Monday, October 20, 2014

Why I Won't Vote For Jim Righeimer

I've watched and written about Jim Righeimer since he arrived in Costa Mesa from Fountain Valley as a campaign official for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher after unsuccessful political campaigns in that city.  I watched a few months later as Allan Mansoor, who received much campaign support from Rohrabacher, rejected a long-time campaign supporter three times and appointed Righeimer to the Planning Commission, even though his application was filed late.

I've watched as Righeimer has run roughshod over the rights of the people of Costa Mesa like some two-bit dictator, attempting to have the city run as a business instead of it's proper role as the government entity formed to provide service to the residents, businesses and visitors to the city.

In my view, he is BAD for the city both in the short and long haul.

Here are just a few of the many reasons why I will NOT vote to return him to the City Council, in no particular order:

  • He has taken on dictatorial control over the city, in almost any way you wish to measure it.  
  • He hands out committee appointments to cronies like candy on Halloween.
  • He uses his position to offer proclamations and recognition to people within his own personal circle, the most recent of which was when he issued a proclamation and declared a "day" for his personal trainer!
  • He doesn't listen to the people.  Even worse, he institutionalized stifling free speech at council meetings by bifurcating Public Comments, forcing some residents to stay until after midnight in some cases to present their views, suggestions, compliments and concerns to their elected leaders.
  • He interrupts speakers and other council members, disrupting their presentations and, sometimes, lobbing sarcastic epithets at them as they depart the speaker's podium.
  • He ignored voice of the people when his Charter, Measure V, was soundly thrashed at the polls two years ago and caused a worse version, Measure O, to be created by packing the committee with cronies. 

  • As mentioned, he stubbornly refused to accept the defeat of his personally hand-crafted Charter, Measure V, two years ago.  He immediately demanded that the city form a committee - not a commission, which would have been the appropriate choice - to create another Charter.
  • The selection process packed the committee with cronies and like-minded individuals and a couple others to express an opposing view (see John Stephens' commentary on that subject HERE) and it spent a year creating a document - Measure O -  that is even more onerous than Measure V.
  • There are many reasons to vote NO on O.  The biggest, however, is that it places in the hands of the City Council virtually unlimited power.  The council can do ANYTHING it wants as long as it doesn't violate state or federal law.  That's too much power in the hands of ANY council, much less one controlled by Jim Righeimer.
  • The cornerstone of the argument for a Charter form of government was the ability to avoid paying "Prevailing Wages" on projects.  That point no longer exists since Senate Bill 7 will forbid any Charter City from receiving ANY grant funding if they refuse to pay Prevailing Wages.  That means that virtually ALL municipal infrastructure projects would disappear.
  • Proponents claim Measure O will "fix the Pension problem.  That's false.  Measure O does NOTHING to affect the current Unfunded Pension Liability problem.  What is DOES DO is hamstring the labor negotiating process even further.
  • Measure O also casts in stone Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger's Civic Openness In Negotiations (COIN) Ordinance, making it nearly impossible to modify the ordinance by tying any future council's hands.  This is micro-managing in it's most virulent form and is completely unnecessary in any reasonable form of government.
  • He created such a toxic atmosphere throughout City Hall that employees have departed in droves, taking with them decades of institutional knowledge, skill and experience.  Service levels have declined dramatically. 
  • Presently the city has more open positions than in any time in the past generation, including more than two dozen vacancies in the Costa Mesa Police Department.
  • Through his family ties he pretends to understand law enforcement challenges, but his actions have destroyed one of the finest police departments in the county, if not the region. 
  • One of his first encounters with the Costa Mesa Police Department was when he inappropriately disrupted a DUI checkpoint that inconvenienced him on his way to a high school football game.  See the videos below this segment for a reminder.
  • By ignoring the staffing recommendations of his consultants and senior law enforcement leaders his actions have dramatically diminished what was once regarded as the premiere police department in Orange County. 
  • Many senior officers and members of the command staff have opted to retire early or lateral opportunities with other police jurisdictions, taking with them decades each of highly-developed policing skills.
  • He intentionally stalled police recruitment for nine months, causing severe staffing shortages and horrendous overtime to be worked by the remaining staff to try to keep the city safe.
  • The CMPD has been reduced to being "reactionary" instead of heading crime off through Community Oriented Policing.
  • The School Resource Officer program, disabled on his watch, is a shell of it's former self.
  • He ramrodded the dissolution of the A.B.L.E. helicopter organization, which had been the model for municipal airborne law enforcement organizations nationwide.
  • Drug and Gang units are at 25% of previous staffing levels.  Hard drug use is on the rise and asset forfeiture dollars - which has represented nearly $1 million in recent years -  have dried up because of diminished staffing.
  • He actually sued the men and women of the CMPD.
  • He now proposes a scheme by which untrained Code Enforcement Officers will assume duties of sworn police officers, opening the city up to more legal liability.
  • Because of Jim Righeimer, Costa Mesa is not safer today. 

