Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Council Meeting Could Have Been Shorter

The Costa Mesa City Council held it's only meeting of May last night and what should have been a fairly short meeting turned out to stretch until 10:30.  Actually, I guess we should be grateful that it didn't stretch into Wednesday.

The meeting was special in at least one way.  Costa Mesa Police Department staffer Jeanette Chervony led the Pledge of Allegiance, then spoke briefly of her father, Eddie Chervony, who was killed in Vietnam on this date in 1968.  Mayor Steve Mensinger later closed the meeting in his honor.

Sayed Mostafa Qazwini, the Imam of the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County in Costa Mesa led the moment of solemn expression.

Mensinger presented the Mayor's Award to the Automobile Club of Southern California, a premiere employer in our City which is housed in a building of over 700,000 square feet and employes more than 3,000 people in Costa Mesa.
Jeff Arthur, Chairman of the Pension Oversight Committee presented a report - the first one in more than 15 months - in which he presented charts showing the status of our pension liability and the duration of time it would take to bet out from under it.  These are shown below.  There was no response later when a member of the public asked if they had considered plans similar to those recently implemented in Irvine or Newport Beach, which would pay off their pension liabilities in a much shorter time.  The council majority has shown NO inclination to pay down this debt, instead continues to put our money into infrastructure, expensive parties and similar items, while bemoaning the unfunded pension liability as our biggest problem.  Seems like an odd management strategy - identify the "biggest problem", then ignore it and apparently hope it goes away.
Fourteen people spoke during Public Comments.  Here's a very short summary of some of the comments:
  • Richard Russell expressed gratitude for continuing the Fireworks over the upcoming July 4th holiday.
  • Robin Leffler raked Mensinger over the coals for his refusal to take personal responsibility for the now-infamous DG Path incident, choosing, instead to let the City foot the bill for the remediation and legal battles.
  • Mary Spadoni questioned contract City Attorney, Tom Duarte, about our current method of requiring speaker cards, citing a recent meeting of women lawyers who opined that it was a Brown Act violation.  No response was given.  She also asked if the Pension committee had polled Irvine and Newport Beach on their solution.
  • Wendy Leece expressed concern for Public Safety, and specifically the Fire Department.  She suggested that the plan to close Station 6 should be revisited, and that greater emphasis should be placed on getting our transport ambulances into service so the City could realize that revenue stream instead of having it to a private company.  (Which just happens to be a big campaign contributor to Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer).
  • Ann Parker reminded the council that heroin is a huge problem - one that has been ignored each time she previously brought it up.  She mentioned a suicide at a rehab home and another death nearby.  She spoke of corrupt politicians and implied that Righeimer worked for Scott Baugh - former Chairman of the Orange County Republican Party.  Righeimer later took exception to her comments.
  • Chuck Perry praised the council for their infrastructure improvements and criticized those who expressed concern about what he called the "stupid DG Trail".  Should we mention that he's good buddies with Mensinger?  
  • Jay Humphrey spoke briefly on the parking standards and provided a slide show on an analysis he recently performed demonstrating that, contrary to what has been espoused in recent months about our "strict" parking standards, other cities nearby have even more strict standards.
  • Patrick Singer spoke with concern for the rehab folks.
  • Lisa Sabo expressed concern about the bioswale being installed on Arlington Avenue because of the problems it creates for members of the equestrian community trying to enter and depart from the Fairgrounds.
  • Teresa Drain again demanded a forensic audit of the 60th Anniversary Celebration, and gave examples of exactly why it's necessary.
  • Pamela Wilson complained about the unfunded pension liability.  It was not clear that she'd heard Arthur's earlier presentation.
  •  Tea Party Tom Pollitt complained about the recently-approved plan to remodel and re-purpose the old Print Shop space in City Hall, expressing the opinion that the "Convention Center" could be used if meeting space was needed.  Of course, he meant the Community Center, but one never knows what will come out when he opens his mouth.  He expressed interest in a big report showing Costa Mesa crime stats for 15 years back.
  • Laurene Keane inquired about the availability of any reports on crime in the City, and expressed concern about drug trafficking.
  • Gene Hutchins, formerly a member of the Pension Oversight Committee, thanked the committee then opined that if we, the public, were concerned about not having enough police officers we should "tell the unions to do more.", meaning participate in the cost of pensions more.
Council Member Comments were next, and here are some of the thoughts presented by them:
  • Steve Mensinger - Thanked Arthur for his report and the "Pension Oversight Board" (it's a committee!).
  • Katrina Foley -  Asked for the City Staff to do a parking standards survey of all Orange County cities.  She inquired, again, about the memo she asked for regarding the audit of the 60th Celebration.  She inquired of Assistant CEO Tammy Letourneau about the pension deductions for new employees, since it was implied by one speaker that members of the Police Department pay nothing.  They, in fact, do pay toward their pension as required by state law.  She observed that a new restaurant recently opened in SoCo, and that there will be a remembrance of Henry Segerstrom on May 7th.
  • Sandra Genis - Mentioned the budget workshop and spoke about landscaping.  She suggested the Planning Commission look at parking in general in the city and address the Small Lot Ordinance in particular.
  • Gary Monahan had nothing - again.
  • Jim Righeimer made up for it, though.  He echoed the need for a study of parking and the Small Lot Ordinance parking standards.  He then went off on a rant about Pensions and the Police Department in particular, using his bully pulpit to castigate those people he is suing.  He has so sense of shame or deportment.
During his report CEO Tom Hatch covered a number of items.  He spoke about the recently-introduced plan to run a dedicated bus line from Costa Mesa (South Coast Plaza area) directly to and from the Disneyland Resort area of Anaheim.  At $5.00 per head round trip, that sounds like a GREAT deal for anyone heading up to Disneyland, for sure.  He also offered a compliment to the CMPD, citing a recent sweep of parole and probation violators.  He mentioned recent graduates of the Costa Mesa High School Teen CERT academy.  He told us of upcoming budget meetings.  On Tuesday, May 12th there will be a Budget Study session.  On Thursday, May 21st, there will be a community budget meeting.  On June 15th the 2015-2016 budget will be discussed and approved.  He then had a video of the Water Quality project being completed in Lions Park shown.
Five items were pulled from the Consent Calendar, with the remainder being passed with one vote.  Of those five, by the time they were called at the end of the meeting only two were discussed because folks who pulled the others had left.  Both passed on 5-0 votes.  See my earlier report on the issues involved.

