Wednesday, March 07, 2012

"Jim Righeimer's Charter" Will Be On June Ballot

OK, so I spoiled the "suspense". Sorry about that.

Last night, at 10:20 p.m. - to the surprise of absolutely no one in the council chambers and following an hour and a quarter of public comments during which 28 people spoke on the issue (4 in support and 24 against or demanded a slower pace and/or placement on the November ballot) and nearly two hours of council discussion - the Costa Mesa City Council voted - seven times - to place Jim Righeimer's Charter on the June 5, 2012 ballot. As predicted, the five resolutions required for the placement of the charter on the ballot and related administrative issues all passed by 4-1 votes, with Wendy Leece voting NO on each.


Additionally, the council voted unanimously to place the full text of the Charter in the ballot (I assume that means in the voter pamphlet) - at an estimated cost of $14,500. They also voted to authorize the mailing of an "informational brochure", which will cost from $9600 for 4 pages to over $13,000 for twelve. That means, based on the estimate provided by the Registrar of Voters, to place this issue on the June ballot the City will spend just about $150,000 to feed Jim Righeimer's ego, enhance his political future and saddle our city with conditions in the Charter which, if passed, are guaranteed to lead to even more legal troubles Costa Mesa.

I've said from the very beginning that I'm NOT against the concept of a charter. It's very likely that Costa Mesa might benefit from becoming a Charter City IF that charter is crafted with care by a broad cross section of residents in the form of an elected Charter Commission, to preclude personal political agendas being foisted off on the residents of the city. I'm against THIS charter, which does precisely that - it advances Righeimer's personal political agenda.

On the subject of this being "Jim Righeimer's Charter", during the discussion last night he actually acknowledged that fact - that it is, indeed, his creation. Let's hear no more yapping about how this was a collaborative effort, with many changes recommended by residents included in it. The Charter that was approved last night - the one that we will vote on in June - IS Righeimer's baby - his DNA is all over it.

A few of the speakers last night represented the grass roots organization, Costa Mesans For Responsible Government (CM4RG), which will actively oppose the Charter between now and the election in June. You can read about them at their web site, One of my biggest disappointments last night was the attempt by members of the City Council to paint those folks as some kind of radical kooks. That behavior is consistent with the way they have treated virtually anyone who dares to step to the speaker's podium and criticize them on ANY issue.

Among the membe
rs of CM4RG are former Mayor, Sandra Genis -a land use planning consultant by profession and a responsible citizen of our city. In addition to her service on the City Council, she is also the President of the Orange County Fairgrounds Preservation Society - the group that was largely responsible for getting the sale of the Fairgrounds quashed recently.

The group also includes Eleanor Egan - retired member of the Costa Mesa City Attorney's office and former Planning Commissioner - and her husband, Tom Egan - a retired engineer and former trustee of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. They have been active in Costa Mesa affairs for two decades and were cornerstones of the early days of the Westside improvement movement.

Among the others is Robin Leffler - a long-time officer in Mesa Verde Community, Inc., the homeowner's association for that part of town where both Righeimer and his pal, Steve Mensinger, live - who has been speaking before this city council and many others before them on a variety of issues.

Perry Valantine, a long-time resident and retired senior staffer in the Costa Mesa Planning Department, has been a consistently excellent speaker before this council, making carefully-considered suggestions on many important issues, including this charter scheme.

Tamar Goldmann, a long-time educator in the community, has presented courteous, carefully-crafted comments a
nd suggestions to this council.

These folks - and the many others who have joined them - are not just a bunch of hacks - they are pillars of the community, who take the time to study the issues, attend the meetings, read the staff reports and offer educated views on issues. None of them have plans to run for office. Their only goal is to try to make the community in which they live a better place for us all. For their trouble they have been belittled, chided and vilified by members of this council. Some have been called out BY NAME for special abuse - a behavior that has become increasingly more prevalent by some members of this council and that is unacceptable.


