Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Special Way For Us To "Ring Out The Old Year"...

When most of you read this it will be New Year's Eve, Wednesday, December 31, 2014, and you'll be in the midst of planning your big celebrations - many of which will stretch on into the next day.  Thursday you'll likely be trying to recuperate from your celebrating by watching college football games non-stop from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.  By the end of the Sugar Bowl game Thursday night we will know which two teams will play for the national championship in two weeks.  I love this time of the year!  Go Ducks!

My sweet and very patient wife and I will be celebrating New Year's Eve as we always do - by hunkering down, snuggling by the fire and enjoying the anniversary of our very first date - New Year's Eve, 1966!  Yep, 48 years ago we had our very first date.  We celebrated with friends and danced all night.  She swept me off my feet - well, one of us did the sweeping - and we dated for the next 8 months, then got married, moved 3,000 miles away and began this wonderful journey together.  I'm a VERY lucky guy!

So, we both want to wish all of you, or both of you, depending on how many are reading this entry, a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR.  Thanks for taking the time to read what appears here and for responding when you feel moved.  Fasten your seat belts, folks.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mensinger's Heavy Hand Will Mark First Meeting of 2015

In the very first meeting of the Costa Mesa City Council of the New Year, rookie Mayor Steve Mensinger will attempt to mark his turf by convincing his fellow-council members to make some serious changes in the way council meetings are conducted in the future.  Since it is the last item on the agenda for the meeting on January 6, 2015, that's how I'll play it here, too.  We'll discuss it last...  You can read the complete agenda HERE.

This meeting will follow the old agenda rules and will be preceded by a Closed Session beginning at 5:00 p.m.  They will discuss the lawsuit between the City and the Costa Mesa City Employees Association.  The regular meeting begins at 6:00 in City Council Chambers at City Hall.

I note with great interest that this meeting will have not one, but two (2) Mayor's Awards!  I understand the first one - to Harland Anderson for his decades of service at the Boys and Girls Club - but don't have a clue about the second - to Boathouse Collective.  And I sure don't know why it was necessary to have TWO of these awards in a single meeting.  Seems to kind of dilute the idea, doesn't it?  It's kind of like befouling a good glass of bourbon with some Diet Coke.  I thought it was strange when former Mayor Jim Righeimer was tossing them out to everyone he knew like beads at a Mardi Gras parade - or so it seemed - but now Mensinger continues what is becoming a tradition with those guys - screwing up and diluting important recognition by the City.

The Consent Calendar has more than a few interesting items.  Item #3, Warrant 2527, HERE, contains a list of recent payments.  I know those of you who actually care will follow that link and dig out information that interests you.  (By the way, they didn't make easy for us to find stuff because they published the roster sideways, so you might get a crick in your neck reviewing all 84 of those pages.)  Here are just a few entries that caught my eye:

Dougherty + Dougherty - $31,289.03 - for Interior Design.
Jones & Mayer - $148,402.70 - for a long list of legal work.
Lilley Planning Group - $23,025.00 - for planning consulting services.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $6,246.95 - several legal items.
Scientia Consulting Group, Inc - $6,901.50 - IT Consultant.
City of Huntington Beach - $21,490.00 - Helicopter Svc, 10/14.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (again) - $20,382.16 - labor negotiations, etc.
Meyers Nave - $7,176.50 - Legal, Fairview Park.
Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau - $194,831.86 - BIA receipts, 10/14.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (again) - $7,150.00 - Training.
Scientia Consulting Group, Inc. (again) - $3,504.50 - IT Consulting.
Westminster Press, Inc. - $10,627.20 - Printing Toll Road and Charter Mailers.
Best Best & Krieger - $2,277.50 - Special Council Legal Services.
CSG Consultants - $12,705.00 - Bldg Inspection Services.
Interwest Consulting Group - $12,501.00 - Sr. Bldg. Inspec. Svcs.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore (again) - $405.00 - 1 yr. basic library membership.
Tacos Chihuahua, Inc. - $2,388.18 - Catering Services, 12/11/14.

