Friday, August 23, 2013

Former Interim Police Chief Speaks Out!

A CREDIBLE VIEW
Steve Staveley, former Interim Police Chief of the Costa Mesa Police Department (twice), wrote a couple comments this week on the blog entry on the post I titled, "Contemplating Calamity In Costa Mesa", HERE.

UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE
Chief Staveley has been a voice of clarity in the past.  His four decade career in law enforcement leadership carries a lot weight among law enforcement agencies around the country, and among the many cities in which he has served as an employee or consultant.

PRESENTED WITH HIS PERMISSION
Because his views are very powerful I've asked for, and received, his permission to reproduce those two comments - posted yesterday - as a separate entry today.  With his permission I took some editorial license - cleaned up some spelling and formatted his notes for easier reading.  I added not a single word to the entries, nor did I "edit" them to attempt to change the meaning or his intended emphasis. 

THE WORDS OF CHIEF STEVE STAVELEY

Published 12:40 p.m. 8/22/13
Since I left Costa Mesa as Interim Chief I have kept up with an occasional review of this blog and the Daily Pilot to see how the community and especially the department was doing. I always liked Costa Mesa and have a special affection for the CMPD and its staff. Of the 6 agencies I have worked for and the many I have worked in (management studies, team building and the like) CMPD was at the top and, frankly, a joy to watch do its work.

So I returned after a few days of work out of town to find a headline that Mr. Righeimer and Mr. Mensinger have filed a law suit against the Police Officers Association. Now was it not just a couple of weeks ago one of them said that most of the cops like what they are doing politically and administratively for the city? Seems like it was. Was it not just the other day one of them said that they like the cops and respect them, etc.?  Seems like it was. I see from the DP article that they say that this suit has nothing to do with the cops, the rank and file as they say. Balderdash (thinking of another phrase, but this is polite company) .

There is no difference in this matter between the rank and file and the organization called the Police Association nor its board of directors.  The board puts on their cop hat when they are working and when they sit down to do Association work they put on their association hat - same people. How do I know?  Well I was an Association board member at one time in my career, and I have sat across the table from those representing the association in every position I have held for well over 20 years.

I am no friend of Lackie and Dammier et al. They are an aggressive law firm when they represent police officers and associations. Yet I will also say, that I have never seen them do anything I would call unethical or that was not in the best interests of their clients. I am sure they have made mistakes in their representation of clients, but I have not witnessed it. I have no idea if they had given instruction to Lanzillo ( the PI ) or not or if Lanzillo and his actions regarding the possible drunk driver were valid, fake, or anything else. I hope that DA Rackaukas and staff will be able to help me understand when the investigation side is completed and evaluated.

I do believe, fully based upon a good understanding of the cops and leaders involved at the CMPD, that the individual officer who responded did his/her job in a professional and sensible manner protecting the interests of the public, as well as Mr. Righeimer - it's just the way they do business. How can I say protect the interests of Mr. Righeimer?  Can you imagine if a less professional individual or less experienced individual saw Mr. Righeimer after being given that call to handle and said "Well hi there.  Because of who you are I am on my way" - no test, no proof, no observations if he had been drinking or not. In my view Mr. Righeimer should be thanking the cops and especially that cop for helping him prove his POLITICAL INNOCENCE. But no, for reasons that must make sense to him, he and Mr. Mensinger file suit.

I bet the lawyers are loving this. Not just those involved so far, but Jones and Mayer, maybe Jones Day its billable hours everywhere. Whatever do I mean? Well how can you file suit against the Association, and thus its membership, and then make fair decisions regarding its members on personnel matters, contract, assignments and so on? Seems to me they have opened that door and the billable hours will mount.


Published 6:57 p.m., 8/22/13
Finally, the CMPD chief has said that its hard to find good people and others have said that the political and fiscal turmoil of the past few years keeps the best of the experienced or high demand folks away. That is sure true.

The son of a friend has 3 years with a major sheriffs department (all jail) and is looking for a municipal PD. Corona PD has three openings a great reputation and hundreds of applicants including my friend's son. The young man has a handful of OUTSTANDING performance reports, a BA and is in mid 20s, married and owns a house - a very good background. Guess where he has applied - that's right - stable Corona.

