Tag Archives: Joe Carchio

Surf City’s Mayor Will Take Heavenly Flight


By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Surf City’s number one pilot, the Honorable Mayor Joe Carchio, who has been dubbed by the Voice as “the best mayor Surf City has ever had,” may very well reach the peak of his political career on Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. when he jumps into the city’s police helicopter, HB1, and is carried to the heavens for a two-hour fact finding and brainstorming tour.

Carchio requested the lift so that he can discuss the city’s helicopter outsourcing contracts with Newport Beach and Costa Mesa and to be updated on the copter program, according to an e-mail from Chief of Police Kenneth Small that was passed on to the Voice.

Tours have also been offered to all the other members of the City Council.

The Voice was alarmed at first. After all, when you factor in costs for gas and staff time, helicopter rides are expensive—about $675 per hour in this case, according to Small.

But Surf City’s taxpayers may rest assured that not a single penny of their money will be wasted by our mayor—whose spend-thrift ways with their money are well known.

That’s because, this time, Joe Carchio—our mayor and pilot—has his feet planted firmly upon solid ground.

“He’s going up during one of our normal patrol flights,” the Chief explained in an e-mail to the Voice. “There’s no special flight arranged for him, so there is no real cost associated with it.”

That’s a relief; unless, of course, somebody decides to give the mayor the controls to the copter for even a second, in which case Surf City’s citizens should be no more or less amused than when he is piloting their city council meetings.

One has to wonder how the mayor, even with his known communications skills, will be able to have a meaningful discussion about important city matters in a noisy copter cabin, where even if you shout you aren’t likely to be heard.

On the bright side, however, the mayor can apply the skills he has acquired after almost a year of running city council meetings without listening to or understanding what others are saying to him or being able to make sense of his own words. Based on that experience, all he has to do is say, as loud as he can, “That’s not going to happen while I’m the mayor of this city,” and everything will be fine.

At the next meeting of the City Council, after the mayor returns to earth, it will be a pleasure, as always, to hear him share his unique insights.

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Investigation: Mayor Carchio stands in line at Albertsons for free knife

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

At approximately 5 p.m. today Huntington Beach Mayor Joe Carchio was sighted at the Albertsons super market in the Sea Cliff shopping center at the corner of Yorktown and Main St. near downtown Huntington Beach.

The sighting was made by this reporter while he shopped for Dryer’s ice cream (selling at $6 for two cartons) for my 91-year-old father, who eats lots of rocky road and vanilla ice cream and who is famous among the store’s check-out cashiers for buying more tapioca pudding than anyone.

It’s not unusual to see local celebrities shopping at my favorite Albertsons. Other notables sighted include: former city administrator Paul Cook; former mayor John Erskine; and, former city treasurer, now our county treasurer, Shari Freidenrich.

Curious about an announcement for the free giveaway of one paring knife per customer, provided the would-be recipients arrived “within three minutes in the center of the deli section,” this reporter, who has no desire for another paring knife if he even has one already (I have no idea), walked slowly from the ice cream freezers to the deli section out of curiosity only, wanting to know what kind of people would rush from one side of the store to the other within three minutes to get a free paring knife and what devious corporate scheme was under way.

When I arrived in the deli, long after another shopper, who smiled eagerly as she pushed her partially full shopping cart past me at high speed, I observed a line of about 20 people waiting for their free knives. Standing with them was the mayor.

He was dressed casually and had been browsing the deli without a shopping cart, unaware that I was watching every move he made.

At first, I tried to hide my face, fearing that he might be angry at recent stories I have written about his political performance, stories that—like all of my other (many) stories about the mayor—probably didn’t show his better side, very much.

But far from holding a petty grudge, the mayor was gracious, cheerful and bouncy—like the former restaurant host that he is. With a big smile on his face he shook my hand, nearly jumping for joy, and said, “We’re going to get a free knife,” gesturing to me to join him in line.

I respectfully declined, but did say out loud to the store employee who was handing out the free knives, “How about some free health care for your workers?” Nobody else seemed to listen, but the mayor laughed.

Then I headed for the checkout stand where I told the cashier that I had given up a free knife just to stand in her line. She informed me that the knife giveaway had been going on for several days straight and that it was getting annoying to hear the announcer everyday telling the customers to run to the deli within three minutes to get a free knife.

“I’m about to use one of those knives on that guy if he says that one more time,” she threatened, laughingly.

Then I wondered, did the mayor, who has been spotted by this observant reporter before at the same Albertsons, have heads up about the free knife?

Was he running some sort of racket at my local Albertsons?

Had he been coming into the store for several days in a row, only pretending to shop so that he could pick up a free paring knife each time?

How many paring knives does he have at home, anyway?

Will the mayor report the gift (or gifts) on his 700 form at City Hall?

Rest assured, the Surf City Voice is investigating.


