Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Voice Of OC Exposes Righeimer

Today, the morning of the scheduled special Budget Briefing at City Hall, I found an entry on the Voice of OC blog by Managing Editor Norberto Santana, Jr., - shown here with Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit at the recent Feet To The Fire forum - of great interest.


In an article titled, "Costa Mesa's Curious Math", HERE, he discusses three
separate numbers that have been bounced around by officials in our city that just don't ring true. When you read the piece you'll understand why.

Let me dispense with the last number in Santana's report first - 9%. That's the number Wendy Leece has said she's paying for her PERS retirement contribution. It turns out that she may be working with faulty information - or she misinterpreted the information provided. I expect some kind of public announcement clarifying her situation soon.


The second item discusses Mayor Pro Tem Ji
m Righeimer's claim in his biography on the city web site that he received 64% of the votes in the last election. As you read the piece you'll find that he's playing games with numbers and highly-respected current and former registrars of voters reject his portrayal of his performance. Santana quotes Conny McCormack, a retired LA County Registrar of Voters as stating very simply, "It's made up numbers". According to Santana, when confronted with the numbers "Righeimer acknowledged that his math might not be entirely clear." This misstatement of important numbers is a habit Righeimer has developed over the years, which becomes more and more clear each day.


The final set of num
bers also involves Righeimer. That is the $25 million that he and others claim will be the city's annual payment to fund employee pensions in 2015-2016. Righeimer has made a very big deal about this and uses this number as the cornerstone of his plan to outsource more than half the city jobs.

As Santana points out, this number doesn't jibe with new CalPERS
estimates delivered to the city. You can read the actual numbers in Santana's article, but they are half the number Righeimer has been using as his primary outsourcing tool - the meat cleaver he's been wielding lately.

Santana quotes Righeimer, when acknowledging the d
ifference, as saying, "I work in bigger numbers of magnitude and staff comes in and drills it down." So, I guess what he's saying is, "I make up numbers and then see if the staff can prove me wrong." Righeimer goes on, according to Santana, noting that "all pension estimates - including CalPERS are both political and financial calculations." He said, when referring to the actuarials, "They're all guessing anyways."

Based on the quotations contained in Santana's article, in my opinion there really is no other way to say this - Jim Righeimer is a flat-out liar when it comes to important, life-altering, statistics. He makes them up to suit his purposes and, I guess, hopes nobody will challenge them. It's easy to understand how he managed to ride a division of SunCal Companies into bankruptcy with that kind of cavalier attitude about important fiscal realities.


Today, beginning at 4:30 in City Council Chambers,
a Budget Briefing will be held to provide, hopefully, some REAL numbers for the council and residents to consider. There will be a couple "experts" on hand to guide us through the CalPERS numbers and get our fiscal house in order. We can only hope that these will not be fabricated, like those Righeimer has been trying to foist off on folks, so we can get to the real nut of our fiscal situation.

I think it's important for all observers to understand that Jim Righeimer is a self-serving political opportunist who will make up numbers and fabricate events - the DUI checkpoint fiasco and the stinkeye affair - to suit his purposes. He's not going to let the facts of issues interfere with his plans. Santana's article only amplifies this character flaw - one that should make every single resident in our city very nervous about his agenda.


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Anonymous Equal Opportunity Bashing said...

Mr West. When will you put similar energy into understanding the financial activities of Repair Costa Mesa? when will you be able to tell us how much money the Union is funding the activities of Sandy Genis & Greg Ridge?

Or do you only care about Riggy bashing?

4/26/2011 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous mike m said...

I'm surprised you didn't mention Lobdell's explanation of the numbers as well. Talk about spin... my five year old can make up numbers like that, and he works a lot cheaper - he'd probably do it for candy.

I had tremendous respect for Lobdell as a journalist back in the day. As a PR flack, I've lost all that respect and then some. After that he made the questionable decision to go to work with Minkow, and now, maybe when he's done helping these clowns, he can go to work on his wife's website, but the pay's probably not nearly as good. That's a cheap shot, I know, but I know he can do a lot better than spinning for these guys. He's better than that!

