Saturday, May 05, 2007

Riggy Jumps The Border To Spread The Wealth


Well, this is going to be fun. I was all set to disagree with Jim Righeimer, carpetbagging Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner, as he launched his first effort as a front-page columnist for the Daily Pilot this morning. Then I read his column and darn if I don't agree with him!

Old Riggy is a pal of Dana Rohrabacher, who helped Allan Mansoor and Wendy Leece get elected in November. He moved to Costa Mesa the middle of last year, then gets appointed to the Planning Commission as Mansoor brushed aside a long time supporter like he was swatting a gnat. Now Riggy steps across the border to take his first swing as a "journalist" and hits the good folks in Newport Beach squarely where it hurts - in the middle of the raw debate about where to build their new City Hall. It's just a good thing that Barry Saywitz isn't the developer on the project because Righeimer would have gotten really nasty!

I'm trying to figure out how this issue is a "conservative issue" - the charter of Righeimer's columns as announced by the editors of the Daily Pilot. I guess you could call it a lesson in fiscal conservatism.

Actually, this an interesting turn of events. It seems that a Newport Beach Planning Commissioner, one Mr. Hawkins, recently attempted to tell Costa Mesans how to manage their traffic. I suppose you could consider Riggy's column a little pay back - a term with which he should be familiar.

In his column Righeimer suggests that the site above the Main Library, bordered by Mac Arthur, Avocado and San Miguel, is the best location for the new City Hall. He and I actually agree on this issue. For a couple years I've commented on the fact that the current location on Newport Boulevard on the peninsula is not the best location for a new City Hall. It's difficult to reach, especially in the summer, it sits astride the Newport-Inglewood earthquake fault and is in a tsunami zone. The last number I saw for the construction of a replacement facility at that location was nearly $100 million, and that didn't include the inconvenience of moving the entire city staff twice in the process.

The site above the library, as I've said many times, is the perfect location for a new City Hall. It's near the geographical center of the city, located adjacent to Fashion Island and is close to good public transportation (for those days when the folks in Newport Beach want to go to City Hall, but the Bentley is having the oil changed.) The site in question is slightly over 12 acres and the new City Hall Bill Ficker designed would take around three of those. The remaining nine acres could easily be used as the passive park so many of the city hall opponents demand. The facility would provide parking space that could be shared with the library - a much-needed improvement. If I recall some of the numbers being floated when Ficker's plan was announced, it would cost somewhere between $25 and $30 million. That's a significant cost savings, no matter how you slice it. Plus, the old site on the peninsula is prime development material and would likely bring a pretty penny - and offset a big chunk of the cost of the new facility.

It's hard to understand how so many of the good folks in Newport Beach fail to agree that this site is the best one for all residents. Sure, a few folks who live above that spot may have their view affected - but not much. An architect with Ficker's skill can address some of those concerns in a final plan. Some of the opponents of the Newport Center site say their city needs more open space. Puh-leeze! How many miles of beach do they have? What about the harbor and back bay? And, if that new "park" at the corner of PCH and Jamboree is an example of what they want put in the Newport Center site I hope they reconsider. It's an eyesore that requires most who would use it to cross at least 8 busy traffic lanes to reach it.

In his column Riggy nibbled around the edges of what may just be the actual problem here. It has to do with an imbalance of fiscal and intellectual resources - more money than brains. I don't have a vested interest in this, but friends and relatives who live in Newport Beach certainly do. I hope their city leaders recognize this opportunity do what is best for all residents. If not, it looks like at least a couple Costa Mesa residents - one who has lived here for more than three decades and another who has yet to hit a year - will try to help them out.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Here Comes Riggy!


Well, only one more day until Cinci de Mayo, which will bring with it this year the inaugural front page column in the Daily Pilot by Planning Commissioner and less-than-one-year-Costa-Mesa-resident James (Riggy) Righeimer. I'm excited!

Yes sir, I'm really excited to read Righeimer's first column. I've chided him in the past for his bullying of a recent applicant before the Planning Commission, and I've called him a carpetbagger - correctly so - but I've never said he's not a smart guy. I actually have high hopes for his column tomorrow.

Righeimer has demonstrated that he will do his homework on issues, so don't be surprised if his first column is full of well-researched facts and information. In the announcement of his column the editors said he's going to provide us with comments on conservative issues. It will be interesting to see which "conservative issues" he feels need to be addressed by the readers of the Daily Pilot. Since Newport Beach and Costa Mesa are bastions of conservatism, I think it might be a little like preaching to the choir. We'll see.

Meanwhile, over at the Mansoor-majority house organ, the CM Press, the spinmeister continues to yap and crow about annexation. In his most recent post today he observes that, in the battle for lands abutting both Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, that land to the East should be given to Newport and that on the West - including the much-coveted Banning Ranch - simply be given to Costa Mesa. Oh, were it all that easy!

In her article on this subject Daily Pilot reporter par excellence, Alicia Robinson, indicated that Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem was not available for comment. Trust me, this is a good thing. Every time Bever opens his mouth on annexation issues he offends our neighbors in Newport Beach. And now rookie Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach has stuck his nose into the annexation process and is apparently attempting to facilitate an agreement. Moorlach has some impressive credentials so we will now see if they include the proverbial "Wisdom of Job" - that's what it's going to take to get an accord on annexation between Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day And Where We Play

The May Day City Council meeting this evening was pretty darn routine. Those items on the agenda that may have promised some conflict were either continued or went smoothly.

