Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Short Meeting, But Plenty Of Fun


OK, so I'm not always right!  I thought we'd be out of the Costa Mesa city council meeting at 9:00 last night, but the meeting didn't end until 9:12 p.m.  Oh, well...

The meeting began on a very positive note with the presentation of the Mayor's Award to long time residents and de facto Costa Mesa historians, Mary Ellen and Art Goddard.  The presentation included a short, but fascinating, Powerpoint show by Goddard, who gave us the thumbnail version of Costa Mesa's history.  Kudos to this well-deserved recognition.

Next up was Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff, who gave an update on the status of negotiations on the flight regulations at John Wayne Airport.  He gave an overview of the current proposal and requested help from Costa Mesa leaders and residents when the Environmental Impact Report is released within the next couple months.  Basically, the proposal will extend the curfew until 2035, gradually step up flights per day to 95 by 2026 and also step up the caps on passengers from 10.8 million today through 2020, 11.8 million by 2025 and 12.5 million from 2026 to 2035.

Council member comments were generally brief and to the point.  Sandra Genis asked about the payment to consultant Joe Nation, wondering about just what kind of questions he is supposed to be answering, and from whom - staff, residents, council or all of the above.  She also expressed concern about the type of businesses we're trying to lure to our city, indicating that we've got plenty of fast food places.

Wendy Leece gave a short commentary on the Senior Center and encouraged those eligible to take a tour of the facility and consider joining up.  She also expressed concern for the number of liquor licenses in the city.

Gary Monahan had nothing to say.  Did I mention before that he seems to just be sleepwalking through his job lately?

Mayor Jim Righeimer, not surprisingly, took exception to a comment by a resident on the loss of the A.B.L.E. helicopter program, regurgitating the same old stuff he said when he first announced his intent to dissolve it.  He alluded to side conversations with Newport Beach officials - the first time we've heard about that.  Previously we assumed the decision to abandon A.B.L.E. was unilateral - which was confirmed by Newport Beach officials at the time.  His little mini-rant included this statement, "We're very safe in the city.", a curious comment since calendar year 2012 had an increase in crime of over 15% and we've had a spurt in violent crimes over the past couple weeks.  But, gee, if he says we're safer, then we must be, right?  Somebody has a bad case of selective memory.  He also called for CEO Tom Hatch to investigate a way for the city to begin charging "problem motels" for calls for service.  It sounds like he wants to arbitrarily establish what is an acceptable number of calls for service, then begin charging businesses when that number is exceeded.  Really?  And, of course, he hawked his Mayor's Celebration, scheduled for next week.  I understand there are still plenty of seats available for those of you who wish to hear him pontificate about his "Art of Leadership".  Geez!

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger suggested that Hatch and Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce come up with a name for "the bridge to nowhere" - the bridge over Placentia Avenue at Fairview Park - as part of the 60th Anniversary Celebration.  In response to a public comment about the "rat and mosquito season" coming up, Mensinger told us that he's on the Vector Control Board, so just give him a call and he'll send some guys out.  What a guy!

Hatch was full of good information during his part of the program.  He told us that there will be a special study session next Tuesday, April 23rd, to have a "charter discussion", that might include a discussion of using a "facilitator" to help with the process.  Hatch said the meeting will discuss whether we want to have a charter or not, etc.  That's the first word we've had on this subject.  The meeting begins at 4:30 in council chambers, as far as we know right now.

He also told us that Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's office is eager to help when they can.  Hatch enlisted them to help secure Home Funds.  He also told us that the renovation of The Tower on 19th - formerly known as Bethel Towers - is moving forward.  And, there will be a study session soon to discuss the proliferation of ABC licenses in the city.

He reminded us that the Costa Mesa Community Run is coming up - the same weekend of the Fish Fry.

