Friday, April 12, 2013

MacGregor Yachts Calls It Quits In Costa Mesa

According to Len Bose in his "The Harbor Report", HERE, the MacGregor family, who has produced iconic sailboats in Costa Mesa for a half-century, has felt the squeeze of developer dollars and oppressive manufacturing regulations and has succumbed to the siren call from Stuart, Florida.  They will stop production at their Costa Mesa facility and move to that city to continue to produce their 26-foot sailboat and begin production of a new, lighter 22-foot model.

I've met Roger MacGregor a time or two - he's a great guy - and am saddened that he's being forced to make this move and take a  huge part of the Newport-Mesa nautical heritage with him.  We wish him well and continued success.  Our loss will certainly be Florida's gain.  Did I mention that there's no personal income tax in Florida?

I guess this is our future, when anti-business,  tax-happy liberals control our state government and opportunisitic, carpetbagging developers control the city council.  How sad for us all.

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The Final Nail In The A.B.L.E. Coffin

The Daily Pilot reports last night, HERE, that the final nail has been hammered into the coffin of the AirBorne Law Enforcement (A.B.L.E.) joint helicopter effort between Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.  After more than forty years - when then-police chief Roger Neth had the wisdom and foresight to launch the original Costa Mesa helicopter program - through the establishment of the A.B.L.E. program in 1997, the city has had a helicopter unit protecting the residents since 1971.  Now the assets have been disbursed, the staff scattered to the winds and the program that was once the model municipal helicopter law enforcement program in the country - the one others emulated - is officially no more.

It's been nearly two years since a short-sighted Costa Mesa City Council, citing a fabricated fiscal crisis, unilaterally decided to shut down this exemplary program.  I wrote about it at the time, HERE and HERE, and a year later HERE.

A.B.L.E is gone, but its spirit lives on in the form of the brave, skilled men who once flew the skies of the Newport-Mesa and beyond to keep us safe.  That spirit was clearly on display last week when several former members of A.B.L.E volunteered to fly Newport Beach resident Peter Adderton's donated private helicopter in support of the massive search effort for two lost Costa Mesa hikers in Trabuco Canyon.

As stated in the Daily Pilot article, it may be impossible to accurately quantify the contribution to our safety A.B.L.E produced, but EVERY law enforcement leader in the state joins us in mourning its loss to the communities it served.  With crime up in Costa Mesa more than 15%, you can lay the loss of that program - a "force multiplier" in law enforcement parlance - directly at the feet of vindictive  now-Mayor Jim Righeimer, who allowed his personal political ambitions and his vendetta against members of the Costa Mesa Police Department to cloud his judgment and lead the charge to disband A.B.L.E as part of a broader evisceration of the Costa Mesa Police Department.  As crime continues to rise in our city, please feel free to contact him directly and let him know how you feel.

Finally, let me ask Mariah Carey to, once again, express how I feel about those brave flyers and the crews that kept A.B.L.E. in the air all those years.  To those brave souls who patrolled our skies, aided in the capture of criminals, fought fires and rescued individuals, thank you all for your service to this community.  Miss Carey...

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Costa Mesa Emergency Notification Systems

In a press release today Costa Mesa Police Department Public Information Officer, Lieutenant Greg Scott, announced the availability of two new information resources for the public.  The following is the text of Scott's message:

"The City of Costa Mesa is proud to partner with AlertOC and Nixle. Both of these programs are mass notification systems meant to inform the public of emergency or noteworthy information.

AlertOC is designed to keep Orange County residents and businesses informed of emergencies and certain community events.  By registering with AlertOC, time-sensitve voice messages from the County or City in which you live or work may be sent to your home, cell or business phone.  Text messages may also be sent to cell phones, e-mail accounts and hearing impaired receiving devices.  It is also commonly called "Reverse 9-1-1," but this is a registered trademark.

Nixle is also up and running in Costa Mesa!  Nixle is currently being used by over 5,000 public agencies.  Nixle will allow the Costa Mesa Police Department to communicate with residents, via text and email messages, at no cost to the populace, through Nixle's high performance messaging network.  In addition to City-wide messaging, Nixle will also allow the Police department to contact residents within specific geographical areas.

Notifications can be made to residents about a variety of things, including emergency preparation, traffic management, event management, community outreach, hazardous situations, press releases, and missing and wanted individuals.

