Sunday, June 19, 2016

HUGE Issues At City Council Tuesday Night

Is it just me, or does it seem like the pace is quickening as we slide into the campaign season?  If these early days are indicative, we're going to see some very interesting times between now and November 8th.

Anyhow, the next big event in Costa Mesa is the City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2016.  Proceedings begin at 5:45 in City Council Chambers, although there is a Closed Session that begins at 5:00, but you and I cannot attend.  You can read the full agenda for this meeting HERE.

For the first time in months there is no Mayor's Award scheduled.  I find myself wondering if Steve has run out of friends... I know... not fair, but then, neither is he if you believe the T-shirts around town.

Following the Public Comments, Council Member Comments and - if the mayor remembers - the CEO Report, we get to the Consent Calendar.  These items, as you know, are theoretically "routine" items that can be handled with one vote.  I'm thinking there may be at least one item pulled for separate discussion this time, though.  More on that in a minute.  If so, it will be trailed to the very end of the meeting - a tactic designed by the current power elite to discourage public participation.  There are nine (9) items on the Consent Calendar this time.

Item #2 is Warrant #2559, HERE.  These are expenditures already made on our behalf.  This time it represents almost $10 million in payments, so you might wish to take a little peek at it.  Here are some of the entries that caught my eye:

The first four (4) pages show us something I've never seen before in all the years of checking out the Warrants!  It presents nearly $30,000 in items that were either voided or lost in the mail.  Lost in the mail?  What the heck is that all about?  How does that happen?  Did someone steal our outgoing mail?  Moving on...

Apple One Employment Services - $6,023.70 - Temporary Services, various
Stephen M. Mensinger - $2,456.96 - Refund Permit (assume it's for his new mansion)
City of Huntington Beach - $25,900.00 - Helicopter Svcs, April 2016
Clean Streets - $57,291.98 - Street Sweeping, April 2016
Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau - $451,909.16 - BIA receipts, Feb, March, April 2016
Costa Mesa United - $52,295.24 - Athletic Field Improvement, Estancia
Elasticsearch, Inc - $42,000.00 - 12 mos. Dev. to Gold Consulting ?
Jones &Mayer - $148,489.81 - Legal Services, various.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore - $64,992.65 - Legal Services, Various
Moore Iacofano Goltsman, Inc - $97,091.80 - GP Update and EIR
Accountemps - $4,527.84 - Temp Svcs, Treasury
Anaheim Regional Medical Center - $9,000.00 - Victim Physicals (9)
Aviation System - $3,500.00 - Prof Svcs Agreement (7)
Benefit Funding Services Group - $6,250.00 - Retirement Plan Consulting, 1/1-3/31/16
CSG Consultants, Inc. - $6,374.66 - Plan Check and Inspection Svcs
Government Staffing Services Inc - $14,698.50 - Temp Svcs, Various
Info Tech Research Group, Inc - $12,935.00 - Membership?
Keyser Marston Assoc. - $2,918.37 - NIP &HTF Consulting
Michael Baker Intl. - $12,907.67 - Consulting Svcs, various
RJM Design Group, Inc. - $9,881.80 - Open Space Master Plan Update
Scientia Consulting Group, Inc. - $2,623.00 - IT Services
Costa Mesa United - $142,032.00 - Improvments, CMHS Gym, NHHS Fence
Johnson Favaro LLP - $28,910.52 - Arch. Des. Plng
Jones &Mayer - $43,145.88 - Dadey, Timothy
Keyser Marston Assoc. - $36.399.75 - NIP & HTF Consult.
San Joaquin Hills Transp. - $241,776.00 - Fees for March, 2016
Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth - $27,590.68 - Legal Svcs, Various
Accountemps - $4,160.48 - Temp Svcs, Treasury
CSG Consultants, Inc. - $1,638.15 - Plan Review Svcs
Fieldman Rolapp &Assoc. - $13,310.04 - GO Bond Election Analysis

On this warrant we find more than $284,000 in legal fees!  And, we continue to rack up consultant services and temporary services at an amazing rate.

Item #5, Extend Term of CARE Ambulance Services Agreement, HERE.  Well, this extends this contract out until 2018 - about the time Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer is termed out.  Many in the community think there's something behind his rabid support of this contract when we have a half-dozen expensive Rescue Ambulances being used about half-time.  While CARE Ambulance may be fulfilling their contract terms - that's what the staff report says - the fact that Righeimer refuses to let Chief Dan Stefano implement the deployment model that serves the community best is unconscionable.  None of Righeimer's public utterances hold water, so we wonder if there's more to it.

Public Hearing #1, HERE, is the adoption of the FY 2016/2017 Appropriations Limit.

Public Hearing #2, HERE, is the adoption of the FY 2016/2017 Budget.  This budget represents a reduction of 6.2% from the previous year, most of which comes from a reduction of nearly $10 million in the Capital Budget from the previous year.  It also includes a lot of position juggling which are covered in detail in the various attachments.  One thing I did NOT see was the creation of a Public Affairs Manager for the Costa Mesa Police Department, but perhaps I just missed it in the morass of job title shifting.  If the council does not approve this budget they will have to call a special meeting before the end of the month.

