Friday, July 23, 2010

Who's Running? & Roeder on City Talk

As of early Thursday afternoon the Costa Mesa City Clerk reports that, so far, seven residents have pulled papers to run for the two seats on the Costa Mesa City Council in November. Some of those names will be very familiar to you and a couple will raise question marks. Since the period for pulling papers ends the first week of August there is still time for more candidates to throw their hats into the ring.

WENDY'S RUNNING AGAINThe list below is random, except I gave Wendy Leece first position because she is the only incumbent running. Leece is ending her first four year term following her election back in 2006, when she rode Allan Mansoor's coattails to victory. She didn't really run her own campaign - her campaign web site never did get up and running and seldom was she seen on the campaign without the shadow of Mansoor on her shoulder.

RIGGY - ONE MORE TIMECarpetbagging Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer, amidst much hoopla and with a crowd of more than two dozen well-wishers cheering him on, pulled papers this week and held a "news conference" - with no members of the media present - on the steps of City Hall. There's a short video clip floating around out there of the event, but it's of such poor quality that I didn't bother to provide it. Here's a photo of Riggy and his entourage that morning. See how many elected and appointed officials you can identify. Here's a hint - there are three council members, four planning commissioners, one parks and recreation commissioner and one water district director.

Local businessman, author and former candidate Chris Bunyan is back. Bunyan has been devoting a great deal of time on the Banning Ranch issue and I suspect that will be part of his campaign platform.


High school math teacher Chris McEvoy is also back again. McEvoy, true to his promise following the last election, has remained immersed in municipal issues and has been a regular presence before the City Council and commissions. He has consistently presented his views respectfully and with clarity and certainly has a better feel for how things work - or don't work - in our city than he did two years ago.

Yet another "Chris" is running this year - lawyer Chris Blank has decided to take his considerable legal and organizational skills into this campaign. His presence in this campaign will add a very different dynamic to the process.


Newcomer to Costa Mesa, Susan Lester, didn't let any "grass" grow under her feet and has pulled papers. Lester has been a frequent speaker before the council recently, with her primary focus being on the sale of medical marijuana in our city. Her name appears in a closed session agenda item involving a lawsuit between the City and several proponents of the distribution of medical marijuana. She's relatively unknown in our town and it's going to be very interesting to see what the thrust of her campaign will be.

Finally, someone named Jeffrey Chapman has pulled papers for this campaign. We will find out more about him once he returns the package to the City Clerk, but for now he's just a big question mark.

This promises to be a very interesting campaign - as the past several have been in our city. We'll find out if Leece can actually mount an effective campaign on her own.

Of greater interest to me will be the campaign Righeimer mounts this time around. The last time he ran he finished 4th. Riggy is "one of the boys" in the Orange County Republican Party - he's in very tight with the Chairman, Scott Baugh. You don't get any more "connected" than Riggy is, so we can expect a lot of support from the OC GOP for his campaign. I'll be very surprised if he doesn't end up out-spending every other candidate very significantly this summer and fall.

Those who read this blog frequently know that I'm not a big Riggy fan. I didn't - and still don't - like the way he blew into town here during Allan Mansoor's re-election campaign almost four years ago to the day and then ended up elbowing his way onto the Planning Commission just a few months later with an application filed well after the deadline - shoving aside Mansoor loyalist Paul Bunney in the process. I've said many times, his appointment was pure political payback for the support he and his buddy, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, provided for Mansoor.

I also don't like Righeimer's style as Chairman of the Planning Commission. He plays fast and loose with the rules, ignoring established procedures and protocols and has been seen bullying more than one applicant appearing before him. He has a tendency to micro-manage projects coming before the commission, attempting to overlay his own personal agenda instead of following the rules in place at the time. He seems to frequently be trying to re-shape our city into some distorted version of Irvine all by himself.

