Saturday, November 15, 2014

It's Over... No Change In Costa Mesa Race Tonight

OK, the Fat Lady is standing in the wings, beginning to wail.  Here's how it looks tonight for the 2014 Costa Mesa City Council municipal election following the 5:00 p.m. release of numbers.  There are NO CHANGES IN THE COSTA MESA ELECTION TODAY.  The counter at the top of the page implies that there will be another count on Monday.  You can see the entire "Results" page HERE.  According to the "What's Left To Count" page, HERE,  there remain only 50 votes county-wide left to be tallied and those are Election Day Paper ballots.  All that remains now is for the Registrar to certify the election next week.  For all practical purposes, this is your final result:
Katrina Foley is the top vote-getter in this election.  For the second election in a row the top vote-getter was NOT a Riganista.  Two years ago it was former council woman Sandra Genis.  This time it's Foley, who ended up with 26.5% of the votes.  Mayor Jim Righeimer will retain his seat on the dais by finishing second.  He will finish 47 voters ahead of Jay Humphrey.

The also-rans include Lee Ramos finished 4th.  Tony Capitelli finishes far behind Ramos.  Al Melone is next.  Rita Simpson trailed Melone and Chris Bunyan will finish last.
I don't have any idea if Humphrey plans to ask for a recount once Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley certifies the election next week.  He will have 5 days to do so, and to put up the cash to begin the recount.  As I've mentioned before, historically recounts in Orange County don't change things much.  Kelley and his crew do a good job the first time through, as we learned two years ago when John Stephens trailed Gary Monahan by 155 votes.

One thing is clear to me following this election.  Jim Righeimer, despite all his pontification and behaving like a dictator, DOES NOT have a mandate from the voters of this city.  The resounding defeat of his Charter scheme in two consecutive elections by increasing margins demonstrates that the voters are not buying what he's selling.  The defeat of many of his pals in this election further demonstrates the voter's views on him and his behavior.  He should not expect the heat to be lifted after this election.  Quite the contrary... he should expect even more scrutiny.

In a recent article Foley promised to seek compromise.  Well, check the weather report for Hades... it takes two sides to compromise and the current - and future - majority has shown NO inclination to compromise on anything.  No, what we will see is more contentiousness, more bickering, more angry speakers taking the majority to task.  And we'll see more unilateral, partisan political maneuvering by Righeimer and his group.

What do I expect to see as a result of this election?  Well, more defections of public safety folks, for one.  I won't be surprised if we see even more police officers depart or retire early.  I won't be surprised at all to see several of the so-called "miscellaneous employees" leave after the council gutted their contract and left them back where they were a decade ago.  And, I expect recruiting - already very difficult - to become even more so with the specter of two more years of this administration.

Policing this city is going to become extraordinarily difficult.  With the AB 109 releases already infesting our community, group homes growing like mushrooms and bringing with them increases in crimes and Proposition 47 redefining crimes and their punishment all add up to more work for the cops.  We're so understaffed that it is almost criminal in and of itself.  Jeremiah Dobruck captured part of the problem in an article in the Daily Pilot today, HERE, which discusses the impact of fewer police officers and the DUI arrests.  If you read that article you'll likely come away feeling VERY unhappy.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Righeimer Still Leads Humphrey by 47 votes...

Well, it's not over, but it's very close.  Below you will find the results of the Costa Mesa City Council election as of 5:00, Friday, November 14, 2014.  This is the date when Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley hoped to have all votes counted and expected to be able to certify them early next week.  You can view the "Results" page for the entire Orange County ballot HERE.  The counter at the top of the page is ticking off to 5:00 p.m. Saturday.  Nobody answered the Registrar's phone, so we'll have to assume they'll be counting again tomorrow.

School Board Trustee and former council woman Katrina Foley is the clear winner in this race, gained 8 more votes today and holds a commanding lead with more than 26.5% of the votes tallied.  Mayor Jim Righeimer gained 7 votes today and continues to hold second place.  Former councilman Jay Humphrey, who gained another votes 8 today, still trails Righeimer by 47 votes.  It's unlikely Humphrey can recover from that deficit, although a time-consuming and costly recount is not out of the question.

Righeimer supporter and de facto running mate Lee Ramos and his supporters spent a lot of cash to have him finish 4th.  He gained 1 more vote today.  Promising young Tony Capitelli picked up another 2 votes.  One-note-samba "Dog Park" Al Melone gained no votes today.  Rita Louise Simpson, described by one wag in town as "Ma Bee", gained another 3 votes and will finish ahead of Chris Bunyan, who gained 1 vote today.

According to the information displayed on the Registrar's site, HERE, there are only 5,963 ballots left to count county-wide.  Included in those numbers are 5,307 provisional ballots;  342 Election Day Paper ballots remain; Only 50 Vote-By-Mail Ballots Returned At the Polls remain.  264 Vote-By-Mail Ballots remain.  You can read the description of the Final Ballots To Count HERE.

