Friday, July 17, 2015

Sober Living, Development Appeals And Matt Leinart Money

The Costa Mesa City Council meets again on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 in City Council Chambers at City Hall beginning at 5:45 p.m., with a closed session preceding that meeting at 5:30.  There's a lot on the agenda, HERE, so we'll just take it from the top.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance and a Moment of Solemn Expression Mayor Steve Mensinger will present his Mayor's Award to Frank Gavel, followed by a presentation by the Orange County Transportation Authority on the disastrous I-405 project.  That will be followed by the always-exciting Public Comments segment and the Council Members Comments and, if Mensinger doesn't forget, the CEO's Comments.

Next up is the Consent Calendar - items of such a routine nature that they are anticipated to be voted upon in one vote, with no discussion.  This time there are seventeen (17) items listed and I expect at least a couple of them to be pulled for comment and separate vote by members of the public.  If so, they will be trailed to the very end of the meeting, to force interested residents to endure the rest of the meeting first.  We'll see.  I'll comment here on a few that piqued my personal interest.

First is Item #3, Warrant 2539, HERE - items paid for services rendered.  Here are a few of them that caught my eye:

Apple One Employment Services - $5,777.91 - Temp Svcs, June, various
City of Huntington Beach - $23,660.00 - Helicopter Svcs, May, 2015
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $17,828.63 - Legal Svc, Negotiations and others
Heroes Hall Veteran's Foundation - $25,000.00 - Grant for Museum
Siemens Industry, Inc - $24,934.00 - Card Reader Installation
Accountemps - $4,578.40 - Temp svcs, various
Government Staffing Services, Inc - $9,581.25 - Temp svcs, various
HdL Software, Inc. - $8,323.20 - Business License Use Fee
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $3,014.00 - Legal svcs, various

More legal fees and temporary services this time around.

Item #7, Professional Engineering Services for the Design of Fire Station #1, HERE, is interesting.  The staff is requesting the award of a contract for $499,000.00 against the $1,676,201.00 budgeted for this year for this project.  An alternative would be for the staff to do the in-house engineering planning, which would apparently delay this project 12-15 months.

Item #8, HERE, is the request for the acceptance of $150,000 in grand funds for "Selective Traffic Enforcement Programs" to include:
  • To conduct five (5) DUI/DL checkpoints.  
  • To conduct forty-four (44) DUI saturation patrols.  
  • To conduct five (5) special traffic enforcement operations targeting red light, excessive speed and other violations at or near intersections with a disproportionate number of traffic collisions. 
  • To conduct three (3) special enforcement operations targeting distracted driving violations.  
  • To conduct two (2) bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement operations.  
  • Provide advanced officer training in DUI enforcement to ten (10) officers.
Especially considering the depleted staffing levels of the CMPD at this time, this grant funding should be welcomed with open arms.

Item #9, HERE, is for improvements at Fire Station #4, including expansion of the apparatus room and building a rescue vehicle storage building, to the tune of $690,000.

Items #10, HERE, and #11, HERE deal with the vacation of easements and right-of-way for a project at 970 West 16th Street.

Item #12, HERE, is for the design of the West 19th Street Bicycle Trail in the amount of $180,000.

Item #13, HERE, is the creation of a brand new job in the Development Services Department.  This job, Assistant Director - Community Improvement Division - seems to be earmarked for Jerry Guarrancino, who has been a consultant in Development Services for more than a year and is presently heading up the Community Improvement Division as a part-time employee.  He's the only consultant I've seen receive a proclamation by the Planning Commission - and he didn't even leave!  It's my understanding that this group - 4 code enforcement officers - have responsibilities that will include the implementation and monitoring of the Group Home Enforcement, Hotel/Motel Enforcement, Neighborhood Stabilization Programs and other related community improvement activities as required.  They were moved to Development Services from the Executive Suite and, it's my understanding, that this entire organization will be domiciled at the soon-to-be-renovated Police Substation building across the street from Lions Park.  Hmmm, they must be making room for more staff on the 5th floor again.

