Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Demonstration", Updates And CMPD Response

Today, Saturday, August 25th, a group identifying themselves as members of the Newport/Costa Mesa Tea Party, conducted a demonstration on the sidewalk along Fair Drive in front of the Costa Mesa Police Headquarters.
The group, who apparently rallied to the call of Costa Mesa resident and long-time activist Phil Morello, paraded along the sidewalk for at least an hour, beginning shortly after 1:00 p.m.  When I left at around 2:30 most of the participants had long-since departed.  Morello and a few others remained.  The only excitement was a guy in a white pickup truck that twice drag-raced down Fair Drive in front of the Police Department while I was there.  Passersby would occasionally honk their horns - I guess in support.

Before beginning the demonstration Morello gave them, literally, their marching orders.  He said, in part, "These individuals, by whatever actions are occurring, are trying to intimidate and make people change their positions so that they vote in their own best interests instead of the interests of the voters they represent.  We can't have that.  That's the classic definition of thuggery.  So, that's why we're here today.  We need to show support and we're not going to put up with it anymore." And off they went...

The group was a mix of Costa Mesa residents and folks from out of town.  I spoke with people from Laguna Niguel, Newport Beach and elsewhere.  My guess, including estimates by other media folks present, was that it was about 50/50.  The total number of participants at any time was around 24, plus a few children carrying flags.

Although the signs expressed a degree of outrage, the demonstration was quite calm and civilized.  The folks with whom I spoke were uniformly concerned about the recent event that caused Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer to be asked by a member of the Costa Mesa Police Department to take a field sobriety test on his front porch.  Some folks were more aware of the facts than others.  Some had no clue - they just responded to the call for action.  Some agreed with Righeimer's statement that he had been "set up", while others withheld judgment until the facts are known.

The group "Oath Keepers" had a small contingent on site.  They stood at the corner of Vanguard Way and Fair Drive with a banner, shown below.  From time to time one of their members used a bullhorn to shout, "Costa Mesa Police Officers, Honor Your Oath!  Your Oath Is To The Constitution, Not To Unions!

I spoke with many of the participants over the hour I was there.  One of the organizers was a fellow named Bill Dunlap, from Newport Beach.  He's a member of the Orange County Republican Party Central Committee and espoused a broader concern - a national view of this situation.  He left early to mow his lawn.

It was clear that this was a hastily-organized event.  The signs were hand-made with a certain degree of lack of precision.  The most provocative sign I saw was the one Morello was carrying, tightly snuggled up to an American flag.  The photo of that sign is below.

To my knowledge - at least while I was there - nobody from The City, nor the CMPD, addressed the group.  A conversation with a lieutenant on duty at the time led me to believe no contact with the group was planned as long as they demonstrated peacefully and lawfully.

Only the Daily Pilot was there to represent the "real media". You can read Serna's report HERE.  No television nor radio crews showed up while I was there.  One local gadfly showed up before the event commenced, took one or two photos, then left after about five minutes without speaking with any of the participants.  Facts never seem to get in the way of his opinions on his blog.

I don't know if anyone called it, but the Huntington Beach Police Helicopter did a fly-by during the demonstration.


I couldn't help but observe the large yellow ribbon tied to a tree in front of the CMPD headquarters, along with the sign honoring Officer Jon Smith, currently deployed in Afghanisan that stood along the demonstrator's line of march.
In addition to the coverage already provided by the Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register - all of which was linked in my earlier blog entry - the Register posted a new article today, HERE.  If the Daily Pilot produces an article covering this event I'll link to it here later.

Late this evening the Costa Mesa Police Department issued a supplemental Press Release addressing this issue.  The text of that message follows:

No additional information available at this time.

