Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Police Union Demands Transparent Report on Riggy

Tuesday's Costa Mesa City Council meeting, expected to be fairly uneventful and brief, was neither.

The closed session, in which the council contemplated the current negotiations with the employee bargaining units and a late addition to the agenda - the sale of the Orange County Fair and Event Center - ran very long, so the open session didn't begin until around 6:35. However, the full house - packed once again with t-shirt-clad members of Costa Mesa public safety unions and their supporters - remained calm and orderly as the clock ticked on.

Following a very sentimental and popular presentation of the Mayor's Award to long-time youth sports advocates Ed Baume and Chuck Perry, things began to heat up during public comments.

Among the first speakers was Allen Rieckhof, President of the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association, who demanded a prompt and transparent investigation of the encounter Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer had with Costa Mesa police officers last Thursday night at a DUI checkpoint. Both Mona Shadia in the Daily Pilot, HERE, and Jon Cassidy in the Orange County Register, HERE, produced thorough reports on this presentation.

Shadia quoted Rieckhof as saying, "I can assure you that an investigation will show that none of my members did anything wrong and acted professionally in the face of a man who used his appointed position and thug-like tactics to impose his will." It sounds to me like Rieckhof may have already heard the audio tapes made that evening. Based on comments made by a few of the officers in the audience Tuesday night, there seems to be no doubt about who was telling the truth in the earlier Daily Pilot article.

Detective Dana Potts, the Vice President of the police association spoke next and shared a very painful, personal story about the loss he suffered at the hands of a speeding drunken driver twenty years ago. His pregnant fiance and their daughter were both killed in a car crash. Potts was obviously very angry at Righeimer for his behavior at the DUI checkpoint and provided some statistics directed at him for his education. He closed his passionate presentation by pointedly wondering why Gary Monahan was absent from this particular meeting. Monahan is a pub owner who has reportedly challenged the placement of DUI checkpoints near his bar in recent months.

Righeimer was not in attendance at the meeting Tuesday night, but Cassidy contacted him later and quotes him as follows: "I will continue to ask the tough questions. It is part of the democratic process. I do not care if they bus in a thousand cops with manufactured anger. I will not be intimidated." Manufactured anger? Is it possible for Righeimer to be any more arrogant? This issue boils down to Righeimer's word against those of several Costa Mesa police officers - he's basically calling them liars.

City Attorney Kim Barlow affirmed that she, indeed, has launched an investigation into the incident, but didn't indicate when we might hear the results. During the evening when the opportunity presented itself, I spoke with both Chief Chris Shawkey and City Manager Allan Roeder about this issue and told them that this investigation is time-sensitive. There's an election in just over 40 days, so the public will be poorly served if this investigation drags on and on. Both men assured me that it will be handled expeditiously... we'll see.

In other actions, former mayor Sandra Genis' request for a re-hearing of the CEQA resolution on the Fairgrounds Sale, after much discussion, the council voted to "receive and file" it. Part of the reasoning was the fact that Genis' has also requested a re-hearing of the Fairgrounds Lease, which is scheduled for the next council meeting on October 5th. That agenda item will provide a chance to revisit the entire issue.

The other major issue discussed Tuesday was the re-visitation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program demanded by a couple of NIMBY residents from the Mesa North neighborhood where two distressed homes are being purchased and renovated with the intent of selling them to moderate income families via the city's First Time Homebuyer's program. Among the complaining neighbors was our old buddy, Mr. Grumpy himself, The Mouth From Mesa North, who crawled out of his cave to, once again, present his views to the council on a variety of issues - including this one. During the presentation Katrina Foley asked Assistant City Manager Tom Hatch how much staff time had been required to prepare this report. His response was "around 40 hours", but couldn't give a dollar estimate, nor could he provide a guess about the legal expenses necessary. Because of very significant potential legal liabilities involved if we pulled out now, the project will continue.

As we move forward in the days ahead I will continue to be in touch with the City Attorney's office on the investigation of the Righeimer/DUI issue and report back to you.

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Anonymous CM Observer said...

Geoff, good report. Thanks for keeping on top of this.

9/22/2010 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

CM Observer, thanks... the Riggy thing needs illumination soon.

9/22/2010 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

Why do I have a funny feeling we won't get any clarity on Riggygate until after the election?

9/22/2010 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

mesa verde madman, I understand your trepidation. Seems like this should be a simple process because the digital recordings are available. Just listen to them and tell us the results. Best case - let US hear them.

9/22/2010 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

All this blather about Riggygate is not the least bit helpful to the community.

If Allan Roeder would just publish the city salaries, as he promised to do back on August 5th, we might just find out why Jim Righeimer is so upset. There has to be an underlying cause.

Costa Mesa residents might just outnumber union members at the next city council meeting if those salaries are as high as I've heard they are.

9/22/2010 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

OK, Gail, here's the best I can do for you. This link: - you're going to have to copy and paste that into your browser window - can't make it a "hot link" here.

will take you to a page on the city web site titled "MOUs & Salary Resolutions". Once there click on one of the categories to see salary ranges for specific positions within city government. No, it does NOT include specific salaries for individuals.

9/22/2010 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...


I disagree that this is blather.

Jim may have been inconvenienced by the checkpoint, but he should have communicated his concerns through the chief of police during normal business hours. Just the fact that he felt he needed to stop and distract the police from doing their jobs seems out there. Honestly I would expect to be cited for interfering with a police officer if I had done something like that. I am guessing he got special treatment just because of his "status" in the city.

If he has a problem with salaries, which we may also, but will wait to see the data, he should go to the city council and complain like any other citizen.

If he has inside knowledge of salaries, I want to know why and he should share it.

All in all, I feel that Jim has made some very bad choices in this matter and it needs to be cleared up before the election.

9/22/2010 06:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce Krochman you get an A+++ for your comment !!!

9/23/2010 07:44:00 AM  
Anonymous R Kim said...

Does anyone else have a problem with Gary Monahan objecting to DUI checkpoints?

CMPD should set the next one up at Newport and 20th.

The amount of noise, trash and drunk drivers that stem from his establishment are a constant blight on this neighborhood.

9/23/2010 12:01:00 PM  

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