Costa Mesa Wins National Transparency Award
In a press release issued late this afternoon, Costa Mesa Communication Director, Bill Lobdell, announced that the City has been awarded a "Sunny Award" by Sunshine Review, described as a nonprofit dedicated to government transparency. Apparently Costa Mesa is one of only 214 governments of the 6,000 reviews - and the only Orange County Government entity - to receive this award. You can read the entire press release HERE.
MORE INFO AVAILABLE
I agree that this is a very worthy achievement, and that we, the residents of this fine city, have much more information readily available to us today than was the case a couple years ago. Important information on the budget, the outsourcing process, the bogus charter scheme and many other issues are right there at your fingertips.
STAFF GETS CREDIT
Personally, I attribute this to a change in attitude by the City Council and to the hard work and skill of the City Staff - including CEO Tom Hatch and Lobdell - who produce the information we see.
"SEE HOW GREEDY THEY ARE!"
I also think that part of this "transparency" is a mindset by some members of the City Council to attempt to show the world just what greedy slackers the Costa Mesa staff members are. They become almost giddy when the new annual compensation report is posted, and just can't seem to wait to misrepresent the facts. I thought Steve Mensinger was going to have an orgasm last Tuesday night as he contemplated digging into the recently-released Workers Compensation report.
COUNCIL COMES UP SHORT
And yet, where "transparency" really counts - as the council goes about doing the job we hired them to do - is where the City comes up short. For example, several weeks ago they went through an exercise to develop a 5-Year Forecast, and used a spreadsheet provided by Finance and Information Technology Director Bobby Young. With Jim Righeimer leading the way, they merrily just plucked numbers involving millions of dollars out of the air with no substantive discussion on why they chose those numbers. They did this at such a pace that those of us trying to follow along couldn't write fast enough. That spreadsheet, with it's fabricated numbers, is still not available on the City web site. And, of course, come budget time those fabricated numbers will become cast in concrete as though they had origins in fact and the staff will be required to find budget dollars to accommodate those flights of fancy. This is not "transparency".
And, of course, we have the "one-man Charter" and the "two-man" working groups that contrived the bogus outsourcing scheme on cocktail napkins at Mayor Monahan's bar. And that led to the ignoring of a council policy that delayed the process, causing a "re-start", and which eventually led to a very costly lawsuit filed by the employees to protect their contractual rights. This is not "transparency".
And, the grand idea of the weekly E-Briefing - the online newsletter generated by Hatch - has lost much of it's steam. It now shows up every once in awhile - sporadic seems to be an appropriate word - whenever somebody gets around to it. And, of course, there has been plenty of fodder for that cannon since the first of the year.
STAFF, YES - COUNCIL, NO
Yes, the City Staff is doing a better job of providing information. The City Council, on the other hand, is far, far away from being open and forthright about how they conduct business for the city.
So, kudos to Hatch, Lobdell and the rest of the City Staff who actually do the hard work that produces the information we now have available to us. This recognition is well-deserved.
A BRONX CHEER TO COUNCIL
And a big, wet Bronx Cheer to the City Council for attempting to play games with the word "transparency" while doing exactly the opposite as they stumble and fumble their way through their ham-handed attempts to change governance as we know it. Pfffssst!