Following an incident reported to the Costa Mesa Police Department on Wednesday, regarding the alleged driving violations of Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, an investigation was initiated by the Professional Standards Bureau and the Investigative Bureau, at the direction of Chief Tom Gazsi.  The source of the call and the alleged report of inappropriate driving is under investigation. Although the caller suggested the Mayor Pro Tem may have been driving impaired, the responding officer confirmed that Mr. Righeimer was not under the influence.  A vigorous investigation continues concerning the motive and nature of the call.  The Department anticipates a future review of this matter by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.  

Best Regards,
Tim Schennum
There is clearly a lot of tension in Costa Mesa about this issue - appropriately so, in my opinion.  Until all the facts are known about this event folks on both sides of this issue will fill in the blanks with their own conjecture and speculation.  So many questions, too few answers.  The longer it takes to get answers the worse it is for the City.  We need to know:

  • Why did the man who called 911 do it? 
  • Was he acting as an employee of the law firm that worked for the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association? 
  • Who, if anyone, paid him to do it? 
  • Was he just acting as a "rogue operator", which he apparently has a history of doing during his time as a police officer in Riverside before he left that job under a cloud?
  • Is he subject to criminal penalties for reporting Righeimer?

This event, in my opinion, has changed the face of the election dramatically.  We need answers FAST.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Righeimer Calls Press Conference (Updated)*


The Orange County Register, in their story at the link below, has identified the man who called 911 in this case as a discredited former Riverside Police Officer named Chris Lanzillo and further identifies him as working for the law firm of Lackie, Dammeier & McGill, the firm that, until today, represented the Costa Mesa Police Officer's Association!  Go to the links below for both the Register and Daily Pilot updated stories.  The Daily Pilot has transcribed some of the taped conversations with Lanzillo and has new quotes from Righeimer.


Here's a link to the KCAL 9 video clip shown Friday night that includes parts of the 911 call.  Click HERE.  Reporter Stacey Butler gets part of the story wrong.  The law firm was fired by the Costa Mesa Police Officer's Association Friday, not last week, as she states. 


Here's a link which contains an earlier KCAL 9 report which includes a video clip of Righeimer Tuesday night at the council meeting,  plus two radio clips from KNX1070.  Click HERE


According to reports from the scene, in a hastily-called press conference today in front of City Hall, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer spent about 20 minutes ranting about union influence in Costa Mesa, accused former City Clerk Julie Folcik of intentionally failing to submit the documents to place his Charter on the June ballot and said that somebody was "paid to follow me around town and set me up for a DUI in front of my kids..."  You can read Joe Serna's account of this press conference HERE. *You can read the Orange County Register version of events HERE.

Television news media was on-hand and will likely cover this press conference in news programs this afternoon and evening.  Channels 2, 4, 7 and 9 were present.  When I know more about their coverages I'll report anything that seems relevant.

It's my understanding that the CMPD knows the identity of the person who reported the alleged DUI behavior.  According to Serna's piece, "he is a white male in his 40s with blondish hair and a goatee" driving a Kia with Riverside dealership license frames.  An investigation is under way in this case.  So, we wait...

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Re-post Of Righeimer Questioned About Sobriety (Update)

An Explanation:  I had to delete the first version of this post from yesterday... a bug infected it, as some of you with Internet Explorer already know.  This should have fixed it... I retained all the comments posted previously.  Sorry about the confusion.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Righeimer Questioned About Sobriety(Updated)

When I saw this story in the Daily Pilot, HERE, I hesitated about writing about it at all.  I didn't want to be accused of piling on.  However, despite the fact that, according to the Daily Pilot report, Righeimer was NOT under the influence, it IS news and it is VERY unlikely that this story is going to go away any time soon.

I have never seen Righeimer drink and I have never seen him drive.  So, I have never seen him drive drunk.  Many people who will read the Daily Pilot article and this note will assume that Righeimer is correct - that he was "set up" by political opponents.  That, of course, is very possible - he's made a lot of enemies in this town through his actions since he arrived six years ago.

