The Righeimer Snowball Grows(Amended)*
Today at 11:00 a.m. Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer continued his march to emasculate the public employee unions when he held yet another press conference at City Hall. The event drew members from most of the Los Angeles-based electronic media outlets - Channels 2/9, 4, 5 and 11 were all represented with film and stand-up staff. Radio stations of note were also in attendance, as was the local print media, The Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register.
Righeimer brought with him a cadre of local politicians to augment his complaints against the "police unions", the guy who called 911, Chris Lanzillo, and the law firm of Lackie, Dannmeier and McGill. Those present were Buena Park Mayor Jim Dow, Buena Park councilman Fred Smith, Fullerton councilman Bruce Whitaker and Irvine councilman Jeffrey Lalloway. His sidekick - and candidate for city council in November - Steve Mensinger was also in attendance - no surprise there. Righeimer also apparently convinced his buddy, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, to attend and voice his views of the issue. Righeimer said many other officials from throughout Southern California hoped to be there - he mentioned supervisors John Moorlach and Shawn Nelson specifically - but their schedules didn't permit it.
A sidebar... shortly before the press conference the Daily Pilot posted an article about an interview they had with Lanzillo. You can read it HERE. During the press conference Channel 2/9 reporter Michele Gile read most of it verbatim and asked Righeimer to comment on it.
STAFFORD SERVES TWO MASTERS?
Righeimer mentioned that a current Costa Mesa police officer, Damian Stafford, was also an employee of the law firm associated with Lanzillo and, until late last week, represented the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association - Lackie, Dammeier and McGill. He handed out a biographical summary apparently extracted from the law firm's web site outlining Stafford's background and his association with the firm. That document implied that he participated in negotiations that resulted in Costa Mesa Police Department being one of the highest paid police departments in Southern California.
BUENA PARK POLICE INTIMIDATION
The press conference, which lasted most of an hour, included stories from Dow and Smith that raise the hackles on the back of your neck. Smith spoke of the harassment he's been receiving from members of HIS police department and later showed media members text messages with threats to him.
DOW MOVING TO SAFETY
Dow, who is termed out this year after a dozen years of service on the Buena Park City Council, told the assembled throng that he was in fear for the safety of his family based on threats from his police department that he moved them all out of state. He went on to tell us that he had his home of 32 years on the market and will join his family at a location 1,500 miles away where they can live safely.
Whitaker, whose city has had it's own police problems recently, was there to support Righeimer and to address their problems with the law firm.
Lalloway, who lives in the paradise called Irvine, is a Republican party faithful and was there to talk about Righeimer's difficulties.
Mensinger took this all-too-convenient opportunity to hype his "COIN" policy that was discussed at the last council meeting, explaining how it would resolve all the problems in the city. He sounded VERY much like a guy on the campaign trail practicing his stump speech. I guess we'll find out tomorrow night at the first candidate forum.
Rhorabacher, who apparently blew off the Republican National Convention to attend this important event, was a welcome participant as far as I was concerned. Otherwise, I might have been the sloppiest dresser at the event. Rhonda needs to take him shopping for a suit or at least a sport coat... soon. He did make his presence felt, though, when he threatened to unleash the full power of the federal government to investigate the things discussed at the press conference. He cited unfair labor practices and the intimidation of elected officials as a primary concern.
*MEDIA BLITZ CONTINUES
This press conference will be all over the media this evening. On the way home I heard Righeimer live with Bill Carroll on KFI radio not 30 minutes after the press conference closed.
*NOTE: Righeimer was on the John and Ken Show on KFI again in the 4:00 p.m. hour. You can hear him - and their rants - again, HERE. Righeimer had sent them the pay schedule for all Costa Mesa employees, so John and Ken, once again, went nuts!
DOW BEMOANS THE GOOD OLD DAYS...
One interesting sidebar. Following the press conference I wandered around, listening to real reporters ask follow-up questions of several of the speakers, trying to fill in the blanks of my knowledge. This meandering brought me to Buena Park Mayor Jim Dow, who was standing alone, leaning on the podium, just taking things in. So, I stopped and we chatted about his circumstances, including those that caused him to relocate his family to southern Idaho. We joked that northern Idaho is widely known as LAPD-north. We spoke about his dozen years in office and how things have changed. He brought up the Brown Act, indicating that he understood why it was enacted, but he bemoaned its negative impact on city government. He said to me, "Yeah, I miss the good old days when you could just bribe a guy and get things done." He wasn't kidding... I smiled, because that very simple, straightforward statement provided a new, and very relevant context to the issues at hand. Very shortly thereafter he was summoned by Righeimer who, I suspect, chastised him for speaking with me.
DEPUTY SHERIFFS ASSOCIATION REPRESENTED
It was also interesting to note that Kimberly Edds, former ace reporter and columnist for the Register and the Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs since January, was also in the audience taking notes. Her organization is NOT represented by the law firm at the center of this storm. In fact, when the Register published the link to the now-infamous "Playbook" that Righeimer refers to all the time, her organization issued a scathing denouncement of those tactics and the law firm. She was at this event to gather information.
Members of Costa Mesa For Responsible Government (CM4RG) were also in attendance, listening intently to the speeches and providing information to members of the news media.
IS HE JUST THIS LUCKY, OR?...
So, the beat goes on. Several times over the past few days I've found myself thinking that, if all is as it appears to be in this situation, Righeimer may be the luckiest guy in Costa Mesa. He's clearly the guy you want to be standing beside in a lightning storm. I keep thinking that there is almost no way - almost - that you could actually orchestrate such a fortuitous event. Apparently this thing will be turned over to the District Attorney Tony Rackaukas for investigation very soon. This cannot happen soon enough.