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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rigorous Leadership, the "Riggy" way  

The Council Meeting last night was another example of effective political leadership. It ran (for a Council meeting) smoothly, items were discussed thoroughly, and the Mayor’s power was wielded judiciously. The approach Righeimer seems to be following emphasizes the positive.

For example, his “Mayor’s Awards” were given sufficient time and praised folks in Costa Mesa who truly deserve the accolades. One of his (outspoken) minority members, Ms. Genis, demonstrated a spirit of cooperation. His majority members played well together. And he got the business done in a reasonable time frame.

Lonely is a part of leaders' jobs

Leadership is lonely, and leadership of a multi-million dollar corporation or city is probably very lonely. Since he has enemies and opponents who are not only outspoken, but have news and social media venues, he gets a chance to read and hear criticism of every one of his decisions, thoughts and words.

For example, he gently admonished a speaker for dividing the Council into “the boys” and “the girls” during her remarks. Bloggers ignored his meaning and jumped onto his remark that “decisions …have nothing to do with genitalia.” Wow, he said a controversial word! His emphasis on getting away from viewing the Council as “the girls against the boys” was ignored.

That reminded us of being in seventh grade when a teacher mentioned “breasts.” The context is long forgotten.  Perhaps a few of the Costa Mesa commenters are really disguised seventh graders.

Accolades to Costa Mesans

In any case, the presentations to Costa Mesa’s Cheer Coach of the Year for 2012, and to the Estancia High School drama class and coach for their “Midsummer Night’s Dream” illustrated Righeimer’s cohesive and positive approach to City affairs. He also invited a speaker to promote the “Mayor’s Dinner” which is a fund raiser for art education.

But some were so anxious to complain they didn't listen

Speakers then complained about awards to athletes that ignore other subjects that are just as important!

It must be lonely being the Mayor of Costa Mesa; some of the “anti-mayor” folks don’t even notice all of the positive changes to the Council while they rush to find something to criticize. Righeimer is probably developing a real appreciation for the constant outrage Generals Powell, and previously, Patton and Eisenhower faced. Leadership can be lonely if you’re trying to win a war. Or if you want to make a good City better.

Helping the abused

Residents who are being displaced from a Trailer Park were back with more appeals for help (See blog 1/9/13). They insisted that the company buying the park is being, and has a history of being, duplicitous. The Mayor told the CEO to follow up and insure that the company involved is meeting the letter and the spirit of their commitments, including their verbal commitments. He’s probably going farther out on a limb and facing a lot of flak, but he’s trying to help constituents and willing to accept the consequences. This hasn't been noted by his verbal and blogging critics, either.

A citizen and blogger complained of funds spent to improve an alley in an area he described as a slum. The Mayor brought the City staff into the discussion to explain that funds were allocated to upgrade a lot of infrastructure, including that alley, but that the grant probably wouldn't cover slum rehabilitation.

Staff told the Council that letters were drafted to property owners in the area inviting their participation. Councilman Monahan pointed out that the property owners had ignored letters repeatedly over the past twenty years. That prompted Mayor Righeimer to direct the CEO to have the enforcement group, including two new enforcement officers, go into the area and start forcing compliance and improvement. Again, a “pushy” Mayor prodding improvements in Costa Mesa.

Another blogger summarized the citizen’s comments as “draining the swamp to get rid of the alligators” which seems an apt summary. It also seems like a good idea. However, the Cauldron again played “the racist card” by noting that the slum in question is populated by Hispanics. Like the “boys and girls” references, the ethnicity of a slum should be irrelevant to the City Council’s efforts. It apparently was to the Mayor who's trying to improve that area, too.

And some appointments

The City Council also made appointments to committees and commissions; see the previous blog today for a discussion of political naiveté centered on the appointments.

They just don't get it  

Some folks still don’t “get it.” The Council Meeting last night, followed by pundit comments today, illustrates a very confused view of politics. Politics is very different from Glee Club or a Church Picnic.

How it works

Let’s review how elected government works – or is supposed to. First, a majority is elected. That majority uses its power to select committees and advisers to develop into a team. The team is selected that the majority believes can help them reach their goals and meet their responsibilities.