I'd like to think that the call that generated members of the Costa Mesa Police Department to go to his home and give him a preliminary sobriety investigation in front of his children was made by a person seriously concerned about getting someone they perceived to be driving while impaired off the road.  Yeah, I can hear the groans out there now.

Righeimer has created a situation, going back at least two years, where he's not a popular subject among members the Costa Mesa employee family.  If this was, in fact, a "set up", that is absolutely unacceptable behavior.  Those who did it MUST cease that kind of crap immediately.  If you read this blog and are responsible for it, PLEASE STOP!

The Costa Mesa Police Department issued a press release about this incident shortly before 9:00 p.m. Thursday, August 23rd.  It covers an "allegation of reckless driving" that occurred at Fairview Road and Avocado Avenue on August 22nd at approximately 6:00 p.m.  Here is the text of the synopsis of the press release:

 On Wednesday evening, August 22, at approximately 6:00 p.m., a motorist called the Costa Mesa Police Department to report that he was following a possibly intoxicated driver.  The caller provided a description of the vehicle and followed it to a residence.  An officer arrived and made contact with motorist who pointed out the residence of the driver of the vehicle.  The officer made contact with the driver, identified as City Council Member Jim Righeimer, and determined that Mr. Righeimer had not been drinking and was not under the influence.  The Police Department is currently looking into the initial information received to ensure its validity. 

At this point it seems there is nothing else to do except await the results of the investigation by the Costa Mesa Police Department into this situation.   I, for one, sure hope that happens FAST!


Anonymous not buying it said...
I don't doubt that there are some out there who are stupid enough to do something like this as a prank, without a clue about the big picture consequences. If that's the case, he's doing them a favor.
Another thought is... this guy's a dirty politician and something like this diverts attention away from the critical eye he been getting and redirects it at his opposition.
You'll immediately start hearing from Mensinger, Fitzy and the rest, how this shows who they're fighting the good fight against. The union thugs who do these kinds of things to a good family man in front of his kids.
This comes right out of a political playbook. Don't doubt that this will be in the news and brought up over and over again to paint an example of who they are standing up to and this is the price that they pay for standing up to the union thugs.
I'm not buying it.
8/23/2012 06:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Troll Tracker said...
Sounds like a set-up alright, not by "political opponents of Righeimer," but by Righeimer ALLIES- just like the suspect "vandalism" claimed by Mensinger and Monahan last year.

Calls to police are easily traced. Nobody over 14 would do such a "set-up."

I would bet that friends of Righeimer did this to cast aspersion upon CMPD and generate sympathy for the gang, in order to distract from the 3 stooges heading toward a massive election loss in November.
8/23/2012 06:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Mom said...
So, Councilman Righeimer said he was targeted by political enemies who falsely reported that he was driving drunk huh? "Clearly, it was a setup," he said. Yeah, right.

Riggy sounds exactly like his buddy Jim Fitzpatrick. Fitzy falsely accused other CMSD Directors of a personal attack and having some sort of vendetta against him too! Wow, these two knuckleheads are obviously using the same playbook. It’s getting really old. Boohoo, let’s cry to the Daily Pilot. They look like complete fools!

I thought these guys were confident their side is going to win? If so, why would they be worried about a couple of enemies? After all, as Deepthroat said in another post, they have some bombshells of their own that should be coming out within a week. Wow, I can’t wait for that! Hmmm, perhaps this news story is just a set up…

Take some advice Rig and Fitz: If you do the right thing and quit pissing people off, you’ll find that your life will be much, much better. It’s really that simple. You should try it. That way, you wouldn't have to be so paranoid.
8/23/2012 06:45:00 PM  
Anonymous not buying it said...
That didn't take long!
Quote Steve Mensinger... "in the end the tactics define the cause and it's supporters".
There it is! The political reason behind something like this... is so he can say that.
Those damn union thugs have to be behind this "tactic". Right? I'm not buying it.
8/23/2012 06:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Question the call said...
If the police come to my door to discuss a situation such as this or anything as serious....I would have my wife take the kids inside.
Maybe this call was placed by a fellow GOP person as a scheme to make it look like the unions are playing dirty, thus taking some of the heat off of Mr Righeimer and his group.
8/23/2012 06:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...
Man, you leave for a few hours to take the kids to soccer, and all hell breaks loose.