BUSY MAY(Amended)
Hatch told us that May is going to be a busy month.  He said the Fire Department deployment model will come before the council again in May.  It's about darn time!  Fire Chief Tom Arnold has had that thing ready to go for months!  The council will meet with the Planning Commission on May 13th to discuss goals and the Parks and Recreation Commission the next day, May 14th, for the same purpose.  On Wednesday, the 15th, there will be a workshop on the General Plan.  Then, the very next day - Thursday, May 16th - there will be a Town Hall event to introduce the community to the 60th Anniversary plans.  Whew!  More on those meetings as the dates draw near.

He had new City Clerk Brenda Green introduce her new Deputy City Clerk - Patricia Bravo-Valdez - who has solid experience and education for the job.  She worked as City Clerk in Maywood and Deputy City Clerk in several cities.

That took us to the Consent Calendar - this time with 14 items to be considered.  Only a few were pulled for separate discussion.  Resident Martin Millard pulled items 4-7 - the street improvements including lots of long-overdue work on Red Hill.  He suggested that the City should use the money to tear down slums and make pocket parks instead.  Remember that as you drive down Red Hill.

Resident Robin Leffler pulled #11, the Ticket Policy, for discussion.  As it turns out, we have no choice about this policy - the state government requires it.

Leece pulled #14, the Economic Development trip to Vegas for Righeimer, Mensinger and an entourage of city staffers.  Much discussion was held on the value of such events.  Righeimer set us straight, though, as he gave us a brief history of his schmooze-fests at previous such events.  They finished those discussions and we were all ready for New Business #1 at 7:45.

The discussion of the 60+ unit development that will be build adjacent to the proposed development where the Anchor Trailer Port is currently being vacated.  The operations will be folded together.  Some concern was expressed by Genis and Leece about these "live/work" units actually becoming just another bunch of rentals.  Nobody gave any reason that couldn't happen.  Size and availability of parking was also an issue.  However, this is just a screening process, so the real nuts and bolts of this development will be fleshed out with the staff and Planning Commission, since many deviations from the norm will be necessary to make it work.

At 8:25 we finally got to the final item on the agenda - the appointments of individuals to various committees and the Senior Corporation Board.  Since I predicted a 9:00 departure time, things were looking bleak.  As it turned out, they actually blitzed right through this process.

I, and others, assumed the council majority would stack the committees with their cronies, so we expected this process to be anticlimactic.  It was actually more interesting, and entertaining, than I expected.

First, Righeimer permitted public comments.  Ernie Feeney stepped up to complain about the requirement for each appointed member of the Senior Corporation Board to fork over $500 if appointed.  She read into the record a letter from then-mayor Gary Monahan in which he guaranteed that the $500 requirement would be dropped.  It has not been - at least not officially - so the announcement of three openings included that reference.  Later the announcement of the recruitment dropped that requirement.  The upshot was that when this issue was discussed the council, following Genis' lead, decided to open a NEW recruitment that clearly did not include the monetary requirement.  No closing date for applications was discussed, but I suspect it will be a month or so.  In the meantime, Righeimer expressed hope that the members whose terms have expired will stay on the board until new members can be seated.  Feeney is one of those, as is Kathleen Eric and Judi Berry.  On to the rest.

The first committee up was the Cultural Arts Committee, with 9 members and 2 alternates.  There are 6 vacancies open.  Genis, as the liaison to the committee, nominated the following people:
Kathleen Eric 
Lisa Grant
Frank Gutierrez
Edwardo Iniestra
Monica Morita
Debora Wondercheck
Alan Remington (alt)

All were approved on a 5-0 vote.

Next up was the Historical Preservation Committee, with 9 members and 2 alternates and 5 vacancies.  Leece, as the liaison, chose all four candidates:
Rich Cantillon
Pamela G. Crenshaw
Dave Gardner
Gary Parkin

They passed on a 5-0 vote.

