Appointee Bully Vents His Spleen
Non-elected City Councilman, Steve Mensinger, presented us with his view of our municipal situation in a Community Commentary in the Daily Pilot tonight (in print tomorrow) titled, "When it comes to spending, 'enough is enough'". You can read it HERE.
SO, THAT'S WHY HE'S A BULLY!
Right off the bat, in his very first paragraph, he gives us all a crystal clear view into the genesis of who he is today. In that paragraph he describes an event when he, in his term, "lost my innocence" - he attacked a schoolmate who was taunting a friend. Those of us who have watched him on the City Council, and Planning Commission before that, will only nod in understanding. We've seen that "Steve" before, as he berates and bullies those standing before him trying to do city business. Now we understand where that fellow came from.
BLAMING HIS PEERS
In his third paragraph, as he lays blame for Costa Mesa's current fiscal situation, he says, "One need not be a detective to identify the fingerprints of the culprit. Our current budget crisis is the responsibility of those we elected." I'm sure that indictment will be welcomed by some of his current council colleagues. Gary Monahan, for example, has been on the dais 14 of the last 16 years, including several tours as Mayor. Eric Bever has six years as a councilman and Wendy Leece is beginning her fifth year. The only people he didn't point a finger at were himself and his runnin' buddy, Jim Righeimer.
POT CALLING A KETTLE...
Later, as he describes Costa Mesa's public employees, he says, "Many were dismayed by out-of-town police officers driving an Escalade with campaign signs in tow. However, this was the fringe in the department and lessons have hopefully been learned." This, of course, implies that some of the members of the Costa Mesa police force are greedy spendthrifts (the Escalade) who don't live in our community. He fails to mention, however, that his buddy, Righeimer, also drives an Escalade. Does that make him greedy, too? And what "lessons" does he assume have been learned? Certainly, the police officers who opposed Righeimer's candidacy learned that orchestrated confrontations with the police can be used to sway public opinion. They also learned that political expediency permitted Righeimer and his crew to paint those men and women sworn to protect and serve us as villains and criminals. Yes, I guess some lessons were learned.
TOSSING GRENADES AT HISTORY
He goes on to describe his view of our problems - that we've elected leaders who don't know how to say "no". Well, it's easy for him to say, since he was comfortably making millions in private industry while those leaders he berates struggled with the realities of the day running this city. They struggled with the loss of police officers who moved on to more lucrative jobs in other cities when our pay scales were woefully inadequate. That problem was fixed by those leaders and the result was a stable police force, renowned for it's effectiveness.
DISRESPECTING LOYAL EMPLOYEES
Recently he smirked down from the dais at retiring City Manager Allan Roeder as he criticized the way the city has been managed. Not only was it inappropriate, since Roeder can only advise his council on their actions, but it was a slap in the face given to a man who has served our city for more than 3 dozen years - 25 as City Manager. What's next? Will he spit in Roeder's face as he walks out the door for the last time? Will he kick him down the City Hall steps? That behavior, and his commentary, only demonstrate Mensinger's cluelessness about what municipal governance is all about.
HE DOESN'T LIKE RULES - OR BEING TOLD "NO"
As a semi-successful businessman (he and Righeimer both were presidents of divisions of SunCal Companies that went bankrupt), he's used to running the show - used to having people jump when he tells them to. History shows us that he has very little patience with the rules governments must follow. In fact, he seems to dislike any rules at all. After only a few short weeks on the council he's already clearly demonstrating disdain for the process that permits residents to stand before him and air their complaints. Some wonder if the recent abrupt departure of City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow may have been a direct result of her warning this council, Mensinger included, about the dangers of Brown Act violations. He's not a guy who likes to be told "no" about anything. Barlow may have been right on the money, too. Their scheme to divide into two-member "working groups" - sub-committees of the council - on specific projects is showing signs of final decisions being made BEFORE ANY public comment is presented. It won't surprise me if the city finds itself in nasty legal entanglements because of these guys.
MAKING A LESS-SAFE CITY
In his commentary he says, "... our success will be defined by the quality of residents we attract." Well, if he and his pals successfully disassemble our law enforcement organization, including disbanding the ABLE helicopter program and threatening to outsource "every job in the city that can be done by other than city employees", as was Righeimer's avowed goal earlier this year, just what kind of residents will we attract? Will a city that is less-safe attract young families? Will businesses choose to move their operations to a city that is less-safe? What do you think?
PERFECTION - EVERYBODY IS A "CONTRACT EMPLOYEE"
As Mensinger and Righeimer take their machetes to the city staff in an effort to accomplish "meaningful reform", just what kind of service can the residents expect once that massacre is complete? Righeimer campaigned on a platform to reform municipal wages and pensions. Early indications are that he and Mensinger plan to do that, not by negotiating with the bargaining units, but by simply getting rid of those employees who would be entitled to pensions and replace them with contract labor - like the Orange County Fire Authority, for example. It wouldn't surprise me if their idea of the perfect "city government" would be one Chief Executive Officer (used to be City Manager until Mensinger's ego got the better of the council) and a handful of contract contract analysts to manage all those "outsourced" contracts - kind of like when he worked for Arnel Development. In his mind's eye, without all those messy "employee" issues, running a city would be a snap!
MANAGEMENT BY MASSACRE
Mensinger says, "I am optimistic that the majority of the citizens in our community now understand why their leaders must have the courage to do what is right and make tough decisions with respect to how we use your tax dollars." I'm not so sure the voters in this city - who have not been given a chance to voice their opinion on Mensinger at the ballot box, by the way - will cozy up to the idea of "management by massacre". I'm not so sure they will appreciate a "management team" who handles tough issues with a billy club and berates and belittles loyal employees as they retire. I'm not so sure they will appreciate the "off with their heads!" attitude, where they find it more convenient for them to simply toss loyal employees aside in blind allegiance to a political dogma passed down from the Orange County Republican Party.
CM, INC. - A TRULY BAD IDEA
There are those in town who feel this city should be run like a private business, not a public entity. To paraphrase my friend, Gericault, who so succinctly put it in a comment today when he speculated that under a Righeimer/Mensinger regime we would see signs at the gateways to our city saying, "Welcome to Costa Mesa, Inc. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." I'd smile about that if it wasn't so darn serious.
So, now that Righeimer has told us that he's coming after EVERY city job and Mensinger has told us "enough is enough", I caution you to not take your eye off these guys - do not blink. The next rights they violate will be yours...