So, now the battle begins. The four men on the City Council have decided to jam Jim Righeimer's Charter down our throats at a pace that is unacceptable. That get
s worse when you realize that opposing views that will appear in the voter's pamphlet MUST be submitted no later than 5:00 this Friday!


Between now and June 5th the City will wage a campaign - there's no other word for it - to get this Charter passed. They will spend taxpayer dollars on "informational fliers" that - if their first such device is any indication - will be spun by Communications Director Bill Lobdell to make the readers see only one side of this issue. I expect the opposition - certainly the CM4RG group - to counter that propaganda with "information" of its own.

For our part here, expect to see m
ore - much more - on Jim Righeimer's Charter in the weeks to come. There is no more important issue facing Costa Mesa voters in the Primary Election on June 5th. We will do our best to provide accurate, timely information for you.


Oh, yes, there was other business conducted last night, too.

The council breezed right through the Consent Calendar, pulling only three items for separate discussion. Along the way they spent a lot of taxpayer dollars. They agreed to spend more than $170,000 in un-budgeted dollars for improvements at the intersection of Harbor Blvd. and Gisler Avenue; more than $250,000 to replace our antiquated telephone system, including an additional $18,000 of un-budgeted dollars and agreed to spend $100,000 of grant funds on sewer screens.


They signed an emergency ordinance to immediately implement the new 2@60 retirement tier for new "Miscellaneous" employees and issued a resolution
on the upcoming Orange County Marathon on May 6th.


At the end of the meeting they considered Mensinger's plan for what he calls "Annual Performance Audits". And, continuing the philosophy of spending money like drunken sailors, raised the proposed amount for this process - $50,000 - to $100,000. There is NO budget for this money this year so it will come from - you guessed it - CEO Tom Hatch's "contingency fund" - the $900,000 slush fund created by this council last year as a kind of "piggy bank", to be raided whenever they need beer money. Mensinger wants this "process" to be an ongoing enterprise - using consultants to come into organizations to assess their effectiveness. No mention was made about whether this process will include evaluations of individual's performance - something that should have been addressed.

Oh, yes... we got out of the meeting at 11:05 p.m. - 50 minutes sooner than I had
predicted. More than 30 high school students from Newport Harbor High School, including my very talented next door neighbor, attended the council meeting as part of a school assignment. Most lasted a couple hours, but all had departed before the Charter issue came up. They helped fill the auditorium to capacity in the early hours. I hope they learned something positive from the process...

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Anonymous Pest Control said...

Righeimer and his friends are like locusts- they came to Costa Mesa to strip it and move on.

3/07/2012 06:22:00 AM  
Anonymous History Repeats said...

Hitler's Enabling Act passed in Germany: 1933;

Allies enter Berlin: 1945.

Righeimer's Enabling Act ("Charter") passed in 2012?

3/07/2012 07:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Sam Grady said...

Well this is no surprise. Lets see what the residents of Costa Mesa are made of. Do they drink the kool-aid or actually think for themselves. Based upon the last election, there are a lot of kool-aid drinkers here. I do hope the grass roots efforts to defeat this charter works. I know no one in my neighborhood that will vote for it.

I also think it is ironic that Hatch made sure all his new hires, including Lobdell, Joyce and Francis were all hired before the new 2% at 60 was implemented. Also, where is the emergency for changing the pension formula for new hires in public safety, which is the largest cost to the city?

3/07/2012 08:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry said...

Great news! About time. Looking forward to supporting the Charter and the simple things it does--like free us from Sacramento rule and let us govern ourselves. None of the haters seems to be able to really articulate anything wrong with the Charter--just that the process went too fast. I hope there is lots of debate and information about this great movement. I'd suggest simply sending copies to the households--most people support it once they read it and get past the noise of the usual Righeimer haters.

3/07/2012 08:18:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Whine-Press said...

Why is Barry/Costa Mesa's "other" blogger, spewing righeimer propaganda here instead of his own blog?

Next we'll be treated to one of his white power rants..