So, that's a taste of how we spent your money over the last month or so.  Still spinning the counter on legal costs and consulting fees throughout City Hall to backfill the manpower shortage that exists.  I once joked four years ago that Righeimer's idea of a perfect city government would be Tom Hatch and a bunch of contract administrators to manage all the outsourced functions.  We continue to head in that direction.

Item #4 is a contract for $88,475 for annual updates on the City's Pavement Management Program.  The staff report, HERE, explains the need.  Under the "Alternatives Considered" section we find this statement -     "However, due to the current manpower capacity, level of effort, and lack of expertise in the use of the required pavement management software, a significant delay in implementing this project would be experienced, and having these professional services performed by a highly qualified outside consultant is recommended." Yep, can't run a business without the staff and/or expertise.

Items #6 and 7, HERE and HERE, are approvals of final tract maps for projects on Meyer Street and Miner Street, respectively.

New Business #1, HERE,  is a modification to the Business Improvement Area (BIA) to add the new BLVD Hotel, for a total of eleven (11) participating hotels in the city.

New Business #2, HERE,  is the Urban Master Plan Screening Request for a 4-unit detached common interest development at 2068 Maple Avenue.  This appears to be similar to other projects sprouting up on the Westside of town - three stories plus a rooftop patio.
Finally, the final item on the agenda, New Business #3, HERE, is the item I mentioned right at the top of this page - Mayor Mensinger's attempt to leave his personal footprint squarely on the neck of concerned residents by tinkering with an already-flawed public commenting system to potentially make it even more onerous.  Briefly, here's what he wants to do:
  • Change the regular council meeting start time to 5:45 p.m. from 6:00 p.m. (closed sessions would begin at 5:00 and end at 5:45).  This will, of course, make it more difficult for working folks with an interest in City issues to get to the meeting on time.
  • Conclude "Special Presentations" by 6:00 p.m.  Yeah, good luck with that!  Like this meeting, with 2 Mayor's Awards, for example.  We'll put a clock on it...
  • Public Comments would occur from 6:00 p.m. - 6:40 p.m. to "allow for a 33 percent increase in scheduled Public Comment time near the start of the meeting."  OK, so, instead of maybe 10 speakers having time to address the council, this scheme will provide for another three, maybe!  And...
  • Require that all speaker cards for "Public Comments" be submitted at the beginning of the regular meeting prior to the first speaker.  That means that if you wish to rebut an earlier speaker or amplify someone else's comment, but did not fill out a card BEFORE they spoke, you're out of luck.
  • Fear not!  If you submitted a speaker card in a "timely fashion", but did not get to speak during the Public Comments section, you will be given the "opportunity to address" the council at the end of the meeting.  (It's interesting to note that the revised order of business, below, doesn't show time for that activity.)
  • Remove the "Continued Public Comments" and "Council Member Comments" sections of the agenda.
  • Require that those wishing to address an item on the Consent Calendar fill out a speaker card prior to the start of the Consent Calendar.  Again, if you wish to rebut or amplify a comment and had not filled out a card you're out of luck.
  • Items "pulled" from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion will continue to be "trailed" to the end of the meeting, just as Dictator Righeimer did in his regime.
  • Perhaps the most interesting change is the requirement of all council members to limit their "Council Member's Reports, Comments and Suggestions" to 3 minutes!  I can hardly wait for THIS discussion!  And, this rule can be waived by THE MAYOR or by majority vote of the council.  Well, we all can count to 3, so we know what will be happening up there if THIS draconian rule is applied.  

Here's the proposed revised order of business:

(a) Closed Session (as required)
(b) Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
(c) Moment of Solemn Expression
(d) Roll Call and Call to Order
(e) Closed Session Report
(f) Announcements
(g) Special Presentations
(h) Public Comments (Up to 6:40 p.m., may be extended by the Mayor or a
majority vote of the City Council)
(i) Council Member’s Reports, Comments and Suggestions (3 minutes each,
may be extended by the Mayor or majority vote of the City Council)
(j) CEO Report
(k) Consent Calendar
(l) Public Hearings
(m) Old Business
(n) New Business
(o) Items Removed from the Consent calendar
(p) City Attorney’s Report
(q) Adjournment

