Monday, September 02, 2013

Easing Into September With A Short (?) Council Meeting

A GOOD WEEKEND
I hope you've had a great Labor Day weekend, filled with fun and relaxing... I did.  Although, while I was several hundred miles away in temperatures at least 10 degrees cooler than back here at home, I thought for a split second that our mayor and mayor pro tem had followed me.

A SHORT MEETING?
It's going to be an interesting week in Costa Mesa, albeit a short one.  We start off with a whimper - a council meeting that could - and probably should - be a short one, again.  The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. in City Council chambers at City Hall, and is preceded by a closed session at 5:00.  You can read the agenda HERE.  There is no New Business, nor Old Business on the agenda and only one Public Hearing, and that one should last about five minutes.  So, you say, we should be out of there by 6:30, tops, right?  Not so fast, my children.

PRESENTATIONS
First, we have four (4) presentations - a lot by normal standards.  Those are:
  • Mayor’s Award: Theodore Robins Ford    
  • Lions Park Jet Restoration    
  • Costa Mesa Little League Mayor’s Cup Presentation     
  • Worldwide Day of Play: Hank Lloyd, Costa Mesa Tennis Center

PUBLIC COMMENTS - ALWAYS AN ADVENTURE
Then we have  Public Comments, which is always an adventure.  This is the time for folks with questions and/or concerns to step up and present their views to the council.  Of course, history tells us that sometimes certain members of the council don't like comments - particularly when they are criticisms.  Sometimes they snap back at the speakers, or sometimes one of them is too busy texting and emailing his pals from the dais to pay much attention. 

THE LAWSUIT?
Anyhow, this might be a time for someone to ask if Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger plan to recuse themselves from any and all discussions and votes dealing with anything at all having to do with the Costa Mesa Police Department, since they've filed a lawsuit against the individual members of that department.  I've asked contract City Attorney Tom Duarte several times but he's only told me they are "studying it".  Maybe somebody else should ask him. 

THE BOOTLEG PATH?
And then we have the DG trail at Fairview Park.  Maybe we can find out who installed the path.  That would be nice. 

EMPLOYEE SURVEY?
And what about that employee survey that consultant Chip Espinosa conducted?  Where is the report on that activity?  I, for one, am VERY interested to hear the results of the survey.  I suspect many of your are, too.  I'm guessing some council members may not like what they are told...

THE INVESTIGATION?
Or, maybe we'll find out the status of investigation on the finances of the 60th Anniversary celebration and the administrative leaves of two employees.  We'll see..

HOLDING OUR COLLECTIVE BREATH
Once we get past that segment we have Council Members Reports, Comments and Suggestions.  One never knows what will happen at this time.  Sometimes major bombshells are dropped and other times council members have nothing to report or comments or suggestions to make.  We'll see...

CEO'S REPORT
Then comes the CEO Report.  Tom Hatch was vacationing when the whole "60th" thing broke - good timing on his part - so maybe he'll just tell us about his trip.  We hope he had a great time - he deserved it.

CONSENT CALENDAR
Then comes the Consent Calendar, and this version is a doozy!  It has eighteen (18) items on it!  These are things that, theoretically, can all be voted on my the council in one vote - unless a member of the council or the public pulls one for separate discussion.  It's going to be VERY interesting to see which, if any, items are yanked, and by whom.  So, let's go through the items and try to guess which of them might be pulled, shall we?

FIRST TWO... NOT MUCH
The first two items two items, Claims and the Reading Folder, usually don't get any play.  However, the next four items are Warrants - the list of checks written, to whom and for what, since the last meeting.  These are always interesting.

#3 - WARRANT #2485

This one accounts for over $3.3 million in cash outlays, and includes some interesting entries.  You can read it HERE.  On this warrant we find a payment to Jones & Mayer, our contract attorneys, for $135,656.57 for a LONG list of activities.  Immediately following that entry we find a payment to Jones Day, the hired guns being used on the CMCEA lawsuit, for $43,931.25.  We also find a payment to The SUN Grp, LLC for 60th celebration expenses of $37,282.40.  I see where we paid Liebert Casidy Whitmore $5,190.60 for Labor Negotiations and other stuff.  We paid Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth $10,869.13 for legal services on housing issues.  Oh, yes, we paid Woodruff Spardlin and Smart $752.50 for work on the Benito Acosta issue - the gift that just keeps on taking.

