Righeimer Unleashes His Pit Bull
When was the last time you received a surprise in your mail? Was it an unexpected birthday card? Your final release from military service? The deed to your house marked "Paid in Full"? Well, I've received all of those things - unexpected pleasures - in the mail over the years. What I received yesterday was NOT one of those.
Yesterday I received a letter in the mail from a law firm named Bucher& Palmer, L.L.P. in Irvine. Recognize any part of that name? Hang on, you soon might. Here's a hint: the caption of the letter said, "Re: James Righeimer". The letter was signed by Mark W. Bucher, Esq. who, as it turns out, is Righeimer's close political ally and brother-in-law.
SHUT UP OR ELSE
The gist of the two-page letter was to warn me not to write about any or all of three forbidden topics related to Mr. Righeimer, which Mr. Bucher says are "demonstrably false and defamatory". He later went on to make this statement, "Some of these same statements were made the last time Mr. Righeimer ran for office but, as you may know, publishing a false and defamatory allegation under the guise that the statement as previously made is itself actionable."
PREEMPTIVE STRIKE - FREE SPEECH QUASHED
OK, I got it. This is a preemptive strike to keep me, and probably others, from openly criticizing Righeimer before the election. Yes, the letter is directed specifically at the three forbidden topics, but, when the word gets out, it will likely cause more than a few of Righeimer's many critics to pause before they rise to speak against him on any subject. It seems that Righeimer and his lawyer are quite content to trample on the rights of free speech guaranteed to us by the First Amendment of the Constitution.
YOU'LL HAVE TO SPECULATE
I can't tell you what the three forbidden topics are because a lawyer friend suggests that by doing so I might violate the warning sent to me by Mr. Bucher. Keep in mind that I've NEVER addressed two of the three forbidden topics - heck, I didn't even know the issues existed - but wrote two years ago about the third after a long conversation with Righeimer. I understood his view and was satisfied that he answered all my questions and have not written about it since. Because I've been forbidden to write about those three topics I guess you'll just have to speculate among yourselves what they might be - I can't help you.
The letter, which may have been a kind of form letter, seemed to be aimed at a broader audience than just little old me. I've since learned that others have received the same or similar letter. It's my understanding that the Daily Pilot is investigating the issue and will soon have a report posted online.
"SLAPP" LAWSUIT COMING?
The letter I got may be a preamble to what is known in the legal trade a SLAPP lawsuit. That acronym stands for "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation" - a tactic used to quash criticism. Fortunately, California has enacted a law that protects folks like you and me from that kind of expensive legal harassment - Code of Civil Procedure Section 425.16, which was enacted in 1993. According to some online resources on the subject, folks like you and me have been sued for things like simply writing a letter to the editor; circulating petitions; reporting police misconduct or speaking at a public meeting. That's why the law mentioned above was enacted.
MY OPINION OF RIGHEIMER IS WELL-DOCUMENTED
I've written many things about Jim Righeimer ever since he was appointed to the Planning Commission shortly after moving to Costa Mesa. I've written about his behavior on the Planning Commission - about his bullying tactics with applicants. All of that is well-documented.
THUG-LIKE TACTICS, DESIGNED TO INTIMIDATE
However, this incident only affirms for me why Jim Righeimer is bad for our city and unworthy of a seat on the City Council. His willingness to unleash his lawyer to intimidate individuals in our city - including public employee groups - who are openly critical of him should send a chill down the spine of every single person who stands at the speaker's podium to offer criticism, writes letters to the editor, posts comments on blogs and newspaper comment threads or the social networks like Facebook. Every Costa Mesa employee should be concerned for their future. These are the tactics of a bully and a thug - as so accurately described by police union president Allen Rieckhof recently. If this is how Righeimer acts BEFORE he's elected, just imagine how he's going to govern our city once he's seated on the dais!
ONE MORE REASON I WON'T VOTE FOR RIGHEIMER
There are many reasons why Jim Righeimer has never been elected to public office - this is one of them.