Monday, November 01, 2010

A Few Words From Officer Rob Dimel

SOME PERSPECTIVE FROM ROB DIMEL
In recent weeks Costa Mesa Police Officer Rob Dimel (shown here on the left discussing issues with activist Phil Morello at a recent council meeting) has posted some interesting comments on some of these threads. He's tried his best to provide some first-person perspective in the "Righeimer vs. The Cops" drama that's been unfolding since August. He's provided us some snippets of information in response to criticisms of the police position on the whole "pension reform" issue. Those little bits of perspective have been welcomed by me and, I think, more than a few of the readers here.

HIS WORDS, MY FORMAT
Tonight, on the eve of what might be the most important municipal election in our city in two decades, Rob Dimel has provided us with more than a few words to add to our understanding of this issue. I've taken those words he provided, massaged them, not for content, but to fit my format. The paragraph titles are mine, the rest is his.

A REAL COP
Rob Dimel is a career law enforcement officer. Except for the 6 years of active Army service, he has lived in Costa Mesa two dozen years. He's been a police officer for 18 years, beginning with time at the Orange County Sheriff's Department jail - just like our lame duck mayor. As a member of the Costa Mesa Police Department he has been a Patrol Officer, Gang Investigator, SWAT Officer, Detective, Field Training Officer and, currently, is one of the pilots who flies the Eagle helicopter, keeping our city safe from on high - you know, a REAL cop.

Without further fanfare, the thoughts of Officer Rob Dimel:

***

"US" VS. "THEM"

In this contentious political season, angst regarding public employee compensation has become the beckon call. The economy and some political candidates have created “us” and “them” camps. While not recession proof, public services, and public safety tend to be more recession resistant. Police and fire services are something that will just never go away, regardless of what the economy is doing. People who were working in industries that were booming just a couple of years ago, are now looking at the relative stability of public safety employees and saying “I don’t have that”. When people working in the mortgage and real estate industry were flying high at the height of the housing bubble, no one cared what a cop or firefighter was getting paid, or how their retirement worked. Now, those same people who were doing so well just a couple of years ago are coming after public employees with torches and pitchforks. The City of Bell scandal only muddied the waters. It’s become the poster child of those calling for public employee pension reform.


GROUND ZERO FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM

Much as Costa Mesa became ground zero for the immigration reform battle cry, there are forces at work, who would like to have made Costa Mesa the lab rat for pension reform. In reality, both amounted to little more than political pandering for politicians trying to play on the public fervor over the issue of the moment. Is it any coincidence that the politicians behind both issues here in Costa Mesa are political cronies? Mayor Mansoor’s “Rule of Law City” never amounted to much, although he will claim it as a victory. No officer was ever trained to screen arrestees for immigration violations. An immigration officer was placed in the city jail for a period of time, but that has since ended. In fact, immigration officers have routinely screened arrestees at the Costa Mesa jail for about 20 years. Long before Mayor Mansoor pulled his stunt. It was a lot of rhetoric, public outcry on both sides of the issue, and what was the overall outcome? It was like a dog on linoleum; a lot of frantic movement with no progress.


RIGHEIMER'S "PENSION REFORM"

Enter Jim Righeimer. Mr. Righeimer decided to make public pension reform his platform for his latest attempt at city council. He has polarized the citizens and the employees that serve them. He has tried to use the public’s discomfort with public employee pensions to somehow shame our employees. Never mind that he has completely misrepresented the numbers, the issue and his ability to do anything about it, even if he were to be elected.


REFORM IS NECESSARY - MUST START AT STATE LEVEL

Let’s just agree that some level of reform is going to be required. However, that reform must take place at the state level. Costa Mesa does not manage the retirement plan, the state does. The city and its employees are merely contributors and end users of the product. The employees that are currently enrolled in the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) are essentially locked into the retirement formula they entered into upon employment. It would not be legally possible to change their retirement formula regardless of what Mr. Righeimer says.


A TWO-TIERED PLAN?

