Wednesday, July 13, 2016


I'm almost at a loss as to how to begin this one.  This was the nearly perfect sequel to the previous council meeting - which I described in the title of my entry about it as The Worst Meeting Ever.  This one came close... too close.

The meeting of the Costa Mesa City Council yesterday, Tuesday, was a "Special Meeting", so they didn't have all the frills - Public Comments, Consent Calendar, Presentations, etc.  In fact, they didn't even bother with the Pledge of Allegiance!  This one was strictly business and only two items would be considered.  And, since both those items had been discussed in the past, we knew this was going to be fun.

And, no, I didn't attend this one.  Doctor's orders.  I did, however, watch every single second of it at home, where I was able to yell epithets at the screen as appropriate.  There was a lot of that going on last night. 
The first item - the third and final reading of the Voting by Districts issue - was first up.  Assistant City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow took the lead.  Katrina Foley asked Barlow about any contact she may have had with the attorney who sent the letter about whether adding the Directly-elected Mayor violated the settlement agreement.  She said yes, and the answer was no.  She also confirmed with Barlow that individual council members could write a position opposing this issue, but not as a council member.
Thirty-four (34) members of the public spoke to this issue.  Ten (10) supported the proposal being presented - six (6) council districts PLUS a Directly-Elected Mayor - and the remaining two dozen (24) opposed the plan.  Some of those who supported the 6-Districts stated they did so because the other choices split College Park - which was NOT true.  Apparently someone circulated a form letter implying that falsehood, which was then used as a template for submission to the council.  This is how things roll in our city these days.
It was interesting to note who some of the speakers were on this issue.  Many of those supporting the proposal were buddies with the Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem.  And, also Krissie Bogner - one of the Costa Mesa Public Square minions who posts frequently - used her three minutes to tell us how she was so confused about the maps, that she didn't know where she fell in the scheme of things and it was all so confusing.  That had a very familiar ring to it - it was straight out of the Julie Mercurio songbook from a couple years ago when she portrayed herself as a false-innocent and, gee, golly, can somebody help me understand!  And then Bogner tells us that she knows that she wouldn't be in the area that includes Orange Coast College and was concerned about it.  Which is it, girl?  You can't have it both ways.
Another CMPS minion, Shannon Bales, used his three minutes to spew false information, too.  Folks tell me he was sitting in the chair I usually occupy... didn't help.. he didn't get any smarter.
Terry Koken graced the proceedings with another original tune, aimed directly at Righeimer.  When he finished he mentioned that folks on the dais had been unhappy with him for using the word "ass" at a previous meeting.  He told Righeimer that he promised not to call him a son-of-a-bitch, but he hoped when Righeimer got home his mother would run out from under the porch and bite him on the leg.  It was a sign of how things would go last night.
Another interesting speaker was former councilman/mayor/assemblyman Allan Mansoor, who told us he was not in favor of district voting, but if we have to do it he favored the one that included the directly-elected mayor because it would give us more clout on regional issues.  Katrina Foley asked him which district he lived in.  Mansoor dodged that question and Foley speculated that he didn't actually live in Costa Mesa - an interesting issue if factual, since he's announced he's running for City Council this year and to do so he MUST be an elector residing in Costa Mesa.  Maybe someone should hire an investigator to research Mansoor's domicile - we've heard rumors that he actually lives in South County.  Anyhow, he demonstrated to us that he's not gotten any smarter since he last served on the city council.
John Stephens spoke with great clarity, wondering what we were actually trying to do with this proposal.  If the goal was to provide greater opportunity for the Latino segment of our community to be represented he speculated that the six-district option actually diluted that representation significantly, particularly when you fold in the directly-elected mayor.
Several speakers who had participated in the outreach process - the workshops and individual meetings with the demographer/consultant to help craft the districting choices - expressed disappointment and chagrin that their efforts went for nothing.  Righeimer chose the six-district option even though not a single participant at any of the meetings expressed interest in that option.