CMPD has, in my professional opinion, a great chief, and one of the best leadership groups I have ever worked with - a staff of officers, supervisors, professional persons as good or better than any in So Cal or Nor Cal for that matter. But even as loyal, hard working and dedicated as these professionals are, they will eventually react negatively, leave, retire, or retire on duty when their political leadership keeps kicking them in the head and that is exactly what this suit is, a kick in the head of every member of the CMPD from the chief on down. The actions speak louder than words.

My advice for Mr. Righeimer and Mensinger ( which they did not take when I was there - but I will try again, and I won't even charge for this advice this time ) have your lawyers dismiss against the CMPOA, issue a public apology for your misunderstanding, publicly and repeatedly restate your support for building the finest police department in the county and give your chief a two year contract extension and a raise. Then maybe, just maybe, the fine people of the department can build back the department you claim you desire. You want to sue some private investigator and his former employer (Lackie, etc. ) go for it.

It takes years to build a successful police department and will take years to rebuild from here. If Mr. Righeimer and Mr Mensinger ignore my advice (as they sure have in the past), it will not get better - playing politics is not the same as leadership and growth comes from leadership, not politics. Leadership, gentlemen, leadership.

Steven H. Staveley, Director of the Division of Law Enforcement, California Department of Justice (Retired)


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The Natives Were Restless Last Night

GOING FOR LAUGHS, ENDED UP PROPHETIC
When I used this image on my entry yesterday discussing the Parks and Recreation Commission discussion of the proposed entryway improvements at the southern end of Fairview Park at their meeting last night I was kind of kidding.  However, it proved to be accurate, as an engaged - and often hostile - crowd attended the meeting to express their concerns about the conceptual plans, HERE.

THE SECOND TIME AROUND
At just about 6:30 p.m. the commission began the discussion of this project, delayed from the previous meeting because of concerns about the footprint and number of the parking spots originally proposed at the Pacific Avenue entrance to the park and the size and location of the play area.  The original plan showed 42 parking spots, but the current version of the Fairview Park Master Plan allows only 10, so Chairman Byron de Arakal sent the staff back to the drawing boards to come up with a scheme that more closely matched the approved plan.  They did, and they didn't.

SAME SONG, SECOND STANZA
The crowd of more than 60 residents and other interested parties had a chance for a little warm-up for this meeting when most of them attended the meeting Monday of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee, which covered some of the same ground.  After attending that meeting I knew this one would be fun.  It was, to say the very least.

MANY SPEAKERS, MANY COMPLAINTS
More than 20 speakers stepped up to address the commission with a variety of concerns, from inadequate noticing of this project to increased traffic on Pacific (a frequent refrain), to the lack of toilet facilities near the proposed tot lot, to illegal night-time use of the park, to the proximity of the amenities to a "failing bluff face", and on and on.  I'm not making light of the complaints - each person who spoke was very serious about the impact of these "improvements" would have on them, personally, and to the users of the park as a whole.  Several speakers were concerned about lights, even though de Arakal made it very clear early on that lights were not part of this particular discussion. 

SAME FOOTPRINT, FEWER PARKING SLOTS
Immediately it was evident that the "new" solution offered for the Pacific Avenue entrance was simply the same old footprint with fewer parking spaces.  Again, technical professionals opined that the footprint used was necessary to provide turnaround space for emergency vehicles.  No representative from the Fire Department was present to affirm that opinion.  At least this time the consultant who drew up the plans did not tell us that the larger space was prepared for "anticipated future uses in the park".  That's code for "playing fields".  That would have REALLY set last night's crowd off.  Nobody spoke in favor of the options offered.

SOFT-SPEAKERS
And, as the discussion moved along, many members of the audience had difficulty hearing Parks Project Manager Bart Mejia and commissioners Don Harper and Dean Abernathy as they spoke.  All three men are soft-spoken and, in their defense, it's very unusual to find more than a handful of people in the audience for these meetings.  But, de Arakal managed to poke the audience in the eye with a sharp stick when, in response to several members calling out for speakers to speak louder, he told them to just move forward.  Bad tactic, which evoked the rancor of the crowd and proved to be a precursor of things to come.