Public Hearing #1, the Consolidated Plan and distribution of CDBG funds was up next.  Consultant Mike Linares - whose contract was extended in the Consent Calendar - led the discussion and showed an extensive slide show.  The following are highlights.
Four people spoke on this issue, including a member of the committee that hammered out the distribution of the CDBG funds.  The council voted to receive and file the report at 7:40 p.m.

The next item, Public Hearing #2, the proposed development at 1239 Victoria Street, came next.  This is for 28 units replacing an office building that once was a manufacturing site.  The Planning Commission approved it with some requirements dealing with roof gardens and a fence along the park across Victoria Street.  I'm not going to cover every word that was said in the 3:40 minutes it took to cover this issue.  23 people spoke to it, of which a third - 7 - were against it.  The others were made up mostly of the same cadre of young folks who spoke before the Planning Commission.  They said the same spiel, almost word for word, that they did before.  Most seemed to have a tie to the developer or development/real estate.  At the end Righeimer convinced the council majority that the rooftop patios removed by the Planning Commission should be added back into the units where they had been deleted, and that the fence should not be the responsibility of the developer.  This will get a second reading in June.
At 10:00 Public Affairs Manager Dan Baker led the discussion of the renewal of the BIA program, confirmed that eleven (11) hotels now particpate and that the Conference and Visitors Bureau will receive around $2.37 million to market our community to the outside world.  Paulette Lombardi-Fries of the CVB spoke about their activities briefly and emphasized their recent 70 page annual report and their recently freshened web site at

After the "pulled" Consent Calendar items were heard, Mensinger read a note that Jeanette Chervony had written about her father, then closed the meeting in his honor.  The next council meeting will be in June.

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Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Poor little Riggy, ranting about how inconvenienced he is by being on Council. The solution: Step down.

Leffler's points are well taken: When will the mayor own up and do the right thing about the DG road he was involved with in Fairview Park?

Lastly, were the Disney contributions to Righeimer's campaign a quid pro quo for the shuttles from CM to Disneyland?

5/06/2015 06:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Obvious that this council will not pay down pensions. I still want to know where the money is going. There is something wrong when citizens cannot get detailed information about what is being paid and where and why. We don't even really know that money is being paid where they say it is. We haven't had a balanced budget in years, despite what Righeimer says. Its a rouse. Citizens need to pay attention here.

So ask yourself why Righeimer, still very much leading the council, will now pay down those pension debts. Newport Beach and Irvine have it right.

So now why is the city paying for repair of the DG path in Fairview Park? That is Mensinger's responsibility, not ours. I wonder if there is action that can be taken for spending taxpayer money to cover Mensinger's destruction of that area.

5/06/2015 07:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

Robin was right on the money about Mensinger and HIS dg path. Personal responsibility doesn't apply him, obviously, just other people. And Chuck "Swill Boy" Perry's comment/whopper lie, "we may never know" who put in the dg path, is just another example of his pathetic and blatant stupidity and of his brown nosing his buddy Mensinger. His nose must be permanently impacted with Stevie's fecal matter by now!

5/06/2015 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous muffin top bob said...

Riggy likes to say "the reality of it all" a lot, just watch his little temper tantrum and count for yourself.

5/06/2015 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Chuck Perry's "We may never know" re the DG path is another way to say "F...Y.." to the people of Costa Mesa.

Let's remember the dunce's behavior when the bosses run him for something again.

How sad that this bootlicker is related to a completely ethical and competent person like Mr. Art Perry.

5/06/2015 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Joe, I noticed that also. Chuck's love of Steve is quite uncomfortable.

5/06/2015 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

How much did that performance with the canned speeches and rehearsed fawning over shoebox units crammed onto a hillside cost?
How were the actors compensated?
A few couldn't remember their scripts and had to read directly from them.
It was pathetic, fawning over cement, rooftop decks and postage stamp size rooms.

Re: Chuck Petty,
That DG path was indeed stupid as was the person who ordered it installed.
It's too bad he's not man enough nor mature enough to take responsibility for it. We have an overgrown adolescent acting as mayor.
It's a very sad situation.

5/07/2015 01:29:00 AM  

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