A few of the proponents of the choice, like Janet Krochman - a member of the Senior Commission - presented their views clearly.  Others seemed not to have such a clear understanding.
Former councilwoman and former member of the school board Wendy Leece bemoaned what she described as the "fake outreach" effort - the expenditure of more than $79,000 for a process that was ignored by the council majority.  She also mentioned that she'd written to the Orange County District Attorney about what she perceived as a Brown Act violation at the July 5th meeting - the improper noticing of the issues discussed.
Effie Sanchez, a Latina Eastside resident who lives in District 3, had attended some of the meetings and got a lot out of the process.  She will encourage her friends to vote against this proposal.
Conception Gonzalez, a 20 year resident, used the services of the Spanish interpreter to address the council.  She thought the 5 districts were enough.  She  lives in District 4.
Almost before the last words were out of the final speaker's mouth Righeimer jumped in and made a motion to approve Option #3, the Six-districts plus directly elected mayor choice.  Gary Monahan - salivating over possibly being elected mayor for life - seconded the motion.
Righeimer then went on a twenty minute rant in which he told us he's not happy that we're being forced to do this "because we're racist".  He said people work very hard at putting blinders on when it comes to race and sexual orientation.  He said he kinda doubted that the citizens would vote for this the first time, that we'd have to vote for it a second time or a judge will come up with a plan.  He said "the issue here is more about culture than it is about race".  He also scolded the Latino population because they "don't turn out", and that unless they do turn out there's no guarantee that they'll get that seat.
He told us, in his usual garbled fashion, that he asked people why they felt the way they felt about their position on this issue and he said it was "power".  He then relaunched into his scolding screed to the Latinos for not voting, not being involved in the political process and now want not only a position on the dais - a voice - but they now want a megaphone!  And then he tried to compare Costa Mesa, with just over 110,000 residents, to cities like Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Ana - he actually mentioned Houston, too - where they directly elect a mayor.  Apples and bananas, Mr. Mayor Pro Tem!

He went on and on about how he didn't like this system because it will "make us more divisive" - meaning the city council that is elected by districts.  He's said the same thing in the previous meeting when he referred to council members "bringing home the pork" to their district.
He then gave us a primer on why district voting is bad, and that how we didn't want to do this and have been rushed into it.  He belittled the participants in the meetings - "only 106" - and that it cost us $745 per person for the meetings.

Sandy Genis said she wouldn't support the motion, but could have supported a seven-district option.  She also corrected the record on the misstatements earlier about there not being a Latino majority in one of the districts.  She also corrected the record about how directly-elected mayors actually worked in other cities.  She also gave some history on Costa Mesa's form of government.  She included mention about our code prohibition on "administrative interference" - where council members are forbidden from interfering with staff members.
Katrina Foley said she won't be supporting the issue.  She also complained about the spread of misinformation on this issue, including Righeimer's screed.  She told the audience that Righeimer had just basically told the Latino population of the city that they don't count.  She exhorted the community to prove him wrong - to get out the vote.  She said this is THE most important election in the history of our city - that it could place the power in the city in the hands of Righeimer and Mensinger and whomever they chose to fill that third spot.  She said it would likely be Mansoor, "and we all know how that turned out the last time."  She made a passionate appeal to the public to get out and vote.
The council voted, 3-2, to place the issue on the ballot.  Genis and Foley voted no.  They then voted on the other segments of the issue with the same result.  Then came the issue of who would write the argument in favor of the issue for the ballot and Righeimer said he would, and the vote was the same - 3-2, with Genis and Foley voting no.

Then Genis asked Barlow to affirm that no staff time would be used to write the arguments.  Righeimer said NO!, but as it turned out not only can staff time NOT be used to help with this argument, but it may NOT be used for ANY of the previously approved arguments that Righeimer volunteered to author.  I smiled.
They also voted, 3-2, to spend $8,400 dollars each for three mailers on this issue.  Foley then asked CEO Tom Hatch for a breakdown of ALL the costs incurred on this initiative, including the costs with the settlement agreement.

