Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jim Righeimer's Charter Moves On - Again

As part of a twi-night double-header, the Costa Mesa City Council held the second mandatory public hearing on Jim Righeimer's Charter beginning at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night.  This meeting followed the Business License Tax study session. (see previous post)

Let's begin this right off the bat (another baseball metaphor) by stating clearly that there is no longer even a semblance of a doubt about just who is calling the shots on this issue.  At the beginning of the meeting well-scrubbed young people were handing out the stickers shown here - both on the Council Chambers porch and within the auditorium itself.  That, of course, is strictly forbidden.  When I asked one of these bright young people who they represented she cheerfully stated, "The Orange County Republican Party!"  Later she and her half-dozen cronies were seen preparing to step to the speaker's podium with a script.  In the end, one of them did speak up and read directly from that script.  Another spoke later, very obviously using talking points prepared for him.  It was very clear that these young people had been dispatched by OC GOP Chairman Scott Baugh and his minions to attempt to influence public opinion on Jim Righeimer's Charter.  Those two speakers were part of 5 who spoke in favor of the charter.  The remaining 23 spoke against it, including announced council candidates Sue Lester, Harold Weitzberg, John Stephens and Sandra Genis.

The proceedings began before a crowd numbering over 150 interested souls, most of whom seemed to be opposed to Jim Righeimer's Charter based on their response to presentations by speakers.  There were many new faces, which means they probably heard this stuff for the first time.  I was impressed to see several "old hands" in city affairs at this meeting - folks who had dedicated large portions of their earlier lives to the City in one way or another.  They came to see, first hand, what this was all about.  Based on their later comments, they left frustrated and disappointed.  For those of us who have attended all the previous meetings, hearing the council member comments was a little like listening to a phonograph record with a scratch in it, jumping back to the previous groove over and over again.

The comments ran the gamut, beginning with Perry Valantine's calm warning about giving too much weight to the letters included in the council information packets - many of which were duplicates and triplicates.  He also expressed concern for the lack of leadership from the dais.  Activist Robin Leffler complained about multiple versions of Jim Righeimer's Charter that were part of the hand-outs last night, adding to the confusion.  Stephens, a lawyer, expressed concern about section 401, which deals with contract laws. Activist and former council candidate Lisa Reedy requested that someone in authority provide a clarification about "pensions", stating that this document will DO NOTHING to change the current pension obligations.  Eastside activist Katie Arthur added emphasis to Reedy's statement and also reinforced a theme that others had expressed - that this document places too much power in the hands of too few with inadequate controls.

Finally, just after 8:00, the City portion of the program commenced.  Former City Attorney, Kimberly Hall Barlow, was the lead presenter for The City.  She tried to respond to many of the criticisms expressed by the speakers.  At one point Mayor Eric Bever asked her, "What is your opinion that the charter was written by one person."  She replied, "Not anymore."  This, obviously, was in response to the many speakers who referred to the fact that the document was the work of Jim Righeimer, who admitted cutting and pasting segments from several sources.  Later, responding to the same question, Righeimer stated that he "hadn't had his hands on it since December".  Well, folks, that is a lie!  Does he not think anyone will call him on it?  Those of us who have been watching this debacle from the beginning recall his paw prints all over the document as suggestion after suggestion were rejected in earlier meetings.  He actually massaged language on the document from the dais earlier this spring.  Yes, Jim, we DO watch and DO remember.
Yes, Barlow has recently "cleaned up" the current version, which can be found as part of the staff report HERE.  But this "cleansing" has occurred only recently - within the last few days.  Had Jim Righeimer's Charter been placed on the June ballot as he planned, it would have been a different, less-clear and even sloppier document.  That, however, doesn't mean that THIS new version is better.  Many of the same deficiencies and problem segments remain so it continues to be an unacceptable document on which to build the future of this city.

When asked by Bever whether this document lacks checks and balances - a criticism by many of the speakers - Barlow said, "That's what the voters will decide."  I thought that was a curious, yet telling reply.  And, yes, Kim, we WILL decide in November.