#4 - WARRANT #2486
This one is small potatoes - "only" $376,841.69.  You can read it HERE.  There are some interesting entries, though.  Like $2,500 to Ames & Associates for PR Services for the 60th celebration.  I thought that's what Dan Joyce or Bill Lobdell did for us.  I also saw a payment of $13,070.73 to Cognify, Inc., for IT consulting.  Wonder what that was for?  And, there was a payment to Michelle Rudaitis for Hazmat and Fire Prevention consulting support to the Fire Department for $11,700.00.

#5 - WARRANT #2487
This one is for approximately $3.1 million in cash outlays and has some interesting stuff on it, as well.  You can read it HERE.  Right off the top we paid Apple One Employment Services $7,942.28.  We usually see some payments to that outfit every month, but this one jumped out at me.  Must be vacation stuff.  We paid Interwest Consulting Group, Inc., $23,7987.00 for Building Inspections.  We paid the Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau $208,722. 09 for "BIA Receipts for June 2013".  We paid National Auto Fleet Group $210,776.81 for the purchase of seven (7) new Ford vehicles for the CMPD.  Remember Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth up there in the first warrant?  Well, we paid them another $21,476.10 on this one.  We paid Management Partners, Inc., $4,960.00 for "Interim Mgmt Consultant".

#6 - WARRANT #2488 
The final warrant this time around is for $944,421.25, which means we've seen payments for more than $7 million this time around.  You can read the details on this one HERE.  On this warrant we find another bill from Jones Day for $73,642.70 and a charge for $30,938.55 from Enterprise Counsel Group for more legal fees!  We paid Steen Security, Inc., $47,532.40 to "Furnish and Install"... What?  Are these the new cameras in City Hall?  If so, why not say so?  And, we apparently paid the State of California Department of Justice $9,689.00 for Fingerprint App Fees.

LEGAL FEES ARE OUT OF CONTROL!
I don't know about you all, but in just this first meeting of September the council will approve the warrants that carry payments for legal services in excess of $322,000!

#7 - REFUND FOR CANCELLED PROJECT
This one is interesting.  You may recall that not too long ago a developer presented a play to build affordable housing on the grounds of the Fairview Developmental Center - State Property.  Well, after a couple hearings and jumping through hoops, they withdrew because of an inability to acquire the property from the state.  So, we're being asked to give them back $7,642.50 in fees.  Read the staff report HERE.

#8 -ANNUAL PERFORMANCE AUDIT WORK PLAN

This item, HERE , is looking for direction from the council regarding so-called "performance audits" of certain organizations.  According to the staff report, "There is one (1) performance audit underway, two (2) pending Request for Proposals (RFPs), and one (1) waiting for direction from the Finance Committee."  That's funny - I wasn't aware that any city-appointed committee could provide "direction" to staff.  Another interesting part of this item is that it includes, as a signatory, "Tammy Letourneau, Interim Finance Director".  I was unaware that Ms. Letourneau was acting in that capacity.  A long time business acquaintance, she's been a consultant to CEO Tom Hatch since virtually the day he took the job over two years ago.

#9 - ARTERIAL STREETS REHAB PROJECT
This one will authorize spending $933,305.00 of Measure M and Gas Tax funds to rehabilitate several streets near South Coast Plaza and the Performing Arts Center.  View the item HERE.

#10 - FAIRVIEW PARK BOARDWALK PROJECT

This item requests the council to authorize $495,200 in matching funds for a project anticipated to cost $900,000.  A grant from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Habitat Conservation Fund Program for $404,800 will be requested.  The project, if the grant request is successful, would begin late next year for a 1/4 mile long boardwalk through riparian areas in the park.  Read about it HERE.

#11 - FAIRVIEW PARK BOARDWALK PROJECT
As is the case with the previous item, this one is for a grant from a different state fund, The Recreational Trails Program, for the same amount with the same matching requirements.  Read it HERE.

#12 - GRANT FOR ARLINGTON DRIVE BIOSWALE AND DRY WEATHER DIVERSION PROJECT.
This project, valued at $2.6 million, requires a $900,000 match.  Read about it HERE.

#13 - FAIRVIEW PARK STORMWATER INFLITRATION PROJECT
This $1.2 million project requires a $400,000 match.  Read about it HERE.

#14 - SOUTH FAIRVIEW PARK IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
This is a request for grant funding for the recently much-discussed improvements at the south end of Fairview Park.  These are the multi-purpose trail from Pacific Avenue to Canyon Drive, the cul-de-sac parking at the end of Pacific Avenue, native habitat landscaping and a small play area.  The total project is $450,000 and the city would have to come up with $225,000 matching funds.  Read the staff report HERE.

