Bever's Dereliction Of His Duties
In the midst of a very heated and contentious campaign, Costa Mesa City Councilman Eric Bever - who is not running this time around because he still has two years left on his second term - has become a major player in this year's elections.
CLOWN IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Bever, who has been described here many times as a clown, municipal court jester and buffoon, continues to demonstrate for the readers here and elsewhere just why those terms of endearment are so accurate as he elbowed his way into the political spotlight.
In recent weeks, while the city is trying to negotiate it's way to a balanced budget with the employee bargaining units, Bever has been obstructionist, at the very least, and guilty of dereliction of duty, for sure. For those of you dictionarily-challenged, here's a current definition of the word, "dereliction" - deliberate or conscious neglect; negligence; delinquency.
Despite the fact that balancing our municipal budget is by far the most important issue facing our city council, several weeks ago Bever announced from the dais that he was boycotting any future negotiations with the bargaining units, apparently feeling that such serious issues should wait until the new council is seated - several months away! Even worse than his threat - he actually did it! He simply either does not show up for the meetings or leaves when the issue comes up on the agenda.
In the meantime, the budget crisis continues to fester like a boil in need of lancing. His obstructionist playmate, carpetbagging Planning Commission Chairman and council candidate Jim Righeimer, has conjured up a vendetta with the Costa Mesa Police Department for his own political gain. First Righeimer took on the bargaining units at the first candidate forum when he looked their representatives straight in the eye and told them he was coming after their salaries and benefits because THEY were the cause of the city's fiscal distress. He emphasized his attack at each subsequent forum and during interviews with local media.
Then, some think, he orchestrated a confrontation between himself and the police at a DUI checkpoint that delayed his arrival at a local high school football game. An interesting point not previously made, though, is that the location of the checkpoint was not on any route from his Mesa Verde home to the high school - it was in the other direction. And, he couldn't have been in that much of a hurry because he, alone among more than 3200 other drivers in that traffic snarl, chose to leap from his car, strut across the McDonald's parking lot and confront the officers conducting the checkpoint. That dust-up caused an "investigation", conducted by the Costa Mesa City Attorney, Kim Barlow. When she finally gave her "report" it was incomplete. She had not even seen witness statements delivered to her that afternoon and which were relevant to the incident. She determined that Righeimer had not committed a criminal act. Swell, but did he misuse his authority as a planning commissioner? There was certainly not enough transparency in that little fiasco.
GROWING RIFT MAY BE PERMANENT
Perhaps the worst part of this tactic of Righeimer's, in which Bever is an active accomplice, is that it may do irreparable damage to the relationship between the leadership of our city and our public employees, particularly the public safety staff. That rift may be best exemplified by what occurred at the last council meeting. Costa Mesa Firefighters Association President Tim Vasin looked Bever straight in the eye and used three minutes of public comments time to demand an apology from Bever for his public statements about the employee organizations. I didn't attend the meeting due to illness, but watched it on television. I stood and cheered at home when he stepped away from the podium. You can watch Vasin's comments by clicking HERE, then sliding the track bar to about 29:00 on the timer.
"MOMMY, MOMMY, MAKE THEM STOP!"
In the next step of this campaign, Bever and his long-time Westside Improver buddy, Christian Eric - he of the Colonel Sanders beard - said they felt "intimidated" by a couple Costa Mesa police officers when they were observed putting up Righeimer campaign signs on a fence surrounding an empty lot on the Westside of town a week ago. They accused those officers of giving them the "stink eye", for goodness sake. It's like a couple little kids running to their mother saying, "Mommy, mommy - Jimmy frowned at me! Make him stop!" What infantile behavior! In case you have not seen the press conference they held recently, you can view Orange County Register columnist Barbara Venezia's clip of it below. Invest six minutes of your time to watch this piece.
WHAT IS MOORLACH THINKING?
I thought it was astounding that they somehow managed to convince Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach to participate in this farce. He recently co-authored with Bever a scathing indictment of the municipal salaries published in the Daily Pilot. I was surprised to see him lined up at the press conference with Righeimer, Bever, Eric, their lawyer Mark Bucher (Righeimer's brother-in-law) and their current acolyte, Jim Fitzpatrick - apparently a bully-in-training. It was also interesting to observe another of Righeimer's running buddies, attorney and planning commissioner Colin McCarthy, adding his two cents worth of advice from the assembled few observers about how an investigation should be conducted.
BUCHER KEPT A STRAIGHT FACE!
I thought it was ironic, too, that Bucher could actually utter the word "intimidation" and keep a straight face. You will recall that he recently sent a letter to me and members of the police association warning us not to mention three forbidden topics when writing about Righeimer. He told me that to do so would be defamatory and subject to legal penalties. Does that sound just a little bit like "intimidation" to you? Yeah, me, too. Then Righeimer goes right ahead and discusses those issues shortly thereafter. I took that to mean that all bets are off - that it's OK for me to mention those issues because he has already done so. Bucher and Righeimer can't have it both ways. They can't forbid me from discussing those issues, then go do it themselves.
CITY'S FUTURE IN THE HANDS OF A CLOWN
Back to Bever. It's hard for me to imagine how any voter who has actually cast a ballot for him can feel any comfort knowing that the future of this city is, at least partially, in his hands. Since his early days on the Planning Commission he has demonstrated a tendency to fancy himself a comedian, attempting pathetic quips that invariably fell flat. He seldom does his homework and frequently attempts to quick-pitch the procedures by calling for votes before a discussion and public comments have been taken. I suppose you could attribute those traits to simple boredom or stupidity - maybe both. However, his overt boycotting of his duties is dereliction, pure and simple.
2012 CAN'T COME SOON ENOUGH!
I've begin to hear rumblings about a recall effort to remove Bever from office, but I doubt it will happen. Such an election would be very costly. So, for two more years we will be subjected to his petulance, capriciousness and his unfounded smug arrogance on the dais. We will continue to suffer the embarrassment of having such an irresponsible buffoon on our city council. In 2012 he will be able to retire from public life and and no longer infest city hall with his erratic and obstructionist behavior.