Thursday, September 30, 2010

Righeimer Unleashes His Pit Bull

When was the last time you received a surprise in your mail? Was it an unexpected birthday card? Your final release from military service? The deed to your house marked "Paid in Full"? Well, I've received all of those things - unexpected pleasures - in the mail over the years. What I received yesterday was NOT one of those.

Yesterday I received a letter in the mail from a law firm named Bucher& Pa
lmer, L.L.P. in Irvine. Recognize any part of that name? Hang on, you soon might. Here's a hint: the caption of the letter said, "Re: James Righeimer". The letter was signed by Mark W. Bucher, Esq. who, as it turns out, is Righeimer's close political ally and brother-in-law.

The gist of the two-page letter was to warn me not to write about any or all of three forbidden topics related to Mr. Righeimer, which Mr. Bucher says are "demonstrably false and defamatory". He later went on to make this statement, "Some of these same statements were made the last time Mr. Righeimer ran for office but, as you may know, publishing a false and defamatory allegation under the guise that the statement as previously made is itself actionable."

OK, I go
t it. This is a preemptive strike to keep me, and probably others, from openly criticizing Righeimer before the election. Yes, the letter is directed specifically at the three forbidden topics, but, when the word gets out, it will likely cause more than a few of Righeimer's many critics to pause before they rise to speak against him on any subject. It seems that Righeimer and his lawyer are quite content to trample on the rights of free speech guaranteed to us by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

can't tell you what the three forbidden topics are because a lawyer friend suggests that by doing so I might violate the warning sent to me by Mr. Bucher. Keep in mind that I've NEVER addressed two of the three forbidden topics - heck, I didn't even know the issues existed - but wrote two years ago about the third after a long conversation with Righeimer. I understood his view and was satisfied that he answered all my questions and have not written about it since. Because I've been forbidden to write about those three topics I guess you'll just have to speculate among yourselves what they might be - I can't help you.


The letter, which may have b
een a kind of form letter, seemed to be aimed at a broader audience than just little old me. I've since learned that others have received the same or similar letter. It's my understanding that the Daily Pilot is investigating the issue and will soon have a report posted online.

The letter I got may be a preamble to what is known in the legal trade a SLAPP lawsuit. That acronym stands for "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation" - a tactic used to quash criticism. Fortunately, California has enacted a law that protects folks like you and me from that kind of expensive legal harassment - Code of Civil Procedure Section 425.16, which was enacted in 1993. According to some online resources on the subject, folks like you and me have been sued for things like simply writing a letter to the editor; circulating petitions; reporting police misconduct or speaking at a public meeting. That's why the law mentioned above was enacted.

I've written many things about Jim Righeimer ever since he was appointed to the Planning Commission shortly after moving to Costa Mesa. I've written about his behavior on the Planning Commission - about his bullying tactics with applicants. All of that is well-documented.

ever, this incident only affirms for me why Jim Righeimer is bad for our city and unworthy of a seat on the City Council. His willingness to unleash his lawyer to intimidate individuals in our city - including public employee groups - who are openly critical of him should send a chill down the spine of every single person who stands at the speaker's podium to offer criticism, writes letters to the editor, posts comments on blogs and newspaper comment threads or the social networks like Facebook. Every Costa Mesa employee should be concerned for their future. These are the tactics of a bully and a thug - as so accurately described by police union president Allen Rieckhof recently. If this is how Righeimer acts BEFORE he's elected, just imagine how he's going to govern our city once he's seated on the dais!


There are many reasons why Jim Righeimer has never been elected to public office - this is one of them.

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Blogger mesa verde madman said...

He is just easy to dislike on so many levels... keep fighting the power!

9/30/2010 02:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Arnold Palmer said...

What else can we expect from this multi-faceted loser?

He is well aware of lawsuits, just check out his blemished record!!!

BANKRUPTCIES, LIENS and multiple lawsuits for crappy work.

Is this REALLY the guy people want to (LEAD) Costa Mesa?

BTW frankwfoster1965 who has been posting on the Daily Pilot and claims to be retired CMPD is a sham.

9/30/2010 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

My wife says it best....."He's a big fat bully"

9/30/2010 03:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Vito said...

I was going to vote for Righeimer, but if you really did receive a letter like that, I will not. If what you wrote is true, it is horrible. Please make sure the Pilot makes this into a news story - all CM residents need to know.

9/30/2010 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

mesa verde madman, Uh-huh.. so true.

Arnold Palmer, I can't comment on allegations. :-)

Gericault, he's not big...

