The following is a Letter to the Editor appearing in the November 14, 2013 issue of the Daily Breeze submitted by Nelle Overstreet, a Manhattan Beach resident in response to the DB October 31 article, “City facilities, parking structures need millions in repairs.”

Since we do live by the ocean, it is expected that Manhattan Beach structures will deteriorate over a shorter time than those inland.  Those conditions should have been taken into consideration before they reached their current state of disrepair.

The consultants reported 23 out of 43 facilities were in very poor, poor or fair condition.  The penultimate was to read that our 8-year-old police/fire department building was in need of $1.8 million in repairs over the next 10 years due to:  “The building was not built up to code; it was not inspected properly…”  This should be unacceptable to the citizens of Manhattan Beach who depend upon our City Hall denizens to see to our city’s interests.  Who OK’d this mess?  Who allowed it to be approved along the way?  The blame should not just be put on the contractor, but also on those in City Hall responsible for this fiasco.  Someone needs to step up to the plate and accept responsibility.  Citizens are owed an explanation from past and present City Councils.

Nelle Overstreet, Manhattan Beach

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The Manhattan Beach City Council has taken action to reaffirm its focus on policymaking while ensuring it holds the city manager and staff accountable for policy implementation. Specifically, recommendations by Councilmember Tony D’Errico and Councilmember Wayne Powell, that garnered overall support by the Council, provide a needed clear differentiation between governance and management responsibilities.

Under this differentiation, the City Council’s primary responsibility is to the residents representing the ownership of Manhattan Beach as expressed through the community’s stakeholders. As a result, governance is a downward extension of ownership rather than an upward extension by the city’s administrators. In straightforward terms, the tail is no longer wagging the dog.

We, the residents, benefit because the City Council governs with an emphasis on outward vision rather than internal preoccupation; encouragement of diversity of viewpoints; strategic leadership rather than administrative detail; assurance of management accountability; and, proactivity rather than reactivity.

Further, these policy governance parameters and benefits will allow the Manhattan Beach City Council to empower the city manager and staff, thereby allowing them greater opportunities to demonstrate their competencies, creativity, and commitment toward achievement of policy-defined results.

Therefore, residents should demonstrate continued encouragement and support of these policy governance efforts to ensure city council policymaking represents the overall interests of our community, including the effective and efficient use of the resources we entrust to our elected officials.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach

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November 15, 2013

City Council of Manhattan Beach Manhattan Beach City Hall 1400 Highland Avenue Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Greetings!

Is the departure of City Manager Carmany an absurdity of illogical actions by the Manhattan Beach City Council as epitomized in the novel, “Catch 22?” The senselessness begins by the City Council hiring Carmany as city manager in December 2010 under a contract that renews automatically yearly unless non-renewal is noticed12 months in advance; or, if the Council dismisses Carmany for cause.

During the next three years, the City Council, in closed session, conducts 13 performance reviews of City Manager Carmany but never finalizes his appraisal or establishes cause for dismissal that would result in no severance pay and benefits. In addition, the City Council contracts a consultant for $13,500 to advise it on finalizing Carmany’s appraisal but to no avail.

Last week, the City Council dismissed Carmany without cause. Under the contract, his severance includes a year’s salary of well-over $200,000 plus benefits plus payouts of accrued vacation and sick leave, and a portion of increased equity in his home financed in part by city residents.

It now appears that former City Manager Dolan, fired due to alleged and then admitted sexual misconduct, and now former City Manager Carmany, fired under pleasantry euphemisms shadowing his incompetence, are competing for who walks away with the highest severance jackpot of over $250,000 of our tax dollars.

We deserve a better explanation from Councilmembers Lesser, Howorth, and Powell (at the helm during most of Carmany’s tenure) than “the Council has decided to move in a new direction,” hopefully not further “Catch-22” absurdities.

Sincerely,

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D.

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Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 6 years ago

“Manhattan Beach has been nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the South Bay’ for its beauty and desirability.” (Wikipedia) Further, we deservedly have pride in our volunteer and philanthropic organizations whose generosity and contributions illustrate our characteristics as an ideal community defined by Stephen Covey (“7 Habits of Highly Effective People”): principled-centered goodness; being of one heart with a common vision and direction; and, one mind with an approach to problem solving that is synergistic, not adversarial.

However, the flawed iridescence of our “Pearl” is inadequate resident participation in our city’s governance – a flaw not sufficiently addressed by city council candidates. In the previous election, 21.41 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Perhaps only 50-100 residents actively attend city council meetings and organize to shape our city’s mission; challenge councilmembers when their policy decisions are imperfect; or, praise their gems.