A two-tiered plan could be adopted. New employees could come on under a different formula, while existing employees are “grandfathered” into their existing plans. Again, there are some legal considerations there. It’s not just a stroke of the pen to change the formula as Mr. Righeimer would have the voter believe. The city is under contract with PERS for the existing plan. In any case a two-tiered system would have no effect on the city’s current budget issue. The city is leaving positions unfilled, so there are no new employees coming in.


RIGHEIMER MISREPRESENTED THE PENSION NUMBERS

In his community commentary in the Daily Pilot, Mr. Righeimer stated that a public safety employee could retire as early as 50 with 98% of their salary. That’s patently false. Again, he twists the numbers to fuel the animosity against the employees. No one can earn more than 90% of their salary upon retiring. The “trigger mechanism” for that full 90% benefit is not age 50. It’s 30 years of service. The “3 at 50” plan is 3% of salary per year of service. Age 50 is the minimum age to collect. Since one cannot become a police officer until age 21, the earliest an officer could retire with full service retirement is age 51. In reality, officers are not often getting hired at 21. Most are coming on the job in their mid to late 20’s now. Thus, they cannot get the full service retirement benefit until their mid to late 50’s. Take our mayor as an example. He was under the 3@50 program at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. He “retired” with probably 17 years of service. He is 46 years old, so he can’t collect on his retirement for four more years. When he does turn 50, he will only get 51% of his salary, since he didn’t do 30 years of service.


RIGHEIMER MISREPRESENTED THE SALARY NUMBERS

Mr. Righeimer presented some salary figures and makes the claim that officers are earning 200k per year. That’s just not true. There are some in management who have a total compensation figure at 200k per year. However, that’s not salary. It takes into account unused vacation and sick leave time and gives it a dollar value. Those figures do not calculate into the retirement, as he would have everyone believe.


WHAT'S HIS PLAN?

What I have heard, is Mr. Righeimer rail against the public pensions and cry for reform. What I have not heard, is any actual ideas from him as to how we would accomplish that. How does he plan to bring this reform to fruition? I would love to hear an actual plan. “Reform” is just a word. It’s not a plan, it’s not a strategy. Mr. Righeimer has thrown the word out every chance he can. His entire platform is just another dog on linoleum.


***


THE FUTURE OF COSTA MESA LAW ENFORCEMENT?

Thanks to Rob Dimel for his views on this important issue. If Jim Righeimer has his way we would have to start from scratch with our public employees, casting aside all the years of compensation planning and contract negotiations. We would most likely not be able to attract employees like Rob Dimel and the other current cops who proudly serve and protect us despite the slings and arrows from political hacks and their hangers-on. For some perspective, I give you a short video clip that shows what our law enforcement staff might look like if Righeimer has his way. Please be sure to VOTE tomorrow.


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23 Comments:

Anonymous folkinhippy said...

officer dimmel,

i respect your voice in this issue. and it is enlightening to know your feelings towards the immigration issue in our city.

that being said, i only remember chief's of police long since gone as the lone voices from the force against the demonization of our westside residents and the futility, nay, danger of pitting our police against our city's residents for political expediency. how welcome it would have been to hear more voices from our police force at the time of the struggle. i remember when i was protesting outside of skosh's and at the rally in front of city hall a few years ago police officers spoke candidly to me about their feelings but said they felt it inappropriate to speak publicly. now that it is a direct attack on them, we see action and hear voices.

as much as i appreciate the force's hesitation to speak on policy, if more had contributed to the public discourse from 05-06, our council might look different and our city may be in better position today.

i don't mean this too critically. i just hope you and your fellow officers remember this in the future.

i thank you for your service.

-the folking hippie.

11/01/2010 10:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Diogenes said...

Don't leave home without your Rule Of Law,
Carry it with you where you go,
Use it with your condom when you tear a little off,
It'll keep you safe, don't you know;
Your Rule Of Law protects you from atomic war,
You'll never get a dread disease,
It'll keep your food from spoilin',
Keep your stew a-boilin',
Keep your beer as cool as you please.

