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Mensinger: Drop Bell's auditor [Corrected]

June 06, 2012|By Joseph Serna

Costa Mesa may drop its auditing firm, which is being investigated by the state for possible lapses when it audited the city of Bell.

During Tuesday night's meeting, City Councilman Steve Mensinger called for the city to drop Mayer Hoffman McCann, which was fined $300,000 by the state for poor accounting in Bell and other California cities but will be able to continue its practice.

"I just don't feel very comfortable as a council member with Mayer Hoffman as the auditor of our city," Mensinger said.

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FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version incorrectly said Mayer Hoffman McCann was still under investigation; however, the firm has settled with California.

He requested that city CEO Tom Hatch look into an alternate firm and said the city's Investment Oversight Committee should be involved in selecting the next auditor.

In April 2011, Newport Beach elected to switch auditing firms too, citing the scandal in Bell, where officials are accused of public corruption.

City charter review

The council also hosted the first of three official city charter hearings ahead of a possible vote in November. The charter was introduced last winter.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer created the first draft by copying and pasting sections from other cities, a sort of boiler plate that would be molded by the council into a final draft.

"It isn't rocket science writing one of these," he said.

The document was initially slated to go for voter approval on Tuesday's primary ballot, but the city clerk missed a filing deadline, pushing a possible vote back to November.

Costa Mesa hosted three public meetings to shape the document earlier this year, but are restarting the process for the general election in November.

The discussions started right where they left off a couple months ago, with some residents saying the charter should be written by a public committee and others, like former Mayor Sandy Genis, saying it was too vague and gave too much power to the council.

"You act like you know what you're talking about," Righeimer said to Genis. "You don't."

A section of the charter as it is today does say that the council's powers are not limited to what is specifically listed in the document.

Councilwoman Wendy Leece said no matter what she'll oppose the charter because of how it was born.

"There's no way in Costa Mesa we can make this right," she said. "It's flawed because the process is flawed … There is no way it can ever be wordsmithed and changed."

The public will have two more official hearings where residents can offer changes. The council has listened to previous suggestions on missing words and the finer language, but so far hasn't budged on the bigger issues in the charter.

Among other laws in the charter, it would require the public to approve pension increases for public workers and eliminate a state requirement to pay workers prevailing wages for public projects.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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