Communication with the public is critical to effective emergency responses.  Over 85% of civilians can be instantly reached on their mobile phone by text messaging.  In crisis situations, timely information saves lives, and there is no more effective means to quickly reach large populations than mobile text messaging.

You can register now, via a link located on the Police Department's website at www.costamesapd.orgNixle is one more tool that will enable the Department to keep it's residents informed about important safety issues in the Costa Mesa community!

The City encourages all of our residents to register for both of these great programs!"

You can find information on AlertOC HERE and Nixle HERE.  I participate in both these excellent programs and find them very useful.  I encourage you all to investigate them and sign up now.

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Amplifying Mensinger's Comments

Tuesday evening, during the Costa Mesa City Council study session - you can watch the video HERE - several council members expressed the view that the Community Development Block Grant Funds (CDBG) traditionally earmarked for specific charities in our city should be re-directed to infrastructure improvements instead.

During the discussion Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger offered his views.  Here are a few verbatim snips of his comments, beginning at the 01:11:17 mark on the video counter. (just drag the scroll bar across to that point).  These represent clips from his broader comments that ran just over 4 minutes.

Referring to the various charitable organizations who have requested funding again he said:
"I'm not suggesting that we cut these programs.  I'm suggesting that we move them to a category and move them to the General Fund and see if they really matter."

Later he went on to say: 
"At the end of the day, I belong to nine different organizations - all charities or non-profits.  Those charities receive no government monies.  They raise money.  In fact, they still exist without CDBG funds."

And a little later: 
"Every one of the groups I belong to does not receive money from the government.  They raise the money, do the right thing."

And later: 
"If they need to be funded I think they can be funded through the General Fund.  I don't want to fund these social programs through our CDBG funds."

His suggestion that the programs not be placed under the scrutiny of the rules for the CDBG funding process - that they would, or would not, arbitrarily be considered for funding out of the General Fund, implies to me that he and his fellow majority members on the council have little interest in funding them at all.

And, in case you've forgotten,  Mensinger's statements above about the groups to which he belongs NOT receiving government money are fallacious.  He's got a very selective memory.  In recent months Pop Warner Football - a group with whom Mensinger has a long, long affiliation - was given $10,000.  Costa Mesa United - a group that includes Mensinger on their board - received $100,000 from the government - the City of Costa Mesa.  Costa Mesa United also apparently received $3,500 from the City for a table at the recent fund raiser golf tournament.  The City, using government funds, also apparently ponied up for a table at the Estancia High School/TeWinkle Schools foundation dinner.

I am NOT saying those organizations are not worthy of financial help from the City, just that Mensinger's convenient brain fade is, to use one of his favorite words, disingenuous, to say the very least.

It was very clear to all observing the study session Tuesday that the majority on the council plans to discontinue providing CDBG funding for most of the organizations that have applied and have been screened and ranked by the ad hoc committee tasked with doing so.  Instead, it's very likely that those dollars will be directed to fill potholes and repair sidewalks in areas of the city that meet the CDBG requirements - mainly on the Westside, in a couple small areas on the Eastside and near the Mesa North community.  Quite honestly, after listening to their comments Tuesday night, it seems very unlikely that few, if any, of those charitable organizations will receive ANY funds from the City this year.  And, if they do, it will be under a much more capricious method of selection - pet projects will get the bucks and other worthy and needy organizations will be left out.

It is unlikely that the organizations in question will fold if not given the stipend from the CDBG funding.  However, as Councilmember Wendy Leece pointed out, the loss of those funds will significantly diminish their ability to deliver services to their clients.  Two food programs for Senior Citizens were mentioned specifically.

The council will make its decision at a future council meeting as part of the broader budget discussions.  I imagine they might like to hear from you on this subject if you have an opinion one way or the other.  Please feel free to call them, write them a letter or send them an email at the addresses listed on the City web site.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Delgadillo Under The Influence

It was with great sadness that I read Lauren Williams report in the Daily Pilot this morning, HERE, that told us that Costa Mesa police detective Mike Delgadillo had a blood alcohol level of 0.14 - nearly twice the legal limit - when he crashed his car into a pillar on Bristol Street the evening of March 5, 2013.  An interesting bit of online editing placed Williams' story immediately adjacent to one about a program at Newport Harbor High School that was intended to make the kids aware of DUI accidents.

