Friday, October 07, 2016

Eastside Neighbors Forum Rocks!

The Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors Group City Council candidate forum Thursday night was a huge success despite, or maybe because of, the absence of four of the seven candidates.
Sandra Genis, Jay Humphrey and John Stephens showed up as planned, while the other four failed to make it.  Rumor had it that at least some of them may have been raising cash at a gin mill not too far away.  No, not Gary's.  It's really too bad the rest chose to boycott this event because, as usual, it was the best of the bunch.  The questions were well-thought-out and evoked good answers from each candidate.  Each one was given the same amount of time to answer and there was no sparring amongst the candidates.  I venture to say that if the remainder showed up that probably would not be the case.
The evening began as Eastside Neighbors Group President Jeff McConville promptly  kicked things off at 7:00 p.m., then tossed the moderator ball to Harold Weitzberg, who did a fine job of presenting the issues to the candidates.  The questions were crisp, as were most of the answers, and the program stayed right on schedule.  I'm going to try to give you a flavor of the evening, and may even manage a few direct quotes, but much of what I present to you here will be paraphrasing the questions and answers.  Terry Wall was on site recording this event again.  His finished work product will be available for viewing sometime next week.  I'll provide you a link when it's up.
After personal introductions by the candidates, Weitzberg  announced that the next segment would involve a discussion of the many ballot measures facing Costa Mesa voters in November.

He launched into the first question, which dealt with the three local issues on the Costa Mesa ballot regarding Medical Marijuana - Measures V, W and X.  Measures V and W were placed on the ballot by gathering of enough signatures of voters last year.  Measure X was generated by the city council majority. He asked each candidate for their views on the issues and whether they will vote for them.  I'll provide answers in the order asked, which changed throughout the evening.
Jay Humphrey was the first to answer this one.  He said he understood the need for some ill people to get relief from Medical Marijuana and didn't want to do anything to hamper that relief.  He didn't like the idea of the product being sold in our city, so said he will vote NO on V and W, and may vote yes on X, the city-created measure that has no retail sales element in it, just manufacturing, testing, distribution kind of functions restricted to a specific section in the north part of town.

John Stephens mentioned the fact that Recreational Marijuana - on the November ballot - will likely pass, but he didn't think dispensaries in Costa Mesa was a good idea.  He mentioned the need for a state agency like the ABC to manage the product.  He said he will vote NO on V and W and yes on X.

Sandra Genis acknowledged that some folks really need medical cannabis.  She cited the need for more state controls.  She will vote NO on V and W and, probably, Yes on X.

Next up was the issues of Development and Growth.  There are two issues on the ballot - Measures Y and Z.
Stephens said he'd be voting NO on Z.  However, he was having a tough time with Measure Y.  He acknowledged why more than 7,000 people in Costa Mesa signed the petition to get it on the ballot - rampant growth throughout the city - but suggested a better way to change the way development is handled in Costa Mesa would be to change the demographics on the council dais.

Genis also praised the folks who got Measure Y on the ballot.  She said it's not perfect, but it reins-in the wholesale changes approved by the current council.  She said Measure Z is a "wolf in sheep's clothing" placed on the ballot by the council majority, and that the voters are being lied to on this issue.

Humphrey, a main proponent of Measure Y, said he would vote NO on Z.  He briefly expressed the mood of those who signed the petition to place Measure Y on the ballot as frustrated, with a feeling of powerlessness, at the rampant growth in the city.

Next came a question about the measures on the ballot involving Fairview Park, Measures AA and BB.
Genis said she will vote Yes on AA and No on BB, another measure placed on the ballot to confuse the voters.

Humphrey said he will vote NO on BB, also emphasizing the attempt to fool the voters.  He will vote Yes on AA.

Stephens agreed with them, and used his time to explain his view of the lies being perpetrated on the voters by the council majority by the placement of these measures on the ballot.  He express outrage that not only did they place BB and Z on the ballot, but are spending our tax dollars to promote them.
The next issue was Measure EE, the district voting issue on the ballot.

Humphrey said he's against EE, but agreed that it is important for the city to go to selecting council members by district and also to retain the existing term limits.