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MaryJane Is Back - Medical Marijuana on Council Agenda

While we're waiting for the next report of the election results, here's a little distraction for you.  The Costa Mesa City Council will hold the last meeting before the new council is seated this coming Tuesday, November 18, 2014 beginning at 6:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall.  You can read the full agenda HERE.  The open meeting will be preceded by a closed session which commences at 5:00 and will be conducted in Conference Room 5A, in the Executive Suite bunker.

The Consent Calendar, which has eleven (11) items listed this time, is always an adventure.  If anyone wants a separate discussion of an item it will be trailed to the VERY end of the meeting... a daunting proposition for most visitors.

Item #3 is Warrant 2525, HERE, and contains some very interesting items.  More legal costs.  More consulting costs.  More claims paid. Among those you might find of interest are the following:
#0184929 - Civil Source - $43,960.00 for various consulting support activities.
#0184030 - Fatpot Technologies, LLC - $24,995.00 for New Interface Impmtn. ???
#0184031 - G4S Secure Solutions, Inc - $63,983.39 for Jail Facilities Services for September.
#0184033 - Jones & Mayer - $142,085.11 for long list of legal services.
#0184034 - Jones Day - $31,952.90 for CMCEA June and July.
#0184041 - Robert Taft Sr - $35,810.00 for Settlement 4 Traffic Accident.
#0184089 - FTOG Inc - $2,137.50 for Interim Buyer, 10/13 - 10/24/14
#0184099 - Government Staffing Services, Inc - $14,736.26 for various temp. positions in October.
#0184115 - Keyser Marston Associates, Inc - $7,582.30 for Consulting (Civic Center Bario and Homeless) September.
#0184119 - Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $2,431.50 for various legal, incl. 60th Anniv.
#0184144 - Randstad Technologies LP - $5,720.00 for Temp IT Support Staff, 9/1-10/5.
#0184169 - Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth - $9,618.30 for various legal.
#0183875 - Civil Source (Again) - $98,310.00 for CIP Proj. Staff Support, July and August.
#0183977 - Orange County Conservation Corps - $6,096.50 for Labor for Planting Shrubs.
#0184001 - Home Depot - $4,565.31 for Materials for Snoopy House.
#0183727 - Michael Griffin - $40,000.00 for Settlement - 6/8/12 Injury Claim.
#0183769 - Costa Mesa High School Foundation - $5,000.00 for CMHS Fndtn Gala Sponsorship.
#0183786 - FTOG, Inc (Again) - $2,092.50 for Interim Buyer 9/29/10/10.
#0183793 - Government Staffing Services, Inc (Again) - $10.736.86 for Various temp. support.
#0183824 - Orange County Treasurer Tax Collector - $13,318.69 for Printing Charges.
#0183867 - Westminster Press Inc - $12,827.69 for City Wide Charter Mailing and Printing Rec. Guide.
#0184236 - Fatpot Technologies LLC (Again) - $14,995.89 for FATPOT Maint.
And much, much more...


Item #4, HERE, is a request for professional engineering services for the design of medians and entry monument sign for $68,350.00 for Mesa Verde Drive and California Street.  You'll recall that Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger snatched more than $600,000 from the library fund at the last minute during the budget approval process to yank out recently-planted medians to have them replaced with drought-tolerant plantings.  This is for the design of that scheme.

Item #7, HERE, is $86,165.00 for environmental consulting dealing with the proposed 177-unit live/work development at 671 W. 17th Street.

Item #8, HERE, is the adoption of the 2014-2015 Statement of Investment Policy and involves several attachments outlining a VERY significant change in this policy.  It's worth a read...

Item 11, HERE, is the addition of the BLVD Hotel to the Business Improvement Area (BIA), which authorizes the collection of additional Transient Occupancy Taxes for contribution to the Costa Mesa Conference and Visitor Bureau.  This makes eleven (11) hotels throughout the city participating in this program.


Public Hearing #1, HERE, is the Annual Review of the Citywide Traffic Impact Fee Program.  The staff and Ad Hoc Committee recommend continuing the program as-is.  The staff report explains the program and the attachments make for some interesting background, including the current fiscal status of the fund.

Public Hearing #2, HERE, is the planning application for a 393-unit midrise residential development on Anton Boulevard.  The Planning Commission recommended approval of this project, which is significantly scaled back from what was originally proposed and approved.


Old Business #1, HERE, is the second reading of the ordinance establishing the Senior Commission to advise the city council on Costa Mesa senior matters and the operation of the Senior Center.  As I've said before, this should be a committee, not a paid commission.  And, if it's going to be a commission, the meetings should be held somewhere they can be recorded for current and/or later viewing.  If it's important enough to be a commission, it's important enough to provide viewing opportunities to all residents.  Alternative #2 in the staff report suggests it could be a committee and all items would be referred back through the Parks and Recreation Commission.  That seems to be the better choice.  (Click on that image and note the names on the plaque.  Interesting...)