That accident that took his life was tragic enough, but this revelation rips the scab off this slow-healing wound and adds to the pain felt by his family, friends and co-workers.  And, it's very likely that some will now use this news to denigrate this man, who placed his life on the line for the residents of our community for 32 years.

And, of course, there is a tragic irony to this news, too.  Delgadillo's compatriots on the CMPD have been leaders in apprehending drivers for DUI, with several officers totalling more than 100 such arrests for several years running and Officer Kha Bao leading the pack with more than 400 such arrests two years ago and 200 last year.

Some will look for a silver lining to this tragic event - some kind of life lesson that can be learned from the passing of this man and the circumstances that took his life.  Others may choose to attempt to dig deeper for some "good reason" for this event, including pillorying the establishment or establishments where he was drinking before his death, in an attempt to spread the blame.

Others may try to look back and criticize themselves for not recognizing the circumstances that caused Delgadillo to drink and drive and for not doing more to help him.

None of that changes the facts.  A distinguished officer, a man who served our community with honor for more than three decades, used bad judgment the last night of his life and died as a result.  We continue to offer our condolences to his family and to his co-workers at the CMPD on the loss of this fine man.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Bleak Times Ahead For Local Charities

The study session held by the Costa Mesa City Council tonight had the distinct feeling of deja vu.  To refresh your memory, please visit an entry I wrote last June, following a meeting at which the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds were authorized, HERE.  It's a long entry with multiple parts, so just scroll down until you see the red heart and read those couple paragraphs around it.  At the time Wendy Leece called for a study session to discuss this issue.  Tonight's meeting was that session.  You can read Bradley Zint's coverage in the Daily Pilot, HERE.

I speculated then that the City Council majority seemed inclined to do away with the funding of 20 or so charities with the CDBG funds available to us through federal programs.  Apparently my fears were well-founded.

Tonight four members of the council - only Leece seemed determined to not change the way the CDBG funds are distributed - made it clear that they wanted a new approach.  Sandy Genis' position made the most sense - she felt it was important to more tightly focus our spending on those items that have been made a priority by this council.  She mentioned the Homeless Task Force and the Neighborhood Improvement Task Force and the road map they've created and suggested the CDBG funds might be used to support entities that are more closely aligned with those plans.

The discussion was lively, to say the least.  In fact, Mayor Jovial Jim Righeimer apparently took a sabbatical and the old caustic Jim returned.  At one point during the discussion and Leece had the floor, Righeimer didn't like her line of discussion, so he just shut her off and passed the conversation on to others.  No civility, no courtesy, just another big dose of his authoritarian dictatorship that we've seen in the past.  Maybe he's mad because nobody wants to attend his Ball later this month.  It really doesn't surprise me.  Costa Mesa just doesn't seem like a city too interested in Mayor's Balls... wait, did I say that right?

Since no decision could be made tonight - it's a study session - the staff was directed to return with more information about how the City could go about using those funds for concrete instead of people.  Apparently it bothers some of them that we'd spend funds that would be paid off over 30 years on things that wouldn't last that long.  They want street repairs, not humans repaired.

Leece, in her abbreviated plea for funding most of the organizations that we've funded before, pointed out that their plans would be cutting the heart out of our city.  It's hard to argue with her assessment.  If you read the staff report, HERE, you'll find the names and amounts we are currently providing to those organizations.  The majority plan, if enacted, would completely eliminate funding for almost all of those organizations.  Services that support seniors, youth and disabled would be on the chopping block.  Righeimer callously opined that if the city funding for those groups was not provided they wouldn't just disappear - they'd find funding somewhere.  In these tight times, I'm not so sure he's correct - but he thinks he is, and that's all that matters to him.

Apparently, according to consultant Mike Linares, the ad hoc committee that replaced the old 3R committee, has screened applicants for potential grants and have their recommendations ready to present to the council - if it decides it wants to go that way again.  I guess we'll find out in a couple months, when these matters are considered as part of the broader budget discussions.

An observation from the meeting tonight.  At times it was like watching a junior high school lunch room.  When Leece, for example, corrected Righeimer and requested to be addressed as "council member Leece", Righeimer then began to mock her like some pre-pubescent bully in the lunch room.  As mentioned above, when she characterized one of his statements he took extreme umbrage and then cut her off before she was finished making a point.  It left those half-dozen of us in the audience just shaking our heads in amazement.  I guess he was trying to demonstrate the theme of his "Ball" - The Art of Leadership".  Sorry, I just can't keep the smirk off my face when I write that.

