Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Barlow Releases Righeimer Tapes (Updated)

In response to my Public Records Request a week ago, this afternoon Costa Mesa City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow released three audio tapes from the encounter Costa Mesa Planning Commission Chairman (and City Council candidate) Jim Righeimer had the evening of September 16th, 2010 at a DUI checkpoint on Harbor Blvd. near the 405 Freeway. The tapes were also released to Daily Pilot reporter Joseph Serna who published a report just before 3:30 this afternoon, HERE.

One of the tapes is only 4 seconds long and has no audible voices on it. The second is 47 seconds long and seems to be recorded from near proximity to the conversation captured on the third, but with much less clarity.

The third tape, which is one minute sixteen seconds long, contains what appears to be a segment of a conversation between Righeimer and as-yet unidentified police officer and appears to begin shortly after the two began talking. There are a couple segments that, despite repeated replaying and fiddling with the sound quality, I'm still not 100% sure of what was said. I've indicated those segments in the transcription below.

As I listened to the tape it's clear that Righeimer was agitated and unhappy. That's understandable, since he'd spent some time in the checkpoint and, although he didn't get flagged, he was off his schedule to attend the Estancia High School football game that evening. However, he still took the time to encounter the officers conducting the checkpoint, so he couldn't have been too concerned about his tardiness at the game.

There is one segment, at 0:21, where Righeimer greets someone (unidentified loud voice), identifying himself as "Jim Righeimer, planning commission". That voice was identified by Serna as Sergeant David Makiyama. My calls to Sergeant Makiyama for confirmation this afternoon went unanswered.

***SPECIAL NOTE: Late this evening Daily Pilot Web Editor Jamie Rowe provided a link to the actual audio tape. You can reach it HERE.***

0:01/0:02- Righeimer - I understand sir, I was stacked up onto the freeway.

0:02 - Officer - Uh-huh

0:02 - Righeimer - This is not a good idea...

0:05 - Officer - OK

0:05/0:13 - Righeimer - OK? Who do I have to talk to? Shawkey or who? This is unbelievable. I cannot believe at this time of day in rush hour traffic.

0:14 - Officer - (garbled) we're trying to educate people

0:16 - Righeimer - But this is not education. This is blocking traffic all the way back...

- Righeimer - (greeting someone) Jim Righeimer, planning commission.

0:22 - Unidentified loud voice - Hey, how ya doin' ?

0:23 - 0:29 - traffic noise, officer in the background (muffled)

0:30 - Righeimer - We need, we need to talk... we need to have a meeting tomorrow.

0:32 - Officer - I'm off tomorrow.

0:33 - Righeimer - OK, when can we have a meeting?

0:35 - Officer - Ah, I have to check my schedule

0:36 - Righeimer - OK, let me, give me your card?

0:40 - Righeimer - This is not gonna happen anymore.

0:43 - Righeimer - This is ridiculous.. closing down (muffled) traffic right after rush hour.. Friday night, Saturday night is understandable.. this is outrageous.

0:51 - Righeimer - It's not your fault, you're doing your job, I understand..pardon?

0:55 - Officer - (muffled)

0:56 - Righeimer - Thank you

0:58/1:16 - street noise - no audible voices.

The questions remain... should Righeimer have interfered with the police officers at the checkpoint? Apparently none of the other 3,200 other drivers felt so motivated.

What makes him think he needs to demand a meeting with the officer - or Chief Shawkey and Allan Roeder, as was the case - in any event? That meeting, which Righeimer mentioned in his Daily Pilot commentary, was canceled. Good move on the city's part.

Was Righeimer just looking for an opportunity for a confrontation with the CMPD because he knew their union was actively campaigning against him? Was this actually a set up by Righeimer to get positive publicity for his campaign?

Or, was Righeimer simply a concerned citizen with no particular ax to grind?

If I was not so technologically-challenged I'd figure a way to attach the audio clip on this site so you an hear it for yourselves. Perhaps one of those stalwart news hounds on the panel at the Feet To The Fire Forum tomorrow evening will get Righeimer to shed more light on this subject.

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Anonymous Joe M. said...

Looking for a little balance here Mr. West. I read the article in the paper and it's clear Righemer did nothing wrong. Why can't Reickoff apologize to him, Righemer apologize to Reickoff and we all move on to the real issues of Costa Mesa. The tapes show nothing.

9/29/2010 05:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Angels Pride said...