  • Righeimer complains about Unfunded Pension Liabilities, yet stubbornly refuses to pay one extra cent toward reducing that liability, leaving Municipal Bankruptcy one of the few choices remaining.
  • He demanded the creation of a Pension Oversight Committee to assess and advise the City Council on this issue.  One of their earliest efforts was a workshop on Municipal Bankruptcy.
  • Because of his capricious actions since he took office Legal Fees have doubled.
  • His first major misstep was the illegal and ill-advised attempt to issue layoff notices to more than 200 city employees, which resulted in turmoil throughout the city,  the death of young maintenance worker, Huy Pham, and a lawsuit that still percolates.

  • He portrays himself as a fiscal conservative, yet hands the CEO a $1,000,000 contingency (slush) fund annually, which Righeimer uses like pocket change to fund his whims during the year.
  • He views the Convention and Visitors Bureau as his own special piggy bank.  The CVB covered cost overages for the now-notorious 60th Anniversary celebration.
  • On that subject,  the whole event is still under scrutiny by the the Orange County District Attorney's office and, so far, has resulted in the termination of one employee - after receiving 9 months paid leave and a $170,225 settlement.  That dark cloud hangs directly over Righeimer.
  • The CVB sponsored a trip for Righeimer to China a couple years ago for "business development". Righeimer, a shopping center developer, has also made junkets to Las Vegas with an entourage of city staffers to a shopping center development conference the past couple years.  So far, no business coming from those trips is evident. 
  • He brays about paving city streets, but conveniently forgets to mention that the money for that asphalt came from not hiring enough city staff to provide the essential services on a timely basis.  His is a philosophy of potholes before public safety.
  • Under his watch Costa Mesa has become a haven for developers.  They complained about how difficult it was to bend the rules to produce their projects, so he mandated through his cronies on the Planning Commission, a new Small Lot Ordinance that codifies the elimination of the protections in place to assure the character of the neighborhoods in our city.  But the developers are happy.
  • Three-story with roof-top patio "live/work" developments are popping up all over town, taxing the infrastructure in industrial and commercial areas.  We are told they will attract young professionals, but nobody planning a family will choose a four-story vertical home in a commercial area surrounded by some of the busiest streets in our city.  But the developers are happy.
  • Righeimer has systematically tried to force "problem motels" out of business.  He said many times that the operators of those motels had an unrealistic view of the value of their properties.  He created a Nuisance Ordinance, a hammer with which to pound the operators.  He created a new Code Enforcement army, to swing that hammer,  and buried the operators in public safety visits and fines to "encourage" them to re-assess their valuation.  The goal seemed to be to get them to sell to developers on the cheap, who would then build high-density housing.  And the developers are happy.
  • He championed the annexation of the Santa Ana/Colleen Island on the Eastside in which one of his developer-friends owns a patchwork of contiguous empty lots.  Instead of retaining the county standard of 7,200 square feet, he imposed the city standard for minimum lot sizes in R-1 zones - 6,000 square feet.  The developer will benefit greatly.
  • Righeimer has so discouraged existing business owners that many are leaving town.  McGregor Yachts - the gold standard for small yachts in the industry and a cornerstone business on our Westside - relocated to Florida, where they were welcomed with open arms. 
  • Righeimer created the "Excessive Use Of Resources" Ordinance, in which business owners - like those motel owners above - are rationed the use of public safety resources.  Any owner who exceeds their quota will be cited and fined.  So, Righeimer has created a system whereby a business owner will likely NOT report a crime occurring at or around his establishment for fear of being fined.  He may not report suspected drug use, attacks, defrauding innkeepers, drunk in public, etc.  How does that make any sense in any civilized society?
  • Sober living homes are proliferating in Costa Mesa under Righeimer's watch.  He was forced by angry neighbors to create yet another task force - the Preserve Our Neighborhoods Task Force - to address the issue.  Righeimer has taken campaign contributions from at least one sober living home operator, but returned it when it became public knowledge.  We don't know how many others - realtors, for example - are profiting from the group homes and also contributing to his campaign.
  • Based on information from a recent Orange County Register article on the candidates this year, Righeimer has accumulated nearly $200,000 in campaign funds - an amount unheard of before.  In recent elections it would be extremely unusual for a candidate to spend even half that amount.  For an incumbent mayor to amass that kind of financial firepower demonstrates that he realizes just how unpopular his actions over the past nearly four years are - and he's worried, as well he should be.
  • Righeimer's campaign finance paperwork shows most of those dollars come mainly out-of-town contributors -  lawyers (fees have doubled), developers (new projects everywhere), fireworks manufacturers (multiple fireworks days) and folks apparently associated with group homes, which benefit greatly from their existence in our city.
And, finally, I won't vote for Jim Righeimer because he rejected the adoption of an Ethics Policy, which only underscores his arrogance and why he is not worthy of his office.  He has demonstrated that he's a dictatorial, divisive, self-serving political opportunist, more intent imposing a political dogma on our city and feathering the nests of his friends than doing what is right for the city. It's time for a change.