Following a short break they returned at 9:50 p.m. to address the second item on the agenda - the alternate Fairview Park initiative.  Special Counsel Patrick Munoz of Rutan and Tucker made a VERY brief staff report before public comments were taken. He told the council that the measure he had prepared was "pretty simple" - that it accomplishes two things: 1) any athletic field to be developed at Fairview Park would require a vote of the people and, 2) any other development at Fairview Park would go through the usual process.  He said they defined what athletic fields are, and passive uses.
Eighteen (18) members of the public spoke to this issue.  Not a single one spoke in favor of it.  Many were suspicious of the intent, since this initiative restricts "athletic fields" from the park, but nothing else.

Jay Humphrey was first up and immediately challenged the staff report as it addresses - inaccurately - elements of the initiative created by the Fairview Park Preservation Alliance, specifically issues involving ADA compliance.
Sue Lester told the council if they had done things right in the first place we wouldn't be here today.  She also asked about things like basketball courts - wondering if it is an end-around to the process. She described it as a "gigantic load of crap".
Dr. Richard Mehren - the Father of Fairview Park - complained about the staff report, too.  He worried about changing operating hours for a "dawn to dusk park".
Wendy Leece wondered why they were doing this.  Why waste money on this issue?

Cynthia McDonald began her three minutes by sighing, "So, again, we have a counter initiative that defies the express wishes of the residents.She described elements of this initiative as being false and misleading and  accused Righeimer and Mensinger of abusing their power just to keep it.

John Stephens walked through the construction of the initiative and brought up the specter of Mile Square Park and all the features of that park.  He said this was a horrible initiative, full of loopholes.  He said it's a terrible law, hastily-crafted and an insult to the people that collected those 7,135 signatures.  He told them to listen to the people.
Cindy Black told the council the initiative is misleading, then gave examples of prior municipal misdeeds within the park, including "Steve's Trail" through the vernal pools.
Robin Leffler closed the speakers by addressing Representation.  Mensinger interrupted her.  He refused to give her time back.  Foley moved to re-start her time.  Genis seconded.  The vote on that issue was 3-2, with Mensinger and Righeimer voting no.  Cheers from the crowd.  Leffler continued, talking about the costs of mailers - she said "nine grand" - they cost $8,400 each.  She used the story of Bre'r Rabbit and the Briar Patch.
Righeimer then moved the first two issues and launched into another rant about how he was not elected as a populist - doing whatever someone who runs up to the microphone wants.  He chided the folks that circulated the initiative for signatures.  His exact words were: "If you can't get signatures to save a park, you can't do anything.  I mean, that's like Idiot Number One can't get that deal done!"
An amusing moment occurred when, as Righeimer was continuing with his condescending rant, Mensinger interrupted him by saying, "Mr. Mayor, Ms. Brenneman just flipped off, once again, the dais.  I think that's inappropriate.  I just want to note that.  Go ahead."   Unbelievable!  Is this junior high school?  I love the brain burp he exhibited by calling Righeimer "Mr. Mayor".  Or, maybe he's right!  Sure seems like Righeimer's running the show.
Then, as Righeimer continued to attempt to rant folks in the audience called out and he lost his train of thought.  In exasperation he said, "You know what, it's amazing some people that have no life."
Foley interrupted him, saying he's saying the same thing over and over and over.  Righeimer said he's losing his train of thought so it's taking him longer to do it.  In frustration he called for a break.
Interestingly, when Mensinger called the meeting back into order Righeimer was absent so he gave the floor to Foley.  She then inquired about language in the new initiative regarding ADA bathrooms and the potential loss of $800,000 in OCTA grant dollars.  City Engineer Bart Mejia responded that it was grant funding to rehabilitate an existing trail/road.  During her questioning of Mejia Mensinger interrupted her, telling her to not characterize his answers.  It was a petulant, inappropriate misuse of his position and showed what a feeble leader he is.
Foley continued to address lawyer Munoz, asking about things like tennis courts, racketball courts, putting greens and go-cart tracks.  He responded that all those could be included in the measure.

