Activists say they are not tied to labor

COSTA MESA — Members of a community group that has circulated fliers critical of the city's proposed charter maintained Friday that they are not affiliated with organized labor.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and a conservative taxpayers' group said earlier in the week that the opponents are tied to unions.

"We're not organized labor at all, we're barely organized, and we sure aren't with any union," said Robin Leffler, a member of Costa Mesans for a Responsible Government. "It's just a group who everybody agrees that this council is rushing through things, making hasty decisions that are bad for Costa Mesa."

Leffler said the group has more than 40 members, a mix of Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters living in all parts of the city.

She, and many of the residents involved, took exception this week to a posting on the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn. website that credited organized labor for peppering the city with fliers criticizing the proposed city charter.

Taxpayers Assn. President Colin McCarthy questioned how grassroots this latest effort to derail council plans could be, saying it was similar to an effort last year where residents teamed up with the Orange County Employees Assn.

"Based on prior history of OCEA and organized labor's involvement in Costa Mesa politics through funding of groups like Repair Costa Mesa [the name of last year's effort], I find it difficult to believe that organized labor isn't involved in the current effort to defeat the charter proposal," said McCarthy, who is also chairman of the city Planning Commission.

OCEA spokeswoman Jennifer Muir, however, said earlier this week her organization was not involved.

McCarthy was unable to provide the Daily Pilot proof that organized labor is working with residents in an attempt to stop the charter proposal, but he said that the tactics were consistent with the labor's previous actions in the city.

Charles Mooney, a city resident since 1978 who voted for Righeimer, the charter's main proponent, said the council has gone too far for him and others, and that the opposition is coalescing.

"[Righeimer] said he would run the city like a business, and you know, that was a little appealing to me," Mooney said. "I know you can't do that purely right, but it was appealing so I voted for him."

Costa Mesans for a Responsible Government distributed about 9,000 fliers over the weekend, covering the East and Westside and most neighborhoods in between, Leffler said.

"We were informing people of our point of view, and I don't apologize for that," she said. "Obviously, we're very motivated. This was exhausting. It was kind of fun but exhausting. We have blisters and shin splints. We really care about our city."

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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