Friday, February 08, 2013


What a day!  The region-wide manhunt for Christopher Dorner continued as sun set and the deranged ex-LAPD cop is still on the loose.  At last report more than 125 law enforcement officers were in the mountains around Big Bear last night, searching for him after his truck was discovered burned up near that mountain town Thursday morning.

Personally, as thoroughly as he apparently planned his revenge campaign - which began with the murders of Monica Quan and her fiance', Keith Lawrence last Sunday in an Irvine parking structure - I cannot imagine that he would be foolish enough to get himself stuck on that mountain with only very limited ways to escape.  I suspect he's back on the flat land, intent of continuing his campaign of terror on members of the LAPD and any other cop he runs into.

I've read the unedited version of his manifesto - all 11,500 words of it - and it really rocked me back.  Clearly, something snapped within this man - perhaps after he was released from the Navy - and he's out for retribution.

I've watched the news reports off and on all day yesterday and was amazed at how he seemed to be six hours ahead of "the posse" most of the time.  From trying to hijack a boat in San Diego, to the shoot-out with LAPD cops in Corona and the attack on two unsuspecting Riverside cops a few minutes later that resulted in the death of one of them and the hospitalization of the other, then the burning truck up in Big Bear - it was unbelievable.

I watched the multiple news conferences with multiple chiefs of police from multiple jursidictions as they tried to explain the inexplicable.  I watched LAPD Chief Charlie Beck - a friend - near tears as he described the incident.  I shuddered when, in response to a question about Dorner's skill, he said, "Of course he's good - we trained him!" I watched former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton - a friend - attempt to remember Dorner and the circumstances of the photo (above) showing them shaking hands.  I saw Anderson Cooper display the contents of a package Dorner sent him last week, including a commemorative medallion that Bratton had given Dorner - shot full of bullet holes.  It was surreal!

He apparently was enamored with some local radio personalities - he mentions John and Ken and Bill Handel specifically - but the folks on those shows played that very close to the vest.  Now some folks on Twitter are reporting that Facebook has some support groups, cheering Dorner on!  That is truly sick!  The guy has apparently killed at least 3 people and is gunning for more.

In the meantime, every law enforcement agency in southern California is on edge - as witnessed by the accidental shooting by LAPD officers guarding a potential victim of innocent civilians in Torrance Thursday morning, including a woman and her 71-year-old mother delivering the Los Angeles Times.

The question in my mind tonight is, "Just who is hunting whom?" Dorner makes it clear that HE is the predator and every member of law enforcement he comes across is his prey.  Let's hope the massed presence of the law can find this guy fast and solve the problem.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those folks in law enforcement and especially those targeted by this lunatic.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2013


As I mentioned in my earlier post, last night several very concerned residents stepped up and addressed the growing coyote threat in Costa Mesa.  This is no insignificant issue, but the solution so far has not materialized.

I thought I'd provide you with a link to the CMPD site that includes do's and don't's about coyotes plus a 3:43 minute video clip that instructs us on this problem.  You can view it HERE.

We've been told in recent months that coyotes have developed a "sweet tooth".  It seems that their normal fare tastes kind of bland when compared to our domestic pets, which are usually fed commercial food with significant amounts of sweeteners in it.  As a result, our pets taste sweeter, too.  So, the coyotes have learned where the sweets are kept - in our neighborhoods and yards.  Do your part - keep your pets and small children safe.
I'm following up with the CMPD to see if there is anything new on the "coyote control" horizon.  Until we know more, please do your part by removing enticements - food and water, for example - and keep your small pets inside at night.

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A Strange Evening At City Hall

Well, I thought we might end up with a short meeting, and predicted to an inquirer earlier in the day that it might end at 9:00 p.m.  Close, but no cigar!  The Costa Mesa City Council wrapped it up at 9:15!  And that's not the most interesting part of the council meeting, either.