Councilman Harper’s Plan to ‘Liberate’ Mobile Home Owners from ‘Big Brother’

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Photo, L-R: Nancy Meeks, Cindy Ackely, Mary Jo Baretich, Jane Jones. Front row: Summer Taylor. All residents of Cabrillo mobile home park in Huntington Beach.

What do you call a professional politician (besides calling him a professional politician) who tells his constituents not to get political, tries to disconnect them from their government—the government they own and that employs him—and tells them that it will make them stronger?

Do you call him a liberator?

Huntington Beach City Councilmember Matt Harper, that professional politician, says he wants to liberate the city’s mobile home owners from big government by eliminating a city-run citizen-advisory board which exists to “ensure the quality of life in mobile home parks in the city through healthy communication with park owners, manufactured home owners and the City Council” and to “act in an advisory capacity to the City Council on matters concerning the mobile home community,” according to City Ordinance NO 3332.

Harper wasn’t preaching liberation politics when he first hinted at axing the Mobile Home Advisory Board (MHAB) at the July 5 City Council meeting by holding a routine vote to replace three of a total of six vacancies on the board. But he was standing tall for the individual and corporate owners of the mobile home parks whose PACs spent over $13,000 to help get him elected in 2010.

With a “new set of eyes,” he explained in his usual pretentious style, “I always try to ask…, what is the appropriate role for a city.” The board “looks one-sided, where it could be simply an existence of a place where political footballs…could be just thrown in one direction,” he added. Continue reading Councilman Harper’s Plan to ‘Liberate’ Mobile Home Owners from ‘Big Brother’

Commentary: Three Stooges Take Over Huntington Beach City Council

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Have we got a great show for you?

Hell yes!

Welcome to the Huntington Beach City Council/Three Stooges Comedy Hour.

First, there’s the crowd’s favorite, (Curly with hair) Joe Shaw, the council member who loves to be melodramatic and thinks it is his right to speak out of turn at council meetings whenever his feelings get hurt, which is pretty often.

Second, there’s (Moe without hair) Don Hansen, the council bully who thinks that he is 1) the mayor (he’s actually the mayor pro tem); and, 2) that he is smarter than everyone else. He has the social conscience and testosterone level of Napoleon Bonaparte, William F. Buckley and Sen. Joseph McCarthy combined. Watch out for his sarcasm, condescension, and scary glares.

Third, there’s (Larry) Devin Dwyer, the council member who thinks that being a brat, using potty language and insulting the city attorney, who has ten times his intellect, is witty and funny. Just like a little school boy seeking attention, he loves to brag about his childish misdeeds with that trying-so-hard-to-be-cute (gag me with a spoon, please) grin of his. Continue reading Commentary: Three Stooges Take Over Huntington Beach City Council

Response to Mayor Carchio: Good first step, but more needs to be done about downtown

By Angela Rainsberger

Editor: Rainsberger is the director of Huntington Beach Neighbors.

Dear Mayor Carchio:

Thank you for the letter regarding your proposed solutions to reduce the DUI fatalities coming from the downtown establishments. I believe this is a step in the right direction to reduce the DUIs and I hope that we will see some meaningful reduction over time. I believe the key is to make certain that these voluntary suggestions become requirements of entertainment permits as they come up for renewal or as new EP are issued.

In addition for new restaurants it is important to find a way to add restrictions to the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to prevent restaurants from morphing into bars. I expect you will see far less protests and activism from citizen groups in the downtown if we can insure that a restaurant stays a restaurant.

There are other cities in Orange County that have areas of heavy concentration of establishments serving alcohol who have found ways to manage the consumption to reduce the risks to life and quality of life. I would encourage you to meet with the city staff of Fullerton who crafted their successful ordinances and policies to understand what has worked for them.

In addition to your bulleted suggestions, I would add the following requirements:

  • No drink specials should be sold after midnight. This would include redemption of coupons such as the ones being sold on Groupon for two times the value of anything purchased. A managed decrease in the volume of alcohol consumed after midnight will decrease the level of intoxication at 2 am.
  • Maintain a full listing of establishments with the details of their entertainment permit restrictions, allowances, occupancies, and closing times to be used as a planning tool and reviewed in total, before any new establishment or any entertainment permit renewals are approved. Adjust closing times to stagger them as entertainment permits come up for renewal. This will reduce the 2 am flood of intoxicated drivers into the streets, by batching them in smaller more manageable groups, that the police will better be able to control.
  • Work with BID to increase the number of cabs available at night; as a cab shortage is a current problem. Taxi vouchers add no value if one must wait for an hour in a taxi queue.
  • Drinks need to be served to the person who will be consuming the drink. Currently there are establishments where drinks for large groups can be ordered by a single person at the bar and then carried back to a group. This prevents the servers from being able to apply the RBS/TIPS training and ABC max drink limitation or to monitor the ratio of drink per person. Require that the serve can verify that drinks are being sold are at the 1:1 ratio per order.
  • Require restaurants to clearly post occupancy permits for each area of their establishments (sidewalk patios, back patios, inside dining room and balconies) so that the police can clearly see when the occupancy of a given area has been exceeded. Currently, many establishments are not posting their patio max occupancy signs and in the evening hours are clearing tables and chairs off the patios and converting the patios to standing room areas with significantly more people than allowed. By posting these signs clearly the police will be able to quickly identify when occupancies have been exceeded.
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Political Loitering: HB City Council duo proposes another sex offender law