Next was the Housing and Public Service Grant Committee (formerly the 3R committee), with 9 members and 2 alternates and 6 vacancies.  Mensinger is the liaison, but the poor guy had a heck of a time trying to figure out the numbers.  There were 7 applicants for 6 vacancies, but he just mumbled and fumbled and seemed to be totally befuddled by the process.  It was more than a little embarrassing.  Finally, in order to get the thing finished, other council members helped him along and they chose the following folks on a 5-0 vote:
Denise R. Dew-Bennett
Brett D. McDonell
Christian Eric
Eric Vu
Jeff Mathews
Yvonne Rowden

Next came the first of two brand new committees - the Pension Oversight Committee, which will have 9 regular members.  There are 9 vacancies.  Righeimer assigned himself as the liaison and decided arbitrarily that each council member would nominate one person and, if a second was received, a vote would be taken.  The nomination then passed to the next member.  It began with Leece, then Genis, Righeimer, Mensinger and Monahan.  Sounds fair, right?  Well, I'll tell you how it went and you decide.

Leece nominated Teresa Drain.  Genis seconded.  She was rejected on a 2-3 vote - all the guys voted no.
Genis nominated Ralph Taboada.  Monahan seconded and he was selected, 5-0.
Righeimer nominated Jeff Arthur.  Mensinger seconded and he was selected, 5-0.
Mensinger nominated Gene Hutchins.  Monahan seconded.  He was selected, 5-0.
Monahan nominated Rick Kapko.  Mensinger seconded.  He was selected, 5-0.
Leece nominated Charles Mooney.  Genis seconded.  He was rejected, 2-3.  The guys voted no.
Genis nominated James Bridges but received no second.
Righeimer nominated Kent Mora.  Monahan seconded.  He was selected on a 4-1 vote.  Leece voted no.
Mensinger nominated Tim Sesler.  Monahan seconded.  He was selected, 5-0.
Monahan nominated Shawn Dewane.  Mensinger seconded and he was chosen on a 3-2 vote.
Leece nominated John Stephens.  Monahan seconded.  He was chosen, 4-1, with Mensinger voting no.
Genis nominated Jay Humphrey.  Leece seconded.  He was rejected, 2-3.  The boys voted no.
Righeimer nominated Gary Parkin.  Leece seconded.  He was chosen, 5-0.
Curiously, no alternates were chosen

See a pattern here?  Every candidate (7) nominated by the male majority was chosen.  Only two candidates nominated by the female minority were chosen. Most of the selections didn't surprise me.  Neither did the rejections.  I was surprised that Stephens was chosen, although I'm pleased that he was.  Maybe it was because his name was misspelled on the roster.

Finally we got to the last item, the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee, with 9 members and two alternates. 9 vacancies existed.  Righeimer nominated Mensinger for the liaison and he balked a little, wanting Genis to join him as co-liaisons.  That was rejected, but Genis promised to be at every meeting.  The process was the same as previously.  Here's how it went:

Leece nominated William Burke.  Genis seconded.  He was rejected, 2-3.  The guys voted no.
Genis nominated Dr. Richard J. Mehren.  Leece seconded.  He was chosen, 3-2, with Righeimer and Mensinger voting no.
Righeimer nominated Terry Cummings.  Monahan seconded.  He was chosen, 5-0.
Mensinger nominated Brett Eckles.  Monahan seconded.  He was chosen, 5-0.
Monahan nominated Steve Smith.  Mensinger seconded.  He was chosen, 5-0
Leece nominated Jay Litvak.  Genis seconded.  He was rejected, 2-3.  The guys voted no.
Genis nominated Judy Gielow.  Leece seconded.  She was rejected, 2-3.  The guys voted no.
Righeimer nominated Anna Vrska.  Leece seconded.  She was chosen, 4-1.  Monahan voted no.
Mensinger nominated Ron Amburgey.  Monahan seconded.  He was chosen, 4-1.  Genis voted no.
Monahan nominated David Stiller.  Genis seconded.  He was chosen, 3-2.  Righeimer and Mensinger voted no.

