Council extends consultant's contract

The Costa Mesa City Council this week extended a consultant's contract to continue managing multiple city projects for a total cost of $230,000 for 16 months of work.

Tamara Letourneau, a senior manager with Irvine-based Management Partners, was retained in March to help the council restructure the city.

Letourneau helped City Hall reduce the size and change the structure of the Police Department. Now, she is working on a review of workers' compensation processes and working with outsourcing committees ahead of putting out city jobs for bidding.

An earlier version did not make it clear that Tamara Letournea is no longer a city department head and instead only oversees multiple city projects.

"As the second phase of outsourcing evaluations begin, her presence is critical to ensure this process proceeds according to administrative regulations and objectivity," according to a city staff report given to the council.

Letourneau was paid through a $25,000 Management Partners contract from March to May of last year to help restructure the Police Department.

After Administrative Services Director Steve Mandoki left that April, Letourneau filled in at $120 an hour, 30 hours a week, with a contract not to exceed $120,000.

That money will run out this month, so the council on Tuesday approved another $85,000 to last through June, this time at a rate of $124 an hour, which brings the total city cost since March to $230,000.


Tower Records site

In other action, the council took a step toward finding a replacement for the defunct Tower Records building that's been an eyesore off Newport Boulevard and 17th Street.

The council gave Walgreens the green light to continue planning a new 14,310-square-foot store at the location, which has been vacant for five years.

The company had to get approval from the council to move forward because the proposed building violates existing guidelines on a ratio for building size to property size.

More than 4,000 of that square footage will be in the store's basement, company officials pointed out, which puts the surface-level coverage to about 9,990 square feet — smaller than the Tower Records that was there before.

City officials said Walgreens will likely get more business than the record store did, so there are a lot of studies and planning to do before anyone breaks ground on the lot.


Text messaging

Councilwoman Wendy Leece found no support on the dais Tuesday for her directive prohibiting council members from using their phones to text or surf the Internet during council meetings.

The proposed ordinance was the culmination of back-and-forth sniping between Leece and Councilman Steve Mensinger over the last year. Mensinger sits to Leece's left and has been frequently criticized by her and audience members for appearing to be distracted during council meetings when he stares down and appears focused on something other than the meeting at hand.

Mensinger has frequently claimed that he is taking notes on his iPad, but Leece has insinuated that he is text messaging. She also had said she's heard his phone vibrate on the council desk.

"With regard to council delays or interruptions … I would have to suggest that maybe we need to have an additional section if we're going to go this route that discourages grandstanding," Councilman Eric Bever said. "I've seen a lot of it in the last eight years, and frankly it's wasted a lot of time."

Leece tried to support her argument by pointing to three other cities with similar policies for their elected representatives.

After some further discussion, Leece made a motion to approve the ordinance. It died for lack of a second.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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