Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Polarized Council Rejects Fairview Rehearing

***SPECIAL NOTE:  10:08 a.m. Wednesday - Due to technical issues the streaming video, and the clips I provided very early this morning, had to be adjusted by the city staff when they arrived today.  The whole video is back up and I've adjusted the two clips below.

Last night, as I sat in the Costa Mesa City Council chambers to observe my first council meeting since my much-needed vacation, I knew there would likely be some strained moments because of the subject of the only item on the agenda besides a couple presentations and the Consent Calendar.

When the meeting began following a two-hour Closed Session during which labor negotiations and a law suit were discussed it seemed to me that the council was particularly somber.  That feeling was borne-out by Mayor Jim Righeimer's adversarial, confrontational attitude that permeated the entire meeting.

I hoped, as Reverend Tim McCalmont of the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant gave the very inspirational invocation, that the folks on the dais would hear it, listen to it and heed the message delivered.  Take two and a half minutes to watch that brief presentation:

Sadly, it appeared that the only people in the room who heard and heeded that message were members of the public who rose to speak to the council.  Righeimer certainly did not.  Throughout the evening he treated speaker after speaker.  Resident Cindy Brenneman, a long time community activist, actually called him out on it from the speaker's podium.

Although Righeimer played games with the schedule, splitting the Consent Calendar into two segments, all items on it were passed with virtually no discussion.  Only resident Beth Refakes addressed an item separately - #12, the purchase of 435 new computers.  It passed on a 5-0 vote after having been the subject of rancorous discussion the last time it appeared before the council.

The major issue of the evening, of course, was councilwoman Sandra Genis' request for a re-hearing of the much-discussed Fairview Park Enhancement Project.  You can read Bradley Zint's excellent coverage of this issue in the Daily Pilot HERE and Antonie Boessenkool's coverage in the Orange County Register, HERE, if you can get behind the paywall.  You can also watch the streaming video of the meeting HERE.  After Righeimer reminded everyone, several times, that the issue at hand was NEW, RELEVANT information that would affect a decision on a possible re-hearing at a future date, NOT a discussion of the value of Fairview Park, the sanctity of the Native American artifacts that might be there or whether their should be playing fields in the park.

Despite that admonition, a few of the two dozen folks who rose to speak strayed from the assigned path and were either cut off by Righeimer or required to get back on the proper subject.

For ninety minutes speaker after speaker stepped up, including many members of American Indian tribes, to urge a re-hearing.  Genis pointed out several areas that included new information and several speakers reinforced her views with their own list of new issues.  However, when Righeimer used the word "relevant" I knew the request was doomed.  Relevance is in the eye of the beholder and, in this case, Righeimer was the only "beholder" that counted.  He had Steve Mensinger and Gary Monahan's votes from the outset.

At the end Righeimer made a motion to deny the request for a re-hearing which was seconded by Gary Monahan.  Take a couple moments to watch what happened at that point in the meeting.
I have watched council proceedings for a long time and I've NEVER seen Sandra Genis so angry.  The vote was taken on Genis' substitute motion and it, predictably, failed, 3-2 - the men voting against it.  Righeimer then called for the original motion - to reject the request - and it passed on a similar vote.

The crowd was very angry and raucous as it immediately left the auditorium, shouting out things like "See you in court".

Clearly, last night demonstrated the continuing divide between the men and women on the dais.  Genis, an experienced council member and former mayor with professional expertise in the governmental nuance of issues exactly like the Fairview Park issue, presented point after point that met the "newness" test and, in the view of many in the auditorium, also met the "relevance" test.  Righeimer wasn't buying it because he didn't have to - he had the votes and knew it.

The only good thing that may have come out of this debacle was that the public, once again, had a chance to see the real Jim Righeimer in action - the man who would be king, and acts like it.  '

In my opinion, the only way to bring harmony and stability back to our city is to defeat him at the polls next November.  His performance last night may have been a good first step toward that goal.  Every time he arrogantly disrespects another new segment of the community he loses votes.  It's certainly well past time to send him packing.