Item #16, HERE, is another extension of the term of the agreement with CARE Ambulance Services.  This one has me puzzled.  We recently purchased six (6) quarter million dollar rescue ambulance units which, under the deployment model crafted by former Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold and - we were told - adopted by the City Council, would shift the transportation of injured folks from CARE Ambulance Service to the Fire Department and result in a significant chunk of change for The City.  Presently we are only deploying half of those units and now we're extending CARE's contract for another year.  I guess I'm concerned that something is seriously amiss here, and wonder if it could possibly have anything at all to do with the fact that CARE Ambulance Service has been a big campaign contributor to certain local politicians?  What do you think?

Item #17, HERE, is the appointment of Sandra Genis to the Vector Control District - the item that got botched up the last time it appeared.

Public Hearing #1, HERE, is the recommendation by the Parks and Recreation Commission on the Mesa Verde Drive and California Street Medians.  The staff did their usual good job on this and the commission moved it on up the pipeline.  This one shouldn't take long.

Public Hearing #2, HERE, is the biggie for the evening.  This is the appeal of the Planning Commission's recent denial of a Zoning Application for deviation from parking requirements for a group counseling use at 657 W. 19th Street.  One of the interesting aspects of this is the fact that the group counseling organization, Solid Landings, is the subject of one of the items on the Closed Session earlier in the evening - a lawsuit.

This item was appealed to the Planning Commission by resident Ann Parker and she and her compatriots did an outstanding job of presenting their case and persuaded the commission to overturn the Zoning Administrators approval.  I noted with great interest that neither she, nor any of her associates, were included in the distribution of the staff report on this item. 

Since this is a so-called "de novo" hearing, everything is brand new.  Any issues relevant to this subject can be introduced, so this should be a VERY interesting item - and one that may take a couple hours to plow through.  For example, there are thirteen (13) attachments to the staff report, and several of those have attachments, too.  It's very likely that this staff report, when printed, will have killed a small forest.

Public Hearing #3, HERE is the appeal of the Planning Commission approval of a controversial development at 2366 Orange Avenue by an organization that includes former major league baseball legend, Doug DeCinces.  He spoke during the Planning Commission hearing on this one.  This one could stretch an already long evening even further.

Public Hearing #4, HERE, is the rezone of a site on Mesa Verde Drive East, replacing the Church of Christ Scientist with a 10-unit residential development.  This one shouldn't take long once the council members stop praising the developer for his fine project - which just happens to be on the way to a couple of their homes.

There is no Old Business scheduled, but New Business #1, HERE, is going to be VERY interesting.  This is the item requested by councilwoman Katrina Foley to be brought before the council to determine how the monies being paid by Matt Leinart Flag Football as a result of their misrepresentation over a year ago that resulted in under-billing them for field use should be used.  Foley wants the roughly $25,000 to be split between the Estancia and Costa Mesa high schools athletic programs.  Under normal circumstances this money would go to the General Fund and could be applied to other items within the budget.  This discussion should be fun.

So, that's it for the agenda items.  Unless there are carry-over public comments or Consent Calendar items, we will be finished after this one.  I'm thinking 10:45 might be an optimistic departure time... we'll see.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Jimmy Fitzy Finally Gets A Gig!

A friend provided this link to me yesterday - HERE - announcing that former Costa Mesa Planning Commission Chairman and de-frocked Costa Mesa Sanitary District Director, Jim Fitzpatrick - Mister Solutioneer himself -  has finally gotten a job.  Well, maybe not a "job", but some kind of a consulting gig with an outfit called Signal Bay, HERE.

UH, HUH...
As you will see when you go to the announcement link, Jimmy Fitzy is described as a "Southern California Land Planner and Land Use Expert".  (Have you heard this definition of "expert"?  "Ex" is a has-been, and "spert" is a drip under pressure.  Sounds about right...)

Apparently Jimmy Fitzy will bring his "expertise" into play by helping these guys "identify and secure the best locality to operate an approved analytical testing facility" for medical marijuana in Southern California.  Want to guess where he'll begin his search?

You may recall that earlier debates on medical marijuana in Costa Mesa included the fact that the "products" lacked any kind of consistency normally established by a testing process, like that in the drug or alcohol businesses.  These folks apparently spent 40 grand for an interest in an Oregon testing lab and now plan to transplant that kind of operation south.