Now, it says right here in your Rule Of Law,
An earthquake'll never do you in,
You'll never have to worry 'bout a stock market crash,
Or losin' the hair on your chinny-chin-chin.
The gals'll all pursue you for your Rule Of Law,
They'll wanna give you lovin' all the day,
A little dab'll do ya,
They'll all come flockin' to ya,
Your Rule Of Law'll take you all the way.

11/01/2010 11:07:00 PM  
Anonymous VoteforJimRigheimer said...

seems like the pot stirrer is swinging for the fences out of desperation. sorry but it isn't going to work. the majority of voters don't read blogs and rely on their own methods of educating themselves. but after reviewing all your posts it is you that has created the us vs them paranoia that rings through the streets. you have demonized righeimer, used not so flattering photos of him and his supporters. but you still potray yourself as this "so fair and equal man" yet that isn't the truth. righeimer will win tomorrow and everyone knows that. so we can anticipate your hateful bile to spew out for days. you will post doomsday predictions on how the city will be under this "hammer" of righeimer and you will still refer to jim as a "carpetbagger" blah blah blah. you should self-impose a moratorium on trashing righeimer once he wins tomorrow as it will do no good for the city. let's see if you're a big enough man to congratulate jim. doubt you will.

11/01/2010 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

"Hippie": Thanks. Police officers generally tend to be pretty "private people". It's a matter of security and never putting too much of your personal life or opinion out there (especially while at work). We tend to compartmentalize our lives. Work is work, home is home.

We are obliged to follow policy, whether we agree with it or not. There were folks in our ranks who did speak publicly about the impact it would have on our ability to effectively investigate crimes. We had gone to great lengths to build bridges with members of our west side community.

When I worked the Gang Unit, we were out there talking to parents, trying to educate them about what their kids were doing. trying to make a two pronged approach. Enforcement for those who were already involved in criminal conduct and outreach for those that were on the road to it. We really had a great impact on gang activity. It wasn't by happenstance. It was through a lot of sweat equity, and belief we could actually do something about it.

I put on a number of parent rights and responsibility workshops for the west side community. Again, that outreach we were doing built a lot of bridges.

Our department takes a lot of pride in this community. When crime is down we feel fulfilled and proud of the work we do. When something crops up, we tend to take it hard and feel like we have missed something or not done it right. Either way, we have always felt like this community was resoundingly behind us.

When we have forces that move in and try to pit us against each other, we take it personally. It's not just about pay, or pensions. Admittedly, those things are important. We work hard and give a lot of ourselves to this career, and thus this community. I resent the fact that some guy strolls in, and without even really getting to know the men and women serving here, fails to even dialogue with us and tries to "divide and conquer" the relationship we have with our citizens. He was an unknown. The only way he was going to get his voice heard was to attempt to quell ours. If he could discredit us by calling us "greedy", "union thugs" etc. in this climate, people were going to listen. He has attempted to use faulty compensation numbers to somehow make us feel shamed that we actually earn a paycheck for what we do. For probably the first time in my career, I actually wish I was doing something else, so I didn't have to feel like I was under attack from all sides.

The bottom line, he made it personal. For me as an employee and as a resident. I have always felt like I could hold my head high and be proud of what I do. His very smarmy nature has now made me feel somehow dirty for the job I do.

Geoff:
Thanks for the opportunity to vent. Perhaps we need to start hosting a coffee klatch or something, so that citizens can really get to know those that are in their service. Folks need to know their cops are just men and women like they are. Not just a uniform and a badge in the rear view mirror.

11/01/2010 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

VoteforJimRigheimer, no desperation here. What appears here is how I feel about issues. In the case of this particular entry, I was pleased to provide Officer Dimel a place to present his perspective.

I don't "portray" myself as anything in particular. Readers can form their own opinion - just as you have. Whether Righeimer wins Tuesday or not, I'll publish what I feel about issues, including the election. And my description of him as a carpetbagger won't be affected by the election - he is what he is. It's unlikely that I'll "self-impose" a moratorium after the election. Quite the contrary, if he wins there will be even more reasons to speak out. Congratulate him? You have to be kidding! If he wins it will not be a cause for celebration here at A Bubbling Cauldron, it will be a time for mourning. Thanks, though, for the early morning chuckle.