Several speakers expressed lack of trust in this council as a reason they opposed Jim Righeimer's Charter.  Curiously, Righeimer himself later stated, "It's simply a matter of trust."  You're correct, Jimbo, it IS a matter of trust.  And when he told us that "he would be there after November" and could work with anyone up there, not too many of us sitting in the audience actually believed him.  Since he was elected - and in the months before - he has demonstrated time after time after time that he IS NOT to be trusted.  It has been crystal clear from the beginning that this charter scheme - and some of the particularly onerous segments that he demanded be included - are part of his personal political plan for self-aggrandizement.  If he succeeds here after failing so many times in the past his pals in the OC GOP (see above) will smile down upon him. 

So, this current version of Jim Righeimer's Charter will receive further burnishing by Barlow and will be presented to the council for final consideration on July 31st.  It's going to be another long, long evening.  At that time the council will again review the document and vote on whether or not to place it on the November 6th ballot.  There is no doubt about that - the charter WILL be on the ballot barring some kind of administrative mishap.  It will then be up to the voters of this city to decide whether they will give virtually unfettered power to those in charge or not. 

As I've said many, many times in the past - I'm NOT opposed to A Charter for Costa Mesa.  I am opposed to THIS Charter.  If a Charter is right for our city, it should be carefully crafted by a broad-based group of residents to insure that sufficient safeguards are included and that the needs and desires of all constituencies are considered.  That has not happened with this process.  This process has been rushed from the very beginning - as though the author was afraid the voters would catch onto him - and focused on the desires of one man.  Be assured, we will...

 Remember in November

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Anonymous OCGOP Strategy said...

I heard a rumor that Baugh and Riggy are bringing the same kids to Bustamante's next hearing..

Why does OCGOP continue to showcase the very young in this way? It doesn't seem right. My young daughter thinks Riggy, Mensy, Bever, and Monahan are "creepy."

7/11/2012 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Tori said...

This is the exact process that we went thru in Auburn. One guy writes it, the Teapublicans back it (I see you even have your own youth division), the purpose being to please the conservatives for further electoral pursuits. We defeated ours roundly. The person who outlines this process, including making sure there is no commission or committee is Kevin Dayton. Do outside interests belong in Costa Mesa? We said no to them here in Auburn. Hopefully your jimmyboy will go down in flames when this is said and done.

7/11/2012 08:09:00 AM  
Anonymous A Good Thing said...

Sounds good to me. Look forward to putting the issue to a Vote and watching candidates choose sides.

This will be a defining moment in our City.

Thanks to all who are championing.

Unions won't know where to spend money, will fragment thier funding and candidates.

7/11/2012 09:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

And there it is! A Good Thing said, "Unions won't know where to spend money, will fragment funding and candidate." That, and that alone, is why this Council is pushing this charter. The GOP has been working to dismantle unions in the country because that organized money challenges their organized money. This has nothing to do with benefits for Costa Mesa - they don't care about Costa Mesa. Thanks for slipping up and telling the truth for once.

7/11/2012 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry said...

Looking forward to voting for this Charter and self control in Costa Mesa. Long overdue. Most residents get the issues and see this for what it is. Is there a Charter campaign? We'd like to volunteer for it!

7/11/2012 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Welcome back. Just call Scott Baugh and he'll put you right to work!

7/11/2012 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Whine Press said...

Barry aka Phil aka Neanderthal Mensa is reportedly too busy trying to get Arsenio Hall's campaign for CM City council off the ground..

7/11/2012 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Interesting Venezia piece:

7/11/2012 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Facts not emotion said...

Geoff, when are you going to see the light? You have once again chosen the "side" that is the minority and not representative of what is good for Costa Mesa or its residents.

Thanks for summing up the main thrust of the Charter opposition - TRUST. What that really means is that you have completely ceded rationality to emotion.