For the first time in years a Costa Mesa City Council considered and voted on the Consent Calendar as a whole without a single item being pulled for separate consideration!  Quick!  Somebody check the weather report in Hades for signs of freezing!  Of course, it helped that one of the more potentially confrontational items - the distribution of freebie tickets - was removed before the meeting.  However, we'll be thankful for small blessings and rejoice for the brevity.  It was nice to get home by 9:30 for a change.

The meeting began with two high notes.  First was the recognition of the bright young people from our sister city, Wyndham, Victoria, Australia.  As Mayor Jim Righeimer said last night, perpetuating this sister city relationship is good for our community.

Second was the bestowing the Mayor's Award on Shaheen Sadeghi, the visionary developer behind The Lab and The Camp shopping and dining venues along the Bristol Street corridor.  There may be no more perfect representation of the diverse, eclectic nature of our city than those two venues.

During Public Comments many residents stepped up to address the "urban coyote" problem.  All pleaded with the council to find some way to address what is apparently becoming a major problem throughout the city.  Fears for the safety of young children seemed to be the driving force behind their concerns.

Others addressed the ongoing problem of homeless folks in and around Lions Park.  One young mother who lives across the street expressed fear for the safety of herself and children.  Despite all the good efforts of the Homeless Task Force, Lions Park - and to a lesser extent - many other areas throughout the city continue to be enclaves of homeless, many of whom have mental health issues and some of whom are aggressive and potentially violent.  The young mother spoke of the recent knifing on the Westside of one homeless person by another as an example.  This is not an easy problem, but - just as is the case with the coyotes - it is one that simply MUST be handled.

Residents of the soon-to-be defunct Anchor Trailer Port stepped up to complain about the ongoing problems they're having with the developers of the property.  According to those who spoke, the developer is not meeting the terms they agreed to several weeks ago.  CEO Tom Hatch, during his presentation, indicated he will have the staff follow-up on those issues.

When the council members took their turns to comment Steve Mensinger, addressing the coyote issue, spoke of "harvesting" them, then went on to say he is a hunter and environmentalist.  The CMPD has already rejected that "harvesting" approach, citing studies that indicate when coyote populations are reduced by such methods they only return in greater numbers.  I'm thinking Mensinger isn't an advocate of that philosophy.

Hatch, during his time, informed us that the Fairview Park Wetlands will be officially opened with a public ceremony and walk-through on February 20th.  He also told us the mid-year budget review and an analysis of the Consolidated Annual Financial Report (CAFR) will take place at a study session on February 12th.  And, on February 26th there will be a special study session on Pensions, which will include participation by outside experts.  He also showed us a five minute video featuring Rosemary Nielson, an outreach worker dealing with the Homeless folks in the city.

Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce and 60th Anniversary Committee Chairman Mike Scheafer presented the work product of the committee to the council and requested $125,000 of the total budget anticipated to be $315,000 to get started on the various elements of the planned celebration.  On a 5-0 vote the council approved the distribution of the funds, which will be taken from Hatch's slush, er, contingency funds previously approved by the council.  There was also a discussion of an Art in Public Places plan, and the potential for attempting to fold the dollars necessary for that part of the celebration into the 2013/2014 fiscal year budget.

Next came Sandra Genis' request for a re-hearing of the previously-approved selection of two planning commissioners - those seats were to be filled by Jim Fitzpatrick and Timothy Sesler, two sycophants of the current power elite on the council.  To the surprise of most in the auditorium, Righeimer joined Genis and Wendy Leece in voting FOR the re-hearing, which will be held on February 19, 2013.  Gary Monahan and Mensinger voted NO.  That means that, for the time being, current commissioners Colin McCarthy, Sam Clark and Ed Salcedo will be asked to rejoin Rob Dickson and Jeff Mathews and participate in the Planning Commission meeting on February 11, 2013.  Fitzpatrick and Sesler are in limbo until the 19th.

Then the council addressed the issue of replacing Salcedo - the next item on the agenda.  It was decided - on a 4-1 vote (with Monahan voting NO) - to put this decision off until the 19th and fill all the vacancies on the Planning Commission on that night.

