Friday, January 04, 2013

Agenda For January 8, 2013 Council Meeting

Off we go, into the new "kinder, gentler" era of Costa Mesa City Council meetings, where I fully expect speakers before the council to speak softly to our elected leaders so as not to bruise their fragile egos.  I also expect the council to reciprocate by responding to questions or comments with courtesy and civility as is appropriate for those we've hired to provide direction for our city.  No more harsh comments directed at one or two members of the council specifically.  No more interruptions by the council members while a speaker is trying to present an issue in the very meager 3 minutes provided.  Yep, I'm really looking forward to this new era.

The agenda for the first council meeting of the year, next Tuesday, January 8, 2013, is now posted on the city web site, HERE.  As has been the case in the past, the meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. and will be preceded by a closed session that commences at 5:00 p.m.  A look at the agenda indicates that we may see a relatively short meeting this time around.

Those of you who actually follow this stuff will find some changes that may make you smile.  For example, in the "Welcome to the City Council Meeting" section on page 2 of the agenda we find some new, clarifying verbiage.  Item #1 states, "Any written communications, photos, or other materials for distribution to the City Council must be submitted to the City Clerk PRIOR TO THE START OF THE MEETING. Any materials to be displayed on the overhead projector at the Council meeting must be submitted to the City Clerk PRIOR TO THE START OF THE MEETING."  This will certainly help things move more smoothly.  I smiled when I read this because it may have put a crimp in Chris McEvoy's game plan if this rule had been in effect when he surprised now-Mayor Jim Righeimer with his announcement of a recall effort late last year.  It makes me wonder if this change is a "cause and effect" thing because of McEvoy's surprise.

 Item #2 reminds us that no person in the audience shall, "engage in disorderly, disruptive, disturbing, delaying or boisterous conduct including but not limited to, handclapping, stomping of feet, whistling, making noise, use of profane language or obscene gestures, yelling or similar demonstrations, which may disrupt the peace and good order of the Council proceedings."  I don't see anything there about muttering epithets under your breath, so I guess I'll be OK.

Item #3 tells us, "All cell phones and other electronic devices are to be turned off or set to vibrate. Members of the audience are requested to step outside the Council Chambers to conduct a phone conversation."  Might I suggest this item be circled and handed to Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger, who tends to spend way, way too much time fiddling with his cell phone and Ipad instead of paying attention to items on the agenda.  That's particularly disconcerting since he apparently doesn't take the time to read the agenda items ahead of time.  San Jose recently dealt with this issue, HERE.

The closed session report indicates four (4) items to be considered, all dealing with either existing or anticipated legal issues.  And the meter keeps on spinning...  See comments under "Warrants", below.

Items 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 on the Consent Calendar are Warrants, which stacked up because we've not had a council meeting for a month.  As you scroll through those and keep a pencil handy you'll find that they include nearly $300,000 more in legal fees.  We paid our contract City Attorney's firm, Jones & Mayer, $200,999.39 and the firm hired to fight the lawsuit filed by the Costa Mesa City Employees Association, Jones Day, $98,387.47.  Further analysis of the Jones & Mayer bill indicates that we continue to be charged for something identified as "Acosta Appeal", but no amount is given.  If that's the Benito Acosta case, I find myself wondering just what we could possibly still be paying on that one, since it is our understanding that it is over.

Another interesting item is on Warrant #2453 - a payment of $1,500,920 to the Orange County Auditor-Controller for some kind of a "Demand Payment".  I wonder what that's all about, since it's a pretty sizable chunk of change.  Maybe someone will ask the council on Tuesday.

The last item, #8, is a request for a "resident only" parking restriction on Ford Road.  You can read the staff report HERE.  You will recall the ruckus in council chambers when several residents complained about an infestation of homeless folks who were, apparently, committing crimes along that street.  Righeimer commanded Police Chief Tom Gazsi to present himself at Ford Road the next day at 3:00 p.m. to hear the residents out.  Probably unrelated was the fact that the next day was the day that Private Investigator Chris Lanzillo is alleged to have tried to entrap councilman Gary Monahan into some kind of illicit act with one of Lanzillo's "operatives" and Lanzillo then tailed Righeimer from Monahan's gin mill to his home and reported him as a probable drunk driver.  To my knowledge, neither issue was resolved, except that Righeimer was absolved by a member of the CMPD of driving while impaired.

There is one Public Hearing Tuesday - the "Closure Impact Report For Anchor Trailer Port/Mobilehome Park, 1527 Newport Boulevard."  You can read that staff report HERE.  Public Hearings are supposed to be heard beginning at 7:00 p.m.  I suspect this one will be pretty close to that time, depending on the number of speakers during Public Comments.

There is no Old Business on the agenda Tuesday, but there are three (3) items on the New Business schedule.  Item #1 is the Fairview Park Wetlands Boardwalk Project, HERE.  The staff report indicates that creating a boardwalk to "afford public a view of the functioning wetlands and its flora and fauna." would cost around $1 million.  They are looking for direction from the council.

Item #2 is a re-hash of the "SR-55 (Newport Boulevard) Improvement Study", HERE.  This item is a "receive and file" item, but does inform the council of the so-called "Next Steps" in this process.  Apparently the Orange County Transportation Authority will submit the findings for Caltrans review and their ultimate approval later this year.  Once that is done state and federal funding will be sought to perform a detailed environmental analysis and a "preferred alternative" selected.  Remember that term, "preferred alternative" in connection with the now-infamous I-405 expansion project?  Me, too.  Makes me nervous.  But, we're a long, long way before any decision is made on the SR-55 Improvement "preferred alternative".

The last item on the agenda, New Business #3, is provocative.  It is titled, "Council Authorization For The Implementation of Security Camera System Upgrade And Expansion For City Hall and Lion's Park."  You can read the staff report HERE.  I agree that expanded deployment of security cameras can enhance security at City Hall and at Lion's Park.  I just wonder who's going to be among those "city personnel" authorized to use this system?  One phrase  made me smile.  When addressing the use of security cameras to "return Lion's Park back to a more family friendly venue", there is this phrase, "This will afford both key police and city personnel the opportunity to track and monitor specific hot spots within the park from an offsite location at anytime of the day in real time."  If you've driven by Lion's Park lately you know that there are "hot spots" to be observed, if you get my drift.  The roughly $80,000 for this enhancement will apparently be paid from CEO Tom Hatch's slush, er, contingency fund - that million bucks stashed away to be used for whatever whim strikes the council.

An observation:  Much as I cringe whenever I agree with Steve Mensinger, I give him credit for the much-improved staff reports that now include exhibits in color, not just blurred, smeared black and white images.  They are MUCH easier to read.  Of course, now he has to actually read them..

So, off we go, into the new era of cooperation and conciliation.  Everyone cross your fingers.  And, yes, I am going through Facebook withdrawal, shakes and all.

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Blogger just wondering... said...

Jess, congratulations!! The kids are going to be so happy. They have missed you.

This is fantastic news.

1/04/2013 06:59:00 PM  
Anonymous NAT GEO said...

The camera feed of Lions Park would be great entertainment for all-- the homeless walking around with all their bags and bikes, setting up camp, feeding the birds, taking multiple naps, talking to the Cops,talking to the trees, walking to the bus stops,etc..

1/05/2013 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Purely prurient said...

Even more entertaining, spying on the employees at city Hall. I wonder who gets to watch.

1/05/2013 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Nat: The plot might be a little dull though.

1/05/2013 05:51:00 PM  

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