That’s like a new boss coming in and organizing the staff – new hires and long-term employees – to get the job done. If the boss fails to meet his commitments he loses his job.  So he forms a team that works toward his goals. He’d be a fool to hire people who disagree or won’t work with him. Similarly, a mayor would fail his constituents if he filled responsible positions with people who oppose him.

Appointment to Planning 

Costa Mesa’s Mayor and his majority appointed folks to the Planning Commission who share their goals for a better Costa Mesa. That included Jim Fitzpatrick, who had resigned from the Planning Commission in the past to serve as an elected official on the Sanitation District Board.

Jim got in a beef with the majority of the Sanitation directors for insisting on calling for bids on the trash-hauling contract. He recently resigned from Sanitation under pressure from a lawsuit by the rest of the board. (The Board didn't want to spend money soliciting bids for the trash hauling contract, but did want to spend public funds to pursue their grudge against Fitzpatrick. (See blogs 1/1/13 and 12/2712)). 

He sounds like the kind of honest representative we want, right? Many of those who screamed about the dangers of “no bid contracts” posed by the proposed charter don’t like Fitzpatrick, though, so they’re angry that he was appointed.

Assignments as rewards

Another factor in how politics works is the distribution of jobs. The Mayor makes assignments for committees and task forces that further his goals and, second, that reward those who work with him. Last night he did not give member Leece the assignment she wanted. Remember that she was critical of him throughout the recent election, although neither was a candidate. She willingly risked the consequences to promote her opposition views.

However, she was upset that, after gratuitously opposing Council majority members throughout the campaign, she didn't receive their support for her preferred Council assignment afterward.

Blogger still hates Righeimer

A prominent blogger who’s been attacking Mensinger, Righeimer, and City growth for many years chimed in. He opined that the appointments show Righeimer wasn't sincere about developing a collaborative approach to growing and improving Costa Mesa.

Perhaps the blogger and the Councilwoman are confusing politics with a Sunday school picnic. The City Council is charged with effectively running a city that has millions of dollars of income, expenditure, and infrastructure. The Council is not charged with making everybody, or at least not their opposition – both competitive and gratuitous – feel good.

Past mayor gets it 

On the other hand, although newly-elected Council Member Sandra Genis articulated her views forcefully during the meeting, she demonstrated collaboration by offering to make a vote unanimous. Mayor Righeimer commented on her cooperation. We predict that, since she is demonstrating political savvy, she’s likely to influence votes, get cooperation toward her goals, and support her constituents well as a respected minority vote on the Council.


Another perennial opponent, Chris McEvoy, returned to remind the audience that he was trying to get signatures for a recall of Mayor Righeimer. His stated purpose in attempting the recall is a Council vote about mitigation of effects in Costa Mesa for the Banning Ranch development. The issue is moot, since the development, which isn't even in Costa Mesa, has not been able to progress, and the agreement he cites hasn't been signed nor applied.

If we look at this as a crude attempt to smear the Mayor, it demonstrates a significant lack of understanding of law and politics. If we look at it as a sincere attempt to punish one man for the majority vote of the Council last year, we have to wonder why Mr. McEvoy can’t find something productive to occupy himself.

Need Politics 101

This leads to the question: shouldn't we have better Political Science education in our schools?

Just a little bit of thinking might help, too. Anyone who’s been in a position of responsibility understands that a business, school, or City Council is formed to accomplish change – and hopefully improvement. A difference in opinion about how to make the change creates competition. Opposing the group that accumulates the most votes (or departments, or budget) has consequences.

We need more thinking, by informed minds, in Costa Mesa. We need fewer fingers pointing and pundits pouting. We need fewer silly comments by Costa Mesans who just want to hear (and see) themselves on TV.


Too many Costa Mesans are confused about the reality of politics.

Monday, January 14, 2013

We're gonna' spend. . . updated 

Let’s start our look at Costa Mesa’s finances with a simplified survey of our debt. We’ll try to relate the finances to a home budget; some folks have criticized comparing the City budget to a business’s because “the City doesn't make a profit.”