Public Hearing #3 is the 2015/2035 General Plan and Final EIR, HERE.  Funny, I get the sense that this process - which has taken nearly 4 years now - still seems rushed.  There's a kind of frenetic rhythm to the process recently which leaves me feeling like things may fall through cracks.  We have already seen uncharacteristic sloppiness in some of the staff work and I'm not sure whether it's at the consultant end, or whether the beleaguered, understaffed staff just has too much on its plate.  Regardless, it's discomforting.  This discussion should be interesting.

New Business #1, HERE, is the appointment of a replacement of Stella Adkins on the Costa Mesa Senior Commission.  Her term expires in February, 2019.  Seven individuals applied for this position and their applications may be viewed HERE.  It appears there are some good choices available, including council candidate Lee Ramos, who probably has not yet attended a Senior Commission meeting.

New Business #2, HERE, is the latest iteration of the funding mechanisms for the Lions Park Projects and Fire Station #1.  Suffice it to say that these projects have morphed into something that is hard to get your arms around.  At this point, the current scheme is for a combined project cost of $46,000,000!  To see the details of how this plan plays out read Attachment #1, HERECAUTIONThis is going to make your head hurt!

New Business #3, HERE, is the discussion of the processing of the so-called "Save Fairview Park" initiative put forward by the Fairview Park Preservation Alliance.  The signatures have been certified by the Registrar of Voters in sufficient numbers to be placed on the November 8, 2016 ballot.  The council will be asked to accept that certification.

Additionally, the council will be asked to adopt the ordinance immediately, without alteration, or within 10 days after it is presented; or
 Order placement of the measure on the November 8, 2016 ballot; or
 Order a report; or
 Consider providing staff with direction as to the preparation of an alternative measure.
**I spoke with Brenda Green, City Clerk, on this issue.  The council MAY order a report and MAY direct staff to create an alternative measure.  That DOES NOT mean they can refuse to authorize the placement of the existing measure on the ballot.
Now this is the dicey part.  The details of all those items are found on the staff report, but that last one implies that the council COULD choose to NOT place this item on the ballot.  Perhaps I'm reading that wrong, and I'll follow up with the City Staff Monday, because I don't believe they have an option.  They CAN order an alternative measure which would compete with this one, just as they will be doing with the Medical Marijuana issue (see below) and, perhaps, the Smart Growth Initiative.

My suggestion would be that they avoid placing this item on the ballot and simply adopt it immediately and save staff time and money.  We'll see what they do.

The final item on the agenda is New Business #4, HERE, is the consideration of a City Initiative Petition regarding Medical Marijuana Business.  As many know, there are already two competing Medical Marijuana initiatives qualified for the November 8, 2016 ballot.  The City has already authorized that action.  This measure will compete with those items and allow the city to manage this kind of business.  If the voters pass all three, then the highest vote-getter becomes the law.

This issue - the proposed ordinance can be read HERE, controls where Medical Marijuana businesses may operate in the City - basically west of Harbor Blvd. and north of South Coast Drive -  and imposes a 6% business tax on each such business.  I suggest you read the staff report AND the ordinance for the details.

Tuesday night is going to be another long one.  I suggest you pack a lunch and bring a pillow.

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Anonymous Chris McEvoy said...

Can monahan vote on the zoning changes along Newport Blvd, seems to me he'd benefit financially from new residents.

Is any of stevie's contributors going to benefit from the zoning changes?

6/20/2016 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Who puts these agendas together? The ambulance contract comes up for renewal less than 2 weeks before it expires so there's no time to get other bids. Maybe this timing was done on purpose.

The General Plan is worked on for who knows how long and is still full of errors.

"Above the 405?" Will dispensaries be hovering above traffic, maybe suspended by drones?

After the Placentia embezzlement it behoves the council people to pay more attention to the warrants. How could a short bike path cost more that $1 million? Someone is making a more than healthy profit.

6/20/2016 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

Pot Stirrer, you write regarding the “Save Fairview Park” peoples' initiative that has been certified by the Registrar of Voters to be placed on the November ballot, “My suggestion would be that [the Council] avoid placing this item on the ballot and simply adopt it immediately and save staff time and money. We'll see what they do.”

Looking back at the past six years of suffocatingly tight Council control by the men led by Jim Righeimer, who have persistently clawed for more power, not less, I would be surprised if they meekly roll over and say, in effect, “OK, the people have spoken. We’ll save the city money and just adopt this huge constraint on our powers. We'll give up our dreams of sports fields in Fairview Park.”

That they won't roll over seems much more probable now after reading a chilling report on how Donald Trump – a man who never explains and never apologizes – was mentored throughout his career by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s top aide, Roy Cohn, until Cohn’s death in 1986.

