Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Feet To The Fire Charter Debate

Well, in my opinion, the Feet To The Fire charter debate between Katrina Foley and Jim Righeimer last night lived up to the hype that preceded it.  And, also in my opinion, just as has been the case since Righeimer proposed this scheme eleven months ago, it's going to boil down to who you choose to believe.

The room provided at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center was packed.  Most folks paying attention estimated more than 500 people were in the room and it seemed to be fairly evenly split between supporters of Jim Righeimer's Charter and those who oppose it.  Both sides were VERY vocal.

For the most part, Foley and Righeimer were cordial to each other - even though they each accused the other of not presenting accurate statements throughout the evening.  Both came armed with study guides.  In fact, Righeimer brought a half-dozen binders with information, including the entire Costa Mesa Municipal Code - which he used as an exercise device from time to time.

This event lasted only an hour and may be viewed on hostess Barbara Venezia's web site, www.feet2thefireforum.com.  I must tell you, though, the quality of the streaming video leaves much to be desired.  The video is sub-par and the audio breaks up or fades away from time to time.  AND, annoying commercials pop up much too frequently.  My choice will be to wait for the Costa Mesa Television crew's professionally prepared version that will be available shortly on the City web site and will be placed in the rotation on CMTV.  

Until you have a chance to watch the event for yourself and form your own opinions I'll give you some of my impressions and observations, acknowledging right up front that I strongly oppose Jim Righeimer's Charter.  Nothing that occurred last night changed my mind on any issue.

Righeimer used the party line - he blamed "the unions" for all the ills of the city.  He said he needs the charter so he will have the tools to resolve our financial crisis.  Although asked many times, he never really did answer the question - "What will the Charter allow you to do that you can't do now?".  When Foley posed the question, "Beyond the outsourcing and prevailing wage, name ten other things that you would do under the charter that you can't do now because they are illegal."  Righeimer said "None."

Foley, for her part, harped on the fact that Jim Righeimer's Charter eliminates competitive bidding.  She and Righeimer went round and round on the issue.  It was the old, "It doesn't", "It does, too", "No, it doesn't", "Yes, it does!" routine.

Venezia expressed the view that she said many have expressed to her that Jim Righeimer's Charter happened too quickly and asked Righeimer his views.  He responded that the unions want to drag it out.  He then said, "We had six meetings.  We had hundreds of different things that came in.  We made hundreds of changes to the charter from the beginning to the end.  And that's the process we did."  Well, ANYONE who followed this "process" knows that's just not true.  Even with the very short time available, residents submitted a couple hundred suggestions for improvements and modifications to his charter, but almost all were rejected out of hand.  This is all part of the BIG LIE Righeimer and his pals are foisting off on the voters.

During the discussion Venezia asked Righeimer why he didn't form a committee of concerned residents to help with the creation of the Charter he responded thus.  "You could do a bunch of committees.  You could go ahead and put a bunch of frosting on it and make it look different.  In the end, the council's going to vote on what they're going to put in."  There you have it!  They didn't need to consider input from residents because they already had their minds made up.

Discussing the outsourcing disaster Foley said, "What was required was trust and cooperation.  That's what happened in the prior outsourcing and that's not what happened now.  I just think the Newport Beach charter is a very critical charter that, if you were going to copy and paste from any charter, you would have looked to Newport Beach because it has very strong protections for the residents.  It's all about local control.  Many sections of the Newport Beach charter require voters of the electorate to vote on them... not three members of the city council."  Of course, she is correct.  If Righeimer and his pals on the council had simply followed the existing rules about outsourcing, most of what they want to accomplish would have been done by now.  Instead, they jumped the gun, violated their rules and the result is a very costly law suit.  Earlier she had told Righeimer, "You could have probably copied and pasted from Newport Beach and we probably wouldn't be sitting here."

Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit, who seemed bored to be there, asked Foley early on what she feared about the charter as proposed.  She gave examples of exorbitant fines - like the fine for trash cans being left out over night proposed by Righeimer when he was on the Planning Commission.  She feared the unbridled power  - a coup by three council members.  She feared the loss of personal freedoms and used this line to emphasize her point, "If you want to keep your boat, express it with your vote."  She expressed concerns about the possible privatization of our municipal parks - acknowledging that council member and candidate for election Steve Mensinger wanted to use Fairview Park for sports fields.

