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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Know what you're talking about first

Quote from Quote from munchkinwrangler:

If you push legislation on a social issue with arguments that are demonstrably wrong (as in “provably non-factual”), obviously ignorant, and deliberately deceptive, how are people supposed to believe that your arguments are factual, informed, and objective in any other policy debate?

We might paraphrase this. If you comment at a Council meeting without reading the City Staff’s explanation of the issue, how are people supposed to take your comments about other matters seriously?

Pulled from Consent calendar

For example, several items were pulled from the Consent Calendar, which is a batch of items that can be passed by Council vote as a group. Council members have a week or so to study them before the meeting. Citizens have access to the studies about a week before the meeting.

A spectator or a Council member can ask that a Consent item be pulled from the calendar for discussion. But if his only question is one which has already been answered in the study . . .

Later, when he offers his profound opinion about a proposed real estate development distant from his home, the temptation to pass it off is strong. “Oh yeah, that one is babbling again.”

They aren't stupid all the time

It’s said that you can medicate crazy but you can’t help stupid. Some of those we (mentally) label stupid after they open their mouths may someday propose a rational idea – which we’ll ignore.

Two examples of the risk of ignoring ideas because of who proposed them: One person regularly discusses dog park issues. He spoke about a neighboring dog park, extolling its virtues. He praised some features that we could adopt in Costa Mesa. 

Another speaker frequently goads the Council to “drain the swamp” of slums on the Westside to reduce crime in the City. He repeats his message consistently and clearly. It is rational but repetitive.

It might be wise to remember that the latter speaker writes for Mensa, and has a Journalism background. "So, he probably understands the steps that are needed to get the slums cleared. He is likely following a deliberate and well-considered strategy as he goads the Council.

And then there's the pointless

Compare those speakers with a frequent commenter who chastised the Council for using a committee instead of an elected commission to study and write a charter. The rational for the choice was debated and discussed previously. The issue had been decided by majority vote at a previous meeting.

He didn't like the Council’s past decision, so he tied up over 2 ¾ man-hours (three minutes times five Council members and the number in the audience who appeared to be listening to him) to address an already-made decision. To complain.

The Westside advocate may effect changes; the complainer won’t be remembered or taken seriously.

Awards started the long night 

A long, very long, Council meeting last night had both high and low points. Notable was presentation of two awards; one was by Mesa Verde Community Inc. to the City’s Services Division. The other was by the City to recognize a rescuer who helped find lost hikers by thinking outside of the box.

Line in the sand over variances 

A developer sought building variances for a project. These allowed the developer to build higher quality and more impressive homes on his land. A lot of acrimony followed with one Council member questioning the legality and propriety of the requested variances and one expressing concerns about population density.

The development was within the required density for the property’s zone, so the density issue was moot. A council member noted, with legal definitions and citations, that granting variances when the property did not meet provisions of the state law is effectively setting new zoning laws. She acknowledged that the City’s current code doesn't apply very well to “small subdivision” developments.

Further, the City staff is developing such a code. However, the Councilwoman used this opportunity to “draw a line in the sand” by voting against this development. When the new code is in place she’ll be more receptive. She acknowledged that the developer proposed a beautiful and high-quality development and had worked very hard to meet the neighbors’ concerns.

The variances were granted by a 3:2 vote.

Charter Committee selection 

The Charter committee selection procedure got some heat, with appeals to be “fair” and to get “equal representation.” Neither term was defined, of course, since the concept is silly.

Even a slight familiarity with statistics will assure one that no representative sample of thirteen could be drawn from a population of 110,000 human beings. It would necessarily be weighted toward those interested, first of all. Then it would be weighted demographically toward retired middle income populations since folks who are currently working would be unable to devote much time to committee work.

The “fair” seemed to imply that an equal number of folks who voted for and against the proposed charter in the last election should be selected. Two council members and various speakers implied that the folks chosen would blindly write a re-iteration of the previous charter candidate unless there was "equal representation."

Unfair illustrated weakly, major issues ignored

One Council member used the number of women appointed to other
committees, compared to the number of men, to illustrate how committee appointments are “stacked.” She didn't address the issues of responsibility or luck of the draw” that were involved.

The Council majority is charged with accomplishing goals; it would be improvident and irresponsible to appoint people who disagree with the goals to committees designed to accomplish those goals. And, if there are 60+ well-qualified candidates for 38 positions, and about five them are female, more males will be selected.  

Don't appoint haters to committees

One commenter demonstrated the risks associated with appointing members that oppose the committee’s goals. He threatened that if the committee wasn't composed of what he considered “fair” selections he’d oppose and defeat their charter. He implied that he spoke for his organization, as well. Threats to get one’s way don't help a committee.

Mayor believes in citizens 

The Mayor seemed to have more faith in Costa Mesa citizens than those two Council members. He said he believed that appointees, whoever they were, would be responsible, rational, and resolute.

We’ll address the CMFD reorganization discussed last night in a separate post.

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