Led by Mayor Katrina Foley, the new Costa Mesa City Council majority asserted itself in a dramatic fashion this Tuesday when it voted 3-2 to purge every member of the Planning, Parks and Recreation, and Seniors commissions. Councilmembers Sandy Genis and John Stephens voted joined in supporting the commission purge, while Councilmembers Jim Righeimer and Allan Mansoor opposed it.
Foley stated reason for firing all members of these commissions was to obtain greater “diversity” and “balance.” Critics of this clean-sweep noted the lack of specificity as to what is unbalanced and un-diverse about the current commission membership, and lamented the resulting loss of experience and institutional knowledge.
The council’s drastic action launched a recruitment that will continue through a recruitment will be conducted to fill those positions from January 4th to January 18th; current commissioners may apply for re-appointment. The council will conduct special meetings on January 24 and January 31st to interview and appoint new commissioners.
Commission operations will experience disruption: a scheduled Planning Commission meeting for January 9 has been cancelled; applicants will have resolution of their business delayed until a new Planning Commission is appointed.
Foley has charged the old council majority “politicized” the commission appointment process, while opponents of the Tuesday commissions purge complain Foley and her allies are engaging in precisely the behavior they have condemned.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Julie Mercurio said she would not re-apply:
“I fear petty retribution is being put ahead of the best interests of Costa Mesa. As the saying goes, ‘to the victor goes the spoils’. However the wholesale rejection of those that have given their time, energy and expertise in service to the city is unprecedented.”