Venezia gave each of them a chance for one last sound bite to express their views on the charter.  Foley said, "It's not about local control by the residents, it's about control by a coup of three people."  Righeimer said, "Don't be afraid of the monster under the bed.  It gives you local control and it saves money for the parks and the roads and the facilities we need in this city."  Foley is correct.  Righeimer is basically saying, condescendingly, "Just trust me.  I know what's best."  He affirmed that attitude when he referred to our form of government being a representative Republic, where we, the voters, elect folks to make decisions for us.  That's true, but it doesn't mean that the elected officials have no limits on what they can do.

I encourage you to watch the tape of this event and judge for yourselves who the "winner" might have been.  I'll provide the replay schedule when it becomes available.

So, after all that, what did I think of the evening?  I think Foley remained calm and composed, even when the interrogation seemed to be stacked against her.  I think Righeimer dodged too many questions and that he still doesn't bat an eye at giving an answer that is untrue.  I think that a person attending the forum with no prior knowledge of this charter controversy would leave feeling unfulfilled.  I think that too many questions were left unanswered and the format permitted too many interruptions by both of the participants and those grilling them.  Still, it had value and I found myself wondering what the three dozen bright young people from Michele Lee's Newport Harbor High School Advance Placement Government class who attended thought about the event.  I'd love to hear from some of them...

One thing is sure - no minds were changed among the faithful on each side of the issue.  Those who support Righeimer's scheme were very vocal from the back of the room and those who support Foley were equally vociferous.  It was close, just like this race will probably be.  Now, off to the final candidate forum on Thursday, same time, same place.

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


Anonymous Themosticles said...

I can't figure out if Righeimer is clueless or deliberately lying. His big examples were the City print shop and street sweeping. Fountain Valley, which is not a charter city, outsourced their street sweeping years ago when they converted to CNG vehicles. Other cities that are not charter cities have long since moved their printing operations out to local quick print shops, while maintaining modern laser printers for in-house work.

Righeimer's inability to outsource operations like this is a sign of his own incompetence and failure rather than a justification for a charter. The guy never bothered to figure out how to get anything real accomplished.

10/16/2012 06:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be voting for 2 out of three of the 3M's, but No on the charter. I want to see explicit protections for parks, that's it.

James Rivera

10/16/2012 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

We came in a little late, but saw most of it. Katrina was polite, poised and not rude. Righeimer talked over her, cut her short and tried to capture every response. I suppose that is what you want to do at an event such as this, however, it made him look very bad. You're right Geoff, no one went over to that side.

10/16/2012 07:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Katrina Biden said...

We need to remember Katrina's performance when she runs for council. On the paat Katrina has justified pensions because a public employee was not sophisticated enough to manage their own money.

Now we have her fear kicking in her motherly instincts to protect all of us.

No thanks Mom, I am an adult now. I don't want government in my life. Live your own life. Not mine.

And yet as a school board trustee she sends her boy to scbool in Newport Beach?

No thanks.

Yes on V. Then work on making sure Katrina does not get back on council.

10/16/2012 07:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Jims Neigbor said...

OMG!!! Katrina sends her kids to school in Newport Beach? I wonder if they go to the same school as Fitzpatrick's kids! If she sends them to NB we know they don't go to school with Righeimers kids in Huntington Beach and they for sure don't go to Mater Dei with Skosh's kids. Hmm I don't know what to do!!! This is as bad as McEvoy being single and a renter like Mansoor was!!!
Is this one of those shiny objects you speak of?

10/16/2012 08:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Geoff: I agree with all you said and I don't think (m)any minds were changed. It was an awful format for a "debate" and there were few opportunities to produce actual evidence to back up or refute claims. Every time Katrina tried to reference her material, to refute a claim with the actual language from the proposed charter or from one of our neighboring cities' charters, Righeimer got the subject changed.

He never sufficiently answered a key question from Norberto Santana about referring to and using only the base form of the charters and ignoring the amendments. Why hasn't our city attorney counseled the council on this? Every good transactional attorney knows to look at the case law, or talk to the litigators, to determine what has been tested in court and in life. Write that into the new document so you avoid the legal costs to straighten it out later. Righeimer preferred to look at documents that are 57 years old - when things were vastly different and are irrelevant today! Katrina pointed out that the language doesn't even comply with the new law related to Bell - and Righeimer said he knew that. Perhaps our city attorney is silent in advice because there are many feathers on this turkey with which to line his firm's nest.

I want to thank Katrina for taking this on, doing her homework and trying to get the word out. For those who prefer to be led by the nose rather than research and learn what is really in store there is no forum that will change their minds.

Finally - the picture of the monster under the bed is really creepy!