#15 - FAIRVIEW PARK NORTH BLUFF TRAILS AND HABITAT RESTORATION PROJECT
This is a grant funding request for a $200,000 match on a $400,000 project.  Read the details of the project HERE.

#16 - VICTORIA STREET AND VALLEY ROAD/PACIFIC AVENUE PROJECT
The city has received grant funding for all but $59,500 of the necessary $316,416.00 project, based on the low bid received.  This is a request for a budget adjustment for that amount.  Read the staff report HERE.

#17 - PROFESSIONAL SERVICES AGREEMENT FOR PERFORMANCE AUDIT FOR THE COSTA MESA COUNTRY CLUB

This authorizes the expenditure of $34,820 for a consulting firm to audit all phases of the operations at the Costa Mesa Country Club.  It is a one-year contract, but may be extended  up to 4 years.  The city received only two bids for this work.  The money will come from the CEO's contingency fund - that $1 million piggy bank they frequently dip into for pet projects.  Read about it HERE.

#18 - EXTENDING CARE AMBULANCE SERVICE CONTRACT FOR A YEAR

This is a request to extend the contract with CARE Ambulance Service for one more year.  Probably a good idea, since our current contract with them expired Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m.!  Some will know that we will soon begin performing the transportation of accident victims using City staff and equipment once former Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold's plan is fully implemented.  This extension will bridge the gap.  Read the staff report HERE.

GOOD JOB, STAFF!
So, as you can see, there are lots of Fairview Park dollars being spent in items 10,11,13,14 and 15.  The city staff does an excellent job in identifying and capturing grant funds for these and other projects and are to be commended for their professionalism and diligence.

PUBLIC HEARING #1 - FULLERTON AVENUE
The final item on the agenda is the vacation of a chunk of Fullerton Avenue.  The information on that Public Hearing can be read HERE.

IT'S A COIN TOSS...
This meeting could be a short one or, if lots of people show up to chat and inquire about items on the Consent Calendar, we could be in for a long, long evening again.  One never knows.

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Hold em Accountable said...

"COIN" toss is right. The City Council is only transparent when it is convenient. CM is their own playground to help their buddies suck money from the citizens.

Now it seems like the Council is the NEW unfunded liability!

9/03/2013 07:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

I thought the city was broke? That's a lot of money going out the door that we supposedly don't have.

9/03/2013 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Geoff,
I didn't see your Mayor's Award on the agenda. I bet Riggy lost my nomination form. Or maybe Popp and Millard will be sharing the honor..

9/03/2013 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

There were a few things in the back up docs that made me scratch my head:
1) The payments for the 60th, in this cycle alone, are $74,989.84. $2,500 was for PR - and as you mentioned, I thought we had staff for that.
2) I believe the IT consulting was for the computer replacements the Council Majority chose to refuse.
3) I can't figure out the bill each month for Matrix Imaging services. a) It's not a local firm: It's in Lake Forest, b)Are we using their scanner services? The imaging bills average $4089 per month. That would be $49,182 per year. What are doing, scanning? An intern could do that for less. c) Are we using them for cloud storage? Aren't there more cost-effective means for that?

It seems the best value we have are the instructors for Parks and Rec. Their charges are all reasonable and, having taken my fair share of classes, the value is above par.

9/03/2013 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

There is no transparency in this city. That's a joke.

I am so disappointed in our mayor pro tem, that he illegally built that path, and when it hit the fan, didn't have the balls to come forward on his own. I am also disappointed with our city staff. I thought they had more integrity than that.

Elections can't come soon enough.

9/03/2013 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

Either you have tapped into my computer, have a listening device in my office, or we are on similar paths...My wife was busing printing out City Attorney duties at another city we know of last night, while I was busy researching all of these law firms named, running excel spreadsheets to see how much we were spending on legal fees and IT issues and a few other gems...
We sure do have a lot of IT software maintenance and consulting going on here...
You never know who is going to question the spending going on here...
Thank you for your due diligence to us all...

9/03/2013 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

Consent Calendar item #3 includes payment to "The Sun Grp, LLC" for 60th anniversary expenses. The only "Sun Group" that showed up in my quick Google search is a construction and development company located in Costa Mesa. I won't be able to attend the Council meeting tonight, but maybe someone will ask if this is the same firm. If so, a whole list of further questions come to mind.

