Friday, October 31, 2014

OC Register Shifts Position On Measure O?


In one of the most contentious election seasons I can recall, where friends are pitted against friends, family members against each other and vitriol has reached new heights - or lows, depending on your viewpoint - today there was another twist.


Earlier this month the Orange County Register Editorial Board opted to support Costa Mesa's Measure O, the bastard child of Jim Righeimer's soundly defeated Measure V from two years ago.


We here at A Bubbling Cauldron have been unwavering in our rejection of this bogus document, and have cited our reasons many, many times.  We've followed the creation of that document, attending almost every meeting and watching the interaction of the Baker's Dozen of residents - the stacked deck - who crafted it.

When the document was finally blessed by the City Council I was disappointed, but not unhappy, because within it are some fatal flaws that should make EVERY voter pause before marking their ballots.  Sections 104 and 806 provide an open door for mischief at the very least and flat-out corruption if carried to an extreme.  They potentially lay waste to citizen's rights without the nasty old protections currently provided to us as a General Law City.


Today, in print, the Orange County Register listed it's endorsements and among them they recommend a NO vote on Measure O.  I have gone online and have reproduced the entire list of endorsements so you'll have the proper context below.
Measure O is a dangerous and unnecessary document and should, once again, be soundly rejected by the voters of this city.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

And The Campaign Paper Blizzard Continues...

From my perspective, the political campaign season this time around is the most vitriolic, nasty and distasteful of any in my memory, regardless of which race you examine - and I've been watching this stuff for a long, long time.  If you believed half of what lands in your mailbox these days, every single candidate should not be running for office - they should be drawn and quartered!

Distortions, fabrications and outright lies appear every day in the form of glossy fliers for almost every candidate.  Most of them cannot be traced directly back to an opposing candidate - they are hidden behind the shield of political action committees and other out-of-town organizations - on both sides.  A few concerned residents have done a good job of uncovering the funding sources for several of those groups and have posted that information on social media sites and elsewhere.

Today there was an exception.  Along with a half-dozen other political fliers, there arrived one clearly annotated, "Paid for by Costa Mesa Police Association Independent Expenditure Committee" - lest there be any doubt about it.  Here is the front:
This will look familiar to many of you - this image has been making the rounds in social media and was worn by a couple dozen members of the public at a recent City Council meeting.

The reverse side of the flier looks like this:
 (If you have difficulty reading this image 
or the one above, just click on it to enlarge it)

The issue of police staffing has been one of the many hot-button points of discussion during this campaign season.  On this site we've discussed the reasons for the depletion of the staff of the Costa Mesa Police Department several times and who we hold directly responsible.  This flyer doesn't cover all the details, but gives you the facts of the current situation.

There is nothing in recent history that leads me to believe that the continuation of Jim Righeimer on the City Council will do anything but exacerbate the situation with the CMPD and the rest of the employee associations.  He's demonstrated, over and over, that he has great animosity for the CMPD - from what I believe was a contrived confrontation at a DUI checkpoint while he was on the Planning Commission right on through to the bogus lawsuit he, his wife and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger have filed against those brave men and women.  When the issue of police staffing shortages was brought up at a recent City Council meeting Righeimer's response during one of his many mini-tirades was, "We're gonna be just fine."

Although the CMPA has been ready, willing and able to begin contract negotiations, they've been stalled because Righeimer and Mensinger are not eligible to participate because of that lawsuit and their compatriot - Gary Monahan - has been a no-show at scheduled meetings.  They have, however, given us every indication of how those negotiations will go with the result of the contract just completed with the Costa Mesa City Employees Association - the so-called "miscellaneous employees".  That one was so draconian that take home pay for many of the members has been rolled back to numbers not seen for a decade!  You may recall that one of Righeimer's first acts on the City Council was to initiate an attempt to layoff more than half of that group.  That illegal act violated established city policy and the lawsuit it generated to protect the rights of the employees is still percolating.

The flyer clearly outlines the staffing difficulties within the CMPD, but the reluctance to properly staff organizations so they can provide even minimal service levels is felt city-wide.  There have not been the number of vacancies in city staff positions that we see today for decades!  And that is only comparing them to the authorized staff. The authorized staffing level is down from optimal staffing levels of just a few years ago by more than 30%!  Righeimer paved your streets by not providing adequate staffing for other critical areas, including public safety.

Thanks to the members of the Costa Mesa Police Association for producing this informative flyer, and for pointing out, once again, that the best solution for a safer city is a vote for Jay Humphrey and Katrina Foley on Tuesday.

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La Femme Wonkita - Numbers, With A Vengeance

Over at the La Femme Wonkita Blog, councilwoman Sandra Genis has produced some very provocative entries over the past couple days.

On Tuesday she gave us an essay, HERE, which dissects the myth of a budget surplus, complete with graphics.
Then, on Wednesday, she continues her challenge of the budget process, HERE, debunking Mayor Jim Righeimer's claim of producing a balance budget.
One gets the sense that our councilwoman is rapidly growing impatient with all the fabrication that has been going on around her on the dais and seems poised to push back in real time as it happens in the future.