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

I think JR has dug his own grave. I really don't see anyone voting him in again. Having said that, we will work as hard as humanly possible to defeat him and his ilk and silence the rest of them.

They have destroyed this town. They have destroyed the peace. They have killed the goose that laid the golden egg.

If anyone says these guys are any different than the City of Bell needs their heads examined, and I don't care who that offends.

10/16/2013 06:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Friends or contributors getting food and computer contracts; lunkheads getting others to pave, then letting them take the rap. This is what happens when the city body is diseased.

Righeimer wants everyone to think he's a victim when he's actually the ring leader.

Stevie will let volunteers be fined or worse before he mans up.

Monahan will go down in CM history as the biggest little sell-out ever.

All the coffee meetings in the world won't change anything. These parasites need to resign or be replaced.

We will always remember Huy Pham.

10/16/2013 06:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

What's with the "Permission Denied. Please contact your system administrator" whenever there's a link to the video of the meeting?

10/16/2013 07:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

I'm betting JR had it taken down intentionally. I'd be embarrased also.

10/16/2013 08:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Geoff, Don't you feel honored that they put on a show to celebrate your return?

It was awful to watch, but the women ruled the day (if not the vote). Sandy lead the charge and her final speech brought a lump to my throat; Wendy named the elephant in the room and Cindy Brenneman - what a warrior!

But I have to disagree with your description of Bradley Zint's article as "excellent." It was incomplete at best and I will leave it at that. No, I can applaud him for being fast, but that's about it.

We need someone to do some investigative journalism or can the FBI come over here when they are done investigating the county?

10/16/2013 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

After yelling and moaning at my tv screen last night (I've been side-lined from going places thanks to a bum knee.), I headed for the shower. With the water streaming down my face, I hit on an idea: time for Costa Mesans to engage in some civil disobedience: "Occupy Fairview Park." I'm ready to pitch a tent at the proposed turnaround site and stop the tractors. How about dozens and dozens of tents???? Picket signs??? A band and dancing in the streets??? Costa Mesans need to stop whining and act!

10/16/2013 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

The videos are up now, for what it's worth.

Incompetent or Drama Queen. Looks like we got more of the latter than the former last night. But there was definitely an equal mix of both on display.

10/16/2013 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

James II was King of England from 6 February 1685 until he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. James fled England (and thus was held to have abdicated) in the Glorious Revolution of 1688…. He lived out the rest of his life as a pretender at a court sponsored by his cousin and ally, King Louis XIV.

Parliament, opposed to the growth of absolutism that was occurring in other European countries saw their opposition as a way to preserve what they regarded as traditional English liberties. This tension made James's four-year reign a struggle for supremacy between the English Parliament and the Crown, resulting in his deposition, the passage of the English Bill of Rights, and the Hanoverian succession. (Wikipedia)

James I reigned as King of Costa Mesa from December 7, 2010 until December 9, 2014, when he was deposed by the voters of Costa Mesa. He fled to Fountain Valley, whence he had come, and lived out the rest of his life as a sycophant to his sponsor, Scott Baugh, chairman of the Orange County Republican Central Committee.

The people of Costa Mesa, opposed to the growth of absolutism that was occurring before their eyes saw their opposition as a way to preserve what they regarded as traditional American liberties. This tension made James’s four-year reign a struggle for supremacy between the people and the three-man City Council majority, resulting in James’s ouster, the restoration of liberty and the return of democracy to Costa Mesa.

10/16/2013 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous seedling said...

I am dumbfounded how MM&R all seemed to forget that when the archaelogist tried to present his information on 9/17 he was told no as per the brown act. Sandy gestured to him as though its fine to wait for another day (probably with a day like yesterday in mind) If it couldnt be distributed to all council members/public they couldnt hear it at the time. So yes, it meets the criteria of could not have been presented. Riggy himself made the case for a re-hearing that he conveniently forgot about! They then deferred to Ernesto who said there was NOTHING of archaelogical significance there.

Bradley Zint is a shoddy reporter. Surely he should have remembered, isnt that the job of a journalist?

10/16/2013 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

I too was appalled at the extreme incivility, childish, boorish behavior that was displayed by Righeimer last night. He cut off any and everyone with few exceptions.The other two councilmen did not object to his unprofessional behavior.

