Mailbag: Charter could be OK, but the process isn't

January 10, 2012

(Re. "Charter met with cynicism" by Joseph Serna, Jan. ): Serna's assessment that the attendees of the informational meeting Jan. 4 were disappointed, angry and, yes, cynical is correct. However, where I believe Serna's observations diverge from what was actually being discussed by the attendees of the meeting is exemplified by this statement:

"... there was little talk at the meeting about the pros and cons of a city charter among residents."

I met with many small groups of four to five people who had already read the charter as well as all of the other material that city CEO Tom Hatch asserted that many people might not have read yet. People had a general idea of the differences between a general law city and a charter city.

People asked questions of the "experts" at the various stations and were given either ambiguous responses, such as "I don't know. Go ahead and write it down and submit the question in writing." Or the "experts" were not willing to explain why Costa Mesa citizens were not allowed to choose the manner by which our charter would be formulated.


To be clear, the people at the meeting often had no problem with a charter city, per se. They, almost to a one, had a significant problem with a charter written by this hyper-partisan council and having it fast-tracked onto a politically skewed June ballot.

Also, I believe, many attendees were under the impression that we would be able to speak or at least ask questions that could be heard by all participants. I believe that Hatch underestimated this crowd when he didn't think a majority of the attendees had read this voluminous draft city charter.

I hope I am underestimating the turnout at the June election to overturn this process — not the charter — and demand a charter committee be formed, another almost uniform request from the meeting's participants. The fact is, people do not trust this council majority and I, for one, was quite pleased that at least one council member attended: Wendy Leece, who is in the minority.

Where were the other council members? They were hiding just like they do on the dais where they are not required to respond to any dissenting opinions. They do whatever the hell they please. That, in a nutshell, is the ultimate issue residents have with this charter: It is not the charter, per se; it is the process.

Jay B. Litvak

Costa Mesa

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