Bubbling Cauldron, the tapes are out and the City Attorney has investigated. Where's the investigation into the police officers who broke the law by speaking to the press? Are you pushing that investigation as hard as you are pushing at Mr. Righeimer?? Guess not. Reickhoff left that discussion out during his weekly tirade at City Council. Please keep us posted on the City's investigation into the Police Department and their rule breaking. It's only fair.

9/29/2010 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Joe M., I gave you my transcript and Joe Serna gave you his take on it, too. What we don't have is testimony by Righeimer nor the police officers. I assume (nasty word) that Barlow will announce the final results of her investigation in some fashion soon.

Angels Pride, You're asking the wrong person... I've pushed Barlow to complete her investigation. Since all we have are the tapes at this point, I suppose there's more to come. I'll report what I know, when I know it. It's fair to no one, including Righeimer, for this issue to dangle in the wind.

9/29/2010 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

You and Millard give such different impressions of the encounter. From Millard's website:


In the above link, the Pilot has a transcript of the short audio. See what you think. From what the CM PRESS sees there, Jim Righeimer seems polite and not out of control as some anonymous commenters have written. He tells one cop it's not the cop's fault that the checkpoint is in the wrong place at the wrong time and he even says "Thank you," to the cop.

Now, what about the four cops who spoke to the press, presumably violating department policy? Is there such a policy? And, what are their names? We'll apparently have to wait to see what the City releases next, if anything.

Apparently all Martin hear was a polite Mr. Righeimer. Conveniently missing in Millard's post is any mention of the demanding comments like "This is not going to happen anymore" and "This is ridiculous" and "this is outrageous."

Yep, that sounds like a polite reasoned discussion to me. NOT!

I still want to know how Righeimer gets away with interfering with a police officer and not get cited.

9/29/2010 06:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Clifton said...

What do you know about the two non police witnesses that made declarations of what transpired to the CMPD?

9/29/2010 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Clifton, nothing at all. Didn't know there were any. My suggestion is that we wait for Barlow's report. The tapes - actually only one of the three that we've heard - provide us with good information. I assume Barlow's investigation went beyond simply listening to them. I have no personal knowledge of anything that occurred that night other than what has been said publically.

9/29/2010 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It seems pretty clear to me that the police union is putting intense pressure on all of our city officials. I don't blame any of them for their actions, and that includes Righeimer, Mansoor and Bever.

When the police become the thugs, their romance with the public is over. I say we fire the current crop of cops and find new ones. The police union does not appear to be working in the best interest of our community.

9/29/2010 11:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Whambow said...

I agree with Gail, the romance is over. As much as I am a supporter of our CMPD, I am taken aback by the union that supports them. Their union interests are not those of our city and our people, but the pay, benefits, and pensions of their members. I say let’s support council members and candidates that reverse the problems that the city unions have pushed upon us and created this budgetary problem for Costa Mesa. Get the unions out of our local politics and vote for city leaders that are willing to stand up to these unions. I believe it is getting more obvious to anyone paying attention that it is finally time to push back and resist the union demands.

9/30/2010 01:38:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Dude said...

Bruce, are you serious? If you honestly think that Jim's actions warranted arrest or citation, you have a very disturbing view of civil liberties. Your interpretation literally means that any time any person approaches an officer in uniform and asks questions, they are interfering. Jim did not interfere in any way, and the officers own responses on the recording prove that fact. If he was interfering, he would have been asked to step aside or stand back.

Please tell us you are not serious.

9/30/2010 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous MikeK said...

Just a moment while I check my memory.

Q: Times I’ve been delayed from what I considered a seemingly meaningless traffic bottleneck for no apparent reason?

A: 1 kabillion.

Q: Times I’ve pulled over, stopped, got out of my car to introduce myself to a Traffic Officer, chit chatted, name dropped, and asked for a business card?

A: -0-

Q: My impression of anyone who during a meaningless traffic bottleneck would pull over, stop, get out of their car to introduce themselves to a Traffic Officer, chit chat, drop a name, and ask for a business card?

A: A real zero.

9/30/2010 09:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Sasha said...

Righeimer..... I can't believe he would try to flex his nonexistent authority to try to shut down a DUI checkpoint.

Newsflash Rig, people are killed every day by drunk drivers. DUI checkpoints are invaluable to our community.

I'm disappointed your 5 minute delay was more an inconvenience than someone losing their husband, mother, or other loved one to a drunk murderer.

10/06/2010 10:03:00 PM  

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