And, this announcement comes shortly before Jimmy Fitzy will host a mixer at Costa Mesa Councilman Gary Monahan's pub on Friday, July 17th, sponsored by the San Diego-based Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group of which he is a member of the Board.  Read about that organization HERE.  Apparently pro-pot congressman Dana Rohrabacher will attend this event, which begins at 5:30.  It doesn't surprise me that Monahan is letting his place be used for this event - he's already in the addiction business.  How nice it will be for my Eastside neighbors to have so many pot mongers all in one place Friday night.  Sounds like a GREAT place for a DUI checkpoint to me.

So, on one hand, I guess I'm happy for Fitzpatrick's family now that he apparently finally has a job.  On the other hand, I find myself wondering, "What the heck is he thinking?!"  Here we are in Costa Mesa - with a crime rate dramatically rising and sober living homes sprouting up all over town like mushrooms - and some of our elected leaders and former city officials are actively supporting the pot industry!  The oft-repeated words of Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer keep ringing in my ears  - "Crime is caused by the people living in our city."  

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

O..M..G..! It's Fair Time Again!

Yep, that's right.. the fantastic Orange County Fair launches again this Friday for a month-long run of family fun at the Orange County Fair and Event Center.  This year it begins July 17th and runs through August 16th!

There's so much going on during that month - beginning with free admission for the first hour on Friday - that it's impossible to cover it all here.  Let me suggest you visit the web site, HERE, for ALL the information about events, including the cattle drive, that will be occurring for that fantastic month.

This year the OC Fair celebrates it's 125th anniversary, so the theme is One Big Party, and they're going to do their best to make it so.  Live entertainment, terrific displays, exciting rides, and the food... ah, the food!

I will poach one entry from the web site - the page that lists the hours.  Here you go.


The 2015 OC Fair is open
July 17-August 16 (Wednesday-Sunday)
10 am-Midnight

On-Site Box Office Information
The OC Fair Box Office at the Pacific Amphitheatre is located at 100 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
  1. Wednesday: 10 am - 6 pm
  2. Thursday: 10 am - 6 pm
  3. Friday: 10 am - 6 pm
  4. Saturday and Sunday: 10 am - 4 pm

How To Purchase Admission Tickets
  1. OC Fair Box Office at the Pacific Amphitheatre during the hours listed above.
  2. Online at
  3. From any Ticketmaster outlet location.
  4. Charge by phone via Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.
  5. Any on-site admission booth (Admission booths are available at all public entries and are open the Fair days and hours listed above.)

Oh, yes... Katrina Foley would be all over me if I failed to mention that, in addition to the parking on the Fairgrounds, nearby parking is available at Costa Mesa High School - right across Arlington from the Fairgrounds.  The reasonable parking fees at those lots contribute to youth groups at the high school.

So, join the million or so happy visitors who will find their way to the OC Fair to celebrate this wonderful milestone.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Of Money, Transportation, Training and Fraud

The Costa Mesa Senior Commission met this morning again and all members were present for the first time.  Unfortunately, it's playing to a diminishing crowd with each meeting.  Today there were eighteen of us in the "crowd" - seventeen ladies and me.  Pretty good odds, don't you think?

I wrote earlier about the agenda, HERE If you go there you can follow along with the progress of the meeting.  There are staff reports for each item except the Senior Center Administrator's Report.
Old Business item 6a, the re-naming contest for The Chronicle, produced several choices.  The commissioners were asked to select from those choices - one per commissioner - which would result in 8 possible names (including the current name, which was the most popular selection in the survey conducted), to be placed on a ballot for Senior Center members to vote on.  This will appear in the next edition of The Chronicle in August and the votes will be tallied and presented to the commission at their next meeting in September.  The names selected by the commissioners were:
Perry - Senior Living
Bauermeister - The New Chronicle
Adkins - The City Of Costa Mesa Senior Center Chronicle
Krochman - The Bulletin
McGlinn - The Senior Chronicle
Healy - The Banner
Feeney - The Senior Chronicle

So, there will be seven (7) selections available on the ballot next month.

