The Pit Bull's Back!
Here's a little something for you to consider as we approach the long, long Independence Day holiday. Most of you will probably be too busy with family fun, fireworks and frivolity to actually think about the reason we celebrate this weekend. One of the things that our founding fathers fought for and won for us was the freedom of speech. Contemplate the following.
REMEMBER THE PIT BULL?
Do you remember back about 10 months ago, when, during the heated City Council campaign being waged by Jim Righeimer, I reported receiving a little "love note" from his lawyer and brother-in-law, Mark Bucher? I characterized it at the time, HERE, as Righeimer unleashing his pit bull. He sent a similar letter to the Costa Mesa Police Association.
THE ORIGINAL THREAT
In that letter Bucher, who in addition to being related to Righeimer by marriage was and is his political sidekick and is a major mover and shaker within the leadership of the Orange County Republican Party, made not-very-veiled threats to me if I published anything having to do with his client on three issues. Because he forbade me from discussing those issues I didn't identify them in that original post. Subsequently, Righeimer discussed at least one of them in a public forum, so I figured all bets were off and I told my readers that those issues were bankruptcy, drunk in public and foreclosure.
I had mentioned Righeimer and bankruptcy many months before, had a subsequent conversation with him and was satisfied that there was no such issue in his past and never wrote about it again. I had no reason to even think about writing about the other two issues - and have not. I've heard not another word from either Bucher or his client/brother-in-law on that subject since. I concluded that Bucher's letter was simply a campaign tactic - an attempt to violate my right of free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution - in order to quiet a critic during the campaign.
BUCHER'S BACK - FOR MENSINGER
However, Tuesday I received yet another little tome from Bucher, this time in his role as attorney for Righeimer's buddy, non-elected Costa Mesa City Councilman, Steve Mensinger. Apparently Mensinger thinks I've inaccurately characterized him and Bucher wants me to correct the record and stop whatever he thinks it is I'm doing.
He states in his letter to me, "Recently we became aware that you have written on your blog, "A Bubbling Cauldron" that Mr Mensinger's "...division of SunCal ended up in bankruptcy!" He went on to say, "This statement is demonstrably false and defamatory. No company Mr. Mensinger has been an employee of, including the division of SunCal that he managed, has ever gone bankrupt."
Although I already knew that his accusations were specious, I spent a little time browsing the internet and in a very short time I found more than 20 articles that verified the facts.
SUNCAL COMPANIES - BANKRUPT
Regarding the first statement - a sentence fragment, taken out of context - SunCal companies has been mired in bankruptcy proceedings for several years, and those proceedings include the Multifamily Division of which Mensinger had been President.
THE BETHANY GROUP - BANKRUPT
In addition, Mensinger was also a Division President with The Bethany Group before he went to SunCal, and that company also filed for bankruptcy.
SHOW ME WHERE I'M WRONG..
I wrote back to Bucher informing him of those facts and invited him to either provide me with more information to support his allegation that I've inaccurately characterized his client or to stop harassing me. Clearly, this is just one more attempt to silence a critic and, as I've said many, many times before, neither Mensinger nor Righeimer likes criticism.
POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON YOUTH SPORTS
I have written many times about the positive influence Mensinger has had on youth sports in our city. For that he is certainly to be commended. I've also been critical of actions he's taken both as an appointed Planning Commissioner and a non-elected City Councilman when I felt it was warranted. I will continue to do so.
HIS WORK HISTORY IS CLEAR
I don't have personal knowledge about Mensinger's management style or capabilities. The record shows, as chronicled in a recent Daily Pilot article, HERE, that he worked for former Ambassador George L. Argryos at Arnel Development twice for total of nearly two decades, that he left to start a business called "Smart Cart Services" then returned to Arnel as President of a division before moving on to The Bethany Group as a President of a division. From that assignment he moved to SunCal as President of its Multifamily Division and, when he left SunCal, he apparently established some kind of real estate consulting firm using the names of his sons in the title.
WAS HE A GOOD MANAGER, OR NOT?
The record does demonstrate that two companies in which he served as President subsequently filed for bankruptcy. I don't know how much his presence at either of them contributed to those situations, but I imagine there are folks around who worked with him in those companies who could offer opinions. In my business experience, the President of an organization typically sets the course for the company and, in many cases, takes the helm and steers the organization on that course, making whatever corrections are necessary. I don't know if he set the course to take them over the bankruptcy falls or not. Nor do I know if his hands were still at the wheel when they went over the brink.
IMPATIENT AND VINDICTIVE
What I DO know, from watching him operate as a planning commissioner and council member, is that he's an impatient man who appears to have his opinion locked down before public comments are presented. He's demonstrated a short fuse in both those assignments and has shown us a vindictive side that does not lend itself to good governance. On the Planning Commission he would attempt to micromanage projects before him, berating project managers in the process.
AN AUTHORITARIAN STYLE
During his brief tenure on the City Council - much too long for me - we've seen Mensinger criticize speakers from the dais, demonstrate an impatience with speakers and staff members and, at times seemed so bored with the proceedings that he'd spend much of the time texting. His management style that's on display for the public to see is that of an impatient authoritarian and, sometimes, a bully. And, of course, there was that difficulty adding 2+5=7 at the last council meeting.
In his threat letter to me, Mr. Bucher, regarding the statement he captioned above - a false statement on his part, by the way - said, "The above statement is enormously damaging to Mr. Mensinger professionally because he makes a living as a manager in the real estate industry. In addition, such a statement is also damaging to Mr. Mensinger's reputation and standing in the community." I can't do anything about that. Mensinger is who he is, with a history all of his own making. I, and other observers, can only report what we know and see. Sometimes the truth does hurt. I don't like people to observe that I'm fat, but it's the truth. If he doesn't like criticism he should stay the heck out of politics, where you're almost guaranteed to make at least half the people mad at you all the time.
A PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR THAT HURTS OUR CITY
Sadly, this pattern of behavior with both Mensinger and Righeimer, only further demonstrates their willingness to intimidate and threaten those who disagree with them. Heck, this might be a systemic genetic flaw within the leadership of the Orange County Republican Party. Costa Mesa City Hall is stark evidence of their heavy-handedness and threatening style, as several of the senior staff members who have disagreed with them have now departed. This new city council, with its heavy-handedness and irrational preconceived "solutions" to municipal problems, has created a hostile work environment that has chased many outstanding employees out and has many of those who remain looking for a new position elsewhere. If they continue on this path, by the end of the year they will have succeeded in destroying an award-winning, efficient, exemplary city government and will have replaced it with uncaring hired guns in the form of consultants and "outsourcing firms" who have no real concern for the city and its residents. As one speaker before them recently said, this is very much like a hostile takeover of a business.
WHOSE RIGHTS ARE NEXT?
The residents of this city should be very concerned about this kind of behavior by members of the city council. That they would unleash a lawyer with threatening behavior does not bode well for anyone expressing dissent in our city. It's only a matter of time until they attempt to trample your rights, too.