Friday, November 04, 2016

Why Vote YES On Measure AA and NO on Measure BB

Measure AA on the Costa Mesa ballot was placed there by a dedicated group of volunteers obtaining more than 7,100 signatures of registered voters who joined those who wrote the initiative in their concerns about the future of Fairview Park - widely described as Costa Mesa's Jewel.
The petition was circulated because of actions taken by the current City Council majority over the past nearly six years that implied a clear intention to turn this mostly natural park into something akin to a regional sports complex.
The Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee was created by the City Council and stacked with cronies who apparently followed the party line when creating a process to determine what should be considered for Fairview Park.  They crafted goals and a list of issues to consider.  The original 35-item list included things like hard-surface sports courts, playing fields and much, much more.  The meetings evolved from a couple dozen attendees to well over 100 in some of the later meetings.
The committee went about discussing the park, quadrant by quadrant, over many months.  The meetings were heavily-attended by concerned citizens and they saw the attempts by the stacked majority to manipulate the process.  Finally, in January of 2015 - not quite two years after the committee was created - the chairman of the group, Dr. Richard Mehren, described by many in the community as the "Father of Fairview Park", resigned in disgust and shortly thereafter the committee was placed on hiatus.
Dr. Mehren and a group of dedicated volunteers, the Fairview Park Preservation Alliance, launched their petition drive and, earlier this year, submitted more than 7,100 signatures - more than enough to qualify for the ballot next Tuesday.  Their goal was to protect the park from what they perceived to be a focused effort by some in authority to violate the deed and add "facilities" of all kinds to the park venue.
The City Council majority, once again ignoring the will of the people and apparently unwilling to simply trust the voters and let this issue be decided in November with a Yes or No vote, cobbled together a bogus competing measure - Measure BB - to confuse the voters.  It implies that no sports fields would be permitted at Fairview Park, but is worded to permit many other kinds of facilities "normally expected in a park".  That left the gate wide open for development.  And, the City Council authorized the City to spend $8,500 on misleading mailers to support Measure BB.

The following video presentation does an excellent job of defining the issue and provides you all the reasons you need to vote YES on Measure AA and NO on Measure BB.


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Wednesday, November 02, 2016

A Message From Rob Gagne

Rob Gagne, President of the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association, published a letter addressing the current political climate in Costa Mesa.  Last night Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer - perhaps the slimiest, most dishonest politician ever to hold office in Costa Mesa - told the audience at the Council Meeting that firefighters are going door-to-door telling residents that if the candidates they support are not elected firefighters may not show up in case of an emergency.  He described this as being "all about money", painting the Costa Mesa Firefighters as greedy union thugs, only out for themselves.  In light of his nasty, lie-filled comments last night, I think it's only proper to set the record straight.

The following is Gagne's letter, verbatim.

Costa Mesa Fire Fighters Association - IAFF Local 1465
***A Message from the CMFA President***
Citizens of Costa Mesa,
Over the past few weeks and up until Election Day, you will receive numerous slates in the mail by several people running for elected offices. It is often hard to decipher what is true and what isn't worth the paper its printed on. However, if you step back and look at the tone of the slates, you will notice that your Costa Mesa Firefighters are once again being truthful, factual, and above board. If you listen to the tone of the slates being rapidly sent out by Mayor Mensinger, he continuously berates your public safety servants. Why is this? It's because he doesn't want you to know the truth about your decreased police and fire staffing levels, the drastic 42% rise in calls for service, or the money wasted on ambulances that YOU bought and that he and Council Members Righeimer and Monahan voted NOT to use for transporting you to the hospital. This vote was done against the recommendation of CEO Tom Hatch and Fire Chief Stefano. Why is this? It's because the Mayor's campaign is being funded by the private ambulance company contracted with the City!