Next came Old Business 6b, the Albert Dixon Funds issue.  Recreation Manager Travis Karlen read the letter from the Albert Dixon Foundation president, Mike Scheafer, which formed part of the agenda packet, which clearly outlined the plan to dissolve the foundation soon and that they, the foundation board, is actively interviewing possible recipients of funds from that organization.

Sue Healy asked about the "wish list" previously created and wondered about that status.  Karlen told the commission that the information had been provided to the Albert Dixon Board and that he, Karlen, was interested in any other thoughts the commissioners might have.  He also mentioned that the dissolution process will not be a quick process - it would be a matter of months, not weeks.

Chairwoman Feeney then leaped into the discussion and began by announcing that a blog in town, which she described as the most read blog, had a comment that she wanted to read.  She was referring to this blog, so thanks for the props, even though she didn't name A Bubbling Cauldron.  She then proceeded to read this segment from my previous entry:
Correspondence from the President of that foundation, Mike Scheafer, makes it clear that his board has no plans to provide any of the funds directly to the Senior Center for any purpose, but is diligently moving forward to find worthy senior-oriented organizations/activities to which it can contribute funds before dissolving the foundation.

She implied that I somehow had insider information on how the Albert Dixon Foundation Board plans to distribute the more than $600,000 presently in the coffers.  Of course, my information was taken directly from Scheafer's letter.  Mention was made about the foundation possibly just giving the funds to the Costa Mesa Foundation for distribution.  It's my impression, following a subsequent conversation with Scheafer, that such an action is not their first choice.  The Albert Dixon Foundation Board prefers to have a more direct choice on where those funds go.

It's interesting to note that Feeney DID NOT solicit public comments on this issue - perhaps the most sensitive item on the agenda.  And, although I was sitting right there, she chose NOT to ask me about what I had written.  She just moved on to the next agenda item.  The staff needs to remind her of the need to solicit public comments during the meetings.

The next item, New Business 7a, the Instructional Class Proposal, generated more discussion than I expected.  John McGlinn was concerned about the costs, the creation of which was explained by Karlen.  He also explained that the Parks and Recreation Commission was requesting an evaluation of all fees, including those for the Senior Center.  Concerns were expressed by commissioners about the duration of some of the computer classes - 3 hours - citing problems some seniors may have with that duration.  Feeney said, "I don't know about the rest of you, but I have a really weird bladder.  It just wants to do it's own thing." Others also shared her concern for the ability of seniors to focus on a complex subject for three hours at a shot.  As an aside, this meeting lasted nearly two and half hours and only one member of the audience left for a bathroom break, although a couple did doze off from time to time.

Questions were raised about perhaps breaking the class times into smaller bites - one hour, for example.  Staff will investigate that possibility.  Also, staff was asked to investigate the possibility of scholarships for seniors, since some of the costs seemed out of reach of many.  When asked about expanding the class size - a maximum of 6 is presently the limit - we were told there are only 6 computers available.  The commission voted, 7-0, to accept the new schedule and prices.

Next came New Business #7b, the Bus Study, HERE.  Senior Center Program Administrator Yvette Aguilar presented a PowerPoint program which graphically showed that those who participated in a recent survey of bus riders were overwhelmingly satisfied with the service as provided.  Following the presentation Feeney dominated the discussion, which included concerns about the scheduling of the bus and concerns about how the bus driver spends her time when she's not out picking up riders.  Several times during the discussion the driver, Elaine, was praised for her diligence and demeanor.
There were also concerns expressed about the two buses presently in service.  The larger, 16-passenger bus, has 300,000 miles on it so the driver is reluctant to use it from a reliability standpoint.  The other bus, a 12-passenger unit, has "only" 200,000 miles on it, but it apparently is the primary unit used on a daily basis.  When asked about a new bus, Karlen indicated that the fleet is on an established replacement schedule, and that he didn't know where these two buses fell on that schedule, but would inquire.

It was interesting that Feeney, instead of simply directing staff to assess the situation and bring back alternatives, tried to micro-manage the issue.  She  read a segment from the staff report that defines the mission of the commission, which she apparently has interpreted to mean that she's supposed to create solutions instead of directing staff to offer alternatives based on their professional assessment.  She emphatically stated several times that the schedule needs to be tightened up - whatever that means.