When I cast my ballot I will vote to return mature, considerate, compassionate, intelligent, experienced leadership to the city.  I will vote for people who actually listen to the voters.  I will vote for people who have demonstrated - in their lives and during previous tours on the City Council - that they know how to negotiate and build consensus on important issues.  I will vote for people who will work for the residents of this city, not outside interests who are trying to impose a political ideology on our govenrment.  I will vote for people who give, not take.  I will vote for Jay Humphrey and Katrina Foley - the first and last positions on the ballot.

And, I will vote a resounding NO on Measure O.

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Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

It's time for the developer-dictator to toodle on down the road. As far away as possible.

Great post GW!

10/20/2014 05:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Volo pro Veritas said...

He has a personal trainer?!? Good lord, what does he train; his mouth? That guy can rant better than most. Jim, I'll save you the money of a trainer- just start doing "push aways". That's when you push yourself away from the table.

10/20/2014 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger zennymoon said...

What Geoff said! I cannot express my disgust for this man, who has tried to dismantle the entire city to fit his developer model...Loathsome, arrogant and intimidating.
God help our city November 4th....

10/20/2014 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Thank you, Geoff. Great summary. Vote for Humphrey and Foley, and No on "O".

10/20/2014 07:13:00 PM  
Anonymous It has to be said...

Righeimer is in violation of his "Excessive Use Of Resources" Ordinance.

10/20/2014 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Italy had "Il Duce," Costa Mesa has "Il Dou.. er never mind...

10/20/2014 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous breaking bad said...

The City Attorney impartial analysis of the flawed charter has another example of incompetence. In the flawed charter it is written "The City shall not require the payment of prevailing wages " but the attorney writes "With regard to
public contracting, the city would not be able to pay prevailing wages "

10/20/2014 10:32:00 PM  
Anonymous breaking bad said...