If we survey what we owe, and when it’s due, we’ll see how much income we need. That’s true whether we’re sitting at the kitchen table looking for money for a Hawaiian vacation, or sitting at a Council desk looking for money to fill potholes.

Short-sighted for the short term

The City’s financial position changed during the 2008 downturn. To reduce expenditures, the Council decided to put off replacing equipment, to defer repairs and maintenance, and to skip funding reserves – the City’s savings account. Personnel pay and retirement was increased, though.

The Council also emptied the savings account (our Reserve) of about $33 million.

That’s like the homeowner deciding not to put money in savings, not to repair the leaking pipes, and to try to keep the old Studebaker running for another year. This helps pay off the MasterCard, but Visa still had a large balance so he empties the savings accounts to pay it off.

To cut expenses, and reduce the credit card bills this year he decides to downgrade the cable plan, buy only generic medicines, and to buy milk at Costco. He won’t paint the house or repair the roof this year to help pay for last year’s vacation, and he won’t replace the car to help cover the Christmas expenses.

Renting money by bonding

Costa Mesa has issued bonds to finance buildings and operations. The interest due this year is about $5.5 million, or a little more than 5% of her anticipated revenue. Municipal bonds are issued by local governments to raise money for public works projects:

A bond issuer (the City) sells the bond to the bond holder (the investor). The bond holder lends the issuer a fixed amount of money for a certain period of time in exchange for regularly scheduled interest payments. Issuing bonds is like renting money.

We have bonds from 1966 and 1988 maturing every year, and pay the principle on them at rates averaging a little over $1.24 million each year. These bonds were issued for construction of the Civic Center, including City Hall, the Police Facility, the Telecommunications Center, and Fire Station 5, with the 1988 bonds issued for widening Victoria Street.

We have issued bonds totaling $2,365,000 for Costa Mesa Community Facilities. The bonds’ annual principal payments range from $120,000 to $210,000; these average about $158K per year.

Back at the kitchen table, the homeowner allocates money to pay for his mortgage – principle and interest, and for a loan to repair his sidewalk. As he sorts through the paperwork, he realizes that he at least knows exactly what he owes for the coming year – and into the future.

How much and when isn't clear -- but it's owed  

Costa Mesa has a couple of debts that aren't that clear. The state has notified us that we have $224 million in unfunded liabilities, and we also have $35 million in unfunded medical benefits. Here’s how that works:

City employees don’t have 401K retirement funds; they have guaranteed payments for life when they retire. While they’re working the City sends a payment every month to the State. CalPers invests the money in the hope that the return on the investments will fund the guaranteed retirement payments. To do that, CalPers’ investments must earn 7.75% each year – otherwise the City must make up the difference as the money allocated for retirements runs out.

If CalPers had invested in the Dow-Jones securities it would have earned 7.26% in FY 2011-2012, but instead it invested in greener and more “politically correct” securities and earned about 0.7%. So, there’s some amount that the City will have to pay for the retiree funds that’re used up, but the exact amount isn't known, yet. We have a similar problem with medical payments we've promised to make, but haven’t allocated money to pay – unfunded debts or liabilities.

Update: CalPers announced that their portfolio increased 13% during the first six months of this fiscal years. That's a lot like a gambler cheering when he hits one slot machine jackpot -- after losing his last two paychecks.

If by magic

Of course, if the State’s investments suddenly increased in value by about 700% we wouldn't have unfunded state liabilities. Or if the homeowner discovered a rich uncle who was very glad to meet him, his debts would be paid.

Adding it up

In Costa Mesa we have about $15.8 million in principle and interest due this year. And, we know that about 75% of our budget goes for personnel expenses. So, we expect to spend more than $63.2 million (four times the $15.8m) for personnel and bonds, before we try to fill a pothole or save for our unfunded liabilities.

Update: the recent audit indicates that we spent a few million dollars less than we took in. Pundits are suggesting giving raises to City Employees, hoping we assume, that the surpluses will continue. That way the raises will be funded by the City's surpluses. 

