Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Demonstration", Updates And CMPD Response

Today, Saturday, August 25th, a group identifying themselves as members of the Newport/Costa Mesa Tea Party, conducted a demonstration on the sidewalk along Fair Drive in front of the Costa Mesa Police Headquarters.
The group, who apparently rallied to the call of Costa Mesa resident and long-time activist Phil Morello, paraded along the sidewalk for at least an hour, beginning shortly after 1:00 p.m.  When I left at around 2:30 most of the participants had long-since departed.  Morello and a few others remained.  The only excitement was a guy in a white pickup truck that twice drag-raced down Fair Drive in front of the Police Department while I was there.  Passersby would occasionally honk their horns - I guess in support.

Before beginning the demonstration Morello gave them, literally, their marching orders.  He said, in part, "These individuals, by whatever actions are occurring, are trying to intimidate and make people change their positions so that they vote in their own best interests instead of the interests of the voters they represent.  We can't have that.  That's the classic definition of thuggery.  So, that's why we're here today.  We need to show support and we're not going to put up with it anymore." And off they went...

The group was a mix of Costa Mesa residents and folks from out of town.  I spoke with people from Laguna Niguel, Newport Beach and elsewhere.  My guess, including estimates by other media folks present, was that it was about 50/50.  The total number of participants at any time was around 24, plus a few children carrying flags.

Although the signs expressed a degree of outrage, the demonstration was quite calm and civilized.  The folks with whom I spoke were uniformly concerned about the recent event that caused Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer to be asked by a member of the Costa Mesa Police Department to take a field sobriety test on his front porch.  Some folks were more aware of the facts than others.  Some had no clue - they just responded to the call for action.  Some agreed with Righeimer's statement that he had been "set up", while others withheld judgment until the facts are known.

The group "Oath Keepers" had a small contingent on site.  They stood at the corner of Vanguard Way and Fair Drive with a banner, shown below.  From time to time one of their members used a bullhorn to shout, "Costa Mesa Police Officers, Honor Your Oath!  Your Oath Is To The Constitution, Not To Unions!

I spoke with many of the participants over the hour I was there.  One of the organizers was a fellow named Bill Dunlap, from Newport Beach.  He's a member of the Orange County Republican Party Central Committee and espoused a broader concern - a national view of this situation.  He left early to mow his lawn.

It was clear that this was a hastily-organized event.  The signs were hand-made with a certain degree of lack of precision.  The most provocative sign I saw was the one Morello was carrying, tightly snuggled up to an American flag.  The photo of that sign is below.

To my knowledge - at least while I was there - nobody from The City, nor the CMPD, addressed the group.  A conversation with a lieutenant on duty at the time led me to believe no contact with the group was planned as long as they demonstrated peacefully and lawfully.

Only the Daily Pilot was there to represent the "real media". You can read Serna's report HERE.  No television nor radio crews showed up while I was there.  One local gadfly showed up before the event commenced, took one or two photos, then left after about five minutes without speaking with any of the participants.  Facts never seem to get in the way of his opinions on his blog.

I don't know if anyone called it, but the Huntington Beach Police Helicopter did a fly-by during the demonstration.


I couldn't help but observe the large yellow ribbon tied to a tree in front of the CMPD headquarters, along with the sign honoring Officer Jon Smith, currently deployed in Afghanisan that stood along the demonstrator's line of march.
In addition to the coverage already provided by the Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register - all of which was linked in my earlier blog entry - the Register posted a new article today, HERE.  If the Daily Pilot produces an article covering this event I'll link to it here later.

Late this evening the Costa Mesa Police Department issued a supplemental Press Release addressing this issue.  The text of that message follows:

No additional information available at this time.

Following an incident reported to the Costa Mesa Police Department on Wednesday, regarding the alleged driving violations of Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, an investigation was initiated by the Professional Standards Bureau and the Investigative Bureau, at the direction of Chief Tom Gazsi.  The source of the call and the alleged report of inappropriate driving is under investigation. Although the caller suggested the Mayor Pro Tem may have been driving impaired, the responding officer confirmed that Mr. Righeimer was not under the influence.  A vigorous investigation continues concerning the motive and nature of the call.  The Department anticipates a future review of this matter by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.  

Best Regards,
Tim Schennum
There is clearly a lot of tension in Costa Mesa about this issue - appropriately so, in my opinion.  Until all the facts are known about this event folks on both sides of this issue will fill in the blanks with their own conjecture and speculation.  So many questions, too few answers.  The longer it takes to get answers the worse it is for the City.  We need to know:

  • Why did the man who called 911 do it? 
  • Was he acting as an employee of the law firm that worked for the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association? 
  • Who, if anyone, paid him to do it? 
  • Was he just acting as a "rogue operator", which he apparently has a history of doing during his time as a police officer in Riverside before he left that job under a cloud?
  • Is he subject to criminal penalties for reporting Righeimer?

This event, in my opinion, has changed the face of the election dramatically.  We need answers FAST.

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Blogger just wondering... said...

So when will the movie come out?

8/25/2012 08:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

Sonofagun! Remember the "Return to Reason" group a few years ago? The group picture in Fairview Park showed scarcity: we were a small crowd, maybe good for elevator stuffing but unsuited for Council Chambers stuffing.

Now here's an even SMALLER group! They couldn't even stuff a phone booth, assuming they could find one anywhere. Yet they band together for "mutual protection..."