Righeimer's behavior relative to the Fairgrounds Sale issue makes me very distrustful of him. As councilwoman Katrina Foley reported on the dais, he told her that he was ready to "blow up" the deal because he was being blocked from playing a role in the process. I have no reason to doubt Foley since he told me virtually the same thing during an earlier telephone conversation.

And, my biggest concern about Jim Righeimer is what appears to be a planned take-over of our municipal government. He's manipulated himself into a powerful commission assignment, where, as chairman, he runs things like a little kingdom. Of even more concern is a report I recently received about him telling a long-time community resident and activist that he no longer had a political future in Costa Mesa and that Righeimer and his cadre of buddies - Steve Mensinger, Colin McCarthy and Jeff Mathews - were all lined up to jump into city council slots as the opportunities presented themselves.

In my opinion, it is absolutely no coincidence that Mensinger has headed the "draft Katrina Foley for School Board" movement this year. If Foley runs for Michael Collier's seat and wins she will have to abandon her council seat with two years left on her term. The new council - the one seated following the November election - will most likely appoint someone to serve out her term. If that council is comprised of Riggy and Leece plus Eric Bever and Gary Monahan I think there will be ZERO chance that they would take the next-highest vote-getter from the election, even though that person will have already been vetted and considered by the voters. Nope, I think they would appoint one of "their boys" from the group mentioned above to get another step up in their take-over.

I certainly hope the voters pay attention this year, and that they take the opportunity to attend any candidate forums presented this summer and fall to personally assess all the candidates. If they don't, and if that results in Riggy's election to our city council...well, they will get what they deserve - a dictatorship.


On a much more positive note, City Manager Allan Roeder is featured again on the most recent edition of Costa Mesa TV's City Talk. This time he answers questions by host Dane Bora about the budget and the Fairgrounds Sale. This is an excellent half-hour presentation and should be required viewing by every Costa Mesa resident. You can view the streaming video HERE. The following is the viewing schedule for the remainder of the month on CMTV, Channel 24 on Time Warner Cable and Channel 99 on ATT U-Verse.

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Anonymous South Coast Metro Fan said...

So, here we go again. Time for a bunch of folks to fall out of bed and run for office they know nothing about. How many of these candidates are involved in the City? How many are on Committees or Commissions? How many volunteer for our schools, or donate to important causes? I recognize two names. The third just rants at Council meetings. Geoff, as you look for who you will support, ask each of them what they have done for Costa Mesa over the past 4 years. The answers won't surprise me.

7/23/2010 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

South Coast Metro Fan, I understand your view... every cycle we get at least a few "candidates" who are absolutely clueless about how the city works and what the job and responsibilities of a council member really are. Sadly, those folks end up looking very foolish at candidate forums.

7/23/2010 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

It's a system that keeps feeding itself - the elected yokels (Mansoor, etc.) appoint the next wave (Riggy, Mensinger, etc.) to commissions, giving them visibility before running, etc... Ugggg

7/23/2010 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

In a perfect world that would be how it works. Get appointed to a commission - Parks or Planning - do some time learning the ropes and city issues, then run for council. Nothing wrong with the process except this time around it's likely to be working with a stacked deck. Diversity of background is best - this mob is dominated by developers - not healthy in a built-out city. And, Riggy and Mensinger are used to being able to say "jump" and their minions say, "how high?" They don't follow the rules if they don't like them...again, not healthy for our city. They "get things done", but so does a bull in a china shop - with similar results.

7/23/2010 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Chris McEvoy said...

South Coast, you may not agree with my rantings however showing up to all those meetings and doing all that ranting does make me involved in our City.

7/24/2010 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous South Coast Metro Fan said...

No, Mr. McEvoy, ranting at City Council meetings does not equal involvement in the City. What committees are you on? What non-profit boards are you part of? Do you help our schools? Do you help youth sports? Are you a parent? Are you a homeowner? What policy ideas have you brought forward since the last election? None. All I've seen is you alienate nearly every City Councilmember because you don't agree with them. Good leaders work to build consensus, even among those they disagree with. You have failed to do that which is why you won't have my vote, nor the vote of my neighbors and friends.

