At the recent Corona del Mar candidate's debate, candidate Mark Tabbert, talking about Measure V, suggested that it was a good thing that the City Council could raise property taxes without a vote of the people since pensions are a high cost to the city. In fact, the current city charter allows the council to raise taxes by "an amount sufficient to meet all (pension) obligations." This amount is currently several million per year and growing.
Measure V was put on the ballot to remove the ability of any City Council to raise property taxes without a vote of the people. While the current City Council is unanimous in its opposition to property tax increases, as evidenced by Tabbert's remarks, we cannot guarantee what a future council can do, that is why we need the taxpayer protections of Measure V.
If you want the right to vote for all property tax increases, vote Yes on Measure V. Don't get caught up in someone else's grudge match with the Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Keith D. Curry
Vote shows Leece keeping promise
I kept my promise.
When I was elected in 2006, I promised the residents of Costa Mesa that I would be fiscally responsible. My vote on Tuesday night to approve employee agreements means we will not waste another $253,999 each month for not having agreements. Over four years we expect to save $7.2 million through reductions in employees'take home pay.
Being fiscally responsible means negotiating with employees in good faith realizing no deal is perfect. Our employees have agreed to contribute between 5 and 8.52 per cent of their pay towards their retirements. They broke ground on pension reform in Costa Mesa by coming forward with this offer.
Another agreement with our general employees involves a "2nd tier" whereby new hires will get less retirement pay but work more years to earn it.
Some wanted to delay the vote. Delaying the vote would have cost us more money with attorneys' fees if we entered into "impasse." That might have been a long, dark tunnel with many unknowns and not in the best interests in a fiscally responsible city.
I promised the residents of Costa Mesa that I would keep the peace in our city and to respond to them quickly in emergencies. Wednesday morning our employees, including our police and firefighters went to work serving our residents. They did not have to worry about how they might have to make ends meet. They're out there doing their job for us and we are paying them to do it well.
I regret that those who disagree with me have resorted to false accusations and mistruths. I have a responsibility to the people of Costa Mesa who elected me as their city council representative.
As an elected official, I review the facts, I negotiate in good faith and I am true to my word and commitments. I do not need to apologize for doing what I was elected to do.
You have my word.
Resident opposes Measure V
Many thanks to the Daily Pilot for publishing letters from Mark Tabbert, Newport Beach City Council candidate, and Dennis D. O'Neil, former city councilman, about Measure V, which is on the ballot in the coming election. ( Oct. 16)
I find the complicated provisions of Measure V somewhat overwhelming but several points in O'Neil's summary caught my attention. No. 2 in his letter "eliminates the requirement that every word in every city ordinance be published..." The phrases "the devil is in the details," and "read the fine print" popped into my mind. I would prefer a complete transcript of all ordinances in preference to a summary. I like transparency in government and believe that it strengthens the democratic process.
No. 6 in O'Neil's letter "improves the city's ability to contract out for services..." Recently, the City Council outsourced a contract for tree-trimming and the result has been inferior. Street trees have been trimmed at the wrong time of year, thus diminishing their health and attractiveness. I hope that future contracts with for-profit companies be compared carefully, cost-wise, with existing city services.
With these reservations, I plan to vote no on Measure V. I would like an opportunity to vote on single items rather than this list of separate changes.
Shirley A. Conger
Corona del Mar
Not many choices in CM
After attending the candidates' forum Oct. 14 at Triangle Square, the most remarkable aspect of the event was how unremarkable the discussion was. If these candidates were steeped in more specifics and had a vision for Costa Mesa, I did not hear it, except, perhaps, to attract more business to the city. While Councilwoman Wendy Leece and Planning Commissioner Jim Righeimer at least demonstrated a fundamental knowledge of the issues, the other candidates, for the most part, talked only in generalities.
Actually, there was too much discussion, in my opinion, about business and not enough about quality-of-life concerns. While income-generating entities for the city are vital, it seems to me that equal attention should be given to issues like code-enforcement, blight, traffic and containment of John Wayne Airport, all of which were only briefly addressed. As a 40-year resident, I was underwhelmed by the candidates.
* Support Righeimer for council
The Costa Mesa Police Department smear of City Council candidate Jim Righeimer is bigger than a mere difference of opinion. The Founding Fathers wrote a Constitution that clearly defined civilian rule over the government, not military rule.
As the enforcement arm of government, the military branch (police) are always a threat to liberty, so the civilian branch must often assert itself against the cops and jerk their choke chains occasionally to keep them in line. If the police run the city, we have nothing short of a police state.
With its unwarranted attacks on Righeimer and the smears of him personally through their recent mailers, the Police Department apparently thinks it should rule Costa Mesa. God, help us!
Righeimer is perfectly correct to have challenged the DUI checkpoint, especially during rush hour because it was nothing but gratuitous muscle flexing by the cops. The cops, who argued with him, were out of line and should be fired.
Moreover, the entire concept of checkpoints is abhorrent to, and in violation of, the 4th Amendment. They should be ended! Checkpoints in Costa Mesa are not in harmony with a free city.
This is not what freedom is about! I urge Righeimer to become even more assertive for Costa Mesa citizens' liberties and use these last few days before the election to make his position clear to everyone.
Do not vote for Righeimer
Jim Righeimer's performance on the Planning Commission and his tactics during this campaign clearly demonstrate why Righeimer has never been elected to office. He is a well-connected, carpetbagging, political opportunist, intent — to quote former Mayor Sandra Genis — on using Costa Mesa as a petri dish for statewide pension reform and a stepping stone to higher political office. He and his cronies in the Orange County Republican Party don't give a whit about the future of Costa Mesa. Like locusts, they will land, lay waste to the countryside and fly away to greener pastures. Righeimer is dangerous for our city and not worthy of your vote.