10/16/2012 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Troll Tracker said...

"No thanks Mom, I am an adult now. I don't want government in my life. Live your own life. Not mine."

But Jimmy, if you're such an adult, why don't you do a better job of supporting your family?

"Then work on making sure Katrina does not get back on council"

Ponyboy is afraid. What's the prob- you're used to women who work more than you..

10/16/2012 09:02:00 AM  
Anonymous H. Ewells said...

Troll Tracker, I am willing to bet dollars to doughnuts Fitzy is NOT the root of the post you quoted.

10/16/2012 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous beastintheeast said...

Where was Gary?

This is the most important issue in the most important election in Costa Mesa history. Steve and Colin were there. John, Sandy, and Harold were there. Hell, even Al Melone was there!

Monahan doesn't have his heart in this race anymore. I think he's running to colect a check. Hes not getting my vote this time....

10/16/2012 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous shiny object said...

Mary Ann is correct. charter should have items that have been tested in court already. then cut and paste a local one together from what you find and you will have a tight charter that will prevail over the unions. Righeimer should have cut and pasted. as an attorney, foley know this, she cuts and pastes case law all the time in her filings and then makes it client specific.

10/16/2012 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Who's really spinning facts said...

Who's really spinning facts? said...
Here is another lie the Pro Righeimer Charter folks like to spread. Newport Beach and Huntington Beach are exempt from paying prevailing wage. WRONG and a lie. Below is what the ABC who are donors ro Mensinger and McCarthy says...

Charter Cities Taking Advantage of
Prevailing Wage Exemptions?
2012 1st EDITION

Huntington Beach
Prevailing Wage Policy The city requires compliance with the state’s prevailing wage law.
Full/partial/no exemption = No exemption

Newport Beach
Prevailing Wage Policy The city requires compliance with the state’s prevailing wage law.
Full/partial/no exemption = No exemption
Notes City of Newport Beach Request for Proposal RFP No. 5-12.

10/16/2012 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Who's really spinning lies? said...

More false comments or lies...
All the city associations got their contract extended 4 years just before Righeimer came in so there was nothing Riggy could do to get the employees to reform.

CMCEA in 2010 offered and approved a 2nd tier and picked up their FULL share of the employees part. So CMCEA already reformed General Employee pensions for new hires and they did it well before their contract was up.

Council just came to an agreement with our Fire Department with some really meaningful reforms and guess what folks their contracts were not up.

So you can see Riggy just lies when he says they can't or couldn't do anything. Even in this hostile environment when Righeimer lies about employees and attacks them they show they are still willing to help out the residents and do the right financial things for the city.

10/16/2012 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Who's spinning lies? said...

So they lie about other cities such as HB, Newport and Irvine not using committees. Righeimer admitted that last night. HB I think was the only he claimed didn't but I suspect he is wrong there.

They lie about those cities being exempted from paying prevailing wage. American Association of Builders(anti union group) and the Cites of HB and Newport specifically state they have to follow State Laws on prevailing wage currently. Plus doesn't anyone notice Newport in September just last month was attempting to look into passing an ordinance to exempt them from prevailing wage. Geezus, not one person countered Righeimers lies with those facts.

And the lies just keep coming. They have to do this charter because employees contracts were extended by 4 right before Riggy came in and city employees would never step up when they don't have too!

Yet the truth is CMCEA did 2 years ago and Fire has now also done it. All you need to do is work with our employees as they are willing to help.

10/16/2012 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

This "fire" produced a lot of heat and very little light. No one there could have learned anything about the charter itself; no actual information was provided.

It was neither a debate nor a forum. It was a Righeimer press conference with Foley present to give a semblance of balance. Foley did not back up her remarks with specific references to charter provisions. Had she done so, watchers could have gained actual information. As it was, the whole thing was "he said, she said." Righeimer trotted out his talking points, true and false ones, while Foley came across as inadequately prepared.

To be fair, it wasn't largely her fault. The questioners directed their open-ended questions to Righeimer, allowing him to make his arguments. Several times, when Foley tried to respond, she was cut off as a questioner changed the subject.

My take: I wasted an hour.

10/16/2012 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

"He [Riggy] then said, "We had six meetings. We had hundreds of different things that came in. We made hundreds of changes to the charter from the beginning to the end. And that's the process we did."
Ummm, LIE!!!
The CM Tax, Righeimer et al biggest brown nosing Tools, FB page shuts up CITIZENS very well too. Post a question, if they do not know the answer or just do not like the question they hide you. They dont want the truth to get out.
@ Katrina Biden- we also need to remember Monahans performance. That one is getting to be a lame duck.

