Saturday, December 08, 2018


In the first segment of what was supposed to be a short City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 4th, the council  recognized departing councilman Jim Righeimer.   The temporary meeting room at the Senior Center was packed.  There were so many people in attendance that you actually couldn't hear the bingo numbers being called next door.  There was seating for about 150 people and there were at least another 100 in the room.  Fire Chief Dan Stefano had to make some adjustments so there was sufficient lane space in case of an emergency.

Let me say right up front that I don't like Jim Righeimer.  I don't like the way he's steamrolled his way though the governance of our city. I don't like the way he lies about important issues.  I don't like the way he arrogantly ignored the views of the people and chided folks from the dais.  Nothing has changed my opinion since then.  In fact, circumstances only reinforced my opinion.  I've posted more than 800 entries that included references to him over the years.  In fact, in May of 2017 - the same day I posted what was supposed to be my final entry here - I posted specifically about Righeimer, in which I referred to him as the worst thing that ever happened to our city.  You can read that entry HERE

Since arriving in town as a shill for his friend (at that time) Dana Rohrabacher he's been a lightning rod for controversy.  Here are just a few things that come to mind that happened on his watch:
  • In a clear bit of political payback for his role as Dana Rohrabacher's Campaign Manager which offered support in his re-election campaign, Allan Mansoor appointed him to the Planning Commission six months after his arrival in Costa Mesa from Fountain Valley where he had been a failed politician.
  • As a Planning Commissioner (with no authority to do so) he braced officers during a DUI checkpoint, demanding they cease the operation and a meeting the next day to "talk about it".
  • He orchestrated stifling public comments by bifurcating them, with only the lucky first 10 being able to speak at the beginning of the meeting.  The remainder would have to wait to the end - sometimes after midnight.
  • Early on he unleashed his pit bull attorney friend, Mark Bucher, to try to keep me from writing about him.  When I told Bucher that I understood SLAPP lawsuits he crawled back under his rock.  Bullying is a way of life for Righeimer and his pals.
  • He and his cronies on the dais created a developer-friendly environment to the detriment of the residents.
  • Sober Living businesses flourished in residential neighborhoods.
  • Legal fees skyrocketed as his philosophy was to litigate rather than negotiate.
  • The Fire Association had to wait five years for a new contract.
  • Fairview Park was placed in jeopardy by the creation of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee, stacked with pro-sports fields cronies.  Citizen participation quashed their attempts to pave over parts of that park and the group was eventually disbanded.
  • Twice he tried to change the form of government from a General Law City to a Charter City.  He refused to listen to the residents in both failed elections.
  • He placed issues on the ballot to oppose Measure Y, the Slow Growth Initiative and Measure AA, designed to protect Fairview Park.  The voters passed Y and AA overwhelmingly.
  • His hand-picked pal, Steve Mensinger, joined in the management chaos and, after several years of ham-handed governance, was clearly rejected by the voters when he ran for re-election in 2016.
  • He attempted to layoff more than 200 employees in what turned out to be a costly illegal move.  Young Huy Pham jumped to his death from the roof of City Hall when he learned he was to receive a layoff notice.
  • He tried to run the city like a business, changing the title of the City Manager to Chief Executive Officer and hamstrung Tom Hatch in the process.
  • He sued the Costa Mesa Police Association for alleged false accusations of DUI, a case that was settled years later with no culpability of the Association found.
  • He sponsored the Small Lot Ordinance which changed the character of residential neighborhoods.
  • He sponsored the Residential Overlays on both Harbor and Newport Boulevards, which are now being unraveled.
  • His pal, Scott Baugh, reaped huge profits as the sole provider of food booths at the bogus 60th Anniversary celebration.
  • His management philosophy of fear and intimidation chased more than 50 police officers away, to other jurisdictions or into early retirement.
  • Refused to let then-Chief Tom Gazsi recruit to fill vacancies for 8 months.
  • He folded-up the ABLE Helicopter program, the model for all municipal helicopter programs throughout the country.
  • He chided, intimidated and vilified residents who dared to speak in opposition to him during public meetings.
  • He and Baugh viciously attempted to dethrone their "friend", 30-year incumbent congressman  Dana Rohrabacher, in the 2018 Primary Election.  That failed and Rohrabacher eventually was soundly defeated by newcomer Harley Rouda, a Democrat.
  • There's no doubt in my mind that he orchestrated the ouster of Katrina Foley as mayor late in 2017, most likely to reduce her profile for her announced run for directly-elected mayor this year.  Genis was elected as mayor and Mansoor was chosen as Mayor Pro Team.  Foley's ouster fractured many personal and political relationships throughout the city.  That gets laid right at Righeimer's feet.  I'm sure he thought it would work in his favor.... another failure!
  • He hijacked the district voting issue a couple years ago and ramrodded the current Directly-Elected Mayor/Six Districts scheme, presuming that unpopular iteration would allow him and his mob to maintain control.  Again, another epic failure.  Instead, the results of the election produced an overwhelming sweep for candidates that supported Foley, who won the mayor's slot over Genis by a huge margin.  Districts 3, 4 and 5 all were won by really bright political newcomers and, astoundingly, all of Latino heritage.  The Righeimer mob - including two former mayors - were soundly thumped in each race.
  • Still lingering is question about the role he may have played in the recent curious departure of City Manager, Tom Hatch.  Contractually,  if Hatch was fired he was entitled to a severance allowance of 9 months pay, plus one month notice - 10 months pay total.  That's more than $200,000!  But, he was not fired.  Hatch departed quietly, like a thief in the night, the Friday BEFORE the council had a chance to consider his employment - an item on the council meeting agenda for the following Tuesday.  So, it certainly looks like he quit, and was not entitled to severance.  The question remains... was his "quitting" orchestrated by Righeimer and his majority on the council - Genis and Mansoor - and relayed to him the week before the meeting?  If so, it would certainly seem to look like a Brown Act violation took place.  I hold no animus toward Hatch, but I'm very disappointed in him for skulking out like that.
  • Through their arrogant disregard of what "the people" actually want, Righeimer and his OC GOP cronies have basically destroyed the party.  Orange County, formerly a bastion of conservative thinking, now has NO representation in the Congress and none in the State Assembly.  The State of California is now a "one party" state, which means fiscal hard times are ahead as tax-and-spend Democrats will have no check on their behavior.
There was an interesting mix of speakers addressing Righeimer's departure.  Several of the usual suspects - minions like Tom Pollitt, Chuck Perry and Jim Kerins - spoke in glowing terms.  Others, like Teresa Drain and Terry Koken were less kind.  Righeimer's daughter spoke of her father - a nice touch.  His wife, Ilene, also spoke in loving terms of him.
The "recognition" part of the meeting was a little herky-jerky.  At first then-Mayor Sandra Genis was going to give him a plaque on the dais, but then chose to step down closer to the audience.  This is my best photo of this segment of the meeting.
So, it is with absolutely no sadness that I bid Jim Righeimer "adios".  For a dozen years he systematically tried to ruin my town by making it a haven for his developer-buddies. He leaves behind a record of failure.  Every major initiative he tried failed.   He created chaos and negativity in my city and left the stench of his partisan policies lingering in the air.  I hope I never have to mention his name here again, unless it's to announce that he's put his $3 million country club mansion (that's what he said it was worth) on the market and is moving to Colorado to continue his prairie dog hugging.

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