Righeimer's Outlandish Obfuscation(Corrected)
I was going to let my two previous posts Friday ferment over the weekend so you could just relax and not worry too much about your blood pressure. Then, late that afternoon, the editors of the Daily Pilot published a commentary by Costa Mesa Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer, first on the OC Now blog, then shortly thereafter on the Daily Pilot blog. It will appear in print in the Daily Pilot Saturday morning. You can read the full text from the OC Now blog HERE, which includes my knee-jerk reaction in the form of a comment.
Before I dissect Righeimer's drivel for you I must make a general comment. This is the worst piece of self-serving obfuscation I've ever seen published by a local public official. It's clear from reading Righeimer's rant that he's throwing up a smoke screen to try to distract Costa Mesa voters from his misbehavior at the DUI checkpoint a week ago. That being said, let us move forward.
THE ONLY ONE WHO CONFRONTED POLICE
He goes on to gripe about being delayed getting to the Estancia High School football game, which I can certainly understand. However, he didn't have a son playing in the game and his inconvenience that evening was no greater than the other 3200+ drivers slowed by the checkpoint. And yet, he was the only one who felt he should attempt to exert his "authority" by jumping out of his car and confronting the officers on duty there at the time.
ARROGANT ABUSE OF AUTHORITY
In his fourth paragraph he states, "I decided to ask some difficult questions of the officers conducting this ill-advised check point. They are not used to citizens questioning their authority, which I think is a healthy thing to do." Just who does Jim Righeimer think he is, for goodness sake? That paragraph alone - and there are many more to come - demonstrates an almost unbelievable arrogance. Sure, if a resident is upset at an event like the checkpoint he can certainly make his views known through the proper channels - which does not include haranguing officers on duty. He can contact the Watch Commander or the Chief of Police and vent his spleen, but for him to interfere with officers performing their duties is well beyond any authority his warped little mind perceives himself to have. He's the Chairman of the Planning Commission, not the heir to a throne! He's lucky the police didn't slap cuffs on him for interfering with officers in the performance of their duty and throw him in the back of a police cruiser!
Then he says, "My concern for the public's safety has become a political toy for our police union." Horse manure! The police union representatives have every right to call him out when he interferes with operations in progress.
Then Righeimer begins to blow the smoke. He tries to convince us that he's being persecuted by the Costa Mesa Police Unions because he's against their salaries and pensions. Clearly, this is an attempt to deflect attention to his transgressions that evening.
NO ACCIDENTS REPORTED
He tells us that he "received dozens of calls and emails from people who were tied up in the traffic jam. They witnessed near-collisions of automobiles." Well, according to the police logs for that evening, there were NO traffic collisions at that site during the checkpoint.
I KNOW DAVE SNOWDEN, AND...
He asks, "If former police chief Dave Snowden had pulled over to question a DUI checkpoint at rush hour next to the freeway, do you think we would be having this conversation?" Well, of course not! Chief Snowden is an outstanding law enforcement leader, held in high regard for his nearly 20 years of service in Costa Mesa who now holds the same job in Beverly Hills. He wouldn't charge up to officers doing their job and start yapping at them. Trust me, Mr. Righeimer, I know Dave Snowden and you're no Dave Snowden!
Further on he asks, referring to Police Union President Allen Rieckhof, "Would Rieckhof have orchestrated a bunch of cops at last week's council meeting to speak out against me?" Yet another lie from Righeimer! Rieckhof spoke to the council about Righeimer's behavior and the Vice President of the Police Union, Dana Potts, delivered a very touching account of his painful, personal loss - of his fiance and their unborn daughter - to a speeding drunk driver two decades earlier. That's it - TWO police officers spoke on this issue, not "a bunch". Yes, there were around a hundred officers in the auditorium, but they were there, dressed again in white t-shirts, to show solidarity during the current budget negotiations. You can watch the streaming video of that meeting by clicking HERE, then selecting the City Council meeting of September 17th. Rieckhof's and Potts' comments come early in the "public comments" segment.