10/16/2012 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Anonymous Troll Tracker,

Take shots at someone's family, but hide behind an anonymous name?

Big man, brave man - lots to contribute. What a worthless POS you are.

Keep it up.

10/16/2012 01:21:00 PM  
Anonymous keepitcivil said...

Rich, CM Tax certainly has had to hide a few nasty comments from the Frogs, basically Terri and Karin, sometimes Patti C. Vile remarks are not welcome. Geoff can call us racist and we leave it, that is ok, it is a commentary on the depths of his counter arguments. Do we trash you on Frogpage? You have three hitwomen who have a compulsion to denigrate and sometimes go over the line. Keep it respectful, no problem leaving up the posts! Otherwise you are wasting your time.

10/16/2012 01:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Troll Tracker said...

"Rob said...
Anonymous Troll Tracker,
Take shots at someone's family, but hide behind an anonymous name?
Big man, brave man - lots to contribute. What a worthless POS you are.
Keep it up."

Threatening there Anonymous Rob? VERY bad idea. This isn't the airport nor am I a defenseless employee.

10/16/2012 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

"keepit civil"-
That's quite a claim there!
"CM Tax certainly has had to hide a few nasty comments from the Frogs, basically Terri and Karin, sometimes Patti C."
Prove it or forever hold your peace.

10/16/2012 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Troll Tracker,

Really, big brave dart thrower? What threat did you see? Keep it up? Sad little person...

I want you to keep your juvenile, base, worthless comments going - let everyone see what you're all about.

A worthless, insulting thug. A true representative of the forces opposing the 3Ms.

Bravo, big brave guy. Bravo.

10/16/2012 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Is Fitzy afraid of a couple of little women now? But yet, he can post on the Register under a woman's name, with a woman's photo. Very telling of Fitzpatrick! And he has the nerve to critisize someone who post under their own name? What a hypocrit. This is the type of behavior that the current council condones. Expect more of it.
You'd better get used to it, I doubt any of these people are going anywhere.

10/16/2012 04:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Trolltracker said...

"A true representative of the forces opposing the 3Ms."

Huh? I'm a big supporter of Al Melone, one of the Ms, and Gary. I just don't like how Fitzy takes advantage of him.

"Bravo, big brave guy. Bravo."

Bravo's your favorite TV channel? Are you a Jersey Housewife or one of the ones from Atlanta?

10/16/2012 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Unbelievable said...

How FAKE can Righeimer and Mensinger be?

Righeimer railing on outside infuences in the process shows he is a total hypocrite. It's OK for outside influences Kevin Dayton or Oceanside's Jerome Kern. I bet Righeimer invited both these outsiders to get involved. Or how about Nexus or ABC PAC campaign contributions to Mensinger and McCarthy? How do you sleep at night making these hypocritical comments.

$10,000 to Mensinger's campaign from McCullough Construction Newport Beach.

Mensinger nearly crying about nasty comments towards him. Saying others need to be mindful of their comments and what they imply. These guys turn around and name call everyone and imply employees are blood sucking thugs. City employees have been demonized by this council endlessly. And the residents have taken their hits too. I wonder if Wendy's kids or Robin's kids ask their parents about comments councilmen make about them. Think Mr. Mensinger about the words you use too. It goes both ways of course not for you though.

Forgive me if I don't cry over Mensinger and Righeimers hypocritical comments.

10/16/2012 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Unbelievable, thank you!

10/17/2012 04:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Troll Tracker,

Al Melone just might give you guys another sweet contract.

10/17/2012 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

"keepitcivil" ( you do anything but that),
Almost 24 hrs. and yet no proof of your claims, eh?
That may be because neither Patty nor I have ever posted on your CMTA FB page. I know Terri and I seriously doubt she would ever post there. I won't go near that page.
So, you've posted a slanderous lie about all three of us right here on Geoff's blog. And here you were lecturing Chris McEvoy about "libel" when he called out the councildudes for taking hush money for the Banning Ranch Mitigation agreement. Chris spoke the truth, however, every word of it was true.
You lied for everyone to see.
Now, you have a chance to redeem yourself and your organization that lacks a simple FPPC number,( why is that??) and retract the lie or delete it.
OR you can leave it right where it is on this page, as a living testament to what miserable, lying cowards you are over at CMTA.
Your choice.

10/17/2012 02:23:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home