Stephens said this measure is another example of the perversion of the process.  He briefly explained that we should have districts because of our large Latino population.  He explained how this measure really doesn't accomplish the intent - to give a greater voice to the Latino population in our city.  He said he will vote No on EE, but will do everything he can to get district voting approved with a Latino majority district.

Genis told the audience that she had offered a substitute motion - a 5-district option that had been preferred by the participants at the many workshops on this issue.  Not a single person supported the 6-district with directly-elected mayor choice that was placed on the ballot.  She cited this as another example of abuse of power at City Hall.  She will vote No on EE.
Next came Measure TT, the advisory issue placed on the ballot by the Mesa Water District to test the sentiment of the voters on whether Mesa Water and the Costa Mesa Sanitary District (CMSD) should be combined.

Stephens said he will vote NO because he didn't like the way it went down.  He suggested the proper forum for this discussion was the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).

Humphrey agreed and will also be voting NO.  He said this is simply a power grab and also agreed with Stephens that LAFCO is the place for this discussion.

Genis agreed - she, too, will vote NO.  She said there is no clear reason for this to even be on the ballot.  She cited the one-sided financial study by Mesa Water, which was completed without the cooperation of the CMSD.  She suggested that maybe the Costa Mesa Sanitary District should investigate taking over the Water District.

Next they tackled questions posed by the host organization based on input from their membership.  Each candidate was asked to respond to each issue again.

First up in this segment was High Density Housing, the General Plan Update and the Overlay Zones along Harbor and Newport Boulevard.  The candidates were asked if they agree with them and, if not, what they will do about it.

Genis said she did not agree with them and voted against them several times. She said they produce areas that are too dense, with too much traffic - much of which will end up being cut-through traffic on the Eastside.  And, she said it will result in no affordable housing in Costa Mesa.

Humphrey said he disagrees with the General Plan changes, citing the density and traffic, too.  He said it's just a land grab for developers.  He said those changes MUST not be codified.

Stephens said he is against the Overlay Zones because they will change the character of our city.  He referred the audience to the development at 125 Baker Street, where a huge apartment complex with multi-story parking structure is being built.  He said there's a lot of lying being done by the council majority regarding the so-called "problem motels".  He said it's a myth being used to oust those properties, and cited an apartment complex in town as having the highest calls for service.

Next came a question about Unlicensed Sober Living Homes, which Weitzberg said the city - 4% of the county population - has 29% of such homes.  He asked if they felt the laws were adequate to enforce?
Humphrey said they are not being enforced.  He cited the two laws on the books are not adequate, but acknowledged the need for sober living homes.  He cited the over-abundance of them in some neighborhoods and that we need to do a better job of forcing them to be better neighbors.

Genis acknowledged the need for sober living homes, but said our ordinances need more teeth and that we need to work with other agencies to help solve the problems - lobbying in Sacramento and Washington to get better laws.

Stephens said he could talk a half hour on the issue, and would stick around after the meeting if anyone was interested.  He affirmed that the addicts are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  He suggested a Nuisance Abatement Fund be created to help deal with the problems.  He said many residents with sober living homes in their neighborhoods feel "hopeless and helpless".

Next came a question about Public Safety, specifically about Police Staffing, and asked what we should do to attract more experienced officers.
Stephens said "Elect Me!"  He said the city is a service business but that we currently have a "siege mentality" at City Hall against the police and that it's out of control on the dais and is constantly discussed on social media - he specifically didn't mention any site in particular.  Citing the obvious acrimony that is well-publicized, he said, "I wouldn't want to hire an officer who didn't know how police officers are treated in Costa Mesa."

Genis said we need to establish an atmosphere of respect.  She said the relationship with the police department has reached a critical point, and that the fact that we have no specialty units makes it hard to find experienced officers for lateral transfers, which is already a slow process.  She praised Police Chief Rob Sharpnack for his diligence in trying to manage this problem.

Humphrey told us the reality is the toxic atmosphere that has existed for more than 5 years.  Many senior officers took early retirement or looked for other jobs where their skills were appreciated.  And, the council majority imposed a hiring freeze, which put recruitment behind for nearly a year.  He looked forward to helping the CMPD become a premiere department again, and that it will take a change of attitude to attract laterals to the force.

