Monday, September 30, 2013

Youth To Pack Fairview Meeting?

Word around town is that parents of youth sports participants have been asked to present their kids - in uniform - at the meeting of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee Wednesday beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Neighborhood Community Center that evening to show support for speakers scheduled that night who will plead their case for playing fields in the park.  It seems that some members of their leadership feel that the youth sports groups have been under-represented so far.  Their view is that only the voices of those who want to keep the park as it is have been heard so far.

When I heard that comment I did a classic double-take, because there are several members of the committee who have been quite vocal on the issue from the beginning.  In fact, based on their comments, some of the members would be very happy to cover most of the park with fields.

So, I guess you can expect the meeting Wednesday to be packed with children on a school night to plead for more fields.

Unfortunately, because of imprudent actions by a misguided few recently, the federal government is now deeply involved in the park and their representatives are not a bit happy with our stewardship of that municipal treasure. It is possible, based on the thoughtless, selfish actions by a few, that the park will be placed off limits for any kind of future "enhancements".

To make your views known to the committee and leaders at the meeting, step up and speak up.

Chief Snowden Speaks Out

Anyone even casually following politics in Costa Mesa for the past couple years understands that the relationship between the Costa Mesa police officers and the current City Council majority has been "strained", to say the very least.  From before Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger took office the ill feelings between them and the police association was obvious.

We've seen police chiefs come and go.  Former Interim Chief Steve Staveley abruptly left in a strong disagreement with the current administration about the management of our police resources, leaving behind a caustic letter outlining his view of this administration's inability to understand law enforcement, much less effectively manage it..

In recent weeks there have bee several letters in the local media. Including one from Jim Fisler - president of Mesa Water, former planning commissioner and council candidate - and Clay Epperson, retired CMPD lieutenant.

Former CMPD Chief Dave Snowden responded to one of those commentaries with a note on Facebook, which has apparently subsequently disappeared.  Today he has given me permission to reproduce that observation here, knowing that the vagaries of that social media outlet will not be in play here.


I read in the Daily Pilot where my comments from a decade ago regarding comparing crime statistics with other communities are being quoted.  Apparently my comments are being used to infer that any increase in the crime rate in Costa Mesa today is acceptable and well within the norm.  

Consider this.  A decade ago CMPD had close to 165 sworn officers on the job and a very well-staffed non-sworn support contingent.  It was my policy when I was chief that all crime was to be documented and reported so that resources could  then be allocated where the reporting showed it was most needed.  Of course, the downside to reporting all crime was that  the reporting policies of some other agencies didn't require the same accuracy. Accurate reporting in our agency could show a rise in some reportable crimes when compared to a city with a city not held to the same standard.  Even with our policy of documenting all crime we were able to reduce Part 1 crimes (the really bad crime) by 56% over a ten year period. That was due to great police work by dedicated cops and staff who worked very hard for the community they were sworn to protect. They had the unanimous support of the city council. CMPD were always the very best and the brightest in OC.  In 17+ years! fewer than five officers left to take jobs in other agencies and one of those came back and was later promoted.

Under the lack of support by the current city council majority this has changed drastically.  Costa Mesa it seems is no longer able to attract the best and the brightest or even to retain the great staff they have left. Council support? What kind of city council sues it's own POA or holds their department hostage on hiring until for political reasons?  How many more great officers and staff will have to leave before the community realizes that the best and brightest are just a memory and that they can no longer hire the quality of officer and staff they were once were able to attract?  They have one of the finest police chiefs in the business and certainly one of the best communities in OC, but the political climate is deplorable. Never in the 60 year history of this fine city has there been more scandal. In the last few years virtually every department head has left, including the city manager.
As for the comparison of crime stats, go to the library and get the FBI UCR and open the book.   It hasn't changed. Before you even get to the statistics you will find THEIR words telling the reader to NOT make comparisons with other communities for a myriad of reasons.  One of these reasons is that cities may have different reporting policies.  If a city doesn't report a crime (take the report) IT WON'T BE reflected in the stats!  If a department doesn't have sufficient staff to respond to calls and take reports the result could be a false impression that crime is down. Resources won't be deployed where most needed because it will be difficult to accurately determine where crime is occurring .

I hope the current council and their supporters can count.  The 120 (I am hearing closer to 100) officers deployed today is at least 45 officers short of where they were a  decade ago.  CMPD is running call to call.  They are terribly understaffed and at current levels, can barely keep up with their workload.  These fine men and women are doing the best they can with a bad situation.  The low morale that comes from a council majority that does not support them will and is taking a toll!  