I can assure you that your Firefighters will always be truthful and put you, our customers, first. We work for you, not dishonest politicians. You may have seen a slate mailed out by Mayor Mensinger showing some of your Firefighter's pay and benefits (with our names included). This is very misleading as the Mayor chose once again not to tell you the whole truth. Every Firefighter on that list is working thousands of hours of overtime because the Mayor refuses to properly staff the Fire Department. There are 63 Firefighters available to work 78 positions. For example, the Metro Fire Station on the North end of town is still scheduled to be closed under the Mayor's plan. The Council has not re-voted to keep it open, but for the past five years it has been staffed with overtime positions. We have 15 vacancies in the Fire Department with that station remaining open. The Mayor refuses to count those vacancies in the staffing levels. Why? To mislead and deceive you. You should also be aware that the station off of Placentia Ave on the Westside now only has one Firefighter/Paramedic. Why? Because the Mayor won't staff the second Firefighter/Paramedic. Some stations have three firefighter/paramedic's -like the station that protects the Mayor's house. Why should Westsiders be short-changed by 50% on their Paramedic coverage Why, why, why? Lies and deception.

This election is like no other on every level. My job as a Firefighter is to protect you and your property. I took an Oath to do that and don't take it lightly. I will live up to that. Please trust your Firefighters. At the end of the election, I can honestly say that the Firefighters have run a clean and truthful campaign. Can the Mayor say that with a straight face?
Rob Gagne, President
Costa Mesa Firefighters Association

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Final Council Meeting Until The Election Sizzled

The Costa Mesa City Council met again last night for their final meeting before the November 8th election and, as anticipated, it was a meeting to be remembered.
Lamest of lame duck councilman Gary Monahan showed up a half-hour late, but made up for it by leaving early.  Voters should keep in mind how he has blown off his council responsibilities over the past couple years when they cast their ballots for the Sanitary District seats.
Unfortunately, Monahan missed the best part of the meeting - the presentation of the Mayor's Award to his friend, Rick Kapko.  The video presentation was nice and it seems like he was certainly a worthy recipient.

Public Comments began at 6:02 and the next 40 minutes were filled with fun.  A Baker's Dozen speakers stepped up and vented their collective spleens before the 6:40 cut-off.  The remaining speakers were trailed to the end of the meeting.
First up was council majority supporter Richard Russell, who used his 3 minutes to heap praise on Mayor Mensinger and ended up his segment by telling him he was voting for him.  It was very sweet.

An unidentified person said she disagreed with Russell 100% - I suspect she was not alone in the auditorium with that viewpoint - then provided a Robert F. Kennedy quote.  She also addressed the Sober Living issue and implied there was corruption, collusion and shady back-room deals involved.
Margaret Mooney provided a summary of what she viewed as the missteps made by the council, and Mensinger in particular, during the past several years.  She ended by hoping we hear from US Fish and Wildlife about the now-infamous decomposed granite path sometime soon.
Then up stepped Jim Fitzpatrick - king of the council majority sycophants.  The first thing he did was look down at Police Chief Rob Sharpnack and Fire Chief Dan Stefano and apologized for his major gaffe this past weekend involving an illegal campaign image that was white-hot on the internet.  Too late, dummy!  The damage was done.  He observed about the "protest" going on outside the chambers.  My sources tell me it was far from a protest - more of a calm demonstration - but I wasn't there.  He also hoped to maintain the council majority after the election.  I hope many voters saw him speak and will remember his malfeasance when they cast their ballots for the Sanitary District positions.

