Who's Running? & Roeder on City Talk
As of early Thursday afternoon the Costa Mesa City Clerk reports that, so far, seven residents have pulled papers to run for the two seats on the Costa Mesa City Council in November. Some of those names will be very familiar to you and a couple will raise question marks. Since the period for pulling papers ends the first week of August there is still time for more candidates to throw their hats into the ring.
WENDY'S RUNNING AGAINThe list below is random, except I gave Wendy Leece first position because she is the only incumbent running. Leece is ending her first four year term following her election back in 2006, when she rode Allan Mansoor's coattails to victory. She didn't really run her own campaign - her campaign web site never did get up and running and seldom was she seen on the campaign without the shadow of Mansoor on her shoulder.
RIGGY - ONE MORE TIMECarpetbagging Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer, amidst much hoopla and with a crowd of more than two dozen well-wishers cheering him on, pulled papers this week and held a "news conference" - with no members of the media present - on the steps of City Hall. There's a short video clip floating around out there of the event, but it's of such poor quality that I didn't bother to provide it. Here's a photo of Riggy and his entourage that morning. See how many elected and appointed officials you can identify. Here's a hint - there are three council members, four planning commissioners, one parks and recreation commissioner and one water district director.
CHRIS BUNYAN AGAIN
Local businessman, author and former candidate Chris Bunyan is back. Bunyan has been devoting a great deal of time on the Banning Ranch issue and I suspect that will be part of his campaign platform.
CHRIS MCEVOY, TOO
High school math teacher Chris McEvoy is also back again. McEvoy, true to his promise following the last election, has remained immersed in municipal issues and has been a regular presence before the City Council and commissions. He has consistently presented his views respectfully and with clarity and certainly has a better feel for how things work - or don't work - in our city than he did two years ago.
ONE MORE "CHRIS" - BLANK IS RUNNING
Yet another "Chris" is running this year - lawyer Chris Blank has decided to take his considerable legal and organizational skills into this campaign. His presence in this campaign will add a very different dynamic to the process.
Newcomer to Costa Mesa, Susan Lester, didn't let any "grass" grow under her feet and has pulled papers. Lester has been a frequent speaker before the council recently, with her primary focus being on the sale of medical marijuana in our city. Her name appears in a closed session agenda item involving a lawsuit between the City and several proponents of the distribution of medical marijuana. She's relatively unknown in our town and it's going to be very interesting to see what the thrust of her campaign will be.
JEFFREY CHAPMAN - WHO?
Finally, someone named Jeffrey Chapman has pulled papers for this campaign. We will find out more about him once he returns the package to the City Clerk, but for now he's just a big question mark.
IT WILL BE A FUN SUMMER
This promises to be a very interesting campaign - as the past several have been in our city. We'll find out if Leece can actually mount an effective campaign on her own.
RIGGY'S THE ONE TO WATCH
Of greater interest to me will be the campaign Righeimer mounts this time around. The last time he ran he finished 4th. Riggy is "one of the boys" in the Orange County Republican Party - he's in very tight with the Chairman, Scott Baugh. You don't get any more "connected" than Riggy is, so we can expect a lot of support from the OC GOP for his campaign. I'll be very surprised if he doesn't end up out-spending every other candidate very significantly this summer and fall.
I'M NOT A RIGGY FAN
Those who read this blog frequently know that I'm not a big Riggy fan. I didn't - and still don't - like the way he blew into town here during Allan Mansoor's re-election campaign almost four years ago to the day and then ended up elbowing his way onto the Planning Commission just a few months later with an application filed well after the deadline - shoving aside Mansoor loyalist Paul Bunney in the process. I've said many times, his appointment was pure political payback for the support he and his buddy, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, provided for Mansoor.
HE'S A BULLY
I also don't like Righeimer's style as Chairman of the Planning Commission. He plays fast and loose with the rules, ignoring established procedures and protocols and has been seen bullying more than one applicant appearing before him. He has a tendency to micro-manage projects coming before the commission, attempting to overlay his own personal agenda instead of following the rules in place at the time. He seems to frequently be trying to re-shape our city into some distorted version of Irvine all by himself.
FAIRGROUNDS DEAL THREAT
Righeimer's behavior relative to the Fairgrounds Sale issue makes me very distrustful of him. As councilwoman Katrina Foley reported on the dais, he told her that he was ready to "blow up" the deal because he was being blocked from playing a role in the process. I have no reason to doubt Foley since he told me virtually the same thing during an earlier telephone conversation.
A COUP COMING?
And, my biggest concern about Jim Righeimer is what appears to be a planned take-over of our municipal government. He's manipulated himself into a powerful commission assignment, where, as chairman, he runs things like a little kingdom. Of even more concern is a report I recently received about him telling a long-time community resident and activist that he no longer had a political future in Costa Mesa and that Righeimer and his cadre of buddies - Steve Mensinger, Colin McCarthy and Jeff Mathews - were all lined up to jump into city council slots as the opportunities presented themselves.
In my opinion, it is absolutely no coincidence that Mensinger has headed the "draft Katrina Foley for School Board" movement this year. If Foley runs for Michael Collier's seat and wins she will have to abandon her council seat with two years left on her term. The new council - the one seated following the November election - will most likely appoint someone to serve out her term. If that council is comprised of Riggy and Leece plus Eric Bever and Gary Monahan I think there will be ZERO chance that they would take the next-highest vote-getter from the election, even though that person will have already been vetted and considered by the voters. Nope, I think they would appoint one of "their boys" from the group mentioned above to get another step up in their take-over.
PAY ATTENTION OR PAY THE PRICE
I certainly hope the voters pay attention this year, and that they take the opportunity to attend any candidate forums presented this summer and fall to personally assess all the candidates. If they don't, and if that results in Riggy's election to our city council...well, they will get what they deserve - a dictatorship.
ROEDER ON "CITY TALK"
On a much more positive note, City Manager Allan Roeder is featured again on the most recent edition of Costa Mesa TV's City Talk. This time he answers questions by host Dane Bora about the budget and the Fairgrounds Sale. This is an excellent half-hour presentation and should be required viewing by every Costa Mesa resident. You can view the streaming video HERE. The following is the viewing schedule for the remainder of the month on CMTV, Channel 24 on Time Warner Cable and Channel 99 on ATT U-Verse.