Monday, February 20, 2012

Imported Opinions

At the risk of being accused of beating a dead horse to a pulp, let us revisit last weeks Special City Council meeting - the final public hearing on Jim Righeimer's Charter - to provide a little more clarity.

A tip of the hat to all of you who posted comments on my previous entries... diversity of opinion is welcome here. I'm always grateful for the thoughtful, researched comments presented by some of you. And, those of you who choose to just flame other commenters are also welcome - those kind of comments make a point, too. Now to business...


At the me
eting last week it became clear to me early on that it was going to be very special. There were folks arriving to grab seats more than an hour before the 7:00 start time and most were unfamiliar faces. They arrived in little knots - twos, threes and fours - and sat in these little clusters throughout the auditorium. I expected there to be folks representing organized labor because Jim Righeimer's Charter, if passed as proposed, is a huge threat to them. Silly me, though, because I didn't expect the "other side" - Righeimer's side - to be represented by similar little groups. Wrong!

We've written about Kevin Dayton's pre
sentation and provided you with his little video clip - 9:11 - for your viewing pleasure. I'm not linking to it again - twice is plenty - but you can go back and view if on the previous links if you wish. Reader Terry Koken - the gent who crooned to the city council at the meeting - took the time to transcribe Dayton's presentation and sent it to me for publication if I chose to do so. Well, as much as I appreciated that effort, it's just too darn long. Not his fault - it's over nine minutes of dialogue. Unless there is popular demand I won't publish it. Thanks, anyhow, Terry.

Dayton submitted a Community Commentary to the Daily Pilot which was published last week, HERE. In the comment thread there is high praise from Eric Christen, who was also a speaker that night. I began to wonder about these guys and found that they travel around the country like two guys joined in a 3-legged race to spread the word about the evils of the Prevailing Wage contracts. You can view Christen's 3:11 comment before the council below. An interesting sidebar is that Righeimer apparently didn't turn on the timer when Christen spoke because the one-minute warning light never went on. I guess he was ready to let Christen stretch out as long as he wanted - a preamble to Dayton's long rant which came about 5 minutes later.

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So, I did some digging about Eric Christen. Here's an excerpt from his personal web site, HERE:

"After graduating from college Eric taught in public schools for four years in Oregon. In 1996 he was asked to help run the campaign of a local congressional candidate in Oregon's 1st Congressional District and has been involved in politics ever since. In 1998 Eric was the state field director for Proposition 226 (Paycheck Protection) which would have compelled unions to get permission from their members before money was taken out of their paychecks and used for political purposes. It narrowly lost after being outspent more than 5 to 1. In 1999 Eric was put in charge of the signature gathering process for Proposition 22 (Defense of Marriage Act) which was overwhelmingly passed by the voters of California. In 1999 Eric was hired as the Executive Director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction ( and since then has been working to see that the rights of all California contractors, and their workers, are protected from discriminatory and unfair Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Since joining CFEC Eric has grown the group from 50 companies to over 300. Eric has helped to create 7 regional coalitions to more effectively fight PLAs at the grassroots level. Successes to date include the formation of these local groups and the over $3 million they have raised for various candidates and elected officials. Eric was instrumental in helping to pass a first-of-its-kind ordinance banning PLAs in the City of Fresno and in defeating over three dozen PLAs throughout the state since being hired. In 2002 Eric was named as one of the �40 under 40� by the East Bay Business Times, a recognition given to young professionals making an impact in California. In 2003 Eric was elected to the largest school district in Colorado Springs, CO. where he led the school district to a number of reforms in an effort to turn around that poorly performing district. In 2000 Eric raised over $25,000 for President George W. Bush and in the most recent election cycle has already raised over $100,000 for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger."

Please note the section highlighted in red. If that rings a bell with you, please recall that Proposition 226, the Paycheck Protection Act, was Jim Righeimer's baby. "Ah, ha!", he says, as the light goes on....

Then please go to Christen's biography on the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) website. He's the Executive Director of that organization. You can read his bio HERE.

A little more digging into his background turns up his activism while living in Colorado Springs. Two excerpts from articles in the Colorado Springs Independent turn up some interesting quotes and gives us a little clue about the man who traveled from Sacramento last week to praise Jim Righeimer's Charter scheme.

For example, in an article from February 19, 2004 titled "Excitable boy - Eric Christens path to public office", HERE, you'll find this quote: " one else has rubbed as many people th wrong way as has board member Eric Christen." Or HERE, from an entry in 2005, you'll find this quote about Christen: "D-11 board member Eric Christen is well-known for his bombastic flame-throwing at fellow board members, administrators and even teachers during televised meetings. Thanks in large part to Christen, board meetings often have degenerated into a theater of the absurd."

In 2006 Eric Christen was recalled by the voters and removed from his elected seat on the Colorado Springs District 11 (D11) School Board.


