Thursday, July 11, 2013

Costa Mesa Charter Ball Is Rolling

After more than three and half hours, I came away from the second meeting of the Costa Mesa Charter Committee last night with a sense of guarded optimism.  Let me explain...

Right out of the gate facilitator Kirk Bauermeister cleared the air about the mission of this group.  Copies of agendas and minutes of relevant council meetings were included in the packet distributed to the committee.  Bauermeister acknowledged that he knew of the comment stated by Mayor Jim Righeimer at the meeting where the committee was selected in which he clearly stated that the committee was to determine whether the city needed a charter or not.  I've quoted it twice recently.  Bauermeister told the group that he "doesn't take direction from one council member", and affirmed his belief, based on the record of recent council decisions on the subject, that his role is to facilitate the creation of a Charter for the city.  I made a mental note for future reference that it's probably a good idea to ignore the mumbles of our mayor most of the time.  Member Harold Weitzberg affirmed his continued belief that, as the committee goes about deliberating the value of a charter, it might determine that changing the type of governance may, in fact, not serve the residents of the city better than remaining a General Law city.  And the group moved on...
Of the dozen members of the public attending the meeting, four, including former councilman Jay Humphrey, addressed the committee during Public Comments.  He expressed concern that the committee consider all aspects of the criteria that will be used to evaluate charter options.  Robin Leffler said she was going to wait to see what kind of product the committee produces, but that she hopes it will not propose a Charter to the exclusion of all other options.  Charles Mooney expressed concern about the City of Bell - a charter city and encouraged the committee first establish requirements before deciding on a charter.  The remaining speaker - a grumpy old fella - identified himself as a "simple guy" who was looking for the charter to provide local control.  The guy is anything BUT simple, and he left after saying his piece without bothering to see how the process was going to work.  Facts are seldom an issue for him.
Facilitators Bauermeister and Mike Decker led a discussion on whether the group wanted to elect officers - Chairman, Vice Chairman, Time Keeper - as described in the agenda, HERE.  After a few minutes it became clear that most wished to continue awhile longer with the facilitators running the show, and voted to consider the issue again two meetings from now.  For now Bauermeister and Decker will provide "facilitation" for the group.
The group went through another "Ice Breaker" exercise - they paired-up, spent a few minutes getting to know their partner, then introduced them individually to the group.  It worked - the group seemed looser following that little exercise.
They then launched into an exercise designed to help prioritize the issues to be considered by going around the room and allowing each member to present one issue for consideration.  Then they went back around for a second choice from each member and, eventually, decided as a group to get all those items the members had compiled as part of their homework exercise up on the boards for discussion.  (An aside - the group seems to be settling into their role and reached most decisions through thoughtful, considerate discussion)
The group generated more than two dozen individual issues they felt should be included as they moved forward.  They then winnowed those down by combining those that were, in part, redundant and then used red stickers placed on the sheets with those issues listed to indicate their priorities.  The results are shown on the images of those sheets below.  As you can see, Public Contracts got the most red stickers and will be the first issue discussed at length beginning at the next meeting on July 24th.  This list is NOT the final list, just a start.  Members were encouraged to think more about it and add items in the future.  Of course, the public is always welcome to contribute their thoughts, too, by communicating with the City Clerk, Brenda Green.  She is the focus of all communication for the committee.
While the group has not yet found themselves lining up on one side or the other on issues, there are some clear indications about how this is going to go.  For example, "Tea Party Tom" Pollitt, a loyal follower of Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger, contributed the need to review "the 15 or 16" problems with the last charter - Jim Righeimer's Charter.  It was he who asked to have a copy of that document included in their reference materials along with actual real charters from several other cities.  It's likely that he will push to just have that document "fixed" and present it to the council for consideration.  We'll see.  Later he pushed for a specific timeline for the process, but the group reminded him the objective was to produce a proper document.  Hank Panian, the senior member of the group and the only one who has gone through this process before several decades ago, emphasized something he's told the group before - that "this is arduous, difficult, complex work and there's no way to predict how long it's going to take."  Bauermeister told the group that the council wanted to measure their progress in 6 months.  Pollitt made me smile when he referred to "the minority people" - apparently meaning the folks who may not agree with his view - and hoped they will feel they got a fair hearing.  Us vs. them...  It's interesting to watch him work because you never know what he's going to say.  He's demanding another consideration for his request for an invocation at the beginning of each meeting - an issue that will be discussed by the group next time, following some legal guidance from attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow.
Several members expressed concern about Public Contracts, prevailing wage, etc.  Enough did so to place that collection of issues at the top of the heap for discussion.

