Wednesday, November 06, 2013

COIN, CalPERS And Then Good News - Kinda

Where to begin?  I guess we'll start with the bad news first and, unfortunately, there was plenty of that at the Costa Mesa City Council meeting last night.

Right off the bat, in a meeting that began fifteen minutes late, contract negotiator Richard Kreisler gave us a little "COIN" report, as required by Steve Mensinger's COIN ordinance.  Speaking of the negotiations with the "general employees", the members of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA), he briefly - and kind of condescendingly - gave us the "facts" about the negotiations.  He told us that if no negotiations were underway the employee costs would go from $20.1 million to $23.5 million.  He said the CMCEA opened with an offer that would have cost $26.3 million and the city countered with $21.5 million.  He said the CMCEA came back on October 28th with $22.9 million, which he described as technically, not in reality, would have reduced the costs.  He said their number, while portrayed as a full fiscal year savings, would be smaller because they represent only 6 months. 

He also announced that CalPERS has announced what the city will have to pay for retirement for this group.  He told us that presently, for the 2013/2014 fiscal year the employer rate is 24.9%, but that it will go up to 29.7% for FY 2014/2015 and to 31.5 for FY 2015/2016.  How's that for starting a meeting?

Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Byron de Arakal gave a presentation on the status of its progress on the goals established last May.  In a curious bit of administrative scheduling, his exact same report also appeared as Consent Calendar Item #10, which you can read HERE.  The only thing not on the written report that he discussed was his observation that the commission and the CMPD are continuing to look for solutions for the complications at the Volcom Skate Park.  Instead of permitting questions dealing with the report at that time they held them until it was time to discuss the Consent Calendar.  However, Mayor Jim Righeimer decided to "trail" to the end of the meeting any item pulled from the Consent Calendar, which meant that it was well after 11:00 p.m. and de Arakal and most of the audience was long gone.

While we're talking about it, Righeimer played fast and loose with the schedule again.  First the bizarre decision with the Consent Calendar items - many folks attended to speak on specific items but just couldn't stay another four hours until Righeimer finally got around to it.  In addition, he once again decided to split the speakers during Public Comments.  He accepted cards, then had Sandra Genis shuffle them and picked the first ten who got to speak immediately.  The remainder were also trailed to the end of the meeting.  That tactic, obviously a ploy to stifle discussion by opposing viewpoints, worked like a charm.  None of the half-dozen speakers who had submitted cards remained at 11:45 and Righeimer refused to let Anna Vrska, who arrived at the meeting late and hadn't completed a speaker card, to speak.  It's very clear that these tactics are targeting folks who would speak against positions the council takes.  By splitting the comments time by four or five hours he out waits dissenters - and steals the opportunity for constituents to be heard.

When you combine this behavior, plus the decision generated by Righeimer later in the meeting to remove the opportunity for re-hearing an issue from the municipal code and you get a very clear idea of where this Righeimer-led council is going.  They don't like to hear opposing views, so they're creating an environment making those opportunities more difficult for speakers.  It's now only a year until the next election and we'll do our part to remind the voters of this behavior during that time.

The Public Comments segment was interesting.  Among the speakers Sue Lester wondered why the recently-announced raise for the CMPD had not been approved by the council yet.  It is retroactive, so represents a significant amount of money NOT being paid to the officers that is due them.  CEO Tom Hatch later advised that it would come before the council at the next meeting and the checks should be cut early in December.  Righeimer smiled and said something like, "Just in time for Christmas!"

Robin Leffler took her opportunity to speak to remind the council majority that, based on the results of the last election, the majority DOES NOT have a clear mandate, particularly when combined with the thrashing Jim Righeimer's Charter got at the ballot box, so they should not forget they represent ALL the residents of the city. 

During Councilmember Comments Righeimer affirmed the timing of the CMPD pay raises, then said, "The bottom line is that Costa Mesa is doing well."  He then rattled off information about streets being fixed and drainage problems being fixed, but neglected to mention the millions his decisions have caused the city to spend on legal fees.  Nor did he mention the dark cloud of possible corruption hanging over the 60th Anniversary Celebration.  He did mention the I405 Toll scheme, and said the OCTA Board may vote Friday to slow things down a little.

