Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Contemplating Calamity In Costa Mesa

A few hours have passed since the Righeimers'/Mensinger lawsuit story broke and I've used that time to think about this situation a little more.  Actually, I'm still reeling as I contemplate our two highest-ranking elected officials suing the police officers of this city.  It's mind-numbing...

An ironic twist is that, as it was breaking I had just finished a meeting at City Hall in which Mayor Jim Righeimer was a participant.  We got sat near each other and got along just fine.  I should have known something was up!  Sure wish I'd known about it then - we could have had a really interesting conversation.

As more than a few folks have speculated in the past couple hours, the timing of this event is VERY interesting.  Was the news released today through Righeimer's pal, Frank Mickadeit, as a premptive strike on news he may have about status of the criminal investigation into that matter?  Did fellow Republican big wig District Attorney Tony Rackaukas let him know that it's going to be dropped?

More than a few people this evening have speculated that this is just a move to drain the CMPOA of financial reserves - dollars that might have been used to campaign against Righeimer's re-election next year.  Actually, with the benefit of hindsight, that doesn't seem far-fetched at all.  The CMPOA will have to pay for their defense and the plaintiffs will have to pay their own costs.  The City should NOT be on the hook for any of that stuff.

And why in the world did Steve Mensinger insert himself onto this law suit?  He wasn't involved in the event except that he was at Monahan's bar sharing liquid refreshment with Righeimer just before the event occurred.  The reports say that he feared he might be set-up by the CMPD.  Good grief!  This comes from a guy who treats traffic laws like they are merely suggestions.  Then, again, he treats most rules like that - if he doesn't agree with them he just doesn't follow them.

I wonder just what Righeimer and Mensinger will say about this lawsuit?  Will say that the CMPOA left them no choice?  If so, will they remember those words as uttered a couple years back when the CMCEA had no choice but to file suit against the city to protect their rights - because they feared for their jobs.  Is that so different from this situation?  Will they see the irony in that?

Another interesting question posed to me tonight by more than one person - will both Mensinger and Righeimer have to recuse themselves from ANY discussions about labor negotiations involving the CMPOA?  Will they be forbidden from having ANY contact with ANY member of the CMPOA, including the sergeants-at-arms during council meetings?  I'm thinking "ride-alongs" are over for those two guys.

Oh, yes... what about Gary Monahan?  According to the reports, he was the target of the private investigator, Chris Lanzillo, in the first place.  If that scenario was perpetrated by the CMPOA, is Gary in fear of being set up?  If so, why is he not included in this lawsuit?  And whatever happened to that "big-busted babe" that was theoretically set to entrap him?


All of our employee associations - they're NOT unions despite the fact that Righeimer, Mensinger and their sycophants constantly refer to them as such - are already feeling a lot of stress because of these two men.  What will THEIR reaction be to this news?  Will they feel equally threatened by by the fact that the mayor and mayor pro tem sued employees?

And how will the senior staff management deal with this situation?  CEO Tom Hatch just returned from a much-needed vacation to find the 60th Anniversary issue waiting for him and now this.

And what will Police Chief Tom Gazsi and the folks in Human Resources do now as they try to recruit new officers to fill open slots and anticipated openings later this year.  If you're a young recruit - or an old hand seeking a lateral move - will you want to join an organization that is being sued by the mayor and his pal?  Duh!  I can hear the telephone calls to HR tomorrow as candidates call to withdraw their applications.  And the city becomes a little less safe...

And, who will the mayor and his buddy call if there's a problem in their neighborhood - Ghostbusters?  Seriously, will they have to call the Sheriff's Department for problems in their neighborhood.  Righeimer has already mentioned a "problem home" close to him... will he call Costa Mesa Police Dispatch for help?

As most already know, several departures are scheduled within the Costa Mesa Police Department before the end of the year.  Many very senior officers have chosen to retire and others are moving on to what will obviously be greener pastures.  I fully expect, in light of this news, that more seasoned Costa Mesa Police Officers will choose to depart rather than remain in what has become the most hostile of environments.