Many members brought up the City of Bell, expressing concern that a Costa Mesa Charter not permit the abuses that happened in Bell.  Financial concerns and employee issues - contracts, outsourcing - also ended up high on the list.

So, the ball is rolling and I'm encouraged by the progress that was made over the past two meetings.  The tough part is ahead and, as the specific issues begin to be discussed at length, we'll see just how cohesive they remain.  Because Bauermeister and Decker have found their footing, and because the group presently seems comfortable with them providing direction to the process, I'm keeping a positive thought, but understand the politics of this process.  There seems to be four or five members firmly in the camp of the current council majority, but we won't know what that means until further down stream.  I expect "sides" to coalesce in the weeks to come.  That's when we find out how valuable this process will be, and whether the group can work through the different viewpoints and arrive at something resembling consensus.

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Anonymous Ron Klein said...

GW re Tea Party Pollitt:
"you never know what he's going to say"

True story. I've sat near him at council meetings and watched/heard him talk to himself on several occasions.

I guess that's preferable to Fitzy's thing of sitting in the chamber stuffing his face with snack food. Last time he kept a group of visiting high school students highly amused.

7/11/2013 06:23:00 AM  
Anonymous whacka mole said...

the city of bell was run by a bunch of lefties, does not apply here. tired of hearing "rings like a bell" or other things rather than facts. no more "brown act violations", "bell" "hitler" "racist" "cm4rg", "anti dentite", comments and we will get better results. the cm4oe people are major irritants, clueless, overly suspicious and willing to label opponents as corrupt no matter what. it is their way or the personal destruction way. shout out to robin, sandy, merle, deb. when is conflict of interest coming up? next month? last email was not clear. mike hasn't called back.

7/11/2013 06:34:00 AM  
Anonymous apparently so said...

apparently, as the charter committee is moving along, I must respond with some comments: time to start some trouble; lol

apparently I must write.

7/11/2013 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

We already know the committee is stacked completely opposite to the views expressed by the voters in the last election. It should be a 60% vs. 40% against a charter....but moving forward.

There are anywhere from 86 - 113 Charter cities in CA. Depends on how you define a "charter'. San Fransisco is actually a consolidated county/ city, which does run off a charter.

Lets use that bigger number.....out of the 113 "charter" cities, only 34 use a prevailing wage exemption. 12 use a partial exemption.
The remaining 67 ( SF included), Charter cities do NOT exempt themselves from paying a prevailing wage.

So out of California's 478 cities,...only 34 have a prevailing wage exemption. That's a pretty slim "majority".

7/11/2013 07:40:00 AM  
Anonymous No change preserve status quo said...

Thanks Geoff for the great report and for supporting us.

We agree. Costa Mesa and the City of Bell have so much in common.

We think we should continue to ignore places like the City of Newport Beach

Jay, Robin, Charles and you make so much sense.

Where would we be without you

Thanks again for staying up late in your boxers to keep us no growth folks informed

7/11/2013 08:29:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Pessimist said...

I was happy to read that the awarding of Public Contracts is a major concern for the majority of the committee members. Obviously our ill' mayor has a major issue with organized labor. Furthermore, the fact that the city's employees are all a part of one union, or another must irk him as well. But, I think it all boils down to my perception that this council majority is comprised of Pay-to-Play guys. How many contracts under our current form of governance have gone to supporters of this majority? How many of these numerous committees are peopled by political contributors to the council majority? How will all of this expand by becoming a Charter City? No thank you! This citizen/ resident/ voter cannot wait to return to the polls again to vote down any work product produced by this committee which could expand/ enhance any power entrusted in this most untrustworthy council majority!

7/11/2013 08:45:00 AM  
Anonymous The Glove doesn't fit said...

