Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Of Sports Fields and Fairview Park

Well, I almost got it right.  The Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday night didn't end at 10:00, as I predicted - it ended at 10:25.  Close but no cigar.

Among the highlights was the passage of the Consent Calendar without any of the 11 items on it being pulled for separate discussion!  So, the council agreed to spend over $1.3 million on a variety of things without any discussion with staff.  Whew!

The discussions that DID take up some time were the ones involving Fairview Park projects and the Costa Mesa High School field renovation.

In the case of the Fairview Park Projects, after lengthy discussion and public comments, the council voted on each of the individual elements separately.  Council members Sandra Genis and Wendy Leece suggested that all times except the formation of the citizen's advisory committee be tabled, to be passed on to that committee for consideration.  That suggestion was rejected.

First was the re-formation of the Fairview Park Citizen's Advisory Committee, which councilman Gary Monahan proposed to be made up of seven members from the community, one council liaison and a city staffer,  It passed on a 5-0 vote.  Recruitment will begin immediately.

New/old Parks and Recreation Commissioner Bob Graham's decade-long crusade to get stairs installed to facilitate entry into Fairview Park from Canary Drive was passed on a 3-2 vote, with Sandra Genis and Wendy Leece voting no.  It wasn't as easy as it sounded.  Many residents stood to protest the stairs and the intrusion of unwanted traffic into their neighborhood.  Monahan suggested the motion include an evaluation of resident-only parking requirements at the site.

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger's request for stairs down the bluff into Fairview Park's south end was passed on a 4-1 vote (Leece voted no) with the proviso that the staff will look into Genis' suggestion for a ramp instead of stairs. 

Mensinger's request to consider the acquisition of the Talbert Nature Preserve - which abuts Fairview Park - from the County of Orange met with some resistance, but the council did approve the staff to move forward to make inquiries of county officials to determine if there is any interest before spending consultant dollars on this plan.  The vote was 4-1, Leece voting no.

The final item on the agenda, the plan to spend $15,000 on a design feasibility study on the renovation/relocation of the running track and field within at Costa Mesa High School.  Many speakers addressed the long-term abysmal condition of the field and track.  After a good deal of public discussion about the wisdom of spending the money/increased school district participation, the council approved the Memorandum of Understanding, 5-0.

We learned a couple more things about our mayor, Jovial Jim Righeimer.  First, he's REALLY serious about not sending CalPERS any extra money to pay down the presumed unfunded pension liability, which he referred to a couple times as a "Rat Hole".  He, again, mentioned the configuration of the CalPERS board, implying that they were mostly elected by "the unions", and therefore were incapable of making decisions necessary to control the pension issue.  At least he didn't mention that the president of the board is a glazier for a school district.  He did say, though, that pension reform is going to have to involve existing and current retirees taking less.  I guess that's how he's run his businesses in the past - only fulfilling contracts that were convenient for him and stiffing the rest.

We also learned - because he told us so in rebuttal to comments Leece made about not spending our money on things that were less important when we are still under recommended staffing levels in the Police Department - that the CMPD is the "highest paid".  We don't know if he meant the world, state or just in Orange County.  Sometimes he just seems to speak in tongues up there.  Of course, he is incorrect.  The CMPD is somewhere in the middle of the pack among county law enforcement agencies.  They, like the rest of city employees, have not received a general pay increase since 2008.  They are, however racking up the overtime because of this council's stubborn reluctance to hire enough officers.

We also learned, this time from CEO Tom Hatch, that Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold's plan for the reorganization of the Fire Department will be heard in a study session soon - maybe on March 12th.  Funny, we thought this was all set to go.  Guess we'll find out in a week.  In the meantime, the firefighters are also working lots of overtime to keep us safe.

Hatch also reminded us that tonight marked his second anniversary as CEO.  Many in the crowd stood and applauded, recognizing that ANYONE who could tolerate what he has for the past two years deserves a hand - at least!