In the meantime, some folks around our community are suggesting that this may just be a big distraction to divert attention from the growing possible corruption investigation taking place at City Hall, and also from the newest problem - the installation of that decomposed granite path through a federally-protected vernal pool adjacent to Waldorf School in Fairview Park.  THAT one could bring the wrath of the federal government down upon us and actually severely diminish the City's ability to do ANYTHING in the park.

I've been in this city for four decades and cannot remember anything like this happening before.  Thanks to the lawsuit filed by our mayor and mayor pro tem, today I became a little less proud to be a Costa Mesan.


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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Riggy will make some money from this, but I doubt it will be a bundle. He was not injured, not permanently damaged, and its business as usual, so there really is no loss.

Mensinger has no loss, he went on to win his election. He certainly does not live in fear. Fear of something happening is not a cause of action. A half good lawyer can get him dismissed out early on. And there have been no threats against him that we know of.

Its going to gain some money, but in reality, the police association really have little exposure. They fired the firm when they found out what was up. They did their job at his door, according to procedure. It won't be as bad as you think.

Manly, et al. will ask for the moon, but what they get will be a totally different story.

8/21/2013 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

100 years ago when I played tournament chess, we studied the games of the Grandmasters and Masters played all over the world, which were written out in special notation.

A person editorializing about or discussing a particular move in a particular game would put an exclamation point after a move they believed was great or excellent, so it might look like:


A move they thought was bad would get a question mark:


But a move that was highly speculative at that point in the game and could lead to either defeat or win was notated thus:



Righeimer and Mensinger sue the police in their own city?!?!?!

8/21/2013 06:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

"The Flintstones," Episode aired 11/5/64:

"Fred and Barney seem disappointed that their life is boring after watching Jay Bondrock's Doctor Sinister on television (a take on James Bond's Doctor No). Then when sent to the store, Fred and Barney find themselves in the Doctor Sinister story, being captured, flown to a distant island, being beaten up, almost poisoned and almost killed. Fred and Barney then manage to escape ("A Judo! Chop! Chop! Chop!") and they show up back home without the burgers and buns that they were sent to the store for."

8/21/2013 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Again, I need to point out it seems they are suing the Association and possibly individual officers that are corrupt as defined by the suit. Not "police officers" in general. That would be funny though.

8/21/2013 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

The failure to release simple invoices related to the 60th will attract the attention of state officials. Outcome unknown.

Building a trail in violation of a previous City agreement with federal Fish & Wildlife will attract the attention of the Feds. Outcome unknown.

The Mayor Pro Tem likes the First Amendment for himself, but not for his opponents.

Pension Oversight committee members are in personal bankruptcy.

And now this.

There are 440 days to Election Day. The time to get organized is now.

8/21/2013 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

Anyone want to join with me in a class-action suit against the Council majority for inflicting mental and emotional distress on the citizenry? I live in constant fear of my city being flushed (further) down the toilet for their political gain. If I'd been keeping track, I could probably also document a steady increase in my blood pressure since they were elected.

If anything, the City employees have at least as good a case against the mayor and mayor pro tem as the latter have against the POA. The employees can document harassment and point to specific damages which span far more than a single evening.

I've got to give theses guys one thing, though: every time I think they can't outdo themselves, they do.

8/21/2013 08:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

James, did they sue officers individually?
I have not heard that, only under the association. That is pretty inclusive.

8/21/2013 09:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Squad 51 said...

I always felt that the circumstances of that whole deal were fishy.

The fact that this questionable ex-cop (who was booted from his career with the PD) made sure he hung around to be identified (knowing full well that it would be very quickly discovered that he had previously done contract work for the law firm representing the Police Assoc).
He didn't have to stay and do that. He did it on purpose with the obvious intent of that information becomming public.

Come on... just ask yourself, who would want that to be known. The PD or Righiemer? The answer to the question of who this guy was really working for is in the answer to that question.