Agreed - if someone did this as a 'prank' for lack of a better term, that doesn't even belong in the Dirty Politics Pantheon.

If not, they will still try to use it to their advantage, as they already are. Seeing lots of new names on the Pilot comments coming out in support, as they should.

But who can forget the checkpoint fiasco a few years back? Anyone, on any side, can play dirty, as we've come to learn. Would sure be nice to know the truth - the good, the bad and the ugly.
8/23/2012 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Rigged-Up said...
Today another extremist on the defensive suddenly has "threats" against him. Coincidence? You decide. Cynical people would say, "just another extremist tactic to divert attention."
8/23/2012 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Business Enemas? said...
How does Napoleon make the big jump to "political enemies" responsible for his stop- doesn't he have "business enemies" too? What about that lawyer who got the large arbitration award against him? Anyone else he might have done business with that might be mad at him?
8/23/2012 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...
I'm not buying it either.
I can't help but be suspicious.
This reminds me too much of the brick through the window at Skosh Monahans and
the vandalism at Estancia HS.

Did we ever get to hear what happened, who did it, etc.?
Any resolve, any arrests?
Did the note tied to the brick ever appear?
NO- they faded away in the sunset.

This may very likely be the same scenario.
We shall see.

8/23/2012 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...
Is it standard procedure for law enforcement to go to somebodys house and ask them to perform fst's when they weren't observed by law enforcement actually driving a vehicle and were not involved in an accident?
something doesn't fit here...kind of reminds me of the mysterious red paint on Mensingers truck and the mystery brick at skosh's
This is gonna be a wild election season
8/23/2012 08:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Tackleberry said...
Stand by for another legendary Riggy rant at the next Council meeting. He'll throw out a couple more stabs at the PD,the "union thugs", and demand that the Police Chief not allow his officers to be anywhere near the junior Mayors street.
8/23/2012 08:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Drunk, Just Stupid said...
It sounds like those officers waived the pen in his face, just like he waived that pencil in the Chief of Police face. Seems like a justified trade off.
8/23/2012 08:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark C said...
There's a lot that doesn't pass the smell test with this. If it was a set up, why Riggy? He's not a candidate. A DUI arrest wouldn't preclude him from continuing to serve.. It wouldn't change the current majority on the council. If the unions were trying to dirty someone up, why wouldn't it be Mensinger, Monahan or McCarthy? Dirtying them up as candidates would get more mileage to change the majority come November. This whole thing doesn't sit right.

Just like other commenters said. What about all the previous "incidents"? Monahans, where the cameras miraculously were not working, Mensinger's vandalism where he didn't make a police report. What ever happened with that "stink eye" deal? I seem to recall that was unfounded. In each of these cases, it was Riggy or his boys who brought this into the public eye, not the police department. Again. It's all very fishy.
8/23/2012 11:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...
The only way to know for sure is if the caller comes forward to identify himself or herself and explain exactly what they saw. Other than that is it just pure speculation as to what actually occurred. My guess is they probably misperceived a lane change or something else Righeimer did while driving so as to think he was intoxicated. It happens all the time. No harm, no foul. The officer doing anything less than a nystagmus test (very accurate to determine intoxication and very quick) would be dereliction of duty.
8/23/2012 11:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...
Holy smoke, and I'm the guy that suggested he might be suffering from a beer deficiency. There's no way the elixir I gave him could have caused this! There's just no percentage in trying to frame Mr. Righeimer -- He's perfectly capable of hanging himself without such help, and I think whoever pulled this one had better be exposed pretty damned quickly -- or should come forward if he/she's not a total coward. Until this happens, Righeimer will continue to claim innocent victim status, and his detractors will claim that he set it up himself, or that allies did it to make him look victimized and sympathetic. It's a lose-lose proposition all the way around.