The council adjourned to yet another special meeting.  This one, on Thursday, March 7th, will be held at 4:30  and is anticipated to be 2-3 hours.  It will be a closed session to discuss labor negotiations.  According to Hatch, no "report out" is anticipated.  The next open meeting will be that study session on the 12th.

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Anonymous Get a Job Joyboy said...

Even with his 19th century views and methods, Napoleon Righeimer is a big improvement over lowlife Bever as far as running the meeting is concerned. But slow-think Mensy still has a ways to go. During Leece's comments, just like a 7th grader, he couldn't sit still- he HAD to whisper and joke with Monahan.

Justice came swiftly as Leece brought up Mensinger's defamatory rant in a recent newspaper article referring to past council members (Did this include his little buddy Gary??) as "culpable" for bad pension decisions. After she properly called out Mensinger, he HAD to respond, telling us culpable does not mean criminal. But Leece already had the dictionary definition in front of her and read it out loud- it does indeed include "criminal." Does this illustrate a difference between college grads and blowhards?

3/06/2013 06:15:00 AM  
Anonymous retiredquilter said...

congrats to Hatch. how he can stand the last two years of leffler, tamar, valantine, and humphrey talking on almost every item is testament to his patience. at least now they can get through a consent calendar like other government agencies. remember it took until after 9 to do that because of those who craved being on tv? hopefully they don't come back and start again near the next (and then complain the council is campaigning from the dais!) although i would love to see fuqua talk at council. empty head can just go say " well said by the last speaket" and sit down. ten seconds max. that's the volume of her thought train. Leece also showed last night why she is not fit to be mayor. always starting a fight. move on woman.

3/06/2013 06:52:00 AM  
Anonymous webster said...

culpable means: deserving blame.

i think that what Mensinger said. Nice try Wendy did you get that from Barb Otch?

3/06/2013 07:02:00 AM  
Anonymous cant we all just be safe said...

can anyone interpret Wendy Leece speak? She was all over the place last night. Love it when Genis says "I actually have something on topic", then the vote is 4-1. Long red light coming from the left on dias

council bought PD a bunch of new vehicles last night and not a peep from Wendy.

What does she mean that we all want to be safe? We need to spend spend spend? How about cutting costs Wendy. How about doing something to get ride of the crime sources Wendy? Or does Leece need to bring in a Union rep to explain herself again?

3/06/2013 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Threadbare and Dirty said...

Funny that Marty, whose wardrobe (both outfits) looks entirely thrift store, got up to speak against thrift stores. Maybe he doesn't like others in town stealing his "look."

Also, he should man up and give credit to the person who actually got the 19th Street sign put in- Fitzy.

3/06/2013 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Dictionary said...

adjective \ˈkəl-pə-bəl\

Definition of CULPABLE

archaic: guilty, criminal

: meriting condemnation or blame especially as wrong or harmful

— cul·pa·bil·i·ty noun

— cul·pa·ble·ness noun

— cul·pa·bly adverb

See culpable defined for English-language learners »

Examples of CULPABLE

They held her culpable for the accident.
He's more culpable than the others because he's old enough to know better.

Origin of CULPABLE

Middle English coupable, from Anglo-French cupable, culpable, from Latin culpabilis, from culpare to blame, from culpa guilt
First Known Use: 14th century

3/06/2013 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous notjustsanorplanning said...

millard should stop trying to take credit for the entrance sign for 19th street. It wasn't his silly ranting and carrying on that got the job done. It took someone who serves the city now and in the past to go around all the bureaucracy right to people who trust him and get the job done. Hi sk, how many signs did you ever get up?

3/06/2013 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Thanks, Geoff, for letting through the comment from the anonymous hate train. Talk about someone who needs to "move on..."

3/06/2013 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

The Pot Stirrer summarized Righeimer's position as, "pension reform is going to have to involve existing and current retirees taking less."

What I heard was that he wants current employees to take less for future years worked. He said retirees and current employees should not see reductions for benefits already earned.

That's a lot less extreme than I would have expected.