 Refakes gave a brief slide show about the recent Trunk or Tread event at Camp Pendleton that she and some of her fellow Military Affairs Team members attended, sharing the candy donated by residents.
Kathy Esfahani told the council about their political cartoon event and explained that many school-age kids participated.  She also bemoaned the return of Allan Mansoor to the local political scene, describing his past tenure as very divisive, particularly in the Latino community.
Businessman Tim Lewis, who operates Red-i-Rentals on Harbor Blvd,  stepped up and also decried Mansoor's return, blaming him for the downhill slide of the city by creating tension between the CMPD and the Latino community.  He blamed the current council for similar tension with the Fire Department.  He said, "Two years ago Mr. Mensinger shoved a bad construction project up my ass.", citing the long-delayed project at Harbor and Hamilton.  He said the weeds are over the fence now and nothing is in sight in the future.  He also hoped that Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righiemer would resign following the election.
Then began the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum show.  Costa Mesa Public Square minion Shannon Bales stepped up to criticize those who dare to mention candidate's families - he said, "Kids should not be fodder for political attacks, period."  He, of course, was referring to the fact that I have shown images of Allan Mansoor with his young daughter when he lugged her to the speaker's podium recently.  How does one ignore the fact that he's standing there holding her and her huge backpack while trying to deliver a semi-serious message to the voters?  Nor can you ignore the fact that he is accompanied by them at many gatherings.  I have NEVER attacked any candidates children.  But, then, this is just another of the many lies being spread around this campaign season.  Consider the source.
Next up was his pal, Doug Vogel - another CMPS mininon - who immediately chided Esfahani for the cartoons, saying "It's a little sickening that kids would be involved in something so devisive."    He then launched off in a screed decrying political action committees that "are trying to hide". He said he had to find it "under the county and I had to find it."  He said he was bringing it to the council's attention because, in his opinion, it's breaking the law and needs further investigation.  He spoke directly to councilwoman Sandra Genis and said, "Sandy, you should give the money back!"  Genis responded to him, with Mensinger attempting to maintain control, unsuccessfully.  After much back and forth he finally ended his accusations and stepped away.  Genis  used a couple minutes of Personal Privilege to rebut Vogel's bogus allegations very professionally.
Then Anna Vrska stepped to the podium and made my night.  She read, verbatim, from my recent blog entry about the condition of campaigning in Costa Mesa - with attribution.  Of course, I liked what she said - I wrote it - but the best part was that I could imagine heads exploding on the dais as she read it.  Thank you, Anna.
Alex Reich was next and began with a quote from Joseph Pulitzer.  He described a "Twitter fight' between him and Mesa Water - he's a candidate for Jim Fisler's seat on that board.  He presented a quotation from Costa Mesa Sanitary District Director Bob Ooten, citing Fisler's lies.  He presented images showing campaign contributions to Fisler's campaign from Posiedon Resources - the guys who want to build a desal plan at Huntington Beach.  He spoke of being bamboozled.
Up stepped long-time resident Ned Whittemore, a participant in the cartoon contest.  He showed a sample of one of his cartoons, shown above.  Pretty funny, actually.
Speaker number 13 - somehow appropriate - was Allan Mansoor.  This time he showed up without his daughter. (Note: that's me giving the finger to Shannon Bales).  Mansoor demonstrated what a weak speaker he is once again.  Watching him speak - to the audience - he boot-licked Mensinger for his progress on the pension issue.   The only problem with that is, NO progress has been made.  All of a sudden his "motel" issue has slipped to the sideline and he's taken up the baton of "pension reform".  Well, he's too stupid to realize there is nothing that can be done except municipal bankruptcy.  He was the final speaker for this segment.  There were only 4 speakers who stuck around for the end of the meeting.
Sandy Genis was the first council member to speak.

She reminded us of the Veteran's Day event at the Fairgrounds.

She also expressed concern about the Metroplex plan that will affect air flights in Southern California and asked that the staff investigate the issue due to overflights from John Wayne Airport.

She also expressed concern about the loss of commercial and industrial businesses in the city.