If Bauermeister doesn't take his orders from one council member and Rigeheimer is on record as asking them to see if we need a charter, then what other 3 council members ordered him to make a charter?
Leece, Monohan, Mensinger?
Genis, Monohan, Mensinger?

I would have thought Leece and Genis would have been on the side with Righeimer and let's first see if we need one.

Maybe Bauermeister takes his orders from 2 council members over the wishes of 3!

7/11/2013 09:03:00 AM  
Anonymous never give up said...

I admire and support Gericault's difficult struggle against the majority of CM voters on most subjects. Good Luck to him.

7/11/2013 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous The Word said...

To: All Trolls, Sycophants, and Bootlickers

From: Napoleon Righeimer

Re: Today's Talking Points

The 60/40 defeat of my charter just a few months ago doesn't matter.

Gericault is just confused.

West is just angry.

Weitzberg quoted me correctly but that doesn't matter- I decide on a daily basis what everyone should do.

My friends and I are appalled at what happened in Bell and would never do stuff like that here.

There are no questions to be asked about the fireworks sales.

There are no questions to be asked about any company being involved in the 60th celebration having any connection to any of my acquaintances.

I am not anti-union. Some of my best friends are unions.

I, your leader and mentor know better than everyone else what Costa Mesa needs. I am undaunted by 20 years of political rejection.

The Lincoln Club and other mainstream, but unaware Republicans need to chill out and wait for my eventual victories, accomplishments, and vindication.

I WILL accomplish something any minute.

/s/ Supreme Leader

7/11/2013 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous wishful thinking said...

Does anyone really believe the 3-man council will listen to what this group has to say? They've already demonstrated that they dont take the advice of their paid consultants.

Righeimer is all about getting himself ahead in politics. The only way he'll make a name for himself is by getting rid of employee pensions. The only way to get rid of pensions is by getting rid of employees. The only way to get rid of city enployees is by turning into a charter city and award ALL jobs to the private sector.

Jailers are done. More to come...

7/11/2013 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Rabbit said...

Has anyone told Pollitt that tea parties are for little girls or Alice in Wonderland?

7/11/2013 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous John McClane said...

Just like the phony "terrorists" in the first "Die Hard," the current extremists in Costa Mesa are probably not as interested in politics/ideology as they are in money.

It's a land grab and a power grab. They need more power through a charter to attain their goals.

7/11/2013 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Ron Salas said...

One of Righeimer's probable goals is to BK the city to try and destroy pensions and contracts. Watch Kapko, who Napoleon brought in.

7/11/2013 01:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Watch what you wish for.... said...

I'm sure Jay mentioned this to the committee, but the pendulum swings both ways. Right now the ball is in Riggy's court, but that could change at any election. And I suspect it will. So before you award total control to a city council you think you want in control, just remember, it may not be for long. Do you want those "lefties" in control in the next election? The next few years?

7/11/2013 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous aint nothin we can do said...

Like we all dont already know that chestbump will be the next mayor. Theres a long line of them after that from the planning commission.

7/11/2013 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

@ never give up, ....I'm still weighing out which is easier. Tack Costa Mesa onto Kansas,.........or just move to a more enlightened area. The choices are many. One of the biggest consequences of defeating Ellis's and Riggy's scheme of selling the you got stuck with me. My wife likes riding her horse at Fairgrounds. I'm stuck here.

7/11/2013 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous never give up said...

my horse loving lib friends swear by the state of Washington as a good refuge. just don't cross over into Idaho, too many patriots.

7/12/2013 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

@never give up,
We aren't going anywhere.
You are free to move.
Idaho sounds just right for you.
Say 'hi' to my former neighbor who moved
there last year. CA was too "liberal" for him.
He's a member of the Tea Party- your kind of guy.

7/13/2013 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

In all my 46 years of living in CM and keeping my ear close to the railroad track, I have never heard/read such rancor and insulting language as what's coming out of the folks writing in this thread. Let's get civil and stop the name-calling. Let's move in a more positive, constructive direction, people.

Geoff, I applaud your dedication and hard work on our behalf. Thank you, dear friend!

7/16/2013 10:17:00 AM  

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