You are unable to analyze the benefits and/or risks of the actual proposed charter because you are literally blinded by your personal feelings about Righeimer and the OCGOP.

That is truly sad. The reality is that there are many people who do support the proposed charter, and that it is moving forward to a vote. Simply sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling "NO!" or wringing your hands about Righeimer's style or perceived character flaws serves no one and doesn't address the issue at hand.

Try this - articulate the actual current proposed charter provisions that you have a problem with and why.

Time to deal with facts, not emotion.

7/11/2012 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Jim Righeimer is a pathological liar. I say this after watching him on the dais, in interviews and on the air. The trust factor is gone because he cannot or will not tell us the truth.

7/11/2012 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Randall said...

Geoff, it would be very helpful to me to understnd what provisions in the Charter you object to and how you would change it.

The standard argument that Riggy wrote it so it must be bad is getting a little old.

Other than the Council members you should know more about this document than anyone else.

Please educate us.

7/11/2012 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Actually, Randall, I think what I'll do is just let them put this thing on the ballot as-is. Once that drop-dead date has come and gone I'll help the electorate understand just what these guys want to saddle them with.

If the electorate actually pays attention - never a guarantee - and they vote this thing down we can get on with trying to undo much of the damage that's been done over the past 18 months.

Are you feeling safer these days? If so, then you probably don't live in Costa Mesa, where your guys have forced a PD staffing level on us not seen since the 1980s, now exacerbated by 15 members being out on medical or other leave issues. AND, your guys refuse to let us hire new cops and stiff-arm negotiations. Yeah, safer is what we are NOT these days.

7/11/2012 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Hang Firm Council said...

Oh please Geoff. If this were anywhere near a non bias representation of issues there would be a big old picture of Jason Chamness with a picture of a big fat hog.

The Police Union is to blame for our safety concerns and staffing.

Geoff should really be telling the Cops to put in a reasonable 2nd Tier Pension so we can actively hire. Forget the BS about can’t attract the best nonsense. And Staff up with Reserves. Oh, and any expectation of a contract extension is delusional. No, you will not get it.

Cops, Fireman, Unions and council Haters try and blame the Council, but that is not the case. Was hoping for more leadership out of the Chief, my guess that he is siding with the boy sin blue with his first command. Does not know how to lead on the issue of pension reform. Have you seen what Public Safety takes of our budget? And they want more?

Next time you see a cop in our community, first ask him if he can make a Victoria Secret run for your girlfriend like they did for Reik-me-off. Then ask them to be reasonable and establish a 2nd Tier, bring in Reserves and make us feel safe like the great City we are

7/11/2012 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Randall said...

Is that really in the best interests of the citizens of Costa Mesa? Like it or not, the Charter is likely to happen. Why not the best Charter we can get - one with your input?

I appreciate the time that you devote to City issues and you're clearly a very smart guy. But sometimes I think your dislike of Riggy gives you tunnel vision.

7/11/2012 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Physics 101 said...

ABLE went down, crime in Costa Mesa went up.
Thanks Steve-O and Jimbo!

7/11/2012 02:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Step up said...


Sorry, but your response to Randall is a joke. You obviously don't have any real opposition to it except personal animosity - why else the public safety red herring?

Step up, Geoff, take off the blinders - you CAN do better.

7/11/2012 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Us Cops stick together said...

Yo Physics,

Can you stop by Victoria Secret for me on your way back from the River?

7/11/2012 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger valan2 said...

Facts not Emotion: Really? Is it rational to trust someone who has proven himself untrustworthy? Is it rational to believe arguments that continue to be made in spite of having been proven false? Is it rational to cry "poor" and then double the capital improvement budget?

And, then you ask for a list of things that are wrong with the charter! Take a look at the comments submitted in writing and the statements made at Council hearings for both the original (June ballot) charter draft and the latest (November ballot) version. The answers to your question are all there, and there's plenty of material.

7/11/2012 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous more of the same said...

