Thursday, July 31, 2014

National Night Out Tuesday

The Costa Mesa Police Department will participate in the "National Night Out" on Tuesday evening. Here's the press release.

As Predicted, Big Night Tuesday

As I predicted, the Costa Mesa City Council meeting next Tuesday will be one for the ages. The agenda was released today and not only does it include Gary Monahan's Medical Marijuana Ordinance for the council to consider, it has ANOTHER item to be considered for placement on the November ballot - a resolution regarding the bogus plan to create toll lanes on the I-405!

Technology is not my friend today, so you're going to have to go to the City web site and review the agenda for the details. This is the best I can do while on vacation. 

And, since you're already there, take a peek at the Warrant. It include some interesting entries for legal costs - like more than $157,000 to Jones and Mayer.  I'll let you add them up, bit that old counter just keeps on spinning. 

As I said, technology is not my friend on this trip, so no clever images to make you smile. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It's Simmer Time, Again...

Well, friends (and the rest of you), it's time to turn the old Cauldron down to simmer for awhile.  I'll be tending to it only to keep the coals hot, so you'll have to rely on other "angry" old geezers for your news and opinions.  Yep, you'll have to get a dose of racism with your local news at one local site where the vile operator, The Mouth From Mesa North, used his entry number 666 (sounds like his home address) today to razz my wife and me about our upcoming wedding anniversary.  What a sad, pathetic, unfulfilled little man he is.   And you'd better order a decoder ring so you can actually figure out what that other old guy with the kitty fixation is trying to say as he posts incomprehensible blog entries while he's running Lee Ramos' campaign.

Thanks for being loyal readers.  I'll still be checking for comments that might need to be posted, so if you've got something to say, just post it here.  Who knows... there might even be a new blog entry or two...  There's plenty going on, for goodness sake.

For example, it looks like the City is going to get into the pot business!  Jim Fitzpatrick, our Planning Commission Chairman - an all-too-frequent visitor to a certain Irish pub in town - somehow convinced a bunch of Orange County City Attorneys that HE, of all people, had something worth listening to on the subject of Medical Marijuana, so he was permitted to address their monthly luncheon a couple weeks ago.  So, Tuesday we're going to find out just which side of the Mary Jane issue all five of the council members come down on.  By now you've read Sandy Genis' blog entry that included the text of the proposed ordinance that I covered in my previous entry.  If you missed it, just slide on over to the right side of the page and click on La Femme Wonkita.  How many votes will the pro-dope crowd bring to the election?  Interesting dilemma for those running.  The subject will certainly be addressed in candidate forums and at fund raising coffees.

Oh, yes.. what kind of City government allows a single councilman to direct the City Attorney to have his staff cobble together an ordinance to be presented to the voters on such an important issue without a study session and/or input from other council members or the public?  And, most important, why has the Police Department NOT been involved in this process?  We all know the answers.. because they're afraid of rejection, and with good reason.  Well, there's time for you all to express your views at the council meeting Tuesday night. 

Then we have the bogus charter, again... not much to say about it, except that Section 104 is a stake in the heart, especially when combined with section 806.  Go read them.  It gives the council virtually unlimited authority to do any darn thing they want, and we all know from our experience for the past nearly four years how well they've done with even limited power.  Yikes!

And then there's the United States Fish and Wildlife Service letter... Double Yikes!  It's quite possible that, upon reflection, they will impose even greater sanctions on the City for our poor stewardship of Fairview Park.  Guess who you can thank for that?  That's right - your Mayor Pro Tem, Steve (it's all about the kids) Mensinger!  Without his demand that the user-defined trail be enhanced none of this would be happening.  Please take a few minutes to send him a little thank you note on behalf of your neighbors who actually do enjoy the park the way it is, and on behalf of the Harbor Soaring Society, who may get bounced out, and on behalf of the Orange County Model Engineers, who are probably sweating bullets about now, worrying about their future on the East side of Placentia.

And then there's still the lingering - for much too long - controversy about the 60th Anniversary Celebration.  There is a very strong scent of corruption in the air, but nobody seems to be doing much about it.  I hear the CMPD has sent information to the District Attorney - have we mentioned that he's close to our own power elite? - but we don't think he'll do anything.  Maybe the state Attorney General needs to get involved...

And then there's the bogus lawsuit filed by your mayor and mayor pro tem for some imagined transgressions by the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department.  This is being dragged on and on to deplete the treasury of the CMPA so they cannot actively participate in the campaign this time around.  In the meantime, a convenient by-product of that lawsuit is that Righeimer and Mensinger cannot be parties to the contract negotiations that should be underway right now.  However...