I guess I understand Righeimer's tactics. He imports shills from advocacy groups to bolster his position, just as organized labor imports folks to step up and speak on the other side of the issue. In a perfect world - where a Charter for our city is created by the collaborative efforts of an elected commission as is prescribed for in state law - such diverse viewpoints would certainly be heard, probably in a Town Hall kind of setting. Instead, when Righeimer personally writes the Charter with his personal agenda clearly in mind, these views are presented at the last possible moment - and given extended time to do so. Only AFTER the outcry and turmoil following Dayton's presentation - and the break called last Monday night to restore order in the auditorium - did Righeimer offer extended time to other speakers. And, then, he ONLY offered it to those representing organized labor, not the residents who have the most to lose if his Charter is passed. It is this uneven application of the rules that scares many residents of Costa Mesa. With Righeimer being able to write HIS OWN RULES, there is no end to the corruption that is possible once HIS Charter is adopted.


So, now we wait until March 6th, to see what Jim Righeimer's Charter looks like in final form. The voters will make a choice that will set the tone for the way our city is governed for the foreseeable future.

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Anonymous Not surprised anymore said...


Great investigative journalism! I'm sure you will here a lot of flack from the Righeimer Clan. What is so funny/sad/depressing (you choose the feeling) is that the more this Charter "show" goes on the more it shows what a tool Righeimer really is.

I don't really blame his supporters because he sold them a bill of goods and most of them don't think for themselves anyway and blindly follow the leader.

The Righeimer supporters have protested time and time again about "Union Thugs" bringing in out of town people and how Costa Mesa should be run internally without outside influences (ahem Sacramento). Isn't that the whole point of this Charter? Too stop Sacramento from butting in.

Well folks, now Righeimer has brought in lobbyists from Sacramento. I can't stand the council but I will credit them with one thing:

They are so arrogant and ego driven they truly don't care and show it at every meeting or pretty much in everything they say. They know the "voters" will back their play and whatever they present will be voted in.

Sorry fellow council haters, I just don't have any faith in my Costa Mesa citizens to step up and vote these clowns out and restore order. Maybe a miracle will happen but I just don't see it.

Again Geoff, great digging! Its awesome how you just keep exposing these guys! Maybe some of their own supporters will think for themselves but I doubt it!

2/20/2012 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Tori said...

We have these guys, Dayton and Christen up here in Auburn too. They are making the rounds for sure. They find some guy on the councils who have an agenda or they are found, and on they go. Who were your little groups made up of. Ours were made up of tea party activists who filled the room saying how much they want local control for Auburn, even though most of them didn't live in Auburn City. What I want to know is how they keep giving these guys so much time at podium. Happened here in a convoluted kind of way, by asking Christen a question, so he could continue on.
Videos are out there Hanley Christen Auburn key words. Try to do a Public Records Request, and see how far you get.

2/20/2012 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Angry White Man said...

Nice work Mr. West,
Just more proof that Righeimer and his klan are bad for our city. They have done NOTHING constructive or positive for our community (unless you count the $10,000 for the pop warner kids).
Vote NO on the charter and vote to clean house of these low lifes in November.Get this city back on track with people who care about the community and not some extremist ideology.

2/20/2012 04:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

In view of Pot Stirrer’s findings, it’s appropriate to remind everyone that it’s really the Righeimer/Bever/Monahan (RBM) charter, because, no matter who wrote it (or pasted it together), Bever and Monahan enabled it to get to this point.

Without their help, Righeimer would have had, at most, two votes, and his baby never would have gotten out of the crib.

So, for efficient use of our energies, I think we can start talking about Bever and Monahan, and stop wasting energy on Righeimer.

After all, have any of the months of criticism of Righeimer resulted in any change in his behavior? He’s still the implacable Jabba the Hutt he was a year ago. He sits up there doing the talking and directing while B & M hunker down or absent themselves, perhaps hoping to avoid the limelight.

His talk never changes. His agenda never changes; it just gets its tentacles wrapped around more and more of what used to be a pleasant, well-run town.

Would Buffa, Erickson, or even the old Monahan have brought this kind of trauma to Costa Mesa?

Not a chance.

2/20/2012 05:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Play fair said...

"...where a Charter for our city is created by the collaborative efforts of an elected commission as is prescribed for in state law."

True enough, Geoff, but you left out the other option - also prescribed for in state law, Gov't Code 34458(a) to be precise, where the "...the governing body of any city..." proposes the charter which the citizens then vote on.

2/20/2012 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Play fair,

You are correct, that is the other option. However, the statute is clear that the elected commission is the preferred choice. And, considering what's going on in Costa Mesa right now, it's very easy to see why.

2/20/2012 07:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Reality Bites said...

I think the likes of Tom, Geoff, Joe and a couple others are just plain angry.

They realize that Righeimer has support. Support now and between now and June. Enough support to offset the Teamsters.

Knowing that the Voters will vote yes on the Charter really makes these people angry.

They know why there was no recall. And they know the Charter will pass.

This drives them nuts and it is reflected I'm their comments.

What makes them furious is knowing they cannot influence the November election.

Having Geoff West support something has been the kiss of death.

2/20/2012 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Well, I guess we'll see, won't we. Just continue to drink that Kool-aid....

2/20/2012 08:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Reminder said...