Setting priorities

Last year the Council sent a preliminary budget back to the staff for rework. They exerted their authority to set priorities for the City’s expenditures. The Council majority funded repairs and maintenance to benefit the citizens. They gave pay and retirement increases a lower priority in the budget. And, they balanced the budget and put money into Reserve accounts.

That’s why we see projects to improve the Westside, repair roads, and improve parks. It’s the City Council’s right – and responsibility – to set the priorities and to keep Costa Mesa financially sound. The Council seems to be putting citizens’ needs high on the priority list. That’s good news, for once.

What source

Now where are we going to get the money to pay the bills that will surely come due, even if we don’t know exactly when?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Numbers, statistics and dollars 

There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up.
Rex Stout, Author

As we start a new year, many of us are worried about numbers; the numbers in our paycheck, the numbers in our bills, and even the numbers in Costa Mesa’s budget. Do we have enough money to add to savings and pay off MasterCard -- and to fill the pot holes?

For City money questions we need the kind of numbers we can look up. One danger in using “made up” statistics is that is we might fool ourselves, as well as our opponents. So, we’ll try to discuss numbers, or statistics, that are supported by solid data. Remember, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics” according to Mark Twain. We want, “Just the facts.”

Statistics in the news

One current example of statistics in the news is the “Guns=Violence” debates:

According to FBI statistics (the kind based on research and hard data), 12,664 homicides were reported in 2011, 8,583 committed with a firearm. Of those firearm homicides 323 were committed with rifles, and some part of those would be “assault rifles” as defined by Diane Feinstein and the other anti-gun folks. We know, then, that Senator Feinstein wants draconian measures to prohibit the legal purchase of a type of firearm used in less than 2.6% of all homicides.

Irrational but they say it anyway

Somehow forbidding ownership of rifles that have a bayonet stud is thought to make our children, who are already being schooled in “gun free” zones, safer. (We could find no recorded instances of a criminal attacking children, police, or law-abiding citizens with a bayonet affixed to a rifle. We don’t have any hard statistics, either, about how many insane people were deterred by “gun free” zones.)

And, the FBI report demonstrates that most firearms homicides occur in neighborhoods that have strict gun control –that is, that have low legal firearm ownership rates. According to census data, these neighborhoods are both poor and filled with crime.  

More productive

Perhaps Senator Feinstein has some “made up” stories – or statistics – that justify her efforts. Instead, we believe that the senator should focus on encouraging legal gun ownership in poor and crime-filled areas. Most of these areas vote Democratic, so she would be making her constituents safer.

Another statistical example 

A related example of statistics in current news: Some of the commenters writing in our two local newspapers throw out statistics about how safe the “gun prohibited” countries are in comparison to the “gun laden” US. The reality is somewhat different.

According to the Home Office Statistical Bulletin: Crimes Detected in England and Wales 2011/12, 762,515 violent crimes were reported in a population of 56,019,400. That’s a rate of 1362 violent crimes per 100,000 persons.

The violent crimes per 100,000 persons in the US dropped from 758 in 1972 to 386 in 2011 (as gun ownership increased), according to the FBI crime reports. That is England and Wales have a violent crime rate 3.5 times greater than the US at this time. And they “enjoy” a nearly-disarmed law-abiding citizenry.

Just as in the US, British criminals have fully-automatic weapons, and firearms of all sorts. In the US, presently, law-abiding citizens cannot own fully-automatic weapons (with a few exceptions), but can own, and keep in their homes, semi-automatic rifles and pistols. In Britain, they generally cannot, unless, of course, they are criminals or terrorists.

So, statistics you can look up point to dismal results in reducing crime by disarming the law-abiding citizens. Numbers just don’t support the value of banning guns. Statistics of the type that you make up support all kinds of comments in our daily papers, though.

Now about Costa Mesa dollars   

Closer to home, we hear that Costa Mesa is on the verge of bankruptcy, and that the City is doing fine and will be able to pay all its bills on an ongoing basis. Which is correct? Does either viewpoint have statistics we can look up? Are there any facts here, or just opinions, just political diatribe?

To get ready for our discussion, please take a brief look at a few documents. They are available on the City of Costa Mesa’s web site. (Other cities don’t have the same transparency, so getting their figures requires a lot of legwork, and maybe even filing a “freedom of information” suit.)

