Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Righeimer And Mensinger To Lead City

Well, folks, the "new era" is looking very much like the old era in Costa Mesa - unfortunately.  You can read Bradley Zint's account in the Daily Pilot, HERE

Last night, in a council meeting that will surely be remembered for unfulfilled expectations, to the surprise of nobody in the auditorium Jim Righeimer was elected Mayor and his pal, Steve Mensinger, was elected Mayor Pro Tem - but not without some interesting discussion.

The council chambers was nearly packed by well-wishers, family, fans and other interested folks.  After nearly an hour of Public Comments and Council Member Comments, the meeting finally turned to the certification of the election and then the election of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem at just after 7:00.  Two hours later we finally had two officers elected and the meeting went into a 45 minute recess so attendees could enjoy some fellowship and food with the new council on the City Hall patio.  Here's how we got that far.


At 7:20 Gary Monahan nominated Jim Righeimer for Mayor, with Steve Mensinger seconding the motion.  Then Sandy Genis nominated Wendy Leece and Wendy seconded the motion.  We then launched into Public Comments on this issue and, in a perfect example of just how split this city remains - one speaker reminded us that only 125 votes separated the cumulative "3M" vote and those garnered by the "Top 3" in the recent election - thirty-eight (38) people rose to speak in favor of one or the other.  Twenty (20) spoke in favor of Leece and eighteen (18) spoke in favor of Righeimer, including the final speaker - former mayor Eric Bever.  It seems he will never get over the need to have the last word.  At 8:40 the vote was taken.  The vote was 3-2 in favor of Righeimer.  Genis and Leece voted No.  A meaningless vote on Leece's nomination was the inverse - 2-3.


Then, in what should have been a slam dunk, nominees were made for Mayor Pro Tem.  Mensinger was nominated, as was Leece.  Another fifteen (15) people rose to speak, six (6) in favor of Mensinger - including Righeimer's wife, shown here -  and nine (9) in favor of Leece.  When the votes were taken, the first one was 2-3 against Leece.  The second was 4-1 in favor of Mensinger, with Genis seeing the handwriting on the wall.  Then there was the break at just after 9:00 p.m. and we all knew we were in for another marathon meeting
After snacks and schmoozing, at 9:45 we finally got down to business.  The new council was seated in the order you see above.  I'm not going to try to read anything into the seating arrangement except to observe that the women were shoved off to the side.  With Sandy Genis seated next to Jim Righeimer it's going to be a very interesting tour.


The council voted to move the next meeting from January 1st to January 8th.  Good idea.
They then "continued" the Public Hearing on the closure of the Anchor Trailer Park until January 8th at the request of the potential buyer.  I thought at that time that maybe we might make it out of there before 11 p.m.  I was disappointed.


Members of the council "pulled" for separate discussion more than half the items on the Consent Calendar, so we didn't finish that part of the agenda until 11:10 p.m!  Leece pulled the Warrant that contained a payment to Jones Day for over $69,000 and asked contract City Attorney Tom Duarte about it, since it was a May bill.  He told her, and us, that it had been returned for adjustment before payment and that the January Warrants would see several more payments to Jones Day through the October billing.  We've now spent well over $1 million on that firm for their work on the OCEA lawsuit.  The three items that generated the most discussion, items #9, #10 and #12, all dealt with insurance issues and all were "continued" to January 8th.  By now it was pretty late, but an amusing sidebar was Mensinger getting lost in the agenda.  You'd think, after two years on the dais, he'd figure out how to follow along, wouldn't you? They did approve the creation of the new Deputy City Clerk position.


Finally, at 11:20 p.m., we got around to the big issue of the evening - New Business #2 - the rescinding of the remaining layoff notices and related subjects on that agenda.  You can read it HERE.  It passed on a 5-0 vote, but not without some long, sometimes rancorous, discussion.  For example, Genis wanted to know why we were spending any time planning to negotiate with the employee association on outsourcing specific units when the recent court decision seemed to forbid that move.  One of the lawyers from $495-per-hour Jones Day rose from his seat beside me - he spent 3 hours perched there reading emails and texting while the meter was spinning - and tried to answer questions he stated would best be addressed in closed session.  However, Genis was persistent, but never really did get an answer to her question.  Following the vote Hatch was directed to move forward with discussions with the association.  It was pretty bizarre, to say the least.


When they adjourned to closed session it was a couple minutes past midnight, so this council continues down the path the previous one had blazed of long, frustrating meetings.


A couple things were very clear last night.  First, despite issuing an apology for his tactics the past two years and his stated willingness to turn over a new leaf and deal more collaboratively with the employee units, Righeimer's  actions showed us that he's not really serious.  I thought it might take two meetings for this to become evident and was wrong.  It only took part of one.  There were many in attendance last night who were keeping their fingers crossed that he actually meant what he'd said the previous meeting and early in this one.  We all left very disappointed.  It's clear to me that the only thing that has changed on the dais is the seating positions.


The other thing is that we're going to have to watch Righeimer like a hawk because he tends to play fast and loose with the rules and, now that he's Mayor, he's going to be emboldened to stretch them - or ignore them - even more.  It's as though he thinks "Mayor" is the same as "monarch".  Whatever the reasons, keep your eye on him.  It's going to be a very long two more years.