Next came a question about Emergency Preparedness.  The candidates were asked if they feel we are adequately prepared to handle a major emergency - a terrorist act or a natural disaster.

Humphrey said that concern is very real and cited the recent Trump Rally, which ended up being a riot and caused  more than $290,000 in damage.  He said there was not enough notification to and by the Fairgrounds and there was no plan to which they could refer.

Genis mentioned the emergency generator which she, and Wendy Leece before her, had tried to get purchased for years without success.  She mentioned one member of the council majority who asked, apparently seriously, "Why should we have something that we will never have to use?"  She mentioned that our Emergency Operations Plan had not been updated for years, when Chief  Tom Gazsi finally got it done.  She said we have NO Hazard Management plan.  She also referred to the current practice of having public safety personnel work so many hours of overtime - thousands in many cases - that they might not be physically ready for a major disaster/emergency.

Stephens said it kind of depends on the kind of emergency.  He mentioned a recent conversation with an official in north county that said something like, "Why worry about a fire.  Other departments will come to your aid."  He said we need to get our staffing levels in both the Police and Fire Departments up to the required level soon.

Next up was a question about Marijuana, specifically the possibility of Recreational Marijuana being approved by the voters in November.  The candidates were asked, "If it passes, how will it affect Costa Mesa?" and "What steps do we need to take to prepare?"

Stephens began by saying he had no problem with adults using marijuana and suggested that anyone in Costa Mesa that wanted marijuana were probably getting all they want already.  He emphasized he didn't believe we needed dispensaries, then mentioned the fact that there are more than 300 places in Costa Mesa where a person can get alcohol, and that 80% of the police calls receive involve drinking.

Humphrey was concerned about it being a cash business, subject to armed robbery.  He expressed the need to take care of the "bad actors" in that business if it evolves.

Genis said she hopes the State creates an agency like the ABC to manage the product, and emphasized again that some people do receive relief from pain from the product. Weitzberg interjected that there is already an agency being formed.

Next they discussed Homelessness in Costa Mesa, defining the problem and looking for solutions.
Genis said homelessness in Orange County is up, that there are currently and estimated 15 thousand homeless people in the county.  Many are in Costa Mesa.  She mentioned even Avalon, on Catalina Island, has a homelessness problem because the boat gives free passage to the island on your birthday.  She also mentioned we, the City, have been sending HOME funds that could be used for transitional housing for homeless back to Washington.  She said there will be "cap and trade" funds available soon, and that we need permanent supportive housing.

Stephens mentioned that he'd recently spent a lot of time with Assistant CEO Rick Francis, the point man on Costa Mesa's battle with the homeless issue.  He has a small team and they're trying to get proper data so they can actually create a plan to deal with it.  He cited faith-based organizations, like Trellis.

Humphrey observed we have more young women homeless in Costa Mesa and blamed it on sober living homes that dump their failures out onto out streets.  He suggested the city become a credit guarantor to assist the homeless get re-established.

Next was Banning Ranch.  It was presumed that the developers would appeal the recent Coastal Commission ruling and be back at it, trying to develop that property.  The candidates were asked to address the impact on Costa Mesa in terms of traffic, noise, clean up of the site, etc.

Humphrey said he would be attending any meeting on the issue.  He said we don't have any control, but that we need to negotiate a better deal to mitigate some of the impacts than the last one - one he said would barely cover half the anticipated impacts.  He suggested we keep an eye on the Coastal Commission to make sure they follow the law.

Stephens said he was proud of Genis because she was the only elected official to step up and speak at the recent hearing that quashed the last attempt.  He said that if the three of them were elected, there would be three at those future meetings.  He thanked the opponents of the development, mentioning Terry Welsch in particular.

Genis said it is going forward and it would generate a lot of traffic in Costa Mesa.  If the Bluff Road is included it will mean even MORE traffic, and that we need to keep fighting it.

Finally came their closing statements.  They were asked what makes them the best choice for City Council.

Genis said she was one of three good choices for City Council.  She said she's in it for the long haul, that she has great institutional knowledge about the City and is a professional land planner.  She said she wanted to see the government returned to the people, not continue abridging the rights of the residents.