This incident clearly needs some of the city's vaunted "transparency"!!
8/23/2012 11:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...
Well, Mensinger commented on the DP about 'desperate acts by desperate people.' The question is, who are those desperate people exactly? This really doesn't pass the smell test the more you think about it, because what would CM4RG and all others in opposition to these guys stand to gain from concocting such a 'setup'?
8/24/2012 07:11:00 AM  

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rules? What Rules?

The good news from the Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday night was, well, it ended Tuesday night.  Considering the length of many recent meetings, the early adjournment was welcome to those of us who remained in the auditorium at 11:30 p.m.  You can read Joe Serna's account in the Daily Pilot HERE, Lauren Jow's Orange County Register coverage HERE and Joe Hill's account of the meeting from the LiberalOC blog HERE.

Of course, that good news was more than balanced by other news.  For example, in order to wrap-up this meeting before midnight, at 11:00 p.m.  Mayor Eric Bever decided - and was supported by most council members - to shove New Business item #4 - the report from the Neighborhood Improvement Task Force - to a future meeting when, in Bever's words, it can start earlier so more people can attend and hear the report.  That was no small insult to those of us who actually attended to hear that report and were still there.  I guess the 20 or so of us still in the auditorium don't count.  And, it was a terrible affront to the many city staffers and consultants who had waited five hours to provide the council with their reports, only to be shoved aside.  There was a whole lot of muttering going on as they filed out of the council chambers after wasting basically a half day waiting, and waiting.  

Ever since he became mayor earlier this year when Gary Monahan abdicated his throne, Bever has demonstrated an increasing arrogance and impatience, having cursed from the dais and told the audience to "just go home" on another occasion.  Clearly, he's tired of his job and, believe me, more than a few of us are REALLY tired of rude, churlish and infantile behavior on the dais.  Instead of providing a calm mature hand guiding the proceedings, he's frequently the agitator of rude, insensitive, inappropriate behavior - like a school-yard bully who just must get the last word in.

This all began when Bever moved New Business #5, Civic Openness In Negotiations (COIN), to the front of the line.  He didn't give us a reason, but I suspect the fact that $300 -per-hour attorney Richard Kreisler - the City's hired-gun negotiator - was part of the program and his meter was running.  That meant two other contract attorneys - Celeste Brady and Chris Neumeyer (also with meters running) - had to cool their heels, instead.  It also meant that councilman Steve Mensinger's scheme would be heard early in the evening, where more people in the audience would hear it.  It is a campaign season, after all, and Mensinger continues to campaign from the dais.

This scheme, conjured up and presented by Mensinger, who had Finance and Information Technology Director Bobby Young and the aforementioned Kreisler flying as wing men,  purportedly was hatched to provide more transparency to the negotiation process.  Unfortunately, it appears to only work one way.  One speaker, activist Robin Leffler, referred to it as "selective opacity", a term for which she gave credit to another.

Mensinger's Scheme calls for an independent negotiator - like Kreisler, at $300 per hour - to be the "principal negotiator" in employee contracts.  The reason behind that requirement is that Mensinger apparently thinks that an employee - his guy, Chief Executive Officer,
Tom Hatch - can't be trusted to negotiate a fair contract for the City when he might be a beneficiary of that contract.  That, of course, is a steaming pile of manure.  Hatch is NOT part of a bargaining unit - he has his own deal with the City Council.  But, I guess Mensinger and his three pals on the dais just don't trust him.  I found that to be very offensive, since Hatch may be the most honest, honorable man sitting on the dais.

