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Friday, November 1, 2013

The web Address for CM Conserve has changed. Now you can find us at:

CMConserve blog ( We have more features -- and a consistently-working comments function, as well as a calendar -- and more.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Doers get the job done while jerks complain

Scarecrow Festival's final meeting

Thank you” and “goodbye” were the themes celebrated Sunday by the sub-committee responsible for the “Return of the Scarecrow Festival.” The celebration included an impromptu, largely tongue-in-cheek “Kumbaya” that highlighted an interesting phenomenon; diverse, not divisive, political views.

The left and right, conservative and liberal, were represented. An employees’ union officer shared chili recipes and stories with a conservative blogger. A Democratic Party (local group) founder passed cookies to a businessman. A school teacher led retired professionals in the singing.

Each guest was treated with respect and honor – and responded in kind. Unlike Council meetings, the differences of opinion didn't spark argument or aversion – or hatred. Some kidding, yes, rancor, no.

One might guess that the guests were adults; that’s correct. One might assume all were responsible people, which was true. Six months ago every one believed that a City-sponsored, 60th Committee supported event was “locked in,” but that wasn't to happen.

DIY cum laude 

The sub-committee had to make the festival happen with their own hard work, pleading and community support. The OCME (Orange County Model Engineers) made it happen. The lovers of music machines, or mechanical music machines to them, made it happen. The city did provide some support and the event was conducted at Fairview Park, which is City property. But the small sub-committee made it all happen.

Members got along partly because they worked so hard together to overcome obstacles, some seemingly devastating. They worked together to do something good for Costa Mesa.

But there’s another reason there was no rancor at the party; no agitators. No one showed up to insult someone else because they had different ideas. No one screamed and berated and vilified another who disagreed with them. They got the job done without hatred or vitriol.

Low cost but very effective 

The City paid very little for the festival, in actual dollars or in dollars for employees’ time. The employees were cheerful, enthusiastic and helpful, not arrogant and disdainful.

For example, a truck driver arrived a little early to pick up the shelters, tables and chairs – which were supposed to be stacked and ready “so our employees don’t have to wait.” He shouted, “Hey, we can do that. We’re good at it. You guys get the other stuff done,” with a big smile on his face.

The kids loved the scarecrows, the pumpkins, the fire truck and the train ride. The adults enjoyed a beautiful day in the park surrounded by happy kids, while the City incurred minimal expense. There’s a lesson here.

Disagree respectfully, then do the work 

There are different ideas about what is good for Costa Mesa. There are varied ways to better the City. We don’t all agree about what is good for her or how to get to “better.” Working together, project by project, contract by contract, will get the job done.

Using Alinsky tactics of disruption and vilification, or following the “Police Playbook” guides to intimidation of elected officials won’t get the job done. Accusations, insults, and innuendos won’t either. Rude jerks don’t want to do the work – they just want to get their way.

Working is hard, tantrums are fun

No rude jerks were present at the final meeting and end-of-project party; they wouldn't have been welcome. The party was for doers, not for complainers. It was for the left-wingers, the right-wingers, unionists, and all of the other “--ists” -- who were doers.

Perhaps the rude jerks should be uninvited from Council meetings, too. It might give doers an opportunity to get the job done.

* Watch a trip: Here

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Effective or "Touchy-Feelee"

Better roads require 

drive to accomplish

Watching the Mayor and Pro Tem work during the past year brought to mind a Chief of Surgery at a military hospital, many years ago. The staff would all have cancelled and connived to get him as the surgeon for their surgery -- or their family's. However, they cancelled and connived at least as hard to avoid working in the operating room with him.

Excellent work, caustic criticism

He was irascible, demanding, and an extreme perfectionist. Other surgeons feared him, too, because of his caustic criticism of their failings. Morbidity and Mortality conferences, where medical folks meet to discuss cases that went either well or poorly, were well-attended (Chief’s orders) and dreaded (Chief’s presence). No one ate the breakfast supplied at the meeting, and many didn't sleep well the night before M&M conferences.

Dr. Z spared no words on someone who made a mistake – it would be a long time before anyone in the room ever made that mistake again. So, after about a year with Dr. Z as Chief, most surgical staff errors were small and subtle. Surgery was safer, faster, and more competent in all surgical departments. Overflow fastidiousness improved the nursing services, the Medical (non-surgical ill) service and even the housekeeping services.