Although Righeimer says he won't send extra payments to CalPERS, he said he doesn't mind putting money away somewhere else. Good idea. But, at the rate the Council was spending money last night, there won't be any left to put away for what they've called the biggest threat to our fiscal stability. Maybe it's not really such a big problem, after all?

3/06/2013 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Curious George said...

Did the Sandpiper Drive & a couple of Swan Drive residents ever pay the County for their oblivious backyard "property enhancement encroachments" along the Talbert Nature Preserve's narrow public land "easement" located along the Greenville/Banning Flood Channel?

Creating a fee schedule similar to West Newport's "Beach Encroachment Permit Program" could definitely offset some of the parkland's yearly operating-costs. Since they all directly benefit substantially more from the preserve than you and I do on a daily basis...

3/06/2013 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous sk said...

notjustsanorplanning - You are correct I never had any signs put up. I don't think a sign can improve a city's image so I would not want to waste the funds.

3/06/2013 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

When one looks past the initial return on a Google search they will find the legal definition of culpable. The last line is my favorite and explains Mr Mensinger's misuse of the word.

Blameworthy; involving the commission of a fault or the breach of a duty imposed by law.

Culpability generally implies that an act performed is wrong but does not involve any evil intent by the wrongdoer. The connotation of the term is fault rather than malice or a guilty purpose. It has limited significance in Criminal Law except in cases of reckless Homicide in which a person acts negligently or demonstrates a reckless disregard for life, which results in another person's death. In general, however, culpability has milder connotations. It is used to mean reprehensible rather than wantonly or grossly negligent behavior. Culpable conduct may be wrong but it is not necessarily criminal.

Culpable ignorance is the lack of knowledge or understanding that results from the omission of ordinary care to acquire such knowledge or understanding.

3/06/2013 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Somehow this thread has steered itself off course. Mensinger is quoted by Mike Reicher in the OC Register article thus: "The real culprits" are past council members who approved the plan, Councilman Steve Mensinger said. "The employees are not the issue."

The word was culprit, not culpable. defines it thus: "a person or other agent guilty of or responsible for an offense or fault."

Either through ignorance or laziness Mensinger occasionally plays fast and loose with words. This may have been one of those cases. Regardless, his WORD says that the previous councils that made the decisions were GUILTY of an offense.

3/06/2013 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Geoff- you are correct about Mensinger blaming past council members for our economic woes.
He specifically blamed one former council woman by name in the comments section of a DP article. When I called him out on it, he deleted the comment.
The councilboys need to rein in the rampant spending to their law firm ( NOT a good investment, councilboy shills).
Like a good friend of mine stated,
" They would appeal a death sentence after it's carried out".

3/06/2013 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger Marquis said...

As of last week, we were teetering on the edge of financial ruin. This week the boys want to buy a park that's already effectively ours. The Talbert Nature Preserve is absolutely a Costa Mesa resource and the County of Orange pays for its upkeep. We're getting the milk for free, but the boys still want to buy the cow! What could possibly be gained by Costa Mesa acquiring it? It's either dumb or devious, probably both.

And the steps on Canary have never happened because it's just not needed. Right there's a small dirt path entry to the park that leads to... a dirt path. So now we need to build some steps so people don't have to walk on a dirt path to get to a dirt path? Genius.

The other staircase is equally unnecessary and wasteful. These are supposed to be natural areas, left unspoiled so that we can appreciate the bluffs as they were before we paved over the rest of the city. "Improving" these areas with things like concrete staircases violates the very principle of preserving natural areas.

As a longtime and very frequent user of Fairview, Talbert, and Canyon parks, I would love to see some sort of actual documented demand for this stuff, followed by a financial justification.

Yes, fix the fields and track at Costa Mesa HS, which are and have long been a disaster. Too bad the school district won't step up and do it themselves, as is their responsibility. The CMHS fields and track are actually broken, so fixing them is a good idea. Talbert and Fairview parks are NOT broken, so throwing away money to "improve" them is a typically ill-considered proposal from the masters of ill-considered proposals.