3/07/2012 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

What this article neglects to mention is that more speakers last night actually spoke in favor of the Charter than against it. It seems the usual likes of Leffler, Genis, Eagan and Valantine are now being drowned out by everyday residents who want our City to take control of itself and end Sacramento's disastrous rule. Support the Charter!!

3/07/2012 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Actually, Phil, what your comment proves is that you have limited reading comprehension. I gave you the numbers of commenters and the positions they took. Go back and watch the tape and make your own count. Far, far more folks spoke against the charter than for it.

3/07/2012 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Sam Grady said...

Phil like to lie to distort the truth in his misguided effort to sway opinion his way. He does the same thing when he post on the Daily Pilot. I was at the meeting Phil. The majority of speakers spoke against the charter. Why do you continue to lie? Is that how you were raised? That fact that you support a carpetbagger from another city instead of longtime residents who actually care about their city speaks volumes about your character and values.

3/07/2012 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

To Barry,

You write, “None of the haters seems to be able to really articulate anything wrong with the Charter--just that the process went too fast.”

And you write three of the standard “for” contentions “…the simple things it does--like free us from Sacramento rule and let us govern ourselves.

If it’s not too much trouble, Barry, instead of just sniping, how about some details to prove your side of the argument?

For starters, take the label “haters,” as in “council haters.” I know you love to use that word, Barry, but how about trying to convince us that we’re doing more than “hating the sin but loving the sinners,” to borrow a phrase. I personally, for example, still respect the work and the person of Monahan, Bever, and Righeimer in the era before Righeimer’s election to council. I have nothing but contempt, though, for what they’ve been doing in the past year.

If we so-called “haters” can’t really articulate anything wrong with the charter (however, you might want to check out the detailed findings at, the website of Costa Mesans for Responsible Government, before you make that claim again), then it should be easy for you to tell us what is right about it. What and how will it achieve?

Details, please, not platitudes.

What elements of “Sacramento rule” are onerous, and how will the charter make up for the protections we’ll lose under Righeimer’s charter?

Details, please, not platitudes.

And, finally, given that the councilmen repeatedly say the charter is simple and really won’t change things much, tell everybody why it’s worth convulsing the city and ruining their local reputations in order to “govern ourselves”?

Details, please, not platitudes.

3/07/2012 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

He did it again last night! Righeimer knows no charter could eliminate or reduce the City's unfunded liabilities or pension obligations, and so he never quite says his charter would do that, but he insinuates it every chance he gets. People hear it and believe it. As Mark Twain wrote, a lie travels halfway around the world while the truth is still getting its boots on. For truth about the charter, go to Regarding the charter's effect on pensions,see .

3/07/2012 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Council is Good said...

Um, interesting math that selectively forgets all the speakers in public comments that praised the Council.

They just did not want to sit around until what most thought would be after midnightish.

Did anyone really expect an unbiased report from the Pot Stinker?

My observation is that Council was absolutely on point to call out the few historical residents that have been anti change for decades. Same people, change the name. So many names Jay Humphries can't even remembrances the right name, and it started at his house before moving to a PO Box.

I trust the voters.

I do not trust the Council Haters.

Let the debates begin

3/07/2012 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Feeling bad for the unpaid shill said...

Barry, Phil, "Council is Good," = MM the strange one.

Too bad they won't let old MM get on and ride the Lobdell/Swaim gravy train..

3/07/2012 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Hmmm.. Who should I believe and trust?

A) Riggy, Mensy, Bever, and Monahan?


B) Genis, Lefler, the Egans, Valantine and Goldmann?

I'll take "B."

3/07/2012 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous CM4RG - fudging the truth? said...

I suggest that everyone join the whopping 159 people who have "liked" the CM4RG Facebook page, and actually look at what they have posted. FACT CHECK their postings. I think you will be surprised.

Why is it that a "grass roots" "citizens" group has to resort to seemingly fudging the truth in order to attack the allegedly fudged truth of the Council? Curious.