Yet another reason to vote for Jay Humphrey and Katrina Foley for City Council and to vote No on Measure O.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Three More Police Recruits Graduate!

In a press release today the Costa Mesa Police Department announced the graduation of three new officers from the Police Academy yesterday.

New officers Shane Anderson, Isidro Gallardo and Daniel Holl will now join the CMPD and begin their training with a Field Training Officer.  Congratulations to all three men and welcome to Costa Mesa.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Only One Surprise At Planning Commission Meeting

In a Planning Commission meeting that lasted just over 2 hours there were very few surprises.

The Public Hearing for a Conditional Use Permit for a church at 1901 Newport Boulevard was continued until the meeting of November 10th.

Both Small Lot Developments on the agenda were approved with minimal modifications to the terms on the staff reports.  Both were praised by the planning commissioners as precisely the kind of projects the Small Lot Ordinance was intended to facilitate - with plenty of parking and open space and virtually no deviations or variances.  Of course, nobody mentioned that the Small Lot Ordinance did away with the items that required variances - those protections in the municipal code to protect the character of our neighborhoods.  Now we'll just be cramming more and more dwellings on small lots and smile about it.  Both items passed on 5-0 votes.

The final item on the agenda was the proposal to install a health club in the corner of the KMart Plaza Shopping Center.  Everyone was giddy over this one, too.  The representative pitching this plan was Bill Fancher, who lives over near Mayor Jim Righeimer and who was on the Charter committee.  The commission passed this one on a 5-0 vote.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable moments of the evening came at the hands of former employee, Steven White.  He used his three minutes to castigate members of the commission and actually demanded to know who was responsible for what he called slanderous comments made about him on the Costa Mesa Taxpayer's page.  Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick is the President of that group.  Colin McCarthy is a founding member and past president.  As expected, he received no answers to his questions/demands.

So, that's it until after the election.  The next Planning Commission meeting will be on November 10th.  The next City Council meeting will be on the 17th.  In the meantime, we can all just immerse ourselves in the nastiest political season in recent memory.

And, if you want to know why I won't be voting for Jim Righeimer for City Council, read what I wrote recently HERE.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

More Development And A Familiar Name

Later this evening the Costa Mesa Planning Commission, under the leadership of the dynamic (tongue-in-cheek) chairman, Jim Fitzpatrick - shown here hard at work at the recent Public Safety BBQ -  will take a break from their political activism, commentary-writing, sign arrangement and the like,  and get back to work earning the highest pay of any Planning Commission in the county.  They will meet for the final time until after the election next month.  The agenda for the meeting, which begins at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers, can be found HERE.

On the Consent Calendar there's an item of interest, HERE.  It's the vacation of a strip of land at the end of Pacific Avenue adjacent to Fairview Park.  It's unlikely that it will get any discussion - that's the purpose of the Consent Calendar, after all.  I just thought you'd like to see the staff report.

There are four (4) Public Hearings on the agenda.  The first one, HERE, is Conditional Use Permit for the establishement of a church in part of the building at 1901 Newport Blvd.  The applicant has requested this item be continued - again - until the meeting on November 10, 2014.
320 E. 18TH STREET
Public Hearing #2, HERE, is an application to develop a two-unit residential site at 320 East 18th Street - a small lot subdivision adjacent to the Lighthouse Community Church, where the Kline School was once located by SCEL Properties.
Public Hearing #3, HERE, is for another two-unit development, also by SCEL Properties, at 119 Cecil Place.
Public Hearing #4, HERE, is for a Conditional Use Permit for a 24-hour/7 days a week health club (Planet Fitness) in the Kmart Plaza at 2200 Harbor Blvd.  Of note for me was the name of the applicant - Bill Fancher of Fancher Development Services.  You may recall that when the Charter Committee was being formed more than a year ago, one of the persons selected was this self-same Bill Fancher.  At the time Mayor Jim Righiemer made a big deal of not knowing who he was - or, at least he feigned not knowing.  Why does it come as no surprise to find that Mr. Fancher is a developer?  Helping to craft a developer-friendly Charter?  Just sayin'...  And, here he is before the Planning Commission.... "Friends in High Places" and all that...

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Liar, Liar...

That phrase was spoken to the mayor during the bifurcated public comments section late in the evening Tuesday, October 21st.  You can watch Anna Vrska express her opinion near the end of this video clip, HERE.  Here's yet another example...

Earlier that day, at 2:52 p.m.,  after reviewing the text of the proposed Group Home Ordinance that was to receive a second reading at the council meeting that night, resident Carrie Renfro, who lives on Buoy Street, in the heart of a part of town significantly impacted by the Group Home problem, wrote to four council members - Mayor Jim Righiemer, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger and Councilwomen Sandra Genis and Wendy Leece with the following note:

"I applaud the city for finally taking some action regarding the out of control proliferation of group homes in our city; however, I am writing to ask that you reconsider the currently proposed ordinance.  The ordinance is not well written and only covers a portion of the residential areas. Further, it does not address the parolee situation.  I think it would be wise to wait a few weeks to see if the SCOTUS takes up the Newport Beach case which could have a huge bearing on how CM should proceed.  The current ordinance in its format will most certainly open us up for a lawsuit, which would further hold up any future ordinance. I figure if we are going to be tied up with lawsuit, let’s at least start with a city wide ordinance that is well crafted in the first place.  Thanks.