COOLING THEM DOWN
After all the speakers had presented their views and the discussion among the commissioners was moving along, it became pretty clear that the majority was going to vote for one of the staff recommendations.  The crowd became more vocal and agitated, to the point that the chairman was forced to take a 5 minute break to allow things to calm down.

PASSED, 4-1
When they resumed just before 9:00 p.m. the vote was taken and the commission recommended that the staff proceed with Plan B on a 4-1 vote.  Commissioner Bob Graham voted NO.  As is occasionally the case, Graham can be swayed by a loud, vocal opposition to an issue, regardless of the merits of the arguments.  The crowd might have reacted better - maybe not - if their major complaints had been addressed when possible before the vote.  Even though Chairman de Arakal indicated he had been listening and taking notes, specific issues were not addressed, leaving the speakers feeling that the only reason it was approved was because it was in the Master Plan.

AN APPEAL IS PROBABLE
As the crowd cleared the room, leaving only staffers and a couple audience members who were interested in tree removal requests, several called out that they would appeal the decision.  On the porch councilwoman Sandra Genis - who had attended the meeting, but had not spoken - suggested that she would appeal the decision to the City Council.  If that does happen, I expect another loud, vocal group to attend that meeting, too. 

ZERO TOLERANCE OF MISBEHAVIOR
However, they need to be forewarned - council meetings are a whole different breed of cat.  With several officers typically in attendance, NO outbursts like the one we saw last night will be tolerated - not for an instant.  The crowd will lose any sympathy council members might have for their position if they behave that way before them.

THAT DG TRAIL!
Early in the meeting, during the Oral Communications segment, Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee Chairman Dr. Richard Mehren spoke to the commission about the illegal decomposed granite trail that runs along the fence next to the Waldorf School that, as it turns out, encroaches significantly on Vernal Pool #6.  He advised the commission and audience that the Federal Department of Fish and Wildlife is now involved in helping us "solve that problem" - government speak for giving us a whack across the knuckles that might take any number of forms, from simple scolding to severe sanctions for not fulfilling our custodial obligations in the park relative to protecting the vernal pools.  That was part of a decades-old agreement between the City and the Federal Government.  We had the impression that the Feds were not happy campers.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and if anyone takes responsibility for this serious infraction.  We hear rumors of some fairly prominent names in the community being associated with this transgression.. we'll see.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Controversial Park Entrances On Agenda Tonight

YOUR GOVERNMENT AT WORK
The Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission, led by Chairman Byron de Arakal,  will meet again this evening in City Council chambers at City Hall beginning at 6:00 p.m.  You can read that short agenda HERE.

GET THERE EARLY
Right off the top, under Old Business, is the discussion of modification of two entrances to the park - at Pacific Avenue and Canyon Drive.  You can read that staff report HERE.
CONTROVERSIAL IMPROVEMENTS
This item was the subject of much discussion at the recent meeting of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee last Monday night.  I reported on it HERE.  More than 40 people attended that meeting to sign in on this issue.  I expect there will be at least that many at the meeting tonight, when the commission will vote on whether to accept the modifications from the original proposal and move forward with these improvements in the park.
ATTEND OR WATCH LIVE
I plan to attend the meeting and will report later or early tomorrow.  You can attend or watch the proceedings on CMTV - Channel 3 on Time Warner Cable and Channel 99 on ATT U-verse or on streaming video at the city web site.

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General Plan Land Use Workshop*(Amended)

ANOTHER GOOD TURNOUT
Last night saw more than 75 people gather on the lawn at City Hall for the most recent in a series of General Plan workshops.  This is the first of two on Land Use and was, again, designed to be a "family-friendly" event.

KIDS TAKEN CARE OF...
It included a puppet show for the children on the lawn nearby so the parents could know their kids were safe while they provided input to the process.
GOOD CROWD, NEW FACES
Economic and Development Director Gary Armstrong and consultant Laura Stetson guided the way and encouraged participation by the crowd.  More than a dozen spoke to the group, expressing their views on what should be considered as the General Plan is developed.  Once again, I saw unfamiliar faces mixed with those folks who regularly attend such meetings.  That was a good thing.