7/25/2010 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Chris McEvoy said...

South Coast,
I know I won't win your vote and that is okay, but I don't say what I say to win votes, I say it because I beleive it is the right thing. With regards to policy I have presented very clear ideas with regards to Bluff Rd, Overlay Zone, code enforcement priorities, density...

I don't own a house or have a family, does that mean I wouldn't be qualified? No owning a house and having a family has no logical connection to the ability to be a council member. Does that mean I ignore that perspective? Absolutely not!

Finally I do know how to work with people, that is my job, even the ones I don't like.

7/25/2010 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

South Coast Metro Fan, I think Chris is correct in his response to you. After all, your pal, The Mayor, is not a parent (as far as we know), is not on a non-profit board, disbanded the only committee he was ever on (the Human Relations Committee), is not a homeowner and, as far as we know, is not even gainfully employed right now. You're correct, good leaders build consensus - The Mayor has only created divisiveness in our city. Chris has no role in government yet, so is not burdened with the responsibility of building consensus. He simply presents his opinions and concerns to those in power and moves forward. Incidentally, has anyone ever told you that you sound very much like Steve Mensinger?

7/25/2010 05:59:00 PM  
Anonymous MikeK said...

Just to confirm things you already know.

I first became aware of Mr. Righeimer one day when I turned the channel and came across a Planning Commission Meeting in progress. I paused momentarily on the channel and thought it was going to be a typical meeting, until Commissioner Regiheimer started grilling an applicant over what I thought was a very insignificant matter concerning whatever change the applicant wished to make on a very old piece of property. After he started his cross examination, I stuck around and watched the entire meeting.

Which means my first impression of Mr. Righeimer was that he was obviously in the wrong profession. By the tone of his voice, accusing demeanor, and over bearing attitude towards ordinary property owner applicants, I thought that he was elevating the position of the Panning Commissioner to that of the Great Inquisitor.

That was my first impression of him anyway, and I haven’t changed my mind about him since then.

7/25/2010 07:14:00 PM  
Anonymous South Coast Metro Fan said...

The Mayor is not my buddy, nor am I friends with Mr. Mesinger. My criteria comes largely from living in this City for over 20 years. Interestingly, Steve Smith wrote a decent piece in the Pilot in which he discussed good criteria for a Council candidate and I tend to agree with him. McEvoy has none of these things. I give him no chance of winning. He should spend more time getting involved in the communitiy and less time blogging. I haven't decided who I will vote for until I see all candidates but it won't be him. This City needs leaders who don't just rant and call names, but people who are involved in the community. I guess Mr. West doesn't care about those qualities. Too bad.

7/26/2010 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

South Coast Metro Fan, you're assuming that Smith's recent essay is the final word on what a candidate should be - I disagree. For example, I disagree with his statement that Wendy Leece is the best candidate around... Holy Cow!

You indicate that McEvoy has none of the criteria Smith outlines, which is inaccurate. If you review the list again you will realize your mistakes, which are many. McEvoy has many of the qualities Smith holds dear.

It's clear that you don't care for him, which is your right. However, his credentials as a long time resident of Costa Mesa, an educator, his immersion in city issues and willingness to speak up about them provides the cornerstone of a good candidacy, in my opinion.

You may be correct - he may not win. It's almost a certainty that he will be outspent by almost every other candidate, but his presence in the race will force the discussion of important issues - some that front-runners Righeimer and Leece may not like very much. We'll see.

7/27/2010 12:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Bob Woodward said...

Smith did not say Leece was the best candidate. Get your facts straight.

7/27/2010 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Uh, Bob Woodward, here's the quote: "The best elected candidate around is Costa Mesa City Councilwoman Wendy Leece,..."

7/27/2010 10:55:00 AM  

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