Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Senior Commission Meeting Wrap-up

After getting home at 2 a.m. from the Planning Commission meeting and finally hitting the sack at just before 5 a.m., this morning I dragged my old body to the Senior Commission meeting at the Costa Mesa Senior Center at 9 a.m.

The optimistic staff from the Costa Mesa Recreation Division had set up seating for nearly 50 individuals, but fewer than half that many showed up.  And, in my sleep-deprived condition, I was frightened when I saw what I thought might be the grim reaper lurking in the back of the room - or a malnourished homeless person, looking for a cookie.  But, no, it was just what's left of The Mouth From Mesa North, skulking around taking photos - bad ones, no doubt.  He cased the joint, then left before the meeting began.  He will undoubtedly write about it as though he actually knew what went on at the meeting. (NOTE: As predicted, our racist laureate did write about his brief visit to the Senior Center and used his withering Mensa mind to take a poke at me, HERE.  Gotta feel sorry for the guy - doing less with more.  What a pathetic, unhappy person he is.)

The meeting began promptly at 9 a.m. and followed the agenda published earlier, HERE.  Roll was taken - Commissioner Sue Healy was absent - and the newest member of the commission, Anne Perry, was sworn-in by Costa Mesa City Clerk Brenda Green.

Three people spoke during the Public Comments segment.  One thanked the City for taking over operations of the Center.  Edwina Worsham wanted to know the status of the Albert Dixon Foundation money, which she said was over $600,000.  Another person expressed the need for a nurse onsite to better serve the members.

Then Janeth Velazquez made a presentation to the commissioners on Senior Serv, an organization that  operates in 26 locations in Southern California and currently provides services to the members of the Costa Mesa Senior Center.  She's shown in this photo with Yvette Aguilar, who operates the Senior Center.  The following array of images are those used in her presentation.  You'll get the gist of her presentation if you just read down through them.
Then Deputy City Attorney Yolanda Summerhill - who was also at that Planning Commission meeting last night until the bitter end at 1:01a.m. - made a presentation of The Brown Act to the commissioners.  She's shown here with Recreation Manager Travis Karlen, who tried unsuccessfully to get the PowerPoint presentation to operate, so Mrs. Summerhill had to wing it.

This was a very interesting presentation because most, if not all, of the commissioners had no clue about the restrictions the Ralph M. Brown Act imposes on their activities.  For example, Summerhill stressed the need to be cautious about conversations among fellow commissioners, pointing out to the danger of a "serial conversation", where two might discuss an issue, then each discuss it with two other commissioners - a clear violation of the Brown Act.  Another contemporary factor that old Ralph never thought about was email.  Summerhill cautioned the commissioners to NEVER hit the "Reply All" button when replying to an email that they all may have been sent by staff, for example.  And, another pitfall is social media.  She discouraged discussing Senior issues on Facebook, where other members might be casually viewing - and violating the Brown Act.  Assistant CEO Tammy Letourneau chimed in with a reminder that perception is, to many, reality, so the commissioners should be VERY cautious about the interactions with each other.  This may be a tough gig for some of them, since they were fully immersed in Senior issues before the commission was formed.  If you wish to read the Brown Act, there's a link to it over on the right side of this page.

The Consent Calendar - items that normally would simply be voted upon without discussion - had two items on it and member Kirk Bauermeister had questions about the class fees.  He wondered how the fees were determined, and whether there might be a better way to provide more less costly classes - referring to the Computer Classes.  That led to a good discussion and the upshot was that the Staff will research alternatives for future classes - and see if they can get the costs down to the level that is paid in Huntington Beach, presuming the same fellow charges them less.

Then came the discussion of changing the name and format of the monthly newsletter, The Chronicle.  The staff suggestion was for it to be called "The Buzz on 19th Street", which apparently none of the commissioners cared for - and neither did many of the audience members, if the grumbling I overheard was accurate.  One person suggested it sounded like one of the many bars on 19th Street. Long time Senior Center member Kathleen Eric suggested a contest to let the members of the Senior Center participate in selecting the new name.  The commissioners liked that idea, so the process will be fleshed out by the staff and, if all goes well, there may be suggestions to consider by their September meeting - they only meet every other month.