She was concerned about the impartial analysis of Measure Y - the Smart Growth Initiative - indicating that some folks have stated that Measure Y may be unconstitutional.  She wanted the staff to review it - even though it's too late.  She cited the bogus rebuttal that was shredded by the judge recently.  She asked for more civility and not attacking citizens from the dais.  She asked that, if it occurred, the citizen be given time to respond.
Gary Monahan - more concious than usual and in a nice green tie - did a little "in your face" to Genis on the issue of aerial spraying.  She's the City's representative on the Orange County Vector Control Board.  This was pure political posturing - making one last gasp for votes in his run for a CMSD seat.  He grilled her and she responded professionally and defused his attempt to make her look bad.  Yes, he's stayed too long at the dance.  She told us that spraying is NOT being considered now, but it is not out of the question due to the possibility of late-season hot spells.  He demanded that the council be advised and be allowed to sign in on spraying - even though he acknowledged that he won't be there - he's termed out.  The more he pushed Genis the better her answers were.  It was a joy to watch.  It's a real pleasure to watch an intelligent, concerned public servant deliver clear, concise explanations on issues for a change.  He had nothing else to say - it was all about posturing and it backfired.
Then came Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer!  He said the city is being absolutely torn apart over money!  He launched into a long screed about the firefighters.  He pointed out that Fountain Valley is placing a 1% sales tax measure on the ballot to pay for pensions.  He made bogus claims that firefighters were telling them that if they had an emergency the firefighters wouldn't come to their houses.  What a lying jerk!  He said, "Once you get that job in the city there's no other place to go."  He described it as "your lottery ticket".  He said, "Pay is extremely high."  He made such a disgusting misrepresentation of the actual firefighter's job that is purely politically motivated.  He said the firefighters are tearing apart the city by supporting certain candidates.  He said people were intimidated.  He then attacked Kathy Esfahani for sponsoring the cartoon contest.  He questioned whether she was a "good Christian woman".  What a disgusting creep! During his screed about how it will all be over and done next week he included the phrase "and nobody died".  I almost fell off my couch at the insensitivity of that comment, thinking about poor Huy Pham - who did die because of Righeimer's policies!  He said it's a "very sad time for our city."  He predicted a tax increase in 5 years if "they get their council."  What a despicable human being!
Mensinger was next, who said "being a candidate is not easy."  He said it's tough on your family and friends.  He said after the election we need to move on.  I suspect many in the auditorium agreed with him, and hoped he would be doing the moving.
Katrina Foley was next.  She also thanked the candidates and the hundreds of volunteers who are participating.  She said she's never seen so many residents involved - a real grass roots effort.  She thanked Kathy Esfahani, citing political cartoons as a form of satire.  She said she's happy that high school students have opinions and should feel free to express them.  She refuted Righeimer's accusation that she would tax the people.  She cited the need for a collaborative council - one that could work effectively with other cities, county and state government.  She cited that Allan Mansoor didn't do a thing for us in Sacramento and that he wouldn't do anything if elected.  She expressed concern about the condition of streets in the Shalimar/Wallace area and asked CEO Tom Hatch to look into it.

Then Foley told us that she had finally gotten the numbers on what it cost the city for Rutan and Tucker to defend Righeimer's bogus ballot rebuttal argument - $50,000!  She observed that unless things change we will continue to incur exorbitant legal fees because of the policies of this current majority.  She said "We don't want any more lawsuits!"  She reminded us that Rutan and Tucker contributed $1,000 to Mensinger's campaign this spring and then, the next month, was retained to work on the ballot rebuttal issue.  Coincidence?

Then she asked Hatch to come back at the next council meeting with recommendations of Campaign Finance Reform.  She suggested something like the following:
  • $35,000 cap on individual campaigns
  • $500 per individual donor
  • $10,000 limit on independent expenditures per candidate
  • $20,000 cap collectively on independent expenditures.
She expressed disappointment at the lack of turnout at her most recent Get Connected event - she had an excellent panel assembled for the discussion -  and said it will be re-scheduled for January 24, 2017.  She told us that she had heard that members of the community failed to attend because they were afraid of entering a city building for fear of being approached by immigration authorities.  She said we need to do a better job at community outreach in the future.

And, finally, she said emphatically, that she thinks children should be off limits in campaigning.
CEO Tom Hatch had no report - astounding! - but asked City Clerk Brenda Green to brief the community on early voting.  That is available at the Neighborhood Community Center from now through the weekend up to the election day.  You can also turn in your vote-by-mail document if you
 don't want to mail it.

