Monday, April 21, 2014

My Apology...

Last Tuesday night, just about an hour into the meeting during the Council Member Comments segment of the Costa Mesa City Council meeting at City Hall, Mayor Jim Righeimer closed his portion of that segment with a scathing diatribe against me, and four other individuals, because of a comment I made on Facebook - not on my Facebook page, but on a thread generated by another person.  I wrote about it early the next morning, HERE.  He demanded an apology from me and the other four people - whose only "crime" was clicking the "like" button on my comment.

Bradley Zint wrote about it in the Daily Pilot, HERE, and included a video clip of Righeimer's rant.  Please go there, watch the video clip and read Brad's article, then come on back here.

As you saw, Righeimer begins by saying he's angry about something I wrote on my blog.  Well, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt because he's peeved, but what he's angry about did not occur on my blog at all.  As I said above, it happened on Facebook.  He's mad because I observed that he acts like a dictator - which he does.  He complained that he doesn't watch "the blogs" and doesn't go on social media, yet he immediately posted two separate comments on HIS Facebook page accusing me of "an unthinkable smear against my wife and children" and, referring to me, "We need to pray for him to soften his heart, He knows not what he is saying."  Of course, that's horse manure.  I NEVER talk about his family, but he frequently uses them as shields this way.

Righeimer spews that I compared him to someone who was responsible for "killing 6 million Jews" - Adolf Hitler.  Yes, I did compare him to Hitler, although not by name.  Actually, you could compare him to just about any dictator you choose - Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Pol Pot, and on and on.  Of course I don't think he's responsible for killing Jews.  I DO think he behaves very much like those dictators, and have outlined why before.  In fact, he demonstrated that behavior several times during that meeting, including shouting down councilwoman Wendy Leece a few minutes later and right at the very end, when he tried to shout down speaker Anna Vrska during her 3-minute comment because she said she agreed with my freedom of speech rights.  He failed because Vrska refused to be bullied.  Watch that segment HERE.  Scroll down and click on the segment at the end titled "Continued Public Comments" - the screen will "jump to" that segment and the counter will read 02:45:07.  Watch the exchange between Vrska and Righeimer.

It's been an interesting few days since this dust-up.  My blog entry about it, above, racked up a couple dozen comments.  I also posted a link to it on my Facebook page, which resulted in 105 comments and counting.  The Daily Pilot story has two comment threads going that have totaled over 100 comments until some peculiar folks began to take their comments down, including one in Morse Code, for goodness sake.  The point is, Righeimer took what was a fairly insignificant comment on an obscure Facebook thread - only a few people had read it at the time - and created a giant controversy  out of it.  The page views on my blog tripled in the immediate aftermath of his rant and the number of "likes" on the original thread doubled, too.

There is really only one explanation for Righeimer to have done what he did - publicity.  He's entering a campaign season that is very likely going to turn out to be the most contentious, most expensive in the history of this city.  One of his tactics in the past has to been to try to discredit opposing voices, in this case, MINE.  He's tried it before and failed.  He has unilaterally changed the format during meetings to bifurcate the Public Comments segment, permitting only 10 speakers at the beginning and forcing others to wait until the very end of the meeting - as was the case with Vrska last Tuesday night - to address grievances or to offer compliments and constructive criticism to their elected officials.  In this case, as in other instances in the past, he created a controversy, claimed he was a victim and whined about how abused he and his family are because of it

This time, as he has done in the past, he throws up his family as a shield against criticism.  What kind of a man does that?  He's chosen to become a politician and with that choice - as I've said many times - comes criticism.  Well, he's demonstrated almost since the day he set foot in town, carpetbag in hand, that he just doesn't like criticism and will spit back whenever he feels unfairly criticized.  He needs a much thicker skin if he plans to continue as a politician.  And, he needs to quit using his family as a shield - shame on him!

Righeimer demanded an apology from me, and the other four people he felt slighted him with their "likes" of my comment.  Every single person in this city should be chilled by that demand.  For the mayor of our city to sit up there on the dais and call out - by name - individuals who have had the audacity to criticize him will certainly have the effect he wanted - to stifle their free speech.  Theirs, maybe - but not mine.

I agree with the mayor that an apology is in order - FROM HIM to the people of our city for abusing his position and for potentially frightening them out of speaking up when they have concerns about how he and his majority are running their city.  On his watch we've seen scandals unlike anything in the past - the 60th Anniversary Celebration cost overruns and the now-infamous Decomposed Granite trail fiasco, just to name two.