Humphrey said he's a long-time resident of the city and that when on the council before he worked with Genis when she helped get the City out of the county investment pool before the bankruptcy, saving approximately 40% of our money in the process.  He cited the need to treat people with respect.  He mentioned that every small business, every resident are a major part of our community and that the council needs to hear from the people and respect their opinions.  He said he wants to bring balance back to the City for a sustainable future.

Stephens thanked the hosts and Weitzberg.  He said he's a practicing attorney and that he thinks we should stop squandering our tax dollars  on frivolous lawsuits, and that his background could help with that.  He said he would be the residents eyes and ears at City Hall.  He said we could trust him to manage our tax dollars.  He said he knows how to negotiate in good faith.  He said he loves the city, and that he's a nice guy.  He said even Mensinger and Righeimer would agree that he's a nice guy.  He said he wants to listen to the people with Respect, Joy, Dignity and Love.

The meeting ended precisely at 8:30 with closing comments by McConville.  Luke Money from the Daily Pilot, shown below chatting with resident Greg Ridge, was at the meeting, so look for his coverage of the event.
I came away from this forum with strong positive feelings about all three of these candidates.  It was clear that they agree on most issues, but don't necessarily agree on solutions, but are willing to discuss them.  This is a refreshing change from what we've seen the past five years from the current council majority.  Two of the three, Genis and Humphrey, have significant experience on the City Council and know how good government looks and works.  Stephens is a skilled lawyer and negotiator.  All would be excellent council members and, as a team, they would be terrific.  My sense of the crowd tonight is that most in attendance were very impressed.  I know where my three votes are going later this month when my absentee ballot arrives.
My Eastside Neighbors did a fantastic job with this forum.  Congratulations to McConville, Weitzberg and to all involved, and to the candidates who took the time to speak to more than 100 of their neighbors on issues that are important to us all.

To the other candidates that chose NOT to attend... I have nothing good to say to or about any of you.  By avoiding this opportunity to express your views on these important issues you've demonstrated your arrogant disdain for the voters - something everyone in attendance last night will certainly remember and pass on to their friends.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Monahan - The High And The Low At The Council Meeting

Yeah, I know... what kind of a title is that?  Well, you kinda had to be there.  Here we go...
I arrived very early for what would be my first council meeting since my little health adventure last June.  I'd been to a few other events - ones at which I could keep moving without causing a distraction - but this was my first council meeting.  And I arrived to find what looked like a fungus growing from the seat I had occupied for most of a decade.  It turns out it was just defrocked Sanitary District Director/Planning Commission Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick, doing his best to make me angry.
I found another seat where I could get up and move around without bothering anyone else and settled in for what I thought would be a short, fairly uneventful meeting.  HA!  I should have known better.  I was sitting in the back row surrounded by real journalists - Luke Money of the Daily Pilot and Louis Casiano, Jr. from the OC Register.  In our row was Fitzy and several of his noxious CMPS minions, performing their best impressions of junior high school students throughout the evening.  They were on Facebook all night long, including during a break, when some of them scampered out onto the porch of the council chambers and got in the face of other attendees with their smart phones to record video clips which they later posted on Facebook.  It was only one of the many childish events that night.
Back to the meeting.  It began nice enough, with the Boy Scouts presenting a flag ceremony.  Then came the high point for Gary Monahan.  He was presented the Mayor's Award.  I had to chuckle when Mayor Steve Mensinger fumbled and stumbled through the prepared speech from the dais.  A very nice video presentation by the pros at CMTV was shown, mostly narrated by retired City Manager Allan Roeder, with clips of folks like former Mayor Peter Buffa and others.  It was a nice homage to Monahan who, particularly during his first eight years, made a big, positive impact on the community.  His last tour, not so much.  He's become a willing, predictable third vote for Mensinger and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer as they attempt to re-invent the City.  Monahan is the classic guy who has stayed too long at the dance.  During his acceptance speech, referring specifically to the Boy Scouts,  Monahan said, "The better that we can teach them on how to act, how to behave, how to volunteer and how to go forward the better we're gonna be."  Uh, huh... More on that in a minute.
During Public Comments Costa Mesa Sanitary District Director Bob Ooten stepped up and asked that the agenda item regarding the Mesa Water Takeover, scheduled for the end of the meeting, be removed from the agenda.  He congratulated staffer Dan Baker for his staff report, but it is incomplete since it does not include the FIRST study Mesa Water contracted for earlier in the year.
Deborah Ashby of the South Coast Air Quality Management District told us that her organization is hosting a lawnmower exchange event at the OC Fair and Event Center on October 15th.