So, the new mayor, in his first managerial act, moved decisively to further restrict dissenting opinions by moving the meeting to an earlier time and placing a tighter stranglehold on opposing viewpoints.  Any thought that this was going to be a "kinder, gentler" adminsitration is now fully erased.  What we will now see is a tighter restriction of free speech by a guy who can barely follow the agenda when he's NOT in charge.  And, I suspect we'll see him wield that gavel Righeimer gave him in the first meeting to attempt to maintain control - somthing I've not seen before in a dozen years watching council meetings.  This is NOT going to be a pretty picture.  Stay tuned, folks.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Foley Tops DP 103

The Daily Pilot - our newspaper of record for more than a century - announced it's DP 103 list of those felt were news makers and influenced events in the community this afternoon in an online article.  Costa Mesa councilwoman Katrina Foley, who was elected again to the council last month after four years on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Trustees, was chosen to top the list.  In the election she was the highest vote-getter by far,  as she out-paced incumbent Mayor Jim Righeimer, who barely held onto his seat by defeating another former council member, Jay Humhprey, by 47 votes.  Righeimer was named #5, behind new Mayor Steve Mensinger.  Humphrey was selected #41.  You can read the article HERE.

Here's how the top 10 (11, actually, if you count heads) looks:
1 - Foley
2 - Marshall "Duffy" Duffield - He defeated incumbent Mayor Rush Hill for a spot on the Newport Beach City Council.
3 - Jean Watt - A long time Newport Beach activist
4 - Mensinger
5 - Righeimer
6 - Diane Dixon - Captured a seat on the Newport Beach City Council as part of Dave Ellis' stable of candidates.
7 - Wendy Leece - Dixon's sister and termed-out Costa Mesa City Council member.
8 - Ed Selich - New Mayor in Newport Beach.
9 - Nancy Gardner - Former Newport Beach council member.
10 - Jack and Nancy Skinner - A formidable environmental activist duo, clearly worthy of a spot on this list.

Last year's #1, Costa Mesa Police Chief Tom Gazsi, was on this list, too - at #12.  He made it despite recently retiring and moving to a brand new position of Deputy Chief of Operations for the Los Angeles Port Police Department.

This list will certainly generate some controversy - that's part of the fun, after all.  I won't re-hash every person listed.  Most are movers and shakers, political and otherwise, sprinkled with a few of us moved and shaken, too.

A few entries that I found very interesting for different reasons:

30 - Robin Leffler - President of Costa Mesans For Responsible Government (CM4RG).
42 - Rob Dimel - Costa Mesa Police Officer, former A.B.L.E. helicopter pilot and President of the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association, which is being sued by Righeimer and Mensinger.
43 - Harold Weitzberg - He lost the endorsement of CM4RG in his run for City Council, so jumped ship and campaigned for candidate Chris Bunyan, who finished dead last in the race.  Weitzberg is a vocal advocate for Medical Marijuana sales in Costa Mesa.
52 - Mike Scheafer - Who was recognized, once again, for his work on the Costa Mesa Sanitary District and his body of volunteerism for most of his adult life.
61 - Dave Ellis - He managed to get his slate of candidates elected to the Newport Beach City Council but failed in his own race for a seat on the water district.
71 - Anna Vrska - This tenacious, tireless activist continues to dig into controversial issues in Costa Mesa, making public records requests to seek the truth on issues like the 60th Anniversary Celebration and city legal fees.
74 - Jim Fitzpatrick - I loved the note on his selection: "The Costa Mesa Planning Commission chairman approved development throughout the city and served as an activist in support of the council majority."  Yep, that's about the kindest way to put it.
83 - Diane Hill - She works tirelessly to produce her United Neighbors electronic newsletter, which provides a wealth of timely and useful information to her subscribers.
84 - Cindy Black - She's on the job, working to protect Costa Mesa's natural assets, like Fairview Park.
88 - Greg Ridge - A Democrat activist who involves himself in issues beyond partisan politics.
89 - Vince Finaldi and John Manley - Righeimer and Mensinger's lawyers!  I thought their placement on the list was curious.
94 - Dane Bora and Brad Long - Among my favorite selections on the list.  These true professionals stay focused on the job at hand - providing excellent, award-winning video coverage of most Costa Mesa meetings and other events.
103 - The Newport Beach Civic Center Bunnies - I chuckled when I saw this choice because of the controversy that has swirled around them since the new Civic Center complex was opened.