Why does the piece penned by Jay Humphries provide no actual details (like the cities that supposedly utilized a committee or commission) and completely misstates the outsourcing issues by triumphantly noting that Rancho Plaos Verdes outsources virtually everything. What Humphries fails to state is that they outsource those services to OTHER GOVERNMENT ENTITIES, which general law cities can do.

Sure looks like they are fudging the truth, doesn't it? Why do they need to do that if their cause is so admirable?

Pay attention, because there will be much more of this to come.

We report - you decide.

3/07/2012 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Wish Sandy Would Stop Talking said...

Seems like if Riggy wrote the Bill of Rights the union folks would be against it.

I' still waiting to hear exactly what is wrong with the proposed Charter (except that Riggy wrote it).

On a different topic, it would be nice if Ms. Genis would not talk for what it seems hours at a time during the meetings. Some people in the audience are interested in what's being said by speakers and Council members.

3/07/2012 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Open Letter to Genis said...

Dear Ms. Genis,

Please stop talking. The truth you continually spout is bothering the Usurper and his minions.

Costa Mesa Citizens for One Man Rule

3/07/2012 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Who ya gonna call? Sandy said...

Follow the money. These anti residents have funneled money thru their fill in the blank group name.

When the public safety unions wanted to dump a bunch of money into the Council Race against Riggy.

Who did they call? You bet. Sandra Genis.

History will repeat itself.

Lunatic fringe ...

When Geoff West cuts a check, you know they will have lost. Cut away Pot Belly.

3/07/2012 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan (the man of few words, sometimes) said...

To "fudging the truth"

Sorry, M, I've got the patent here on "We report, you decide."

You're more creative than that, I know.

3/07/2012 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Other Mike said...

Who ya gonna call...Sorry but the Lunatic Fringe is the council and the narrow few who follow them. They are extremists who will stop at nothing to push their agenda. They will never compromise on some of what they want, but will push until they get ALL of what they want.

You might not like what Genis et al have to say, but they have been in the community doing a lot for the community for a long time. I trust them more than I do Steve-o and Jimbo. It's just that simple. When long time contributors of this community are being attacked by Johnnies come lately, it signals a problem. Big red flags go up. None of he folks you cite as "lunatics" are running for office. They have nothing to gain by adding their voice other than supporting (by name) what they believe in. That's more than I can say for any alleged supporter of this council. They are allegedly out there in droves according to Steve and Jim, but to be honest I have yet to meet many.

3/07/2012 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

Steve says he had 150 people come to his door in support. Jim says he KNOWS THIS WILL PASS WITH FLYING COLORS.
The only thing that would pass with flying colors is a vote for a commission like all the speakers wanted.
BTW... I agree with Mr. Egan when he said that he was dissapointed with Eric and Gary. Eric has always been a tool. Gary had a clue at one time then took a 2 year hiatus. If gary supported the pot industry and it just got the shaft by the feds and now that he is supporting the charter, hopefully the citizens can give him the shaft with a no vote.
Jim also said 3 new members could be in place come November, lets hope he is right on this. I would love to see some antagonists up there supporting Wendy and the citizens.
Wendy, thank you for exposing the phab 4.

3/07/2012 06:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Shameful said...

Sam Grady I too find it appalling general city employees approved the 2 @ 60 rate over a year and a half ago and it's just now being implemented. I know they have made excuses for why. But why not have waited a couple of months to hire the new executives under the lower pension rate? We kept hearing how outrageous the pension are and not only do we hire new executives at the higher pension rate just weeks before the lower one takes effect but these are not $65,000 a year hires to boot. Where is the outrage about this if all these pension screamers are bieng honest? Shameful!

3/07/2012 08:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Miserable City said...

Stockton was thrown out there last night as a city declaring BK. One speaker pointed out Stockton is a CHARTER CITY. I have seen where some seem to imply pensions were the problem.

The truth is Forbes has rated Stockton back in 2008 runner-up for most miserable city and in 2009 THE MOST MISERABLE city in the U.S.