Former mayor Allan Mansoor stepped up, carrying his young daughter and her backpack, to address the council.  He praised the police chief, then launched into a denigration of the former leadership of the Costa Mesa Police Association.  He also criticized the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association for hiring a former member of the law firm the CMPOA had employed.  He condemned the organizations.  What a jackass!
Eleanor Egan expressed disappointment in the city mailer on the districting measure, Measure EE.  She observed the mention, twice, on the flyer about the importance of public input, yet that public input was ignored when the choice was made for placement on the ballot.  (In case you're interested, I penned a commentary for the Daily Pilot on this subject, HERE.)
CMPS minion Krissie Bogner stepped up to praise "Steve" for responding to her on the Costa Mesa Public Square and hoping to meet with her.  She said something like, "Who is this guy?"  It turns out to be the mayor.  Odd that she'd use the CMPS to find creepy guys, isn't it?  She also gave credit to her pal, Julie Mercurio, for all her hard work on the CMPS - a closed site that only the blessed few may participate on and/or observe.
Mary Spadoni set the record straight on the Chris Lanzillo hearing - which she attended - letting us all know that there was NO mention of the Costa Mesa Police Association during that hearing.  She was clearly throwing Mansoor's comments back in his face.
Cindy Black stepped up to tell the council that Monahan's Mayor's Award was just straight out campaigning, and reminded us all that Monahan once wanted to host a wake for a pedophile who was shot by the police when he threatened them with a gun.
Greg Thunell criticized the council, once again, for the bogus way staffing dollars are reflected in the budget and called, again, for a forensic audit.

Kim Hendricks stepped up to promote Measure AA, to protect Fairview Park and denounced Measure BB - the city response to AA - as a pack of lies.
Robin Leffler addressed Sober Living Homes and the understaffed police force.
Ed Willmet began to speak about Mesa Water wasting water, but was interrupted - twice - by Mensinger, who assumed he was going to speak on an agendized item.  He was not. 
Let us pause here to place what happened next in context.  We'll revisit Mr. Willmet again shortly.  Sandy Genis urged Mensinger to let him continue, which he begrudgingly did.  Katrina Foley reminded Mensinger to reset Mr. Willmet's time and then Monahan lost his mind!  He apparently slammed his hand on the dais between him and Foley, frightening her.  She accused him of assault and he yapped back at her.  It got so out of control that members of the audience were shouting, "Arrest him!"  Mensinger called a break in the proceedings to let things cool down.  During the break Foley, angry and frightened, moved out onto the porch where she was hounded by the CMPS minions trying to take video of her in a conversation with John Stephens, her friend and fellow lawyer.  When Mensinger called the meeting to order again a few minutes later Foley was not on the dais.  Remember that Monahan quote above?  Well, this was the beginning of several instances where he set anything BUT a fine example for any children in the audience.  This guy is a washed-up political hack and unfit for any future elected office.
Willmet finished his comments about Mesa Water wasting water.

Next came Steve Chan, who spoke on a variety of issues.  First was AB 1322, which authorized hair salons and barbershops to serve drinks to customers without an ABC license.  That led him to a discussion of ABC noise requirements and a petition he's currently circulating regarding noise at entertainment venues.
When Chan finished another person tried to speak there was an inane diatribe in which both Mensinger and Monahan told the speaker to use her name - something the Brown Act states specifically they cannot do.  It was a circus.