I predicted that he would play fast and loose with the rules, and he did.  I anticipated his attempt to destroy our city by putting potholes ahead of public safety, and said so.  And that's what he's done.  I joked a little over three years ago, when he and his majority violated city rules and issued more than 200 layoff notices to city employees, that Righeimer's idea of a perfect City Staff would be CEO Tom Hatch and a handful of contract administrators to manage all the outsourced functions.  You recall - it was St. Patrick's Day, when young Huy Pham jumped to his death from the City Hall roof and then-mayor Gary Monahan couldn't be bothered to come to City Hall, choosing to stay at his bar and sell beer.  Well, that joke turned out to be on me, since that's the way we're headed.  The actual working elements of city government have been decimated and the "Executive Offices" have increased staff dramatically, adding party planners, public relations staff and special code enforcement officers to do their bidding.  I mean, what city our size actually needs a "Chief Executive Officer", two Assistant CEOs and a Deputy CEO?  He and his cronies have created such a toxic and litigious atmosphere at City Hall that we've had to hire another Deputy City Clerk to just handle public records requests!  These are NOT signs of a healthy organization and you can trace the malady DIRECTLY to Righeimer.

Although I thought I understood the depth of Righeimer's vindictiveness toward the members of the Costa Mesa Police Department, I didn't think he would actually go so far as to put the public in danger by gutting that organization and refusing for more than a year to let Chief Tom Gazsi begin recruitment to attempt to reach even the new, lower staffing levels.  Our specialty units have been disemboweled and skilled, trained officers have taken early retirement and/or left for other jurisdictions, where their contributions are valued.  You know, a place where the mayor and mayor pro tem have not sued the men and women of the police department.

And that kind of micromanaging of the organization extends well beyond just the Police Department.  There are more than sixty (60) vacancies throughout the city today - nearly 15% of the authorized staff!  Instead, we've got expensive contractors doing the work without a vested interest in the long-term well-being of our city.

I'm sorry I didn't have the foresight to anticipate that the Righeimer regime would be marked by record legal costs, much of which has been brought on by the way he's running this city.  We're spending nearly $500 per hour on lawyers just working on the lawsuit filed by the Costa Mesa City Employees Association in the wake of the bogus layoff notices, alone.  For the 2012/2013 Fiscal Year we spent right at $2.5 million on legal fees and, for the first half of this fiscal year we've spent more than $1.1 million.  Heck, last week the council approved a Warrant that contained more than $230,000 in legal fees!  This is unprecedented in the history of our city.  Then, again, it may be what Righeimer meant when he said he wanted to run our city like a business.

For my part, I DO have an apology of my own to make.  I apologize to the employees of the City of Costa Mesa and to the residents, business owners and visitors to our fine city for not doing more to fight Righeimer's takeover and destruction of this town.  Although I thought I did my best, I should have done more when he ran for City Council four years ago.  I feel responsible for not doing enough to keep Righeimer from being elected and two years ago, for not doing enough to break his majority.  For that I sincerely apologize to this community.  I WON'T MAKE THAT MISTAKE THIS TIME AROUND!

As to an apology from me to Righeimer...


Labels: , , , , , , ,


Blogger Unknown said...

Geoff I accept your apology I to am sorry because I actually made the mistake of voting for that guy. I am going to do everything I can to pass the word that it is time for him to go. It is sikening how short staffed we are but man we are so top heavy here. It is time to get more indians and a whole lot less chiefs.

4/21/2014 06:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Geoff, you gave him the benefit of the doubt. Lesson learned.

Bill, I also voted for him when he first ran, as his voter description sounded logical. I will work as hard as I possibly can to make up that mistake to the residents of this city. And you are right about the short staffing. All of us have been put in a very bad position because of the short staffing. Very dangerous, to say the least. And you can't say anything about it unless your card is selected and you will be shouted down if he doesn't like your comment.

4/21/2014 07:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Its a shame that those millions spent on legal fees couldn't have been put toward the "under-funded" pension liability they keep crying over. Maybe its not the problem they want everyone to believe? If it is, a good and responsible council majority would have put a lot of that very serious money towards the problem.

Then they'd have to find something else to complain about.

4/21/2014 08:03:00 AM  
Anonymous xyn bohemia said...

quite a hit parade of epic fails....

