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Council splits on commission appointments

All five vote in favor of returning Colin McCarthy but a 3-2 divide opens over Jim Fitzpatrick, Timothy Sesler.

January 16, 2013|By Bradley Zint

A divided Costa Mesa City Council on Tuesday made three appointments to the Planning Commission during a meeting that echoed the sharp political differences seen in the November election.

The council voted 5 to 0 to reappoint Planning Commissioner Colin McCarthy, but split 3-2 on returning former Planning Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick and appointing newcomer Timothy Sesler. Mayor Jim Righeimer, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger and Councilman Gary Monahan voted in favor of the appointments; Councilwomen Wendy Leece and Sandra Genis dissented.

Genis and Leece supported giving Commissioner Sam Clark another term but failed to find a necessary third vote.

One of the three terms approved is for two years, and the other two are for four each. Fitzpatrick and Sesler each received the four-year terms.

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McCarthy was chosen for the remaining two years of Commissioner Edward Salcedo's term. Salcedo resigned his seat Monday night, citing unspecified personal and business reasons.

Regarding the vacancy opened by Salcedo's departure, Genis asked if, given the staff report asking for only two appointments, the council was even allowed to appoint a third member. City Attorney Tom Duarte replied that the council could, after which members approved a motion — with Leece dissenting — to waive policy and proceed with the appointments.

Monahan nominated McCarthy, who then received the unanimous vote in his favor. Monahan and McCarthy, as well as Mensinger, campaigned in the past general election as the "3Ms" slate. Genis ran on an opposing slate supported by a grass-roots group, Costa Mesans for Responsible Government (CM4RG), but said her political differences with McCarthy last year did not influence her decision vote in his favor Tuesday.

Righeimer nominated Fitzpatrick. Genis, however, said she could not support Fitzpatrick, citing what she called his bad judgment becoming "embroiled through the various agencies. First he wants one job, then he wants the other job, then he wants the first job," she said.

She was alluding to his initial appointment on the Planning Commission, then his election by voters to the Costa Mesa Sanitary District's board in November 2010. His concurrent service, however, was problematic to his Sanitary District colleagues, who filed a lawsuit contending that service to both boards was a conflict of interest.

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