The main culprit for the flaw are 15 past years of city councils directed by a former city manager and city attorney to minimize engagement of residents in public policymaking – allowing only comments at council meetings to pacify the “gadflies,” the civic activists often denigrated by councilmembers.

To magnify the iridescence of our “Pearl” requires “public engagement” by councilmembers, i.e. delegating authority to residents through education, outreach, dialogue, and empowerment in the public policymaking arenas such as strategic planning, labor relations, budgeting, community development, and in the often stated but neglected goal of “maintaining our small beach-town character.” Then our “Pearl” will attain the metaphor of it being something truly rare and admirable.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach

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Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 6 years ago

Re: “MB needs to better manage its meetings” (Daily Breeze, Editorial, July 11, 2013)

Dear Editor:

Strengthening the public policymaking process is the key to improved Manhattan Beach City Council meetings. Presently, the process does not meet the fundamental criteria of effective policy analysis, problem solving, and decision making including a clear understanding of the issues; construction of and criteria for selection among alternatives; and, establishing measurable outcomes to ensure accountability.

The council compounds these process failures by not demanding comprehensive staff reports and not establishing requirements to ensure they receive agendas and reports in a timely manner to allow for thoughtful comprehension. Further, this lack of timeliness generates anger and confrontation in meetings by residents caught by surprise and wanting their voices heard on critical issues.

As noted in your editorial, “An effective council is one that gathers input and deliberates efficiently and effectively.” Instead, shamefully, our second-class council meetings generate more rancor than rationality; more heat than light; and, more delays than results.

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Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 6 years ago

October 11, 2013

Manhattan Beach City Council:

I am extremely displeased that the second “Audience Participation” is now limited to Non-Agenda Items. At the August meeting on Meeting Management, you agreed it would allow comments on all items, especially those discussed during the meeting, thereby allowing public comment on agreement or disagreement with decisions made at the meeting. It is a further example, along with time limits on speech and grouping of agenda items, of how the past and present MBCC, under the guise of improving meeting management, has decreased open government, transparency, civic participation, and community engagement in Manhattan Beach, including blaming the public rather than your own governance incompetency. This reversal represents pure cowardice and hypocrisy by the Manhattan Beach City Council.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. (310) 546-2345 ed@eccphd.com

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The corruption in Bell is “American as apple pie.” It is typical in low socio-economic communities in Southeast Los Angeles County and in cities as Manhattan Beach with wealthy, highly educated populations.

The commonality is lack of citizen oversight. As emphasized in a recent Daily Breeze editorial (“Bell corruption closer than we want to know”), “You’ll never know unless you pay attention to what your electeds are up to.” (March 26)

Why the lack of “attention”? In Manhattan Beach, as across the nation, elected officials, by limiting public engagement, fail to see their role as servants not masters thereby generating public apathy and disengagement.

For example, Manhattan Beach residents can only sadly claim, “We’re no worse than Los Angeles,” because, recently, in both cities, only 21 percent of registered voters turned out on Election Day. Indeed, the turnout in our seven municipal elections during 2001-2013 has been 19.1, 21.5, 29.5, 22.5, 24.03, 21.41, and 21.84 percent. Voter apathy is a clear indicator that prior Manhattan Beach City Councils have consistently discouraged public engagement thereby failing to gain the attention and commitment of our residents to care about public policymaking. The current Manhattan Beach City Council needs to acknowledge these past failures and demonstrate by action, not only words, that it will “walk the talk” to gain that attention, commitment, and caring. Further, “We the People” (U.S. Constitution) must insist that in delegating authority to our elected officials, do not give up our right to decide what is good for the people.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach Resident

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It has been over 100 days since a Daily Breeze editorial chided the Manhattan Beach City Council on problems that still remain – late meetings; postponing of agenda items; lack of transparency; and the interminable length of remarks by councilmembers.

The source of these problems also remains, i.e. rather than dual responsibility, the failure of the Council to hold itself accountable for policymaking, while holding the city manager and staff accountable for implementation.

Instead, under the guise of meeting management, the Council recently passed measures further gagging residents and silencing criticism, including reneging on allowing public comment on policy decisions made at meetings rather than only non-agenda items; and, failure to strengthen open meeting and public information access provisions as allowable under law.

As the Daily Breeze stated, “Manhattan Beach is a first-class city. It deserves first-class meeting management,” not practices that “actually work against open government by dissuading regular citizens from attending.”