I read where the mayor is now trying to shift the blame to Chief Gazsi and has even recommended reducing his high hiring standards.  No one can possibly believe that the chief is to blame or that reducing standards will have anything but disastrous results.  I am betting that most PD staff are still holding their chins high because of Chief Gazsi's leadership and dedication to them and to Costa Mesa.  I hope the good citizens of CM understand just how great their police and firefighters are. They should start demanding from their elected majority that their police and fire department personnel be treated with the respect they have earned and deserve before they too are just a memory.  God bless all of these fine men and women. 

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Fairview Park Perspective

Here' something to consider as you plan to attend the City Council and the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee meetings next week. See my previous entry for the details of the meeting times, dates and locations.   Sorry, but my primitive tools prohibit me from making it  a "hot link", so you'll have to copy and paste it in your browser window. 

This is an excellent summary of Fairview Park history and the current state of affairs in that has been called "The Jewel Of Costa Mesa".  Of course, it does have a good dose of opinion mixed in, too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fairview Park Advisory Committee Meeting

Next Wednesday, October 2, 2013,  the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee meets  again in the Victoria Room at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The agenda looks good. There will be three presentations - one from Gordon Bowley, President of Costa Mesa United; one from Hank Castignetti of the Orange County Model Engineers and a presentation on Youth Sports Data coordinated by member Brett Eckles. 

Later they will review the Southeast Quadrant of the park and hear a presentation by archeologist Patrick O. Maxon. This should be especially interesting since we have recently heard that Native American artifacts may be in jeopardy in parts of the park

If you have something to say to the committee there will be time available for Public Comments. 

I won't be at the meeting,  but you should consider attending.  With so much controversy swirling around the park, this meeting may produce some memorable moments.   Have fun. 

Some Casual Reading For You

In case you've  run out of important things to do, the Daily Pilot has an interesting commentary online tonight. You can read it at,0,873771.story.  

In fact, just go to the opinion page and read Perry Valantine's excellent letter in the Mailbag section, too.  And, if you really have to, there's also a commentary on Fairview Park  by a grumpy old fella from Mesa North. 

Probably the best choice would be the excellent article by Jill Cowan and Lauren Williams on problem motels. It' the second in their series.  You can find it on the front page. 

You'll have to forgive me, but I'm using primitive tools to post this entry.  No pretty pictures, just barebones verbiage. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

What's Ahead In Costa Mesa

Here's a rundown on meetings that have been scheduled in Costa Mesa for the next couple of weeks.  In some cases there have been no agendas published yet.  Check the city website as the dates draw near for more info.

This week is a slow one.  Monday, today, the Planning Commission meets at 6:00 in council chambers and has only one item on the agenda.  You can read the "full" agenda HERE.  The item in question is Peter Zehnder's proposal to develop 8 units on a couple lots in the 2500 block of Santa Ana Avenue, HERE.  This has been bouncing around for months and it still contains many, many variances and deviations to the municipal code.  I still wonder why two meetings a month are necessary...

Next up, on Tuesday, September 24th,  is a Special Closed Session of the Costa Mesa City Council to discuss labor negotiations with the CMCEA.  This one is VERY unusual, since it begins at 9:30 a.m. and will immediately adjourn to Conference Room 5A.  You can read the agenda HERE.  It's unclear whether they will "report out" any results of this meeting.  One thing is certain, the discussions in that room way up on the fifth floor should be very interesting.

On Wednesday, September 25th, in the Emergency Operations Center, the Costa Mesa Charter Committee meets once again to continue hammering out the framework of a charter.  The progress has been slow.  You can read the agenda HERE.

On Thursday, September 26th, the Parks and Recreation Commission meets in council chambers at 6:00 p.m. to discuss a couple of tree removal requests and Adult Contract Instructional Class Proposals.  You can read the whole agenda for this short meeting HERE and the staff report for the Adult Contract Instructional Class Proposals HERE.

Also on Thursday, somewhere in the city, there is scheduled another "Meet The Mayor" event.  We suspect he will be more careful this time when he selects the venue, since he encountered a boisterous crowd at the last one.

On Tuesday, October 1st at 6:00 p.m. in council chambers the City Council will holds its regularly scheduled meeting.  No agenda is yet available.