4/26/2011 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Equal Opportunity Bashing,
That was quick... you must be sitting around, just waiting for me to publish something. Thanks for being a loyal reader. :-)

I've written critically about the Repair Costa Mesa effort. I don't know if an organization of that name actually exists! I don't like seeing those ads staring back at me every time I open my homepage, either. I think they've taken the wrong tack - didn't learn a thing from the last election cycle - and I've told them so.

I don't know exactly who is funding the ads, but I assume along with many others that it is the OCEA and perhaps a much broader union effort.

No, I don't "only care about Riggy bashing", but he's a big target these days and both he and Mensinger make it so darn easy that it's hard to resist.

4/26/2011 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

The election numbers are entertaining, but of no real relevance. Having spent most of my adult life dealing with elections, ballot counting and reporting results, I thought I would share some other ways of slicing Righeimer's results:

Costa Mesa had 57,290 registered voters as of the 15 day close of registration for the November 2010 election.

Of those, 29,187 cast votes in the contest for Governor. This is a reasonable approximation of the voters who actually put a ballot in the ballot box (or mailed one in).

Righeimer received 12,997 votes for city council.

22.7% of eligible registered voter voted for Righeimer.

If we use the votes cast for Governor as a reasonable estimate of the number of voters who cast a ballot in the election, 44.5% of the voters who participated in the election voted for Righeimer.

It is REALLY safe to say that 64% is a REALLY wrong number by any version of ballot counting statistics.

4/26/2011 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Pentagon Hexagram said...

Found this comment at Voice of OC, and double checked the math. It appears correct. You can check the statement of votes at ocvote.com.

As to the percentage of people who voted for Riggy, just look at the Registrar's statement of votes. 29,816 Costa Mesa voters cast ballots in November, 2010. 12,997 of them, or 43.6%, voted for Mr. Righeimer. Turnout was low in Costa Mesa compared to surrounding cities, and Righeimer supporters were pushing for "bullet ballots" for Righeimer to reduce the totals for other candidates.

So we can easily say that a majority of Costa Mesa voters did not support Mr. Righeimer.

It's also interesting to note that 14,227 Costa Mesa voters cast ballots to approve Measure L, a tax increase that Mr. Righeimer opposed. The number of people who opposed the tax increase, 13,048, is almost identical to the number of people who voted for Riggy.

Why is Lobdell, who is paid by the taxpayers, working to inflate Riggy's ego and perceived popularity?

Some mandate, Jimbo.

4/26/2011 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

By Righeimer's math, 53% of the people voted for Chris McEvoy (the third highest vote-getter), yet Righeimer, Monahan, and Bever ignored this "mandate" when filling Katrina Foley's vacant seat with someone (Mensinger) who never even ran for the position. Apparently, what the people want doesn't really matter, so who cares if Righeimer got 32% or 64%?

4/26/2011 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Pentagon Hexagram said...

Keeping score on ability to calculate percentages.

Bubbling Cauldron commenters 2
Landslide Jim and Lobdell 0

4/26/2011 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry P. said...

The only thing that the "Voice of OC" has exposed is that it is bought and paid for by Nick Berardino and his union thugs. They pay a large percentage of Norberto Santana's salary. It is simply a mouthpiece for the unions in this town and lacks any real credibility. What happened to the days when media was unbiased. They are a JOKE!

4/26/2011 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Then Riggy the Piggy said,

"I'll huff and I'll puff, and I'll blow your town down!"

4/26/2011 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Barry P.,
What happened to the days when politicians worked for the good of the community and not their own personal political future? What happened to the days when politicians actually told the truth?

4/26/2011 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

I can't wait to see how Riggy and friends spin the numbers tonight. Facts don't matter... only Riggys political dream matters.

4/26/2011 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Yeah Geoff........like EOB said....when are we getting investigated?

Someone should investigate how a barefoot neer-do-well gigolo, and his daffy dog loving cohort can cause these guys so much fear and confusion.

Be afraid...be very afraid.

4/26/2011 01:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Barry P. said...

Righeimer won. He beat an incumbent Mayor Pro Tem, handily. She only beat drunk-driving McEvoy by a few votes. Clearly, his message resonated more with the voters. Maybe not popular with the union folks on this blog, but certainly democracy in action. In the end, it's not about what the nameless folks here rant on about, it's about what the residents and voters want for our City. That message was pretty loud and clear in the last election. Time for fiscal reform. I didn't vote for Mr. Righeimer in 2008, but I did in 2010 and will in 2014. So will my friends and family.