However, during the debate of the distribution of the Community Development Block Grant funds to social service agencies - which the council voted unanimously to approve as recommended by the 3R Committee and the city staff - there was one predictable, unpleasant event. The Grinch showed up in the tired, old black shirt of Your Neighbor, The-Brain-Who-Ate-Costa-Mesa, and pushed the council to not fund any of the charities that "don't resemble Costa Mesa". To their credit, after this clown prattled on and on, they simply ignored his rhetoric. I found myself smiling!

You may recall that he "resigned" from the 3R Committee under fire last year. His presence was alluded to by one of the applicants for funds as he spoke about the experience last year. The speaker could have been more specific, but those of us paying attention knew exactly who he meant.

Next stop for this rabble rouser will undoubtedly be the public meeting to be held tomorrow, Wednesday, at the Mulitpurpose Room at Paularino School at 7:00 p.m. This is a result of Your Neighbor's constant drumbeat about the dangerous, rogue soccer players at "his" Paularino Park. Of course, we all know which demographic group he means - Latino men, trying to burn off some energy. The Paularino Park issue is simply a red herring - a smoke screen being used to create more discomfort among the Latinos in our city.

On the positive side about this guy, one of the web sites on which he's published his racist rants, National Vanguard, has gone belly-up! Yep, it's gone,finito . Seems the main man in charge has had recent personal problems of a legal nature so his tent was just folded up. Now Your Neighbor will just have to find another income source. BooHoo!

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One of the items discussed tonight was the proposed "Neighbors to Neighbors" clean up of the Mission/Mendoza "slum". With that in mind, here's a quote from The Book Of Useless Information for you to contemplate: In Calcutta 79% of the population lives in one-room houses.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Cha, Cha, Changin'


Good Grief! I take a little relaxing weekend out of town and return to find my world turned upside down!

First, on Thursday the Daily Pilot editors published a submission of mine
, including a two-year-old file photo, that capsulized my recent rant about Jim Righeimer's shredding of developer Barry Saywitz last week. (here) Of course, all the usual suspects who post anonymous comments in the Pilot online have taken their shots at me. I love it.

Then, on Friday, Daily Pilot Publisher Tom Johnson announced wide-reaching changes at our local newspaper of record. This was followed up with the introduction of the "new" Daily Pilot in a piece on Sunday which outlined some of the changes in detail.

Among these changes is the fact that old pal and muse, Byron de Arakal, has returned to the fold as a regular columnist for the Daily Pilot and, as a result, has placed his blog, Itchingpost.com, into a self-induced coma! No one knows whether it will ever return. This is a mixed blessing. It's great that Byron will be rotating with the ever-feisty Barbara Venezia, writing a Costa Mesa-centric column every other week. His perception and wit have been sorely missed on those pages. Even though Itchingpost.com has racked up over 19,000 hits since the counter was installed, Byron's views deserves a much larger audience. He will get that kind of audience the first time his words hit print in a couple weeks. The community will benefit from his contributions because no local writers have demonstrated his skill at dissecting an issue and reaching straight to the heart of the matter. His ability to slice and dice the clowns among us is unparalleled. I can hardly wait.

The changes Johnson announced are much more than a little botox injection - there is some major nipping and tucking going on. Another of those changes is the announcement that carpetbagger Jim Righeimer, our guy Riggy, will have his very own column every Saturday - purportedly to present his view of "conservative issues". I wonder what those might be? The War? Abortion? Illegal Immigration? Why do I care what a rookie planning commissioner thinks about those issues? Maybe because he's being groomed by the Orange County Republican hierarchy for bigger and better things?

Righeimer, who has lived in Costa Mesa only since last July, is a very smart guy, with strong political connections within the Republican Party. He's Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's protÈgÈ, hence his placement in his planning commission seat as pay back for Rohrabacher's support of our young jailer/mayor in the last election. He's an articulate fellow, but apparently not blessed with the burden of patience. And, based on his attack on developer Barry Saywitz last week, may be a guy who holds a grudge, too. If so, I guess I'm in big trouble, huh?

Riggy's column may shut up those yapping yorkies who write anonymously in the Daily Pilot griping about what they perceive as the "liberal" view expressed by that newspaper. We'll see. For my part, I don't care what those cowards who won't attach their real names to their comments think. They may be writing from Rancho Cucamonga or Laguna Beach, for all we know.

Another plus is that Steve Smith, who has been attempting to influence our morals and television habits twice a week for years, will be reduced to only one shot a week at us. This is good news, even though some of his recent columns have been less offensive and vacuous than previous ones. He will be addressing education-related topics - probably a good fit for his style.

"Your Neighbor" - The-Brain-Who-Ate-Costa-Mesa over at the CM Press - launched into Johnson's announcement with a couple entries that set a new low for coarseness, even for him, (here) and (here). I guess for his loyal readers who just can't get enough of his rants, this kind of "humor" was just fine and dandy. Every time I read that kind of literary vomit I find myself wondering what his young son - whom he frequently mentions in his blog and before public forums - thinks of his father's work. It's surly not the kind of stuff I would want my young relatives to read.

So, the jury is still out on the Daily Pilot re-vamp. Change is inevitable and, from the sound of things, the Pilot will be a much more readable, informative daily community newspaper. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product as it evolves.

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