FAIRVIEW PARK ADVISORY COMMITTEE*correction!   The meeting will be held at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave.  
On Wednesday, October 2nd the Fairview Park Advisory Committee will meet again, this time scheduled for Conference Room 1A at 6:00 p.m..  No agenda is available, but I won't be surprised if there are significant discussions about the controversy swirling around the decomposed granite path incursion on vernal pools, the model train contract extension and the possible involvement of Native American groups to protect artifacts in the park.

Also Wednesday, October 2nd, there will be a General Plan Update Meeting with the Mesa Verde Community Association from 6:30 - 8:30 at the Mesa Verde Methodist Church, 1701 Baker Street, Costa Mesa.

On Thursday, October 3rd, there will be a Public Safety Recognition Barbecue at the Orange County Fair and Event Center beginning at 11:00.

Friday, October 4th, here will be the next edition of the very popular and growing First Friday Road Show in the City Hall parking lot beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The following week, beginning Monday, October 7th, is Fire Prevention Week.

On Tuesday, October 8th, there will be a City Council Study Session at 4:30 followed by a Housing Authority Meeting at 6:30.

On Wednesday, October 9th, there will be another meeting of the Charter Committee at 6:00 in the Emergency Operations Center.

OK, is that enough for you for a little while?  I hope so.  I gave you all that info because I'm taking a breather and will be turning the Cauldron down to a low simmer for a little while.  Comments will still be posted - if you're registered, that is - but it may take a little longer.

In the meantime, follow the action around town in the Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register - both publications are doing a good job of keeping up with our local events.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Comment Registration Reminder - Again

Let us revisit my friendly reminder about the need to register before you attempt to post a comment on this blog.  Even though the requirement is prominently posted at the top of this page over on the right-hand corner, some of you have not seen it or ignored it, or both.

Several of you have attempted to post as "Anonymous', which is an unacceptable moniker for this blog.  It creates too much confusion, so please just be clever and pick a different handle if you don't want to use your own name.  If you select one that is already taken I'll let you know.

Recently someone tried to post using an un-registered moniker and I just rejected it without reading it... we've had plenty of time to adapt and there is that reminder at the top of the page.  However, this person - obviously someone who supports your mayor and is operating with a VERY limited vocabulary and a significant unfamiliarity with the English language - later tried to post again, using the same moniker.  This time, though, he or she just raked me over the coals for not posting the earlier piece.  I went back and read it and would have posted it if the person had bothered to register.  However, because that requires him or her to identify themselves to me, I know that will never happen, especially now, after the load of foul language included in the last one.

Amusingly, this person accused me of failing to post opinions different than mine, which all of you reading this blog for some time know is just not true.  I WANT this blog to be a place where ALL sides of an issue can be discussed.  But, the gutless anonymous cowards out there just refuse to participate.  If they can't hide behind a tree and spew epithets, then they won't participate at all.  So be it.

To those of you who HAVE chosen to register and participate - thanks.  I appreciate each comment, even if I don't agree with it.  Keep them coming...


To register email  the following to

  • Pen name (do NOT use "Anonymous")
  • Full name
  • Valid email address and telephone number
  • Only 1 pen name per person
  • You may use 1 pen name AND your proper name
  • Don't use another person's proper name 
  • Comments without prior registration will be REJECTED - NO EXCEPTIONS 
  • More details at


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Employee Organization Announces New Phase Of Lawsuit

The Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), which represents the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA) in its lawsuit against the lawsuit filed against the City of Costa Mesa for what they contend were illegal layoff notices sent to more than half the CMCEA membership over two years ago, has announced a new phase in that lawsuit.

According to a press release issued today, the full text of which is below,  the current judge handling the lawsuit, Judge Luis A. Rodriguez, issued a qualified rejection of an amended complaint filed by the CMCEA, but also allowed the employees to amend their complaint.  The ruling also vacated the January, 2014 trial date and established a Case Management Conference in December.

Costa Mesa enters new phase of outsourcing litigation
COSTA MESA As one of the first actions marking a new phase in the litigation between Costa Mesa employees and the City of Costa Mesa since the City withdrew layoff notices to more than 200 employees earlier this year, a Superior Court judge this afternoon issued a qualified rejection of an amended complaint filed by the Costa Mesa City Employees Association.

But Judge Luis A. Rodriguez also allowed the Employees leave to amend their complaint to allege additional facts about the City’s outsourcing plans that have occurred over the past several months.

Today’s action marks a new phase of the ongoing litigation, as the Court decides how to address the outsourcing issues in the wake of the City rescinding pink slips for more than half of its employees.