As for the "incident"... the police officers involved did everything by the book and I have not heard anything other than the fact that they were polite and business like and quickly determined that there wasn't a problem. They did not intimidate or threaten or treat anybody with anything less than respect. Pretty much the way this dept does business on a daily basis.

Then Righiemer starts calling press conferences and blaming "police union thugs" of using the dirty union "playbook" to purposly embarrass and intimidate him. Then he is beside himself with the "discovery" that the PI had worked for those representing the police officers, and by the way... I even got some receipts here somewhere.

I'm sorry but this is obvious political baloney and if there has ever been a backroom political baloneymiester, it's Righiemer.

He even had his receipt for his diet Cokes. Give me a break! Have you ever left a resturant with the receipt for your sodas securly in pocket (in case you might need them)?

What's going on here is... a big mudball has been thrown at the PD.

Righiemer knows that as this drags out in court through the PD contract and next years elections, that mud is going to soil the PD and the "unions" as they will call them.

In the end... not prevailing in court won't matter. The political result is what's important to Righiemers supporters and this is just a part of the dirty political workings of the people who put him there. Talk about a playbook!

I've always suspected that in addition to Righiemers political agenda, the complete destruction of the CMPD was one of his goals.
Pretty clear now.

I have a feeling that PD staffing levels are going to be making more news in the next year and my prediction is that the Sherrifs Dept is going to start to become a part of the question.

By that point it would likely be a better deal for the officers. For the people who live and work in Costa Mesa... not so much.

8/21/2013 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Valan2 - You are reading my mind. And I would back a suit against them from Huy Pham's family.

Class action on behalf of the fairy shrimp in vernal pool six…

Wow, trial lawyers will be circling the city like vultures with suits and counter suits.

8/21/2013 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

I just check the OC website. no police officers were named individually. just the association.

8/21/2013 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

James wrote,
'they are suing the Association and possibly individual officers that are corrupt as defined by the suit. Not "police officers" in general. That would be funny though.
"FUNNY"? Who would find this "funny"? What deranged individual are you referring to here?
The same one who found Huy Pham's suicide humorous?
If it's you- who are you going to call if you need help?
Also, as Where's My Coffee? pointed out, the councildudes are suing the CMPO Association, a group of police officers not individuals.

8/21/2013 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Squad 51,
I agree.
Too many unanswered questions here, as usual with one ( or more) of the councildudes involved with a PI and/or the CMPD.
That PI didn't need to stick around, but he did. Hmm--
Was he working for the CMPOA? No?
Did our CMP Officers harass Riggy & family? No?
Was there ANY hesitation in commenting on this because there was " an investigation taking place"??
( the reason they use for keeping mum on the Dan Joyce incident)
Hell NO- Riggy called for a press conference IMMEDIATELY!
Then what in God's name is the basis for this friggin lawsuit? To quote Riggy himself, "It's trash!!" " It's a publicity stunt!!"
It's the councildudes new shiny object.

8/21/2013 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

My computer was illegally hacked into several times. Discovered it when I woke up one morning and had a bunch of random files open on my desktop.
Every single file had references to ,.... well lets just say they had a common thread.Most had a reference to either Frick , Frack, or the Fairgrounds.
Had a computer expert come in and check my computer and sure enough on three different instances at three o'clock in the morning, my computer was illegally accessed by an outside computer ( which I have the computers identity number if I could ever find it and match it.), using a blue tooth device from off the street.
I hadn't set up a strong enough firewall and my router wasn't password protected.I was so naive. It is now.

Now , I've been told that there is a private security firm ( city secret police "Cognify") hired through a law firm working for the council. Independent from the police department and hidden from public scrutiny by the protection of attorney client privilege.

Two instances of citizens being followed and photographed have been reported....the most recent was a photographer across the street from the Democratic Club kick off.He could have come inside, the press, and photographers were invited.

Now this stuff has been happening for a long time around here.I haven't wanted to get all paranoid, "crazy town" delusional on everybody.But if Righeimer and Mensinger want to make a case out of it.....great. Lets have a REAL conversation about all the shit that's going on around here.