Dr. Z demanded perfection and improvement – from himself as well as from every member of the staff.

In Costa Mesa 

When we see the accomplishments of the City Council majority we remember Dr. Z’s insistence that every job be done perfectly, or at least close. And that it be done better next time. In Costa Mesa we are seeing roads and gutters being redesigned and repaired and fixed correctly after years of neglect and patching and slurry.

We see the City’s Reserve funds, spent down from $35M by previous councils, being restored dollar by dollar. We see Fairview Park getting some of the attention we promised for it a decade ago – which the Councils since that time have ignored and refuse to fund.

We see award-winning transparency, enforced by ordinance. We see the Westside starting to rise into prominence and importance after years of being ignored. We see the problems generated by the Problem Motels being addressed for the first time since they were identified,tabled and ignored more than a decade ago.

He doesn't talk soft and nice

But, “the Mayor’s harsh” with people who interrupt and delay Council meetings. The Council majority insisted on learning what the employees were being paid to do. (This required “pink slips” per labor union contract, although the Mayor assured the employees that no one was expected to lose their job, regardless of the study’s outcome.) 

Note that teachers face these “pink slips” repeatedly; they’re just part of the procedure required by union contracts. (Yes, some prefer the term “Association Memorandums of Understanding” but there’s no essential difference in meaning, just in length of terms.)

The Mayor and the Pro Tem don’t always talk softly and never talk timidly. They demand excellence for Costa Mesa. They serve the citizens of the City, without capitulation to the agitators and other power brokers. They don’t talk sweetly and pontificate about abstract “good things;” instead they meet their responsibilities as elected leaders.

Accomplishment admired, style -- not so much

Similar to the Dr. Z story above, a lot of cities would like a council majority like ours. But, also similarly, the critics in our City don’t like his manner. They enjoy the improved roads and alleys and parks, but they hate the Mayor who speaks directly, sometimes very directly -- and drives the improvements.

 Perhaps we should all get used to hearing truth spoken “directly” as we enjoy the fruits of jobs done well – and done better every time.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bully them if they're right

Commenter bullies

We read that bullying isn't acceptable in schools and that it’s wrong in the workplace. What about bullying those who disagree politically? For a small group of haters in Costa Mesa, that bullying is acceptable.

If someone states that street and curb repairs, park maintenance and Westside development are all good for Costa Mesa they will be bullied. They’ll be ostracized, criticized, and marginalized by our local haters. Why? Because the Mayor and Pro Tem are driving the improvements.

The haters are (political) bigots. Their bigotry is simple – if the Mayor and Pro Tem are involved it’s bad regardless of the benefit for the City.


The Pro Tem is walking down every street in the City, and the Mayor is visiting neighborhood after neighborhood with a Meet the Mayor program. The idea, in both cases, is to find out what is really going on in the city and what the citizens’ concerns are. What’s wrong with seeking the facts before making decisions? Back to the bigoted premise; the Mayor and Pro Tem are involved so it’s time to “bully the blighters.”

The bullies use attacks on personal lives, innuendos about (supposed) beliefs and ridicule of lifestyles. Personal attacks are all that the haters can muster because the value of infrastructure improvements can’t be argued.

An old malady

Costa Mesa’s haters aren't unique, just mildly annoying and sometimes amusing. (See Council Comments video Here.) There’s even a term for their affliction, coined many years ago. Xenophobia is the “unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.” Infrastructure improvements are foreign concepts to the haters.

Look at how the parks and roads and alleys were neglected, ignored, and unfunded when previous Council majorities set the priorities. Pontification and pandering from the dais didn't ensure street and alley maintenance, it just wasted money. One presumes the haters were happy as the Reserves drained away and politicians emoted tearfully from the dais. Now things are getting done, which upsets the haters.

Fear of that which differs

Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of one group toward another, including suspicion of the other’s activities and aggression toward those perceived as different.

The Pro Tem developed COIN (Civic Openness In Negotiation). It is being studied and copied throughout the state, and to some degree by cities in other states. The haters vehemently opposed this ordinance. After ferociously disputing and resisting COIN they now complain that it doesn't go far enough!  

Perhaps the haters should muster the discipline and political will to extend transparency to our other money-spending activities, if that’s what they really want. They can have credit for the “ON4-1/5” or Open Negations for (the final) one-fifth” of City expenses.