The last item on the agenda - the selection of four (4) Parks and Recreation Commissioners - began at 8:45.  Genis decried the selection process while acknowledging that nothing can be done this time around.  Candidates Harold Weitzberg, Dan DiBassio, Don Harper, Teresa Drain and Bob Graham spoke on their own behalf.  During council comments Righeimer acknowledged that, with 16 candidates this time around, the council faced a "high quality problem".  I agree.  There were many solid candidates available for their consideration.

When they finally got around to voting they used the same procedure as the previous council meeting.  Each council member took a number from a bowl.  Since there were two 4-year seats and two 2-year seats available it was decided to select the 4-year seats first.

Number 1,  Leece, nominated current Parks and Recreation Vice Chair Kim Pederson.  Monahan seconded the nomination and Pederson was chosen on a 5-0 vote.

Number 2, Righeimer, selected  Harper for the second 4-year seat and Mensinger seconded it.  He was chosen on a 4-1 vote, with Leece voting NO.

Next  Genis nominated DiBassio and Leece seconded it.  His nomination failed on a 2-3 vote - all the men voted NO.

Monahan was next and he nominated former commissioner Graham for the first 2-year seat and Genis seconded it.  He was chosen on a 3-2 vote, with Mensinger and Righeimer voting NO.

Finally Mensinger nominated former commissioner Byron de Arakal for the remaining 2-year seat and Monahan seconded it.  He was confirmed with a 5-0 vote... and we were done for the night! So, those four - Pederson, Harper, Graham and de Arakal -  will join hold-over commissioner Dean Abernathy when the commission next meets in March.

A couple of observations...  Righeimer, once again, seemed to be in a much more jovial mood.  He frequently attempted to make jokes, especially during the presentations.  Based on the crowd reaction, I suspect we're going to have to install an "Applause" sign when the council chambers technology is upgraded one of these days to prompt us when to laugh.

And, if anyone had an inkling that Genis' de novo hearing request was going to change anything, Mensinger removed that idea when - just before they voted to move the selection of the 2-year seat replacing Salcedo to the 19th - he said, "I will support the motion but it doesn't really change the outcome."  That's right, folks - the choices have been made, but he'll go along with the charade.  Nice, huh?  I guess on February 19th we will see Fitzpatrick, Sesler and Colin McCarthy chosen for the Planning Commission - just like we did at the last council meeting.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Costa Mesa Sanitary District To Replace Fitzpatrick

The Board of Directors of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District met in a special meeting yesterday to define the process by which the vacancy created by the recent resignation of disgruntled Director Jim Fitzpatrick will be filled.  As a result, they issued a press release defining the process which can be read HERE.  Once at that page and you've read the press release, look just above the words "02-04-13 Press Release" for the words "Application - Board of Directors" and click there for the application and supplemental form required for the application process.


The deadline for filing an application is Friday, February 15, 2013.  It's likely that the board will meet in another special meeting on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 to discuss the applicants who responded.  It is anticipated that applicant interviews and the appointment will occur on yet another special meeting on Friday, February 22, 2013 and the oath of office for the successful candidate will be administered at the Board's regular meeting on Wednesday, February 27, 2013.


I suspect there will be more than a few people interested in this position even though it's a short-term appointment.  This slot will be up for election in 2014, so the successful candidate will serve until December 2014.  Let the jockeying begin...

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Freebie Item Yanked From Agenda

In case you missed the amendment I made to my earlier post about the Costa Mesa City Council agenda, for some reason the item involving the new policy for the distribution of tickets and passes has been yanked from the agenda.  I suppose we'll find out why one of these days.

Separately, a couple people have observed that things seem pretty darn quiet on the local newspaper comment threads.  For example, there's only one comment on the Daily Pilot article about Gary Monahan over the weekend.  Perhaps folks are overwhelmed by the photo they used - I know I sure was. ;-)  What the heck has happened?  Is everyone asleep, complacent or what?  Have they just stopped giving a darn?