Items 2 and 6 were pulled from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion and the remainder were passed on a 5-0 vote.
Public Hearing #1, the amendment to the SoBECA plan that was not completed at the last Special meeting when Genis left, breaking the quorum.  This item took 90 seconds to dispatch when Foley's request to hear from the members of the public because she was not at the last meeting - the meeting that was scheduled despite the council majority's knowledge that she had a conflict.  Her request was ignored and Monahan made a snide remark - "Yeah, well I couldn't be here, either."  I sure hope folks paid attention to his attitude!  One might think that if he hadn't been at the meeting he might at least wish to hear from the public...nope - the majority passed the issue on a 3-2 vote - Foley and Genis voting no.
Public Hearing #2 is the issue involving the plan rezone the site to replace an aging auto supply/repair/services mall at 375 Bristol Street with a new business that involves a public storage facility.  Silver-tongued Paul Freeman was the representative for the owner of the property and he spoke persuasively about the need to re-purpose this site considering the constraints place on it due to the proximity to John Wayne Airport..  Genis inquired about the reasons for the change and traffic numbers.  Righeimer pressed the applicant to underground utilities along the street in addition to the onsite utilities.  Freeman asked for time to work out a project with neighbors - and suggested 4 years.

An unidentified speaker asked about cancelling the prior public hearing? She was concerned about what appeared to be uneven application of the rules on undergrounding.
Robin Leffler complained about the first public hearing since it was announced as a Public Hearing and the public was NOT permitted to speak.

Sherry and Dan Crow, business owners at the current complex since 1989.  They originally opposed this project but have come to an agreement with the developer to perpetuate their relationship.
Next came Carter Grant, also a business owner at the site who spoke in favor of this development.
Next came George Bean, also a tenant at the center.  He provided some history of this plan, citing the outreach following the first Planning Commission meeting.  He now supports the plan.
Jay Humphrey said he liked this plan and it makes sense to move forward with it.  He also expressed concern about how Public Hearing #1 evolved.  He was concerned that Foley and Monahan had not attended the original hearing, so was concerned about the process.  He said we should have a complete new hearing with all council members participating.
Monahan chided Humphrey's concern, stating that those absent had plenty of opportunity to see and hear about the first public hearing.
Foley moved this issue and Monahan seconded it.  Genis expressed admiration for the outreach effort to the tenants to try to work out the issues.
Righeimer asked to make a substitute motion and Mensinger seconded it before it was actually made!
Righeimer wanted to codify the commitment to underground the utilities within a specific time.  They batted around options - deposit, bond, etc. Freeman suggested a deposit toward the total cost.  They ended up with the property owner agreeing to post an irrevocable letter of credit to cover the undergrounding costs.  This ALL should have been done at the Planning Commission level!
Next came Public Hearing #3, the rezone for the old Los Angeles Times site on Sunflower.  There were no public comments and very little discussion and the item passed, 5-0.
Old Business #1, the property development at 2850 Mesa Verde Drive East, replacing long-time businesses in a couple of older buildings with eleven new single family homes.

Reverand Jim Terrell, a tenant for more than two decades,thought this was a big mistake.  He pleaded for retaining it as commercial to serve the community.

Jim Kearins spoke in favor of this project, citing his other projects in the city.

Cynthia McDonald is a client of one of the businesses that will be affected by this plan.  She then cited Los Angeles Times articles recently about developer contributions to campaigns.

Monahan moved the issue and Mensinger seconded it.  Foley explained that she was supporting this project because the owner will eventually sell it and this project is better than apartments.

Mensinger inquired about the leases - which generated much too much discussion.  The developer, Peter Zehnder, is working with the tenants on lease terminations.  The council passed it on a 5-0 vote.
Then came New Business #1, presented by staffer Dan Baker, the request by Mensinger to add more money to the Heroes Hall at the OC Fairgrounds.  The city previously committed $25,000 to this program.  Even though the staff report had no dollar amount when it was issued, Mensinger said he wanted another $25,000.  Marine Vet and Chair of the Orange County Fair Board, Nick Berardino, spoke passionately on this issue.
Beth Refakes, Robin Leffler, an unidentified speaker and Karl Ahlf all spoke in favor of this issue.

Eventually the council agreed to the amount and passed it on a 5-0 vote.

The Consent Calendar items that had been pulled were then discussed.  An unidentified speaker pulled the Warrant and wondered about the legal costs to Jones & Mayer and also why we were refunding business license fees to sober living homes.  The response to that issue was weak - that we should have been charging them the license fees - and didn't really address the fact that some sober living homes have been paying business license fees for years..It passed, 5-0.