Genis reminded us of the many Veterans Day celebrations coming up and that the California Coastal Commission is meeting on November 13th at Newport Beach City Hall and on the agenda is the controversial Poseidon desal plan for Huntington Beach.  She encouraged interested parties to attend and speak against the plan.  She also told Righeimer that she didn't think it was a good idea to split the public comments, stating that it was disrespectful to those folks who cared enough to come and speak, and quoted Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Wendy Leece, easing back into her council saddle for about half the meeting as she recuperates from hip replacement surgery, encouraged Righeimer to reconsider his decision on the public comments, then asked why public records requests dealing with the 60th Anniversary issue were still not being fulfilled.  Contract City Attorney Tom Duarte told her that it was because they were part of an ongoing investigation, which is strange because bills that are part of those requested items are being paid

CEO Hatch confirmed what had been reported earlier that the Newport-Mesa Unified School District had decided to go it alone on a plan for sports fields at Costa Mesa High School, and had returned the $15,000 the city provided for a study of the issue. He also told us that, in response to inquiries, city staff will be monitoring the Target Store during the holiday shopping season to be sure they complied with hour restrictions.  He also said the council will have a study session next Tuesday.  From 3:30-4:30 they will have ethics and leadership training and from 4:30 - 6:30 will discuss the Capital Improvement Budget.

After a very brief discussion of Public Hearing #1, the new Model California Construction Codes, it was 7:45 when we finally got around to the second Public Hearing, the annexation of what is referred to as the Santa Ana/Colleen Island, HERE.  After much discussion and hearing from a handful of concerned residents of the affected area, the council agreed to proceed with the process but delay the Planning Commission considerations of it for a month, providing time for more public outreach.

Public Hearing #3, the change in the definition of Single Houskeeping Units in the Municipal Code took a half hour, HERE, during which three residents spoke about the growing problem of group homes on the Eastside.  This definition change is, in theory, going to be another tool with which unlicensed group homes can be addressed.  I had the feeling that nobody was really satisfied with this new language, but it passed on a 4-0 vote - Leece had departed for the evening by this time.

After a short break Public Hearing #4, the Hookah Parlor issue was discussed for about twenty minutes.  It was decided to follow the Planning Commission recommendation and impose a moritorium 45 days on such businesses until the commission has time to come up with a workable solution.  That passed 4-0, with Genis voting with the majority.

New Business #1, the 14 unit Live/Work units on Placentia, received a 20 minute discussion and was moved on its way.

New Business #2 was the re-hearing issue, which was discussed briefly above.  A half-dozen speaker told the council it was a bad idea, but they went ahead with it anyhow.  During the discussion Righeimer went off the deep end with comments about this issue being "political jujitsu", whatever the heck that is, then prattled on about how we need to make more jobs - totally irrelevant stuff.  Sometimes it appears that somebody gave him the wrong songbook up there.

New Business #3 was the proposed ordinance for the reimbursement for "excessive use of services" for motels throughout the city.  You can read that staff report HERE.  It was decided to focus on Police calls only, not calls for fire or Code Enforcement, and, after extensive discussion, they decided to include ALL hotels and motels even though the hotels in our city seem NOT to be a problem.  The staff will return with a more fully fleshed out ordinance at the next meeting.

After that discussion the council went through the "pulled" items from the Consent Calendar and called for the folks who want to speak at Public Comments - none stepped up, having been worn out by Righeimer's tactics.

Wednesday evening is the next Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee meeting at the Neighborhood Community Center beginning at 6:00 p.m.

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Blogger Joe said...

Any truth to the rumor that Das Rigmarshal will use that Old South tactic of literacy tests next?