I see more council insiders are posting here and they still do not know what good faith negotiations entail. More of the same from this council... lies, subterfuge, and half-truths. Unfortunately, none of this will change soon- and even if officers do get hired- there will still be a nearly 2 year wait before they are in the field actually doing work (reserve or otherwise).

And for you council insiders who think a contract extension is unreasonable in return for a second tier... please enlighten us all why? The rest of us a certainly baffled by your claims.

7/11/2012 06:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Back to the River said...

More of the same, please enlighten us. Why should we extend a bad contract for us?

You say you need more cops on the street. Why not just implement a 2nd Tier, so we can start the process of hiring? Why do you feel entitled? Either you think you need the bodies or not.

If you do, then put the right strictures in place.

You are believing your own blue PR. Hire Reserves, and you can collapse that lead time.

And on your break, can you grab a Victoria Secret gift certificate for my girlfriend? I have a badge bunny. And I am.stacking my breaks so I can spend time with her while I am in uniform.

City Council. No extension of contract for cops or fireman.

Please find a way to make the discussions public.

7/11/2012 09:53:00 PM  
Anonymous The Firm said...

Us Cops stick together wrote:
"Yo Physics,
Can you stop by Victoria Secret for me on your way back from the River?"

Repeated mistakes like this are why you'll never get elected to council, or make partner.. :)

7/11/2012 10:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Old Cop said...

"Back to the river" why are you under the impression that there is no lead time required to hire and field reserve officers? That's just false. Do you think we just make the sign of the cross, hand them a badge and a gun and tell them to go forth and conquer?

Reserves have to attend the same police academy. Since they are reserves,they attend part time. That means the academy takes reserve officers a year to complete. Then there's field training. That takes about another year to complete. That's on top of the lead time required to complete the hiring process (4 months or so). So, in reality, reserves require more lead time to get to where they are functional officers.

You keep listening to lies and false information and apparently feel you are a qualified expert. I can see by your comments you want to drag the rhetoric this election season into the mud. That's your choice. I suspect you won't see the police or fire associations playing there with you. They tried that shtick, it didn't work. I suspect if you and yours keep taking shots at them it's only going to hurt you. Most true conservatives still like firefighters and cops.

7/12/2012 01:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Facts not Emotion said...


Exactly how has Jim Rigeheimer proven himself untrustworthy to you or the residents of Costa Mesa? Provide one concrete example.

It is totally irrational to evaluate the proposed charter on anything but the actual words contained in the proposed charter.

By definition, when a City does not have the funds available to maintain services and address maintenance and improvement of infrastructure because of disproportionately high personnel costs (including retirement related costs), the City is "poor." Prioritizing maintenance and improvement of infrastructure is long overdue.

Your premise, implemented in the MOUs and abetted by past councils - that everything else must be cut before personnel costs, is completely wrong and is why the press has been filled with stories of municipal woe.

Of course, your perspective is that of a municipal retiree.

My questions were directed to Geoff, I am well aware of what other people have stated about the proposed charter - I would like Geoff to articulate what he does not like about it - besides the fact the Righeimer authored the initial draft.

7/12/2012 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

I'll answer that one. When Jim Righeimer brought in his Sacramento lobbyist friend Kevin Dayton this past winter to proclaim how the charter was the greatest thing since sliced bread and canned beer, and when Dayton broke the 3 minute rule for public speakers, at Righeimer's request... that is when he proved himself untrustworthy.

Why did Righeimer need to bring in a Sacramento lobbyist to sell us Costa Mesans on a charter that would supposedly get us out from Sacramento's influence and power?

Epic fail.

7/12/2012 07:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Fail said...

Mike H.,

Really? That's all you got? Doesn't matter that Dayton's info is spot on? Doesn't matter that a parade of out-of-town union people showed up, even threatening the city?

Your post is an epic fail.

7/12/2012 09:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

Is Cudahy a charter city?

7/13/2012 01:20:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home