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

On May 16 the City Council directed City Attorney Jennifer McGrath to craft an ordinance that will limit the presence in city parks and beaches of convicted sex offenders who have been released from prison.

The intended ordinance, introduced on behalf of the Orange County District Attorney by Councilmembers Matt Harper and Mayor Joe Carchio, models after a recently passed county law that bans all sex offenders from using county parks and beaches without written permission from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and offers jail time and a $500 fine for violators.

During public comments, Deputy District Attorney Brian Fitzpatrick assured that “This will go a long way to protecting children in parks” and that it was consistent with the state’s ongoing trend to increase restrictions on the movement of sex offenders who have served their time.

“We noticed that there was a hole in the law protecting our children and that was with respect to our parks,” he said.

“Just because somebody hasn’t molested a child in the past, doesn’t mean that he won’t do it in the future as a registered sex offender,” Fitzpatrick warned, lumping all sex offenders into one category while arguably implying that the presumption of innocence—which extends from the 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution—is an obstacle to justice.

“Constitutionally, we have researched this [ordinance] and we have found that it would pass Constitutional muster,” Fitzpatrick said, trying to head off arguments that that the ordinance would lead to lawsuits as similar laws have in other locations. “It’s narrowly protected to tailoring places where children regularly gather.”

But neither Fitzpatrick nor his proxies Harper and Carchio mentioned what criteria would determine which offenders, if any, will receive permission to visit parks or how non-compliant offenders would be monitored. Nor did they say how much it would cost the city to maintain the program or upon what research, if any, it had been determined that it would produce any overall benefit.

Contrary to Fitzpatrick’s contention that the law passes Constitutional muster, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled last November in a lawsuit brought by four registered sex offenders that the portion of Jessica’s Law that restricts released sex offenders to live more than 2,000 feet of parks and schools is unconstitutional. Enforcement of that portion of the law has been suspended by the state’s Department of Corrections.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the judge also noted LA Chief of Police Charlie Beck’s finding that the living proximity of sex offenders to schools does not determine the likelihood that a sexual offense will take place and that Jessica’s Law has forced sex offenders into the streets in droves.

That “sharp rise in homelessness rates in sex offenders on active parole in Los Angeles County actually undermines public safety,” Espinoza wrote in his 10-page legal opinion, according to the Times.

Other lawsuits have popped up around the country to challenge laws that restrict released sex offenders. Legal issues include violation of the ex post facto prohibitions in Article 1, Sections 9 and 10 of the U.S. Constitution (that a person can’t be punished twice for the same crime), First Amendment rights, and the right to public access.

Outside of the courts, cost is another issue. McGrath estimated that it would cost the city about $250,000 to defend against a lawsuit in its lower court stages, not to mention taking it all the way to the State or U.S. Supreme Court.

Critical Analysis
Predictably, Carchio and Harper were short on critical analysis and not about to challenge the Republican DA’s game plan, which offers them political capital and public image enhancement in return for their enthusiastic compliance.

True to form, Carchio took that opportunity to the limit. In a blustering speech, he referenced the brutal sex-related kidnapping and murders of five-year-old Samantha Runnion in 2002 by Alejandro Avila and 12-year-old Huntington Beach resident Robin Samsoe 23 years ago by serial-killerRodney James Alcala, then promised that “I will not sit idly by, not in this city—and not at the expense of our kids and their families.”

A bit later he reached a crescendo, declaring that “I don’t want sex offenders to think that they have the run of the city. Not in Huntington Beach. Not when I’m mayor.”

Attempting a more logical approach, Harper warned that if the city didn’t pass the proposed ordinance sex offenders, who are banned now from going to Harriet Weider Regional Park located on county land, could visit Harriet Weider City Park nearby.

“Why should it be that sex offenders are allowed in one of those parks and not the other,” Harper asked. Huntington Beach should follow suit with the county and “take steps to protect children and families,” he argued.

But neither Harper nor Carchio gave any indication how their proposed ordinance would give added protection to children and their families or why it wouldn’t make problems worse considering the known history of similar laws. Boardman, however, asked Chief of Police Ken Small for the statistics on sex offenses in city parks and what he thought of the DA’s ordinance.

