Last night, the school district held a meeting at Adams Elementary School to update residents on the progress of the fence that will soon be constructed around the perimeter of the taxpayer-owned property.
When all was said and done, this message could have been delivered in an e-mail and saved us all a lot of trouble.
Summary: The district doesn’t care about the community’s preferences (and IMO never did – that design committee was for show) and will continue to do what they want regardless of how vocal we get.
And after about 90 minutes, it did get vocal. So what did Jim Lamond, Director Facilities Development Planning Design do? Why, he did what any insensitive bureaucrat would have done: He ended the meeting. Yes, instead of realizing that people were upset and needed to be heard, he decided to take his ball and go home.
But instead of protesting, most of the residents left.
Here’s what my mom would have done had she been there and heard Lamond end the meeting: She would have stood up and said, loudly, “This meeting is not over. We pay for you and for everything on this campus and we’re not done talking. We’ll let you know when the meeting is over.”
But the meeting was over because from the start, the district people had no intention of listening to us, they just wanted to pat us on the head and let us know how it was going to be. And we let them.
One question that came to mind is this: Who gave the Director Facilities Development Planning Design the authority to end the meeting that was started by Susan Astarita? Lamond, whose 2013 salary and compensation totaled $176,866.46, had no authority to do so. As the highest ranking district rep there, Astarita, whose 2013 compensation totaled $246,572.40, should have done that. But my guess is that she was happy to see it end and had no intention of listening to angry Costa Mesa voters. (The district likes one-on-ones – makes it easier to control the meeting and the message, plus those meetings are rarely recorded.)
There’s an emphasis on “Costa Mesa.” If you believe for a moment that Lamond and Astarita would have attempted to pull the same stunt before an angry Newport Beach crowd, please contact me as I have a beautiful bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
I noticed the Newport favoritism (again) at last week’s school board meeting when a resident of Eastbluff spoke to the Trustees about the planned sports facility and the potential impact on the community. Shortly after she finished, Trustee Snell went out of her way to strongly reassure the speaker that the board has every intention of working with residents to… yada, yada, yada. Meanwhile, the other board members were bobbling their heads in agreement.
So why didn’t Costa Mesa residents get the same lovin’ last night? Why didn’t Astarita or Lamond fall over themselves telling residents how much they cared? Because the residents live in Costa Mesa and Astarita and Lamond really don’t care. If they cared, they would have stayed until the last question was answered.
It wasn’t just last night – I’ve been witnessing and reporting the bias for over a decade.
If there was any irony to last night’s meeting, it was that the district reps stopped the meeting right at the point at which they should have started it, that is, they should have started the meeting by listening.
The residents wanted to be heard, that’s all. But it’s hard to listen to residents when you really don’t care what they have to say.
P.S. I did get one chuckle last night. During his opening remarks, Lamond said the big, ugly, steel fence, “Enhances the look of the property.” My mom would have gotten a kick out of that.