March 17, 2012 is the one year anniversary of Huy Pham's death.

2/20/2012 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Why haven't the OC Register, Daily Pilot, or OC Weekly picked up on this?

Thanks again Geoff. The more worried they get, the more they attack.

2/20/2012 09:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Play fair said...


I'm curious as to where you get the proposition that an elected charter commission is the preferred choice.

Article 11, Sec. 3.(b) of the California Constitution provides no such preference, and actually places "governing body" before "charter commission."


SEC. 3. (a) For its own government, a county or city may adopt a charter by majority vote of its electors voting on the question. The charter is effective when filed with the Secretary of State. A charter may be amended, revised, or repealed in the same manner. A charter, amendment, revision, or repeal thereof shall be published in the official state statutes. County charters adopted pursuant to this section shall supersede any existing charter and all laws inconsistent therewith. The provisions of a charter are the law of the State and have the force and effect of legislative enactments.
(b) The governing body or charter commission of a county or city may propose a charter or revision. Amendment or repeal may be proposed by initiative or by the governing body.
(c) An election to determine whether to draft or revise a charter and elect a charter commission may be required by initiative or by the governing body.
(d) If provisions of 2 or more measures approved at the same
election conflict, those of the measure receiving the highest
affirmative vote shall prevail.

2/20/2012 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Dear Reality Bites,

If there was in any way a credible chance that just by Geoff endorsing something it would be magically defeated, Righeimer would have been mantled with Geoff's endorsement in the last election and the city would have a whole different set of issues.

Geoff is right, the charter will be sent to the ballot and that will be the next battle of any importance.

The real bottom line will be, is it bad policy in the long run?

I was reminded recently of the old saw that even a broken watch is correct twice a day.

There really are a number of good reasons to be a charter city. Is this charter bad, good, or meh?

It would be interesting to get an unbiased analysis. Does anyone know of a charter expert that would be seen as unbiased? Just thinking out loud...

2/20/2012 10:04:00 PM  
Anonymous reasonable charter said...

Bruce, that is why you should have a Charter Commission. There are many things unique to Costa Mesa over other cities. Just as Oceanside has it's own uniqueness. An outside charter expert will not know the city.

Sandy Genis (sadly to some) probably would be the best person. Former Mayor, longtime resident and she was I think I heard on a charter commission before.

Oceanside is already contemplating some changes to their recently adopted charter and I bet Newport Beach wishes it could rescind it's trash provision in their charter.

The charter for Costa Mesa is too important to be done hastily. What you don't put in is as important as what you do.

2/20/2012 11:45:00 PM  
Anonymous reasonable charter said...

Plus do not forget how close Oceanside came to losing state funding because of a provision in their charter that was encouraged by their experts. Dayton and Christen as we have seen are not the best of choices.

2/20/2012 11:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Lost in Space said...


Pot Belly endorsed Righeimer in his first attempt at Council, and lost.

Others, I do not get the issue. If I interpret the rants, I see an expectation that Righeimer should propose a Charter, but not try to get it passed and not try to get support for it.

I expect Righeimer has more support planned.

I also see why the Haters only.complain and never ever accomplish a thing. They have no idea how to get anything done.

2/21/2012 07:39:00 AM  
Anonymous robotbreach said...

genis and leffler have been known to go to neighboring citie's council meetings and try to influence opinion. they are a travelling road show, imported shills for Cook and Daigle. they also badmouth CM. They don't always speak the truth as we already know here. They also badmouth CM. Very classy.

2/21/2012 07:44:00 AM  
Anonymous nevernervous said...

15% of registered voteres can call for a charter commission or committee. quit whining here and go get some signatures!! no wonder you are always months behind on everything. you are still talking about pink slips even. ?? Meanwhile OCGOP has council candidates lined up for 2014 and 2016, and they are already moving up through the ranks. Give up on the charter, give up on 2012 elections, get a vision and start working on 2014 and catch up now or forever be behind and complaining about what happened 8 months ago. Any visionaries out there? Quit hanging with "former" council members and "former" mayors and find "future" leaders. Propose something, anything, just quit being opposers only.

2/21/2012 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger Angry White Man said...

that post made my morning ! totally hilarious. "moving up the ranks"
oh yes the likes of t-rex arms Fitzpatrick and the other useless planning and parks commissioners. That's the best the OCGOP has to offer?

2/21/2012 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous nevernervous said...

I am not sure if the commissioners are the 'best" the OCGOP has to offer, not privy to all their inside info though I have heard of a couple of "biggies" other than commissioners that would move to the top of the list should they so choose. But there are four future councilmen on the commissions already, visionaries, not button pushers, so all is good.

2/21/2012 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous get over yourself said...

Actually Costa Mesa is not that unique. It is a fairly large city, is built out, has crime that most residents are ignorant of, has traffic problems, and like many other California cities now values big box stores and chain restaurants over anything local. You are nothing special Costa Mesa. The best thing you have is Keene Coffee and that is in Newport. So being a charter city sure isn't needed.

2/21/2012 01:46:00 PM  

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