Mensinger's Scheme also requires an independent economic analysis of the fiscal impacts attributed to each term and condition of employment subject to the meet and confer process required by the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act.  This analysis would be made available to the public at least thirty (30) days before consideration by the City Council.  A very specific, detailed format was presented as part of the staff report.  No details of what this analysis will cost was provided, but I doubt if it will be an insignificant amount.

Mensinger's Scheme also requires "reporting out" of closed session with the facts, as well as their significance and impact, of all prior offers, counteroffers, and the meet and confer-related bargaining positions received or made by either the City or an employee organization and that are no longer being considered.  At first glance you might think, "Hey, this is great!  We finally get to know all the gory details!"  Well, all of that takes time and, when Kreisler attempted to explain how this would work, it was clear that the goal was to present only one side of the equation, thereby, perhaps, painting the employee associations as stubborn, greedy folks.  More on that in a minute.

That particular element of Mensinger's Scheme is a classic example of micro-managing.  As we've seen over the past many months, negotiations take a long time.  The negotiators sit behind closed doors, trying to hammer out an agreement.  Then they each take the proposals back to their respective decision makers - the council and the membership of the associations.  If parts of the agreement are unacceptable to either side, back they go to that closed room for more negotiations.  This back-and-forth is impacted by meeting schedules, so they can actually take months.  Nothing in this plan will change that.  In fact, it may exacerbate the problem.

Mensinger's Scheme also requires that each council member would be required to disclose the identity of any employee association representative with whom that council member has had any communications regarding the subject matter of a pending meet and confer process.  This element became a flash point of controversy because councilwoman Wendy Leece proposed a similar rule that was broader in scope not too long ago.  That rule, which Leece proposed be folded into this ordinance, would require council members to divulge any exparte communications they had with anyone on issues before them.  Previously that was eviscerated by Jim Righeimer before it was rejected.  Several speakers last night resurrected that issue, angering four council members on the dais.

Mensinger's Scheme also requires that, prior to rendering a final City Council determination regarding adoption of a memorandum of understanding, that matter shall be heard at a minimum of two (2) City Council meetings and that the materials for the matter shall be posted on the City web site for at least seven (7) days prior to the first meeting.

One thing that was missing from the presentation last night was a time line.  As I read through the staff report and listened to the rhetoric from the dais I found myself thinking that this is going to be a VERY cumbersome ordinance to follow - a set of rules contrived by a guy who doesn't like rules in the first place - that, rather than enhance the negotiation process, will likely bog it down.  When I later asked Young about this he told me they didn't have enough information yet.  So, I guess this is going to be like asking us to step out onto what appears to be quicksand and hope we don't sink. 

Perhaps the most sad, yet amusing, segment came when Leece expressed curiosity about how this plan came to fruition since it was obvious that much more than 4 hours of staff time was required to produce the report.  As Hatch back-peddled, attempting to recall how it evolved he eventually acknowledged that it did, indeed, require more than 4 hours, Mensinger feigned ignorance of the rule - Council Policy 300-6 - that requires specific permission when more than 4 hours of staff time will be necessary.  He said he thought it was just a suggestion!  Righeimer expressed concern and implied that it was time for that rule to go!

Finally, after more than 90 minutes of discussion and sixteen residents rising to speak on the issue, the council voted to give it a first reading - 4-1, Leece voting no.  It will return for the second reading - and perhaps some modification - the first meeting following the Labor Day holiday, September 4th.  That seems somehow appropriate...

It was 9:15 before the council finally got to the Consent Calendar, which moved quickly, fortunately.