Oh, yes - I'm on the list again, at #31, just below Leffler.  I'm always grateful to the editors and staff of the Daily Pilot when they include me on the list, regardless where I fall in the roster.   I'm down a few notches this year - those darn politicians just clog up the top slots!  My presence on the list will drive a few folks in town slightly nuts, but I guess the Daily Pilot staff thought the thousands of visitors to my blog each month and the millions of pages views that have accumulated since I launched this particular site represent value to the community.  Or, maybe they just think I'm a nice fella...  Whatever the reason, I'm grateful - again. 

I was very pleased to see a companion piece to this article honoring the memory of Newport Beach Lifeguard Ben Carlson, HERE, who lost his life this year while attempting to save a swimmer in distress.  Some think he should have been included on the list, but the list is for the living.  The article by Alicia Lopez is a fitting, appropriate tribute to Carlson. 

105 PLUS...
So, there you have it.  105 persons (I don't know how to calculate the Yang family) and a bunch of ceramic bunnies that represent the 2014 Daily Pilot DP 103 list.  Thanks to the editors and staff for this exercise, and for publishing it on Christmas Eve so we can enjoy it as  we open our presents tomorrow morning.

And now, a little holiday joy for you from Nat, Andy and Mariah
Merry Christmas To You All

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas To You All

It's time to turn the old cauldron down to simmer again so my sweet and very patient wife and I can join you all in celebrating this holiday season.  Enjoy the photo of my neighbor, Sharon's, tree... thousands of lights and ornaments. 

It's been a very interesting year, to say the very least.  I doubt there has ever been a need for more "peace on earth, goodwill to men" in Costa Mesa than right now, today.

Thanks to all of you who try to make our city a better place.  Your efforts are very much appreciated.  I'd list you all here, but that would exceed the limits of the storage on this site.  And thanks to the thousands of you who read these pages each month.  I know some of you don't agree with me, but that's OK...  You're still welcome here.

And, before we close for now, keep your eyes peeled for the Daily Pilot DP 103, which is scheduled to be published on Friday.  It's always an adventure and fun to see which of our neighbors make the list - and which do not.  Last year Chief Tom Gazsi was, appropriately, listed in the top spot.  He's moved on to an exciting new assignment so I have no idea who will lead the pack this year - it sure won't be me! 

As has become a kind of tradition here, I present to you for your listening pleasure, one of my favorite Christmas parodies - the remarkable Stan Freberg's Green Christmas.  Yeah, you have your Bing Crosby's White Christmas and Johnny Mathis singing Silent Night, but nothing says Christmas to me like old Stan.

We'll be back sometime soon.  So, a Very Merry Christmas to you all and a Very Happy New Year.  Go Ducks - win two!

And now, Stan, if you please....

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Sad Anniversary Slipped Past Me

Each year since 2003 I've marked December 19 with a remembrance of my best friend of 57 years, Larry Moore.  That is the date he died in a Las Vegas hospital following a six-week battle trying to recover from injuries incurred in a motorcycle accident on a remote desert road as he drove home from Las Vegas following a visit with old neighbors.

This year that date got swept up in holiday preparations and I missed it, so, tonight as we head for Christmas this week, I pause to, once again, remember my friend.  If you wish, you can read what I wrote about him last year, HERE.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Scheafer Appointed President of Sanitary District Board

The Costa Mesa Sanitary District announced today that Mike Scheafer was appointed as President of the Board of Directors at their meeting last night.

Scheafer is a nearly life-long resident of Costa Mesa, successful businessman and community volunteer.  According to the press release, he was first appointed to the CMSD Board in 1993, where he served for two years.  He was elected to the Board again in 2010 and recently re-elected for another 4-year term.

In addition to his service on the CMSD Board, Scheafer has been a member of the Costa Mesa-Newport Harbor Lions Club where he chaired the annual Fish Fry many times.  He was on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of the Harbor Area; Costa Mesa Senior Center; Costa Mesa United; South Coast Children's Society; Newport Elks Lodge and was Chairman of the Costa Mesa 60th Anniversary Committee.

