Sunday, April 19, 2015

Another Interesting Council Meeting On Tuesday

The Costa Mesa City Council will meet for its final regular meeting on Tuesday, April 21, 2014, beginning at 5:45 in City Council Chambers at City Hall.  It will be preceded by a Closed Session at 5:00 which will cover four (4) bits of existing litigation, so a forty-five minute closed session may be optimistic.  You can read the agenda HERE.

(Photo Courtesy of OC Register)
Follow the Costa Mesa Minute there will be a presentation of the Mayor's Award to Karen McGlinn, CEO of Share Our Selves (SOS).  Her husband, John, was recently appointed to the new Senior Commission.  There is no question about the good works SOS does in our community, but some view it as an "attractant" - that's the mayor's own word - and a source of the presence of "undesirables" in our community.  For example, when the agenda was posted, The Mouth From Mesa North went out of his way to post a very critical mini-essay about these kinds of businesses in town.

We never know what the Public Comments segment will bring for the council's consideration.  The mayor had imposed restrictions on the number of folks to be heard early in the meeting, but he's been loosening his grip on this recently, to his credit.  We'll see how it goes this time.

The Consent Calendar has a couple interesting items among the eight (8) on the agenda.  As has been my practice in the recent past, I'll start by providing you with a few examples of entries listed on Item #3, Warrant 2534, HERE.  I've listed items I found to be of interest.  They are shown in the order they appear on the long list:
  • Civil Source - $44,480.00 - Temp Support, various
  • David Taussig & Associates, Inc. - $17,580.00 - Park Impact Fees, 2/28/15
  • Johnson Favaro LLP - $40,925.50 - Library/NCC Architect Planning
  • CSG Consultants, Inc - $1,870.10 - Bldg Plan Check/Inspect. 2/15
  • City of Huntington Beach - $12,390.00 - Helicopter Svcs, 2/15
  • FTOG, Inc. - $1,957.50 - Interim Buyer, 3/16-3/27/15
  • Glenn Lukos & Associates, Inc - $6,932.44 - Fairview Park Biological Svcs, 1/10-2/20/15
  • Government Staffing Services, Inc. - $7,689.70 - Temp Svcs, Various
  • Keyser Marston Associates, Inc. - $5,530.00 - Consulting, Various
  • Meyers Nave - $1,047.40 - Legal, Fairview Park
  • Mobile Home Improvement - $11,335.00 - SFHR-1845 MonroviaSp82
  • Stradling Yocca  Carlson & Rauth - $12,231.90 - Legal Svcs, Various and Many
  • United Industries - $4,309.20 - Warehouse Stock - Latex Gloves
  • Jones & Mayer - $24,708.49 - Legal (Dadey, Solid Landings BH)
  • Government Staffing Services - $12,120.00 - Temp Svcs, Various
  • Jones Day - $7,246.25 - Legal, CMCEA, 12/14
  • Waxie Sanitary Supply - $4,391.88 - For Warehouse Floor Stock
Now, that is by no means a complete list, but represent a few items of note because I think they are important - or because they amused me.  For example, we're still spending a load of money each month on temporary services, in the same positions, month after month.  We're still spending money on helicopter services to Huntington Beach.  We're still spending a load of dough on legal services in addition to Jones and Mayer.  On this Warrant alone there's well over $40,000.00 shown.  And, I chuckled when I saw more than $4,000 for latex gloves and another similar amount to Waxie for sanitary supplies.  Yikes!

Item #8 on the Consent Calendar, HERE, is a professional services agreement with Tri Planning Group.  This one is REALLY interesting, because it involves shifting the cost for Jerry Guarrancino (shown here receiving a proclamation from the Planning Commission in September) - who has been a consultant in various capacities for 16 months through Lilley Planning Group, but now this request is to retain his services through Tri Planning Group (TPG) - a company in which he has an ownership interest.  This contract is for $100,000, to cover 6 months!  And, buried down in the staff report is this comment, "Funds for this agreement will come from City-wide salary savings. During this time, the City Council will review and consider adding a full-time position to ensure that the needs of the community are met regarding group home oversight."  So, specifically WHICH salary savings pays for Jerry?  Hold that thought until later.  And, NOW we are finally going to consider hiring a full-time person to do this work - after all these months of very expensive consultant costs?  Oh, wait... new employee means more greedy pension costs.  Sorry, I forgot.