CHECKING OUT THE PHOTOS
An early adjournment permitted the attendees to examine graphics displayed along the walkway to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), where the second segment of the proceedings would take place.  Folks were encouraged to scribble their thoughts on Post-It notes and place them on a white board before entering the EOC.

BETTER TURNOUT, MORE STAYED
Unlike the previous meeting where a small segment of "outside" attendees stayed for the indoor portion, almost everyone stayed and more came in, too.  I estimated 80 or so people filled the room, including a cadre of mostly developer-types who clung to the back wall.
RIGHEIMER KICKS IT OFF
Mayor Jim Righeimer briefly welcomed everyone, thanked them for their participation, then tossed the ball back to Armstrong and Stetson.  No, he didn't mention his lawsuit against the police, in case you were wondering.  And, for the second night in a row, I sat within an arm's length of him the entire night and we both survived the experience.

CLICKING AWAY
The "inside" segment began with a little data-mining exercise using an electronic voting technology.  All the attendees were given little clickers, then were posed a series of questions to which they would respond by clicking a specific key on their clicker depending on their choices.  They went through several rounds, displaying the percentages of participants who selected each option.  The data will be compiled for later use when presenting the results of the General Plan Outreach sometime next year.
STRETCHED OUT
Then a rousing Question and Answer period was held.  Excellent questions/concerns were asked and some were actually answered.  It was a worthwhile event that went an hour longer than planned.

OFFICIALS IN ATTENDANCE
Besides the cadre of staffers, I saw many city officials in the audience and participating.  In addition to Righeimer, councilwomen Wendy Leece and Sandra Genis were in attendance.  Planning Commissioners Rob Dickson and Tim Sesler were joined by Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick.
NODE ZONING
A significant amount of time was spent discussing Node Zoning, just as it was at the meeting I attended the previous afternoon.  This time, though, specific examples of Node Zoning were provided graphically, each showing one or more of the "problem motels" that might be replaced should the City Council decide to adopt Node Zoning as a practice.  Although the concept seems to have value, I'm more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of basically spot zoning in our city.  That seems like a dangerous practice.
SQUEEZING MOTEL OWNERS
In addition, Righeimer mentioned new tools to be used to encourage motel property owners to consider offers from developers.  Those are in the form of two new ordinances he expects to be placed on the agenda for the September 3rd council meeting - the first day after the long Labor Day holiday weekend.  Those will be the renovated Nuisance Ordinance and an un-named ordinance that will facilitate levying significant fines for "excess use" of city services - primarily police and fire services.  Armstrong gave numbers like 2,200 calls for service at one motel during the last year.  The plan, as Righeimer had told us in the previous meeting, is to squeeze motel owners so hard in their pocket books that their property will become devalued and therefor be easier for them to consider offers.  It's the old "make them an offer they can't refuse" routine. As part of that discussion Righeimer acknowledged that it might lead to litigation.  Gee, do you think?  We're designing a plan to actually force profitable businesses out of business in our city.  No one identified themselves as motel owners at this meeting, although one example was given by a member of the audience of a billionaire owner of one local motel that rakes in tens of thousands of dollars a month from a very seedy place.

DEALING WITH OTHERWISE HOMELESS
Again, concern was expressed about the otherwise homeless families currently living in some of those motels.  Righeimer said it's not our intent to throw them out onto the streets.  However, he did state that tighter control will be exercised on how long individuals and families stay in one spot.  There are regulations about the length folks can stay in the motels.  Once they leave they won't be permitted back in.  Sounds like more lawsuits to me.

MET TONY CAPITELLI
Oh, yes... almost forgot.  I met recently-announced City Council candidate Tony Capitelli.   He seems like a very affable young fella who seems to be doing good work for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in his Huntington Beach field office, where he specializes in Immigration issues.  He told me he doesn't have another job.  He is the son-in-law of Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry.

