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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Council Meeting 5 Feb 

Last night’s City Council meeting was thought-provoking and enlightening – with surprises. Council Member Genis is starting to look like a savvy pro.

A developing force to be reckoned with

Genis’ de Novo (from the beginning or start over) motion completely reversed all three Planning Board appointments made during the last meeting. The first two seats were filled according to regulation, but the third was not.

Her motion passed 3:2, with Mayor Righeimer surprising us by voting with Leece and Genis. This action, unfairly “de-seating” the two newly-appointed Planning Board members, necessitates asking members who have termed-out or resigned to sit for the next Board meeting so that they have a quorum and can conduct business.

Another Genis win

Another surprise was the nomination of a Parks and Recreation Board Candidate by Council Member Monahan. His choice was a so-called “loose cannon” who has been active recently in City affairs – Members Genis and Leece supported this appointment.

So Genis pulled a vote from the majority for a complete re-do of all appointments to the Planning Board and got a member of the majority to help appoint one of her preferred candidates. She also aired her feeling that the “casting lots” method of appointment wasn't the best.


Member Leece spoke at length about this. It’s hard to see how using chance to determine the order of nominations --members draw numbers and nominate their choices in order of their numbers -- is “unfair.” Or how “it doesn't promote teamwork” pertains. However, the emoting did remind us of the crying of commenters in the newspapers that the majority of the Council should appoint people to the Boards who represent “other views.”

Nice guy versus effective

Apparently the pundits think that the majority should appoint citizens who opposed their plans (including the Charter), insulted them in print, and accused them of perfidy. Now that would make for a really harmonious governmental body!

Majority members were elected to grow and govern the City in accordance with the visions they preached during the campaign. They appoint citizens to teams, such as the Planning Commission, to get that job done, not to be nice to people. The City Council has a duty to govern honestly, fairly, and responsibly to achieve the goals they promised to reach. It has no duty to please critics of any persuasion.

Note that Steve Mensinger, unlike most politicians, published his Contract with Costa Mesa and said during his swearing-in ceremony that he expects to be held responsible for its provisions. An unusual behavior for a politician; makes one believe he takes the job very seriously.

Most of the Meeting has been covered in the Register and elsewhere, and a video of the meeting will soon be available. Here

Two worries for families

Citizen comments to Council revealed that two problems have grown more insistent: homeless-person misbehavior and coyotes threatening people. Both coyotes and homeless persons are making our homes, yards, and public areas uncomfortable and even unsafe for citizens.

The theory about removing coyotes is, if the coyotes’ population is radically decreased, the remaining coyotes will have more offspring to fill the losses. This pronouncement by fish and game biologists seems consistent with how nature operates. Coyotes are urban animals which will grow in numbers when the food and lifestyle are good for them. Removing a batch of them will have little long-term effect.

The homeless population in Costa Mesa will adjust similarly. So, there is likely no one-time action by the City that will have long-term effects on either population.

Lessons from nature

In the wild, a population that is pressured by introduction of new predators, such as hunters, decreases to fit the modified environment. Certainly we can’t “hunt” the homeless persons, regardless of how threatening or violent they are. But we can pressure them by insisting that they follow the rules. That is, they can’t defecate on the park lawn, threaten, steal, or block access or they will spend time in jail. Their new “predator” is strict law enforcement.

A few kind-hearted, a few politically-correct, and a few whose income depends on the size of the homeless population work to increase the numbers of homeless in Costa Mesa. They offer them food, storage space, and social services. This can be compared to the few folks who entice coyotes with food offerings and the more-numerous who are too lazy or irresponsible to pick up fruit and pet food from their yard and to secure their trash.

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 Coyotes under increasing threat will become leery of visiting our yards and looking at our pets as food and even checking out our children. One way of increasing the threat to coyotes, without increasing the cost to the city, is to license a small number of hunters to remove a few coyotes. This new predator in the area will drive the coyotes into hiding and away from our children. In the meantime, the citizens who feed and leave food out for coyotes might be treated to community disdain.

And the homeless? Similarly, they can be pressured with loss of habitat, food and comfort. The laws can be enforced, in detail, and the courts can insist on increasing jail time for the recalcitrant. And, the good-hearted people can help get the homeless into habitation.

Or, if these folks insist that any class of resident – whether illegal immigrant, homeless addict, or recently-released sex offender – should be given a free ride because “they didn't choose to be (fill in the blank), they can also be exposed to community disdain.

Same solution for both ----> City gets safer

We can make Costa Mesa safer and more comfortable for our families by using similar solutions to the problems posed by the increasing populations of both coyotes and homeless: 

First, establish a less-hospitable environment for them. Second, apply increasing and continuing pressure to both populations. 

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