A brief look is fine, just enough to become familiar with what numbers are available. We’ll look at the numbers in more detail later. And, we’ll discuss the facts in everyday English, not in Accountant-ese.

Everyday English will help us recognize -- and discount -- the numbers that Council members, columnists, and commenters make up. That’s only fair, since we’re the ones who pay the bills. And we want, “just the facts,” the kind we can look up.

First of all, there’s the City’s Financial Reporthere

We’ll also be looking at her Operating and Capital Improvement Budget here

And we may glance through the Costa Mesa Compensation Report here

And the Pension information here

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

You never know what might happen 

The City Council meeting last night was a good example of “you never know.”

The “Bully” and “Angry guy” Righeimer  and the “Bully” Mensinger acted beyond their authority, pressuring a developer for concessions. And, as we've seen throughout recent history, they acted on behalf of constituents. The usual Nay-Sayers said much less than usual. And all of the Council votes passed five-to-zero.

In this meeting the City Council only had authority to rule that the developer’s application met the legal minimum, which legal counsel assured them it did. Members faced possible legal action if they tried to modify any of the developer’s plans.

However, they used their implied powers aggressively to support their constituents. They pressured the developer's representative to offer more accommodations to the residents being displaced, irritating the rep and forcing him to backpedal and offer more. (He also reiterated the substantial help he had already offered.)

Citizens are their responsibility

Support of citizens requesting help has been a hallmark of this regime in the past, and is apparently continuing. It’s refreshing to see government supporting constituents, which we learned was the way it’s supposed to be when we took Civics classes. Kudos to the Council.

(Note that the Nay-Sayers didn't get time to complain about the Mayor and ProTem bullying people from the dais. They may get around to it in newspaper comments later on.)

Lookin' sharp and praise to start the meeting

Police officers in full dress uniform (and looking sharp) presented the colors, and the Council presented awards to a police officer returning from military duty. The council recognized Estancia’s football team and coaches for their victory in the “Battle of the Bell,” a traditional High School football rivalry in Costa Mesa. And the Council commended two maintenance workers who spontaneously rescued fire victims when they noticed smoke pouring from an apartment building.

The leader of the small, local group of “Anti’s” spoke several times, about several things – and even spoke positively once or twice. Even the protest singer – didn't  He just objected to something and moved on.

Minimal but annoying disruptions  

A (what’s a polite term for Nut Case?) demonstrated uncouth behavior by using the venue to try to recruit assistance for his effort to recall Mayor Righeimer. The mayor asked him several times to direct his comments to the Council, reiterating his right to say whatever he wants. He finished his appeal yelling to  the audience, ignoring the Mayor.  

A few folks in the audience deliberately ignored the rules about disruptive behavior which are posted on the wall and at the front of the agendas. They started to applaud or hoot after some Council comments, but shut up to the glares of the rest of the audience. Attention from the CMPD officers assigned to the meeting helped minimize rudeness.

Info to and from the dais

Ms. Genis made pertinent and at least once, perspicacious comments. Ms. Leece entered several discussions; out of respect for her office we’ll limit discussion of her remarks to noting that she suggested that Estancia HS had suffered from a rough, perhaps “ganglike” atmosphere when her children attended but that the atmosphere improved greatly when a school resource officer was assigned.

The coaches, teachers and athletic boosters we know were flabbergasted to learn that the school had been so rough – they hadn't seen anything like what she described. Of course, it’s all in the eye of the beholder – and in the agenda she wants to promote.

Another gem of (mis) information last night was the comment that the kids don’t know when the SRO is on campus anyway. We are certain that everyone interested knows, via word of mouth and text message, when the SRO sits in the car to write reports and when he enters the building. 

In a way it’s sad to think that such misinformed dreamers legislate for Costa Mesa. It’s  a lot like watching Senator Feinstein pointing a rifle at the audience, with her finger on the trigger, while pontificating as an expert about guns.(Even a fourth grader who had finished a basic safety course would handle a firearm more carefully.)