Item #6 was also pulled and, following a brief discussion, passed on a 4-0 vote, with Genis out of the room.

Next came the trailed Public Comments.  Another thirteen speakers used their  three minutes to address the council.

Wendy Leece expressed concern about the number of police officers in and around the chambers last night, wondering just why it was necessary.  She expressed concern about the attitude of the Righeimer and Mensinger towards the firefighters and how they have refused to reduce the burden of the Fire Side Fund..  She said public safety shouod be the highest priority.  She discussed how little has been done on the Pension issue.  She cited Monahan's failure to show up for scheduled meetings for the police contract negotiations.
Then Julie Crowell stepped up and used her three minutes to speak almost totally in Spanish about Mesa Water Director Jim Fisler.  Since I'm not fluent in Spanish I don't know exadtly what she said, but I do know that she told us that Fisler had used a very crude term to refer to her on a Facebook post.  She actually said the word, but if you look closely on the image of the screen grab on the far right you can make it out.  Unacceptable for any public servant and particularly one looking to be re-elected.
Greg Ridge complained about the lack of community input, lack of study sessions, campaigning from the dais for months.  He observed that Mensinger never apologized for hiring a private investigator to spy on residents - whom he identified as Sam Bertoni.  He bemoaned the level of hypocrisy on display.  Mensinger denied the charge.

Karl Ahlf addressed the campaign, supporting Humphrey, Stephens and Genis..  He read the creed he was required to follow when he ran for council in 2004.  Gotta love Karl.
Teresa Drain spoke of Mensinger's Legacy, citing the now-notoriuos 60th anniversay party, the VIP costs, purchasing violations and what she referred to as bid rigging.  She cited inequality in treatment of volunteers during that event.
Flo Martin told us November 1st is the anniversary of the day she moved into her house.  She complained about how she and others are characterized as "people who don't like Costa Mesa". She reminded the council of her comments a year ago on the subject "Overtime Kills", speaking about the firefighters.  She said nothing has changed.  She cited 15 vacancies on the CMFD and the fact that Station #6 is being staffed with overtime hours.
David Bracey, representing Anaheim Online University, spoke to introduce the city to his facilities.
Robin Leffler described her surreal experience at the council meeting last time.  She described a fantasy person about her on the dais.  She complained about not being able to rebut lies like that at the time, so she had to wait until the next week.  She told the council that it is very inappropriate to call out residents from the dais.  Yes, Mensinger lied about that, too... it's a bad habit.
Mary Spadoni referred to the negative "memorable" times in recent years, citing the layoffs in 2011, both failed Charters, the 60th Anniversary debacle.  She spoke of leadership.  She bemoaned the treatment of the police, the arbitrary staffing levels, the exodus of experienced cops.  She said we love Costa Mesa and that's why we fight.  She said there are reasons that Mensinger and his slate didn't get the public safety endorsements.
Barrie Fisher stepped up to express joy for the apparent pending closure of the wall at cul de sacs in her neighborhood - finally. 
Then Terry Koken stepped up and presented another ditty.  This one certainly made many in the auditorium cringe as he displayed a Mensinger flyer depicting a negro woman sprawled on the ground.  He compared Mensinger to slave owners in the past.  Then he sang another little ditty that certainly made Mensinger cringe - it made me cringe.  Then he quoted Mensinger verbatim at a previous meeting where he criticized Koken and ended by telling Mensinger he was a liar and inarticulate.  Yep - nailed it!
Greg Thunell stepped up and began quoting Abraham Lincoln, then cited the recent massive housing developments around town.  He described the thinness of the margin of victory by members of the council majority in past recent elections.  He also described their "straight out lies" during this campaign.  He spoke of Huy Pham's death and the moral responsibility they still have in his death.
Charlie Mooney told the council that the majority that they should have not supported Measure TT, the hostile takeover proposal of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District by the Mesa Water District.  He observed that we should vote NO.
Mensinger adjourned the meeting at 9:44. - it was an interesting evening, for sure.

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