MOORLACH UPDATE — Advisory Ballot Babies — August 16, 2014

A fascinating topic is governing-board member relations. For publicly traded corporations, consultants are customarily brought in to assist boards in working together effectively for the betterment of the shareholders. For municipality governing bodies, harmony and commonality of purpose is not necessarily the norm; not with independently elected members who may have different principles and perspectives. So differences on style and policy can get interesting, especially when they spill out into the public. The opening paragraph of the Daily Pilot piece below leads with this subject.

Voters may see measures, propositions, initiatives and referendums on their ballots. They may also see an advisory ballot measure, which is usually nonbinding and provides for an ultimate poll of those who actually voted. It is a tool to get the pulse of the community. In any good debate, it would be helpful to have strong pro and con written arguments, so that voters have both sides of the issue when casting their votes. On the way to such a discussion, personality conflicts and suspicions have gotten in the way.

When one is questioning motives, the fun will never end. The art of speculation is boundless. It allows me to wonder if we’re seeing psychological projection. Sometimes people communicate what they would do under similar circumstances when they suspect it of others. Therefore, it would appear that the two disgruntled Costa Mesa City Councilmembers, given the same opportunity, would probably obtain signatures of political allies for an advisory ballot measure. My perspective is that the elected officials that have been visibly voicing the concerns of their constituents on the topic of Caltrans’ plans of unilaterally imposing toll lanes on the San Diego Freeway have been asked to sign the ballot argument for this advisory measure (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Toll Lane Opponents — July 29, 2014). If this potential selection was disturbing to the two offended Councilmembers, it seems that they should have voted against putting the matter on the ballot. Then they would have been consistent. Now a critical component to this discussion is missing. The opposition argument should have been made by a recognized party in support of the toll lanes, like the Orange County Business Council. Then the ballot measure would have more value. Instead, we get to see two elected officials throwing an immature temper tantrum to air out their frustrations on the process and/or for not being personally included as signatories.

Costa Mesa councilwomen call toll-lane ballot measure political

By Jeremiah Dobruck

In Costa Mesa, even what should be a kumbaya political moment has a way of becoming contentious.

Last week, the City Council unanimously decided to ask voters what they think about a state plan to put toll lanes on the 405 Freeway.

The question will appear on the city’s November ballot, though it will be symbolic, simply asking voters whether they agree with the council that the lanes are a bad idea.

Mayor Jim Righeimer said he hoped to show Sacramento that an overwhelming majority of Costa Mesans oppose what critics call "Lexus lanes."

But on Tuesday, Councilwomen Sandy Genis and Wendy Leece — both of whom oppose the toll lanes and had voted to put the issue before the public — submitted a ballot argument against the measure.

They called the resolution an ineffective political stunt that will waste taxpayers’ money.

"To me, it’s a brazen attempt to basically get some political candidates’ names in the ballot book associated with something that’s polling good," Genis said.

Genis and Leece objected during last week’s council meeting when Righeimer said he planned to have politicians from neighboring cities sign on to the ballot argument against toll lanes.

"We’d be looking to have that signed by people who are well-known throughout the area," Righeimer said.

The final document now includes signatures from Righeimer, Huntington Beach Mayor Matthew Harper, Westminster Councilwoman Diana Carey, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) and Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach.

"I think it’s a political stunt to not have the whole council and [instead] to do it with you and other mayors who may be running for public offices," Genis told Righeimer at last week’s meeting.

Harper is running for an Assembly seat in November, and Mansoor is seeking a position on the Board of Supervisors. Righeimer is up for reelection to the City Council.

The California Department of Transportation has already said it intends to move forward with the plan to build the toll lanes between the 605 Freeway and Costa Mesa.

Costa Mesa’s voice will be stronger if it is joined by neighboring politicians, Righeimer said.

"By ourselves, this doesn’t work," he said. "This has to a be a political message to the governor’s office [that] this is not the way to run a business."


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