New Business #1, HERE, is the Host Town Participation for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, scheduled for the Los Angeles area July 25-August 2, 2015.  The program seeks local communities to provide accommodations, training facilities and cultural/sports activities for the 7,000 international athletes and their coaches from July 21-July 24, 2015.  The staff report provides the details.


And, finally, New Business #2, HERE, the Medical Marijuana Initiatives issue will be the final item on the agenda except for continued comments and Consent Calendar items.  It is, without a doubt, the MOST IMPORTANT issue in the agenda and will likely not begin to be considered until late in the evening.

The shortest version of this issue is as follows:
There are two competing marijuana initiatives that have had sufficient signatures to qualify for a vote of the people.  The staff report defines the difference - one allows up to eight (8) Medical Marijuana businesses in Costa Mesa and the other permits up to four (4) licensed Medical Marijuana businesses.

The city council is being asked to accept the Certificate of Sufficiency issued by the Orange County Registrar of Voters for each and then approve, for each initiative, one of the four options listed on page 1 of the staff report.  Those are:
  • Adopt an ordinance for either.
  • Order a special election for either.
  • Order a regular election to be consolidated with the next regular election in November, 2016.
  • Order a report pursuant to the Election Code.  
  • And, the council may consider taking action on Gary Monahan's previous proposal from last August.

The special elections would be held during the first quarter of 2015.  However, because State Law requires increases in taxation to be considered in a General Election - and both items contain a tax element - it is possible that neither can be considered for two years.  This will be part of the discussion.

This is a complex issue.  When you read the staff report you will see the timing considerations for elections alone can give you a migraine.  The costs of the various scenarios alone range from $15,000 to over $280,000.  You will find HERE a list of 27 attachments pertaining to the various scenarios that might be possible.  They include various ordinances, comparisons of the ordinances and Monahan's plan, too.  It's going to be a long, long, long night.  It will be a caffeine, not cannabis, kind of evening.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Righeimer Increases His Lead Over Humphrey to 48

Once again we report the latest counts on the 2014 Costa Mesa City Council election.  Today at 5:00 p.m. the Orange County Registrar of Voters officer released the following numbers in that race:

If you're interested in the entire "Results" page, you can view it HERE.  And, you can review all the information for "What's Left To Count" HERE.  I'll summarize it for you below.

As you can see, Katrina Foley, after picking up 59 more votes, continues to hold a commanding lead.  Jim Righeimer gained 46 and increased his lead over Jay Humphrey to 48 votes.  Humphrey gained 38 in the count today and is losing ground.  Lee Ramos gained 34 votes and stays in fourth place.  Tony Capitelli gained 6.  Al Melone gained 3.  Rita Simpson gained 14.  Chris Bunyan gained 6 and remains in last place.

According to the Registrar, there remains an estimated 13,772 votes to count.  Of those, 12,720 are provisional votes.  The remainder of the ballots to be counted numbers are very slow to update.  All 40,000 Vote-by-Mail ballots have been counted.

As far as we can tell Registrar Neal Kelley and his team are still on track to finish the counting within the next day or so.  His expectation was to be able to certify the election early next week.  Any candidate or interested party wishing a recount must request it within 5 days of that certification.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Righeimer Stretches Lead Over Humphrey to 37

Here we are again with the updated election results as of 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 12, 2014.  You can read the entire "Results" page HERE.  You can also read the "What's Left To Count" elements HERE.

As you can see below, here's how we stand now, with just a few votes remaining to be counted.  Katrina Foley gained 27 votes and is far ahead, holding 26.5 % of the votes.  Jim Righiemer gained 33 votes.  Jay Humphrey gained 20 votes and trails Righeimer by 37 votes.  Lee Ramos is still solidly in fourth place, having gained 19 votes.  Tony Capitelli gained 10 votes.  Al Melone gained 8 votes.  Rita Simpson gained 2 votes and Chris Bunyan, anchored firmly in last place, gained 3 votes.
According to the site, there remains only 21,749 ballots left to count.  Of those 20,961 are provisional ballots.  There are also 342 election day paper ballots. There are also 446 vote-by-mail ballots returned at the polls left to count.

The counter at the top of the Results page indicates we will have yet another tally report tomorrow night at 5:00 p.m.  In my conversation with him this morning, Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley indicated he hoped to be able to complete the process and certify the election early next week.  At that point, depending on how the numbers look, folks have five (5) calendar days to request a recount of any race and will have to pay a deposit in order for the Registrar's office to begin.  The length of the recount depends on the number of ballots to be counted.  The Fat Lady is tuning up....