8/21/2013 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Ask yourselves also how everybody knows who "Gericault" is. Eric Bever outed my name on the Daily Pilot story. Way back in the day when you could have a pseudonym. All of a sudden Righiemer , Bever and Co......they all knew who Gericault was.
I think someone at the Daily Pilot outed me to Righeimer before he was booted off his column....can't prove it. But , somebody hacked into, or divulged information to those that weren't entitled to it.

8/21/2013 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

Speaking of being followed and spied upon, a certain "Costa Mesa Taxpayers" on Facebook remarked how he knows who Flo Martin is. I was shocked to read this. I don't know him from Adam, so how does he know who I am?????

8/21/2013 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Flo - maybe he's the guy in the truck from last year.

8/21/2013 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve Staveley said...

Since I left Costa Mesa as Interim Chief I have kept up with an occasional review of this blog and the Daily Pilot to see how the community and especially the department was doing. I always liked Costa Mesa and have a special affection for the CMPD and its staff. Of the 6 agencies I have worked for and the many I have worked in (management studies, team building and the like) CMPD was at the top and frankly a joy to watch do its work. So I returned after a few days of work out of town to find a headline that Mr. Righeimer and Mr. Mensinger have filed a law suit against the Police Officers Association. Now was it not just a couple of weeks ago one of them said that most of the cops like what they are doing politically and administratively for the city? Seems like it was. Was it not just the other day one of them said that they like the cops and respect them etc. Seems like it was. I see from the DP article that they say that this suit has nothing to do with the cops, the rank and file as they say. Balderdash
( thinking of another phrase but this is polite company . There is no difference in this matter between the rank and file and the organization called the Police Association nor its board of directors - The board puts on their cop hat when they are working and when they sit down to do Association work they put on their association hat - same people. How do I know well I was an Association board member at one time in my career, and I have sat across the table from those representing the association in every position I have held for well over 20 years.
I am no friend of Lackie and Demier et al. They are an aggressive law firm when they represent police officers and associations. Yet I will also say, that I have never seen them do anything I would call unethical or that was not in the best interests of their clients. I am sure they have made mistakes in their representation of clients but I have not witnessed it. I have no idea if they had given instruction to Lanzillo ( the PI ) or not or if Lazillo and his actions regarding the possible drunk driver were valid, fake, or anything else. I hope that DA Rackaukas and staff will be able to help me understand when the investigation side is completed and evaluated. I do believe fully based upon a good understanding of the cops and leaders involved at the CMPD that the individual officer who responded did his/her job in a professional and sensible manner protecting the interests of the public, as well as Mr. Righeimer - its just the way they do business. How can I say protect the interests of Mr. Righeimer. Can you imagine if a less professional individual or less experienced individual saw Mr. Righeimer after being given that call to handle and said "well hi there because of who you are I am on my way" - no test, no proof, no observations if he had been drinking or not. In my view Mr. Righeimer should be thanking the cops and especially that cop for helping him prove his POLITICAL INNOCENCE. But no, for reasons that must make sense to him, he and Mr. Mensinger file suit.
I bet the lawyers are loving this. Not just those involved so far but Jones and Mayer, maybe Jones Day its billable hours everywhere. Whatever do I mean? Well how can you file suit against the Association and thus its membership and then make fair decisions regarding its members on personnel matters, contract, assignments and so on? Seems to me they have opened that door and the billable hours will mount.

8/22/2013 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve Staveley said...

Finally, the CMPD chief has said that its hard to find good people and others have said that the political and fiscal turmoil of the past few years keeps the best of the experienced or high demand folks away. That is sure true.
The son of a friend has 3 years with a major sheriffs department (all jail) and is looking for a municipal PD. Corona PD has three openings a great reputation and hundreds of applicants including my friends son. The young man has a handful of OUTSTANDING performance reports, a BA and is in mid 20s, married and owns a house - a very good background. Guess where he has applied - thats right stable, Corona.