...there's Gary Monahan's apparent reluctance to actually do the job he was elected to do - negotiate labor contracts.  He's stiffed Sandy Genis and Wendy Leece every time they try to put a meeting together to discuss the negotiations with the CMPA.  I guess he's too busy pulling beer taps and figuring out how to profit from Medical Marijuana.  Rumor has it he may run again for a seat on the Sanitary District Board.  I wonder how he'll find time to do that job, too?  Seems like a good question to ask at a candidate forum or when you're sipping a tall one at his pub.

As all this drama swirls around the city - when we face an election that could correct much of the damage done by Jim Righeimer and his cronies the past nearly four years - and we still don't know for sure just who is running for the two seats available.  Next Friday, August 8th, is the deadline.  We'll know at 5:01 p.m. who is left standing, and how many ways that zero-sum vote pool is going to be split.

Will Angry Al Melone - a man who did significant damage last time - realize what his presence does to the race and drop out.  Will Chris Bunyan, who chose to leave town for several years after being beaten in an earlier race, realize that the Banning Ranch issue alone isn't enough for him to win one of the two seats?  Will Harold Weitzberg and Jay Humphrey sort out their relative positions?  Will one of them drop out and throw his support to the other?  Or, will they both go toe-to-toe and fragment the votes?  If they're both in the race, which one will Katrina Foley embrace, if either?

Will Tony Capitelli - a very nice young fella who carries the burden of working for Congressman  Dana Rhorabacher - continue to stay in the race and split votes for Ramos and Righeimer?  Will Ramos be able to stay awake during the candidate forums?  Will he actually be able to tell us with a straight face that he's an independent-thinking guy?  What kind of double-talk will Righeimer try to use during those "debates" to convince the voters that it's OK to put potholes ahead of public safety?  Will he have an answer for those who wonder why he seems to be steering this city toward municipal bankruptcy to satisfy his hatred of employee bargaining units?

Next week you've got a council meeting that should be very exciting.  We don't know what else is going to be on the agenda besides good old Mary Jane, but it's the only meeting of the month, so there's sure to be some fun stuff discussed - like the Fairview Park dilemma.  All the fun begins at 6:00 in council chambers at City Hall.  The agenda should be available on the City web site Thursday or Friday... look for it.

The next evening, Wednesday, you've got a meeting of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee, HERE, starting at 6:00 at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue (Lions Park), where the important Southeast Quadrant will be discussed.  Crowds have been sparse in the past, but if you care a whit about the future of the park you might take the opportunity to tell the committee how you feel.  I know they'll be happy to see you.

Yes, there's plenty to talk about... you'll just have to do it without me for a little while.  I'm sure you're up to it.  And now, my old pal, Willie, will provide a send off...

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Lisa McPherson Says Good-bye

After thirteen years working for the City of Costa Mesa, Recreation Supervisor Lisa McPherson is moving onward and upward.

Today McPherson announced that she is moving to the City of Dublin, California - up north in that "other" part of the state - where she will hold a management-level position in their Parks and Recreation Department.  If you click on that title you'll find Dublin is about 2/3 the size of Costa Mesa and has about half the population.

This seems to be an outstanding opportunity for McPherson, who has served Costa Mesa with loyalty, passion and diligence through her tenure, and particularly through the past few years of turmoil and tumult.  With the hiring of Travis Karlen as Recreation Manager last Monday she now has had eight bosses during her tenure with the City.  She, in fact, ran the Recreation Division several times for varying periods of time as managers came and went - most recently when Bob Knapp left.

Among the many highlights of her tenure in Costa Mesa - she's a resident, who moved here because she has had such strong affection for the City - she cited the rescue of the R.O.C.K.S. program and helping facilitate the Estancia Adobe becoming a National Historical Site - something that will take place officially soon.  As City Staff liaison to many of the committees, she helped the volunteers craft programs and implement them. 

Clearly, it was time for her to move on to a city that values her credentials and experience and values employees beyond being viewed as just so many widgets to be easily-replaced.  She feels she's found that place in Dublin.
We here at A Bubbling Cauldron wish Lisa McPherson all the best in this latest step in her career.  We will miss her perky demeanor, her professionalism and dedication to the residents of Costa Mesa.  Her final day on the job here will be August 15th.

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Genis Provides A Draft Of The Marijuana Ordinance

On her blog, La Femme Wonkita, HERE, former mayor and current councilwoman Sandra Genis provides us with a peek at a draft of the proposed Medical Marijuana ordinance, apparently ginned up by councilman Gary Monahan and contract City Attorney Tom Duarte and his staff, that may appear on the council meeting agenda on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 for consideration of placement on the November ballot.

I agree with many of the concerns Genis brings up on her blog.  Additionally, there seems to be no limit to the number of dispensaries or cultivating operations in the city.  It's a long draft, so maybe I overlooked it.