There were 141 reported alleged sex crimes in the entire city in 2010, according to Small, and only six of those incidents were alleged to have taken place in city parks or beaches. Not all of the six were prosecuted and all of those reports were made by private persons, he said.

“The problem is, there is such a strong emotional appeal to this type of legislation that it’s hard to speak against it without looking or sounding stupid,” Small explained, adding that “this legislation paints a very broad brush in terms of what it prohibits.”

Illustrating the potential scope of the ordinance, Small pointed out that “Members of the council have been contacted by parents who had offenses decades ago [and] who are now raising children, who would be prohibited from going to the park.”

Small also has concerns about how the ordinance would apply to city libraries and to employees who work in the city’s parks.

Small suggested adopting an ordinance like the city of Tustin did that prohibits sex offenders from loitering (being without purpose) in the parks instead of strictly following the DA’s plan.

“That’s an ordinance that would accomplish very much the same thing without the broad prohibition that the Orange County ordinance does,” he said.

That idea set well with Councilmembers Boardman, Joe Shaw and Keith Bohr. The loitering version would allow parents who are former offenders but now law abiding citizens to go to the city’s parks, beaches and libraries with their kids “because they are there with a purpose,” Boardman said. “But it would prevent sex offenders from just loitering.”

But loitering laws have also been successfully challenged in court on Constitutional grounds because they didn’t specify what types of behaviors loitering entails. Specific behaviors that might be targeted in the city’s ordinance were not discussed by the council.

Harper, with Carchio tagging along, neither acknowledged the legal issues riding with their joint proposal nor considered the Chief’s concerns. He conceded only that the ordinance could be tailored to Huntington Beach because “there are some cases in which our facilities are a little bit different than those offered by the county.”

Without explaining the relevance of those supposed differences, Harper moved as originally planned to ask the city attorney to “draft an ordinance prohibiting registered sex offenders from entering city parks and beaches similar to that adopted by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.”

The motion passed 7 – 0.

Shawn Roselius also contributed to this story.

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Viewpoint: Surf City Ideologues Reject Pension Savings, Opt for Fire Service Cuts Instead

Editor’s note: At a public meeting on March 31 City Manager Fred Wilson and Mayor Joe Carchio were asked about the city’s budget, contract negotiations with public employees unions and “unfunded liabilities” for employee pensions.

“Absolutely not. I think what they did wasn’t the right way to do things. I think that what we’ve done is to try to address the budget challenge more methodically. We’ve looked at outsourcing, but it’s on a very limited [basis], but trying to do it very inclusively with everybody at the same time. There’s been no one who’s said we need to do what Costa Mesa has done.”

Fred Wilson, when asked if any city councilmembers had suggested to him that Huntington Beach should take the same course as the city of Costa Mesa, i.e., to outsource and lay off half of its public employees.

“Probably, collectively, it’s over $100 million. That’s a big number. It sounds big and it is big, but just so you know, what that number is based on is what CalPers, which is a state agency, what they tell us it is.”

Fred Wilson, on the city’s “unfunded liabilities.”

“I think we’ve done a fair amount of contracting out. If you compare what we do to what Costa Mesa does, I think you’re going to see that a large number of services that we provide are contract services. We’re moving in that direction but we’re trying to do it more responsibly, more balanced, and not take that hard-line approach to say that this is the solution. And we’ve discovered that contracting isn’t the solution to every single one of the services that we provide.”

Fred Wilson, more on outsourcing.

“Part of the answer is that the pay difference between that Authority (Orange County Fire Authority) and our fire department isn’t much different. The real question about saving is what level of service do all of us want as residents. For example, we have, I think, seven fire stations. We respond in five minutes generally 90 percent of the time…So the solution to really balance the budget is to cut back on the local services that we are providing residents and nobody wants to do that.”

Fred Wilson when asked about outsourcing fire protection services.

“I would disagree with you completely. There’s no proposal to increase any taxes. I gave you one proposal for storm drain fees that the city council has to approve. And just to let you know, at the last meeting the city council considered an increase to our trash rate. And part of that increase was a 7 cent per month increase to cover our costs and they said no. But that direction that’s coming back to us is that they’re not prepared to increase fees. The point is, it’s symbolic. And they’re not prepared to increase fees and we’re looking at employee concessions and we’re looking at reductions in our budget…”

Fred Wilson, responding to a question about alleged city tax increases.

“The city’s not becoming insolvent. I think if you look at our three-year projections for the impacts of pension costs, the numbers are, I think, $5 million, $8 million and, I think, anther $4 million. But overall our budget is over $175 million. So, if you’re putting it into percentages, you’re talking anywhere between two to three to four percent we have to cut incrementally each year. If we can do that the next two to three years, I think that we can manage our budget with those pension costs. But far more, I think employees have to pick up the larger share of the pension costs. We’re working on those. And I think between the two approaches we’re nowhere near insolvency at all.”