I did notice an amusing comment from Munoz.  As they spoke about ADA issues he was searching for words and apologized for not "being familiar with your normal folks that come and speak.", then referred to Terry Koken, "the gentleman that likes to sing."  So, there you have it!  Despite what Righeimer tells us, the folks who come to speak are "normal".  Knew it all along!
 Genis then addressed the motion, wondering "What's the plan?"  She then described specific incidents of Code Enforcement harrassment of the folks gathering signatures.  She described an incident where the Code Enforcement officer was sent to observe their activities because Steve Mensinger called her boss and told her to go observe.  This is pure political intimidation and Genis was concerned about the misuse of tax dollars for this purpose.  She said there's something wrong when we use tax dollars to create this politician-initiated initiative.She said flat out that this is an abuse of power.

After clarifying with lawyer Munoz that those other elements, hardcourts, golfing venues and a go-cart track, would be included, they voted, 3-2 to place the item on the ballot.  

Before they voted on item #3 Foley asked Hatch for a complete summary on the costs of this issue.  Righeimer petulantly that he wanted costs incurred when Foley didn't show up for the police contract.  You could almost see his nose growing as he spoke.  What an infant!
Then they had a major argument about who would write the arguments.  It finally ended up that Righeimer would write the argument for and Genis would write the argument against.  That passed, 5-0.  And then the ever-contentious issue of spending money to produce 3 informational mailers was addressed.  That passed, 3-2.
Mensinger closed the meeting at 11:15... what a night!

I apologize for the tardiness of this report.  A combination of my little health issue and the fact that my primary computer is in intensive care slowed the process down.  I'll try to do better as I, and my computer, heal.  

Just a note.. this is post number 3,000 on this host.  Whew! 

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Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Thank you, Geoff for hanging in there and giving us the details. I can't bear to watch the whole thing, especially when Jim goes off the rails.

7/13/2016 08:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Only 106 people came to the district meetings? That's more than twice the margin that got Jim his council seat over Jay Humphrey.
An idiot can get over 7,000 signatures? The number of people who signed the initiative are not that far behind the number of people who voted for Jim in 2014. And if it's such a no-brainer to save a park, why is a counter initiative necessary?

How could anyone who watches a council meeting ever vote for him (Jim)?

7/13/2016 09:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

Thank you, Geoff. I appreciate your dedication to informing the public about the happenings in our fair city, as do many, many others. Illegitimi non Carborundum!

7/13/2016 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Thank you, Geoff for a great report on an exasperating
meeting. I hope you are feeling much better now.

These boys on our city council get worse with every
meeting. They interrupt those who disagree with them
often scolding and demeaning the speakers.
The rest they save for Council Comments, where
Righeimer takes close to half an hour talking about nothing
of substance, just talking down to us waving his hands
around and chastising residents who have the nerve to
question him and his decisions.

Mensinger does the same, except he is infamous for lying from
the dais as he did Tuesday night. No one from the Fairview Park
Preservation Alliance told anyone condos would be built in
Fairview Park. I suspect this false rumor came from the same
source the false rumor the trains would be removed did, from
Mensinger himself. Again he is calling out people by name from
the dais in an attempt to humiliate them. No one except one
council guy has flipped anyone the finger at a CC meeting.
That was another lie.
Their behavior towards the council ladies is atrocious! That
would take another couple of paragraphs to cover. I'm glad
the ladies are sticking up for themselves and not allowing the
boys to bully them.
I have never seen this behavior from any previous council
prior to December 2010.

I hope the boys are digging their political graves with their
vulgar, unprofessional conduct at every CC meeting now.
We need adults on our city council, not juveniles with enormous
egos who behave like mini-me versions of Joseph McCarthy.
Remember in November.

Thanks again, Geoff- Take good care of yourself.
We need you and so does our city.

7/14/2016 12:49:00 AM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

We have to show proof of residency for kids' sports. One would think a city council candidate such as the esteemed (cough cough) Allan Mansour would be held to a slightly higher standard than showing an electric bill.

7/14/2016 06:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Muffin Top Bob said...

We all know that Steve is not a smart man, but to forget that he is the Mayor is a new level of dumb, even for this guy.