4/26/2011 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Your bro Ted said...

The Pot Sniffer,

What happened to the days of unbiased reporting? From the looks of your blog they're long gone.

I'd like to reiterate Equals questions. What’s up with the knuckle heads at RepairCostaMesa?

Who’s funding their misguided adventures?

4/26/2011 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Your bro Ted,
I already answered that one, but maybe it's hard for you to read with your head so far up your rear.

4/26/2011 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous checkyoursix said...

Leece is definitely confused about the numbers and has shown that through the years. Her mistakes are "now what they are" by golly, 3@50 sounded good to her: everyone else was doing it and how dare we become a petri dish for change? Too risky, go with status quo, who needs a vision for governance?

Riggy should not even include voting percentage on bio at city website, especially when we are dealing with numbers that no one can verify due to bullet voting, multiple votes allowed, etc. His number seems very inflated and only John Moorlach and Shawn Dewane have posted such high numbers locally (70% of the vote). Both are OCGOP members of course so they have a huge advantage with so many aligned with OCGOP here in Costa Mesa.

Leece EXPOSED also: she didn't even know the city paid her 9% "employee contribution" and yet she sees her own paycheck twice a month!! at feet2fire this was another one of her wrong facts. If she doesn't even know what goes on concerning her own pension how can we trust her to know what is going on in the city budget/pension issues? On the bright side, she did say "petri dish" for the zillionth time so we at least know she is doing some scientific analysis.
She also probably doesn't notice that the $400/mo she claims for medical benefits is actually $1700/mo. because she cashes out difference. Very transparent, eh Sandy? Stick that on your wallboard

I am so relieved that the pensions will only take up 38% of budget, not the 44% Riggy said. Viola!:no problem exists !! and if it does, Ridge can find some taxes that should be raised to cover shortfall. Of course, the citizens will just have to accept that the infrastructure will continue to age, no new technologhy can be implemented, parks go downhill, etc.

What ever happened with the scandal of Mensinger painting Hatch's office? Anyone been fined for fppc gift violations? Story brought out all the haters and now seems to have disappeared. What's the update on this non issue?

4/26/2011 02:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Tony said...

Norberto Santana is a flat-out liar when it comes to important, life-altering, statistics. He makes them up to suit his purposes and, I guess, hopes nobody will challenge them.

This guy is an idiot of the highest order! There is nothing he won't say, or lie about, to make a point.

4/26/2011 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

Barry P., You sound like a number fudger like Righeimer. The spread between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place wasn't anywhere near what you claim it to be.

By the way, McEvoy never had a DUI. Makes me wonder where you get your bogus information from?

If candidates could only spend a maximum of $2,000 of their own money and take $0 from outside interests, Leece and McEvoy would be on council. If we had Monahan, Leece, Bever, and McEvoy on council, none of this ridiculous BS would be happening right now.

4/26/2011 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Diogenes said...

Bad math -- citizens, we had a chance to elect someone who was numerically literate, but did not take it.

As to Wendy's confusion -- yes, she comes across as a little bit confused in most instances. But, unlike the other airheads on the City Council, she has enough gumption to realize it, and enough integrity to listen to her constituents when they raise a fuss, and enough humility to admit, and right, her mistakes. To me, her attitude is the very soul of conservatism, unlike those of Oberst Righeimer, Uebersturmbannfuehrer Mensinger, and Unterleutnant Bever... I'll reserve judgment on Zampolits Monahan, at least for the nonce.

Send 'em all back to school, and let Chris McEvoy teach them to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, and maybe even to spell.

4/26/2011 04:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Kent Morrow said...

Riggy probably got both of the votes that each voter was entitled to from his friends.

4/26/2011 05:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Time out said...

Pot Stirrer: I am disappointed to read your response to "Ted." Was it really necessary to respond in that way? Haven't you figured out that these people LIKE IT when you do that?

4/26/2011 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Geoff, why don't you do your readers a real service and tell the truth for a change? What used to be a decent place to gain some perspective on events in my city has turned into a predicable, maybe even comical, and certainly irresponsible outlet for one ad hominem attack after another. I'll be real curious to see how you and the other union mouthpieces spin the latest news. No, it's not 44.2% for CMPD it's 48%. And 53.5% for CMFD! For those of you that need the real math lesson, that means that for every $1.00 a firefighter for my city receives as pay, we will also be paying him $1.07 TOWARDS HIS PENSION!!

