Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Short, But Very Important, Council Meeting On Tuesday

The Costa Mesa City Council will meet for it's first meeting of June on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 beginning at 6:00 in City Council Chambers at City Hall.  According to the agenda for that meeting, HERE, for the first time in a very long time there will be no closed session preceding it.  There are also no presentations this meeting.

The Consent Calendar, which is normally presumed to be routine items which may be voted on in one vote, contains some interesting items.

#3 is Warrant #2516, HERE, which lists payments recently made to vendors.  Thanks to Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger we now get to see the detail of these entries and ask questions about them if we wish.  Here are a few of the items listed that I found of interest:
  • Costa Mesa High School Football - $1,390.00 - 60th Anniversary Volunteer Pay
  • Estancia Football Boosters - $2,310.00 - 60th Anniversary Volunteer Pay
  • Harbor Mesa Lions Club - $1,210.00 - 60th Anniversary Volunteer Pay
  • Marx Brothers Fire Extinguisher Company - $1,045.58 - Corp Yard Extinguishers Recert. (Sorry... it just made me smile)
  • Scientia Consulting Group, Inc. - $7,600.00 - IT Tech Consulting
  • Sierra Java, Inc. - $251.80 - Coffee for City Council
  • City of Huntington Beach - $18,221.00 - Helicopter Svcs for March
  • Costa Mesa Conference and Visitor Bureau - $222,105.09 - BIA Receipts for March
  • Lilley Planning Group - $25,425.00 - Planning Consultant Services, April
  • Scientific Resource Surveys, Inc. - $25,025.00 - Cultural Resource Assessment, Fairview Park
  • Wondries Fleet Group - $222,884.69 - Police Interceptors
  • Interwest Consulting Group, Inc. - $11,953.00 - Bldg. Inspection, March
  • Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $1,557.30 - Legal, 60th Anniv. Investigation & General
  • San Bernardino County Sheriff Department - $4,160.00 - Ambulance Driver Training
  • Vidacare Corp. - $4,741.20 - Paramedic Supplies
  • Yellow Cab Co. - $1,273.00 - Neighborhood Improvement Task Force Transportation Services
I suppose if you scrolled down through the list you may find items that interest you...  there are several million dollars on the list.  Remember, if someone - a council member, staffer or member of the public - pulls any item from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion and vote it will automatically be trailed to the very end of the meeting.  Such is life in the land of "tranparency".

Items #4, HERE, and #5, HERE, deal with Traffic Management Services to be provided by the Costa Mesa Police Department for the 32nd Agricultural Association.  #4 deals with this year's Orange County Fair and #5 is for an event next April. 

Item #6, HERE, is the appointment of city negotiators for the Costa Mesa Fire Association negotiations and the authorization to proceed with the financial analysis required by Mensinger's COIN scheme. Assistant CEO Tammy Letourneau and two lawyers from Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - Richard Kreisler and Laura Kalty will be the team.

There are only two other items on the agenda - Public Hearings.  The first, HERE, is the discussion of the Business Improvement Area (BIA) Reauthorization and Resolution to Levy Annual Assessment.  The staff report gives you the history and the accomplishments over the years.  You may also find their proposed budget for participating in city events during the next fiscal year, HERE, of interest.

Public Hearing #2 is the second mandatory Public Hearing on the Draft Charter.  (I almost typed "daft" - seems appropriate!)  You can read that staff report HERE.  It includes the Draft Charter, HERE, a comparison of General Law Cities and Charter Cities, HERE,  and several changes recommended by Mayor Jim Righeimer's hand-picked Pension Oversight Committee for inclusion in the Charter, HERE.

Those who read these pages regularly already know that I don't think we need to become a Charter City.  There has been NO GOOD REASON provided for this serious change in the way we are governed.  We've been a General Law City for 60 years and have gotten along just fine.  The voters made their feelings known overwhelmingly two years ago when they defeated Jim Righeimer's Charter, 60%-40%.  This time he, on the surface, at least, has kept his nose out of the process.  However, as one who has observed the process closely for a year, I can tell you that it had his paw prints all over it.

This will likely be the last chance interested parties have to address the council on the Charter proposal before the council decides whether or not to include it on the November ballot at their June 17th July 1st meeting.  In case you didn't notice, the silence from City Hall on this version of the Charter has been "deafening".  Two years ago all you could hear were the drumbeats in favor of what eventually became Measure V.  This time, crickets.  Of course, if (I say that tongue in cheek) the council majority votes to place this iteration on the ballot the hoopla will begin in earnest.

In any event, I'll be very surprised if this council meeting goes longer than 10:00 Tuesday - probably a lot earlier.  We'll see.