Not kid stuff but childish

Bullying isn't acceptable for adults. But for the haters, it’s all there is. Their diatribe is mostly ignored, so maybe we should call it attempted bullying.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Intent to harm vs. freedom to publish

Libel in the time of Weblogs 

Malice: a legal term describing the intent to harm. “Actual malice” is required to establish libel against public officials and is usually needed for punitive damages. It involves material that was known to be false.

As “libel law" develops in the Weblog age, defining what “publishing” is becomes more important. Libel is published written defamation (false statements of fact that damage one’s reputation).

But is it published

 “Distribution” isn't the same as “publishing.” Amazon can list an excerpt from a book in their advertising without concern for it being false and damaging; they are distributing the information, not publishing it.

But if a newspaper publishes a guest editorial that damages someone’s reputation by asserting a “fact” that is clearly untrue, it potentially subjects itself to libel suits and damages. It published something that it knew, or should have known, was false as well as damaging to the victim. It demonstrated actual malice.

Does a blogger “publish”? Probably. But, are comments following her posts “published” or “distributed?” The answer is obscure. Is the blogger responsible for the comments within her post? Probably to some degree; it’s not clear.

Defamation must damage

Defamation has to cause damage to be actionable in court whether it’s done in a newspaper or online. So, a blogger who asserts that “Mayor Righeimer eats worms” is probably safe from libel suits. (It’s also about as relevant and demonstrable as most of the constant complainers’ other assertions.)

However, blogging untruthfully that (hypothetical name) Bob Sanchez sells heroin as his second job, might result in an expensive suit if the accusation caused Bob’s customers to cancel their orders. In this case the phrase “in my opinion” might not protect the blogger – her statement of fact is verifiable and wrong. If she posts, “the Mayor has poor taste in neckties” she’s stating an opinion.

Defamation might be expensive

Say she posts, “Bob Sanchez should be fired from his primary job because his second job involves illegal drug sales.” If Bob gets fired; can he get libel damages from her when a court clears him of illegal dealings? The answer is; maybe. We’re getting more case law in this field.

There are some interesting twists, too, in the reputations of the publisher and the victim. If the victim has a scurrilous reputation, such as a physician who recently lost his medical license for egregious misbehavior, his recovery of damages is unlikely. The idea is that the victim’s reputation was difficult to damage more with a blog post. The same assertion about the Chair of the Water Department might be actionable.

The blogger’s reputation probably matters, too. If the blogger is generally applauded as a reasonable source of information, she may be able to damage a Fair Board members’ reputation with her post. If she is generally considered to be a “nut case” or “loose cannon” her ability to damage an honored citizen with a post is less. So a blogger might avoid libel trouble if she’s not taken seriously by most Costa Mesans.

A field with constitutional overtones 

And, the clash of the issues of personal dignity and First Amendment rights, as expressed by Justices Stewart Potter and Hugo Black, seem to be critical to internet libel cases.

Libel is growing in importance in blogging and social media, and the rules aren't yet clear.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Scream insults or study facts, take your pick

Deciding what's right

Let’s look at two approaches for deciding controversial matters of public policy. Both are in vogue in Costa Mesa. One approach involves investigation, discussion, and debate – by Costa Mesans -- to decide what’s best for Costa Mesa. This method has the most supporters.

Another approach is illustrated by a Councilwoman’s comment:

I hope the feds send a strong message to the Council majority that the City cannot ignore the rules and just build the path, turn on the lights and make way for the parking lot and tot lot.”

So, she believes Costa Mesa can’t or won’t protect City property though our own procedures. She is insulting the ability and integrity of our Public Services Department and Director.

This is also an example of perceived locus of control – clearly she believes in committees appointed in Sacramento or Washington D.C., rather than Costa Mesans to best determine what is good for Costa Mesa.

Emotional not factual

Her remark is a bit short in the facts department, though. The path she’s talking about was in place for a long time and refurbished recently by citizens trying to improve the park. (The City Council ignored Park projects for several administrations so volunteers began maintaining some trails and fences at their own expense.) Just a matter of residents trying to help out when previous Councils didn't fund Fairview Park maintenance. (It's worth noting that only the Mayor and the Pro Tem were not involved in decisions to not fund Park Maintenance in the past.)