Why? Read the article. Take note a great deal of their problems, the biggest one, comes from the housing bubble burst.

Our own Forbes Misery Measure saw a shuffling of the deck among the top 10 cities, with five new candidates getting a failing grade this year. Topping the charts is Stockton, Calif., which was the runner-up on our list last year.

The Most Miserable City

Comment On This Story

Stockton ranks in the bottom seven in four of the nine categories we looked at: commute times, income tax rates, unemployment and violent crime. Only New York City has a higher income tax rate than what Stockton, and all California residents, are forced to pay.

StoriesIn PicturesVideos
Stockton was ground zero for the housing boom and now the subsequent bust. Home prices more than tripled between 1998 and 2005 and then came crashing down last year. Stockton had the country's highest foreclosure rate last year at 9.5%, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed property. Things are not looking much brighter in 2009 as housing prices are expected to fall another 36% on the heels of a 39% drop in 2008. Also, unemployment is expected to jump to 13.3% from 10.4%, according to economic research firm Moody's

"We are engaging the entire community and encouraging everyone to get involved and help us find solutions that meet the needs of our community," says Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston. "Volunteerism is encouraged, looking out for your neighbor, and taking personal responsibility where individuals can make a difference. We are partnering with all community organizations--schools, churches, non-profits-- to provide support services and help individuals and families get through these difficult times."

We compiled our rankings by looking at the 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S., which meant those with a population of at least 378,000. We ranked those metros on nine factors: commute times, corruption, pro sports teams, Superfund sites, taxes (both income and sales), unemployment, violent crime and weather.

For this year's ranking, we added the corruption component. We used the criminal conviction of government officials in each area over the past decade as compiled by the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice. This division of the Justice Department was created in 1976 to focus on "crimes involving abuses of the public trust by government officials."

3/07/2012 08:32:00 PM  
Anonymous optimism is waning said...

from Noberto Santana Jr. Simply sad.

Since Nelson gave up his pension, he’s been trying to get the rest of the Board of Supervisors to join him, without much luck.

“I’m the only one under 65 that doesn’t take a pension,” he said in an interview this week.

Repeatedly, Nelson has put on the board's agenda replacing supervisors' pensions with a 401(k) plan, and repeatedly his colleagues have dodged the issue.

“I’ve hit my head against the wall with the most shuck-and-jive conversations,” Nelson said. The message coming through from his colleagues has been straightforward, he said: “You can’t shave down our pensions.”

“It’s all this doublespeak,” Nelson said. “It’s code for, "Yeah, but I plan on coming back here somehow, and I can get my ten years in, so I want my 2.7 at 55 [the highest pension formula possible].”

Even Supervisor John Moorlach, known locally as the prince of pension reform, has publicly resisted altering his own pension, which is based on 2.7 at 55. When Moorlach was re-elected in 2010, he opted back into the pension system.

Moorlach has repeatedly said he supports change but insists that it must be across the board. Other supervisors have consistently poked holes in Nelson's proposals over the last year.

3/07/2012 08:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Wake up Costa Mesa Residents said...

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men,
they create for themselves,
in the course of time,
a legal system that authorizes it,
and a moral code that glorifies it.”

Political economist Frederic Bastiat, The Law [1850]


3/07/2012 10:53:00 PM  
Anonymous What made him so bitter? said...

I don't think Barry is MM. Go easy on him, Tom. He has "issues", you know what I mean?

3/08/2012 12:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Grateful said...

Geoff; thank you for providing the relevant information about our wonderful city. Many thanks also to those who participate here and do such incredible research. The information here is what you would find in decent newspaper if we had one in our wonderful city.

Thank You to all who fill that void.

3/08/2012 08:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Other Mike said...

I want to address Steve's assertion that he has had 150 neighbors at his door in support of council. I'm a neighbor of Steve's and I have to call BS on that. There is not now, nor has there ever been vehicular or pedestrian traffic to or from Steve's house that would be 150 of his neighbors dropping by.

