Thursday, July 13, 2017

An Honor That Requires Comment

Remember a couple months ago when I posted what I told you was, after more than 3,400 entries,  my final blog post?  You know, the one where I told you that retirement and health issues had required me to reconsider my lifestyle, and that it would seldom, if ever, include more posts here?  Well, today something happened that requires me to return - if only for today.  Besides, I really do miss y'all...
Today my sweet and very patient wife and I were hosted by a dozen or so employees of the City of Costa Mesa - members of the Costa Mesa Police Association, the Costa Mesa Fire Association and the Costa Mesa City Employees Association - at a lovely lunch at The Newport Rib Company -  one of our favorite restaurants in town.  Thanks to John Ursini and the staff for a very special event.  As an aside, the photo below was BEFORE the BBQ was served and, yes, those men in white shirts managed to keep the sauce off their clothes.
The purpose of this lunch was for them to say thank you to me for my support over all these years and, I must tell you, that was very strange, because it really should have been ME saying thanks, again, to them.
I was overwhelmed by this wonderful event.  It is truly one of the highlights of my life!  I will be forever grateful to those who attended this lunch today, and to those they were representing.  It's hard to see the screen on my computer right now - there's some mist on my eyes - just as there was when this beautiful plaque was presented to me today.
As most of you know who have been reading this blog over the past dozen years, I am a great admirer of the Costa Mesa employees - those folks who have had to endure so much for the past more than a decade - every since Jim Righeimer dragged his carpetbagging rear-end across the border from Fountain Valley and began to systematically destroy one of the finest city government organizations in the county.  I wrote about him HERE. Together we've watched the decimation of complete organizations, we've seen the impact of the toxic workplace created by the Righeimer-led majority, with senior, experienced employees leaving much earlier than they anticipated.  But, we've seen those employees who endured become stronger and more resilient and even more dedicated to our city.  For that I, for one, will be eternally grateful.
Things are better now, but far from perfect.
  • We have a Police Department with a staffing level that is at least 20% below the numbers necessary to properly provide law enforcement coverage of our city, particularly with the impact of sober living homes and the homeless folks wandering our streets.   Chief Rob Sharpnack has said repeatedly in the recent past that it will take at least until the end of 2018 to be fully staffed - and he based that on the current authorized number, not the number we actually need.   Although we're doing a good job of recruiting and capturing the cream of the crop, we can't hire faster and couldn't train them if we had them.  
  • Under the guidance of Chief Dan Stefano we have a Fire Department that, while permitted to finally hire sufficient staff to man our stations and equipment, still suffers from the lack of a new contract for five years and no pay increases for a decade.  This is unconscionable!  
  • The CMCEA group finally has a new contract, so there's a chance to get staffed-up in critical areas like Planning and Engineering and related areas and cease relying on contract employees.  And, the anti-employee bias on the dais has been muted since the last election.  We certainly hope that continues in the next one in 2018, but the whole "district-voting with directly-elected mayor" scheme that Righeimer imposed on us makes that problematic and will require very significant citizen attention and participation.                                                                                                     
So, today, I want to fully express my gratitude to Detective David Sevilla and all the others  responsible for this wonderful recognition, and to encourage the employees of this fine city to continue to work hard and keep the faith that things will continue to improve.  Many of you have become my friends over these many years - something for which I'm very grateful.  You have solid leaders in place in most areas that should be getting much more support - and less micromanaging - from the elected leaders.
Until next time... Thanks... that hardly seems enough, so...

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Geoff, the sentiment of the police and fire is shared by many of us. We owe a great deal to you for keeping us informed throughout this last 7 or so years.

That is a beautiful plaque and its well deserved. It feels really good to see your blog again also.

Much thanks for the time and effort you have put forth for this city.

7/13/2017 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

What a great tribute to you, Geoff and
one that is well deserved!
Our CM public safety and city employees rock!

7/13/2017 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

You are SO VERY DESERVING of the City's thanks and honor! Your neighbors and local friends owe you, BIGLY!

7/13/2017 10:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

For what it's worth, ol' Pot stirrer, some of us have been scratching our heads trying to find a way, or ways, to fill in for you.

No luck yet.

This says something about how valuable your contribution has been to our town.

You voice is greatly missed.

In case you get bored with retirement (I hear some retirees can get so bored they just can't wait to get back in the saddle!), your unique space in Costa Mesa awaits you. 2018 is rapidly approaching!

7/14/2017 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin Leffler said...

You kept us well informed for years. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

7/15/2017 01:03:00 AM  
Anonymous JanetF said...

What a well deserved honor! As others have said, you're sorely missed.

7/16/2017 05:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

What an honor

7/21/2017 07:52:00 AM  

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