Harlan: Council meeting surprises with two good decisions

August 25, 2012|By Jeffrey Harlan

As someone who watches the Costa Mesa City Council meetings regularly, I often look for those moments where a good idea takes root, follows a natural course of development and hopefully grows to fruition. On Tuesday, much to my delight, I caught a glimpse of sensible decision-making.

Twice, in fact.

Kudos, to the council.

First, in a rare instance of accord, the council voted unanimously to discontinue studying the privatization of the TeWinkle Park Athletic Complex. There has been no demonstrated demand and no community support for this project, which has flown under the radar for over a year.

It was refreshing to see common sense prevail on the dais.

Led by Mayor Pro Tem Righeimer, the discussion centered on what he perceived as the project's potential fatal flaws — the school district's policy prohibiting alcohol sales near schools and accommodating additional parking.


Because it was unlikely these issues could be resolved, he expressed reluctance to spend any more money on additional site studies. The rest of his council union fell in line quickly, with Councilman Gary Monahan, the original driver of the project, concluding that the process was "an incredible learning experience."

Second, the council considered proceeding with another proposal, this one to outsource the city's park landscaping and maintenance services. Righeimer hailed the process to select the landscaping and maintenance vendor as exactly how this should be done, "a perfect example of a contract."

And he's right.

Staff assessed the city's needs and current provision of services, developed a request for proposals (RFP), solicited and evaluated bids, conducted due diligence about the prospective vendors and issued a recommendation to council. And in keeping with the straightforward process, the council questioned staff, offered comments and made its determination to select a contractor.

Both of these decisions, on their face, appeared to be well reasoned, thoughtful and intended to benefit the community as a whole. And in most cities, this is how the decision-making process goes — efficiently and reasonably, with little, if any, drama or fanfare.

But, as we know, Costa Mesa is not like most California cities. Without the community's assent, we have been thrust into the national spotlight as the battleground for pension reform, the petri dish for questionable experiments in governance, and as a community polarized by ideologically driven politicians.

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