UPDATE, APRIL 18, 5:57 P.M.: After closing time on Saturday evening, someone sent a message to Costa Mesa's mayor, Gary Monahan at his place of business, Skosh Monahan's. The means of communication? A brick through the front window, with a note attached to it.
“This wasn't directed at the bar, it was directed at the mayor, at my place of business for actions that I'm doing as mayor,” Monahan told the Los Angeles Times. “That's kind of scary.”
Monahan knew an onslaught of critical words was coming. “We've had a couple of tragic weeks … my actions have added to that and I want to apologize for my shortcomings as mayor,” he said at that beginning of the meeting. “I promise to do better.
He continued, acknowledging the packed audience, and the overflow outside the chamber doors: “I'm sure some people are going to tell me exactly what they think of me.”
He was right.
Words like “shameful,” “outrage,” “appalled,” and “disgusted” were hurled. One resident, Susan Meyer, even called for the mayor to fire himself. Monahan sat and listened, remaining mostly expressionless.
But the mayor wasn't the only target. The entire council, aside from council member Wendy Leece, were repeatedly ridiculed. Leece was singled-out with praise on several occasions, and thanked for her dissenting vote on the outsourcing of city jobs.
Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Righeimer was also a popular target, being called out for focusing more on his national profile and aim to climb the political ladder than serving his post.
With each request to “rescind the pink slips” and every well-stated speech, heavy applause followed, and were echoed by the gathering outside. For those few speakers who supported the council, no matter how logical or illogical the thinking, boos and whispered disapproval resulted.
With everything that has transpired within the borders of Costa Mesa this year, the city was prepared for the hostile environment. Police officers stood at-the-ready on both ends of the dais, and additional officers were on hand at the rear of the chambers.
The media was also out en force, packing the front corner of the chambers, and providing residents and activists their 15 minutes of fame.
As one media outlet put it, the council meeting had the feeling of a rally. In the two-plus hours it took to get through nearly 50 speakers, the room remained full. The council remained solemn. The hope is that some change will come.
“You hear [the people], but you don't listen,” said one resident.
When Righeimer had the chance to speak, he acknowledged the “difficult times” facing the city. But he pointed out that “we have a budget that is due in less than 90 days,” and the layoff notices–which, at this point are only notices–are a necessary “option” as the council moves forward in trying to balance the budget.
Council member Eric Bever also pointed to the tough times, and supported the idea of a financial audit of the city finances, which the Orange County Employees Association had offered to pay for earlier in the evening. But as Bever is known to do, he used his opportunity to speak as a chance to shift blame away from himself and try to build some degree of pity (FAIL!). He also took a swipe at “Wendy Leece, Jr.,” when referring to Leece's daughter, Amy, who called out the “Boy's Club.”
It was a long, emotional evening. As soon as Monahan wrapped up his brief comments and prepared to move on to the remainder of the items on the agenda, the majority of the audience stood and left.
These are indeed difficult days for the people of Costa Mesa, and its city council. A lot was said, and much is to be done. Whether anyone was listening, the people will soon find out.