She's correct - so far we've had NO official notification of this being on the agenda and the time to prepare comments on it and, if three members of the city council pass it, precious little time to prepare ballot positions on it.

Transparency exists only in theory in Costa Mesa, and only when it seems to meet specific agendas by certain council members.  The rest of us are left to try to understand what's happening while blindfolded!

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Remembering My Friend, Again

Today, July 30, 2014, would have been my friend, Larry Moore's 73rd birthday.  I've written often about him, his life, our friendship and his untimely passing more than a decade ago.
I've written about the friendship we shared as little guys - closer than many brothers.  We dated many of the same girls, participated in the same sports and shared a life that was very special. 
I've written about his life as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department for more than three decades and the lives he affected as the Athletic Director at the LAPD Police Academy for the last half of that career.  He and his partner on the job, Chuck Foote, created the race depicted below.
I've written about how he joked with his eldest daughter, Kara - who followed him into the LAPD and today is a detective in that department - about what it means to be called a "pig".  He told her it stood for Pride, Integrity and Guts, and that she should consider it a term of honor.
Today is a reminder of what a great guy he was, and what a huge hole he left in the lives of those of us who called him our friend.  For most of the 57 years we were pals we shared our birthdays, since they were only a couple weeks apart.  Today I remember his...

Happy Birthday, amigo.  I miss you.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Mary Jane", Fairview Park And Candidate Decisions Ahead

Next week - the first full week of August - should be memorable in the City of Costa Mesa.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014, will be the only City Council meeting of the month.  The council decided to go dark on the 19th, so whatever work that needs to be done between July 15th and the Labor Day holiday will get done next Tuesday.

From the rumblings I hear, it is very likely that Councilman Gary Monahan will present a Medical Marijuana item that he will ask the council to place before the voters in November.  Apparently he and contract City Attorney Tom Duarte have been working on this document in stealth mode and - we hear - have been consulting with folks who have been in the Medical Marijuana business in the city in the past.

We understand there's a draft of this document floating around, but we've not seen it.  It is our understanding that it will appear on the staff report for the council meeting, which will likely be distributed for public consumption (so to speak) by Thursday.

It is my understanding that this move - which Councilwoman Wendy Leece divulged at a recent meeting - may be a preemptive strike, to head off two competing initiatives that are collecting signatures around town and create a management structure for the administration of ANY Medical Marijuana dispensaries in the city, should any be permitted in the future.  I've also heard that it might actually create the authorization for a specific small number of dispensaries.  I've also heard that it might impose a significant sales tax on the products sold at those places.

Recently Mayor Jim Righeimer stated flat out that he thought Medical Marijuana should be dispensed at Rite Aid and Walgreens.  One presumes he meant that he didn't want a bunch of pot shops operating in the city.  I guess we'll see.  It's an interesting conundrum for him, in a year when he's up for re-election and looks to have a tough campaign season ahead of him.

And, one has to wonder just what prompted Monahan to sponsor and author this thing.  His long history in office has shown us that, more often than not, there's something in this for him.  Some will recall that he hosted a rally for Medical Marijuana advocates at his pub early in 2012.  I wrote about it at the time HERE,  and the aftermath HERE, HERE and HERE.

So, it will be very interesting next Tuesday to see if 1) this item is on the agenda; 2) who on the council will support it; 3) what the arguments will be for this issue and 4) if this council approve the issue to be placed on the ballot.

IF three members of the council agree to place it on the ballot, the timing gets to be a little dicey.  There will be resolutions to be approved and submitted to the Registrar of Voters by Friday of next week.  There will also need to be an impartial analysis of the item - probably done by the co-author of the document, Tom Duarte.  It makes you wonder just how "impartial" that analysis will be, doesn't it?   There will need to be arguments for and against the proposal AND rebuttals to each.  Who will write those?  City Clerk Brenda Green tells me that council members are first in the pecking order on either side of the issue.  Then come organizations and, finally, individuals.

And we don't even know what else there might be on that agenda.  I do know one thing - that's my wedding anniversary and I will NOT be in the auditorium, nor will I be watching it on streaming video or television.  My sweet and very patient wife deserves at least one council meeting night during the year when she has my undivided attention, so I'm going to whisk her off to some exotic place for a nice, romantic dinner to celebrate 47 years of wedded bliss.  I'm a lucky guy...

On Wednesday the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee, led by Dr. Richard Mehren and recently-announced School Board candidate Steve Smith, meets at 6:00 at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue (Lions Park) for the first meeting at which the final remaining quadrant - the Southeast Quadrant - will be discussed.  It's likely that it will take at least two meetings to plow through the 22 items under discussion.   
AND, it's very likely that members of the public who read the recent letter from the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding the city's stewardship of Fairview Park will present themselves to the committee during Public Comments to register their views.  It has been suggested to me that it may be wise to just place the committee on hiatus until the issue of the City's response to the letter is resolved.  It's gonna be fun!