9/03/2013 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Marquis said...

"The SUN Grp (Sophisticates United Network) is a boutique marketing agency specializing in event production, marketing, advertising and brand consulting." They're in Newport Beach and provide DJ services. Nothing nefarious.

9/03/2013 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

The City is blowing smoke around the PRA's....http://www.voiceofoc.org/oc_coast/costa_mesa/article_48d693ec-11e7-11e3-98f7-001a4bcf887a.html

9/03/2013 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Moon said...

Is it true that the CMPD SRO officers are no longer? Why?

9/03/2013 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Costa Mesa police said they don't have enough staff to field even a part-time officer specifically for schools as the department did in the spring.

"We're going through a heavy attrition cycle and don't have the staffing to fill the positions," Costa Mesa police Chief Tom Gazsi said.
http://www.dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-me-0830-costa-mesa-no-sros-20130829,0,3164075.story

Newport Beach will still provide an SRO each at Newport Harbor High School and Corona del Mar High School.

9/03/2013 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Gericault: The payments have to be made because the services were rendered. I want to believe that most of the suppliers were operating in good faith and therefore, need to be paid. The legality of it all can be sorted out later, but some of these bills are large and non-payment could cripple a small business.

9/03/2013 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Marquis said...

The Fairview park grant application irks me. $900,000 to build a 1/4 mile wood pathway through what is supposed to be "natural" habitat? That's about $682 per linear foot of wood path. Maybe it’ll be made of mahogany!

Just because it’s possible to get a grant doesn’t mean that we need to do it. As with most of the completed and proposed “improvements” to Fairview Park, there’s no actual verifiable demand for a ¼ mile wooden walkway.
Cities and other agencies slavishly chase these grants because it’s “free” money to them. But it’s not free to us, the taxpayers. We paid those federal and state taxes.

The other reason cities chase these grants is the idea that if we don’t get that money, some other city will. If the grant is in our city, we get some of federal and state taxes back into the city. That’s great if it’s for something necessary and useful. A nearly million-dollar 1300 foot wood walkway in a natural riparian habitat is neither necessary nor useful.

Mostly I just hate the idea of further “improvements” to Fairview Park. The riparian area was shut down from public use for several years as the slowest process in history of digging a couple ponds plodded along. It was also effectively shut down from riparian use as construction disturbed the habitat. Now we want to disturb the habitat again to put in a path to nowhere.

And finally, it’s not going to cost the city nothing. We will pay at least some part of this with Costa Mesa tax dollars. Maybe we should be chasing grants for School Resource Officers instead of more useless improvement of something that doesn’t need any more improving.

9/03/2013 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

wheres my coffee wrote:
"I am so disappointed in our mayor pro tem, that he illegally built that path, and when it hit the fan, didn't have the balls to come forward on his own."

Aww cut it out. He told you in the lawsuit that he suffers from emotional distress. I read it wrong at first and thought Steve was stating "I'm wearing a dress.."

9/03/2013 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

I'm not against the City paying vendors for services rendered. I'm against the City claiming the public has no right to view the contracts. The point being made that if the City is able to pay, they shouldn't be able to claim that they don't have any contracts ready.The first PRA requests went in on July 23rd. It's Sept. The City has a requirement "by law" to provide those records upon demand. They have a provision for a reasonable time frame to compile the information , but that has expired LONG AGO.The records were requested two weeks before Dan Joyce was placed on administrative leave. They were placed on leave Aug. 7th. It took them two weeks at the City to decide that the public wasn't entitled to the information. Now they are claiming an "investigation", but that came "after the fact", in regards to the records requests. The City is covering something up.

9/03/2013 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

Arthur…..I thought it read “I made a mess in my dress”…

Fairview Park is a waste of my money…I played in that whole area before Estancia High School or Mesa Verde housing even existed…I could care less about it… This might bother some people, but that’s life…We have enough parks…
I am concerned about not having enough police at the schools to keep the bad guys out and order on the streets…

9/03/2013 04:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Arthur, you bring up a good point. If Stevie Boy is so emotionally distresses that he can't function on a day to day basis, as stated in his lawsuit, then he really needs to step down, along with Righeimer. Its evident that the decisions they are making are very poor.

Stevie Boy had a perfect opportunity last night to "fess up" to the damage he'd done to Fairview Park, and of course, he did not. No huevos. Its okay. It ain't over yet.

9/04/2013 06:14:00 AM  

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