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Anonymous Skeptical in Costa Mesa said...

I thought volunteer meant free? I'm owed some BIG $ if not!

5/30/2014 09:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Now is the time said...

I second your comment Skeptical....since when do volunteers get paid? Apparently the 60th became yet another source of revenue for other groups, the high school booster clubs. It would not seem to be a problem supporting booster clubs if it had been sold as a fund raising event for them. What does that teach our youth about what it means to volunteer? After all, it is defined as "a person who performs a service willingly and without pay"

5/30/2014 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

I think we were better off when the city was (allegedly) broke.

5/30/2014 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

NItheT - yes, and especially if any of these kids earned community service hours which are required by the high schools, I hope they didn't/don't receive any payment . I'm very curious who will actually be paid this money and why, when these were volunteer positions. Even if it was labeled "reimbursements" it still makes no sense as it is all volunteer: time, supplies, service... Are these expenses listed in the final 60th anniversary report?

5/30/2014 04:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin Leffler said...

Paid "volunteers" is sort of an oxymoron, isn't it?

However, here's a little context: Adults who had ABC training could sign up to work in the wine and beer booth and get credit for money to go to a charity of their choice. Who's idea it was, who signed off on it and who initially knew about it, I don't know.

What I do know:
What it was, was an a opportunity for Costa Mesa non-profits to raise money by working at the alcohol sales booth. Early on, the only charity with a place at the trough was Estancia Football boosters. Then Mesa Boosters and the Lions Club managed to get a few volunteers signed up. A local environmental group was turned away, and some who wanted to help the Lions were told there was no more room. Then that was retracted, but by then "volunteers" had to get the training and register in a very tight time frame. Some would-be applicants never got a reply. Some others were told it was full again. Others missed the deadline.

It was a good opportunity for fundraising for Costa Mesa groups. However the 60th Committee never voted on it. It was not in the budget. Information and eligibility seem to have been tightly managed. "Local non-profit " was not defined and there was no invitation or outreach to Costa Mesa groups. There is (as far as I can find) no city policy about paying volunteers to raise funds for charities at a city event. Someone -no record of who- decided it would be $20 an hour. There was no sign-in sheet managed by the event so it is difficult to verify hours worked. At least one group seems to have submitted a sign-up that predates the event.

As good an idea as this opportunity was, it is just one more thing that contributed to the sucking-black-hole-of-budget-overruns and the appearance of favoritism that mars what could have been an event that left warm fuzzy memories for years to come. Instead there is legacy of mismanagement, budget overruns, poor attendance, one employee firing, and a lot of unresolved "Who was really in charge and how did they get away with all this" questions.

5/31/2014 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Paying volunteers? WTH? $20.00 an hour? WTH???

This coupled with the code violations on the live/work units are starting to warrant some legal troubles.


6/02/2014 07:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Muffin Top Bob said...

Kinda funny how Estancia Football Boosters received more for " volunteer pay" than the others. Wonder if Mr. Meninger had anything to do with that?

6/02/2014 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous marlo said...

dear cauldron,

would you mind posting information for the upcoming planning commission, meeting 6/9/14.. I'm not certain too many people even know about it. i would think this is a very important issue, considering recent inquiries.

the notice is nowhere that i can see on the city's website..

i am wondering if this has anything to do with the concept of "commensurate to the need" and of whom??

for citizens who are not able to make this event, is it proper to phone in or better yet, to email (which will help the city keep track and record) concerns on the matter ... to the planning division??

thank you in advance, m

ps. do you happen to know if there are some conflicts of interest here??

6/02/2014 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Why did it take them almost a year to get paid?

6/03/2014 07:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Why is the Neighborhood Task Force riding around in taxis for $1200+? Can't these people drive? What the holy hell? Forget the neighborhoods...they're raping the city.

6/03/2014 06:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

WMC - I saw that one too. Really! WTF?!?!

6/03/2014 08:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Gay Favour Royer said...

I volunteered for 3 days for the 60th and was assigned the job of checking on all of the booths at the event to see if they needed anything. In the first hour I was asked since I am of age to work in a beer booth. I said wherever you need me and for the next 3 days worked in the beer booths as a volunteer. I had no ABC training! I was happy to help anywhere they needed me! Not sure why Estancia made so much more money than Costa Mesa but if that is the case I graduated 51 years ago from Mesa and I could of raised money for Mesa. Just kidding, volunteering is not getting paid period. I have never really supported parents selling alcohol to raise money for the sports team! Not a good message for our youth.

6/04/2014 10:01:00 AM  

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