Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Late Start, Early End And Surprises, Too

The Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday night began a little late due to the protracted Closed Session, but ended early plus had a few surprises along the way.

The evening began with Contract City Attorney Tom Duarte having nothing to report from the Closed Session - a meeting that had on the agenda four separate litigation items.


Then Karen McGlinn, CEO of Share Our Selves (SOS), was presented with the Mayor's Award for all the good works she and the organization do in our city.  I thought this was ironic, since Mayor Steve Mensinger has referred to organizations like hers as "attractants" - organizations which attract less-than-desirable individuals to our city.  It turns out that Mensinger and McGlinn's son are old schoolmates and chums.

Leading off the Public Comment segment was Tea Party Tom Pollitt,  who spent the early part of his presentation smooching the fannies of the council majority on the subject of group homes.  He then waded right into the issue of the new tests being administered to children in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and around the country.  He claimed that the tests were psychological profiling and offered many other critical comments.  He then said the police officers had received an 8% raise over the last two years and they said they were asking for a similar raise this time.    Fortunately, his time expired.  Did I mention that he was a failed candidate for a seat on the Orange County Board of Education last year... Uh, huh...

Ann Parker proclaimed Pollitt to be wrong, then spoke about a meeting in Newport Beach she attended last week which addressed the rampant drug use in our area, including heroin.   Interestingly, nobody on the council said a word about it.  I thought that was very peculiar, since it apparently is a big police problem in these parts.

Jay Humphrey reminded us of two important meetings next week.  On Monday, April 27th, Orange Coast College is holding a meeting to discuss development plans beginning at 6:00 p.m. and the next day, Tuesday, the 28th, the Orange County Fairboard will have a meeting beginning at 6:30 to discuss current events, including noise, parking, etc.  He then reminded Mensinger and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer of their promise to "pull out all the stops" to bring Costa Mesa Police Department staffing up to the authorized strength.


Chuck Perry praised the emergency responders from Costa Mesa and Newport Beach who aided his daughter recently and said he opposes the plan to swap the Neighborhood Community Center with the Library.

Former Mesa Water Director Trudy Hall gave a rambling, incomprehensible comment on desal.

Scott Mahaffy complained about uneven treatment by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Mary Spadoni told the council there are 32,000 homeless kids in Orange County and more than 200 in Costa Mesa.  She mentioned an organization that is making a difference - Project Hope Alliance.

During Council Member Comments Righeimer told us - again - that he had resigned from the board of Mercy House, so NOW he could do something about homelessness in Costa Mesa.  So far we've seen no action on his part.  He then raved about the Group Home Ordinance and told us that the staff went to Sacramento last week (he stayed back here and participated telephonically), trying to meet with state officials on the issue.  He then told us CEO Tom Hatch had recently been named Executive of the Year by the Association of California Cities.

Mensinger praised Hatch by patting himself on the back because he had managed a couple hundred people so he said he knew how hard Hatch's job was.  He asked Hatch to look into the complaint that homeless folks are increasingly inhabiting Wilson Park and being fed there.  He mentioned the Mayor's Celebration on May 14th and suggested that the Water District make a presentation on conservation at a council meeting.

Katrina Foley praised Muriel Ullman for her good work with homelessness in our city and also supported Project Hope Alliance.  She then took strong exception to the things Pollitt had said about the testing in local schools, and gave very specific reasons why.  She also mentioned Costa Mesa is in crisis because of the large numbers of probationers and parolees.  She said she'd recently met with Interim Chief Ron Lowenberg and was impressed with some of his plans.  She also complained about the staffing levels in the CMPD and said that should be our #1 priority.

Sandra Genis asked for a review of how we charge for police services for the Orange County Fairgrounds and mentioned that the Emergency Operations organization (dispatchers) were severely understaffed, which is probably resulting in a delay in responding to calls.  She then speculated on the utilization of "saved salary dollars" from unfilled positions was a result of poor management of the hiring process, and that it was a manipulation of the system where positions went unfilled for years - or months - intentionally, with those jobs being done by expensive consultants.  She also discussed desal, and the real costs of that kind of effort.  She then went into an instructional/preaching mode and reminded us we cannot treat people differently - referring to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Once again, Gary Monahan actually had something to say.  This is getting to be a habit.  He mentioned the need to be proactive if the Fairview Developmental Center property becomes available.  He mentioned Chamber of Commerce Director Ed Fawcett's retirement luncheon on April 29th and a fundraiser at his bar for two local schools.  He agreed with Righeimer's homeless housing plan and told us we only have three (3) kinds of homeless in Costa Mesa.  1)  Those on drugs or alcohol; 2) Those who are mentally challenged and 3)  Those who are just down on their luck.  He encourage everyone to call City Hall if they know of a homeless person who needed help.