Lisa Vito, I shared what I could without placing myself in jeopardy with the lawyer. I'm hoping the Daily Pilot will further investigate.. I do know that I'm not the only person in Costa Mesa to receive this or a very similar letter. We'll see.

9/30/2010 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous plate master said...

People who have been arrested for alcohol related crimes have a reason to hate DUI checkpoints!!!

9/30/2010 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger orangemath said...

If I understand the intent of the law, it is that writers cannot knowingly bring up a known falsehood as an alleged possibility.

Consider a John Doe who ran for office 6 years ago and was accused of employing undocumented workers. Later, this was shown to be untrue. If John Doe, runs for office again, it would be unlawful to write, 'John Doe, an alleged employer of undocumented workers, is running for office.'

If the three items are known lies that have been addressed and shown to be false, it certainly isn't bullying to simply inform a blog writer that there are risks to use what fair-minded people usually call "dirty politics" in his or her attacks.

Not supporting Mr. Righeimer is one thing, but complaining about not being able to tell lies about him, as a complaint about him(!) is very odd and frankly ugly and stupid on your part.

9/30/2010 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

Ron Burgundy: "I don't know if you knew this, but I'm kind of a big deal around here."

See, Jim Righeimer...

9/30/2010 06:59:00 PM  
Anonymous opinionated said...

This is what you get when you publish half-truths and innuendo about people in our community. Libel is a serious issue as you have been advised by your lawyer. I’m surprised you haven’t had similar warning letters from legal representatives of the young jailer/mayor, the joker/idiot, the mouth, and the grandmother/barnacle. Maybe you should follow up on your threat, from a couple years ago, to pull up stakes and move to an area that is more suitable to you. It is obvious that you are not happy living here, evidenced by the constant negative blogging about our city leaders and your propensity to always support the losers in the last several elections.

You mentioned that you weren’t the only one to receive legal warning letters – I suspect Katrina Foley may have received one as well.

9/30/2010 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I guess Rieckhof was right when he said "thug-like." For all the heat the police have been taking from the checkpoint, it sure seems like they are doing us all a favor and exposing Righeimer for what he is. So no matter what side of the pay and benefits argument you stand on, it sure seems like they have "protected and served" us better than we ever could have asked and for that we should all thank them.

9/30/2010 07:39:00 PM  
Anonymous OC Lawyer said...

Geoff, you better talk to a lawyer. Righeimer could own your house. While the 1st Amendment allows you to call Eric Bever an idiot, or Righeimer a thug, it doesn't allow you to slander or libel someone with incorrect statements of fact. Difference is fact versus opinion. If you make factual misrepresentations about him, you could be liable. Especially since malice is presumed by your earlier track-record of hate for him. Check the law before you pretend to be a lawyer. Doesn't sound like this is a free speech issue. Glad Righeimer is defending himself against the union and blog thuggery!! He's the only one who represents the real people of Costa Mesa! Go Riggy!!!

9/30/2010 08:08:00 PM  
Anonymous MikeK said...

To: Bucher & Palmer, L.L.P.
Attn.: Mark W. Bucher, Esq.

Dear Mr. Bucher,

Bite Me.


9/30/2010 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Ah, where to begin...

plate master, from your lips, not mine.. :-)

OrangeMath, I understand your point, but I've had the advantage of reading the letter. And, I've not written about the issues in question except more than two years ago in what was a piece favorable to Righeimer. I don't "tell lies" about him or anyone else. What concerns me is his willingness to threaten my First Amendment rights through fear and intimidation. And, by the way, all bets are off. Last night, at the NB/CM candidate forum, Righeimer openly spoke about at least one of the issues - bankruptcy. He can't have it both ways - forbid me to talk about an issue, then bring it up himself. I'm disappointed you chose to take such a strong position before knowing the facts. The name-calling is beneath a man of your stature. Best to the poet.

mesa verde madman, geez, I love that! :-)

opinionated (proper name, by the way), you mean you're not a fan? Please provide examples of half-truths... I'm sorry you don't like my pet names for some of your pals - that's the way life is sometimes. Nah, I'm not going anywhere.. I'm having too much fun. I have absolutely no qualms about those I've supported in the past. The only vote I regret is the one I cast for Righeimer last time around. We all make mistakes, as evidenced by your choices. Oh, yes.. see the Daily Pilot article on "the letter" for an idea of who else received them.

jim, you're correct. Righeimer chose a time to make a point of his crusade when the city is working hard with the bargaining units to reach a common ground. I agree that we cannot mortgage your grandchildren's future with out-of-control pension costs, but we must continue to work together to find a solution - not walk out on the negotiations like Eric Bever did recently.