Bever treated unfairly by Police Department
I could not sit back and read all of the nonsensical articles about the recent flap with Costa Mesa Councilman Eric Bever and not comment. I have been a resident in the city of Costa Mesa for nine years. Since when is it OK for our police to stake out and photograph private citizens for their own political hit lists? According to Councilman Bever and his friend Chris Eric, on-duty Costa Mesa police officers were photographing them while they were putting up campaign signs in Costa Mesa.
Was there a legitimate police reason for them spying on these residents? I have not heard one. Fortunately, a formal investigation is underway, and these officers will likely be disciplined for their behavior. Just so everyone knows, the Police Department does not investigate campaign sign violations. That is Code Enforcement's job. There is no explanation for this behavior by our police.
Regardless of politics, it is never acceptable for our on-duty police to monitor private citizens for their own political gain. They are on the taxpayers' dime, utilizing taxpayer vehicles and resources. They should be doing their job. Where were those officers when a young child was recently hit by an unlicensed driver in Mesa Del Mar?
We are getting to the point with our Police Department that they can no longer be controlled or trusted. Residents live in legitimate fear of reprisals simply for voicing their support for political candidates. If the police will track a sitting city councilman, what will they do to normal residents of our city? This is getting scary.
Costa Mesa is broke. The city cannot financially afford the costs of a rogue police department. We can only hope that Chris Eric does not file suit against the city for violating his civil rights. This is a wake-up call to Chief Christopher Shawkey. Reign in the law breakers in your department before they cause irreparable damage to this city.
* Volunteers, dedication make school district great
This past August my husband and I dropped off the youngest of our five children, and only daughter, at college in New York. Three months earlier we attended the college graduation of our youngest son who followed in the footsteps of his three older brothers to a college degree. As a family that values education, I reflect how fortunate we are to reach this milestone. There were many factors that helped us get to this point.
Two factors that jump to the top are quality teachers in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and involved parent volunteers. I believe the school district has dedicated teachers who educate, inspire and challenge students every day. The district also benefits from literally thousands of parent volunteers who work diligently to support schools, and not just their own children, but all students. Our family benefitted greatly from both for many years.
This past year, the district encountered unprecedented funding shortfalls, which resulted in layoffs and cutbacks. The ramifications impacted every school site and operations at the administrative level. This sent mini shockwaves through the district. Unfortunately, the district will likely face more economic uncertainty in the future.
The president of the Newport-Mesa Schools Foundation reports an increased need for donations to fund grants to teachers to continue the wonderful projects that the district has benefitted from and enjoyed for years. Fundraising in the school PTA's and gift-giving to school foundations are notably down. Again, the result of the challenging economic times.
The district must work in collaboration with parents and the community to prioritize funding expenditures and seek input on every aspect of school operations.
Now more than ever parent involvement in the schools is critical as a support mechanism where the district may no longer be able to afford all of the educational luxuries of the past. Parents are strong advocates for their children and want the best, but they are also realists in recognizing that times have changed. Fortunately, for many years their fundraising efforts have been able to supplement district funding to provide additional enrichment programs, technology upgrades, academic support, scholarships, everything from athletic equipment to art supplies, and much more.
Parent participation is the key to student success, and parents must be active and pro-active. Be active in the school support programs that are so vital today — volunteer in the classroom, assist in the school office, hold a position in PTA, work on the foundation board, head a committee, use contacts with outside businesses to support schools. And, be pro-active in the day-to-day education of your student — communicate with teachers, require accountability of your student, guide them to take advantage of the extracurricular resources the schools offer in athletics, arts and activities.
Parents in Newport-Mesa are a powerful advocacy group and have accomplished great things at all of the schools in a voluntary spirit. When the district, teachers and parents work in collaboration more great things will follow.
Editor's note: Zimmerman is a candidate for school board.
Soccer does some magic in the Westside
Children's happiness is magical, powerful and moving. Their smiles and cheerfulness are usually authentic and spontaneous. They are not scripted or over-rehearsed like those seen in beauty pageant shows.
When kids feel the excitement, they know how to express it. We don't have to do much to get their high-spirited side out of them.
Sometimes it only takes a soccer ball to change a self-deluded kid into a dynamic and engaging person. A soccer game brings out that little light that is deeply embedded inside his or her heart.
For many years, a soccer ball has not been running freely in some areas of Costa Mesa. As odd as it sounds, it isn't allow to be kicked around in a nearby park in this city.
Sometimes grown-ups don't understand the beauty surrounding a soccer game, unless of course, these people live in Europe, Asia, Latin America, or why not, in the Westside of Costa Mesa, where soccer is king and any soccer tournament is a crowning event.
About a month ago, soccer did some magic in the City Council. After a long debate, a majority of the council — Mayor Allan Mansoor did not want to take part of the vote — decided to allow a soccer organization to schedule games in the Westside.
It was a relief for many parents. They no longer had to travel miles away to other cities to let their kids enjoy a game that is profoundly entrenched in their culture.
Westside kids now have a big reason to celebrate, have fun and win awards.
Last week about 210 kids participated in a mini-soccer tournament at Wilson Elementary School. The event was a success. At the end, every kid who signed up received a medal for participating. For some it was their first, and for others it was another to add to their collection.
For me it was a paradise. I watched so many smiles in one place, and at the same time. What a treat.