The only Public Hearing on the agenda is an appeal of a conditional use permit for a convenience store at 2281 Newport Blvd. (Union 76).  The original item was approved, with conditions, by the Planning Commission earlier this year.  The applicant apparently doesn't like the fact that, despite the fact that one of the conditions denies the ability to sell alcoholic beverages, he disputes another condition that requires a buyer's notice to be recorded notifying any potential future buyer of that first restriction.  This is a so-called "de novo" hearing - which means the council can start from scratch and re-hear the entire project.  Ugh!  This one should be very interesting.

Old Business #1, HERE, is the second reading (again) of amendments to the city's Small Lot Ordinance.  The last time, earlier this month, language about parking was amended, so we're back to hear this one - again.  Read the staff report - it's short, but very enlightening about the impact of this ordinance on our city.

Finally, New Business #1, HERE,  is the delayed presentation of a request for authorization of construction of a community meeting room and outdoor meeting space and remodel of the employee lounge on the first floor of City Hall.  This proposal converts the old Print Shop - presently being used as an elephant graveyard for surplus furniture - into much-needed meeting space in the building.  I've had a chance to take a peek at this space and it looks like it might be segmentable - able to be carved into several smaller meeting spots - instead of just being used permanently as one big space.  It is 1,625 square feet.  Plans include the capability of broadcasting from that venue, too.

The plans also include an outside sitting/meeting area and renovation of the employee lounge - a miserable little space behind council chambers than now doesn't even have vending machines in it!

This is a good idea.  In my view, since the major renovation of Council Chambers is supposed to begin kind of contiguously with this project, it would be a good idea to do THIS project first, then use this space to hold council meetings while the chambers renovation is being completed.  Otherwise, the City will be scrambling for adequate meeting space for council meetings - and likely would NOT be able to televise live from any other venue around town.  The availability of this new space solves that problem.  The space available could likely hold more than 100 people, making it usable for all but the most action-packed council meetings.  Most council meetings have well short of 100 attendees, including staff members.

The cost for the several elements involved in this project comes to $1.2 million and the recommendation is that those costs come from FY 2014-2015 salary savings.  Remember up top when I told you to hold that thought?  Well, I'd like to know just EXACTLY where these presumed salary savings are coming from!  Is this a result of poor budgeting, slow recruiting, bad management or all of the above?

So, that's it for this entry.  See you at the council meeting Tuesday.  There's a lot more happening around town next week.  More on that later.

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Okay, our hopes of having an audit of our councilmens' budgetary habits it probably nil.

Residents, this is your money. Where is it going? Why is it going there? Look at the budget and see what is really happening, rather than what you are told is happening.

This is your money!! You have a right to know.

4/19/2015 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Can the city use the old print shop space to do a hydroponic pot grow? The great "Solutioneer" Boy Jimmy can run it and the council liason can be his pal Monahan.

4/19/2015 06:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Thanks for keeping your eye on the budget. No one was watching in Irvine and look what Larry Agran did with Great Park funds.

4/19/2015 08:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Casual, someone had better start paying attention here before its too late. Sandy presented the truthful budget. No one got it. It went over their heads what is happening. I hope residents start paying attention FAST.

4/19/2015 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger zennymoon said...

Sadly, apathy is epdemic here in River city...what would it take to wake up Costa Mesa?.....😝 The piss ant little copy room, has no capacity to hold the forums. The recent College Park meeting was standing room only with 200 attendees. This is crazy and maybe a way for the city to curtail the "right to gather".

4/19/2015 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin Leffler said...

A fiscal conservative is one who is conservative in fiscal matters. The councilmen can say they are fiscal conservatives all day long, doesn't make it so. Watch carefully what they do, not what they say. A few weeks ago I watched them spend the whole surplus from 2014, plus take $1,000,000 out of reserves, to fulfill their "wish list".

4/19/2015 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Robin: Exactly. They try to criticize previous councils for spending reserves to keep the city running, but that is a drop in the bucket to what these guys are spending. And that is only the part we can see.

Wake up Costa Mesa.

4/20/2015 05:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

Re the "salary savings" - I think it comes from budgeting for salary and benefits for positions that are vacant and will not be filled, so there is slack in the budget that can be used for whatever occurs to the Councilmen during the fiscal year. It amounts to another slush fund.

4/20/2015 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Eleanor, exactly. This is just one of the issues; budgeting for a full staff and only having 2/3 of a staff that will never be filled, then they indicate they have a savings. Its not a savings, its merely a deceptive budget. Then, Steve will swipe the extra budgeted money and spend it for rocks on a median. Its money we don't really have in the first place.

4/21/2015 08:14:00 PM  

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