Righeimer Faces Recall!
Just when you thought it might turn out to be a nice, quiet little Costa Mesa City Council meeting, up pops a major story so quickly you can scarcely believe your eyes and ears.
RIGHEIMER NOTIFIED OF RECALL PLAN
At the meeting Tuesday night about half-way through the Public Comments section near the beginning of the meeting, former City Council candidate Chris McEvoy stepped to the speaker's podium, asked that a document be handed to Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer. Once he was sure Righeimer had the single sheet of paper in his hands McEvoy - a high school math teacher - read his copy of it. The title of the document is "Notice of Intention To Circulate Recall Petition" and with the delivery to Righeimer he is officially notified that McEvoy intends to gather signatures on petitions to recall him for his role in approving the now-withdrawn agreement with the proposed developers of Banning Ranch. Although all four men on the council voted to approve the agreement, only Righeimer is eligible to be recalled. McEvoy has not yet responded to my note requesting clarification of his action.
LEECE AND RIGHEIMER GOING AT IT
I kind of knew this might be an unusual meeting when Righeimer and councilwoman Wendy Leece got into a heated exchange as they left the dais for the closed session meeting that preceded the regular meeting. We later found out what that was all about.
Several speakers addressed the destruction and/or theft of campaign signs - a serious problem this time around. All decried the actions and called for everyone to stop this vandalism. That prompted council members Mensinger and Monahan to also complain about the expense of sign theft and damage.
During council member comments Mensinger, in addition to complaining about sign damage and theft - he said it has to stop because it's a freedom of speech issue. He complained about speakers before the council characterizing members of the council as corrupt - an act he described as "demented". He complained that his teenage sons might hear it and basically made what amounted to a campaign speech. He described the campaign as "A battle between the reasonable and the unreasonable."
Mayor Eric Bever told us he's continuing the fight for Alternative #2 on the proposed I-405 widening that will be considered on October 22nd by the full Orange County Transportation Authority Board. He also complained about campaign mail and requested CEO Tom Hatch to look into a problem about a patriotic banner rejected at the Senior Center. During a mini-rant about criticism of the council he actually used the phrase, "neener, neener, neener". Ever the infant...
He then told us that he didn't want the soup kitchen to be closed - a lie, because that's exactly what he said at the last meeting - but that he wanted CEO Hatch to investigate it and SOS as nuisance businesses under that definition in the municipal code. He complained that their presence adversely affected their neighbors. He referred to his bible, which apparently doesn't say "it's OK to do a good deed and screw-over your neighbors." Ever the class act.
Righeimer began by raving about the Feet To The Fire Forum the previous night, then launched off into a dissertation on campaign mailers. He produced several items that he said were produced by "outside" entities - unions and other groups from outside the city. He decried the influence of outside entities, but conveniently forgot to mention the role his pals at the OC GOP have in this campaign. For example, they produced this hit piece on Sandra Genis that ended up in my mailbox this week that violates Ronald Reagan's so-called 11th commandment - ""Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.":
It was during this segment that he said, "Remember when the Orange County Fire Authority came and tried to take over our fire department." Of course, that's a lie. The OCFA was invited in by our firefighters association to provide an assessment of the organization as a way to find ways to improve operations and save money. The council had to approve that move because it involved an agreement of shared cost for the investigation. That's just another example of Righeimer's selective memory.
Then the stuff really hit the fan as Righeimer began to discuss a "letter" that Leece had "sent" that "accused some council members of corruption". It turns out that this was what caused the heated discussion earlier in the evening between those two. Leece argued that it was inappropriate conversation, particularly since nobody had a copy of the letter. Bever rebuffed her complaint and then permitted Righeimer to read the entire message - the word "corruption" was never mentioned. When he finished the audience applauded at the content.
Righeimer, Bever and Leece got into a discussion of her allegation of Brown Act violations and they went round and round, with Bever complaining that she shouldn't say things she couldn't prove - improprieties by the "two-man committees" that came up with the outsourcing scheme. Eventually, stand-in City Attorney Christian Bettenhausen said she could say anything she wanted because it was protected as free speech.
When it came time for Leece to speak she covered a wide range of issues, including an acknowledgment of the passing of Bobbi Hedrick, long time volunteer at the CMPD. When she discussed the letter Righeimer had read she said she wasn't talking about corruption, she was concerned about the integrity of some council members. At that point Bever lost it and interrupted her presentation, shut her off and told her to "Rein it in, will ya?" Another quote for the Bever archives of boneheaded statements.
During the Consent Calendar retired city employee Perry Valantine pulled one of the Warrants to discuss payments to various employee organizations as a tool to demonstrate the inadvisability of one segment of Jim Righeimer's Charter - the one that prohibited the city from deducting funds from employees to be used for political purposes. He demonstrated the folly of such a rule.
CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
Leece pulled the item about hiring two more code enforcement officers and got a lengthy explanation from staff It was during this lengthy discussion that Bever, again, lost control of himself and demanded that Leece stop "beating up Lobdell". Leece had used him as an example of poor hiring timing. When Leece attempted to explain Bever said, "I don't want to have a discussion," and just shut her off again! Ever the class act. The council approved the item.
NO MEETINGS UNTIL NOVEMBER 20TH
Because the council had earlier decided to abandon the meeting scheduled for November 6th - election day - the next meeting will be held on November 20th. That will likely be the meeting when we know, for sure, the results of the elections and have certified results from the Registrar of Voters. The following meeting, on December 6th, will be the final one of the year - when the winners in the council race are seated. So, we have a month off.