Saturday, February 20, 2016

Chief Arnold Sets The Record Straight

By now many of you have already read former Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold's commentary in the Daily Pilot, HERE, in which he sets the record straight on the process by which the City of Costa Mesa acquired six (6) rescue ambulances for $1.6 million as part of his 17-point plan for the reorganization of the Costa Mesa Fire Department.

As one of those who sat through each of the many presentations of Arnold's plan over a couple of years, and who wrote about it every time, I have a pretty good recollection of how things went.  I recall, specifically, that an integral part of the plan was for the Costa Mesa Fire Department to take over the transportation of injured or ill individuals and, as a result, the charges for that transport would end up in the city coffers and not in the pockets of the private ambulance company - CARE Ambulance.
I was in the audience when the City Council majority chose to leave things as they are and continue permitting CARE Ambulance - a campaign contributor to Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer's campaigns - continue to reap all those dollars - upwards of $3 million each year, depending on which iteration of the alternatives were chosen.
Worse, I was aghast when Righeimer flat out lied about the transportation element.  As he uttered those words I glanced around the auditorium and saw many regulars to this process - residents and city staffers alike - do double-takes.  When I looked back at Righeimer I fully expected to see his nose growing as he told that whopper.
Those who know Chief Arnold - a kind and thoughtful man of impeccable credentials, a long-time Costa Mesa resident and mentor to many in the fire service - have some feeling of the kind of angst he must have gone through before he published that commentary.  As kindly and professionally as possible, he told us that Righeimer was wrong - and intentionally wrong, to boot.

Chief Arnold was correct, but let's just say it like it is.  Here's what I said in the comment thread of Chief Arnold's commentary: "Jim Righeimer is a self-serving, devious liar who placed his personal political priorities ahead of what is best for the community."  Of course, we could go on and on about him, his lack of character, his hatred of "union" employees, how he has tried to run this city like a dictator ever since he came to town nearly a decade ago, and on and on and on...
Righeimer is now officially a lame duck - a man with less than three years left on his tour - which makes him even more dangerous.  He's done tremendous damage to this city over the past five years and, with no election on his horizon, has nothing to lose if he continues to dismantle one of the best municipal staffs in Orange County and cut the legs out of the public safety organizations due to his vindictive hatred of those who perform those dangerous jobs to keep us safe.  I've discussed those shortcomings of his many times in the past and will keep reminding you of them as we move forward.
Now this big cloud hangs over Chief Dan Stefano's fire organization.  What now?  What is the future of Fire Station #6, our newest station, which sits on land donated to the city by the Sakioka family for that purpose.  Part of the plan included the closure of Fire Station #6, but the developments being planned - ground was broken for one of them this past week - makes the closure of that station questionable.
And what about those six rescue ambulances we purchased and have been in the process of folding into the deployment plans?  Do we sell them off like brand-new scrap, for pennies on the dollar?
In my opinion, the City Council made a HUGE mistake when deciding to stick with the status quo.  They allowed a campaign contributor to frighten them into believing that NO ambulance company would agree to a reduced role in our city.  Shame on them for walking away from a significant revenue source - greater on an annual basis than our Business License Tax and Investment Income  revenues combined - and the opportunity to provide state-of-the-art Emergency Medical Services to the community.
With that on our minds, I finally want to say thanks to former Chief Tom Arnold for his wisdom, guidance of our fire service and support for our city.... and for the courage to tell it like it is on this issue.

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Oh I think there is way more in this than campaign contributions for our mayor pro tem.

2/20/2016 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

There are many many good reasons why the voters of Fountain Valley rejected the little dicktator before we got stuck with him.

He and his supplicants have done lots of damage. Everyone knows Boy Stevie is just a puppet and that Riggy and the Newport bosses really run the city.

"Mensheimer" broke Costa Mesa.