The Costa Mesa City Council majority in March 2011 first issued more than 200 pink slips to employees as part of their desire to privatize City services. In June 2012, Superior Court Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann issued a preliminary injunction blocking the City from outsourcing to the private sector.

The City appealed that decision, and in August 2012, the Fourth District Court of Appeals rejected the City’s request in a lengthy opinion, which the Court later published.

The City rescinded the pink slips earlier this year, so CMCEA agreed to dissolve the preliminary injunction. CMCEA filed and amended its complaint to reflect the changing circumstances and articulate the City Council’s ongoing efforts to outsource City services.

Attorneys for CMCEA will now prepare and file an amended complaint consistent with the Court’s order and comments from the bench. CMCEA will continue to protect the legal rights of its members and require the City through the Court to comply with the restraints on outsourcing municipal services confirmed in last year’s Court of Appeal decision.

The Court also vacated the January 2014 trial date and set a Case Management Conference for Dec. 11, 2014.

Some will recall that the Jim Righeimer-led city council violated their own council policy when they issued invalid layoff notices to more than 200 employees two and a half years ago - a move that was punctuated by the unfortunate suicide of young Costa Mesa maintenance worker, Huy Pham, who leaped to his death from the roof of City Hall.

This event was to become the bellwether of things to come in Costa Mesa, where the relationship between the elected leaders and the city employees has - as unimaginable as it might seem - gone downhill since then.  Recently the mayor and mayor pro tem has sued the members of the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association, accusing them of placing them - the elected officials - in such a fragile mental condition that they have had to seek medical attention and have suffered loss of income.  And yet, they continue to show up and inflict further damage to the city in their fragile condition.

I have no idea how the lawsuit will turn out, but the employees continue to fight for their rights against an administration that has created a toxic workplace for most employees to the extent that we have seen many seeking jobs in other municipalities rather than remain in our city. 

This bogus plan is finally coming home to roost, though.  City CEO Tom Hatch announced a $7 million budget surplus at the last council meeting, then followed up by also announcing that the city is unable to provide the level of service expected by the residents and necessary to keep the business of the city running properly, so an increased recruitment effort to fill the 44 authorized, open vacancies will be undertaken immediately.  We presume that includes the many vacancies in the police ranks, although the hiring process for those positions can take a year or longer.

The current elected leadership of our city - specifically Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger - have demonstrated over and over again that they are incompetent to manage our city.  Their priorities are clearly out of line with wishes and needs of the residents.  They place filling potholes well ahead of providing a safe city for residents, visitors and businesses - and crow about it, too boot.

They have created an environment where corruption can thrive and rules designed to protect our precious municipal assets are routinely ignored.  These men pontificated about running our city like a business, but apparently neglected to tell us they meant failed businesses.  They are responsible for racking up millions of dollars in legal fees to defend their actions - all straight from city coffers.  They seem on course to saddle our city with municipal bankruptcy - going so far as to have one of their hand-picked committees receive a municipal bankruptcy workshop -  to fulfill their goals of busting employee organizations.  They have demonstrated, by their actions, a cavalier disregard for the well-being and reputation of this city - placing it a distant second to their personal political goals.

One can only hope that a slumbering electorate will finally be shaken awake and begin paying attention to the damage these men are doing to our city and make the changes in the voting booth necessary to restore this city to it's position as a city to be admired for its accomplishments, not ridiculed by neighboring leaders.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

General Plan Circulation Element Workshop

Wednesday night forty people attended the most recent workshop on the Costa Mesa General Plan Update at the Emergency Operations Center near City Hall.
This event, ramrodded by Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuraman and jointly-facilitated by consultant Rock Miller of Stantec, focused on the Bicycle segment of the Circulation element of the General Plan update.  You can read the agenda for the meeting HERE.
 Rock Miller explains bicycle plans to Munoz, Sethuraman and others
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Dean Abernathy ponders an issue
Sethuraman kicked things off, then tossed the ball to Miller who guided the explanation of the bicycle portion.  The attendee then went through an exercise in which they discussed their wishes for improvement of Costa Mesa's bicycle friendliness.  The scrawled suggestions for things they would like to see included in the General Plan on maps depicting the current layout of bicycle trails in the community, which were then compiled by Miller and the other consultants present.

 group discussion
Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee member Anna Vrska discusses map

The turnout was good. The city staff was represented by, in addition to Sethuraman, Economic and Developement Director Gary Anderson, Principal Planner Minoo Ashabi, Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz, Parks commissioners Bob Graham and Dean Abernathy and Anna Vrska, member of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee were all present.  I also saw large landowners and representatives from the Building Industry Association in the crowd.
 Former Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold participates with Beth Refakes and Jay Humphrey

Westside resident Jim Erickson studies a map

This was a good workshop, from which much excellent input was gleaned from the participants.  The final circulation element workshop will be held at the same place, also at 6:00 p.m. on October 16, 2013.