Fred Wilson, when asked if any study had been done to determine at what point the city would become insolvent if it didn’t take drastic action on pension reform.

“Everyone of our employees knows what the situation is. They know. And they’re working really hard with us in being great partners in trying to make this work. Because they all know that we’re in a situation. They read the newspapers. They watch TV just like you do and just like I do. So, you know, they’re not playing hard ball. They’re trying hard to cooperate and we’ve found that they’ve been really decent about it…”

Mayor Joe Carchio, speaking about the city’s public employees unions.

By Gus Ayer
Analysis and commentary
Special to the Surf City Voice 

Is Huntington Beach following the Costa Mesa train to Crazy Town, opting for confrontation instead of common sense with their employees?

On Monday, May 2, the Huntington Beach City Council, in closed session, voted against a proposal that would save the city almost $1.3 million in pension costs over the next two years and would also create a second pension tier for future public safety employees.

On May 3, Councilmember Devin Dwyer told city employees that if they hadn’t been there very long they should start looking for another job. He also said that negotiations with the Huntington Beach Fire Department had broken down, but he was quickly corrected by the Huntington Beach Fire Association (HBFA) president, Darrin Witt, who expressed an interest in continuing to talk.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Orange County right-wing politics, where ambitious young pols like Don Hansen and Matt Harper seem poised to try to get some of the publicity that Jim Righeimer has been garnering in Costa Mesa. Term limits will open up one seat each for state Assembly, state Senate and Orange County Board of Supervisors, and the players want to be seen as pension fighters and union busters to appeal to the hard core of Republican primary voters.  

As Mayor Pro Tem Don Hansen said on his Facebook page during the last city council election: 

“Let’s take our city back! If you see a police car or fire truck on the mail – that’s code for ‘union owned.’ We need taxpayer advocates not union puppets now more than ever!”

Mailers supporting Hansen’s endorsed candidates echoed the attacks on public safety employees and their pensions.

After three months of bargaining, HBFA members thought they had a deal that would save Huntington Beach $640,000 a year for the next two years. The proposed side letter to their existing agreement would also change the retirement formula for new hires in order to lower pension costs in the future. After three months of negotiations with staff, Witt felt that “We had met all of the council’s goals set out in the strategic planning session at the beginning of the year.”

Instead of taking two scheduled 2 percent raises, one of which had already been postponed for 18 months, sworn fire officers would apply that money to their pensions thus increasing their pension contribution from 2.25 percent of their income to 6.75 percent of their income.

In return, the firefighters asked for guaranteed staffing levels so that they wouldn’t have to cut the number of paramedics and engine companies that were available to respond to emergencies.  

As the council kept moving the goalposts, the paramedics and fire fighters included a budget trigger which would void the guaranteed staffing levels if revenues drop, expenses rise unexpectedly or if CalPERS increases pension rates.

Monday, May 2, in closed session, the Huntington Beach City Council voted against the savings, moving instead toward further service cuts that would increase response times.

Cutting the budget could mean service cuts that might idle one of the eight paramedic engines or one of the two ladder trucks. Budget cuts could also reduce availability of one of the cross-staffed specialized engines.

Do you cut one of the paramedic engines that respond to over 12,000 (911) medical calls a year? Or do you leave partially idle one of the two ladder trucks that have the ability to put firemen at roof level and carry additional equipment like the “Jaws of Life”?

Even without more personnel cuts to HB Fire, the annexation of Sunset Beach, coupled with fewer available units for mutual aid in surrounding cities, will put pressure on response times in Huntington Beach. The HBFD has already cut six full-time employees, including a battalion Chief, after the city’s revenues dropped substantially during the Great Recession.  

In neighboring Costa Mesa, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer pushes the party line with staunch ideologue Steve Mensinger at his side and a bumbling mayor following along. Their hasty decision to issue layoffs to half the city has made Costa Mesa a laboratory for right wing political experiments in California. The result is clear: the continued exodus of police officers, firefighters and managers is crippling the city.

In Huntington Beach, it’s Mayor Pro Tem Don Hansen calling the shots, with Republican Central Committee member Matt Harper, and former Central Committee member Devin Dwyer as comrades. All three are close allies of party boss Scott Baugh, a lobbyist and perennial meddler in Huntington Beach politics.  Joe Carchio plays the role of the bumbling mayor whose deal to accept that office a year ahead of schedule has been repeatedly questioned.

Don Hansen, his Red County buddy Chip Hanlon, and their Tea Party allies were big losers in the 2010 election. Two Team-Hansen candidates who hired Hansen’s wife’s consulting business, Red Zone Strategies, lost in the 2010 election. Measure O, a ballot initiative that would have shifted money away from public safety, also lost decisively.

