the OC GOP script.

Speaking of which, in his correspondence Everett asks these young people to wear RED shirts in a show of solidarity - they wore black last time - and tells them that he will provide them with SCRIPTS to read to the council.  Oh, yeah, Young Republicans... just leave your brains at home... we'll provide everything you need - pizza and a script!

In his correspondence Everett says, "
For ABC, we are trying to get charter's up and down the state for cities, so that our members are not excluded from bidding on contracts for those cities...".  It looks to me like Everett has become the reincarnation of Kevin Dayton - the shill for the ABC who almost incited a riot in council chambers back in February, HERE and HERE.
I've mentioned many times that the changes being attempted in Costa Mesa by Jim Righeimer and his pals on the council are actually being guided by marching orders from Scott Baugh and the OC GOP.  Here is yet another example of them trying to influence the APPEARANCE of broad public support for these schemes.  One could interpret this as a recognition by the current council majority that this bogus scheme does NOT have broad community support so they're trying to stack the deck purely for appearance purposes - to make it appear that folks who will actually be impacted by Jim Righeimer's Charter are supportive of it.  Personally, I find it offensive that these guys think it's necessary to import agitators with no skin in the game - especially when NOTHING that will be said tonight is going to change the fact that the four members of the council WILL vote to place the charter on the ballot.

If you plan to attend the council meeting tonight - it begins at 7:00 p.m. - I suggest you plan to arrive a little early if you want to have a seat.
  Everett has rallied his young troops for 6:30.

I had a chuckle when I read the Action Alert mentioned above because they linked to two of my previous posts and referred to my blog as a "liberal blog".  Me, a lifelong Republican, being painted by the FAR RIGHT wing of my party as a liberal makes me smile.  These guys just keep doing the same things over and over again, failing every time, and getting closer and closer to the cliff of irrelevancy.  If they don't soon change their tactics the Republican Party in California will be only a memory - and that's not a good thing for any of us.

I'll report on the meeting later tonight.  See you there.


By the way, despite several telephone calls,  at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon - less than 6 hours until the Charter meeting time and less than 5 hours for the Special closed session at 6, the City still has NOT shown the two council meetings on their schedule of events on the City home page.  Instead, they continue to show the following image.  So much for transparency, huh?

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Costa Mesa Charter Vote Tomorrow

Just a reminder that the Costa Mesa City Council will meet at 7:00 Tuesday in council chambers to vote on whether to put Jim Righeimer's Charter on the November 6th ballot or not.  There is NO chance they will NOT put it on the ballot.  You can read the agenda HERE and the final (so far) version of the Charter HERE.

For those residents interested in this issue - the second-most important issue in the history of this city - you can join your neighbors to hear the discussion, watch the council majority ignore the pleas of those who have studied this bogus document and see a sample of how draconian the governance of this city will be if they get the power that this document provides to them.

It is interesting to note that, despite how the City touts itself as being the most transparent city around, the information about this particular meeting has been curiously missing or misleading.  For example, the most recent glossy marketing flier sent out to every Costa Mesa home shows the start time for this meeting as 6:00 p.m.  There actually has been a meeting scheduled for that hour - a closed session about labor negotiations and legal problems - but the charter hearing is at 7:00.

And, on the City's brand new web site, over on the right side where you can click on the Community Calendar tab to get the upcoming schedule of events, when I did that over the weekend and as recently as 3:30 Monday it shows the following.  Note - NO mention of EITHER council meeting.  I've called City Hall twice today about it and it has not been fixed.  Transparency is more than a word.

So, I'll see you all there tomorrow evening to watch what is being foisted off on us as the "democratic process" take place.  Yep, we'll see a charter document cobbled together by one man to meet his personal political agenda be sent on it's way to the unknowing voters of this city.

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