Yvette Aguilar told the commissioners that in April the Center staff served 3,200 members - perhaps she meant meals, since there are only 1,500 members.  She said 83 people participated in the Mother's Day event; that plans are afoot to provide some Saturday programming for working seniors; that the BBQ is coming up on May 27th; there will be a Father's Day event on June 19th and the Independence Day event will be held on July 2nd.

Travis Karlen addressed the question of the Albert Dixon Foundation, indicating that he's in regular - weekly - contact with that Board, working closely with them toward a solution.  He said there is, in fact, more than $600,000 remaining in the Foundation - a separate organization with no legal ties to the Senior Center.  He told the commission that the Board is working with a lawyer to determine how to dissolve the Foundation - which he described as a "big process".  He said there is a "wish list" of things that the Foundation may be able to help with and suggested the commissioners and members present add to that list by communicating with the Staff.  Chairwoman Ernie Feeney wanted to know who is on the Board.  Karlen only named the president, Mike Scheafer - a former President of the old Senior Corporation Board.

Karlen advised that the abysmal telephone system will remain a little longer because of negotiation difficulties with the contractor and the need to run fiber optic cable between the Center and City Hall.  He also discussed the mobility program, indicating that the back-up bus is in bad shape and actually had mold in it, which had to be cleaned out.

He also discussed the Senior Advisory Board and suggested that members have a specific term of office.  Appointees - by the commission - would serve for a term, then others could take a turn, spreading the opportunity for more input.

During Commissioner Comments, commissioner John McGlinn suggested the need for a strategic plan, with goals and objectives, indicating that otherwise the commission is just moving along blindly.

Bauermeister reminded all of the Fish Fry at Fairview Park the last weekend of the month, indicating that he will be frying fish all weekend.

Janet Krochman wondered about getting a copy of the Albert Dixon Foundation paperwork, which she said would likely outline the procedure for dissolution.  Karlen said he had it, but that the Board's lawyer was working the issue.  It's clear that some members of the commission think they have a right to be involved with the Albert Dixon Foundation - which they do not.  Again, it's a separate entity.

Feeney asked new member Perry to tell the members about herself, so she told us she's married to Chuck Perry, worked at Estancia High School for a decade and loves the seniors.

Feeney adjourned the meeting to the next one, on July 14th.

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Blogger Honeyman said...

Can I just comment on how cool and what a great attribute to this city you are,Geoff?

Attending all these meetings, informing the populous on all the goings-on, and essentially being the voice of the good guys, it's important you realize how valuable you are to this city. I am guessing the last thing you wanted to do this morning was drag yourself out of bed and go to this commission meeting, but you did.

You're a good man, Geoff West. Please know it's appreciated.

5/12/2015 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Honeyman, you're much too kind. We just do what we can, when we can. Thanks for reading... and for your kind words.

5/13/2015 12:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

@Honeyman: Hear! Hear!

@Geoff: Re Marty: "Cadaverous!" LMAO!

5/13/2015 06:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike Scheafer said...

Geoff, thanks for your comments regarding the City/Commission and the Albert Dixon Fund. You are absolutely correct, there is no connection whatsoever. The ADF is a separate entity. Our legal counsel has confirmed that we have no obligation to the Senior Commission or the City. In fact there are regulations that will not allow us to donate directly to the City. There will not be a lump sum donation to the Commission or City. The ADF is committed to donating to programs that fit our charter and follow the guidelines outlined by our attorney.

5/13/2015 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Honeyman said...

The Nazi is gonna have record hits to his disgusting blog thanks to you link, Geoff!

He really should rename it, "No Comments" though, since that is the way every one of his entry's finishes.

5/13/2015 08:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Ditto what Honeyman said. Geoff, you are WonderMan. I don't know how you do it.

I am wondering if Summerhill, et al. had the same conversation with the councilmembers. If so, the men are sure ignoring it. Let's hope it catches up with them soon.

5/15/2015 09:25:00 AM  

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