Second, of his neighbors, I can tell you I know of more than a handful that do not support Steve or his pal across the fairway. Steve has to make these claims to keep up the facade of a mandate of the people.

I encourage Steve to humble himself and try he truth on or size. I don't think he can o it, but I encourage it.

3/08/2012 08:27:00 AM  
Anonymous I M Happy said...

Haters are still hating. Their anger clouds judgment and turns people away.

The times they are a changin.

Must suck to be old and angry. I hope I have friends that will help make sure I never go to the dark side of this lunatic fringe.

In the end, you will see, Geoff West will wind up with a one car funeral ... sad, but true. Well, maybe Joe would stop by for one last silly comment.

By the way, West has never posted his list of candidates that can potentially have a shot in November ... they don't exist. Reality is that once the Charter passes, math will indicate the lunatic fringe has lost their influence. they will be angry, but not winners.

That's what we think ... we talk realty, you get angry

3/08/2012 08:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Central Valley Farm Animals said...

Rich wrote (re Mensy):

"Steve says he had 150 people come to his door in support."

Yeah, like the alleged "vandalism" he claims to have suffered last year.

Actually, someone got a photo of Steve's supporters:

3/08/2012 09:23:00 AM  
Anonymous troll said...

Central Valley: take a lok at anti charter supporters while you are at it. Ridge's first comment: "..fell asleep during last speaker..." very rude Ridge. Just because he has opposite opinion shouldn;t make you seepy, it's the other "stuff"

3/08/2012 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

I had to stop reading for a while and catch my breath because the anger and vitriol are overwhelming. Why can there be only polar opposites, "union hacks", "council lackeys" and "haters"? We are all FOR/PRO something.

Many (perhaps most) of us who prefer a more cautious approach to changing the DNA of this city aren't union hacks or haters, we are PRO reason, PRO input, PRO discussion, PRO consideration. We are PRO change that is thoughtful and thought out. We are PRO process.

Everyone of has a back story, but here we are talking about a seminal event that could cost tens of thousands to repair if we get it wrong, so we are PRO time.

I serve my HOA's association and we have been working on revising CC&Rs that date back 33 years. It has taken us three years as we studied the original docs, agreed on a vision for the Association, had 4 general meetings for input, hired council to craft a doc that reflected what we wanted and complied with current statute. Now we are planning a second town hall meeting to get feedback on the proposed changes. We all agreed that if there were thing in there that were deal breakers for the community we wouldn't waste the HOA's money on an election. And that's just for a little HOA without a lot of money. I think the city deserves at least as much consideration. I am PRO consideration.

3/08/2012 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Thanks! said...

Wake up Costa mesa Residents,

THANK YOU!! Your highly relevant quote perfectly describes the actions of the Costa Mesa employee associations and their MOUs, political activities and actions at Council meetings.

The tactic of union/association members and their proxies, making up to $300,000 a year in the employ of Costa Mesa, accusing part-time council members making $950/mo (or $2500/mo for those taking the health care) of plundering Costa Mesa or being in it for the money is a perfect example!

You are right - Costa Mesa residents need to wake up!

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men,
they create for themselves,
in the course of time,
a legal system that authorizes it,
and a moral code that glorifies it.”

Political economist Frederic Bastiat, The Law [1850]

3/08/2012 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Riggy's troll/supplicant/bootlicker I M Happy finished his master's latest script with:

"...That's what we think ... we talk realty, you get angry."


Yes, yes. We know you're all about development. Go drool over Banning Ranch, Fairview Park, etc. and leave REALITY to the rest of us.

3/08/2012 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous schoolmarm said...

Mary Ann, 3 years for an hoa? Yikes. Waaay toooo long. u must like Wendy! A person could buy land, draw plans and permits,draft the covenants and restrictions and build the units and sell them all in less than 3 years. GOSLOW girl.

3/08/2012 02:08:00 PM  

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