No on the M's- in November!!!!

7/14/2016 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Ocpublicsquare said...

Interesting story about SA planning commissioner who resigned because private eye found him living in Riverside. These guys and their appointees think they are above the law. I'm sick of listening to Jim lecture me! Pathetic. Hubris. Arrogance. As far as other folks being involved in our city, what involvement did he have in Costa Mesa before getting appointed to the pc by Mansoor? What has he really done to serve? Nothing. In fact, has he ever volunteered for anything here or just complained because being on the council is such hard work. I hate to hear him bash other councils. Costa Mesa was such a mess before Jim. Not. He's ruined us.

7/14/2016 08:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Eileen Truxton said...

I would love to be a fly on the wall at the Lincoln Club to count how many times Righeimer has been told "You're the number one idiot and can't get the job done."

7/14/2016 09:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Central Valley Stevie once again abdicates his mayoral position to Das Rigmarshal, licks his boots, and calls him "Mayor."

He follows the Evil Elf who sold his soul in order to boost that silly bar.

Mansoor will get his tongue in shape to make sure the Newport Bosses will be able to see their own reflections on their boot tops.

7/14/2016 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

I won't get into the minutia of the debacle the councilmen made out of the council meeting, but will say, that it is imperative for the future of Costa Mesa to get rid of Mensinger and Righeimer This town has gone so far downhill it will take many, many years to recover. The crime rate is up 40%. Our self-insured fund is 7 million dollars in the red. (Not kidding here).

Nothing whatsoever has been done about the under funded pensions, even though its been one of Mensheimer's big political issues, used to get people on board with him. NOTHING!

Nothing has been done about the proliferation of sober living homes. Settlements made in their favor, rules ignored, clients kicked to the curb then become homeless, breaking into peoples' homes for things to sell for drugs. Rig refused for a year and a half to do anything, then writes an ordinance that they refuse to uphold. NOTHING!

Our public safety issues have not been resolved. Fire station on Royal Palm is falling down. Our personnel is so short handed they have to call in Huntington Beach a good share of the time. Whats being done? NOTHING!

Then there was the BS about Righeimer forgetting about his vote to buy the 6 state of the art ambulances. HE FORGOT? 1.6 million dollars, and he forgot? So now they are being used as a taxi service so he can obtain large contributions from CARE Ambulance. That is costing this city in the millions. Resolution? None. NOTHING!

Big money spent on Righeimer's anti-initiatives, which in reality are PRO DEVELOPMENT CHARTERS. But we can buy rocks for the middle of the streets. These guys always have an angle. Make the city look nice, and no one will complain...yeah, right.m

Mensinger following private citizens around with private investigators (oh yes). Mensinger setting code enforcement on people gathering signatures. Mensinger having a man arrested that he thought tore up a $2.00 sign, that turns out to be the wrong guy. Petty and vindictive.

For the love of Costa Mesa, vote them out. My 10 year old can do a better job. We need some real leadership, with honesty and integrity, which is sorely missing in these men.

7/14/2016 09:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Xyn Bohemia said...

i would like to suggest that the candidates have spanish translations on their facebook pages, web sites and literature. it would be good to show how the potential council members (along with a current one) could effect the hispanic residents/voters.

7/15/2016 08:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

And now, the same *ahem* Mayor Pro Tem wants us to go to 6 districts so he can run again for mayor and maintain that position with his second vote coming from Mesa Verde also. That would give him two votes for his district. This man is a complete scam artist. Vote no on districts also. Vote no on his third charter attempt (pro development initiative), vote no on the pro development Fairview Park initiative. Dishonesty cannot prevail.

7/15/2016 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Smokey said...

No more City council meetings for me! Being verbally abused by the P-T Mayor is not worth it. CCTV is just fine, because I can turn off the sound and wait for anything that doesn't denigrate citizen/voters. Thank you, God, for some normalcy. Thank you, Foley and Genis, for standing up for to the troika. Remember November...VOTE!!

7/15/2016 12:41:00 PM  

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