11/02/2010 02:17:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

I'm having a serious mancrush on Diogenes.......

11/02/2010 08:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Change is Coming said...

Officer Dimel. After today, will you care about Costa Mesa? After today, will all of your fellow officers who don't live here care about our City? No. It's so sad that the Irvine, La Habra, Anaheim Police, etc. poured their union money to attack Righeimer. It's sad that this blog thought that was okay. Righeimer will win. It won't matter because the police and fire contracts are locked in. Our City will only save itself self from bankruptcy by laying off lots of employees. It won't be the $200k a year folks. Sadly, it will be the patrol guys that really make our City safe. There are no winners. The only losers are the Police who lost a ton of credibility with the public this election season.

11/02/2010 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Mothers Against Lester said...

Geoff, once again we ask you, why do you call Righeimer a carpet bagger, but not Marijuana Sue?

11/02/2010 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Mothers Against Lester, you're not paying attention. I did call her a carpetbagger, which she is, in my previous post.

11/02/2010 08:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Folkinhipp said...

Change is coming,

I am so happy that righiemer supporters suddenly find money from outside the city soninsidious in our citys election. The cynic in menwould like to point out that outside money overwhelming was spent to elect Wendy, Alan, and Eric and to a lesser extent to help Gary. But I don't need to point this out because you are obviously a man of high character who is probably not even reading this because you are too busy telling all of those council members to give all of that ocgop, PAC and minutemen money back to it's donors.

Also in the spirit of keeping this city free from outside influence let's hear your repudiation of moorlach chiming in on this election. Oh, and can you hyperlink me to your public comments at the city council meetings a few years ago when you (I assume) spoke eloquently about Jim Gil hrist keeping his Jose out of our business? Thanks. If I see Scott Baugh, I'll let him know you think his influence should stop at our city limits.

See? Works both ways bud. If this wasn't someone elses blog, I'd lose my manners and my pacifisim to label you with some serious pejorative. Furthermore, I hope to meet you at a future council meeting so I can see clearly what a man with no consistency in his conviction looks like.

Sorry for getting upset, west, but hypocrites piss me off.

11/02/2010 08:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

Change is coming: Either you have a reading comprehension issue, or you cherry patch what to read. If you read my posts, you would know I care about this city. You can't see past your own philosophical blinders to see that the officers here put a lot more"community" into this city than most of our elected officials do. Remember, they are the men and women out there talking to the folks in this city, 24/7-365.

Whether Mr. Righeimer wins or not, you will never convince me he is a great guy with any true sense of community.

You know who I am and I don't hide behind a pen name to voice my opinions and feelings. I have nothing to hide behind. If you were that strong in your convictions and belief in your candidate, you would do the same.

11/02/2010 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous octellthetruth said...

You wrote on a Daily Pilot post on 10/5 that William Lobdell was "no longer with Minkow." According to James Rainey of the L.A. Times on 10/30, he definitely is with convicted scam artist and felon Minkow, with plans to continue their business. Please acknowledge your error and apologize.

11/02/2010 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Change is Coming said...

Officer Dimel. We do hide behind our pens because those we fear have guns. Those we fear are not the people of this City, they are the Police. The Police that tear down campaign signs under the cover of darkness, the Police that spew hate and lies through their union-funded mail pieces, the Police who campaign during work hours against candidates who want to save this City from financial ruin. The Police body-politic that has tried to hijack our City from much-needed reform. Yes, we all hide. For good reason. I wish your department good luck in the impending layoffs. I'm off to vote for candidates who will keep this City from becoming the next City of Bell.

11/02/2010 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

octellthetruth, actually, my source is solid. I saw the article you mentioned - by Micheal Hiltzik - and noticed that comment in it. No plans for an apology.

11/02/2010 09:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Follow the Rules said...

How come the McEvoy and Leece signs are still up. They are illegal during the week. Has anyone told Sandy Genis to stop breaking our laws. Guess the Police won't do anything about that!! Ha, ha. Go Righeimer!!