Further, the turnaround/parking was planned more than a decade ago and has just reached a funding stage; funding for study, that is. Hysteria about “paving the vernal ponds” was generated by a few folks with political agendas – again; unfounded and ridiculous warnings that have been done before. (1)

Lights are similarly being studied – and blamed on the Pro Tem’s enthusiasm for youth sports, ignoring the real arguments both for and against.

I'm mad -- I want the city to get fined 

The Councilwoman is rooting for the home team to lose, a curious stand for an executive. There’s the matter of loyalty, too. We started learning in Kindergarten to support our team. Some of us did.

So disloyalty in hoping for (if that’s all she did) her city to be “punished,” and attacking the knowledge and integrity of the Public Services Department, and distortions of facts – why?

Vindictiveness trumps integrity and loyalty

A key reason behind such silliness is personal vindictiveness. For example, consider a remark by a commenter after her post:

Steve is sort of a bully. Jim, a failed leader. Together they fund a lot of lawyers.”

This has no bearing on the subject, it’s just an ad hominem attack – which is most commonly used when facts supporting a position are sparse or haven’t been researched. And more such nonsense; a frequent theme for about five very vocal commenters is:

“Theft of public land is a Righeimer hall mark going back to his days working with Suncal,” an ad hominem refuted as far back as 2011. (See 2) 

Facts and priorities or name-calling and blaming

So, there’s the approach of debating the priorities and issues, on one hand. There’re ongoing studies and plans by a devoted and highly-effective Public Services Director and his staff to collect facts to fuel and support debate about priorities. This also involves soliciting citizen – not agitator – input.

And, then there’re emotional outbursts seeking to blame the current Council’s majority for failures by past City Councils. This involves recruiting out of town agitators.  Those who enjoy the emotional catharsis of screaming at Council and Commission members will continue doing what they enjoy. (3)

It must tire them out 

Seeing every project and event through the lens of “I hate Mayor Righeimer and the Pro Tem, too” must be exhausting. It doesn't require any effort for research or thinking though.

1) Paving vernal pools: Good summary of several issues: Here

Early article:  Here

2) Untrue and malicious, refuted here:  Here

3) Alinsky’s Rule 6 is: A good tactic (for manipulating public opinion without regard to truth) is one your people enjoy.”

Personal animosity is never correct, legal, or even productive

Law and Propriety

From the Municipal Code (City law)

Sec. 2-60. Propriety of conduct of council members

Members of the council shall preserve order and decorum during a meeting.

It shall be unlawful for any member of the council to violate any of the following rules:

. . . Members of the council shall not, by disorderly, insolent or disturbing action, speech, or otherwise, substantially delay, interrupt or disturb the proceedings of the council. . .

 (Code 1960, § 2223; Ord. No. 72-38, § 2, 10-16-72; Ord. No. 85-26, § 2, 10-21-85)

In the past, the law listed above would have seemed superfluous; after all, folks elected to conduct Costa Mesa’s business and to represent all of the citizens of the City would be responsible and honorable people. We expect respect for government process from government officers even when they don't get their way.

Laws apply to the audience 

Sec. 2-61. Propriety of conduct while addressing the council.

It shall be unlawful for any person while addressing the council at a council meeting to . .

. . . make any personal, impertinent, profane, insolent, or slanderous remarks.

. . .  yell at the council in a loud, disturbing voice.

. . .  speak without being recognized by the presiding officer.

. . .  continue to speak after being told by the presiding officer that his allotted time for addressing the council has expired. . .

(Code 1960, § 2224; Ord. No. 72-38, § 2, 10-16-72; Ord. No. 85-26, § 2, 10-21-85)
Sec. 2-64. Disorderliness by members of the audience.

It shall be unlawful for any person in the audience at a council meeting . . .

Engage in disorderly, disruptive, disturbing, delaying or boisterous conduct, such as, but not limited to, handclapping, stomping of feet, whistling, making noise, use of profane language or obscene gestures, yelling or similar demonstrations, which conduct substantially interrupts, delays, or disturbs the peace and good order of the proceedings of the council.

Refuse to comply with a lawful order or directive of the presiding officer of the council.

The sergeant-at-arms shall have the authority to remove any such person from the council chamber and place him or her under arrest, or both.