The part of the article that really got my attention is the following:
“Decades later, Mr. Cohn’s influence on Mr. Trump is unmistakable. Mr. Trump’s wrecking ball of a presidential bid — the gleeful smearing of his opponents, the embracing of bluster as brand — has been a Roy Cohn number on a grand scale. Mr. Trump’s response to the Orlando massacre, with his ominous warnings of a terrorist attack that could wipe out the country and his conspiratorial suggestions of a Muslim fifth column in the United States, seemed to have been ripped straight out of the Cohn playbook.

“ ‘I hear Roy in the things he says quite clearly,’ said Peter Fraser, who as Mr. Cohn’s lover for the last two years of his life spent a great deal of time with Mr. Trump. ‘That bravado, and if you say it aggressively and loudly enough, it’s the truth — that’s the way Roy used to operate to a degree, and Donald was certainly his apprentice.’ ”

The way Costa Mesa’s councilmen freely criticize residents and staff and the way they bluster when they force something down residents’ throats, is reminiscent of Donald Trump’s lessons-learned from ferocious Roy Cohn’s coaching.

I doubt that Trump would meekly roll over for anybody.

The article, entitled “What Donald Trump Learned From Joseph McCarthy’s Right-Hand Man,” can be found at

6/20/2016 07:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris McEvoy said...

Oh then there is our carpet bagging, hair dying council member that warned us about 3 person majority that could zone the fairgrounds in a detrimental way. This kook is psychic.

Did you know he is pricing the community out of the fairview developmental property. If the state sells and Costa Mesa changes the usage/zoning you change the value. Reference riganomics I will write about that later. The fairview campus offers so much opportunity. The problem is profit. All of us taxpayers own fairview. We need this facility. It's paid for, easily adjusted and most importantly doesn't add to existing problems like traffic. riggy doesn't care about our quality of life. Costa Mesa is not his home. This is his legacy.

6/20/2016 09:02:00 PM  
Anonymous CMTaxpayer said...

Bamboozled. Wish I could say they never lied to me. Lost my trust a few years ago, going to be a darn sight more careful who I vote for.

6/20/2016 10:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Who are you kidding? said...

Why oh why can't the people of CM have their own shiny red ambulances in service bringing in resources, instead of paperweigts around town parked and dusty. What dumb council majority,is passing by $2-3 million a year, pfft, I guess, where they are concerned. More attorneys more billings, more idiotic moves, who are these jokers and who elected them...jeez get real people, November is coming, save yourselves, save your city, get these dimwitted developers and their lackluster wannabees out into the street, don't let them destroy any more of this city.

6/20/2016 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

The biggest WHY of all - WHY do people keep voting for these guys? That's the real problem.

"No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
― H.L. Mencken, Notes on Democracy

6/21/2016 06:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Chris McEvoy said...

Just rode by the 46 million dollar library. My opinion is we should use the 46 million towards the purchase of the fairview developmental center. Let's not repeat Newport's mistake with their municipality.
We all know riggy won't put our community first. He has to make money for his developer buddies on the backs of our quality of life. riggy you carpet bagger this is your legacy

6/21/2016 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Muffin Top Bob said...

We're just lucky that the booze pushing, dive bar owner isn't allowed to run for reelection or people would blindly vote him back onto the City Council. It's time to make Costa Mesa great again---No on the M's-Mensinger & Mercurio

6/21/2016 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

“You are aging, Righeimer,” the journalist said,
“And your hair is beginning to thin;
But charters and scams, they abide in your head.
Do you not regard this as a sin?”
“In my youth,” Jim Righeimer replied off the cuff.
“My ethics I serviced by lip;
But now that I’m old, I’ve no time for that stuff,
So, here, let me give you a tip:
The measure of power’s how many you screw,
So ethics I cannot abide;
I have an agenda of things I must do.
The public’s along for the ride.”

“You are aging, Righeimer,” the journalist said,
“and an autocrat in the extreme.
Some call you a tyrant who rules like the dread
Mussolini, Hitler, or Stalin.”
“You take Geoff West’s Blog and roll it up tight,
and fold it ‘till corners prevail,
And place it in firmly where there is no light!
I’m gentle, and delicate, and frail!
To call me dictator, it just is no fair!
So what if I offed poor Huy Pham,
Restricted free speech, and laid off some folks!
Tough nuts! And I don’t give a damn!"

--Ancient music, current validity... Sung to the tune of "Liliburlero".

6/21/2016 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Look at Steve's campaign website. He is responsible for Costa Mesa going from a $9 million deficit to a $50 surplus. People take that at face value and vote for him.
What is important to note is that a single city council person cannot make business deals for the city, and if he does, it is in violation of the law to offer some sort of quid pro quo.
I'd like to know what car dealerships were fleeing the city? The used car dealers that went bankrupt? Or did Cadillac threaten to flee if they didn't get their variances. It seems that the city is for sale and Steve makes that seem like a good thing.
He has been muzzled lately. Jim is the spokesperson so Steve isn't associated with any gaffes.

6/21/2016 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris McEvoy said...

I was clapping at home do I have a 1st amendment lawsuit?

6/21/2016 09:36:00 PM  

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