My favorite recent false commentary is by this Andrew Smith character. Responding to Charles Mooney's Daily Pilot article about outsourcing and it's dangers. Now let's forget whether the premise is true let's look at how MR Smith falsely implies what Mr. Mooney says and then claims he is outraged at the claim MR. Smith made up and attributes to Mr. Mooney. Mr. Mooney simply writes in one section that "Outsourcing is risky because there are two opposing motivations at play. The city worker's goal is to provide public service and to comply with the quality, moral and ethical standards of the city. On the other hand, a private company that is granted an outsourcing contract has the primary goal of maximizing profits." Agreeing or disagreeing is not the point I want to raise. I want to raise the false claim MR. Smith tries to imply MR. Mooney claims. Here is the totally made up claim Smith tries to lay at the feet of Mr. Mooney. "City employees ceased to be self interested once hired? The notion that once hired a City employee is a better human being that a person in the private sector is so bloody offensive. If you said the same unequal thing about race or religion you would be pilloried. If this argument was not so ugly, it would be quaint."

OK. I never saw where MR. Mooney claimed any person to be a better human being than the other. He said motivations were different. He also never said person over person because he clearly stated PRIVATE SECTOR COMPANY. But what clearly makes me laugh is the implication that Mr. Smith is implying the desire to make a profit makes a person less than some others. I wonder how his bosses Mr. Mensinger and Mr. Righeimer feel about that assumption. I sure don't agree with it. But it's nice to know that Mr. Smith who just makes up stuff to create outrage in himself also writes as though businesses making a profit are not as good as others.

Wasn't this guy who just makes stuff up appointed to some of these committees. Now that is a bloody outrage.

10/20/2014 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous breaking bad said...

Now for my favorite endorsement. The OC Register endorsing the charter. This is funny and shows how much faith you should have in the OC Register Editorial board.

They recently endorsed the new charter. Claiming the old charter was flawed but this one is good. Except if you go back and check this pillar of a newspaper endorsed the charter in 2012 they are now admitting was flawed.
Should you have any confidence or trust in the OC Register editorial boards endorsement. I laughingly say I hope not! What a joke that newspaper has become.

Published: Oct. 2, 2014 Updated: Oct. 13, 2014 7:41 p.m.

Voters in Costa Mesa rejected a flawed 2012 ballot measure that proposed to change the city from a general-law city to a charter city. Measure O, a similar, but improved, version of the 2012 measure, appears on Costa Mesa’s Nov. 4 ballot.

10/20/2014 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger Marquis said...

All true, but we live in a city with a large population of idiots, most of whom comprise Rig's constituency. In a mid-term election the idiots will turn out and vote for a couple of their own (Rig and Ramos). Will enough rational people show up at the polls to cancel out the idiots? As much as I hope that happens, I never underestimate the idiot to apathetic ratio in CM, so I will not be surprised if Rig survives. Disgusted, yes, but not surprised.

10/21/2014 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Honeyman said...

Marquis, you have chrystallized my thoughts. Considering 2000+ of the idiots in this city voted for a candidate who was too stupid to withdraw from the ballot on time 2 years ago.....3000+ vote for Al Melone (don't tell me he actually has a constituency now?!?), what will happen in two weeks? There is no general election to get the usual slobs out, and I am so afraid too many fools will know the name "Righeimer" and push that button. I continue to lose sleep over this every night.

But I am an optimist by nature. Somehow, I there is a part o me that believes the vast majority of this city are sane and can realize just what the hell is going on and will throw this disgrace of a human being out of office. I refuse to believe the populous of the town I love so much would put a crook like Righeimer and a stooge like Ramos into office.

On another note, I can't thank Geoff enough for the service and duty he provides this city. If...and it is a HUGE if....we actually get the results in this election we desire, it would have been in a large part to your dedication, perseverance, and literary expertise that has done the deed. Please understand out fearless potstirrer, it is appreciated to no end.