2/20/2016 05:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

Pot Stirrer: You write, “Righeimer is now officially a lame duck - a man with less than three years left on his tour - which makes him even more dangerous.”

You justify your observation by noting, “He's done tremendous damage to this city over the past five years and, with no election on his horizon, has nothing to lose if he continues to dismantle one of the best municipal staffs in Orange County and cut the legs out of the public safety organizations …”

You attribute his damaging behavior as being “… due to his vindictive hatred of those who perform those dangerous jobs to keep us safe.”

I won’t argue with any of that.

I just want to point out that, no matter how much damage Righeimer is capable of, he couldn’t do it without help. The other two councilmen enable him (they rarely question his initiatives and nearly always vote as he votes). These two are M&M, Stephen Mensinger and Gary Monahan.

Their hands are just as dirty as Righeimer’s. After all, in our society, accomplices to a crime are held to be as responsible as the perpetrator.

If you doubt their role in Righeimer’s excesses, just imagine how tranquil the past five years would have been if M&M had never supported any of Righeimer’s agenda.

2/20/2016 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Monahan and his bar should be shunned and boycotted forever. Mensy's puppet strings should be taken away from Riggy and displayed at the CM Historical Society for future generations to ponder.

2/21/2016 06:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Yes, Jim doesn't do it alone, but since he is a lame duck, he is the official mouthpiece and probably the brain (such as it is). Jim, Steve, and Gary vote as one, except for the train contract at Fairview Park, which Gary voted to extend longer because his kids like it. He got scolded for that. Jim probably isn't even the shotcaller - maybe his buddy Scott Baugh.

2/21/2016 07:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Muffin Top Bob said...

Riggy doesn't remember anything about the ambulance transportation part of the 17 point plan because he was so excited and blinded by happiness when the FD association said they would agree to lower the staffing levels, meaning fewer firefighters, meaning fewer public employees, meaning fewer pensions. This was the ONLY reason that the City Council voted for these ambulances, fewer firefighters!!!

2/21/2016 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

I do believe that this should be the link, that puts it all in perspective for me, and is a starting point for any researcher that wants to read the factual historical record, gisted by Geoff West and published in this blog. All of the information is here, you just have to know where to look, and how to work the tags, and then follow all of the hyperlinks to their conclusion…Watch the meetings, watch the people, the reactions, the votes…

2/21/2016 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've been staying out of the comments for quite some time, but had to reply to an individual who responded to Chief Arnold's plainly written letter. Rather than address the issue at hand, out came the usual ideology and talking points. "Unions, Pensions, Retiree's medical," none of which address the facts. Plainly put, any council member who denies that they have any knowledge of this plainly written plan is incompetent or worse. My money is on worse, considering the history of those involved.

In addition, one of the options recommended by the council's own experts, staff and consultants gives the option of Ambulance Operators (Similar to Huntington Beach), who are non-sworn employees and add no cost to these specific items. Further, all of these options bring in much needed revenue. Revenue that can be used to offset costs, pension obligations and the other day to day operational expenses a fire department incurs. As mentioned, HB runs a very successful program that offers the highest level's of professional care and more importantly, continuity of care throughout the first contact to transfer of care at the hospital. Having over two decades of experience in this area, I can tell you the fact that Fire Department Paramedics in L.A. and O.C. are far superior in experience, breadth of knowledge and level of expertise. This is not to slight the employees of private ambulance companies by any means, they just do not have the years of experience, call volumes, and continuous ongoing training that fire department paramedics receive. Of course, none of this matters to the majority who have proven time and again that they only want to hear from a consultant, staff, or expert if the message is on their point. Otherwise, they just know better.

When we speak of government waste, I would point out the wasted effort, time and money spent to pursue a program that the council majority never intended to implement. That truly is government waste at its worst and it sits clearly with the Council majority who ignored it's own experts, staff and consultants. Costa Mesa residents should be outraged at this missed opportunity.

2/22/2016 10:57:00 AM  

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