(Code 1960, § 2227; Ord. No. 72-38, § 2, 10-16-72)

Illegal and silly

So, the behaviors we've observed during recent meetings – and during last year’s City Council meetings -- are illegal, as well as foolish and embarrassing for the City.

And what if the sources of “profane language or obscene gestures” are city employees or volunteers? Are City employees exempt from City law? The employees who represent Costa Mesa to the public should be people who obey the law and observe rules of decorum.

Fortunately, the majority of the elected officials, and the great majority of the employees and uniformed volunteers are law-abiding, courteous men and women.
The number of rude, entitled brats is small; nevertheless Costa Mesa deserves responsible behavior from all of those who would represent her to the public. 

Personal animosity is never correct, legal, or even productive in government operations.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reasons for pride, reasons for shame

Pride in workmanship

The Halecrest Chili Cook Off was a reminder of how important pride in workmanship and attention to detail can be.

All of the candidates were proud of their chili, and each table had someone who could explain in detail how the dish had been prepared. For example, the Chili Verde from one group had been prepared from meat smoked at a specific low temperature for many hours and . . . The person explaining was clearly proud of his chili, as were the videographer and the photographer who manned the CM employee table next door.

The competitors’ pride would have been no less if they had been forced to use smaller tables, or to have fewer staff at each table.

Beyond Chili 

During a couple of ride-alongs with CMPD we've observed that the officers were not only proficient, they were proud of their skill and expertise. It seemed to be routine, an attitude of, “We know how to ‘serve and protect’ and we do it well now. We'll do it even better.”

During the Scarecrow festival the OCME (Orange County Model Engineers) ran a great Pumpkin Patch program that required a whole lot of “on the flychanges to keep it running – and they are paid only in smiles from kids. They cross-checked each other, made difficult decisions, performed hard physical labor – and cleaned everything up and put it away. They were all proud of what they accomplished.

Excellence, not excuses

It would have been easy to whine about getting a shorter contract than they wanted for the train site. It would be easy for the officers to slack off because they've been told that the Mayor doesn't like them and that he called them goons. It would be easy for the chili makers to dump canned chili into a pot to save time, money, and especially, effort.

Pride from accomplishments

In Costa Mesa we enjoy good policing, good youth train-pumpkin-scarecrow fun. We enjoy good fire and emergency medical service. We enjoy good communications and emergency service support. We enjoy good customer-service from most of the City employees we contact – most of the time.

We citizens of Costa Mesa recognize when and where good work is being done.  No, not everyone recognizes the excellence of employee service. And not every employee and volunteer strives for excellence. But most do.

Executive pride and accomplishment

The Mayor and the Pro Tem seem to be seeking excellence, too. And they are rightfully proud of their accomplishments. Yet the haters continue their uninformed diatribe against them.

Compare the haters’ innuendos, labels, and speculation with the COIN ordinance and Mensinger’s Contract with Costa Mesa. Contrast the haters’ ad hominem attacks against the Council majority and anyone who supports something they do, with the Meet the Mayor program.

Consider the Pro Tem’s goal to walk every street in the City to see what is really going on, and compare that to the speakers on both sides of the dais who don’t even bother to read the City staff’s study of an issue before they start to comment and criticize.

Compare and contrast the fact-finding and open communication with the hatred and insults. The haters don’t do much research before they accuse and insult. They don't seem proud of their accomplishments, just proud of their membership in the “hate the Mayor” group.

Great Chili Saturday; for our taste, the Chili Verde edged out the competition.

The majority depends on the Council to preserve their rights

Noisiest aren't the majority

“What seems to be the voice of the masses is the voice of a few – magnified and distorted.” Larry Tramutola

A recent post about bike trails facilitating crime caused some (mostly anonymous) controversy. Essentially, the comments could be summed up as, “you must think that bike trails are bad, and you're wrong because . . .

We believe that bike trails are one of the advantages offered by a beautiful and vibrant city. However, beneficial trails cannot result from government’s “knee jerk” reactions to people who make noise. The City Council is not responsible to agitators; it’s responsible to all Costa Mesa citizens.

Agitate to get your way

Special interest groups have learned to pack meetings and disrupt proceedings to try to get their way. Alinsky wrote one of the earliest texts on using disruptive tactics to “get your way” back in the 60’s. Occupy (Wall Street) agitators (they prefer to be called “activists”) continue the process. 