He is also President of the Independent Special Districts of Orange County Executive Committee and is a member of the Board of the Special District Risk Management Authority.

Scheafer has also served the community as a member of the City Council and the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Also announced in the press release - Art Perry was appointed as Vice President; Bob Ooten was appointed as Secretary and Arlene Schafer as Assistant Secretary.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Former Mayor Jack Hammett Services Announced

The services for former Costa Mesa Mayor Jack Hammett have been announced.

Visitation tomorrow, Thursday, 5-8 p.m.

Mass, 11:00 a.m.,  Graveside Service, 1:00 p.m. and Celebration of Life, 2:30 on Friday, December 19, 2014.

You can read the details from the City of Costa Mesa Press release HERE,  and more information at the Dignity web site, HERE.


Raucous Medical Marijuana Meeting

Beyond the actual result of the Costa Mesa City council meeting Tuesday afternoon - begun at an extremely rare 2:00 p.m. start time and stretching until just after 5:00 p.m. - we learned a few interesting things.  We learned that the guys moved the girls to the outside on the dais.  I found myself thinking that will put pressure on the inside and, who knows, maybe that pressure will produce some diamonds...

We learned, for example, just who was in charge at that meeting - and it wasn't who you'd guess.  It wasn't rookie Mayor Steve Mensinger, nor pushy, pontificating Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer.  Nope, the person in charge was new council member Katrina Foley.  It was great theater...

We also learned that Gary Monahan - who has begun his final two years on the council - can probably be a force to be reckoned with on this council given the right topic and the right circumstances.   This afternoon meeting was one of those times.

And, we learned that Sandra Genis continues to do her homework and ask tough questions and will not easily be dissuaded from getting answers.

As the meeting began it looked like we might have trouble meeting a quorum.  Both Righeimer and Monahan were tardy - Righeimer by a few minutes and Monahan was 40 minutes late.

There were only four people who signed up to speak during Public Comments.  Flo Martin asked for better fencing around the vernal pools at Fairview Park and spoke of clear footprints through them yesterday.  Riganista sycophant Jim Fitzpatrick used his three minutes to plant a big smooch on the fannies of Righeimer and Mensinger as he spoke of the arrest of Private Investigators Chris Lanzillo and Scott Impola, and quoted from the transcript of the investigation.  Beth Refakes wished all a happy holiday and reminded us of the Snoopy House event ongoing at City Hall from now until December 23rd each evening.  Jeff Arthur, Chairman of the Pension Oversight Committee and a self-proclaimed PERS retiree, made a brief presentation using slides to demonstrate that our unfunded liability is getting worse, not better.

For the first time in my memory none of the council members had comments to make.

CEO Tom Hatch was also brief, announcing that services for former Mayor Jack Hammett were pending and that the Senior Center would have its grand re-opening this Friday, the 19th, at 10:00.  As it turns out, that event will directly conflict with the services for Hammett, which begin at St. Joaquim Catholic Church on that date at 11:00 a.m.  You can read about the all-day event HERE.

We hoped the brevity was a sign of a short meeting.  Nah, it was not to be.  So, the five dozen people in the chambers settled in as the only item on the agenda - the future of Medical Marijuana in our community - was addressed.
Deputy City Attorney Chris Neumeyer was the lead presenter and he went through the staff report, capsulizing each segment in a brief, efficient manner.  The staff report can be read HERE to understand the issues involved.  You'll note there are 33 attachments.  Item 33 is a map of potential sites for Medical Marijuana facilities using a 500 foot radius.  Foley had asked the staff earlier for the same map with 1,000 foot radii, which was presented later in the meeting.  That's important, because it became foundational to her discussion later.

Neumeyer explained that the task before the council today was to determine how to handle the two competing initiatives that have qualified to be placed on a ballot for a vote of the people.  He also explained the conflicting laws in play because the two initiatives have a taxation element in them, which requires them to be placed on a ballot at which council members will be chosen.  That means November, 2016.  There is also a statute that requires initiatives to be placed before the voters promptly - in this case within a few months.  And, adding to the joy of the afternoon was Gary Monahan's ordinance - rejected by the council earlier this year.  They had some difficulty looking for a name for it and eventually called it the "city ordinance".