10/21/2014 05:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

I'm more concerned about the fools who will vote for Bunyan. He cannot win, yet he will split the vote for the front runners, insuring a loss even if we have the majority of voters. If that happens, I will never forgive Bunyan or his campaign manager.

10/22/2014 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Harold Weitzberg just came out and endorsed Bunyan. Perfect example of why Harold never could get the following at the beginning ,..he's too much my way or the highway. I expect Righiemer and his pals will remember Harold after November for all the hard work he's done for them.

10/22/2014 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

Thank you for the diligent effort you have put forth to educate the Costa Mesa public. It is very appreciated.

10/22/2014 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Geoff, you have helped our city more than you know. We come here to get the truth, something that is difficult to find in the noise machine that supports Righeimer and his crew.
You have become a target for their wrath, further indication that you are exposing the frauds and liars for who they are.
We are very fortunate to have you.
Thank you for this great commentary and for all that you do!

A vote for Chris Bunyan will effectively be a vote for Righeimer.

Jay and Katrina for CM City Council and NO on O!

10/22/2014 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger TerryW. said...

Thinking about the comments from "Marquis" and "Honeyman," I am equally troubled about voter apathy. Jack Wu published an article in the "Register on 9/23 that pointed out the lackluster turnout for this year's primary, hinting further that the turnout in 2 weeks could come in at a paltry 40%. That is unacceptable, and if we can't do any better than that, NO ONE should BMW (bitch, moan, whine) about the outcome. So GET OUT THERE AND VOTE!!

10/22/2014 03:34:00 PM  
Anonymous CMTaxpayer said...

Righeimer makes stuff up. Smith makes stuff up. When You tell the truth and back it up the facts are stranger than fiction in CM.

Charles Mooney is not above it. He made stuff up and said Sandy Genis said it at the CM4RG endorsement meeting. I finally joined up. I sure didn't hear her say it. I was at that meeting. Pretty shi**y to accuse her falsly and cry to the press. Now Mooney & his ex candidate are actively working to split the vote to prove, what? His candidate did not win the CM4RG endorsemtnt, it was a landslide against him. Does he want to take votes away from Jay to prove CM4RG was wrong? Does he want 4 more years of Righeimer? A vote for Bunyan is a vote for Righeimer.
To get a new council majority there are only two who can do it. HUMPHREY and FOLEY.

WTH happened to Mooney?
This is no time to fart around.

10/22/2014 03:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Chris Bunyan may be a very nice man, and a great hairdresser. However, I have never seen him outside of a candidate forum although I’m told he attended one city council meeting. I have never heard any substantive plans to resolve this city’s problems. Instead simply criticism of the mayor, although his frustration is understandable. Its going to take experience to solve the issues ahead of us.

Harold and Joyce are angry that Harold did not receive an endorsement he was expecting. Therefore, to get even, he will support and work for the man who is attempting to split votes between the two front runners that did receive the endorsement that Harold wanted. I see from the comments that Righeimer’s regime now supports Harold who is working for Bunyan. Therefore, no thanks Bunyan, maybe next time.

Its more evident now than ever. A vote for Bunyan is a vote for Righeimer.

10/22/2014 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Didn't Jim mention Harold favorably in one of the forums and hint that he would like to work with him? He's got to realize that he's splitting the vote. I thought he withdrew so as to not split the vote.

10/22/2014 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous breaking bad said...

I just read former Mayor Bever's commentary. Like much of the hypocrisy I pointed out earlier this one is just as bad. Mayor Bever blames Foley for handing out unsustainable pensions. But if one knows the history they would know that at the May 20th 2008 City Council Meeting Mayor Bever not only handed CMCEA employees a pension enhancement he, when all was said and done, praised the CMCEA employees for stepping up and paying for what the cost were estimated at the time. Yes Mayor Bever voted in favor of the pension enhancement, voted to immediately raise the unfunded liability by 4 million dollars and then praised city employees. Watch the video May 20, 2008. Amazing how low some will go.

10/22/2014 07:12:00 PM  

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