OC Lawyer, thanks for your advice. As stated above, I've committed no libel or slander here. The "issues" are non-issues as far as I'm concerned. I doubt you really are a lawyer, but just in case you are, doesn't his attempt to stifle free speech bother you just a little bit?

MikeK, well put... :-)

10/01/2010 12:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Kent Morrow said...

I changed my mind.
I will not be voting for Riggy.

10/01/2010 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Kent, I understand...

10/01/2010 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous dnb said...

I HATE that he sent these letters.

ZERO support from me now.

10/01/2010 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

I would just like to observe that Righeimer has been getting a huge amount of free ink from the Pilot on this issue and others.

Add that to his dominance in speaking time at each of the forums so far and you would think he is the only one running for city council this election.

Regardless of how you feel about these issues, he is winning by dominating the debates.

10/01/2010 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bruce, an excellent observation. I've said for the past couple months that a seat on the dais is his to lose, never thinking for a second that he would actually find ways to do just that! About the only hope for those of us who feel he will be a terrible choice for the residents of our city is that he will find at least another cow pie to step in before folks begin mailing their absentee ballots.

10/01/2010 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger CMOfcr said...

I have been a Costa Mesa resident for over 30 years. My wife and I are raising our children here, my folks still live in town. This is home. I’m sure that I have a lot in common with my fellow residents. Besides living here, I am also a Costa Mesa Police Officer.

I have seen the letter from Mr. Righeimer’s attorney. Frankly I find it appalling. This blog and others on our community have tried to show Righeimer for what he is, and it frightens him. Hence, he lets his attorney loose.

Mr. Righeimer rails against the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), and the pay of our officers and firefighters. However, his representation of the “facts” in his guest editorial, are false. Jim states that a police officer or firefighter can retire at age 50 with “98%” of their salary. That is absolutely untrue. Under PERS, an employee can collect no more than 90% of their salary at retirement. The safety retirement formula is “3% at 50”. That means an employee is eligible to collect retirement at age 50, and earns 3% per year of service. Thus, it would take 30 years to attain the maximum of 90%. Since you can not become a police officer until age 21 at a minimum, you would have to start at you 21st birthday, work 30 years and retire after 51 to get 90%. Most officers don’t start until their mid 20’s, so they will retire in their mid 50’s with 30 years of service.

To confuse things even further, the PERS safety retirement was not always 3 at 50. It was 2 at 50. When that formula existed, Costa Mesa was one of only a handful of police agencies to have 3 at 50 in the state. How? The city contributed the employee’s contribution to PERS for 2 at 50, while the employee paid into a 1% annuity to get 3 at 50. When PERS made 3 at 50 available for all safety retirements, Costa Mesa came under that program. At the time, the police employees gave up the 1% annuity they had been paying into. That money did not come back to the employees. It went into the city’s general fund. Fair enough, since the city was paying the employee’s contribution to PERS.

As far as pay goes: Costa Mesa officers are neither the highest, nor lowest paid officers in the county. We are right in the middle. In fact we have never asked or negotiated to anywhere else. We have always negotiated to be “median”. That fact, however, doesn’t play into the whining, overpaid money grubbing image that Righeimer and his ilk choose to portray. The Police Association, in fact has always enjoyed a good working relationship with city management.

I would also like to point out that the Police Association is not a union. I know some will say it is a matter of semantics, but there are some very fundamental differences. Association membership is optional. An officer can opt in or out at any time. Police agencies are not “union shops” where “union” membership is a condition of employment. Second the Police Association is a registered non-profit organization and makes a number of charitable donations to community groups and events in Costa Mesa every year. Some at the request of Righeimer’s crony Steve Mensinger. The POA makes contributions to his pet football programs every year. Apparently he didn’t get Jim’s memo about taking “union” money. Third, police officers can not and will not strike. We do not hold the city or its citizens hostage, until they bend to our will for pay and benefits. We negotiate and MUTUALLY agree to terms with the city leadership. Again, we have always had a good working relationship. The police association is no more a union then the National Rifle Association is a union for firearms enthusiasts. Again, that doesn’t fit into Righeimer’s rhetoric.

10/02/2010 11:55:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Smith said...

The city council is always talking about pensions. All the pension funds are on solid ground. OCERS has a 9.5 billion dollar surplus and most pensions are in the 30,000 range. The unfunded liability is the calculation that they use if all employees worked a 30 year career. Most only work 11 years. It's like buying a house and having the money to pay it off the next day, there is no unfunded liability so the facts about the retirement system are completely inaccurate!

7/06/2011 07:33:00 PM  

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