Thursday, June 27, 2013

Costa Mesa Charter Committee Off And Running

For three hours last night at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) near the Police Station the recently-convened Costa Mesa Charter Committee got to know each other and their facilitators and supporting staff members.  Nearly 20 members of the community, including some members of the media and city staff, sat in the cheap seats and observed the process unfold.

The facilitating duo of Dr. Kirk Bauermeister, principal of Estancia High School and a more than half-century  resident of the city and Dr. Mike Decker, lead chaplain for the Costa Mesa Police Department who has been in the city about half that time, kept the proceedings on schedule as they made their way through the first agenda, HERE,  and helped this fledgling group find its footing for the long journey ahead.  Bauermeister emphasized that the facilitators were there to be neutral 3rd parties, not to get involved in the decisions.  They were to manage the participation and provide the structure and tools for the committee to use in their process.
Mike Decker and Kirk Bauermeister
Part of the process is getting to know one-another, so Bauermeister led them through an Ice Breaking segment in which they lined up in order of their years in Costa Mesa.  The newest member, Kerry McCarthy, has been a resident for 9 years and the most tenured member was Lee Ramos, who has lived in the city since 1947.
Breaking The Ice
Former Costa Mesa City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow is the legal liaison for the group.  She used a PowerPoint presentation to provide some context for the group's task, including a definition of just what a Charter is.  She also led them through the potential quicksand that is the Ralph M. Brown Act.  For most of the residents on the 13-member committee this was uncharted territory, so Barlow took her time and hammered home points on serial meetings, broadcast emails, social networking, texts, blogs and telephone conversations that might turn out to be serial conversations.  She left them with the final word - when in doubt, DON'T!
Early-on in the process Harold Weitzberg presented the group with a conundrum.  He posited that, based on what he heard Mayor Jim Righeimer say the evening the committee was selected, their task was to first determine IF there should be a City Charter and, if so, then create the one that best meets the needs of the City.  He said, based on his understanding, the first thing the committee should be doing is a "needs assessment", basically determining what is "wrong" with the city and will adopting a Charter form of government resolve those issues?  Bauermeister explained that it was his understanding that their goal was to craft a charter, period.  He did say he would confirm with those who hired him to facilitate this process exactly what their task was to be.  The group proceeded with wrapping their collective arms around the "process" and establishing "Norms" - the rules of the road they will follow as they move forward.

It might be helpful for Bauermeister to know the following.  During the City Council meeting of June 4, 2013, when the committee members were chosen, just before the final names were pulled from the hat - Weitzberg was the final applicant selected - Righeimer said the following at 03:04:45 on the counter on the streaming video, HERE.
"I want to thank everybody so far whose made it on the committee.  These are gonna be the last final people that will be on the committee.  I think it's going to be a committee made in heaven for Costa Mesa and to decide whether we want to do a charter or not in the city." That seems pretty clear to me.  First "decide whether we want to do a charter or not", then proceed accordingly.  That sounds like the marching orders the committee was given that evening.

Bauermeister stressed the importance of arriving at consensus on the issues that they face.  He proposed using a "thumbs up", "thumbs down" and "neutral" positions - thumbs level, meaning "I don't support the position, but can live with it."  That process evolved over the evening.

City Clerk Brenda Green showed the group how to find relevant information on the city web site.  By going to the Home Page and clicking on the link called "Charter Committee" you'll be taken to a page HERE, that contains information and several other links, including one where you can provide feedback to the committee and ask questions.

This committee will meet the second and fourth Wednesday evening of each month at the same time, 6:00 p.m. at the same place, the EOC, until their task is complete.  It may take more than six months to complete it.  The next meeting is July 10th.
I came away from this meeting with some opinions - big surprise there, huh?  As is usually the case with a group of 13 people, some folks seem to have arrived with some firm opinions on specific issues.  Tom Pollitt, for example, brought up "prevailing wage" as a concern of his, even though they are at least one meeting away from beginning to list issues.  Last year Pollitt was a strong supporter of Measure V, Jim Righeimer's Charter, the ballot measure that was crushed at the polls, 60%-40%.

