Thursday, November 14, 2013

Charter Committee Slogs On...

The Costa Mesa Charter Committee, in their quest to create a document that will not only pass City Council muster but also can be "marketed" to the voters, continued that journey last night in a meeting that, once again, found them without a full team in attendance.  Members Bill Fancher and Mary Ann O'Connell were unavailable and Brett Eckles sprinted into the room an hour late.
As is usually the case, this was very much like watching folks try to swim the backstroke through a tub of molasses.  The conversations were lively, yet courteous - they've figured out how to deal with each other in a civil manner - and some progress was made.  Facilitators Kirk Bauermeister and Mike Decker guided their conversations and attorney Yolanda Summerhill provided technical expertise.
For example, during the discussion of whether city council members should be eligible for a pension the conversation ranged wide and far and here's the language they finally tentatively decided upon:
 Those that have them, keep them.  Newbies don't get any pension.

And, when they discussed City Council compensation again they were all over the place.  Some  committee members opined that the council should happily serve for no compensation at all.  Others said it should just be left alone as is.  As part of that discussion member Kerry McCarthy opined that four of the current council members were employed - she ticked off each one by name and their perceived jobs - indicating that only Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger needed this job right now.  I smiled.

Here's the final work product on that issue:
Yep, they just want to give them a flat stipend and not include them in the employee medical plans.  The feeling was that they could just take the cash and do what they want with it.

They thrashed the issue of employee union participation for quite awhile.  Some members wanted to simply lift the language from the soundly-defeated Measure V from a year ago, so the language they ended up with was this:
 An attempt to fold-in Jim Righeimer's Paycheck Protection scheme didn't gain any traction... yet.

Unfortunately, member Hank Panian was unable to present his views on Property Tax Inequity, even though he was on the agenda.  He was not a happy camper, since he spent a lot of time researching and preparing for this evening.  His presentation was pushed out until the next meeting on December 11th.  His controversial idea, in a nutshell, is to provide greater Property Tax equity among all property owners by having the City phase out over 20 years the cessation of collection of Property Taxes!  Since this represents slightly more than 20% of the revenue received by the city, I'm going to be VERY interested to see how Hank sells this idea to the committee.

The committee received a new work schedule through April of next year, shown below.  Some feel this is optimistic, but we'll see. (click image to enlarge)

Additionally, Summerhill provided a tentative timeline to be met if there is a Charter to submit to the City Council that they would then wish to place on the November 4, 2014 ballot.  That is shown below. (click image to enlarge)
With one more meeting to go this year, on December 11th, then only a few more early next year before the committee hopes to meet their schedule, it seems likely that the pace will have to pick up.  We'll see how that goes.  Again last night a sparse crowd attended the meeting.  Among those in the peanut gallery were a journalist, two old bloggers (looking very much like two pudgy Q-Tips), an occasional guest columnist for the Register, a labor observer and a couple real, honest-to-goodness residents.  The public is missing its only opportunity to provide real time input to the committee by not attending and speaking to them in the time provided.

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Anonymous Eileen Truxton said...

I'm so glad you're our "old guy!"

11/14/2013 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin Leffler said...

I keep searching for a good reason to have a charter. the idea of local control sounds seductive, but so far I have not seen anything that would make a difference.

The proposed language about employees joining or not joining an association is exactly what the city allows now. Another thing we don't need a charter for.

So far, the only thing they've come up with that is any different than general law is the exemption of prevailing wage. However the legislature has ruled that a City will lose all grant money if that language is in its charter. So goodbye infrastructure improvements! We have grant, Measure M and gas tax money to thank for all but the tiniest fraction of the infrastructure improvement the councilmen try to take credit for.

The first meeting where the Charter Committee discussed prevailing wage, the Attorney erroneously advised them that Measure M and Gas Tax money was exempt from prevailing wage, so savings were grossly inflated. Next meeting the attorney admitted her mistake. Since the City could only exempt municipal projects paid solely with municipal funds the savings shrunk dramatically. All grant money of any sort requires the City to pay prevailing wage. However that’s about to become moot because if the charter contains a prevailing wage exemption, we won’t be getting any grant money. Better learn to love those pot-holes!

11/15/2013 10:44:00 PM  

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