These groups (or even individuals) offer unqualified “petitions.” They fill newspaper commentary and Commission and Council comments with opinions unsupported by anything beyond “I feel strongly about this (and almost every other) issue.”

Those who don’t pack the Council Chambers or wave signs from the sidewalk in front of City Hall don’t forfeit their rights because they don’t agitate. They are depending on the City Council to preserve their rights and to look out for their interests – that’s why they elected the Council.

Planning makes the difference

Intelligently-planned bike trails can be a reason productive people want to live in Costa Mesa. Bike trails help kids travel safely. Trails can enhance the lives of Costa Mesa citizens – if they're done right and designed to benefit all citizens. And we surely have a lot of room to improve bike access in the City.

Done poorly, in response to aggressive agitators, bike trails can be repellent to the majority of Costa Mesans as well as terrible wastes of time and money. They can significantly devalue surrounding property values; that is, they deprive property owners of value just to add an additional biking trail in Costa Mesa.

It’s not an issue of bike trails or not – it’s an issue of responsible government versus “knee-jerk” government.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mayor enforces rules to get City's business completed

Rules for meetings

Robert’s Rules of Order “. . . provides for constructive and democratic meetings, to help, not hinder, the business of the assembly.” Rules and laws have evolved to help assure fairness – and to open government processes to the citizens served. Some were prompted by disasters; e.g. the Bell fiasco.

Without rules . . .

Imagine the potential for a Council to wait for stormy day, with few or no observers, then to introduce a pay raise for themselves. No objections would be offered (because people were home out of the storm).

Or, imagine a developer who wanted to avoid opposition to his project; he could just comment for four or five hours until the opponents departed, then make his unopposed presentation.

Or consider the Council member who wanted to “pave the vernal ponds.” She could wait until just before a restroom break, then slip in a motion to “approve project 6175, on the OCPTS schedule per the LOBEEBAR as amended January 14, 2011, for a price of $650,000.” 

If her buddy seconded the motion, and the other members were distracted by their interest in the upcoming break, the measure could pass. No one would have time to research the motion, or to understand it.

Rules protect citizens

So, rules say the City must publish the Council’s agenda two weeks in advance, and consider only items on that agenda. The citizens then have the opportunity to research and understand the items on the agenda.

Some people come to Council meetings to appeal a citation or to ask for Council help – a cracked sidewalk that isn't being repaired for instance. They and the people who want to broadcast their opinions about anything get to speak – or sing or curse as they may prefer – before the items on the agenda are discussed.

Address agenda items too

Citizens and visitors may speak about agenda items as well, and many of the frequent speakers offer opinions on almost everything on every agenda. However, while any specific item is being discussed, they can only speak about that item. This keeps debate and discussion focused on the agenda item.

Council members or visitors can “pullindividual items from the Consent Calendar – which is deliberated and passed as a parcel – for discussion. Consent items are typically routine matters like paying bills, funding the period’s payroll, and such, that don’t usually require debate.

A tactic used in the past was to extend the meeting by pulling many Consent items for discussion. This left presenters for new and old business, City staff, and citizens who were interested in the new and old business waiting, sometimes for hours. We've observed that most often, the visitors who preached and complained departed shortly after speaking. Generally, they still do.

Delays moved to the end of the meeting

Currently, up to ten individual speakers are heard before the agenda; the rest are heard after all other business has been conducted. All discussion on “pulledConsent items is heard after the Council’s other scheduled business as well. That is, prolonged discussion of a consent item doesn’t delay the main business of the Council.
This seems like a civil and organized manner of conducting City business.

The Mayor is charged with following and enforcing these rules, and for getting City business completed.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

As if the "Chamber Childish" weren't bad enough. . .

Uninformed or just foolish

The Council meeting Tuesday evening was embarrassing. The “Chamber Childish” contingent often triggers embarrassment about their lack of decorum. But Tuesday’s meeting added more reasons to hope intelligent tourists weren't visiting and judging Costa Mesa by what they observed.

Study the study to . . .

The Council considered rehearing the City’s decision to study the impact of the turnaround proposed for the end of Pacific Avenue (and extending into Fairview Park). Yes, that’s reopen study of a study.

A request for a re-hearing in Costa Mesa requires that credible new information be found.