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Monday, February 04, 2013

Pacific Amphitheatre Renovation Open House

The good folks at the Orange County Fair And Event Center has announced an open house at the Administration Building Thursday, February 7, 2013 at which the renovation of the Pacific Amphitheatre will be discussed.  Read the note from their web site HERE.  The open house will be held from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

The renovation of that venue was previously approved by the OCFEC Board of Directors and Phase I, the soil removal and reshaping of the berm, will be discussed Thursday.

Bring your questions and join your neighbors as they find out about the plans for this phase, including the truck routes to be used in this project.  Below is a diagram provided by the OCFEC staff.  Click on the image to enlarge it.

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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Tuesday's Council Meeting

While I was gone on my little hiatus the City of Costa Mesa released the agenda report for the next council meeting, on Tuesday, February 5, 2013.  You can read the agenda HERE.

A quick peek at it might lead you to believe the meeting might be a short one.  Well, that may not be the case, depending on how things go with Public Comments, the Consent Calendar and a couple of the business items listed.

For example, on the Consent Calendar - theoretically those items that are of a routine nature and could be approved with one vote - there are some items that might require some further explanation and separate discussion.  Item number 5, for example.  It is Warrant # 2458, HERE, - one of three warrants on the Consent Calender for that evening.  However, buried among the payments for employee health benefits, this one contains an entry dated 1/25/13 that provokes curiosity.  That is a check in the amount of $2,554,815.14 to the City of Newport Beach for "ABLE Equity Distribution".  Without knowing more, one assumes that is the 50/50 split of the proceeds remaining from the sale of the three helicopters, plus any cash left in the bank following the ill-advised dissolution of the Airborne Law Enforcement (A.B.L.E) program.  I'd kind of like to know just what that money represents - maybe someone will ask if we are now, finally, out of the A.B.L.E program.


Item #6 has a fascinating title - Resolution Establishing Receipt And Distribution Policy Regarding Tickets And/or Passes In Conformance With The California Code of Regulations As Recently Amended By The Fair Political Practices Commission.  You can read the staff report HERE.  This codifies the procedures for distribution of freebies in the City.  Makes for interesting reading.

 Item #7 is also fascinating.  This deals with the "Adoption of FPPC Form 806 Listing All Compensated Council Appointments".  You can read that staff report HERE.

Once we finish with the Consent Calendar we're scheduled to hear the New Business items.  Right off the bat #1 is the 60th Anniversary Celebration Concept and Proposed Budget, HERE.  The committee headed up by Chairman Mike Scheafer and guided by Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce has been doing yeoman duty for the past couple months and will now present their ideas to the council and ask for $125,000 in budget dollars to proceed with their plans.  If you follow the link there are several other links that list participants, plans, etc.  This should be an interesting presentation.

Next is New Business #2, the "Consideration of Council Member Request For Rehearing Regarding Appointments of Planning Commissioners."  Former Mayor Sandra Genis, the newest member of THIS council, is requesting a "de novo" hearing of the recent Planning Commission appointments due to violation of appropriate procedures.  You can read her request HERE.  This one could generate a lot of heat - and hopefully some light, too.  You will recall that de-frocked Costa Mesa Sanitary District Director and former Planning Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick and lawyer Timothy Sesler were appointed at the meeting three weeks ago.  If the re-hearing is granted it will be held at the council meeting on February 19, 2013, which might mean the Planning Commission would not have enough members to form a quorum on their meeting on February 11, 2013.  McCarthy and Sam Clark's terms have expired and Fitzpatrick and Sesler's appointments would be in limbo, leaving only commissioners Rob Dickson and Jeff Mathews on the dais. (NOTE: Spoke with the City Clerk monday morning... all incumbent commissioners will stay in place until replaced, so the City's business will continue uninterrupted while the council sorts out this situation.)