CMPD has, in my professional opinion, a great chief, and one of the best leadership groups I have ever worked with. A staff of officers, supervisors, professional persons as good or better than any in So Cal or Nor Cal for that matter. But even as loyal, hard working and dedicated as these professionals are they will eventually react negatively, leave, retire, or retire on duty when their political leadership keeps kicking them in the head and that is exactly what this suit is, a kick in the head of every member of the CMPD from the chief on down. The actions speak louder than words. My advise for Mr. Righeimer and Mensinger ( which they did not take when I was there - but I will try again, and I won't even charge for this advise this time ) have your lawyers dismiss against the CMPOA, issue a public apology for your misunderstanding, publicly and repeatedly restate your support for building the finest police department in the county and give your chief a two year contract extension and a raise. Then, maybe, just maybe the fine people of the department can build back the department you claim you desire. You want to sue some private investigator and his former employer (Lackie etc ) go for it.

It takes years to build a successful police department and will take years to rebuild from here. If Mr. Righeimer and Mr Mensinger ignore my advise (as they sure have in the past), it will not get better - playing politics is not the same as leadership and growth comes from leadership not politics. Leadership gentlemen, leadership.

Steven H. Staveley, Director of the Division of Law Enforcement, California Department of Justice (ret)

8/22/2013 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Chief Staveley,
Thank you for your insight and experience in this matter. Thank you for your many years of service to our city and its residents.
Your reasons for leaving CM are well understood by many of us here. We agree with you whole heartedly.
This is a sad, disgraceful episode in a long saga of legal dramas with the councilmen.
Our city, all its employees and residents deserve much better.

8/22/2013 08:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Chief Staveley, thanks for taking the time to write. Thank you for your great letter to the thieves on the dias when you left. Karen is right, this is a sad and dark part of Costa Mesa history, and one that we need to rectify with the next election. Here's to you, and I hope you are doing well in your new career.

8/23/2013 06:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

Many thanks to Chief Staveley for taking the time to write such a detailed, insightful letter for the residents of Costa Mesa. So many employees who have left the city in disgust have never looked back, and I don’t blame them. Your willingness to keep in touch and speak the truth are an inspiration; it was good to see Officer Huggins follow in your footsteps.

It’s amazing that a couple ignorant laymen insist that their whims should override the knowledge and experience of an respected police chief. Their arrogant, relentless attacks demonstrate the danger of putting too much power in the hands of three people.

I am not adequately expressing my gratitude and admiration, but I felt the need to add my thanks quickly before this post disappears from the screen.

Thanks to Geoff for periodically providing a link to your first letter. With the ugly propaganda spread by the councilmen, an antidote of common sense is most welcome.

8/23/2013 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

King Righmeier and Prince Mensinger are using tactics common of a Royal Family…Divide your subjects and conquer their territory…Eliminate the current military and replace it with one loyal to the Monarchy….Suspend the constitution and declare Martial Law…Re-write the constitution to allow more authority to the Royal Family to consolidate authority to themselves…Order the military to confiscate all weapons of the their new subjects, confiscate their land, take ownership of the means of production and tax the subjects heavily to fund expansion of the empire..

Suing the CMPOA seems to be a tactical decision to repel the ability of the CMPD to investigate anything related to the Royal Family….Makes me wonder if they are hiding something…Smells like Nixon to me….

How will our PD find any new officers to protect our citizens and keep the fine officers we have now if the Family continues this Search and Destroy tactic they are on…

We would not want to have any DUI checkpoints set up in front of Prince Monahan’s little corner of paradise…Would we…Might be bad for business and violate entrapment laws…Imagine abdicating your thrown in the name of Capitalism….Treat your subjects too poorly and pouring money out of a bottle might dry up…

I remember when HRH Planning Commissioner Righemeir flipped out when he got hung up in a DUI checkpoint on Harbor Blvd….Divide and Conquer…Search and Destroy…That end of town seems to have grown exponentially since that day…

8/25/2013 09:00:00 AM  

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