MEETING WITH ROEDER AND SHAWKEY
Righeimer then tells us that he has a meeting scheduled with the City Manager AllanRoeder and Police Chief Chris Shawkey Monday morning to "find a solution for when and where to place DUI checkpoints that are both safe and productive." Talk about nerve! What gives him the authority to demand such a meeting and, particularly, since the City Attorney is investigating his behavior at the checkpoint at this time? It seems to me that the City Manager and the Police Chief need to cancel that meeting until the full facts of the incident at the checkpoint are sorted out. Otherwise, it certainly looks like Righeimer is getting preferential treatment - something he obviously expects.
A TOWN HALL MEETING INSTEAD
It is a truly bad idea for Roeder and Shawkey to meet with Righeimer on this issue. Instead, based on the volume of comments on that particular DUI checkpoint that have been published in the local media, I suggest that a Town Hall meeting be held, open to all Costa Mesa residents who wish to express their views on the subject in general - to provide guidance to our elected and appointed leaders. Righeimer's voice is no more valuable in this discourse than yours and mine. Clearly, many of the other 3,200 people delayed in that particular checkpoint will have a view to present.
AUTHORITY NOT A BIRTHRIGHT
He goes on to tell us of his familial connections to law enforcement - as if that might somehow mitigate his behavior. Sorry, Mr. Righeimer, you have to earn the authority you seek - it is not some kind of Midwestern birthright.
Then, after a couple paragraphs providing more smoke in the form of alleged pay and pension numbers, and considering that we're talking about a DUI checkpoint here, he begins another paragraph with this outlandishly ironic sentence: "Someone must have been drunk when they negotiated Costa Mesa's current pension deal." Now, that might be something he'd mutter to a crony while sucking suds at Gary Monahan's pub, but for a city official to make such an outlandish, demeaning published public statement only demonstrates the desperation he's feeling and the complete lack of common sense, maturity and responsibility one expects - no, demands - from a person in his position. Shame on you, Jim Righeimer.
MORE EQUINE EFFLUENT!
Before blowing more smoke about pensions costing after school programs he says the following: "Here is the bottom line. This is not about a DUI checkpoint. It's about the public employee benefits and overtime and out-of-control pensions." Again, horse manure! This issue IS about the DUI checkpoint. Righeimer is only trying to cover up his actions by changing the focus of the discussion.
RIGHEIMER'S RHETORIC ONLY COMPLICATES NEGOTIATIONS
I know we have problems with our current municipal budget. Negotiations continue - and a special city council meeting has been called for 5:30 Monday, September 27th, for a closed session discussion by the council on that very subject. The city is in a very deep hole again this year - we are more than $9 million short of balancing the budget. All the meat has been trimmed from our municipal skeleton and now we are forced to decide the painful question of which extremities must go - an arm, hand, foot, leg - to keep our city solvent. Righeimer's self-serving, dishonest and inflammatory rhetoric at this point in time only makes those negotiations more difficult.
RIGHEIMER IS UNWORTHY OF OUR TRUST
This whole "DUI" issue, and Righeimer's response to it, only drives home more clearly just why voters in this city and others, election after election, have found him unworthy of being elected to public office. Even though the candidate pool for the Costa Mesa City Council race is thin this time around, I will NOT vote for Jim Righeimer. I'd much rather take my chances with a smart, honest, dedicated, hard-working neophyte like Chris McEvoy than a self-serving, conniving, dishonest, carpetbagging political hack like Jim Righeimer, who feels somehow entitled to a seat at the big table because he's part of the Orange County Republican hierarchy, is Dana Rohrabacher's sidekick and was a supporter of Mayor Allan Mansoor. Nope, Righeimer's delusions of grandeur and his arrogant abuse of power are not for me, thanks.
WHAT, NO PHONY BADGE AND SIDE ARM?
I'm about half-surprised Mr. Righeimer didn't flash a bogus "Mike Carona sheriff's badge" and pull a gun on the police that night and demand they withdraw from the checkpoint. I know he used to have a concealed weapon carry permit at one time, plus was one of Carona's badge-carrying "favored few".
ME TO RIGHEIMER: GET OUTTA DODGE!
My suggestion to Mr. Righeimer is to take his lovely wife, beautiful daughters and warped visions of a political dynasty and haul his political gypsy caravan out of Costa Mesa. He needs to find a place where he thinks he can get away with public misbehavior, lying to the public and abuse of power and bulldoze his way to a seat of authority there.