Where are these toadies when it comes time to stand at the podium and face the awesome power wielded by city government in order to claim their three minutes of free speech, knowing that someone on the dais will likely make a snide remark at the end of that speech?

Wave your flags, fellows. Call people, honest, upright citizens, the nasty names your puppet masters have dictated to you: "haters", "thugs". We know all about you. We're not worried.

8/25/2012 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

Oh, and by the way, it's "thuggee", not "thuggery" -- after the Phansigar (strangler) sect in India, whom people called "thag", and who practiced thuggee. You've got it confused, maybe, with "buggery", which has nothing to do with bugs.

8/25/2012 09:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

It’s unquestionable that the Righeimer set-up was both unethical and stupid. I, along with many others, hope that the perpetrator(s) will be found and brought to justice soon.

On the other hand, little if any inconvenience was actually done to Mr. Righeimer by this brief encounter with the police. To the contrary, it seems he has received an enormous fringe benefit: by turning this disturbance into a prolonged news story, he has managed to distract public attention from the disastrous City Council meeting Tuesday night, where the councilmen ignored city regulations and common courtesy even more than usual.

Hurry, fellow readers! If you haven’t yet read Pot Stirrer’s report on that meeting, scroll down to the Wednesday entry of the blog before it disappears and watch the video clip, on which you will see Righeimer misrepresent facts, twist a speaker’s remarks, ignore proper governmental procedures, repeatedly call negotiations a “shake-down” of the council, and more.

Read Pot Stirrer’s full post for more improprieties committed by the councilmen, and watch the whole video on file for even more. Count ‘em. I came up with ten separate categories, not including repeats.

8/26/2012 02:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

Quite the motley crew there...

8/26/2012 06:21:00 AM  
Anonymous not buying it said...

You say... "This will affect the election". That's the whole point.

Righeimer wants voters to think this was a union planned hit job on him. He doesn't think the average voter will think about the reality of the details (he's probably right).

The caller (although not required) gave is name and made sure he could be identified. That means that his history as a independent contract "PI" that had been used by the attorneys who have represented the PD would come to light for the all important press release.

This is exactly what would benefit Righeimer's agenda in the elections and exactly the opposite of what savvy 'union thugs' would do.

It's pretty clear to me that this caller is a dirty political hit man for hire who will work for whoever pays. He was fired from his police job and now does what a lot of PIs do... anything.

8/26/2012 08:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Sad but true said...

Love it. No matter what, blame Riggy. Even Tamar, in the end Riggy this, Riggy that.

Sad state of affairs here in this city when anti council energy stoops to these levels.

I agree, this will be an election issue. Has been. Will be. Not the only one to decide the election.

8/26/2012 09:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Art Class 101 said...

It's good to see all those people spending quality time with there kids and grandkids by recruiting them to make those great looking signs that they were waiving so proudly.

8/26/2012 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

I'm still waiting for the movie to come out.

8/26/2012 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

I know it's off topic, but I'd like to answer Stevie's question with which he ended his DP charter commentary: ANYONE WHO HAS A BRAIN; ANYONE WHO THINKS FOR THEMSELVES; ANYONE WHO IS NOT A BLIND OCGOP FOLLOWER - that's who KNOWS this "charter" is "scary" as you so childishly put it!

8/26/2012 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

I guess this shows just how scared and desperate the 3 M's and the charter crew really are.

8/26/2012 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Rigged Mob said...

Anyone ever tell that pathetic guy Pollit that "tea parties" are for little girls with imaginary friends?

Very charitable of Geoff to post Marty's photo. Was he there as Marty or Phil or Barry? Did Marty call 911 when Rick Francis entered the building?

Semper Fi.

8/26/2012 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Whoa... back up those horses a minute... did you just call Millard "skimpy"?


8/26/2012 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Not on his BEST day - or mine, either for that matter! ;-)

8/26/2012 04:06:00 PM  
Anonymous roboto said...

feral is "guessing" again, by his own admission. very hard to connect the dots eh? (hint: look for the union label)

8/27/2012 07:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

Yes, the council union label!

8/27/2012 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Bully Pulpit said...

I hope roboto/mensy's ready for questions from some of his old "plaintiff" friends on Wednesday..

8/27/2012 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike O'Reilly said...

Thirty years ago, when I got popped for a deuce, the first thing I did was call a press conference and rant about the cops and some group or other setting me up and ruining my good name. Doesn't everybody?

8/27/2012 06:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Just My Preference said...

I'm ready for Costa Mesa to follow the lead of Camden, New Jersey, and many other cities who have scrapped their police forces in favor of joining with their counties.

8/27/2012 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Just My Preference....That is a great idea. The cops win because most will be hired by OCSD or some other agency like Irvine PD that is continuing to grow and they will get pay and benefit increases as a result. What? You believe those OCR pay and benefit numbers? Don't. Mensinger could fertilize a Pop Warner field with those numbers. With the exception of about a 3 month time period in 2006, CMPD has never been higher than 6 or 7 in the county. Ultimately, a switch to OCSD may save money, but it will be at the cost of less service. OCSD simply does not staff the same as local cities do. Their response times are notoriously slow and they often have to send deputies from neighboring cities into other contract cities to handle calls. Sound like a bargain?

8/28/2012 07:10:00 AM  

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