Bradley Zint did a good job, HERE, in describing the meeting in the Daily Pilot. He gave you most of the facts, but not the fun.

After the staff presentation a spirited half-hour discussion took place between the council members, sorting out definitions and staking out philosophical territory.

At 3:20 the Public Comments began.  Sixteen (16) people turned in cards.  Seventeen actually spoke - a dozen in favor of Medical Marijuana and the remainder against.  I won't try to give you every word of every speaker, but will capture some of the comments.

Flo Martin described herself as a 40-year marijuana user and, as a senior citizen, she uses it for pain now.

Harold Weitzberg, whose wife operated a dispensary in Costa
Mesa, spoke with great articulation, suggesting a study group be formed to create a proper ordinance.

Paul Lucas suggested contact with the Orange County Health Department, and said patients shouldn't be forced to go to industrial areas to get their medicine.

Virginia Vargas, a young mother, spoke about the availability of drugs to kids and was concerned about dispensaries being sources for those drugs.

Ann Parker suggested that kids will get the drugs regardless, and described anecdotal information about Newport Harbor High School students and drugs.

Randall Longwith, an author of one of the initiatives, expressed concern that it has gotten this far.  He told the council he would have preferred for the city to create an ordinance, but when it didn't he moved forward with his.

Gay Royer referred to the old movie, "Reefer Madness", was in support of Medical Marijuana and suggested that the dispensaries should be in safe places.

Gary Parkin told us his father used Medical Marijuana and suggested we "go small" to start.

Sue Lester, a former dispensary owner, stressed the importance of a proper ordinance, and indicated zone the hell out of it".  She indicated that, since recreational Marijuana use is still against state law, any operator who is NOT licensed should be closed.  She said, "You guys have to do something because it's being rammed down your throat."
that Monahan's ordinance was a good start, but needed some fine-tuning - safeguards.  She suggested a strong permitting process and "

Michael Alexander said his father was a police officer for 26 years and that we shouldn't worry about the money.

Jay Humphrey agreed with Lester "110%".  He stressed that the creation of a "testing lab" - which
has been part of the earlier discussion - was a horrendous undertaking.  He wondered about California standards for cannabis.  He suggested we "do the things we can actually do."

A Newport Beach lawyer named Lance Rogers presented his personal history in Medical Marijuana in the state and suggested he might be helpful to the City.  He said we have a "fantastic opportunity".

Resident David Kincaid, a supporter of Medical Marijuana, wondered about nearby cities, and whether we would be "going it alone."

Robert Taft, Jr is a "main proponent" of one of the initiatives and referred to the Santa Ana ordinance, which had been presented for terms of comparison in the staff report.  He expressed concern that, as a result of its new ordinance, Santa Ana's dispensaries will be moving into Costa Mesa without any controls.  He said we don't want to see 100 rogue stores in Costa Mesa.

Undertaker Bruce Lamb described attending to those who died of overdoses and referred to marijuana as a threshold drug that could lead to harder drugs and overdoses.

Former council member Wendy Leece referred to a recent New York law as something that should be part of any discussion of the issue in Costa Mesa.

Travis Acevedo suggested that we get ahead of this issue, and also referred to the Santa Ana ordinance and the fact that rogue dispensaries will be coming to Costa Mesa.  He said, "It's coming and you need to be ahead or behind it."

Just after 4:00 the comments ended and Righeimer just shoved his way right into the discussion.  He went off on a tirade, speaking of the fact that "anybody in this room could go get medical marijuana" without a prescription.  He referred the anticipated influx of dispensaries to the Sooners of Oklahoma, waiting for the land rush.  He suggested that, with the "Santa Ana experiment" going on next door we should give it a couple years to figure it out, and talked about the costs of litigation.  Well, he should know -  he's the reason for our litigation season.  He suggested a study group of all stakeholders and mentioned being in Colorado recently and it's a mess.  He then, without practically taking a breath or giving any other council a chance to even speak, made a motion to move the initiatives to the 2016 election and to form a task force to study it.  He said he's not in favor of ANY of the initiatives.  Genis seconded it for discussion.