During his segment Hatch mentioned hiring Terre Duensing, a former County of Orange Emergency Operations Manager to help "move our program forward".  He mentioned the grants received for a bike trail at the end of 19th Street.  He mentioned that the Senior Center now had 1,500 new members and a new pool table.  He then turned it over to Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz, who talked about a new bicycle safety program recently conducted at California Elementary School that will be expanded to all elementary schools in the city.

The Consent Calendar was then addressed and items #3, the Warrant and numbers 6 and 7 were pulled by members of the pubic for discussion


Public Hearing #1, an appeal of a Planning Commission ruling about a convenience store at the 76 gasoline station at Newport Blvd, and Fairview Drive.  Foley was angry that the appellant didn't show up to present his case.  The council voted, 5-0, to uphold the Planning Commission's decision.

Old Business #1, the second reading of the modifications to the Small Lot Ordinance, passed, but only by a 3-2 vote, with both Genis and Foley voting no.

New Business #1, the re-purposing of the old Print Shop on the first floor of City Hall into a meeting room, plus improvement of the Employee Lounge and creation of an outside meeting area came next.  Hatch led off the discussion with an explanation that, if approved, it would be funded by savings from unfilled positions in this fiscal year.  He told us that they expected to have $2.4 million in savings from not filling non-sworn positions.  He also said one of the motivations for this plan was to keep the Emergency Operations Center just that - and not use it for meetings.

At that point Righeimer rudely interrupted Hatch because, as we all know, ANYTHING he has to say is much more important than anything anyone else might have to say.  He said he couldn't support having the EOC sit dormant - "mothballed" was his term -  waiting for an earthquake.  Hatch tried to back peddle by stating that it might be used for computer training.

Dane Bora and architect Betsy Dougherty then presented their views on the issue, showed us images of how the change might look and explained the $1.2 million in costs, and why doing it in concert with the renovations of council chambers and the audio/visual infrastructure is a good idea.  Both projects would total just about $3 million.
After more discussion Monahan moved the item and Foley seconded.  Genis complained that it seemed ill-timed - that we still needed to re-build our reserves and Mensinger said the timing was not right - but gave no reason for his view.  When the vote was taken, it passed, 3-2, with Genis and Mensinger voting no.

Items pulled from the Consent Calendar were then heard.  Cindy Brenneman asked for explanations for several items on the Warrant, #3.  Ann Parker addressed #6, the turning over of a slice of property by the city to a property owner and Jay Humphrey and Brenneman took on #7, the request for "resident only" parking in a Westside neighborhood, indicating that it was just a symptom of rampant development throughout the city.  That got him chided by Mensinger, telling him from the dais that "Jay is off base" criticizing development in the city.  Yes, sir... that's one way to discourage public participation in the discussion of important issues - openly criticize them from the dais.

And that was it... we were out of there before 8:30 and I actually got home before my wife went to bed for a change.  Next up for me... the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Thursday night.  More on that later.

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Mensinger is way off base with his lack of intelligence. Parking is becoming a huge problem on the Westside. Where does that neanderthal get off telling anyone they are off base? If he only had a brain...

Righeimer is a moron. Does he know what the EOC is supposed to be used for? It is an Emergency Operation Center. It is used to back up communication for the police and the rest of the city should theirs fail, not just due to earthquakes, but all disasters. It is a place for people to come when there is a city wide problem, and get help. Perhaps it doesn't need as large a meeting room, but that is convenient as I believe many use the meeting room. The EOC itself, is a small room where back up communication equipment is kept and utilized. That is a complete necessity. The room is so small though that it is tight for more than a couple people and really should be made larger if anything. But with all the equipment in there, not good to have the general public running through there anyway. "Mothballs" indeed, you moron. Just be thankful that there hasn't been a disaster of that magnitude...yet anyway. Another example of fire, ready, aim. If he only had a brain...

I was glad to hear Mensinger's uh...friend, Chuck, praise our fire and paramedics. All it takes is to have to call them once to see what true professionals they are. We are fortunate to have such highly qualified first responders on our side. Same goes for our police. You realize quickly when its your child, that these people are worth more than we could ever begin to afford.

4/22/2015 08:19:00 AM  
Anonymous lovemygarden said...

Jay Humphrey must have struck a sour note for Righeimer and Mensinger because they immediately attacked him for his comments about the parking issues Costa Mesa residents are experiencing. They must have turned off their hearing because I specifically heard Jay say that he was separating the issue of the Wallace St. permit parking from his comments about parking on other streets. While Mensinger may walk the city, obviously he hasn’t tried to get a parking space on the Westside or Eastside about 9 p.m. on a Friday night because I don’t think he wouldn’t have gone on his rant. It is sad that we have a mayor who is so out of touch with the problems the residents face (or simply doesn’t give a crap because climbing that political ladder is taking all his effort).

4/22/2015 09:19:00 PM  

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