Next came selection of two alternates.
Leece nominated Laura Rakunas.  Genis seconded.  She was rejected, 2-3.  The guys voted no.
Genis nominated Stephanie Remington.  Leece seconded.  She was rejected, 2-3.  The guys voted no.
Righeimer nominated Lee Ramos.  Mensinger seconded.  He was chosen, 5-0.
Mensinger nominated Dennis Popp.  Monahan seconded.  He was chosen, 5-0.

Recognize the pattern?  Every candidate nominated by the male majority (8) were chosen.  Only one nominated by a female was chosen.

So, off we go to the Charter Study Session next Tuesday.  So many questions...  That ought to be fun.

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Anonymous James Rivera said...

Who was the "Jay" guy who suggested the live-work places can be inspected by the fire department? Being new, I am unfamiliar with him.

4/17/2013 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

The "Jay" guy is former city councilman Jay Humphrey. He frequently speaks before the council with clarity and reason. That may be the reason he was rejected for the Pension Oversight Committee.

4/17/2013 08:14:00 AM  
Anonymous stop the war said...

wow, those women are always voting against the men. what is up with that? stop the war on men or it will be time to start some trouble....

4/17/2013 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous History Channel said...


"wow, those women are always voting against the men. what is up with that? stop the war on men or it will be time to start some trouble...."

Make any money selling to the Chinese or is Mrs. still carrying all the water? How did you fit Buck Johns into your already filled bootlicking dance card?
Do you have any self-respect at all?

4/17/2013 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Doesn't sound like Righeimer has much support for his ball. (Sorry, I just had to say it).

Yeah, there is a pattern in the selection for committees. Our ball loving mayor has to surround himself with people of like-mind, because he's afraid of a different mindset. Our "pet rock" Mensinger couldn't manage another thought process. So they stick to a majority that thinks like they do. Its their security.

4/17/2013 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Math E. Matics said...

Mensy, the classic football "Meathead", should've got an EHS AP "M'athlete" to tutor him before this CC meeting. And it's pretty obvious the Council majority used the ever popular "Riggy Math" to appoint the new committee members... One for you, two for me, two for you, three for me...

4/17/2013 03:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin said...

Charter surprise! Not surprised it’s coming back soon, just at the short notice and inconvenient time of a study session. That is very short notice for a study session about something with such importance to our City. 4:30pm isn’t a very resident-friendly time. I was hoping for 6pm, when more of our community can attend. With a nearly 60%-40% defeat of their last foray and all the criticism of the process, you’d think the councilmen would be careful to make the outreach as accessible and inclusive as possible. Not getting off to a great start on either count here.

4/17/2013 04:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Central Valley Farm Animals said...

Back when Stevie lived up here he had no problem with math.

Your city of Costa Mesa just needs to pay its bills in "bushels," and refer to its planning projects as "plowed" or "unplowed."

4/17/2013 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous My House Blew Up said...

I'm utterly shocked to see some of those names that got on - Mora, Popp, Sesler. Wow, didn't see that coming. Kiss the ring!

4/17/2013 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Jay Humphrey and Charles Mooney were rejected for the Pension Oversight Commitee by the Councildudes. Both are very qualified to be on that commitee, yet were not chosen.
It's our loss-sad but not surprising.

At least the Councildudes voted in John Stephens.
That was a pleasant surprise.

4/17/2013 10:12:00 PM  
Anonymous kiss it said...

My House Blew Up said...
I'm utterly shocked to see some of those names that got on - Mora, Popp, Sesler. Wow, didn't see that coming. Kiss the ring!
Yep the names did come up and were appointed by votes of 5-0, 5-0, and 4-1. Pretty widespread support don't you think? It is YOU who is on the outside.

4/18/2013 11:11:00 PM  
Anonymous More Committees said...

Who cares who was picked to sit on these useless and big wastes of time committees. These were all made up just to have something to do and somewhere to put political friends. All they're there for is to pad the old resume and make people look better than they are. What a joke this City and it's "leadership" is.

4/19/2013 01:06:00 PM  

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