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Remaining Ballots And Other Stuff

I spoke with Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley this morning on the subject of remaining ballots to be counted, to clear up the myth that he, or anyone else, knows how many Costa Mesa ballots remain.  He confirmed, as reported last night, that there were just over 28,000 total ballots left to count beginning this morning.  Most of these are provisional ballots,  the ones that take the longest - verification, clarification, etc.  He does NOT know - nor does anyone else know -  how many of those are Costa Mesa ballots.  Anyone who tells you they know is just blowing smoke. 

Kelley hopes to have all ballots counted and the elections certified by Monday or Tuesday of next week.  From that point there is a five-calendar-day window for anyone to request a recount in a specific race.  It's cash on the barrel head to begin, at a daily rate yet to be determined.  History shows us that recounts result in very few changes - if any.  Kelley and his crew do a good job the first time around.

It looks like both Huntington Beach and Villa Park will be selling "safe and sane" fireworks next year.  Both cities had ballot measures that passed with around 60% of the voters in favor of fireworks.

One of the more interesting ballot measures this time around was Measure JJ in Yorba Linda.  Seems they are trying to make a statement about pensions, so the voters overwhelmingly - almost 86% - voted to deny health care and pension benefits to future City Council members.  Granted, this is a drop in the bucket of their over $70 million pension liability, but it does make a statement.  Funny, we don't hear that here in Costa Mesa, do we?  Nope, it's all about those "greedy union thugs" that work for us, keeping us safe and providing us with essential services. 

So, we have just about seven hours remaining until the next tally report at 5 p.m. today.  Find something productive to do in the meantime....

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

While You're Waiting... Other Election News

Since we have another seventeen hours or so until we get another tally from the Registrar of Voters, HERE,  here's some things to consider involving this year's election.

First, if you think that 21 vote margin between Jim Righeimer and Jay Humphrey is close, consider the race for the second seat available in Laguna Woods. (See below)  In this one Rae C. Tso leads Carol A. Moore by one (1) vote!  Yikes!
Back here in good old Costa Mesa, the two ballot measures of local significance are Measure O - the bastard child of soundly-defeated Measure V from two years ago - and Measure P, the unnecessary, insignificant advisory measure about the I-405 toll lanes.  Measure O suffered even a more severe beating at the ballot box than Measure V.  It is getting crushed with more than 63% of the voters saying not only NO, but HECK NO! - or words to that effect.

Measure P - the ego boost for Mayor Jim Righeimer - was supposed to provide overwhelming support for the Costa Mesa City Council's unanimous vote to oppose toll lanes on the I-405 Freeway from Costa Mesa to the Orange County/Los Angeles County line in Seal Beach.  However, somebody on the city staff botched the ballot language, placing two questions when there should have been only one.  The result must be considered "inconclusive" - the kindest way possible to explain the result.  I suspect Righeimer thought he'd get something like an 80% plurality, which he could wave under the noses of the officials making the decision on the toll lanes to demonstrate overwhelming public opposition.  Instead, because of the screw-up on the ballot we have a 54.5% - 45.5% result.  AND,  sources tell me it cost us more than $12,000 to put it on the ballot and probably at least that much to publish and distribute three (3) explanatory fliers to the voters attempting to mitigate the gaffe.  Incidentally, no other member of the so-called "corriedor cities" chose to place such a measure on the ballot.  Only down here in "Ego Central" was it done - badly!

So, dear neighbors, let's all just chill out a little and wait for the next batch of numbers from the ROV Wednesday afternoon.  I'll write about it when the numbers are released.

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Humphrey Closes The Gap To 21 Votes!

Registrar of Voters, Neal Kelley, in an attempt to get all the county ballots counted as quickly as possible, had his staff work today, Veterans Day, toward that goal.  As a result, here is the result of that effort regarding the close race for the Costa Mesa City Council.  See the entire "Results" page HERE.  See the "What's Left" information HERE

As you can see, Katrina Foley picked up another 319 votes and holds a commanding lead.  Jim Righeimer gained 214 votes and still leads Jay Humphrey, who picked up 228 votes and trails Righeimer by 21votes.

Lee Ramos gained 218 votes and is still solidly in fourth place.  Tony Capitelli picked up 73 votes.  Al Melone gained 69 votes.  Rita Simpson gained 44 votes.  Chris Bunyan gained 61votes and remains in last place.

According to the information from the Registrar's site, there remain only 28,744 ballots to be counted.  Of those 26,046 are provisional ballots, 342 are election day paper ballots and 2,356 are Vote By Mail ballots returned at the polls.  We have no way of knowing how many of the remaining ballots are Costa Mesa ballots.

According to the counter at the top of the page, we can expect another tally recap tomorrow, Wednesday, November 12th, at 5:00 p.m.

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