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The aim of this blog is to fit into the blogosphere like the bracingly tart taste of yogurt fits between the boringly bland and the unspeakably vile.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mixed response to Righeimer's declaration 

Righeimer’s announcement that he would move to withdraw the remaining “pink slips“ generated controversy and interest.  First, Employees Union CEO Bernardino reached out to City government at the Council meeting offering cooperation in solving the City’s woes.

Few of Righeimer‘s supporters criticized his decision in blog or newspaper comments, although some expressed reservations and even disappointment privately. Most of them trust his judgment. That’s reasonable; they elected him to represent us.

Blogger Geoff and the Anti-M’s supporters, however, warn that “Riggy’s rolling over that easily” is suspicious, and the usual pundits have reiterated their mistrust of his motives. They believe he has some nefarious purpose behind his change of direction.

Cooler heads for the actual players

Fortunately Mr. Bernardino and many of the real players aren't tied up in these delusions. But, to be fair, what is it the anti-everything’s see? Perhaps we should look at Righeimer from a couple – or three different perspectives.

After all, as Sherlock Holmes said in The Bascombe Valley Mystery:

"Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing," answered Holmes thoughtfully. "It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different."

From this perspective he . . .

What if we assume he’s a dishonest, self-serving politician seeking self-enrichment through his power as a Councilman? After all, we know that all politicians are dishonest, right?

His behavior is hard to fit into this perspective; he just doesn't act self-serving. Anyway, under our laws, any proof that he used his power to enrich himself would lead to a jail sentence – and he has enough enemies who’d be happy to find such evidence.

In fact, we found no evidence of dishonesty during this election from Mensinger, McCarthy, or Monahan, either. We disagree with some of Weitzberg’s views and consider some of his arguments superficial – but he certainly appears an honest and honorable man.

So, four out of six candidates and one of two sitting Council members did NOT demonstrate lack of integrity during the last election. We’ll have to say, then, that “all politicians are dishonest” isn't true. And we see that this perspective just doesn't fit our observations.

If we had all-seeing vision we'd say he . . .

Next, let’s use the perspective of someone who assumes awesome insight. With this insight we can deduce Righeimer’s mental health, character, and integrity by examining his statements and direction as a Councilman. Then we’ll know if he deserves our trust.

When we look at his attempts to guide Costa Mesa toward solvency, we see consistency and purpose, not swayed by ethical or unethical pressures to change direction.

Viewing his reaction to being victim of illegal campaign activity last election, and to being victim of damage to his property, and to being victim of an unfounded but potentially embarrassing DUI complaint, we see a man of courage who stood his ground. He continued to work for what he believed best for Costa Mesa.

Even a PhD-prepared psychologist wouldn't presume to do an analysis on such superficial information, so a perspective deducing that he is dishonest, sneaky, and abusive must be a view fueled by personal hatred.

If the viewpoint of Righeimer as dishonest and self-serving doesn't work very well to explain what we see him do, neither does the perspective that deduces character defects to make him a flawed Councilman.

If our perspective were . . .

What perspective might work? Let’s try looking at him as a sincere and idealistic man trying to discharge his responsibilities to the City in an honorable manner, even when doing so is personally costly.

From this perspective his remarks and behaviors ring true – it describes what we see and hear.

Righeimer has done what he said he’d do, and, as the situation changed, he changed his tactics. Right or wrong, he’s said what he believes, and tried to do what he thinks is right. (His behaviors also support an impression that he’s impatient, demanding, and persistent, aka stubborn.)

That in no way means he’s right – always, sometimes, or ever. That this viewpoint fits the evidence only means that he’s probably an honest man trying to meet high-level responsibilities in the best way he can. Whether he's right or wrong is open for discussion -- and multiple opinions!

If we adopt this viewpoint we don’t see his advocating revocation of the potential-layoff notices as betrayal in the battle against union evils, nor does it look like he’s “rolling over” easily. It looks like he’s ready to try new ways to get Costa Mesa solvent, growing, and more and more attractive to productive families who might move here.

We brand ourselves by what we assert

Regardless of the perspective we use, though, when we ostentatiously declare that we don’t trust him we say more about ourselves than about him. We just announce that we’re full of ourselves and that we don’t like Righeimer.

Perhaps more of us should follow the advice of Rebecca McKinsey in The Problem of Thor Bridge: “Don't become someone who doesn't think, just because you don't like him for some reason.”

Progress continues in a different manner

Meanwhile, people like Righeimer and Bernardino will go on to work out agreements and compromises that both believe will help Costa Mesa.

Beyond the movers and shakers are many others who help grow and improve Costa Mesa. The bloggers and commenters show they care about Costa Mesa because they face criticism and rancor from folks who disagree with them. Their courage helps the City grow and develop – and helps constrain the behaviors of those in power, whether they are members of government or of organized labor.

Costa Mesa needs them, and we respect them, even when they disagree with us.

Some flaming drones around, too

And then there are others who amuse themselves by flaming, insulting, and labeling. And there are those who burden us with their “brilliant” character insights (“liar”) and gut feelings (“I’m suspicious”). We are thankful that there are more we can respect than there are that we view with disdain.

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