Thursday, January 21, 2016

Foley Asks For City Attorney Investigation

At the very tail end of the recent Costa Mesa City Council meeting - the one that began Tuesday night and ended at 1:20 Wednesday morning - Councilwoman Katrina Foley interrupted Mayor Steve Mensinger as he was about to adjourn the meeting to make a request of contract City Attorney Thomas Duarte to analyze the issue of whether Mensinger and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer should be recused from discussions and votes dealing with the closure or operations of Fire Station #6 since they wrote - or at least a commentary appeared in the Daily Pilot over their signatures - opining that Station #6 should not be closed.  She referred to the "Woody's Wharf" case.  You can watch her question to Duarte on the video clip of the meeting, HERE.  Just scroll down to "City Attorney Report" at the very end and listen to her inquiry.
For those unfamiliar with that case - I remembered it, but didn't recall the details that would make it relevant to this issue - HERE is a link to an Orange County Register article that does a good job of summarizing it.
What makes it relevant is way down at the end of the article.  The Appellate Court determined that then-councilman Mike Henn had addressed his opposition openly and tried to influence his fellow council members to deny the approval previously given by Newport Beach's Planning Commission.
It's easy to see the relevance to this issue.  Mensinger and Righeimer have already "voted" on this issue by publishing that commentary.  Whether it influenced other members of the city council is an unknown, but recent history shows us that Gary Monahan would likely just nod his head in acquiescence and vote with them.  Of course, it is against the law to do that kind of stuff.
So, it will be interesting to see what Duarte comes back with.  It would appear that this will be an easy call for him based on the  circumstances of the Woody's Wharf case.  Then, again, he does have a job to protect, so we'll see.

From time to time we're going to remind you of what former Interim Police Chief Steve Staveley said in his departure letter to his troops in June, 2011.  His lengthy letter covered the circumstances of his departure in great detail, but one of the more memorable comments he made was aimed directly at the City Council majority at the time.  He said:

"They are, in my opinion, incompetent, unskilled and unethical."  

In the more than four years since he made that comment his words have proven to be precisely accurate.  The council male majority has demonstrated each of those elements over and over again.  Something to ponder as we move forward.  We will mention it from time to time.

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

He should have spoken up in the first place. That's what a decent attorney does. We know how Duarte will answer Katrina. He will tell her its not illegal because he never, ever goes against the councilmen that will fire his worthless ass if he doesn't.

1/21/2016 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

Wait a minute, Geoff. It sounds like you are saying these three guys already have their minds made up when they go into vote on things, and in effect do not listen to comments?

That is shocking...said nobody that has been paying attention to how things work around here.

1/21/2016 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Wendy Leece said...

It is unethical for elected officials to state how they will vote on any agenda item BEFORE the PUBLIC has heard the item and had an opportunity to COMMENT. A staff report, requested by a council member, a study session too, would be the proper way to make a decision as important as this one because ALL residents and visitors are affected if station 6 closes. What gives them the right to collude and just announce well, "we have already taken care of this, no worries, yes it's part or the 17 POINT Reorganization but we're the top dogs so we can call this one you see, just go back to your lives people, we've gotten everything under control." No, they don't and I hope my neighbors wake up soon to their arrogant, condescending behaviors. "Peace and safety" from 1 Thessalonians 5:3 comes to mind. Really in Costa Mesa there is no peace or safety without strong, efficient, fully staffed pd and fire departments which we won't have until there are sensible people on the council who care about Costa Mesans first!

1/21/2016 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Regarding Falck (CARE Ambulance) and the council majority:

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."
-Hamlet (1.4), Marcellus to Horatio

1/21/2016 05:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

Wendy - you mean just like Stevie telling Barbara Venezia, prior to the next to last council meeting when the item would be voted on, that they (the CCM) would not allow filming of candidate forums anymore? They have their minds made up on issues well before any cc meeting. Isn't that one of the reasons for the recall of the Lake Forest CCM? That and the fact that, like our CCM, they consistently vote as a bloc on everything? (Except the Fairview Park trains and the medical marijuana issue, and Gary voted to extend the train contract for 5 instead of 1 year, he told us, solely because HIS kids would still be old enough to ride the trains until then, not to mention that the med marijuana ordinance he wrote all by himself, using our tax dollars to do so, would line HIS pockets very nicely!) I am truly, truly disgusted by the CCM.

1/21/2016 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...


I agree.
Thank you for calling them out.
We are aware of their attempts to
skirt the law and our municipal codes.

I don't think Tom Duarte will say anything
to cross Righeimer or Mensinger.
He didn't object when Righeimer discussed
the contract negotiations with the CMPOA
nor did he attempt to stop him.
Righeimer was expressly forbidden to be
involved with them in any capacity including
discussing them.
Duarte won't object to this either.
Duarte is concerned with maintaining his job
first and foremost.

1/21/2016 11:20:00 PM  
Anonymous lovemygarden said...

On the agenda for the April 15, 2014 City Council meeting was an Ethics Policy which staff recommended adopting. It was pulled from the agenda and I don’t think it ever resurfaced. As I recall, Messrs. Mensinger and Righeimer did not receive training in this area, apparently because they chose not to, or perhaps if they did receive training, then they would actually have to comply with a policy that requires them to act in an ethical manner. Oh, but I almost forgot, they don’t like “policies.”

1/22/2016 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Heart for Costa Mesa said...

I thought Staveley's letter was profound, now it looks downright prophetic. Would you share the link again, Pot Stirrer?

1/24/2016 12:58:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

The Woody’s case is distinguishable in that the Newport City Council was dealing with an outside party, the restaurant, in an adjudicatory proceeding.

In this case the councilmen were simply stating their opinion on a matter within their legislative powers.

1/24/2016 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

David, I do believe that in the letter, the councilmen indicated that the situation had changed and they had decided not to close station 6. That indicates that there had been a decision made, without a vote, or public input.

1/24/2016 07:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

David, or at least the indication that they had their minds made up.

1/25/2016 08:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

But they always have their minds made up before the meeting. Steve told Barbara Venezia they were discontinuing filming the forums before it was voted on. Public comments are ignored, except for Chuck Perry's gushing over them.

1/25/2016 07:19:00 PM  

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