Through outright political gamesmanship, Costa Mesa’s Katrina Foley was removed as mayor a year before she planned to run for the seat outright in a citywide election. Sandy Genis, thought to be the swing vote on an anti-Jim Righeimer majority, has swung back and is now Mayor of Costa Mesa.
From Costa Mesa’s Geoff West on the development:
After an attempt at political trickery, Katrina Foley was ousted as the Mayor of Costa Mesa at 1:12 a.m.Mark your calendar… Wednesday, November 8, 2017 will be remembered as one of the darkest days in our city. No, no person died, but decorum, propriety, rules of procedure, civility and maybe legality all were backed against a wall before a firing squad of three individuals – Jim Righeimer, Allan Mansoor and Sandra Genis – and blasted to smithereens.
At the City Council meeting that began on November 7th Righeimer tried to quick-pitch the process and move the item – the final one on the agenda – to the first position, ahead of the Consent Calendar, both the Public Hearings and two other New Business items on the agenda. That sneaky move – clearly intended to defuse discussion of the issue by opponents – ended up going nowhere. Genis made a substitute motion to move it to the first position in New Business. Several speakers spoke negatively about moving it at all. In the end, after Foley called for a break to review a technical issue – and probably to shut Righeimer’s yap – Genis withdrew her motion and the item remained at the end of the agenda.
John Stephens made an impassioned presentation, postulating that Righeimer’s move was illegal. It turns out that Righeimer wrote the pathetic staff report with virtually no vetting by the City Attorney, Tom Duarte, who looked very feeble in his defense of that lack of action.
After 49 people spoke to the issue – 94% of which spoke in favor of Foley – at 1:12 a.m. on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, Righeimer, Mansoor and Genis voted to remove her from office! Unbelievable! And then Righeimer nominated Genis for mayor – Mansoor seconded – and she was elected. Then Mansoor was elected Mayor Pro Tem… both of those were on 3-2 votes, with Foley and John Stephens voting NO. And then, adding insult to injury, Righeimer asked the City Manager and City Attorney to investigate the behavior of “the mayor” – we presume he meant Foley – and report back in Closed Session.
What happened tonight is unprecedented! The policy of the term of the mayor was summarily dispatched by Righeimer in what was a purely political move. At least one person in addition to Stephens warned of legal action. This power grab was clearly intended to 1) cripple Foley’s run for directly-elected mayor next year, 2) open the door for Mansoor to run from an elevated position on the council for mayor next year and, 3) to remove a strong obstacle to Righeimer’s pro-development actions. Yeah, it’s politics, but it’s not the smiling face of politics – it’s more like the
putrid, unwiped other end of the political alimentary canal.
The biggest question mark of the evening was Genis’ vote, and it’s not the first time she’s cast a questionable vote. Some will recall her vote on the Commission appointments earlier this year. It’s very likely she sealed her political fate this morning. Many of the Foley supporters have also been Genis supporters, and active ones, at that. Genis has three years left on her tour before being termed out. If she has, in fact, changed camps for the remainder of her time on the dais you can expect more pro-developer action in the city. The voters will not forget this evening/morning.
From the LA Times:
Council members split along the same lines in naming Councilman Allan Mansoor to replace Genis as mayor pro tem.
That Mansoor and his ally, Councilman Jim Righeimer, would support supplanting Foley came as little surprise. They have clashed regularly with her on the dais.
Shouts of “Boo!” and “Traitor!” rang out from Foley’s supporters as Genis voted to remove her as mayor.
For about an hour and a half before that, a steady stream of residents offered almost universal praise for Foley, characterizing her as a strong and effective leader who has always represented Costa Mesa well.
Some supporters had signs reading “We support Mayor Foley” and “Remember … we vote in 2018 & 2020.”
“I can’t even express my disappointment,” Foley said after the vote. “My family walked precincts for Mayor Pro Tem Genis, my children walked neighborhood by neighborhood … I walked. I invested my personal funds to support her … I wanted us to work together as a team and I have done everything in my power to outreach to her to try to make sure I’m addressing her concerns. There really was nothing else I could do.”
Stephens, who also campaigned with Genis, said he felt “betrayed” by her actions and believes the move violates the city’s municipal code, which he said specifies that mayors serve two-year terms. The council appointed Foley as mayor last December. She has been on the council since 2014 and also was elected to the panel in 2004 and 2008.
While the code spells out that the mayor will serve a two-year term starting in 2018 — when local voters for the first time will be able to cast ballots specifically for that position — City Attorney Tom Duarte said his initial opinion is that the council could act in the interim to replace an appointed mayor.
Stephens, a business litigation attorney, responded: “I disagree with that. That’s wrong.”
In an interview after the meeting, Genis said the move to replace Foley “was not, by any means, an easy decision” and has “been building for a while.”
“She excels at certain things and is very bright, does her homework, so I can’t fault her on any of that,” Genis said. “So I think that she still has a tremendous amount to offer.”
The amount of backstabbing in local politics is creating stark divisions. The impact will be revealed in the next election cycle.