There was a short discussion about hiring (or using volunteers) to act as a dispatcher for the bus.  Apparently other organizations operate that way.

Member Kirk Bauermeister observed that there is a limited pile of money available and mentioned that in his business (education) they operate with a philosophy of, "You can do anything you want to do, but you can't always do everything you want."  The situation needs to be evaluated and choices made.

Several times Feeney observed that it is the goal of the commission to get as many people to the Senior Center as possible and pointed to the need to "tighten up the schedule".  She may be wanting to run the Senior Transportation operations like public transit.  That, of course, is not possible because of the unpredictability of the scheduling.  And, near the end and although nobody had said that they "can't do" something, she tossed out a motto her husband said appeared on his military barracks wall - "Can't means won't".  Odd...

Several people spoke on this issue.  It was hard to keep track because Feeney kept interrupting them before their three minutes had expired.  She needs to "tighten up" her management of the meetings.

During the Senior Center Program Administrator's Report, Aguilar addressed recent past events, then mentioned upcoming events - the Luau on August 14; Volunteer Training on August 21; Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on August 28 and the as-yet-unscheduled Grandparents Casino Night Out.

During this segment concern was expressed by at least one audience member about being unable to attend events because of scheduling conflicts.  Karlen observed that as the programming at the Senior Center grows those kind of conflicts are going to happen - that folks will simply have to make a choice.

The recruitment for members of the Senior Advisory Committee (SAC) has been extended until July 31 because only 3 applications had been received.

Membership as of July 1 is up to 1,538 members, of which 1,050 are Costa Mesa residents.

Volunteer hours in May and June totaled 842.75 service hours.

Programmed Hours totaled 903.75 in May and 775 in June.

There were a total of 5,914 "visitors" to the Senior Center during May and 5,677 in June.  That "visitor" number includes duplicated numbers, where each member is counted for each activity attended.  This led to a discussion of how we keep track of folks at the Senior Center.  It was suggested by Member Janet Krochman that some kind of "loyalty card" - similar to those used at markets - might be used and activity tracked using a Cloud-based data base.  Each member would have a card which would be scanned or swiped for entry into the building and for each activity.  It seems like an idea worth investigating.

During member comments member Anne Perry expressed an interest in staff, and possibly members, being trained on Automatic Defibrillator Devices.  She also suggested that perhaps shorter day trips might be considered to venues closer to home - the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Laguna Beach Arts Festival, etc., to supplement the longer Vegas trips.

Bauermeister thanked the staff for their excellent reports and support.

Stella Adkins expressed concern about the Senior Center web page, HERE.  Apparently members of the staff under the old regime - The Costa Mesa Senior Center Board - have not only refused to turn the website over to The City, but have actually renewed their management arrangement with the service provider.  This is seriously problematic, since there appears to still be an active PayPal account with which solicited funds could be accumulated.  Karlen told me that this is in the hands of the City legal department.  It seems likely that fraud is possible with this site.  If former staffers are withholding this site from The City through vindictiveness, that's one issue.  However, if they are misusing it to gather funds, that's an entirely different and much more serious matter.

Member McGlinn stood up and, once again, reiterated his opinion that the Senior Commission needs a strategic plan - a road map to follow moving forward.  So far, his idea seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Member Sue Healy introduced herself, spoke about her 29 years with the school district and her volunteer work at the Senior Center for the past couple years.  She expressed the view that there are not enough seating areas on the first floor of the Center.  She suggested that the staff look into that issue.

Feeney waived a folded packet of papers around indicating that she'd received a petition from member Edwina Worsham signed by 36 members and that she would talk to Assistant CEO Tammy Letourneau when she returned from medical leave.  She didn't say what it was about, so I asked... seems it also involved furniture.  She also expressed the need for wheelchairs for the Center, citing that there had been many under the old regime that had been donated, including a yellow one used for emergencies.  She also said they needed to have a Fire Drill ASAP, since there had not been one for a year and a half.  She also expressed the need for a Community Survey of seniors to determine what they want from a Senior Center.  She said the prior regime refused to do one.

