OK, Back To Business...
You know the only real problem about taking a nice, short mini-vacation? It's when you return and find that what you wandered away from a few days ago has only gotten worse in your absence. No matter how much fun you have when you're gone, no matter how much joy and love you share with your soul-mate as you celebrate her birthday, when you get back the same old steaming pile of manure you left behind is still there and it's only gotten more pungent. Welcome back to me...
RUSH TO JUDGMENT
I returned to find that not only is City Clerk Julie Folcik still on administrative leave, but that the City has apparently decided to handle personnel matters in the public press. Yep, contrary to every accepted personnel practice of which I'm aware - keeping in mind that I'm an old Personnel guy myself - they've decided to paint her as an incompetent at best and, perhaps, as some kind of a conspirator at worst and are doing so by providing correspondence to the local media. And, they've done so with lightning speed - much faster than their own policies prescribe. Every time in the past when they've rushed something it's returned to bite them on their posteriors... I'm thinking that may happen this time, too.
WHAT THE HECK?!
When you combine these actions with those earlier in the month when Folcik - represented by Jones Day as the plaintiff in the "missed deadline" lawsuit against Neal Kelley, Orange County Registrar of Voters - was first portrayed as a harried, loyal worker who just made a "clerical error", then later painted as some kind of villain who, in the words of CEO Tom Hatch, had committed a "significant professional failure" and was escorted out of the building, you'll get some idea why many of us are wondering just what the heck is going on at City Hall.
FOLCIK - A GREAT EMPLOYEE
Prior to this event I doubt if you could find a single person who would have described Folcik as anything but a cheerful, diligent, intelligent, industrious, organized and loyal city employee. She and the staff she supervised always seemed to do their very best to fulfill requests and/or demands made of them. They worked early and late, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning when the City Council failed to get their work done on time. (She's shown here with new Acting Deputy City Clerk Christine Cordon)
TELL US WHAT WE DON'T KNOW...
People keep saying that there's more to this situation than we know. OK, if that's the case, tell us. What we do know is that late in the afternoon of March 9th - the date that the resolutions necessary to place Jim Righeimer's Charter on the ballot and to request the consolidation with the state-wide primary were due at the Registrar of Voters office - Contract City Attorney Tom Duarte was scampering around getting his "impartial analysis" finished and the folks who wrote the arguments for and against the Charter were also at City Hall trying to beat the deadline, too. In fact, some of those documents were date stamped at 5:00 p.m. - the close of the business day. We don't know if Duarte, in his role as City Attorney, was overseeing the preparation and submission of the necessary documents or not. We do know that he was there, though.
WATCH NINE MINUTES OF FRUSTRATION
We do know that the City Council had a special council meeting on Tuesday, March 27th at which Jones Day was officially hired to work on the Charter litigation - two weeks after they began. And we also know, because they "reported out" of the closed session, that the City is going to appeal Judge Miller's ruling on the Charter. You can watch the entire nine (9) minutes of the open session - during which our part-time, part-time Mayor Eric Bever slammed the door on Wendy Leece as she tried to present her reasons for not supporting the hiring of Jones Day - and the "report out" segment HERE. The very next day Folcik was escorted out of the building.
JONES DAY BILLS - $505,398.75 AND COUNTING
Speaking of Jones Day, at the council meeting next Tuesday, April 3, 2012, there will be a Warrant, #2413, HERE, which shows that we paid that law firm $114,697.75 in January. Added to the previous total of $390,701.00 and you'll see that they have devoured more than a half million dollars so far. And that doesn't count the February CMCEA bills, which should be huge, nor any of the time spend on the Charter issue.
WILL THE CITY STIFF JONES DAY?
You will also recall that Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer threw a hissy fit and refused to vote to shift funds from the General Fund to the Self Insurance Fund - the pot from which litigation bills are paid - at the last regular council meeting on March 20th. That means that, potentially, Finance and Information Technology Director Bobby Young wouldn't be able to pay Jones Day's bills. What sweet irony! However, Tuesday that same issue will be presented to the council again, HERE. We wonder if Righeimer will, once again, cut off his nose to spite his face. Hopefully former mayor Gary Monahan will decide to grace us with his presence this time around so that authorization has a chance of passing. We know that Righeimer had problems in his business life in the past in which he took nine years to pay off some creditors. Funny habit, isn't it?
WE HAVE LIFT OFF!
And, as an aside, with the Warrants being presented Tuesday, our legal fees for this fiscal year continue to rise like a rocket to the moon - now exceeding $1.3 million. The non-litigation costs alone exceed a half million! It seems our "fiscal conservative" councilmen are that in name only.
HOUSING AUTHORITY MAKES RULES
You can read the agenda for Tuesday's meeting HERE. In addition to a do-over of the mid-year budget review, the Costa Mesa Housing Authority - constituted when the Redevelopment Agency was folded up in February - will meet to adopt amendments to the bylaws. It's about time! They're going to cover some pretty basic stuff - like officers, compensation, etc.
I suspect, though, that the scheduled meeting will be the least interesting thing that happens next week. I suspect we may hear about that "investigation" Hatch mentioned and it will come as no surprise if Julie Folcik is fired - a sacrificial lamb on the alter of Jim Righeimer's ego. That will not only be a shame, but it may also be a crime.
NO APRIL FOOL'S DAY JOKE HERE
And, by the way... much as I would have liked to, I just couldn't come up with an April Fool's Day entry. I kept hoping that when I woke up today this whole mess would have been one huge joke - but it's not...