During Council Member Comments Mensinger praised himself  then pandered to the police with a disingenuous rant and bemoaned the treatment of Monahan.  He said "Let him enjoy his last couple meetings."  He then launched into an inappropriate comment on his lawsuit against the Costa Mesa Police, clearly intending to evoke public sympathy during the election season.  He held up a copy of the Daily Pilot to emphasize the story.  He accused some folks of trying to ruin a person's family for political gain.
Katrina Foley refuted the claim by an earlier speaker that the city is in good shape.  She cited the false information that motels are the highest crime generators - and quotes statistics indicating that apartment complexes generate more calls for service.  She cited that we are about 36 officers and support staff down now, so we don't have enough staff to go around.  She cited the treatment by members of the City Council of individuals in public safety roles.  She specifically referred to a post by Monahan on Facebook in which he told Costa Mesa Fire Association President Rob Gagne to "f-off", called him a "sleazeball" twice and told him to take his retirement and leave the city.  What kind of atmosphere does this create when we're trying to recruit for a department that is severely depleted.  I've seen that post.  It looks like Monahan may have been drunk when he wrote it, but we'll never know.  It was part of a thread on the CMPS that Mensinger started, so those of you who are permitted to enter that site can probably find it.  I've got it for posterity.  She explained why she reacted to Monahan's bad behavior earlier, citing growing up with a drunken, abusive step-father.  She was clearly still rattled by the event and told Monahan to never do that again. 
Sandy Genis spoke briefly about the police department, citing the lack of specialty units and spoke sympathetically of Chief Sharpnack's plight.  She spoke of cap and trade money that is going to become available from the state.  She said Costa Mesa is positioned to take advantage of some of the grants for things like parks, pollution clean up, etc.  She also expressed disappointment in measure BB and the misleading language in it.  Mensinger interrupted her - a typical tactic.  He was clearly unhappy with her explanation... the only campaigning from the dais is going to be done by him and his pals!  Having two smart women on the dais is really problematic for the guys... and it makes me smile.  She said putting a tracking device on a council members car is reprehensible and discussed briefly the process Chris Lanzillo went through.  She then discussed the campaign dirty tricks that had been perpetrated on her the last time around, including a half-dozen hit pieces that found their way into her aging and ill mother's mailbox and late night phone calls.  She also spoke of the defacement of some of her signs, replacing the first letter of her last name with another letter.
Monahan, during his piece, began by apparently condoning what had happened to Genis by telling her she "should see some of the hit pieces over the years and years" that his kids have seen.  He then refuted a comment that said only 5% of the homeless are dangerous.  A member of the public called out, then left.  Mensinger identified him by name and Monahan said, "What an idiot!"  He went on to explain his personal experiences with homeless folks.  He excused his offer to do a party of the dead pedophile.  After that screed he said, "I've only got two more meetings, so I'm going on."
He, snearing, criticized the Fire Association for funding campaign flyers.  He attempted to explain the criticism of lack of enforcement for sober living facilities.  He talked about the two ordinances that are tied up in court.  He said, "Ya got a better idea?  Come on up here.  Take care of it yourself."  He said he wasn't going to talk about the other - referring to his scaring Foley - and he said "I'm going to apologize to you, Katrina.  I just get tired of the interruptions up here.  I have a hard time getting the mayor's attention.  Half the time he ignores me.  Seriously!"  He went on to eventually say, "I apologize.  I crashed my hand down.  I did get your attention - apparently too much. That's what I wanted was attention because half the time I don't get it."  He went on to give his version of the Lanzillo event, complaining about his son's reaction.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer then had his turn.  He explained his version of what new folks to the council meeting were seeing, blaming it on a national mood and it's election time.  He said he wanted to "finish this conversation" about what really happened at Gary's gin mill in August of 2012.  He said it "has nothing to do with dirty tricks."  He went on to explain, in his own convoluted way, the tactics he perceives being used by the Fire Association - trying to scare everyone and blaming it on the council majority.  Well, yeah!  He said it's all about the money - how much it costs to provide the safety.  He accused the law firm and their investigators of extortion.  He said the pension system is crumbling the state.  He went on, and on and on about the case, the law firm, the investigators and the Fire Association trying to influence who runs the city.
CEO Tom Hatch used his time to introduce Jay Trevino, a consultant who has replaced Gary Armstrong as Deputy CEO and Director of Development Services.  Armstrong's last day is October 7th.  Hatch introduced him as Interim Deputy City Manager/Economic and Community Development Director.  He comes from the City of Santa Ana.  Wonder how the guys will accept that gaffe - "City Manager" vs CEO?  I found myself wondering what seasoned pros like Trevino and Interim Public Services Director Jim Ross were thinking about this meeting.
Finally, nearly two hours into the meeting, we finally get to the stuff on the agenda!  First up was Old Business #1, the second reading of the rezoning, etc. of the Fairview Development Center property that was previously codified in the General Plan update.  It should have been a slam dunk, but wasn't.  After lengthy discussion the council approved it, 3-2, with Genis and Foley voting no.