An observation...  The Senior Commission is made up of some good folks, with lots to offer the seniors of this community.  They are still getting their "sea legs", and will likely be an effective unit as the months pass.  It seems to me that meeting every other month is not frequently enough to maintain momentum on important issues.  Also, Chairwoman Feeney needs some guidance on her role.  She acts as though someone anointed her queen, instead of the chair of the commission.  She needs to understand that there's a difference between a discussion and demands.  She needs to permit speakers their full three minutes without interruption.  Presently she turns the speaker time into a chat session, taking a page out of Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer's playbook.  I don't think it's malicious on her part, but she needs to "tighten up" her game.  She needs to run the meeting following the rules established, not like a coffee klatch.  She needs to help her fellow commissioners arrive at the direction they want to give staff, not just unilaterally demand from the staff certain actions.

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"Moron" Is Not Gender-Specific

We learned something new today.  Although I suspect when most of us hear the word "moron" we think of a kind of stupid guy, but the word "moron" is not really gender-specific.  That was demonstrated clearly for us today in a letter posted in the Daily Pilot Mailbag online, HERE. provides us with the definition of the word, HERE, and also explains the origins - Greece.  Hmmm, that kind of makes sense, doesn't it?

A person named Jami JoAnne Russell, (shown here) who has graced those pages before with similar bilge, this time attempts to exercise her very limited literary skills to criticize the folks from Costa Mesa First, HERE, for the initiative they hope to place on the November 2016 ballot, HERE,  that would return more control over Costa Mesa development to the voters of the city very much like Newport Beach's Greenlight Initiative did many years ago in that neighboring city.

Some of you may recall that when Ms. Russell published another opinion on the pages of the Daily Pilot and I wrote a comment criticizing her presentation, former Planning Commission Chairman and de-frocked Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board member - and now self-described "Solutioneer" (shill) for Medical Marijuana interests in town - Jim Fitzpatrick leaped to her defense and criticized me for daring to criticize a woman who works at the Mesa Verde library - as if that had anything at all to do with anything!  In retrospect, he may have been doing "research" on his new cause to become what he refers to as a "subject expert".

Ms. Russell posted her intent to submit this letter to the Daily Pilot on the Facebook page, Costa Mesa Public Square - that misnamed repository of group-think that wallows in self-adulation as "the" place to be for all things Costa Mesa, and where the discussions are guided, in part, by this city's most notorious racist - a guy to whom I refer as "The Mouth From Mesa North".

His rants pander to the weak-minded - some of whom participate actively on that site - like the poor, misguided Ms. Russell, who has taken a page right from the knee-jerk reaction to the initiative by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, who told the world that it would "destroy our city".

So, as you read Ms. Russell's little screed - the editors wisely did not publish it as presented - I thought you'd like to know a little more about her.  Many of us presume folks who take the time to write letters to the editor are mature, concerned citizens who take the time to study issues and present their views to provide balance in the discussion.  Well, to help you understand the source of THIS diatribe, here's a little YouTube message from charming Ms. Russell - one of many such little presentations from her on that site.  Warning!  This 5:38 YouTube video is guaranteed to offend more than a few of you.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Senior Commission Meeting Tomorrow

The Costa Mesa Senior Commission meets again tomorrow, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at the Costa Mesa Senior Center, 695 W. 19th Street beginning at 9:00 a.m.  You can read the agenda for that meeting HERE.

Included on this agenda is the "re-naming" contest for The Chronicle, HERE.  I read the staff report and it looks like most folks like the current name.

Also on the agenda is a discussion of the Albert Dixon Foundation funds, HERE.  Correspondence from the President of that foundation, Mike Scheafer, makes it clear that his board has no plans to provide any of the funds directly to the Senior Center for any purpose, but is diligently moving forward to find worthy senior-oriented organizations/activities to which it can contribute funds before dissolving the foundation.

There are also some instructional class proposals and a report on a recent bus study, HERE.  Reading that staff report, it looks like most folks are happy with the current service and that there is not sufficient usage to justify consideration for a second bus at this time.

I'll report on the meeting tomorrow.  The commission will meet again in two months, on September 18th.

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