3/06/2013 04:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Blame Game said...

I think you're right about Mensinger saying "culprits." Either way, blaming isn't problem solving.

Also, he and Monahan were talking and joking during Leece's comments. This type of thing only carries on the vendetta against Leece that was championed by Bever. Riggy needs to remind his minions that they must be nice so that he can run for Board of Supervisors.

3/06/2013 05:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Oh no its unique, lets fix that! said...

I completely agree with marquis
with the addition of more staircases, sports parks, etc the park will go from a spot for nature lovers to more suburban ivine-esque no character BLAH. We gave tewinkle for that.

The second staircase is surely not needed!! How lazy are we when we refuse to walk a bit when going out for a walk? The mind boggles. What a waste of money!!!

3/06/2013 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Yeah, watching those guys last night was like watching a couple junior high school goof-offs. One hopes for more maturity in our elected leaders. Sigh...

3/06/2013 05:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Si se puede said...

Once NMUSD & the City officially pledge monies to the Track and Field collaborative "joint-use" project then the CMHS Track coaches & City Rec Dept should apply for an "LA 84 Foundation" grants. This charity collected "surplus money" from the 1984 Summer Olympics, and supports community-based youth athletic programs throughout the LA-OC area.

This project meets many of their basic requirements (low income at-risk youth b/w 6-17 yrs old, community supported (i.e. two solid financial sponsors) plus if you recruit CMHS Alum & Olympic Decathlete Sharon Day to participate your golden!

Come NMUSD Board let's get this thing built!

3/06/2013 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Why in the hell would anyone create an entrance to the park, then restrict parking by use of permit parking only? Then, build a parking lot in the very open space that people would come there to visit in the first place?

Geez..was this a Mensinger (dumb) idea?

3/06/2013 06:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

Staff looked into the Canary stairs a few years ago. It seems such a simple thing to do, but the devil is in the details. (Nice phrase – why does it come up so often when this Council majority caroms around with its hot flashes?)

Several large pipes lie under the surface. They would have to be lowered in order to leave enough head room if something is to be built over them. As I recall, they are on the order of water mains and sewer mains, and nothing to be played with. The projected cost was way too much for the budget back then. Of course, now that the budget “crisis” has evaporated, there seems to be plenty of $$ for the majority’s wish list, so maybe the stairs will go in.

3/06/2013 08:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Eileen Truxton said...

Fire, Miss, Retreat. Another week of it, and it's only Thursday. Talbert Nature Preserve - good plan, all it needs is a parking lot, parking permits, stairs over main water lines, another crony stacked committee...Mensinger's thought process is like watching a snowball roll downhill, gaining size by gathering stupidity. Then, in just 4 days, he went from being "poised" to spend $3-4 million for Mesa's field improvements to "at some point we have to figure out how we're going to fund it." I can't imagine why NMUSD didn't buy-in to that BS. Did he really think he could bully them into his half-assed idea of an agreement? Mensinger received a genuine Mayberry smackdown by Paul Reed's comments. "Gee, thank you very much for your offer, thanks, let's just build it." The only part Mr. Reed left out was "Hold on a minute Goober!" When you lack an agreement, funding and intelligence, you will not be the one calling the shots.

3/07/2013 09:11:00 AM  
Anonymous the word said...

the stairs would not impact the water lines, this is a fact. i am against the stairs but let's at least use facts.
Mensinger is correct: past councils , for one reason or another, gave away too rich of a pension formula to cops and firemen. 3@50 was the the killer, especially with airtime. Not just our past councils but councils all over the nation. Time to move forward and negotiate hard and fix this. if employees won't give up fat pensions we need to cut salaries. Then they would agree to fix pensions, you bet. Of course it has to happen in all the cities we are compared with to find the average. it can happen. it ratcheted up, it can ratchet down.

3/07/2013 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Folkinhippy said...

Talbert is perfect. Waldorf school uses it more than any other costa Mesa resident. Let's ask them what they think about improvement.

3/09/2013 12:34:00 AM  

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