11/06/2013 06:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

S Riggy doesn't like descent, huh? Yet continues to give residents plenty of reason to dislike him and his policies. He continues to nibble away are the rights of our citizens. He acts rudely and cuts off the councilwomen and speakers yet demands civility. Apparently only towards him. He treats people just as poorly as he always has. But in the end , it's okay because it makes our job of getting his miserable ass out of office so much easier.

11/06/2013 07:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Only people who fear the truth and its implications have cause to stifle its expression. What is out council majority so afraid of?

This attempt to stifle free speech seems to be an obscene campaign manipulation, too. Those who watch the meetings at home will no longer here what is really happening in this city.

Beware Costa Mesa, there is a Bell ringing.

11/06/2013 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Speaking of corruption, anyone see the story about the local pol in Moreno Valley accused of taking bribes to change zoning/building codes to favor developers?

Thank God we don't have that here! With Riggy and Mensy protecting our interests against developers, plus the group of stalwarts they put on the Planning Commission, Costa Mesa will never become another Bell or Moreno Valley.

11/06/2013 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

*LOL* Arthur. I suspect that if we could, we'd find that there is way more than what went on in Moreno Valley. Those 60th receipts and contracts are being kept secret for a reason...

11/06/2013 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...


We have our very own Costa Mesa Club 3-0, don't we?

'Earlier, Co had accepted $5,000 and $10,000 from the FBI operative to help finance the 2012 council campaigns of two people he said would vote with him in a majority he called “Club 3-0,” according to investigators and Co’s plea agreement with prosecutors.'

11/06/2013 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Righeimer's performance last night was outrageous.
Not only did he limit/stifle Public Comments, as 'Where's My Coffee?' pointed out, he interrupted Sandy Genis and scolded her while she had the floor!
He wouldn't let her finish her sentence, it was disgusting.
If he disagrees with her, he has a chance to express that when he has the floor.

The councildudes have exhibited rude, boorish and childish behavior from the dais since they came into office yet their supporters publish screeds lamenting the loss of civility in public discourse.
The hypocrisy is overwhelming.
Next year's election can't get here fast enough.

11/06/2013 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin Leffler said...

I was one of the 10 out of 15 would-be public commenters that luck and Righeimer allowed to have a voice at the City Council meeting last night. I said what I came to say, mindful of several others who also gave up their dinner hour to address the council but who wouldn't get a chance due to the mayor's heavy-handed new rule (Which almost no one who came to speak was aware of, even the City Clerk said she didn’t know what he was going to do tonight.) Then I stayed until the very end to hear what the good citizens who were forbidden to speak earlier would say. At about a quarter to midnight, he called off the names; no one responded. None of them could stay that late. He couldn’t quite suppress a grin.

3 were names I had not heard at the council before, 3 people who had never spoken to the City Council and were essentially denied a right to speak and who may never try again. One name I did recognize has a demanding job and is the mother of a young son. She had to leave to take care of her son and get to sleep so she could get up at the crack of dawn for her job.

Between this and deleting the right to re-hearing, it’s so obvious that the Public part of Public Service is just too annoying to be tolerated by Righeimer, Mensinger and Monahan.

11/06/2013 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Muffin Top Bob said...

Last night, yet another example of how Riggy doesn't care about the residents of this City. He will continue to do his own thing. What a complete joke and disgrace to the caring people of Costa Mesa.

11/06/2013 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Skeptical in Costa Mesa said...

I think we all know what rude and self-serving men the king and 2 stooges are. But let's thank God for how Wendy and Sandy respectfully stand thier ground, make positive and constructive comments and represent us with inteligence. Thank you Sandy and Wendy! ! !

11/06/2013 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger valan2 said...

It's all a matter of promoting efficiency in government. Why take up the Council's time listening to what other people think, when it doesn't make any difference anyway? They've already made up their minds; don't try to confuse them with facts and other points of view.m

11/06/2013 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

I couldn't agree more.
Thank God Wendy and Sandy are on our city council!
They truly care about their constituents.
Thank you, Wendy and Sandy. You are our voices on the dais.

11/07/2013 12:32:00 AM  

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