The First Nations are not done with him. As one of the speakers made clear last night " If you don't (rehear and reject the plan to build the unneeded turn around) I will be back".

First Gary laments the cost of " the employee "union" suing us"- leaves out the important WHY they are being sued( councildudes' actions), THEN they reject logic, history and reason to approve this insane project and set themselves up for yet another lawsuit that will be paid for by the taxpayers of Costa Mesa.
You can't make this stuff up.

Sandy, Wendy, Cindy and several others shined last night and tried to reason with the had-their-minds- made-up-when-they-walked-in councilmen to no avail.

Welcome back, Geoff- it is getting worse here and we need you more than ever.

10/16/2013 05:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Atlas Shrunk said...

We took a drive over to the model air strip after going to the scarecrow event this weekend.
The dg pathway was obvious as were the extent of the vernal pools. The outline of the pools can be discerned, easily by the density and color of the plant growth, if nothing else.
The folks at the city should hang their heads in shame at having allowed this desecration and theft of public property for private use.

10/16/2013 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

So far, I've protested their lawsuit on grounds that it is (1) inappropriate action, (2) flying off the handle when they're full of horse manure, and (3) rectality. I intend to protest on as many more as I can think of. One might be the ground that vandalism of archaeological sites disqualifies one from holding public office and thus vitiates any ground they might have for suing.

What Righeimer has been saying, both in this meeting and the last one, is "Ignore that little man behind the curtain!" He clotured enough people at Tuesday's meeting that there is bound to be a backlash when election time comes. I used to think he was the best politician money could buy, but no longer. A politician is supposed to have some savvy about the effects of his actions on his constituents, some empathy, and a little bit of finesse; Righeimer has none of these. He blindly charges ahead, entirely oblivious to any consequences of his actions, and gets results far worse than Allan Mansoor's in the Coyotl Tezcatlipoca case.

May women of the street ply their trade on his final resting place. I'll say nothing about his "political" demise, as that's a foregone conclusion.

Other than that (always end on a positive note, Steve Mensinger has adjured me), he is probably fit to live among certain segments of the human race.

10/17/2013 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Marquis said...

Further to Terry Koken’s point, what I find interesting is Righeimer’s apparent inability to make any sort of political calculation on issues like the Fairview Park parking lot, errr, turnaround. He had multiple opportunities to capture a bunch of votes over what seems like the most trivial issue. How does he lose if a tiny parking lot is not built? What’s his upside if it is built? (None that I can discern) Why not throw the crowd a bone once in a while? Mensinger clearly wants to build his sports fields on the bones of Native Americans, but that’s not Righeimer’s issue.

If he had said he’d drop the parking lot/turnaround at his Meet the Mayor, or at the first vote, or at the request to rehear, all those angry people would have at least hated him a little less. Some would have completely softened up by Nov. 2014 and voted for him. Now, none will vote for him and he’s hardened their resolve to dump him.

If he had an ounce of sense, he would have at least postponed it until after the next election. It’s not going to get built for many months anyway (if ever, after the lawsuits are filed), so why not avoid the heat until he’s not at political risk? Steve could have waited a few more months to continue his attempted encroachment on sensitive habitat. What else could he do? Not vote with Riggy? We know that’ll never happen.

I used to worry more that Righeimer was devious but smart enough to understand political calculus. Now I know for sure that he’s not smart at all and that’s a good thing. He’s so overwhelmed with his own ego and self-importance that he can’t even discern an easy political opportunity when it’s laid out before him.

While it’s unfortunate that we have to live with another year of Righeimer’s reckless and foolhardy bluster, it’s good to know that every time he does something he turns more people against him. I was previously worried that not enough people would be mad enough to do something, but I think we are at or near a critical mass of pissed off people.

All we need now are a few quality candidates and we can end our nightmare. Cindy Brenneman for city council!

10/17/2013 03:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Marquis, absolutely. This guy is making our job so much easier for 2014. I doubt there is anything he could do now that would help himself.

10/18/2013 07:25:00 AM  

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