Monday, December 23, 2013

The 60th - Big Numbers and Big Questions

Yesterday, Sunday, the Daily Pilot ran a HUGE story on the Costa Mesa 60th Anniversary Celebration costs.  The headline - which ran at the top of the print page, immediately below the banner, read: "Documents: 60th party cost nearly $400k".  Unfortunately, the story didn't appear online until this morning, hence my delay in writing about it.  You can read the story written by Jeremiah Dobruck, with big assists by Bradley Zint and Jill Cowan, HERE.

This information has been long-awaited.  Activists and elected leaders have been stone-walled in their requests for information about costs and procedures almost since the end of the 3-day street fair  six months ago.  The excuse that was frequently given was that "There's a personnel investigation underway, so we can't comment."  Well, I understand about that, but they just kept on paying SOME invoices, but wouldn't provide information on those.

Take some time to read the entire article - I'm not going to attempt a verbatim re-hash here.  I will, however, transcribe the first comment to appear online because it captures the frustration of many people throughout the community.  Mary Ann O'Connell, a member of the Charter Committee, published this comment:

"Finally - some information has been brought to light and I, for one, appreciate the effort. The citizens who have made repeated requests for information were stonewalled. As I read this there are three nagging questions: 

1) Why a 60th in the first place? I never understood the push for this particular anniversary celebration - 50 made more sense. Whose idea was this in the first place?

2) Where was the CEO's oversight? How could all these commitments have been made with no executive oversight? Was Mr Hatch asleep at the wheel?

3) Why has the council been rubber stamping these payments? I understand paying the uncontested bills (despite the budget concerns) but if there questions about others, why have they been paid?

Thanks to the Daily Pilot's staff for staying on this story and helping us get a glimmer of what the mess really is.

I suspect we will see a growing comment thread on this article that will amplify the frustration and concern members of the community have on this issue.

Based on the analysis performed by the Daily Pilot staffers, it appears that the 60th Anniversary Celebration exceeded the original estimates by nearly $80,000 - a total of over $400,000 - so far!

Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce and his assistant, Christine Cordon, were placed on administrative leave with pay in August for, as stated in the article, unspecified reasons.

There were, and are, questions about the deal for the food presentation at the street fair, which was apparently presented to the hand-picked 60th Anniversary Celebration Committee by Joyce as a done deal.  That arrangement involves a company linked to OC GOP Chairman Scott Baugh - a good buddy of Mayor Jim Righeimer.

One of the consultants tasked with providing entertainment for the event was Roland Barrera, who has subsequently been accused of participating in a Ponzi scheme unrelated to the 60th Celebration.  According to the Daily Pilot article, more than $127,000 was paid to Barrerra - more than the entire amount the City Council authorized for the entire event!

According to the article, 60th Anniversary Celebration Committee Chairman Mike Scheafer was shut out of the approval process.  Why?  Who made that decision?

Again, read the article.  In 1760 words the authors provide the framework for wide community debate.      We hope the publication of this information will jog the City to finally provide answers to so many questions that continue to swirl around this issue.

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Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Why does the the OCGOP hate Costa Mesa so much?

12/23/2013 01:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

Was wondering if there was some grand conspiracy that I didn't see the article online after it led above the fold yesterday. Either way, interesting stuff.

12/23/2013 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Nope... just a mistake by the folks at the DP working the weekend shift. They got it up as early as possible this morning. I wondered the same thing... ;-)

12/23/2013 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Hold em Accountable said...

Dan Joyce was Bill Lobdell's boy. Lobdell was Riggys mouthpiece.

Costa Mesa City Hall is full of self serving crooks.

Hey Jim Fisler! Still feel that Costa Mesa's "brand" is good?
Ha! Ha!
The OCGOP is really destroying the "Costa Mesa" name.

Where is the uproar from Steve? Riggy? Gary? Their silence is deafening.

12/24/2013 08:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Skeptical in Costa Mesa said...

I'm thinking, if only we were a CHARTER city this kind of thing never would have happened? (togune firmly implanted in cheeck)

12/24/2013 09:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

As someone else mentioned, Fisler has the letters "OCGOP" BRANDED on his butt!

It's a real toss-up between him and Popp for Propagandist of the Year.

12/24/2013 10:04:00 AM  

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