11/02/2010 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

Change is Coming - we now fear the police because they have guns? Wow, interesting statement considering you are obviously a conservative who I'm sure believes in gun ownership, and yet the police are here 'to protect and serve.' You guys constantly contradict yourselves. I've accepted the fact that Righeimer will probably win, and in the next year or two, those who did not vote will be able to say 'we told you so.'

11/02/2010 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger jim said...

Change is coming you are a joke.I could say more but you a think you aren't worth the space... except for me to say that you, too, need to go back into your cave.

11/02/2010 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous CM4Life said...

Change is Coming-

Wow, your post was awesome! I laughed the whole time! Was it serious or were you joking?

"Those we fear have guns"- Really? You are nuts!

"Police that tear campaign signs down under the cover of darkness"- Please, sir, show me proof that this occurred. I bet you can't, but please keep posting lies.

"Police who campaign against candidates during work hours" Again, show me proof of this. Oh wait, are you talking about PictureGate 2010? Never heard anyone prove that it was "Campaigning"

As Geoff says, "Keep drinking the Kool Aid!"

You must be married to Vicki because you two share the same brain!

Keep looking up for those black helicopters flying over your house!...=)

I love this blog because Geoff allows people like you to post their opinions and it makes me laugh!

Oh, and I don't post my name for fear of those with stupidity (i.e. YOU!) Stay classy Costa Mesa!

11/02/2010 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

Change:

I won't engage in tit-for-tat exchanges with you. You have yet to really say anything substantive to the argument at hand. I'm not going to drag myself down to your level sir.

11/02/2010 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous shawn said...

Change is Coming. We do hide behind our pens because those we fear have ties to racist groups. Those we fear are not the people of this City, they are readers of the CMPRESS. The readers that tear down campaign signs under the cover of darkness, the readers and authors that spew hate and lies through their blogs, the readers who campaign during work hours against candidates who want to save this City from failed political hacks. The Race body-politic that has tried to hijack our City from much-needed unity. Yes, we all hide. For good reason. I wish your master good luck in his pathetic attempt at being a news man. I'm off to vote for candidates who will keep this City from becoming the next City of Bell. ie JIM RIGHEIMER

11/02/2010 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

So it looks like we will have Jim and Wendy seated on the council.

It is time for me to stop politicking and start working with our elected leaders.

To that end, Jim and I have agreed that communication is key.

I will continue to express my opinions while supporting the leaders that my community has elected.

Good night all!

11/02/2010 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

Bruce:

Well said. Frankly however it was going to turn out, I'm glad it's over.

I will say that I am glad to see that on the national level, the Republicans regained the house. I just hope they do good things with the opportunity handed to them. That goes for everyone who was given an opportunity by the voters last night.

11/03/2010 08:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

I had the opportunity to speak with Mayor Mansoor yesterday. He was very candid with me about his stance on the illegal immigration policy, and the overall outcome. I know form our conversation (and previous conversations) that it is something he is passionate about. He was clear that he did not take the issue on, as a means to a political end, but because it was something that needs to be part of our discourse.

I think we can all agree that our national immigration policy is broken. No one can come up with any single idea that can fix it. It will certainly have to be a multi-pronged approach. There are things that can be done on the local level, such as requiring the use of e-verify, changing internal policies on acceptable forms of identification (accepting only U.S. issued identification documents for instance).

To be fair, Mr. Mansoor brought the topic into public eye because he believes in it. As the saying goes: “All politics is local”. Most Americans believe in some type of reform (good Lord, there's that word again) in our immigration policy. For me to have referred to the "Rule of Law" proclamation as a "stunt" dismisses that belief. So for that, I apologize.

My frustration, and that of my colleagues, was the attention the whole thing drew to us, then the changes that were made (assigning an ICE agent to screen at our city jail) were fleeting. To be clear, the rank and file didn't want to be out doing the "papers please" schtick. However, if we took someone to jail for a criminal offense, ICE screening was part of the booking process. It was pretty simple, didn't create any more work for the officer, and it was effective.

11/05/2010 04:44:00 PM  

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