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Monday, August 27, 2012

Why is it necessary to mislead us? (updated)

(Please note that this blog addresses a post on the CM4RG website that has been moved and replaced with a "plain vanilla" version of the arguments.)

If the proposed City Charter poses danger to Costa Mesa, shouldn’t we be able to see that danger  if we read it? In this CM4RG website’s post, WHY THE CHARTER IS A BAD DEAL FOR COSTA MESA (VERSION 3 CHARTER – JULY 31, 2012)why do I see propaganda, disinformation, and fear mongering instead of rational argument? (

Also, the article overlooked the 600 pound gorilla in the room: We’ll get to the gorilla in a later post, after we’ve discussed some of the arguments in the CM4RG article.

Let’s start by reviewing the interpreters of this charter. I’ve relied upon the words in the Charter, and upon the opinions of the City Attorney and Assistant C.A. I respect the City’s attorneys and their certifications of their opinions, and take with a grain of salt any diatribe and “puff and boost” statements by attorneys or others who are not certifying their interpretations as attorneys and officers of the court.

Attorneys vs. who?

The CM4RG post I’m using is attributed to Terry Koken, a Costa Mesa resident who speaks frequently at Council meetings. He is not listed as an attorney. According to the August 27 issue of the La Canada Valley Sun:
He started college at Cornell, then transferred to Syracuse University. He did not earn a degree but found work based on his technical prowess, he said.  He worked as a software engineer, and said he was part of the graphics team on "Futureworld," a movie starring Peter Fonda and Yul Brynner in 1976.
He raised five daughters and has 10 grandchildren. His wife works in Costa Mesa, and he works in his garage. He said he earned his black belt in Judo when he was 50. It only took him 40 years of on-and-off work to get there.
So, the interpretation here is argued by two city attorneys speaking officially, vs. Mr. Koken. Let’s see over the next few blogs what the proposed Charter says, and what Mr. Koken says about that Charter. The City Attorneys’ interpretations are a matter of record in the minutes of the Council meetings.

A.   No competitive bids on contracts and purchasing (sic) opens the door to favoritism, fraud, and corruption. (Section 401b)

Section 401b actually says:

The city is exempt from the provisions of all California statutes regulating public contracting and purchasing insofar as such contracting and purchasing are solely within local control and are municipal affairs, except as provided by this Charter, City ordinance, by agreement approved by the City Council, or as otherwise required by applicable law.

And it goes on in Section g:

The City shall promote fair and open competition for all City public works construction projects so that all contractors and workers, whether union or non-union, are treated equally in the bidding and awarding of Municipal Public Works contracts and Other Public Contracts.

What does it change?

So, current practice in Costa Mesa, designed to promote fair and open competition, will not change under the Charter. That is, Department heads can buy goods and services up to a specified level, for their department – perhaps by calling Office Depot. And, purchases for higher and higher dollar values require greater and greater scrutiny, including by the City Council. Finally, at the formal bid level, purchases require use of a state defined formal bidding process to help assure equality and economy. The difference between “no bid” contracts and bid contracts is that “bid” contracts follow a state-mandated procedure, and “no-bid” contracts follow local regulations written in accordance with state law, exactly as is done now. Union contracts will not be favored over non-union contracts under the Charter.

Give the business to their friends?

The City Council is required to conduct all business through the CEO, and individual members are specifically forbidden to interfere with, or order acts – including contracting or purchasing – by any city entity. So the Charter gives no Council members authority to contract with their friends.

Note that, according to Wikipedia,

“The practice of quoting out of context, sometimes referred to as "contextomy" or "quote mining” is a logical fallacy and a type of false attribution  . . . to distort its intended meaning.”

 More in the next blog.

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