And, finally, Friday, August 8, 2014, is the drop dead date for candidates for City Council.  Yep, 5:00 p.m. is the last opportunity candidates for the two open positions will have to officially confirm their candidacy.  Those who have NOT done so by that hour will NOT be on the ballot in November.  And - perhaps as important - for those who have already completed the process, but decide later they choose not to run and wait until 5:01 p.m on that date, it will be too late to withdraw.  We learned the impact of that painful lesson last time around when James Rader changed his mind one day too late.  He didn't campaign one second, yet received 2,449 votes and probably shared the responsibility with One-Note-Samba Al Melone for John Stephens not getting those 155 votes he needed to defeat Monahan.  Melone says he's running again.  Too bad...

It's going to be a very interesting week in Costa Mesa, for sure!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

US Fish and Wildlife Addresses Fairview Park(AMENDED*)

In an eleven (11) page letter to Bart Mejia, a Senior Engineer in the Public Services Department of the City of Costa Mesa dated July 24, 2014,  Karen A. Goebel, Assistant Field Supervisor for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) - a part of the Department of the Interior - addressed many issues that have arisen from the installation of the now-infamous illegal Decomposed Granite Path that encroached on protected areas that included the San Diego fairy shrimp within Fairview Park.  You can read the entire letter HERE.

After providing several pages of background on the issue, Goebel, beginning on page five (5) of her report, under the heading: Restoration, protection, and management of vernal pools in Fairview Park, outlines the City's responsibility to comply with the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and says, "In consideration of the degraded condition and management needs of the vernal pool habitat within Fairview Park, implementation by the City of the following measures would help ensure that the San Diego fairy shrimp population within the coastal terrace vernal pools at Fairview Park remains viable."

Under the following headings she lists specifics of what is expected of the City by the USFWS in that regard:
1 - Watershed Restoration
2 - Permanent Protection
3 - Fencing and Paths
4 - Public Education
5 - Trash
6 - Mowing, Weed Control, and Pesticide Use
7 - Employee Education
8 - Patrol 
9 - Biological Monitoring
10 - Adaptive Management
11 - Fairview Park Master Plan Update

You can review the report for the very expansive explanation of each.

For example, on page seven (7) of the report the following image appears, which shows in red the fence lines they expect to be established to protect the watershed and habitat.  Take a close look... this is a really BIG deal!  For example, if you're a member of the Harbor Soaring Society, you're going to have big problems retrieving errant plane landings in and around the rubble pile that is just to the west of their "airstrip".
The only mention of the investigation of the construction of the Decomposed Granite Path is near the end of the letter.  Goebel's says, "These are the measures that are needed to protect San Diego fairy shrimp and their habitat in Fairview Park and are not intended to offset the damage caused by path construction.  Issues relating to take that may have been caused by path construction remain under investigation by the Service at this time and will be addressed separately in the future".  So, those folks responsible for the desecration of that habitat "for the kids" are not yet off the hook.  I suspect the folks at the USFWS are not happy about it.  We look forward to learning what kind of penalties might be imposed on the City, or individuals, for the damage that was done.

When I made my first run through the letter I completely ignored what may be, as a friend mentioned, the 800 pound gorilla - the East side of Placentia.  In a paragraph that begins at the bottom of page eight (8) and continues to page nine (9), Goebels says the following:
"Three additional vernal pool areas, located east of Placentia Avenue, require additinoal surveys to determine if San Diego fairy shrimp and/or sensitive vernal plant species are present.  We recommend the City delineate the watershed of the three pools in the near future and avoid impacts to the waterhsed areas until protocol surveys (Service 1996) can be completed.  Positive survey results may require changes in management actions to address San Diego fairy shrimp.  The City should coordinate adaptive management with the Service prior to implementation."

Yikes!  As I, and a few others, read it, this could put the old kibosh on ANY activities on the Southeast Quadrant of the park - that segment that the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee is scheduled to begin addressing on August 6th.  This is, indeed, that 800 pound gorilla!  There seems to be no reason for the committee to continue to meet on this subject until this issue is resolved.

It's my understanding from Mejia that a meeting will be scheduled with USFWS to be sure the City clearly understands the full meaning and scope of the work involved.  The City will also be soliciting input from the community on this issue.  There is a meeting of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee scheduled at 6:00 p.m. at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue (Lions Park) on August 6, 2014 during which the committee will begin discussing ideas for the Southeast Quadrant of the park.  There will be a Public Comments segment PLUS opportunities to comment on individual items.  The Public Comments segment might be a place where concerned residents could address THIS item.  And, you can aways send your thoughts to Bart at his email address at City Hall:  That's a hot link, so you should be able to just click on it to compose your message.

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