Then Foley took over.  With Genis' permission, since she had the floor to discuss her second of the Righeimer motion, she launched into a carefully-crafted monologue about an alternative to that motion.  She spoke of her concern about the children of the community and safety of customers.  She shared about her family members who have used marijuana and how it was a gateway drug.  She worried about the ancillary effect on neighborhoods, referring to liquor stores as an example.  She mentioned Department of Justice guidelines for such establishments.  She suggested we move forward slowly, then suggested adopting Monahan's ordinance, HERE, with some changes. 

At this point we all had the new attachments, which are not part of the online staff report.  The one in question would be #33, but with 1,000 foot radius from protected sites.  That ended up showing seventeen (17) possible locations within the city for dispensaries.  So, she offered a substitute motion to use Monahan's ordinance as the foundation and her changes involved:
1 - Using the 1,000 foot buffer from all residential areas , R-1, R-2 and R-3, leaving it to industrial/manufacturing zones.
2 - Operators must obtain a permit.
3 - Minimum age of purchasers would be 21.
4 - Council could amend or repeal the ordinance.
5 - No felons with such records the past 10 years could operate or work in a dispensary.
6 - A Conditional Use Permit would be required.
7 - No product delivery within the first two years.
8 - An annual review and report required by code enforcement.

Additionally, there would be placed on a special election ballot in March, 2015 a Special Tax proposal that, if approved by 2/3 of the voters, would assess a 10% tax on the gross receipts for such businesses, which would be earmarked for the following uses, in order.  Foley stressed that if money ran out as it was distributed down the list, then those uses further down would receive no funds.
1 - reimbursement for the cost of the special election.
2 - code enforcement costs to manage dispensaries, ensuring compliance.
3- paying down the unfunded pension liability and any subsequent pension contributions
4 - drug abuse education
5 - homelessness prevention.


Righeimer reacted by saying something like, "Oh, great, now the whole city will have to get stoned to pay pension liabilities!"  Foley's retort was, "Well, at least I'm trying to do something about it.  You're doing nothing!"  As I said earlier, it was great theater.

Amazingly, Monahan seconded the motion and suggested some modifications.  He expressed concern about the 21 age limit, suggesting that younger users with prescriptions could be accommodated if accompanied by a parent.  He also suggested a minor Conditional Use Permit, citing that these were just like any other business.

Genis seemed supportive.  Monahan expressed concern for the probability of yet another petition being circulated and being forced to place it on another ballot.  Foley invited the two petition authors up to speak... Righeimer balked, but was out-voted, 3-2, to let them speak again.  I smiled.

During that conversation they confirmed Monahan's concerns.  Longwith said he was 100% behind what the city was trying to do.  It was observed that the petition cannot be withdrawn now, but Foley indicated that the supporters could actively NOT support it at the 2016 election.

In the end here's what happened.  The council voted, 3-2 (Righeimer and Mensinger voting NO) to support Foley's idea to bring forward Monahan's ordinance with the modifications cited to a January Study Session, where the issues would be hammered out and finalized and presented to the council in a regular meeting in January - probably on the 20th.  The council also voted, 4-1 (Righeimer voted NO) to place the two initiatives on the 2016 ballot.

A couple observations...  First, Steve Mensinger had a rough outing as the first-time operator of that meeting.  It was much like Johnny Manziel last week when he started for the Browns for the first time and they were blown out by the Bengals.  Sorry, but Steve is a football guy, right?  He completely lost control of the meeting several times.  He even broke out the gavel Righeimer gave him when he was anointed as Mayor to try to restore order.  You can blame part of that on Righeimer's difficulty of letting go of the reins and also on Foley's strong position on the issue at hand.  She was clearly the best prepared of the group... the word "leadership" comes to mind.

Second, it's going to be a long, long couple years for Mensinger and Righeimer if this meeting was any indication.  I smiled a lot.  I don't know how successful Genis and Foley will be in trying to change the course in our city, but we know now that Monahan can, and sometimes will, listen to an argument, so there's hope.  That's enough for now.

No more meetings until next year.... I think we all need a little respite... So, to give you a little taste of how if felt at times in this meeting I leave you with an appropriate YouTube video clip.  Enjoy...

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