Carrie Renfro"

You may recall that Righeimer held one of his little mini-town halls on Renfro's side yard to discuss the infestation of Group Homes not too long ago.

At 3:26 p.m. that afternoon Righeimer responded to Renfro with the following note:

"Ms. Renfro,

Thanks for your email. The ordinance at this point applies only to R-1.
Our attorneys will start drafting R-2, R-3 etc. once and if the ordinance
is approved. Because the character of R-1 neighborhoods is different than
r-2 or r-3 neighborhoods, the ordinance will also be different.

Our ordinance is also very different from Newport Beach¹s. Newport already
lost in court and is asking for the U.S. Supreme court to take the case.
There is 20% chance they may take it. Meanwhile we have written an
ordinance we think can get though the courts once it is challenged.

Lastly, the ordinance was recommended by the task force that I put
together. Lisa Morlan, who is a founder of TBON, is OK with this ordinance.

Thanks again for your email.

James Righeimer
Mayor, City of Costa Mesa"

Following the council meeting at which the ordinance received approval several of the members of the grass-roots organization Take Back Our Neighborhoods (TBON) expressed concern about it, and the statement made by Righeimer above in which he stated categorically that TBON member Lisa Morlan "is OK with this ordinance."  He also identified her as a founder of TBON.  She's a member, not a founder.  The letter below, written to Renfro by Morlan at 2:04 p.m. on 10/22/14, explains in no uncertain terms Morlan's viewpoint on the ordinance and Righeimer's falsehoods in his letter.

Hi Carrie...Thank you for forwarding the email Mayor Righeimer is sending out...

First of all, I never received a copy of the group home ordinance to review prior to it being shared at the 1st planning commission.  I missed the last week of the Task Force meeting when the ordinance was voted on and finalized by the Task Force (I was in Washington).  I'm not even sure if a final draft was given to Task Force members to review.  How could I possibly endorse the City's propose group home ordinance without having access to it?  I would have wanted to thoroughly go through it with a fine tooth comb before giving it a thumbs up or down.  I did request a copy of the ordinance draft before I left for vacation; however, Rick Francis from the City told me I couldn't have one because of confidential and legal concerns.

For the record...this is my where I stand on the issue:

1.  The mayor should not be putting my name, or TBON's name on any email.  He did not ask me if I endorsed the current group   home ordinance.

2.  I will call/email Mayor and ask him to remove my name from any email, letter, or publication he hands out to the public.

3.  I believe Costa Mesa needs an ordinance to better regulate the over proliferation of group homes in Costa Mesa., but the current one did not have my stamp of approval.  I never had access to view the final proposed ordinance.

4.  I do believe the City attorney's did work very hard to research information to compose the ordinance.  I do know they spoke with the former mayor of Orange and the attorney who crafted their group home ordinance, Newport Beach council, League of Cities, experts in the field including Hoag Hospital.  Data of negative impacts (past and current) have been collected and reviewed, including emails/letters of complaints from Costa Mesa residents.  I do not have any reason to believe the City attorneys who worked on the ordinance were swayed to do anything illegal, unethical, or half-assed.  It is my belief the composing of the ordinance was done professionally, responsively, and with good intent (Yes...I know...many will probably shake their heads over my comment).  I understand why people are doubtful...there have been too many lies, and who can Costa Mesa citizens trust on council.

5.  I believe the group ordinance is a good start; however, it does need refining...which I hope and pray the City will do.  Would I like to see the current ordinance cover all of Costa Mesa...absolutely yes.  However, from a legal standpoint, I do understand the City attorney's recommendation to start of with R1 first.  Do I like  But I'm not an attorney who has expertise in how to battle the many law suits that are going to undoubtedly happen.  Court battles are a whole different ballgame.

6. My greatest concern is that the City will not have the manpower, such as code enforcement, and the means withal to implement/enforce the group home ordinance.  Even if the group home ordinance is crafted to cover all R1 and R2 neighborhoods, and written in a manner that earns everyone's approval, who is going to enforce it?  How is it going to be enforced?  How many City employees are going to be needed to effectively and consistently handle this?

7.  Lastly, I am NOT the founder of TBON!

Please feel free to share my email with others.  If there are further questions, please feel free to call or email.

Best regards,
Lisa Morlan

Morlan certainly grasps the issue and has an excellent perspective on the problem and the barely marginal solution provided by the Group Home Ordinance.  A couple speakers Tuesday night opined that the City was in for some serious legal problems with this ordinance.  One even told us that our "pockets are not deep enough."  He's probably right.
I don't know exactly what Righeimer's problem is with the truth, but he certainly has one.  This is only a recent example of him misstating the truth - the list is too long and painful to recount here.  He just seems to make things up as he goes along, apparently expecting that nobody will notice.

This is just one more reason he must not be returned to the City Council.  As Jay Humphrey said in a recent Daily Pilot commentary, HERE"This council election is, more than anything, about trust.  Whom do you trust?"

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