Speaking of Measure V, it was not included in the package of information provided to the committee.  Once it was brought up several members asked for a copy of it for reference.  When it was brought up, Barlow made a little joke that it was "verboten".  A community member later took strong exception to that "joke", for which Barlow apologized.  The committee was provided with a large notebook with charters from a dozen cities, a primer on Charters and a glossy tome on the Brown Act, plus the staff report from the City Council meeting in April that formed the committee.  One member suggested that each read all that information before the next meeting - homework, as it were.

Clearly, there is strong interest within the community about this committee and how they will go about fulfilling their assignment.  In the audience were members of Costa Mesans For Responsible Government, the diverse group that led the fight against Measure V last year and a couple people that can be described as "pro-labor" - supporters of the building trades.  Very few spoke when given the opportunity, though.

An interesting sidebar occurred at the beginning of the meeting.  After the Pledge Of Allegiance was conducted, Pollitt asked if he could present an invocation.  After a lot of hemming and hawing by Bauermeister and Barlow, Pollitt was permitted to say a short prayer.  However, this became the subject of much conversation, trying to decide whether it was appropriate and, if so, how would it be managed.  Weitzberg expressed concern, as did Mary Ann O'Connell and, based on my view from those cheap seats, others on the committee had concerns, as well.  It should be noted that no other city committee or commission of which I'm aware has an invocation presented at their meetings.  In fact, many do not even begin with the pledge since no flag is present in Conference Room 1A, for example.  This is a sticky wicket for the leaders of this committee and the staff and facilitators.   I'm not suggesting one view or the other.  It's VERY likely that this committee may need some divine intervention from time to time, but whether it should come in the form of a formal invocation is an interesting question.  (By the way, we're not going to get into a religious discussion on the comment thread.  Don't bother submitting them.)

So, off we go.  I'm going to try to attend as many meetings of this group as I can over the next few months and will report to you as the process plays out.  One thing is sure - it's going to be a VERY interesting few months.  Thanks to the members of the Charter Committee and the support staff and facilitators for stepping up for this very important mission.  Here is your Charter Team:
 Left to right-Intern Sawyer Pendleton, City Clerk Brenda Green, Pastor Mike Decker, Lee Ramos, Gene Hutchins, Tom Pollitt, Brett Eckles, Ron Amburgey, Attorney Kim Barlow, Hank Panian, Kevin Tobin, Attorney Yolanda Summerhill, Dr. Kirk Bauermeister, Kerry McCarthy (hidden), Mary Ann O'Connell, Andrew Smith, Harold Weitzberg, William Fancher and Thomas Graham.

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Anonymous godspell said...

weitzberg came with a pre set agenda and will not let facts or the mission get in his way. he is there by divine intervention. when his name was pulled Genis exclaimed "there is a God!" from the dais. so an invocation is appropriate.

6/27/2013 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

Godspell, talk about "pre-set"'re our man/woman!

6/27/2013 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Sal Amander said...

Yea, it's Weitzberg with the agenda. Not the Developer or his minions.

Go away troll.

6/27/2013 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Pessimist said...

Remember that time, not too long ago, when Righeimer just would not shut his yap regarding how the former City Clerk had robbed the voting residents of Costa Mesa of the opportunity to vote affirmatively for his plagiarized and unimiginative charter, entitled Measure V? Well, after Riggy's monster(Measure V) was thoroughly crushed at the voting polls, Riggy has kept his word by disrespecting the will of the voters and bringing back Measure V version 2.0. Except wait, now others are writing this document. Or are they? I've already heard Riggy proclaim from the dais how the next unwanted charter will be approximately the same length as his prior failure. I don't know, call me a pessimist but this simply appears to be Riggy once again attempting to pull the wool over the collective heads of all Costa Mesans. Watch how little this next document differs from its predecessor. God bless exercises in futility.

6/27/2013 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Harold used Righeimers direction from the Council to frame the the initial steps for the Charter committee.

Many people will soon discover that Harold Weitzberg is a very smart, well organized, consensus builder. He also knows how to play well with others, is very agreeable, and knows how to avoid "breakdowns" to achieve "breakthroughs". One of his greatest strengths is his ability to focus on details and prioritize necessary first steps.