And, Steve Mensinger demonstrated that he has not changed a lick.  A couple times he tried to pull one of his "in your face" moves on Genis.  Early on, during Council Member Comments, while discussing the recent campaign and the vandalism to campaign signs he said "I don't forget things" - clearly an indicator that he holds, and will continue to hold, a grudge about the loss and damage to many of his signs.  And, he continues to use the troubling technique of saying, "I like so-and-so, he or she is a great person" or words similar to those, then goes on to slam that person.  And then there's his annoying habit of asking a question of someone other than a staff member making a presentation to them, not understanding the answer so he asks it again, more forcefully. He's one strange guy
So, we have a month until the next council meeting.  I suggest we all rest up, enjoy the holidays and get ready for the next stanza of the "Jim Righeimer Era" in Costa Mesa.  I have a feeling that it's going to be a bumpy, very expensive ride for us all.

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Anonymous sk said...

I have to admit I felt a bit bad when the rest of you were saying they would give Righeimer the benefit of the doubt when he said he wanted to turn over a new leaf. I made one snide comment regarding the new Righeimer and then remained silent. After reading this blog I no longer feel bad, it was my instinct guiding me correctly all the time. People just don’t change overnight.

12/05/2012 05:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

No surprises. Now when are we going to hear more from Tony R's office about the Righeimer/Skosh Monahans/Private Dick incident? Or is that just going to be one more brick in the window that we never hear about again?

12/05/2012 06:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Nature of the Beast said...

Mr. West,
A friendly reminder:

One day, a scorpion (Righeimer) looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a journey through the forests and hills. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river.
The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion (Righeimer) stopped to reconsider the situation. He couldn't see any way across. So he ran upriver and then checked downriver, all the while thinking that he might have to turn back.

Suddenly, he saw a frog (City) sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. He decided to ask the frog (City) for help getting across the stream.

"Hellooo Mr. Frog (City)!" called the scorpion (Righeimer) across the water, "Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?"

"Well now, Mr. Scorpion (Righeimer)! How do I know that if I try to help you, you wont try to kill me?" asked the frog (City) hesitantly.

"Because," the scorpion (Righeimer) replied, "If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim!"

Now this seemed to make sense to the frog (City). But he asked. "What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!"

"This is true," agreed the scorpion (Righeimer), "But then I wouldn't be able to get to the other side of the river!"

"Alright do I know you wont just wait till we get to the other side and THEN kill me?" said the frog (City).

"Ahh...," crooned the scorpion (Righeimer), "Because you see, once you've taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?!"

So the frog (City) agreed to take the scorpion (Righeimer) across the river. He swam over to the bank and settled himself near the mud to pick up his passenger. The scorpion (Righeimer) crawled onto the frog's (City's) back, his sharp claws prickling into the frog's (City's) soft hide, and the frog (City) slid into the river. The muddy water swirled around them, but the frog (City) stayed near the surface so the scorpion (Righeimer) would not drown. He kicked strongly through the first half of the stream, his flippers paddling wildly against the current.

Halfway across the river, the frog (City)suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion (Righeimer) remove his stinger from the frog's (City's) back. A deadening numbness began to creep into his limbs.

"You fool!" croaked the frog(City), "Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?"

The scorpion (Righeimer) shrugged, and did a little jig on the drownings frog's (City's) back.

"I could not help myself. It is my nature."

12/05/2012 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Not surprised at all. Riggy will say anything to get his way. This has already been proven. He does not operate in good will or with a spirit of cooperation. Mensinger has the intelligence of a pet rock. We knew in advance this would happen when we saw the kids there. This is going to be an ugly year, and you are right Geoff, Riggy bears watching closely. He is not an honest man.

12/05/2012 07:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.. said...

Congrats to Sandy Genis!

Rather than see Boss Hogg become mayor, we opted to see rock's Boss perform in Anaheim. That particular 3 hour plus show was much more satisfying..

12/05/2012 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

Color me disappointed. Although the votes for Mayor and Mayor pro tem wouldn't have surprised me under normal circumstances (remember "normal"?) they are the first evidence that the rhetoric about working together is just that - rhetoric.

I guess I was deluded into thinking (hoping) that the overwhelming defeat of Measure V and Monahan's skin-of-the-teeth reelection would encourage, if not require, the Council majority to be more collaborative, and that Righeimer's proposal to rescind the layoff notices was the first evidence of that.

But, when the first votes came, they couldn't even bring themselves to conferring a ceremonial title on Council woman Wendy Leece. It would have been such a visible symbol of a real interest in cooperation, at such little cost to their program.

I'm not saying it was "owed" to Wendy, or that it was "wrong" to elect Mensinger as Mayor pro tem; that's the vote we would have expected from a Council majority under any other circumstances.

I'm just saying that starting out this way doesn't portend well for their supposed new approach. And, it doesn't recognize the slim margin by which they received the Council majority.