Old Business #2, the same situation with the Harbor Blvd/Newport Blvd Overlays, took less time with the same result - a 3-2 vote, also with Foley and Genis voting no.

Just before 8:00 the council tackled New Business #1, the proposal to team with the County of Orange on seeking and acquiring grants for the Talbert Regional Park Habitat Restoration Plan.  Several members of the public spoke, including Bob Wilson, President of Orange County River Park, Inc. who encouraged the council to proceed with this plan.  Cindy Black and Robin Leffler spoke with concerns about the plan.  Genis was concerned about losing funding for Fairview Park improvements.  The council approved it, 4-1, with Genis voting no.
Next up was Mensinger's idea for a resolution opposing Prop. 57, the latest scheme to release serious bad guys from prison and turn them loose on our streets.  Mary Spadoni spoke about attending a recent meeting of the California District Attorney's Association at which this item was discussed. She said it was going to be sold as a cost savings device.  She described it as worse than Prop 47.  She said at least 16,000 criminals will be eligible for early release under this proposition and would likely result in an increased crime rate. When Monahan moved to approve the item Mensinger seconded it.  Foley wondered what the plan would be.  She specifically asked staffer Dan Baker "What action are we taking?" She expressed concern that this was just another political campaign ploy by Mensinger to get his name in front of the public as the election draws near.  She speculated that Public Information Officer Tony Dodero would be dispatched to issue a press release touting Mensinger's tough stand on crime, so the residents pay for his campaign activities.  She suggested that Genis, also running for re-election, should be included in any press release.  Genis suggested all five council members be mentioned.  Eventually the council voted, 4-0, to move forward with the resolution.  Foley, who had previously indicated she would abstain from the vote, was absent from the dais.
Last up was New Business #3, the proposed resolution by Righeimer in support of Mesa Water's scheme to place an advisory measure on the ballot to support their plan for a hostile takeover of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District.  During the early discussion Foley was suspicious, and wondered if there had been any discussion of the City taking over both districts.  She wondered if there would be a press release or flyer to the residents.  Hatch said he did not anticipate any such action.  Foley suggested that this item be continued to a future date so both sides - Mesa Water and the CMSD - could make proper presentations.  That was rejected out of hand
During public comments Jim Fitzpatrick, city council majority sycophant running as a slate with Monahan for seats on the CMSD, presented his rotund presence to proclaim he's for smaller government.  His first attempt at being clever was his comment about breaking the "Foleybuster".  He then told the world that he had championed the combination of the two special districts when he served - illegally - on the Sanitary District Board.
Terry Koken exercised his three minutes to provide us with another bit of linguistic fun revolving around TiTi CaCa.. you can fill in the blanks.
Then up stepped hipster Ethan Temianka, First Vice President of the Mesa Water District Board for what turned out to be a snarky bit of discussion.  He repeatedly turned from the council toward the  audience and Foley repeatedly reminded him to speak to the council - something Mensinger and Righeimer have done in the past ad nauseum - and he snarked back a reply each time.  He defended the Arcadis study, but didn't really provide much other information.  As he stepped away Foley tried to ask him some questions but Mensinger forbade her to do so.  I thought at the time it was more than a little curious, since they were, after all being asked to pass a resolution supporting Measure TT and he was apparently representing the Board.  He eventually bailed out when the council was interrogating Mike Scheafer and it looked like they might have to permit questions of him.
Alex Reich, Mesa Verde resident and candidate for Jim Fisler's Mesa Water Board seat stepped up to criticize Mesa Water for including a political message on their bill and spoke of a violation of the public trust.