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach Resident

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Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 6 years ago

Manhattan Beach >> This city needs to spend $12 million over the next 10 years to bring its aging facilities and parking structures up to par.

Consultants hired to evaluate the condition of 43 city-owned buildings and three parking structures say only 20 of the buildings are in “good” condition. The other 23 buildings are in “very poor,” “poor” or “fair” condition, requiring $10.5 million in maintenance and improvements.

“With the close proximity to the ocean and corrosive nature of the salt air, the life cycles of buildings within the city of Manhattan Beach are substantially reduced,” said consultant Dean Leonard of Faithful+Gould. “(The need for) exterior painting is a common theme with the buildings. It deteriorates really quickly in this environment.”

Leonard identified $3.3 million of “urgent” deferred maintenance at the buildings, with City Hall, the pier, Roundhouse Aquarium and police/fire building in the most need of repair.

On top of the millions identified by the consultants for facility improvements, the city is expected to spend $5.6 million on capital improvement projects in 2013-14 and $20.8 million in 2014-15. Capital improvement projects are infrastructure needs that typically exceed $10,000, said Public Works Director Tony Olmos.

The city has $21.3 million in unfunded projects, including asphalt paving, bike lanes, concrete street repairs and storm-water filtration systems, over the next five years, Olmos said.

The facility assessment consultants said City Hall will require $1.4 million over the next 10 years to repair structural damage, replace windows, repaint exterior and interior walls, renovate the restrooms, and replace the heating and ventilation and interior lighting systems, among other upgrades.

The pier and Roundhouse need $1.6 million in improvements, including repainting, restroom renovation, piping work, welding repairs, piling repairs and pier railing repainting.

Although the public safety building, which houses the Police and Fire Departments, was built in 2005, it will require $1.8 million in repairs over the next 10 years, Leonard said. The stucco finishes are already deteriorating, and the overhead doors, carpeting, water heater, rooftop exhaust fans and control systems need to be replaced.

The city’s three parking structures are in “fair” condition and require $2.1 million to be brought up to standard, according to Pawan Gupta from Walker Restoration Consultants.

Lot 2, located at Highland Avenue and 12th Street, has cracked and deteriorated concrete walls, floors and ceilings; steel reinforcement strands exposed; and vehicular barriers that do meet current code for spacing and load resistance.

“Codes have changed quite a bit since the structures were built (in the 1970s),” Gupta said. “They’ve become a lot more stringent.”

The concrete repair, waterproofing, drainage and architectural fixes require $457,000 over the next 10 years.

Lot 3, located at 12th and Morningside, needs $1.3 million over 10 years to fix spalls in the ceilings and floors, steel corrosion, deteriorating concrete and vehicle barriers that are not up to code, while Lot 4, located at Highland and Rosecrans avenues, needs $368,000 for similar repairs.

Olmos said staff will recommend that the city spend $2 million in 2014 to address the immediate “life safety” improvements to the facilities, and $417,000 in 2014 for the “life safety” repairs in the parking structures. The city would need to spend $2 million per year over the next five years to address all of the deficiencies, he said.

The results of the facility condition assessment and the city’s capital improvement plan will be presented to City Council at its Dec. 10 meeting. The CIP is scheduled to go before the City Council for adoption on Feb. 18.

The assessment report for each city building and parking structure, the CIP plan and the consultants’ presentations are available on the city’s website, www.citymb.info.

Carley Dryden, Reporter, Daily Breeze

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Ph D Edward C Caprielian, Management Consultant/University Professor over 6 years ago

Manhattan Beach woman, children held captive in home by burglar

A woman awoke in her Manhattan Beach home Thursday night to find a burglar in her bedroom, where she was sleeping with her two children, according to police.

The victim told police that a man wearing a ski mask entered her home in the 400 block of Altura Way through a rear sliding glass door. He entered the bedroom and asked her the whereabouts of her husband, money, jewelry and cell phone. He then told her to stay in the bedroom while he searched the house for valuables. She called the Manhattan Beach Police Department when she heard him exit through the front door.

No weapons were used, and no one was injured, according to police. Officers were unable to locate the suspect, who is described as 6-foot-2 with a thin build. At the time he was wearing a ski mask and knit gloves.

Anyone with information including suspicious persons or vehicles seen in the area Thursday evening should contact MBPD Det. Shawn Thompson at 310-802-5124 or Det. Sgt. Paul Ford at 310-802-5124.

Esther King Easy Reader

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