He is also extremely fun, friendly and able to shrug off personal attacks and insults.

I have a feeling Kirk Bauermiester and many others on the committee are going to enjoy working with Harold.

6/27/2013 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous No surprise here said...

I'd sure be interested to know when Kirk was instructed to make a charter, and by who, since clearly that is not what the group was told to do. I coiuld take a guess, and it would be no surprise to anyone. Sounds like a Brown Act violation right out of the gate. Sadly, I thought Kirk could stand on his own two feet. Guess I was wrong about that.

6/27/2013 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Ron Klein said...

It will be interesting to see how Bauermeister's role plays out. On the tape Righeimer stated just what Weitzberg says he did, yet the principal disputes this.

Who does Barlow represent? Attorneys have clients. Is her client the city, the committee, the council, or the people of Costa Mesa?

And what about Mike Decker- Where does his employment end (or does it) and his role on this committee begin?

Highly intelligent, good people as moderators, but we just don't trust Righeimer.

6/27/2013 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin Leffler said...

CM4RG just posted the link below on our website and facebook. It goes right to the moment when Mayor Righeimer makes his statement about what the charter committee is to do. The idea didn’t originate with Harold, it’s from the mayor.

Any commenter who thinks otherwise ignored verifying the fact by Geoff’s link to the same meeting. If your mind is made up, we really ARE trying to confuse you with the facts.



CM4RG will continue to do our best to provide the community with accurate research and factual information.

6/27/2013 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Thanks for carving out that segment and including a link to it. It's very clear, isn't it? The committee's role is to determine if we need a charter or not.

6/27/2013 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Thank you, Robin and Geoff.

Harold repeated the first step, per Righeimer's quote yet was accused of having a " pre set agenda " in the first comment here.
It looks like the same political group that supports Righeimer easily targets Harold, even when he is quoting their beloved Righeimer!
Not only do facts get in their way- quotes from their leader get in their way.

6/27/2013 05:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Truthout said...

Yes kwahlf we heard Stevie's up in arms because Weitzberg had the gall to accurately quote Fearless Leader.

Maybe the Developer Pro Tem should go scream at a teacher or baggage clerk to relieve the stress.

6/27/2013 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Riggy rules. It sucks but its true. said...

Its both sad and funny that peiple really think this little group will be taken seriously. Righeimer owns CM and he will do whatever to whomever he wants. They chest bump, they yell at airline employee, so what?! They're here to stay whether we like it or not.

6/27/2013 09:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Able Archer said...

Thanks Robin. Can you please share the council vote? We are not interested in what an individual resident or voter has to say.

We voted for Monahan and Mensinger because they favored a Charter.

40% of voters supported the Charter despite $500,000 in Union Boss spending.

We will not go backwards.

People like Harold know this. It makes them angry. Was Harold's face red when he tried to obstruct the process?

6/28/2013 06:14:00 AM  
Anonymous MV said...

Hey Archer - you like apples? How you going to like them apples when the next charter fails?

6/28/2013 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Pessimist said...

We keep hearing how much unions spent to thwart Riggy's failed charter initiative. I would like to know how much the city spent on Riggy 's orders to push it through. Add up all of the staffs' time that was wasted, the lawyers' time that was wasted, all of those glossy mailers which killed the trees and were wasted, any private contractor whose time was bought for the purposes of unleashing the charter and wasted, any other wasted piece of resource which I forgot to rattle off, and lastly add it to the money that was wasted by that group of private citizens (developers), who started a PAC in favor of the charter. How comparable are the two sums spent by the opposing sides on this issue? Probably not nearly as dissimilar as we've been lead to believe.

6/28/2013 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous fullerton st res said...

Able Archer I have some news for you, you and the rest of the SFB's on the council are the definition of backwards.

6/28/2013 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Able Archer wrote,
"Was Harold's face red when he tried to obstruct the process?"
You mean when Harold repeated what Righeimer requested? That's what you call "obstruct"?
Following the request of your own fearless leader is now "obstruct(ing)"
You guys are something else.
There's no logic or truth in anything you say.
You remind me of someone.

6/28/2013 07:42:00 PM  

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