After a couple other speakers CMSD Board President Mike Scheafer stepped up and gave a three-minute presentation to the Council, outlining the CMSD view of the issue briefly.  He told them that the CMSD NEVER refused to meet with Mesa Water on this issue.  Coincidentally, in the mail yesterday many of us received the quarterly news letter from the CMSD which is full of important information on this issue.  Unlike Temianka, Scheafer was grilled by council members.  He told the council that CMSD is hosting a Town Hall beginning at 6:00p.m. at the Neighborhood Community Center on Wednesday, October 19th at which this issue would be discussed for the public.  We received a small card in the mail announcing that event, too.  During the grilling Righeimer asked Scheafer about their reserves, and specifically about reserves for the trash side of the business.  Scheafer had a minor brain burp and didn't answer it correctly.
When the council voted on this issue it passed, 3-2, with Foley and Genis voting no.  Neither thought it was appropriate for the City to chime in on this issue.  Foley said it was purely a political stunt.  Genis needed more information and planned to attend the Town Hall to get it.

The trailed Consent Calendar items were up next.  The person who pulled the Warrant was absent, so it passed, 5-0.  Foley pulled #7, the Landscape Maintenance contract issue.  Concerns were expressed by Foley about the number of people involved.  Hatch told us that none would be laid off.  Mensinger made a comment about not having to pay pension costs for 15 people.  The item passed, 5-0.

The trailed Public Comments were next.  Local businessman Tim Lewis addressed the plague of campaign signs, then spoke about how negative Mansoor's presence had been on the council the last time.  He referred specifically to the Benito Acosta experience, mentioning the presence of Jim Gilchrist and others who supported Mansoor.  He asked Mensinger, "Mr. Mayor, what kind of madness caused you to run for re-election partnered with the worst person ever to sit in your chair."
Alex Reich tried to speak but Righeimer interrupted him early in his presentation - a typical tactic to throw him off his pace.  He spoke about bogus signs.  He also spoke about the $8500 mailer against Measure AA.  He also criticized Mesa Water's current watering policy.  He also criticized Mesa Water for not televising their meetings and their billing practices.
Cynthia McDonald spoke about Costa Mesa First, dispelling the lie that her organization was funded by developers.  She spoke about Eleanor Egan's nearly single-handed win over big time lawyers on the bogus ballot rebuttal argument.  She also announced the first "Eleanor Egan" award for public service.
Jay Humphrey presented a brief slide show rejecting the No on Y argument, citing the judges ruling on the bogus rebuttal.
Beth Refakes told us about the success of the Gown program and reminded the us that Military Affairs Team is now collecting individually-wrapped candy for the children of the 1/5 Marines.
Porky Fitzpatrick stepped up and told us of a "proud Dad moment", his daughters salute police and firemen.  He then went on to regurgitate the information about union contributions.  He misspoke about association contributions.  He demanded that Genis recuse herself from negotiations.  Genis rejected that allegation.
Terry Koken spoke of the Mensinger Mansoor Ramos slate - the MMR.  He referred to Measles, Mumps and Rubella - childhood diseases.  Again, his clever wordsmithing entertained most of us - except maybe Mensinger.
An unidentified woman spoke on Foley's meeting the previous week regarding Sober Living.  She suggested a referral to Congressman Daryl Issa's recent bill and suggested writing him a letter.

Foley asked City Attorney Tom Duarte the amount spent by the City to Rutan and Tucker on the rebuttal issue.  She demanded to know the amount of the bill.  Prior to answer Mensinger wanted all communications between Rutan and Tucker.  Foley said she's opposing Rutan and Tucker in court.  She wondered if it was $29,000 to defend Righeimer in court.  Per Duarte, $24,000, he thinks.
Mensinger totally botched the adjournment.  He fumbled and stumbled the name and someone else was added that nobody identified.  So, we think it was adjourned in memory of Bob Robins and somebody named Fisher.  Geez, can't he even get THAT right?

Here's the scoop on that "other person" Steve couldn't remember.  It seems the name he botched was that of Hal Fischer, Costa Mesa Police Lieutenant for 20 years; Police Chief of Marysville for 3 years; Police Chief of Placentia for 9 years, where he retired.  He and his wife, Sharon, were founding members of Calvary Chapel, then occupying that little church on Church Street.  They were instrumental in hiring Chuck Smith to guide the church, which became one of the largest Christian movements in the world.  Yeah, he was nobody - just a law enforcement leader and a Christian.  Steve, you are an idiot!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,