*NEXT MEETING SEPTEMBER 12th
While there were a couple glitches in the program last night, I think it was a worthwhile exercise if the input actually makes into the big homogenized pot for later presentation to the City Council.  The next meeting is next month, on Thursday, September 12th from 6-8 p.m. at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue - Lions Park.  Westside issues will be discussed in a very similar format.  Mark your calendars. (DUE TO CONFUSION ON ENTRIES ON THE CITY WEB SITE CALENDAR THE DATE SHOWN FOR THIS MEETING ORIGINALLY WAS INCORRECT.  THE DATE NOW SHOWN IS THE PROPER DATE)



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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Officials Suing Employees Unprecedented?

IS THIS PRECEDENT-SETTING?
I asked myself that same question when the news broke about Mayor Jim Righeimer and his wife, plus his running buddy, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger decided to sue employees of the city - the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association (CMPOA) because they feared being set up by the police.

SO, I DID A SEARCH
So, I did a quick little to see if any other sitting elected officials had ever sued their employees.  Here's what I found...

A sitting Indianapolis council member sued his city for an arrest, HERE.

The mayor of Yuma sued the city council and city staff, HERE.

A Moreno Valley council member sued members of the city staff, HERE.

SO FAR, IT STANDS ALONE...
If you find more, let me know.  As far as I can tell, what our two top (I have a VERY hard time referring to them that way) elected officials have done - using such a broad brush by suing such a large group - has no precedent that I can find.  Let me know if you find more.




DESTROYING OUR "BRAND"?
In the meantime, the elected majority on this council has, once again, created a negative image of Costa Mesa for the world to see.  They tell us they're working hard to attract businesses to our city, spending our tax dollars for junkets to Las Vegas so they can attract more fast food outlets, etc.  They tell us they want Costa Mesa to be a place that will attract young families.  Well, does this kind of negative publicity accomplish that goal?  Quite the contrary!  Folks considering moving here, or establishing a business here, will take one look at this story and find another location.  These guys have been systematically devaluing our city for the past couple years and seem unfazed by the damage they are doing to a hard-won reputation.  They've made our city a standing joke - a low water mark for municipal management disfunction.  They've created such a toxic, hostile workplace that recruitment will become virtually impossible.  Way, way back, when they began the dismantling of our city government, I joked that their idea of the perfect municipal organization would be Tom Hatch and a handful of contract administrators - to manage all the outsourced functions.  Well, folks... that's where we're headed. Shame on them.

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General Plan Meetings - Yesterday And Today

EASTSIDE GENERAL PLAN MEETING
Yesterday I attended a meeting at City Hall attended by leadership members of the Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors Group, a coalition of my neighbors who have come together to present a unified voice on issues that affect those of us who live on this side of town.  This meeting was with city staff to discuss the upcoming General Plan Update, to provide input from the perspective of Eastsiders.
OFFICIALS AND EASTSIDERS MEET
A dozen people sat around the table in Conference Room 1A, including Planning Commission Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick (an Eastside resident) and Mayor Jim Righeimer, plus Director of Economic Development/Deputy CEO Gary Armstrong and Minoo Ashabi of his staff who heads up the General Plan updating effort.  Former councilman Jay Humphrey also attended and participated.

TRAFFIC
We discussed many issues that, while general and apply throughout the city, have a very specific impact on the Eastside.  We spoke about cut-through traffic, the recent Broadway traffic calming efforts and the upcoming plan for something similar on East 19th Street.  We spoke of the impact of the 55 Freeway terminus and the more than 100,000 cars that pass the intersection of Newport Blvd. and 19th Street daily.  We spoke of the impact of the reinvigorated Triangle retail center and the probable impact of the Banning Ranch project on Eastside traffic.

SENSE OF COMMUNITY
We talked about wanting to maintain the sense of "community" within the Eastside.  Some fear that the prolifieration of common interest developments - a dozen homes where there once was one or two - will diminish that feeling, which is one of the reason many residents purchased their homes in the first place.

VARIANCES AND DEVIATIONS
We talked about what appears to be a change in the way development standards are applied recently.  Variances and deviations to standards, both parking and other important measures, seem to be the norm rather than the exception.  Righeimer told us that a "Small Lot Development Standard" is being prepared.  I'm not sure I took comfort in that, because it seems like it might just be codifying the problem.  We'll see.