New Business Item #3 is the appointment of a Planning Commissioner to replace Ed Salcedo, who resigned only a few hours before the last council meeting, HERE.  At that meeting current Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy was appointed to fill out Salcedo's remaining two years.  At the time contract City Attorney Tom Duarte was asked if it was appropriate to fill that slot and he said yes.  It turned out that, following some research by the City Clerk later, it was NOT OK to fill that slot so quickly - improper noticing was the problem.  You may recall that the previous council also had a little difficulty with proper noticing and it cost them Jim Righeimer's Charter scheme getting on the June ballot.  There are 13 applicants for this slot, including some new ones added since the previous meeting.  You can read those applications HERE.  It appears to me that this item will be directly affected by the decision on the previous item.

The final item on the agenda is New Business #4, appointments to the Parks and Recreation Commission, HERE.  This was put off from the previous meeting because some council members said they didn't have sufficient time to interview all the candidates.  Well, there's a whole lot more on this roster, so I hope they took time to do their due diligence this time.  There are 16 candidates for four slots open, including one guy who applied late.  You can read those applications HERE.  Late application didn't seem to bother Mayor Jim Righeimer last time - probably because he was a late applicant when Allan Mansoor appointed him to the Planning Commission only a few months after he dragged his carpet bag to town in 2006.  We'll see how this goes, and whether they will follow the solid advice presented by Daily Pilot columnist Jeff Harlan in his piece today, HERE.

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Large Critters and Large Numbers

 (The view from the boardwalk this weekend)
"Where have you been, Potstirrer?", you ask...  Well, you will recall from a previous entry, HERE, that it's prime time for viewing the Piedras Blancas elephant seal colony near Hearst Castle up on the central coast.  I know some of you have made the trip to visit that beautiful part of our state and have seen those magnificent animals in person.  Others of you may have visited the web site that includes a web cam that shows live images during the day and a tape at night, HERE.
(Serious fighting over mating rights. One second later the really BIG guy on the left chomped on the tail end of the left combatant and both skeedaddled) 
I must tell you that there's really nothing quite like a personal visit to the boardwalk four miles north of Hearst Castle on California Highway 1 this time of the year, when there are pups popping out like Pez, huge males fighting for mating rights and the mating that occurs as a result.
(An Alpha Male declaring his dominance)
 (A "loser", identified by the scars on his back received when running away)
So, I snuck off for a few days, knowing full well that you'd miss me while I was gone.  My bag of technological tricks I took with me let me down, so I couldn't post new blog entries but did manage to post all the comments you sent my way.  Well, those that were at least marginally worthy of posting.  We can discuss that another time.

(Love is in the air.  Alpha male mating with female.  Nearly weaned pup beside them)
I want to remind you that there's still time to take a nice weekend drive up the coast - it's about 270 miles from Costa Mesa - spend the weekend in Cambria or San Simeon - or Cayucos, if you prefer - and see the critters.  Of course, you'll need to stop in to the Hearst Castle Visitor Center for a snack or souvenirs, too.  Prime time will continue through this month, although there are elephant seals on the beach all year long.
("Mom" and her pup, nursing.  Note Cookie Cutter Shark bites on her chest)
(Too many pups.  She was trying to nurse 7.  She can only adequately support 1.  All the pups will surely die soon)
When you visit the boardwalk look for folks wearing bright blue windbreakers - they are the volunteers from the Friends of the Elephant Seal who are there to answer every question you may have about the elephant seals.  Many of them have been performing their duties for more than 15 years and have racked up more than 3,000 hours of volunteer time to help make your visit more enjoyable.
 (Guides helping a group of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students)
Have fun..

And, while I was gone my hit counter that measures the number of page views for this blog since I switched to this host back in November of 2006 blitzed right past the 1,000,000 mark!  When I arrived home late Saturday night this is how it looked.  Thanks to all of you who keep the meter spinning.  I appreciate your interest and comments, even though I've had to reject more than a few lately.  That's what happens when I post about our pal, Fitzy.  Please keep returning to this site when you feel so moved.  This will not be the only post tonight.  Thanks, again.

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