Earlier in the meeting, during Public Comments, several residents living in the 400 block of Ford Road stepped to the podium to complain about the rising crime rate on that short stretch of roadway.  Thefts, burglaries and assaults were reported.  After hearing their comments Bever postulated that it was due to the recent addition of secure storage facilities for our rising homeless population at The Crossing Church, just up the road on Newport Boulevard.  He and Righeimer speculated that the problem was due to the motels in the area.  They've budgeted $500,000 this year to "purchase" one or more.  Not a chance with that pittance but it gives him a chance to pontificate.  This provided Righeimer with an opportunity for one of his predictable anti-union rants.  I've provided you with a little video clip in which he 1) discusses confidential details about negotiations and 2) points his pen at Police Chief Tom Gazsi and angrily directs him to re-deploy his motor officers to solve this problem immediately - a violation of our current Municipal Code.  Perhaps the most telling quote from him during this rant, when Leece tried to stop him from divulging information about negotiations he said, "I can talk about whatever I want to talk here.You can watch his multiple melt-down below.

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During Council Member Comments Mensinger went off on a tangent, telling us about a trip he recently made "with a congressman" - that probably means Dana Rhorabacher - to Mojave for a visit to what has become a civilian space port.  He regaled us with stories about the success of private industry doing things better and cheaper than the government can.  No hidden message there - it was right out in the open.  However, the end of the story was his real point.  He told us about meeting with an Air Force General who managed to get by on only $9,700 per month, plus housing and uniforms.  The clear implication here was that our municipal employees make more than a man who laid his life on the line for his country.  I've never been so offended by such shameless electioneering - a rant so full of misrepresentations it's impossible to know where to start.  Suffice it to say, Steve Mensinger will continue to campaign from the dais, using his bully pulpit - a perfect term in his case - to distort facts.

One bright spot was the shelving of Gary Monahan's proposal to privatize the TeWinkle Park Athletic Complex.  After months of meetings by the task force created for that issue, the council finally came to their senses and decided to abandon this bogus scheme.  The sticking points - in addition to the groundswell of complaints from Mesa del Mar residents - was the sale of alcohol within 600 feet of Davis School and a parking problem that seemed unresolvable.  As predicted, Righeimer suggested that Bob Knapp, recently hired Recreation Manager, should be tasked with finding new ways to maximize that facility. 

The new ordinance to apply some controls over Wireless Telecommunication Towers in the public right-of-way was passed after presentions by Public Works Director Ernesto Muno and Deputy City Attorney Chris Neumeyer.  Monahan asked that the height restriction be RAISED to 35 feet - five feet higher than the staff recommendation!

The other big item on the agenda was the contract for Parks and Landscape Maintenance.  The short version of this issue is that the staff did a good job of vetting the seven (7) applicants and seemed to have made the correct decision on a choice of vendor.  However, due to the injunction currently in place, this contract may NOT be implemented until the pending lawsuit is resolved.  It was implied by Righeimer that if his Charter passes action might be taken sooner.  Contract City Attorney Tom Duarte told us that a trial date may be set soon - maybe next week.  He didn't expect to see it on a docket until after the first of the year.  So, we wait for November on this one.  The council voted to approve the contract and authorized Hatch to implement it when possible.

Righeimer used this issue to, again, blame the employees for the problem, implying that they - not the council which caused this problem when they chose to not follow their own rules last year - were responsible for the City not saving over $1 million on this project - a plan that will see 13 of their fellow employees terminated.

I was left with a couple strong recollections of last night's meeting.  First, many members of this council abhor rules and will ignore them any chance they get.  This arrogant disregard for rules in place to protect the residents should make every resident shudder when contemplating Jim Righeimer's Charter passing and placing unfettered power in their hands.

The other feeling I came away with was deep sadness from watching Bever and Righeimer run roughshod over speakers and Wendy Leece.  Decorum has taken an extended holiday and I don't expect it to return until a new council is seated.  Watching Righeimer rant meeting after meeting is getting pretty old.  As he pontificates and vilifies he acts like people are not watching, for goodness sake.  And Bever continues to set low watermarks for his personal behavior, demonstrating that he really never has advanced past puberty.  His junior high school antics are an embarrassment for our city and we just have to hope he won't step so far over the line that he creates legal complications for us.  Thank goodness he's termed-out.

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