At the core are Hansen, Harper, and Dwyer, who have walked away from the deal that would reduce the city’s current and future pension costs, forcing service cuts instead of compromise.

Councilmember Joe Shaw, elected in 2010 without support from the fire union, refused to comment on what happened during closed session but indicated that he strongly supported the recommendations of the city’s pension consultant, John Bartel.

“We hired an expert who recommended that we work towards a second, lower pension tier for all new hires and move toward getting employees to pick up a greater share of their pensions while holding salaries down. That is exactly what the Fire Association proposed, and it could have been a model for our negotiations with all of our employees,” he said.

The public needs to see this choice debated in public, not hidden behind closed doors. Writing at Chip Hanlon’s Red County, Don Hansen seemed to agree as he expressed his love for country music. 

One effective strategy is to adopt a set of financial policies that would be debated publicly. These policies would set the parameters for labor negotiations. For example, you could adopt a policy that says “The goal of all labor negotiations will be to increase the employee’s contribution to pension costs.”  

 In Huntington Beach, the city recently gave direction to negotiate the elimination of pending salary increases by the end of February. Taking a public vote in a meeting keenly observed by many of the union leaders sends a signal that there is a solid vote for such a solution.

By setting a more transparent policy goal prior to the commencement of labor negotiations, elected officials become more accountable for the ultimate result. Further, if your community leaders are not committed to fiscally sustainable labor policy their position will be publicly vetted as well. The economic consequences of these decisions are too great to allow them to be hidden.

Because no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.

There are three simple questions for the councilmembers who rejected the fire union’s concessions:

1)      What policy are you advancing by refusing exactly the type of pension reform that your own expert recommends?

2)      When are you going to have the public debate on whether the residents and business owners in Huntington Beach want to sacrifice response times for your ideology or not?

3)      Are you looking for sustainable budget solutions or just pandering to Republican primary voters so you can get some of the attention that Jim Righeimer has been hogging?

Photo: L – R: Don Hansen, Matt Harper, Devin Dwyer. Courtesty of Calitics

Gus Ayers is a former mayor of Fountain Valley. He writes for Calitics, where this column was originally published. Huntington Beach Councilmembers Hansen, Harper and Dwyer have been invited by the Surf City Voice to respond to Ayers.

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Mayor Carchio Appoints Self to County Boards: Salary could increase by over $15,000

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Joe Carchio’s first act as the new mayor of Surf City will be to appoint himself as the city’s representative on the governing boards of four county agencies, giving him a combined salary increase of $15,040, according to a proposal he has submitted to other members of the city council. The increased responsibility and accompanying boost in pay would be a significant although temporary career advancement for Carchio, whose term as the new mayor lasts for one year.

The draft document was leaked to the Surf City Voice by a source at City Hall.

Combined with his mayor’s annual salary of $22,615, Carchio’s potential earnings would reach $37,665 a year, not including regular city provided benefits which last year ranged from $5,380 to $13,984 per city council member, according to Executive Management Salary Benefits Final August 2010 (2).

The mayor appoints representatives to paid positions on the boards of five Orange County government agencies, including: Sanitation District, Vector Control District, Public Cable Television Authority (PCTA), Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the West O.C. Water Board (WOCWB) as well as to other non-paid county positions.

Carchio proposes to appoint Councilmember Don Hansen’s protégé, Matt Harper (elected to the council for the first time in November), to SCAG which pays $120 per meeting with a maximum of four meetings per month.

Traditionally the mayor has appointed his/herself to the Sanitation District board. That position pays $170 per meeting with up to six meetings or $1,020 per month. Last year, Mayor Cathy Green appointed herself to the Sanitation District but put other council members on the remaining county agencies that pay their members. Continue reading Mayor Carchio Appoints Self to County Boards: Salary could increase by over $15,000

New Huntington Beach Mayor, Joseph John Carchio: ‘These are big shoes to fill’ (but a good deal too)

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Councilmember Joe Carchio will drive his shiny white (and, finally, fully licensed) 2010 Toyota Venza into the Huntington Beach mayor’s official parking space for the next year, thanks to the same council member who had hoped (informed sources say) a few months ago to put him out of office.

Don Hansen was supposed to be mayor, with Carchio following next year, according to Resolution 6320, which says that council members will rotate based by seniority to serve as Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore for a one-year term.

Any council member who declines his or her turn goes to the end of the line, according to the resolution.

The 1991 city council enacted the resolution in order to prevent future councils from manipulating the selection process on behalf of special interests, according to current council member and former mayor Keith Bohr.

This is the first time since the resolution was passed that a city council hasn’t followed it.

But the resolution can be broken by a majority vote and that’s what happened during last Monday’s City Council meeting at Don Hansen’s request, with Carchio gladly accepting the honor of becoming mayor.