PROBLEM MOTELS
We talked about "problem motels", which are primarily an Eastside issue.  Righeimer explained the economics of the problem and acknowledged that we do not presently have sufficient enforcement tools available to do enough to control the problems of rampant drug and prostitution uses in some of those locations.  When asked he told us that there are two new ordinances - the revamped Nuisance Ordinance - and another he would not elaborate on, that will be presented to the council at the first meeting in September.  His goal is to drive down the value of those properties by fining them until it hurts enough that they will either change their business model - which apparently is like printing money right now - or sell the property to someone who will scrape the offending buildings and find another use.  Right now, according to Righeimer, the economics of it just don't work.

PLANNING THE DESTRUCTION OF BUSINESSES?
As I sat there listening and participating in the discussion I found it ironic that our mayor - a man who has been clamoring for economic development in the city - is actually strategizing about how to destroy businesses in our city.

"NODE ZONING"?
One of the tools they're talking about using is "node zoning", which nobody yet has clearly defined for me.  It seems like it means that specific parcels within the city would be specifically "zoned" based on what is perceived as an offending current use.  I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that concept, but need to know more.

PAY FOR PUBLIC SAFETY SERVICE
Another "tool" they plan to use is a new ordinance that will permit someone in City Hall to decide when calls for service - police and fire - are "too many" and are costing the city "too much", so the city will begin charging for every call beyond a "reasonable" threshold.  OK, I understand what they're  saying, but once that ordinance is on the books I wonder if they could arbitrarily apply it to, say, a senior care facility that generates more than the average numbers of emergency calls.  I'm not sure I want a politician deciding whether my next emergency call is worthy of response.  I'm not sure I want to hand my credit card to an EMT when he arrives to apply a defibrillator to my pounding chest because I, or my neighbors, have exceeded our quota of calls for the month.

REHAB HOMES
We talked about the proliferation of rehabilitation homes on the Eastside, an extension of the conversation Righeimer had with residents last month at his "Meet the Mayor" gathering on Orange Avenue.  Again, new ordinances need to be created to deal with them and it's a very touchy issue.

A WORTHWHILE MEETING
I thought the meeting was VERY worthwhile and am glad Righeimer and Fitzpatrick attended.  Their presence contributed positively to the discussion, even though some of the solutions need to be given more thought, in my opinion.

GENERAL PLAN LAND USE MEETING TONIGHT
Tonight, on the lawn next to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) the next in the series of public outreach efforts on the General Plan Update will occur.  It begins at 6:00 p.m. with a program on the grass and a puppet show for the children adjacent to it.  Refreshments supplied by Starbucks - coffee, milk and cookies - will be available for all.  At 7:00 p.m. those interested will shift into the EOC for another hour or so for a presentation during which consultants will gather data from the participants using sophisticated electronic data gathering equipment.  That should be interesting.  Here's a flyer that describes this meeting. (click on image to enlarge it)  I hope you all will try to attend.  The last one with a similar format brought out many new faces many of whom took the opportunity voice their opinions to the city staff and their neighbors.  See you there...


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Contemplating Calamity In Costa Mesa

 MY HEAD IS STILL SPINNING...
A few hours have passed since the Righeimers'/Mensinger lawsuit story broke and I've used that time to think about this situation a little more.  Actually, I'm still reeling as I contemplate our two highest-ranking elected officials suing the police officers of this city.  It's mind-numbing...

WHO KNEW?
An ironic twist is that, as it was breaking I had just finished a meeting at City Hall in which Mayor Jim Righeimer was a participant.  We got sat near each other and got along just fine.  I should have known something was up!  Sure wish I'd known about it then - we could have had a really interesting conversation.

 WHY NOW?
As more than a few folks have speculated in the past couple hours, the timing of this event is VERY interesting.  Was the news released today through Righeimer's pal, Frank Mickadeit, as a premptive strike on news he may have about status of the criminal investigation into that matter?  Did fellow Republican big wig District Attorney Tony Rackaukas let him know that it's going to be dropped?