Color me naive, gullible, whatever you like, but I had really hoped they would respond to the election results with a motivation to change their approach - maybe not their ultimate goals, but at least the way they go about pursuing them. I was waiting to be proved wrong. I guess I can stop waiting.

12/05/2012 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous youth of today said...

It was so nice to see those kids get up there under their own accord and say who they would like to be Mayor. I wonder if they were even old enough to vote in this past election?

It is so great that the youth of today know all about politics and the positions like "Mayor" and "Part Time".

Is Mensinger the "Part Time" or as the badge says "Mayor Pro Team"?

12/05/2012 09:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Pull Toward the Bottom said...

The headline on your post seems inaccurate- Righeimer and Mensinger will not "lead" anyone except their own sycophants.

Or did you mean lead as in lead weights?

12/05/2012 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Been to Stanton lately? said...

I'm guessing that the seating arrangement will have our two ladies on the ends where it will be more difficult to show any unity when they are being insulted and belittled by the three stooges.

I'm sure that any show of hope that there actually would have been any change to Righeimers agenda is being met with chuckles over diet cokes at Skosh's hole in the wall (no receipts necessary).

12/05/2012 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

At around 1:46 of the video of last night's council meeting, a speaker wanted "Righeimer and Mensinger to lead him into the war."

Whether this was a mere Freudian slip or his true feelings, we did see the mask of non-partisanship and camaraderie slip last night in a forward looking statement.

If they really believe that we are going "into the war", then let me remind everyone that the outcome of war means one side gets destroyed. In this case, the subject is 49% of the residents of a city.

This is not an isolated incident. Other commenters in other venues are now asking one side to go kill themselves.

No Costa Mesan is my "enemy" in a "war". Nobody has to die to fix our problems.

12/05/2012 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Mesa Mustang said...

Great news! Wendy Leece is not qualified to run the Estancia snack bar, much less our City. In watching last night's meeting, one thing is crystal clear. Sandy Genis is 200 times smarter than poor Wendy. They are not even on the same level. Genis, while crazy and eccentric, at least has some smarts. Wendy is just plain dumb. How many more months until we are done with that woman? I'm keeping my mind open on Genis.

12/05/2012 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Fitzys Bad Jacket said...

Giving Riggy the useless title of mayor will only sound better to him when he's on more of those anti-union shows and he spreads his lies and uses the same old lines.

It will also sound better in the news when the recall of Riggy starts-"Costa Mesa Mayor to be recalled"

12/05/2012 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Boy Band said...

"..Fitzy getting up there and actually saying what this has been all about the whole time--Riggy and Mensinger being "very powerful".

If Shrek is attracted to powerful men, we support his right to be that way. Marty the Wendy Stalker shows similar characteristics.

12/05/2012 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Lincoln Club Sick of Riggy said...

"It will also sound better in the news when the recall of Riggy starts-"Costa Mesa Mayor to be recalled"

Or when he's involved in various promotions-

"Mayor eats 32 giant burgers"
"Costa Mesa's mayor to be on "The Biggest Loser"

12/05/2012 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Beverhog Day said...

It's funny that Bever actually showed up and spoke. Was there a used furniture show at the Fairgrounds?

If Bever comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow on February 2, there will be 10 more years of soup kitchens..

12/05/2012 01:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Mesa Musings - Please tell us ONE thing Righeimer hasn't failed at. Layoffs - FAILED. State Supreme Court stops him. Cost to us? $1 MM+
Outsourcing. FAILED - A bonus from the Supreme Court.
Charter in June - FAILED. More legal bills.
Charter - FAILED. Went down 3:2.

Wendy Leece was on the right side of each of these issues.

I wouldn't want Righeimer to be in charge of the snack bar's trash. And Wendy is a leader.

12/05/2012 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Well, at least for all the huffing and puffing, Sandy is right. The title of mayor carries no more power than any other councilmember vote, simply a face to put forth. And we all know how much Riggy likes to get his face in public. If he doesn't have an issue to be on tv or radio, he'll call a press conference and make something up.

In the spirit of cooperation and healing, they really should have given Wendy the title of mayor. It would have gone a very long way in improving how people feel about him. I think he made yet another very unwise move.

12/05/2012 04:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

You gotta admit, he really does have a face for radio.

12/05/2012 07:53:00 PM  
Anonymous I didn't sign up for this said...

I'm really excited for Beaver's memoirs to hit the book stores. I'm sure Simon & Schuster are paying him millions for the exclusive rights to his story. What wisdom Beaver must possess after eight sterling years in office. Titles of his book could be "I Didn't Sign Up For This," "From Stinkeye and Back," "This Is Bullsh#@," and "How To Get The Last Work In For Dummies."

I'm sure Beaver is being courted for the national lecture circuit. Bever was so charismatic on the dais that I would compare him to the great orators of all time. Better than MLK, JFK, and Obama.

12/05/2012 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous setupor 3402 said...

I'm sorry, Perry, that you were disappointed. You need to remember that Lucy ALWAYS pulls the football back after promising to hold it for Charlie Brown.

The two enormous egotists, Righeimer and Mensinger, were certain from the get-go to inflate themselves. Unfortunately, there's only hot air inside.

12/05/2012 11:04:00 PM  

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