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An Unanticipated Result And More

At the Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, the agenda was long, the house was packed and an unanticipated hero was the star of the evening.  The meeting began thirty minutes late and stretched until nearly 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.  First the BIG story...

Following a long discussion of the extension of the expiring 25-year  agreement with the Orange County Model Engineers, during which eight members of the public pleaded with the council to extend the contract beyond the fourteen months proposed by the Parks and Recreation Commission, it was clear that Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Righeimer wanted the recommended short extension passed.  Mensinger moved to do so, with Righeimer seconded it.  Councilwoman Sandra Genis moved a substitute motion to extend the contract five years and Wendy Leece seconded it.  Following a VERY short discussion Righeimer smirked and called for the vote on the substitute motion... and it passed on a 3-2 vote!  Genis and Leece voted yes, as did former mayor Gary Monahan!   As the crowd erupted into cheers and clapping and Leece did her "V for Victory" pose from the dais, Righeimer and Mensinger looked dumbstruck and, after a long pause, looked over at Monahan as if to say, "What did you do?!"  He could be heard to say above the cheering, "Five years seemed like a good compromise."  And, indeed, it was!  Righeimer called for a fifteen minute break and the cheering crowd of model train supporters carried their celebration out onto the council chambers porch.  Shown here are a few of the happy train supporters, including spokesman Hank Castignetti in the foreground and model train buff Police Chief Tom Gazsi in the rear.


This is a terrific result for everyone in the community - except maybe those who covet the space the train tracks presently occupy on the eastside of Fairview Park.  In the recent past members of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee have been heard to say the location would be perfect for playing fields, bocce ball courts and baseball diamonds.  The OCME folks have provided tremendous public service and deserved a longer extension than the slap-in-the-face 14 months proposed.  Kudos to Gary Monahan on this one.  You can read Bradley Zint's account of this story in the Daily Pilot  HERE.


As I mentioned earlier, the meeting began late because the council stayed 30 minutes longer than anticipated in the Closed Session meeting.  The meeting included Richard Kreisler, the labor negotiator for the city, who - for the first time - reported the results of that meeting.  He told us that Steve Mensinger's COIN scheme required a report on negotiations, so he told us that the city spent $21.2 million in pay and benefits to the CMCEA employees in the last fiscal year.  He said that if nothing had been done it would have been $23.5 million this year.  He said the city's offer produced a cost of $21.5 million, but he didn't mention a word about the offer the employees made, so the COIN process has not demonstrated any value yet.

  Later, during his comments, Righeimer dismissed the fact that the employees had offered to "partner" with the city with a sneer.  Of course, at the time he was fuming because several speakers called for him, along with Mensinger, to cancel their lawsuit against the police.  He was so angry you could practically see smoke coming out of his ears as he angrily stated that he would do whatever it took to protect his family.  And, amusingly, he mentioned that it was campaign time - referring to those requests as campaign rhetoric when, in fact, this whole scheme is a campaign tool to distract from the abysmal decisions they've made and the multiple scandals brewing in our city.


It was an interesting evening from many standpoints.  For example, it's the first time since Benito Acosta was dragged, struggling, from council chambers several years ago, we saw a resident removed from the chambers for disrupting the meeting.  Soft-spoken Sandy Johnson was escorted from the auditorium by an officer after demanding from her seat near the rear of the chambers that Righeimer answer whether his scheme to squeeze the Costa Mesa Motor Inn and the Sandpiper for code enforcement violations negatively impacts our affordable housing numbers.  It was an excellent question, which Righeimer acknowledged as Johnson was removed.  This the effect he has on otherwise mild-mannered long-time residents.


Another part of his rant included a response to criticism of police staffing.  He went into another of his knee-jerk reactions and demanded from the dais that Chief Tom Gazsi, CEO Tom Hatch and senior staffers meet with him every Thursday at 3:00 p.m. from now until the police staffing levels are resolved.  This is just grandstanding on his part, since the process of hiring new police officers is necessarily a very deliberate process.  If you cut corners in the screening and testing process you end up with folks you don't really want as part of the CMPD.  This was just a guilty reaction on his part, since he is personally responsible for the current shortfall in staffing levels in the CMPD.  Shame on him!