The vote was no surprise to readers of the Surf City Voice, which exclusively revealed last August that the seat swap between Carchio and Hansen—which will theoretically give the latter a campaign image boost if he decides to run for higher office in 2012—was as good as a done deal.

Hansen explains
Don Hansen: Economy is bad, but it will be fine in one year. Photo by Arturo Tolenttino, SCV

Carchio and Hansen both strongly denied the assertions made in the Voice story—as well as subsequent rumors that included Devin Dwyer becoming mayor—all the way up to Monday’s swearing in ceremony.

New council members Joe Shaw, Connie Boardman and Matt Harper, as well as reelected City Attorney Jennifer McGrath, were also sworn in.

As Hansen started the new city council’s first meeting with the motion to make himself Mayor Pro Tem and Carchio the mayor, his reason for it came across like the proverbial student’s claim that the dog ate his homework.

“As many of you know, I work in the financial sector and the economy…has really taken a toll on my business,” he explained. “And I had always looked forward to serving as mayor when I could do the best job that I possibly can.”

Unfortunately for Hansen and citizens both, “after deep reflection” about what would be best—not just for him and his family, “it did not seem to me that this would be the time where I could do the best for the citizens of Huntington Beach and the best job that I could possibly do.”

Considering that the mayor of Huntington Beach is a figurehead, with few additional duties attached to the role, one wonders how Hansen can give sufficient devotion to his current—less glamorous—but equally demanding role as a city councilman during the same economic hard times that, regrettably, now prevent him from serving as mayor.

Fortunately for Hansen and Surf City’s “citizens,” however, his admirable sacrifice can end in exactly one year. That’s because—almost paradoxically—even though the economy is bad now it is also getting a lot better now, according to Hansen.

“We are seeing the resurgence of my business,” he continued, “and I don’t want to forfeit in any way my ability to serve [as mayor] and do like to serve [as mayor] in 2012.”

Thank you, President Obama.

The new city council approved Hansen’s plan unanimously, 7-0. He will be Mayor Pro Tem now and Mayor in 2012, just in time for the next election campaign season, if he so chooses.

But as Carchio read an unusually coherent acceptance speech that he, wishfully perhaps, claimed to have “hasently” (sic) written, there seemed little doubt that a deal had been signed, sealed and delivered.

“When you get elected to the city council,” he said in deep reflection, “you realize that one day it would be your turn to be mayor.”

Mayor Joseph John Carchio is in good company, however, at least some of the time. “It’s so humbling to follow in the footsteps of some of the great mayors in the past,” he said, noting some of the ones who left well honored paths: Ralph Bauer, Dave Sullivan, Shirley Detloff, and Debbie Cook, to name a few.

“These are big shoes to fill,” he said in conclusion, promising that, “I will continue to carry the great traditions of the city.”

Cover photo: Arturo Tolenttino, SCV.

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Carchio’s Plateless Venzas/T-shirt Delivery Service – Will Devin Dwyer be Mayor?

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Huntington Beach City Council member Joe Carchio has driven a brand new Toyota Venza for the past year without license plates. The car shows dealership plates that advertise Huntington Beach Toyota, where Carchio “has bought lots of cars for his family,” according to a salesperson there.

Carchio's car
Carchio's Venza, parked at City Hall without license plates. Photo: SCV

A car windshield sticker that is supposed to show ownership information is completely blank.

Planning commissioner Blair Farley, Councilmember Jill Hardy, and another City Hall official who asked not to be named, told the Voice that they have seen Carchio’s unlicensed car parked in its official space at City Hall various times during the past year. The Voice photographed Carchio’s unlicensed car there on two recent occasions.

The Voice left a message for Carchio at City Hall asking him to call about his car, but he didn’t respond.

The sales agent said that state budget cuts have created waits of 6 -8 months before the DMV delivers plates and that the dealer is not responsible for customers who don’t comply with the law after buying or leasing a car.

But Toyota HB’s General Manager, Bob Miller, told the Voice that Carchio has leased two different white Venzas from from his car lot in the past year and that it takes 8 -12 weeks for plates to arrive in the mail.

Agents for two major insurance carriers, however, say that license plates usually arrive within 4 – 6 weeks; if not, the dealer probably waited too long to send in the paper work to the DMV, one agent said.

Toyota of HB generously allows the city to use a fleet of 17 lifeguard vehicles in exchange for allowing it to advertise on those vehicles, the Voice of OC (no relation to the SCV) reported last summer.

Was a similar deal extended to Carchio? A 2009 Venza runs at about $28,000. A lease would probably be $500 – 600 a month. No such deal exists, Miller told the Voice, laughing politely.

City officials must report gifts and cannot take over $420 in gifts from any one source within a year. Violators can receive a $5,000 fine from the State.

Maybe Carchio just wants to plow through red lights and toll roads without being caught on camera.

