Thursday, August 15, 2013

Charter Committee Slogs Forward - Barely

It was an exercise in frustration Wednesday night as I sat for three hours and watched the Costa Mesa Charter Committee continue it's relentless slog toward the creation of a new form of government - whether we need a change or not.  Facilitators Kirk Bauermeister and Mike Decker let the committee guide itself for much of the evening.

The high point - and it was really a high point when compared to the rest of the meeting - was the more than one-hour long presentation by Director of Public Services, Ernesto Munoz.  The committee, which is immersed in discussing the Transparency in Public Contracts portion of their deliberations, asked questions at an earlier meeting the needed to be answered by Munoz, so he presented himself to them last night and, armed with an excellent PowerPoint presentation showing our current process for awarding public contracts.  By the time he finished even I understood his message.

Without regurgitating every word he uttered, I'll give you some of the high points.  He pointed out, for example, that there are NEVER any no-bid public works contracts in Costa Mesa.  That doesn't mean there are no no-bid contracts in other areas at City Hall - like for computer consulting, management consulting, etc.

As he went through the process of awarding public contracts - his staff report is HERE - He frequently reminded the committee that much of the public works contracts are funded by grants, and that he and his staff are VERY good at what they do.  He described to the committee just why his organization chooses to use a more formal bid process than others might use.  He spoke of significant protections for the City's position on the more formal bidding process.  He spoke of the over $18 million in public works projects budgeted for this fiscal year, and described in great detail how every project his handled, from start to finish.

Munoz also stressed how successful his organization is at finding grant funds for city projects, emphasizing - in response to a question - that every member of his staff is a skilled grant writer.

At the end of his presentation and the question and answer period that followed, it seemed like many on the committee didn't want to see that part of the operations changed significantly.  They left a list of "changes" they wanted to discuss next time.  Munoz, for his part, left them with this thought.  He told them, "The system works.  Whatever you do with a charter, don't change it.  We're good at what we do."  He told them that if they plan to create a charter that changes this process, "I want to be there".  It was clear that he thinks his process works well and, based on my observations, most of the committee members agreed.

There are some committee members who clearly did their homework assignments in preparation for the meeting.  And, there were a few who probably did not.  And others continue to get stuck on wanting to use Jim Righeimer's (failed) Charter as the foundation for a new one.  I had to smile, because it seems, after listening to them through several meetings now, that the very segments they want to cannibalize from that document are some of the elements that caused it to go down in defeat last November.

The committee will return at the next meeting to continue the discussion of Transparency where they left off, and also hope to begin the discussion of "Openness".  The process is moving slowly - hampered by those who seemed to be locked into a predetermination of issues - like the defunct Measure V.  The way this process is going, I certainly don't expect to see anything resembling a final product until the spring - if then.

At the next meeting they will also discuss whether or not to elect a Chairman and Vice Chair.  That should be interesting.  I think many of the 20 or so residents and other visitors to this meeting shared a level of frustration at the process, and the fact that some of the committee members just don't seem to grasp some of the most basic of terms and concepts.

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Anonymous bartender, diet coke please said...

Wow geoff. Sorry you spent your bday at the stupid meeting. It seems like such a waste, as we all know its a dog and pony show the pigheimer puts on. The scumbags will so what they want to do until they're led away in handcuffs.

8/15/2013 12:17:00 AM  
Anonymous #9 Dream said...

a pre determined bias? shocking! never heard of that in humans before. Luckily Jeff has no predetermined bias here on this blog and just stays with facts. It doesn't matter to him if an idea comes from a puppet, sycophant, bootlicker, or unemployed or paid troll; he examines the worth of each idea on a stand alone basis. It doesn't look like that to some but the reality is that all the ideas from that group are always wrong and he is reporting it as such and as he should. The voters have been fooled for years and keep electing people from this group and have allowed a complete takeover of this city by these residents who don't count as residents if they have a republican bias. They need to go away so we can have peace in this city. I am tired of their never ending complaints. We are already worse than Bell, this mass corruption we have exposed should be enough to get them out of office but it never works out that way, even after all the proof we offer of bribes and kickbacks. We KNOW there is a coverup around every corner and we demand responsible government. People need to start listening to Fuqua, Ahlf, Leffler, Shirley, and Cindy or we are doomed. Let the ladies be in charge. Imagine three of them on council with Wendy and Sandy, a dream team for sure.

8/15/2013 06:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Revelation said...

At the next meeting, please tell Pollitt:

1) I don't need him promoting me;
2) The Tea Party will end forever on October 31, 2013;
3) I'm sorry about the IQ thing. I had to give Bill Gates the difference.

PS: Happy Birthday! See you in 33.4 years.

8/15/2013 07:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Did they have a moment of solemn expression and sing you happy birthday?

8/15/2013 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

They had a "moment of silence", where it looked like some folks were praying and others were just waiting. And, no, nobody sang Happy Birthday to me, but I did get a nice birthday smooch from a friend. ;-)

8/15/2013 07:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Good goin' Munoz said...

How long has Munoz been at this? If he was there 3 or 4 years ago, and I assume he was, then how did that guy in the dress get the city to approve the towing contracts for his partners? They may think they are good at what they do, but they sure let this one slip by.

8/15/2013 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Because towing contracts are not public works (read: construction) contracts. The City does a great job with building things. It's the purchasing of computers and contracts with towers that require a little more, ahem, scrutiny.

8/15/2013 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

The towing contracts are not "public works" contracts. Munoz was probably not involved at all.

8/15/2013 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Good goin' Munoz said...

Okay, thanks Eleanor

8/15/2013 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary serves Kool Aid said...

I wonder if Gary is going to reduce his MEGGA MEDICAL benefit for his part time work?

Lead the charge, Gary!


8/15/2013 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous salt o' de earth said...

I like the way the love flows here. real nice people it seems. welcome, did you eat? glad to meet you come on it type. no name calling is great. mature and adult.

8/15/2013 06:57:00 PM  
Anonymous salt o' de earth said...

NOT !!

8/15/2013 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

The sad part about the Charter committee is that a certain segment, shall we say, faction, clearly displays a lack of understanding about the issues. It's not that they don't have all the answers, it's that they clearly don't even understand a lot of the questions. For many, hand selected for that committee, they obviously don't do there homework, or research the complexities. For some on the committee, it is an exercise in local government 101. I don't feel comfortable having a resident who doesn't even know what RFP stands for , or why you even go through that process. yet that person who has no understanding or background of any of the city protocols is helping write the new charter deciding future contracting codes.
.That is why an elected commission would have been the only choice. We would have had smart people on there who truly understood what they are doing. What we ended up with is a stacked deck and some of the players aren't playing with all their chips so to speak.

8/16/2013 07:42:00 AM  
Anonymous This blog gives rope said...

And there we have it from the newly appointed Democratic leadership of Costa Mesa.

The more Greg Ridge talks the more we understand him and the lefty vocal minority.

8/16/2013 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous wake up call said...

Gericault is absolutely correct, no matter what party you belong to. Inexperience is just that...inexperience. Not that it matters though, because you and I know that this effort is merely a dog and pony show, and the result will br dismissed anyway. They already know what they will put on the ballot as a charter. See the Yes on Charter FB page. Some residents are not so naive.

8/17/2013 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

That "lefty vocal minority" defeated Righeimers last Charter by almost 20% might want to do a recount before you use the word..."minority".

8/18/2013 09:19:00 AM  

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