Oh the poor union workers, now I understand the great weeping and gnashing of teeth. By the way, how many CMFD firefighters will lose their job if the city adopts the OCFA proposal? Oh yea, ZERO!

Quit lying to your readers. Here are some truths for you to share...
1. Righeimer ran on a platform of pension form and restoring fiscal responsibility to the city.
2. Whatever his % of votes were, a majority of folks who cared enough about their city to vote in that race voted for him. (Including my wife and i and most of our neighbors)
3. Your pal Leece's cowardly and conniving vote to extend the union agreements another 4 years a week before the election left Righeimer and the rest of the new council very few options to deal with the pension crisis
4. The crisis, as evidenced by last night's meeting is in fact far worse than even the most gloomy projections

The truth is the city council is doing exactly what people like me elected them to do, stand up to the unions, weather the storm of the union backed - leftest blogosphere, and restore some sanity to the city's finances.

4/27/2011 06:07:00 AM  
Anonymous GOP LIES AGAIN said...

JD- Laughing today was needed. Thank you for the GOP Rhetoric. Too bad you listed made up figures. Another laugh...
If you know how to read: Costa Mesa's Righeimer and Mensinger Get A Reality Check on Pensions - http://bit.ly/eCalsp

4/27/2011 09:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

JD, nice try. Oh, where to begin? Let's start with the OCFA proposals. OCFA gave three proposals, each saving money for the city and each using less personnel than what CMFD currently deploys. It was Righeimer who is trying to spin this as the same level of service. Only a moron would believe the same level of service can be delivered with less personnel. It just can't happen. Next, if the city contributed $1.07 towards pensions for every $1.00 in salary, that equals 107%. No surprise you screwed that on up JD since as a Righeimer worshipper you should be used to your messiah fudging numbers.

And, since you like to hang Leece's vote for the contracts around her neck like a boat anchor, let us not forget that Gary Monahan also voted in favor of those contracts in a moment of clarity as he knew it was best for the long term health of the city. Funny you failed to mention Gary's vote. But her, why let facts get in your way.

4/27/2011 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger JD said...

Wyatt, so $1.07 + $1.00 = 107%. ?? You must have gone to public schools.

Let me see if I can explain it so even you will understand. If the pension liability for an employee is 53.5% of their total payroll then 46.5% is paid out in wages. So if a CM firefighter makes $1 in wages and that dollar is 46.5% of their total compensation, (1/.465) the total compensation is …$2.15. Perhaps you should get a sheet of paper and a calculator and see if you can wrap your brain around those numbers.

As far as your opinion of me being a moron because you can’t comprehend a concept like delivering more with less, all that shows is your ignorance of how the real world works and how real enterprises operate. But I’m sure terms like accountability, economies of scale and operational efficiency would put you into more of a head spin than my math so I won’t even bother.

4/27/2011 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger JD said...

GLA, you really need to get a dictionary and look up the word rhetoric because you clearly don’t understand what it means. My made up numbers were apparently made up by the PERS reps in their report to the city. That’s where they came from. Your convenient revisionist history referenced in the OCLiberal blog is a typical ploy used by the union puppets and mouthpieces. It’s a game called “Hey, let’s compare what the City reported in February with new information from CalPERS that we received a few weeks ago and point out the discrepancies.”

Let’s make sure people understand the thought process in play here; someone you disagree with makes a financial projection based on the best information available, new information is released which diminishes (but in no way disproves or even significantly mitigates) the magnitude of those projections, therefore the person making the original projection is a liar. Truly breathtaking analysis in that piece – I’m sure the Pulitzer committee will be calling any day now.

What really matters to people like me (I’m referring to those of us that live in the real world, have jobs and pay taxes as opposed to those whose salaries and pensions are paid for by taxpayers) is the absolute pension costs, not the percent of payroll. And when you look at those numbers they are actually higher than even Righeimer projected.

You can spin the data and play your revisionist tricks but anyone who actually takes the time to look at the facts can easily see who the liars truly are. Most of you can simply look in a mirror.

4/27/2011 02:43:00 PM  

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