Or maybe he just made on “honest mistake,” like he claimed to have done before the Voice exposed his six-month-long attempt to avoid returning $6,600 in health insurance payments by the City for his ineligible “wife.”

That would be the same wife who (as the Voice was first to report) divorced Carchio several years ago, when he had over $50,000 in tax liens filed against him by the IRS, and then collected the money from the sale of a downtown restaurant—that Carchio claims he owned but that she claimed (at that time) he was trying to steal from her—as part of a divorce settlement that he did not lift a finger to contest.

Delivering T-Shirts
In 2001, according to County records, Carchio was doing business as Carhio’s Imprinted Sportswear on Warner Avenue in Huntington Beach. That business folded and Carchio went into the restaurant business.

His restaurant business was gone as of 2008. As of 2009, according to his latest 700 form, Carchio was unemployed, and according to a knowledgeable City Hall source Carchio was still unemployed as of last August.

But Carchio’s former appointee to the Investment Advisory Board, Angela Rainsberger, wonders if he hasn’t gone back into the T-shirt business.

While talking to Carchio a year ago about the problems with downtown bars and revisions to the Downtown Specific Plan (DTSP) that Carchio had voted for a month earlier, they were joined by two of Mike Ali’s sons. Ali owns Zack’s Pier Plaza, a shop that rents surf boards and sells T-shirts, located on the beach next to the pier.

Joe Carchio. Jill Hardy in the background. Photo: Arturo Tolenttino for the SCV

About mid-way into the conversation, Rainsberger wrote in an e-mail to a friend a few weeks later, “Joe gave his car keys to the boys and asked them to unload the boxes of tee (sic) shirts from his car for their dad. They pulled a few t-shirts out of the boxes and held them up for inspection. Joe was, and I guess is, in the tee (sic) shirt printing business…It didn’t dawn on me until today that Joe is doing business downtown because he is printing t-shirts for Zacks. Shouldn’t this require he recuses himself from the vote on the DTSP? The more tourist (sic) come to HB, the more t-shirts are sold, the more money Joe makes.”

Mike Ali did not respond to requests by the Voice for comment.

Carchio did not recuse himself from consideration of the DTSP the first time and voted for the revised plan. In January, when the required second reading and vote occurred, he did recuse himself, but not because of his alleged T-shirt business.

“In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in negotiations with a restaurant to try to fill the vacancy that’s been left by Luggatti’s. So that might, according to the City Attorney, that might constitute a conflict of interest so I will be refraining from voting on this item,” Carchio told the City Council.

The restaurant ended up under the ownership of another party.

But if Carchio was doing business downtown, why didn’t he report it on his 700 form and why didn’t he recuse himself for that reason on both DTSP votes?

This time the Voice managed to speak to Carchio by phone. Unfortunately, however, he was in the middle of an Orange County Vector Control meeting and said he couldn’t talk just then. Those meetings must be boring, though, because a glance online at the same time revealed that he was also busy adding friends to his Facebook account.

Carchio did not call back after the meeting.

Who Will be the Honorable Mayor?
Interesting rumors abound about who will be crowned as the next mayor of Huntington Beach at the Dec. 6 meeting of the City Council.

As the Voice first reported last August, it looked like Huntington Beach City Council members Joe Carchio and Don Hansen were openly and secretly negotiating a deal so that Carchio would become the new mayor, out of turn, instead of Hansen.

The city council can vote for any one of its members to be mayor, but traditionally its members have gone in order based on their previous time served. It would normally be Hansen’s turn to be mayor starting in December with Carchio following him the next year. But if the two of them switched places, Hansen, who is termed out of office in 2012, would be well poised to run for higher office as mayor instead of a mere city councilman.

Since August, however, a series of revelations, most of them first reported by the Voice, have made it less likely that a council majority will take a chance of embarrassing the city by electing Carchio mayor this year-or any year.

But well-placed City Hall sources have spread the following titillating rumors about who will be the next Surf City mayor:

  • That Hansen knew about Carchio’s tax problems, fake marriage, insurance scam, etc., before they were revealed in the Voice, and threatened that he would reveal that information if Carchio did not agree to swap their mayoral terms;
  • Carchio doesn’t want to be mayor, but Hansen offered that if he agreed to switch places for mayor he (Carchio) would be allowed to appoint himself as the council’s liaison to the Orange County Sanitation District, which pays $170 per meeting;
  • That Councilmember Devin Dwyer will be the next mayor.

Hansen told the Voice that “none of these [rumors] are even close to true,” and added that we “forgot the rumor that I was going to move to City Treasurer. That was one of my favorites to date.”

But Dwyer indicated that there might be some truth to the rumor that he would become the next mayor:

“I don’t know. I was asked by a businessman in the downtown area if I would be willing. That there was talk of shuffling the order. I said I would consider it.”

Tune in on Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.

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