4/21/2014 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Geoff West-
Great American, Costa Mesan, outstanding blogger. Thank you.

4/21/2014 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Everyone in the city needs to see this for what it is:

A power and land grab by a small group of extremists.

Resist it.

4/21/2014 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

...told you so.

4/21/2014 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Eleanor Egan said...

In a recent speech to the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, Righeimer made perfectly clear what his goal for Costa Mesa is: privatize everything that can be lawfully outsourced to private companies. That's his vision. It sure isn't mine, and I bet it's not the vision of the vast majority of residents.

4/21/2014 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

One should ask Mr. Righeimer if the murder (or potentiated suicide) of one individual through executive fiat is somehow less heinous than the murder of ten, or a hundred, or a million? What about the deprival of livelihood by executive fiat? Is forbidding two hundred people their living by issuing layoff notices somehow less heinous than forbidding a class of people to own property? Or does he believe in moral relativity? Is there, should there be, less opprobrium attached to denying three people their right of free speech, than there is attached to forbidding free speech to a whole populace? What about denying seven of seventeen people a chance to stand on the soapbox and advocate for what they think is just and fair while many are listening? is this different to passing a law that forbids criticism of the King?

Our Fairview Park is a priceless resource for us and our future generations. Priceless! Yet this man blithely devalues it by setting a two-milllion-dollar-an-acre price tag on it! Cheapskate that he is, penny-wise and pound-foolish! He raises alarm about employee pensions, about which he can do literally nothing; yet whitewashes or sweeps under the rug unauthorized over-expenditures by his own appointed minions that a word from him would have scotched. And where and when can we expect an investigation into these malfeasances? Not on his watch, I am sure.

He blatantly and loudly lies in our public forum, and later, cowardly, in a minuscule voice simulating contrition he does not feel, admits to "misspeaking". He brings suit against the police association, seeking to diminish their number by other means as well, and, cowardly, claims that he has nothing against the police, no argument, nothing.

He was elected to address the concerns and needs of us citizens of our city, yet he fails to address in a manly fashion those concerns we express in public forum, choosing instead to treat them as though they had never been spoken. We question him, but he does not answer. We entreat him, but our entreaties are ignored. We plead with him for justice, but our pleas are spurned, or turned back on us with contempt. He interrupts us when we are speaking, and uses his bully pulpit to vitiate our wise counsel.

And he whiningly demands apology for the most justly conceived commentary on his actions in these regards. Call him carpetbagger, call him hypocrite, call him dictator, call him fool; call him arithmetically challenged, call him mentally unbalanced, call him subnormal. All are justified, some by his own admission. His priorities are mis-set: any man who has committed the acts he has and who still has a vestige of his reason should worry at this point far more seriously about tar and feathers than about the comment of a journalist.

No, Geoff, I don't think you should apologize.

4/21/2014 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

I addition to Riggy's comments reported by Eleanor..."privatize everything that can be lawfully outsourced to private companies."....and get rid of employees that get in the way.

4/21/2014 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Thank you, Geoff.
I agree with everything Joe said and I am proud to call you my friend.
As one of the original four that was publicly called out from the dais, Joe McCarthy style, I will NOT be silenced and intimidated by Mr. Righeimer's scare tactics and lies.
Who supports a person who behaves like a rude, crude school yard bully throwing vulgar temper tantrums on the dais, shouting down residents and councilwomen who disagree with him all the while being paid by our tax dollars?
Didn't Righeimer say we had time constraints during our CM CC meetings? Isn't that why he cut time for Public Comments? So why do we suddenly have time for his overly dramatic, long winded speeches and tantrums?
Mr. Righeimer owes us an apology.

4/21/2014 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Heart for Costa Mesa said...

I was not convinced it was appropriate to publicly call a city councilman a dictator before the last meeting. What kind of man interrupts and yells at a 5'-1" young woman who is politely exercising her free speech, in the approved way, at the approved time? Yelling and demanding she stop her polite but pointed commentary and "LISTEN TO ME RIGHT NOW!" That was a new low. Very unnerving to see an elected official act that way. A dictator is as a dictator does.

4/22/2014 12:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

The dictator got into power, made himself mayor over Leece, and stacked the planning commission so developers could have their way with Costa Mesa.

Next: With the help of bootlicker Fisler he wants to stack the san district and fold it into water for even more fun and sweetheart deals.

Send this leech packing in November.

4/22/2014 05:47:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home