We finally got to the Consent Calendar at 8:15!  We knew then it was going to be a long, long night.  Criticisms were offered for charges on the Warrants, including large legal charges again.  Nobody really satisfactorily answered those criticisms.  Most items passed on a mass vote with the exception of the following.

The discussed the proposed Housing Element Update to the 2000 General Plan at length and, even though there are some significant holes in it, passed it with the assumption that it can be revised later.  To not pass it would have created huge administrative problems and probable loss of funding.

The also passed Item 7, the signal improvements near the former Bethel Towers and moved on to the aforementioned Model Train agreement.  We'll pick it up after that decision.


At 10:00 they finally began the presentation of Public Hearing #1,  the new Public Nuisance Ordinance, with Assistant CEO Rick Francis taking the lead.  Eight members of the public spoke on this issue and most welcomed it as a way to solve significant problems, although a few expressed concern about possible abuses and the breadth of the ordinance.  There were still 65 people left in the auditorium as the council voted, 5-0, to approve the first reading.  It will be brought back for the second reading and some tidying-up of some of the language at a future council meeting.


Shortly after 11:00 p.m. the council began hearing Public Hearing #2, the appeal by councilwoman Sandra Genis of the proposed "improvements" in Fairview Park near the Pacific Avenue entrance to the park.  Two dozen members of the public spoke on this very contentious issue and not one of them spoke in favor of the proposed changes.  Many had previously spoken to Righeimer at his "meet the mayor" event last Thursday night.  Concerns were expressed for the stability of the nearby bluffs, the actual need for such a large turnaround area and the need for the tot lot when a similar facility is located at Vista Park, a few hundred yards up Pacific Avenue.  Residents were also concerned about safety, implying that a proper entrance to the park at the end of Pacific would result in more, faster-traveling cars in the neighborhood along a street with incomplete sidewalks on both sides.  Those comments stretched until around 12:20 a.m. and the subsequent discussion stretched until 12:50 a.m., when Righeimer called for the vote to only install a turnaround at the end of Pacific with NO parking spaces, a proper entrance marking for the park at that location AND the installation of the tot lot as presently prescribed.  He also instructed staff to include the necessary improvements to Pacific Avenue after Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz told him that improvements are already scheduled for that street early next year.  He also told them to investigate a different location for the tot lot.  It passed on a 3-2 vote, with Genis and Leece voting no.
It was clear as the crowd shouted out threats of political retribution and other expressions of displeasure, that not a single person who then left the chambers were happy with the vote.  As I've said many times in the past, decisions made past midnight are seldom good ones.  This was a perfect example.  Righeimer blew any goodwill that he might have gained last Thursday night.

At 12:55 we still had three items to go!  And there were still 20 people in the auditorium in addition to the staff!  The first two, screening requests, went OK.  The third, not so much.

New Business #3 was the request for authorization of an overage already paid to Cognify, a consulting firm that has been doing Information Technology stuff for the city for a year.  We watched CEO Hatch dance cautiously around this issue, of course, it could have been the early hour.  Regardless, one speaker listed more than $136,000 in payments to this outfit and also expressed concern that we somehow managed to pay them without following the proper approvals.  Wendy Leece speculated about the coincidence that the president of the company is a major contributor to Mayor Righeimer's campaign - which had Righeimer fuming.  Still, it's a good question.  This is either very sloppy staff work or something else.  Neither makes me particularly comfortable.  The council voted to pass this one, 4-1, with Leece voting NO.


That's it, folks.  Don't forget the General Plan Circulation Workshop at the Emergency Operations Center beginning at 6:00 tonight.  I'll try to drag my bleary-eyed old body to that one, too.  See you there.

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Residents Turn Out To Support Public Safety

Last night, before the Costa Mesa City Council open session began, several dozen residents turned out in front of City Hall for a rally launched by Costa Mesans For Responsible Government (CM4RG) to show support for Costa Mesa's public safety staff.
I counted seventy people at one time, while other reports of the numbers varied.  In the shadow of the flag at City Hall flying at half-staff, cars honked, drivers and passengers called out support and the demonstrators cheered.
Without further comment I'll let these photos I took tell you the story.

Kent Mora, one of the lock-step lemmings who support the current power elite, shooting blind...

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