Offered as “new” information were such items as a letter from a state office recommending that archaeological sites be avoided in development. More “new information” included opinions of biologists and archaeologists who looked at photos and drawings. A couple of them speculated that biologically and archaeologically sensitive areas might extend farther south – into the planned turnaround.

Speculation to fact 

How would we turn this speculation into fact? Study the area. The rehearing’s purpose? Delay the study of the area while we learn more about the area – by not studying it.

One new piece of information was advice that a family may have hidden or buried the remains of a relative in the park recently – probably clandestinely.

So there were opinions from a distance, speculation, and a hint that remains had been interred in the public park recently.

Not enough for another hearing

The information offered didn’t meet the criteria for a rehearing, so a rehearing was denied. The emotional outburst by the requester was noteworthy: initially her presentation had been rational. It was disorganized and largely opinion or hearsay-based evidence, but it was rational. Her summary, however, was an outburst unworthy of a government official.

Her attacks on the Public Services Director, in our opinion, were unwarranted and an egregious misuse of power. She castigated him and used one of his statements to try to justify a rehearing. She berated him; he had said there was no need for archeological oversight of the turn-around because it wasn't in an area known for archaeological significance.

What wasn't mentioned in her abuse; there is no evidence of archeological significance in the turnaround area – yet. The design study includes an evaluation of the significance of the site, as well as delineation of the important areas. So, as the study proceeds more area may be protected. The turnaround area may qualify as a protected area. Or not.

Delay the study until we know more 

She wanted to delay study of the area until we learn more about it – by not studying it. She verbally abused and criticized a highly-respected City employee. Her summary of her position was an emotional outburst instead of an argument supporting her position. And, she’s a Council member – a respected and responsible title.

It was embarrassing. And that’s before the “Chamber Childish” started their hoots, groans and catcalls.

Council members’ concern for constituents’ ideas

Wednesday Potpourri
One Councilman rarely responds to emails, but is happy to discuss issues, often at length, with anyone who asks. The Mayor and Pro Tem respond to calls, emails, and questions – period. They schedule time to talk to any citizen with a question, giving the impression that they care what the citizenry think. They sit down and talk with those who insult them. These three Council members seem to be trying to represent all citizens, not just those who agree with them.

We have been unable to engage either Councilwoman in any more than brief conversation, or to get any return phone calls or texts from them, or to have our emails to them answered. They are frequently engaged with their followers after Council or Commission meetings, though. That is, they do seem responsive -- to those who agree with them.

Chamber childish at work

Only two medium and one soft “honk” came from the “Chamber’s childish” contingent during Tuesday night’s Council meeting. That was, sadly, an improvement – maybe they're tiring of their squeaky toy

And, a song which was probably intended to be cute was sung so far off key it was difficult to understand – apparently the idea was dissonance rather than message. Why is someone singing at a governing body meeting, you ask? Yep, we ask that a lot.

(To paraphrase an old joke: What’s the difference between the anti’s who crowd Chambers during Council meetings and the Boy Scouts? Answer, the Boy Scouts have adult leadership.)

Rules are for you, not me

Commenters have three minutes to present whatever they want to the City Council at the beginning of the meeting. During agenda item discussions their comments can only address the specific issue being discussed. This is spelled out in state law and City ordinances. However, some commenters think that they are entitled to ignore the rules that apply to the rest of us.

One comment during the “specific item” citizen input about a proposed rehearing degenerated into an attack on Councilmen who “looked bored.” Looking bored was criticized as “rude” and became the focus of the comment. The ranters and ravers were appalled that the Mayor insisted on the discussion remaining on point – per law. Their view seemed to be, “How dare he enforce the rules when she wants to insult Council members? Their cries of outrage suggested they think “the rules don't apply to her.”

Entitlement enriched – but not enabled; the Mayor didn't let her continue her rudeness rant.

Outsiders respectful and courteous

We noticed that most of the courteous and respectful commenters at this meeting were from out-of-town. So they could be excused for not understanding the Costa Mesa ordinances regarding rehearings. (Issues can be re-heard only for new and pertinent information.) Most of these commenters identified themselves as representatives of local tribes who wanted Fairview Park areas protected from encroachment, which wasn't the issue.

We doubt that the local complainers (and Newport Beach recruits) learned much about decorum from their good example, though. After all, Kindergarten and their mothers weren't very successful at instilling manners and respect for fair play.