One citizen spoke in favor of changes to Fairview Park, and set a different tone for citizen input. He complimented the City departments for their responses and their efforts to make improvements.


So, we had positive citizen input (with fewer naysayers complaining), citizens asking for help when they felt helpless (losing their trailer park homes to development) and reaping the benefits of having “pushy, intimidating” Councilmen working for them. And, we had other folks with concerns scheduled for conferences with City staff to get their problems resolved.

The Council went out of its way to resolve problems brought to it by Costa Mesa citizens. We saw awards and presentations to Costa Mesa hero’s and champions. We saw Fairview Park improvements approved. All in all a long but peaceful meeting.

We don’t think that the improved atmosphere was greatly affected by the change in members (Genis added to replace Bever) or to the Mayor becoming “kinder and gentler.” It’s more likely that the relatively peaceful, if overly long, meeting happened largely because of two factors.

First, the Mayor deliberately lead an organized and efficient meeting. 

Second, the usual complainers largely just shut up. Their silence was appreciated, as was their leader’s effort to provide positive input.

Hubris in the house 

We've noticed some comments following articles about members of the City Council. In particular, we've noticed that many of the folks who used to be opposed to just about everything are now “suspicious” and “unconvinced.” They are wary about nearly every positive statement – or attribute – about or from Mensinger and Righeimer, the Mayor and Mayor ProTem.

Perhaps this, by itself, is an improvement; instead of being against, they’re just suspicious. Fortunately, most of the suspicious commenters are part of the small group that hates the Council majority members. It’s easy to recognize them by their similar comments and by their avatars of children, young and attractive women, or men in costume hats.

Does it matter what they think

But wait a minute. They aren't members of the Council, and they aren't involved in positive actions like promoting Costa Mesa (quite the contrary, actually).  Apparently these people only protest and complain; they all are suspicious. One might say, accurately, that they don’t solve the problems, they contribute to the problems.

Stating their suspiciousness is an example of Hubris – extreme pride or arrogance, often with a loss of contact with reality. In a grand overestimation of their own capabilities, they declare “but I’m waiting to see what he’ll do” or “I’m still suspicious” or “I don’t believe him.” They are waiting with squinted eyes – but, since they do little beyond complaining – endlessly --, their disbelief and waiting affect nothing about the operations or growth of Costa Mesa, helpful or harmful.

Who cares, you don't do anything

“I’m still suspicious.” Who cares?

Those who act – doers – ask or demand of the Council members. They modify or learn more about policies, and go on to do – something to help Costa Mesa. They have an effect on the City, and their support is needed.

Those who are waiting to see – continue to do nothing, as they have for a long time. They don’t affect Costa Mesa, they just whine and annoy – like mosquitoes.

If you do nothing, your disbelief doesn't matter. Keep it to yourself, or appear a poster child for HUBRIS, no matter how many strokes your fellow complainers give you for voicing your suspicions. If you want your views to be taken seriously, start doing something – to help Costa Mesa grow and improve.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

No armor like ignorance   

Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.
Laurence J. Peter

When friends no-bid. . . 

We've seen lots of articles and comments about the non-bid, “Evergreen” contract Costa Mesa’s Sanitation folks have endorsed. (Evergreen contracts are automatically renewed without review. The elected officials responsible for Costa Mesa’s money don’t have to bother to evaluate what Costa Mesa is getting for its money.) The Sanitation District’s Board is a model we’ll use for discussion of “legal vs. ethical and moral” issues.

Morals and Ethics

Webster’s Dictionary defines Moral as “relating to principles of right and wrong” and Ethical as “conforming to an accepted standard of conduct.” In other words, morals are what is right or wrong for an individual and ethics are what is considered right or wrong by the people surrounding the individual.

The United States was founded in part because of unethical special preferences. British citizens in Britain had more rights and privileges than those in the colonies. Even worse, Colonists faced “the king can break no law, the king is the law.” Part of the reason patriots bravely faced the ire of their “politically correct” neighbors and risked their lives fighting the Redcoats, was to have a home where the law applied equally to all, whether rich or poor, connected or outcast.