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Costa Mesa Television Is Moving!

Yep, the City of Costa Mesa announced today, HERE, that Costa Mesa Television (CMTV) is moving to Channel 3 from Channel 24 on Time Warner Cable.  It will remain on Channel 99 on ATT U-Verse.

This shift apparently recognizes the high quality of programming produced by Dane Bora and Brad Long at CMTV and, according to Bora, puts CMTV in a much more advantageous position on your TV tuner.

This change begins Wednesday, April 10th and, according to the press release, the first event to be televised live on Channel 3 will be the City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 16th.

Onward and upward for this outstanding production crew.  Word is that more new, exciting coverage is on the way.

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Monday, April 08, 2013

Scrooge Lives In Irvine

It was a long, long day,  during which I learned of the passing of two women who were very influential in my life - Annette Funicello and Margaret Thatcher.  Annette was the focus of the unrequited passion of a teenager in the 1950's and Thatcher was a woman who aroused a different kind of passion later in my life - admiration of a truly remarkable woman, a leader in the truest sense of the word.  It was at the end of this day - as I contemplated their loss -  that I stumbled across a commentary in the Daily Pilot by something named Kevin Chard, from Irvine.  You can read it HERE.

Chard bemoans the cost of rescuing two Costa Mesa young people from a hiking adventure gone very wrong last week and suggests that - apparently because those teenagers were novice hikers - they should be held accountable for the costs incurred for their rescue.  Those "costs" that did, in fact, save their lives.

In the past couple days we've heard from both of those young folks - Nicholas Cendoya and Kyndall Jack - that they strayed off the established trail, became disoriented, tried to call for help but their cell phone battery died, ate dirt trying to survive and suffered hallucinations.  From all reports, they each were within hours of succumbing to exposure.

From the tone of Chard's essay you'd suspect someone had just showed up on his doorstep with a bill for his part of the cost of the services necessary to carry out the rescue, for goodness sake.

Yes, the rescue efforts were very costly, but how do you measure the cost against the lives of those children?  And what of the hundreds of tireless unpaid volunteers who helped search for them?  And the various agencies involved - Jack was plucked from her precarious location by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's helicopter - one of several from many organizations on the scene.  And what about, for example, the costs incurred by Newport Beach resident Peter Adderton, who made his personal helicopter available to aid in the effort, and of those former A.B.L.E. helicopter pilots who volunteered to fly it as part of the search team?

If we follow Chard's line of thought - if you can call it that - perhaps we should require a credit card before dispatching emergency responders to any situation.  If Chard were to be injured in an auto accident, maybe we should pay up front for paramedic care and/or transportation to a hospital?

If Chard should happen to be burglarized, perhaps we should require his card number before sending officers to his home to investigate the crime?

If Chard takes his kids to the beach and one of them has a problem with a rip tide, is he OK with the lifeguard who jumps off his tower, runs to the surf line, ready to rescue the child first asking for payment before he leaps into the water?  If he forgot his wallet will he be OK with his child drowning because he can't pay the bill?

Chard fails to acknowledge that people - especially young people - do silly things.  Sometimes they do really stupid things - that's just how it is.  And, we have public safety personnel for that very reason.  They put out fires started by a careless smoker.  They respond to accidents caused by careless drivers.  They give tickets to thoughtless and/or careless drivers.  They rescue cats stuck in trees.  And, they rescue hikers who over-estimated their skills.  And we say thank you for their efforts and return safely to our homes...

Chard's closing comment tells us that he thinks we should now bill those youngsters - to teach them a lesson.  As he said, "In today's world the only thing that sees to get people's attention is to hit them where it counts or hurts: their pocketbooks."  I feel very sad for Kevin Chard.

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A Reminder... Don't Text And Drive!

Just a little friendly reminder for you.... during the month of April more than 200 law enforcement agencies around California are going to be "actively enforcing" the laws against texting while driving - and will also nail you for speaking on a cell phone without a hands-free device.

So, be advised... Don't do it! Don't do it!  Don't do it!  First offense is $159 and others will cost you AT LEAST $279!