EMPTYING THE WAR CHEST?
More than a few people this evening have speculated that this is just a move to drain the CMPOA of financial reserves - dollars that might have been used to campaign against Righeimer's re-election next year.  Actually, with the benefit of hindsight, that doesn't seem far-fetched at all.  The CMPOA will have to pay for their defense and the plaintiffs will have to pay their own costs.  The City should NOT be on the hook for any of that stuff.

WHAT'S UP WITH MENSINGER?
And why in the world did Steve Mensinger insert himself onto this law suit?  He wasn't involved in the event except that he was at Monahan's bar sharing liquid refreshment with Righeimer just before the event occurred.  The reports say that he feared he might be set-up by the CMPD.  Good grief!  This comes from a guy who treats traffic laws like they are merely suggestions.  Then, again, he treats most rules like that - if he doesn't agree with them he just doesn't follow them.

WHAT WILL THEY SAY?
I wonder just what Righeimer and Mensinger will say about this lawsuit?  Will say that the CMPOA left them no choice?  If so, will they remember those words as uttered a couple years back when the CMCEA had no choice but to file suit against the city to protect their rights - because they feared for their jobs.  Is that so different from this situation?  Will they see the irony in that?

RECUSE THEMSELVES?
Another interesting question posed to me tonight by more than one person - will both Mensinger and Righeimer have to recuse themselves from ANY discussions about labor negotiations involving the CMPOA?  Will they be forbidden from having ANY contact with ANY member of the CMPOA, including the sergeants-at-arms during council meetings?  I'm thinking "ride-alongs" are over for those two guys.

WHAT ABOUT GARY?
Oh, yes... what about Gary Monahan?  According to the reports, he was the target of the private investigator, Chris Lanzillo, in the first place.  If that scenario was perpetrated by the CMPOA, is Gary in fear of being set up?  If so, why is he not included in this lawsuit?  And whatever happened to that "big-busted babe" that was theoretically set to entrap him?

WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE EMPLOYEES?

All of our employee associations - they're NOT unions despite the fact that Righeimer, Mensinger and their sycophants constantly refer to them as such - are already feeling a lot of stress because of these two men.  What will THEIR reaction be to this news?  Will they feel equally threatened by by the fact that the mayor and mayor pro tem sued employees?

WELCOME BACK, TOM
And how will the senior staff management deal with this situation?  CEO Tom Hatch just returned from a much-needed vacation to find the 60th Anniversary issue waiting for him and now this.

RECRUITMENT NOW?
And what will Police Chief Tom Gazsi and the folks in Human Resources do now as they try to recruit new officers to fill open slots and anticipated openings later this year.  If you're a young recruit - or an old hand seeking a lateral move - will you want to join an organization that is being sued by the mayor and his pal?  Duh!  I can hear the telephone calls to HR tomorrow as candidates call to withdraw their applications.  And the city becomes a little less safe...

WHO DO THEY CALL?
And, who will the mayor and his buddy call if there's a problem in their neighborhood - Ghostbusters?  Seriously, will they have to call the Sheriff's Department for problems in their neighborhood.  Righeimer has already mentioned a "problem home" close to him... will he call Costa Mesa Police Dispatch for help?


I EXPECT DEPARTURES TO ACCELERATE
As most already know, several departures are scheduled within the Costa Mesa Police Department before the end of the year.  Many very senior officers have chosen to retire and others are moving on to what will obviously be greener pastures.  I fully expect, in light of this news, that more seasoned Costa Mesa Police Officers will choose to depart rather than remain in what has become the most hostile of environments.

JUST A DISTRACTION?
In the meantime, some folks around our community are suggesting that this may just be a big distraction to divert attention from the growing possible corruption investigation taking place at City Hall, and also from the newest problem - the installation of that decomposed granite path through a federally-protected vernal pool adjacent to Waldorf School in Fairview Park.  THAT one could bring the wrath of the federal government down upon us and actually severely diminish the City's ability to do ANYTHING in the park.

A SAD DAY...
I've been in this city for four decades and cannot remember anything like this happening before.  Thanks to the lawsuit filed by our mayor and mayor pro tem, today I became a little less proud to be a Costa Mesan.


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