Like pre-Revolutionary times

Law, in California, is selectively applied, as it was in the colonies before the Revolutionary war. We have exemptions for those in power, and exemptions for those the present government wants to protect.

For example, legislators, police officers, and their spouses can double park, drive alone in the car pool lane, and take advantage of additional perks that  having “non-listed” license plates allows.

People who sneaked into the US illegally get free medical care and education, and get special treatment when they are stopped by traffic officers – essentially, they’re exempt from  some of the laws that govern the rest of us.

No-bid privileges and grudges        

Closer to home, PACs collect money from the trash hauler, CR&R, and distribute it to the candidates who will vote for the CR&R’s contract extension. The extension prevents subjecting the prices and services to scrutiny or to competitive pressure. According to board member Ferryman, the contract extensions “avoid the expense” of asking for competitive bids or RFPs (request for proposal).

The board is willing to spend money suing to remove member Fitzpatrick, though. What did Jim do to provoke the board to spend city money to get rid of him? He objected to rubber stamping the current contract, and asked for a competitive bid process. And:

Board President Bob Ooten said, "Fitzpatrick announced that he was going to get two more people elected in 2012 (to replace Director Art Perry and Director Jim Ferryman)" and "that's why the legal action started." Fitzpatrick wanted more votes on the Board to help get competitive bids.

(The surface excuse is Jim may or may not have held an incompatible position when he was elected to the board. He subsequently resigned that position, so it’s a moot point.)

As columnist Jack Wu said, “The board is unwilling to try to save the taxpayers' money by going out to bid, but have no problem spending it because of personal grudges.”

Legal but fails the smell test

The board’s action is apparently legal. And the senior VP of the CR&R said that their contributions were legal. That brings up ethical, pertaining to right and wrong conduct. One of the lobbyists who helped funnel the monies said he was comfortable with what he did. He didn't argue ethics or morality; he just acknowledged his “comfort.”

During the Costa Mesa election labor unions statewide and a small, local group protested the proposed charter because it “opens no-bid contracts and cronyism.” It happens that they were grossly, possibly knowingly, wrong about that matter. Nevertheless, they used the threat of no-bid contracts to conjure images of Costa Mesa falling into corruption like Bell and into financial failure like Sacramento and San Bernardino.

But the group, like their candidates, supports the no-bid trash contracts “approved” by the Sanitation Board. (See blog 5 Oct for the candidates’ excuses for their support of the No-Bid contracts and “no-bidding” Sanitation candidates.Here)

They grant exemptions from the evil of no-bids for their friends.  But the group remains silent as thugs throw bricks through an opposing candidate’s windows. They ignore videoed slashing of their opponents’ signs. They speak no evil of those who falsely report a candidate’s drunk driving, or of those who try to provoke a Council Member to violate his morals and ethics.

Does all of this ring a bell? Does it sound like something we studied in school?

History repeats

Yup, it’s a repeat, albeit on a small, local scale. Remember that many remained silent as Hitler took over Germany? Hitler had only a small group of very vocal supporters. Many Germans remained quiet – and granted him exemptions from law, and morals and ethics by their silence. 

Elliott Ness was maligned by enemies, shot at, suborned, and insulted even by supporters for being a camera hog. That sounds like what’s been and is being written about Jim Righeimer and Jim Fitzpatrick.

It's immoral but it's OK because

Two thousand years ago, how did the hypocrites rationalize their support of Pontius Pilot? Perhaps they said, “Yes, it’s bad to crucify (perceived) opponents, but in this case it’s OK. We’ll grant Pilot an exemption because we don’t like the man he crucified.” And, if asked, Pilot would probably have said he was comfortable with his decision, once he’d washed his hands.

Fortunately, 2000 years ago in the East, and early in the 20th Century throughout the US, and now in Costa Mesa, some folks stand up and insist on ethical and moral behavior. They persist even when thugs hate them and try to intimidate them. They “stay the course” when a small, local/vocal group supports the thugs and insults those who want ethical conduct.

And some Costa Mesans believe that the law should apply to everyone. They insist that government officials should use their power to help the City, not themselves and their cronies. They support “the Jim's;” Righeimer and Fitzpatrick.

 I’m one of them.