Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Final Charter Meeting Tonight?

The Costa Mesa Charter Committee, facilitated by Dr. Kirk Bauermeister and Dr. Mike Decker, will meet beginning early, at 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 12, 2014 in Conference Room 1A in a mad dash to complete their task of cobbling together what, in my view, is an unnecessary document.  The plan is for it to be completed this evening so it can be presented to the City Council with much hoopla at its meeting on March 18th.  You can read the agenda HERE.
I've attended almost all of the previous meetings and have reported on each of those.  During that time I've been aware that several of the members have brought to the table their own personal ideas - and maybe some ideas planted by others - to this process.  The committee is heavily weighted with folks selected by the current council majority who share the view that the City needs a Charter, despite the fact that the voters soundly rejected the last attempt to change our form of government in 2012.  In fact, whether we even need a Charter was never discussed by this committee, despite the fact that Mayor Jim Righeimer specifically stated that their task was to decide whether we needed one or not.  Later he said he misspoke, but I think he was correct.  This committee should have been charged with determining first IF we needed a Charter form of government and, if they reached consensus that the City would benefit significantly by making the change,  ONLY THEN proceed with the process they've followed since last summer.

Of the participants chosen, I would categorize only MaryAnn O'Connell and Harold Weitzberg as solidly against a Charter.  That being said, they both actively participated in the discussions and presented clear views on issues.  Of the remaining eleven members - based on my observations of them in action - I think Brett Eckles, Tom Graham, Henry Panian and Kevin Tobin have tried hard to keep an open mind and have not appeared to be strongly of the opinion that we need a Charter, but have worked hard during discussions when issues are presented to them.  The other seven - Ron Amburgey, William Fancher, Gene Hutchins, Kerry McCarthy, Tom Pollitt, Lee Ramos and Andrew Smith - all seem firmly in the pro-Charter camp, although some of them have demonstrated the willingness and ability to debate important parts of the discussion.

I have been generally impressed with the way the entire committee conducted itself.  Most members debated issues respectfully, particularly as they got to know one-another as the process moved along.  They gave serious, thoughtful consideration to the language to be used.  There have been some flared tempers from time to time, and one notable hissy-fit that I reported on at the time, but most meetings have been conducted with appropriate decorum.

The City Staff that supported their efforts - attorneys Kimberly Hall Barlow and Yolanda Summerhill, City Clerk Brenda Green and intern Sawyer Pendleton -  have been responsive to their questions and tried to give the committee everything they wanted and/or needed to accomplish their task.

The facilitators had a tough job and did it well.  They've managed to move the process along following the rules of procedure all committee members agreed upon at the very beginning.

I was surprised when, at their last meeting, the specter of Measure V - Jim Righeimer's Charter that failed so miserably at the ballot box - was dredged up at the last minute.  I'm not quite sure how this will impact their deliberations later today.  It's unclear whether they will attempt, at the last minute, to transplant some of the verbiage from Measure V into their document.  I guess  we'll see.

I was also surprised when members of the committee suggested that Barlow and Summerhill "tell them what they've missed" at the last meeting.  In my opinion, the staff is there to support them, not to tell them what should or should not be in a Charter - except from a strictly legal standpoint when it comes to the language of the document.  Deciding WHAT should be in the document is ONLY this committee's responsibility until they hand it off to the council.

There are staff reports for the following items:
A - Proposed Pension Language
B - Miscellaneous Proposed Language
*Supplemental Report dated 3/11/14
C - Review Final Charter Document
*Revised Charter Document 3/11/14
D - Suggestions to the City Council
E - Post Committee Process
F - Communication received from Committee Members

As I mentioned, the document the committee finalizes tonight will be presented to the City Council on March 18th, preceded by a small congratulatory reception for the committee originally scheduled for 5:15 that evening.  It is not mentioned on Item E. above, so we'll see about that.

I've read through the document as it exists in draft form now, before the meeting.  I've watched it being created over these past many months.  At this point, in my opinion, there is NOTHING in the proposed Charter that is not possible to be accomplished as a General Law City.  I am not convinced that it is necessary for the voters to consider this document in November, particularly since by adopting the Charter form of government we will lose many of the protections provided to us as a General Law City.  The past three years have clearly shown us why we need to have those protections in place.

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Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

I'm don't like when TP Pollitt wears the American flag as his shirt.

3/12/2014 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

That was at an early meeting when he demanded that prayer be added to the agenda. Over several meetings he wasted a lot of valuable time on that crusade, but the group eventually settled for a moment of silence.

3/12/2014 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

I hear this charter is a real mess.

3/12/2014 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Arthur, I agree. I think its disrespectful to make the American flag into shirts, shoes, string bikinis, beer cozies, canvas chairs, etc. That just seems tacky.

3/12/2014 05:33:00 PM  

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