'You've got it made,' Righeimer tells Curry

When Jim Righeimer, the mayor of Costa Mesa, approached the lectern where he would speak Thursday morning, he immediately discovered two plastic bottles of Diet Coke.

He pulled them from the podium's shelf and, to general laughter, placed them atop the stand.

"OK, I get the joke," he said, feigning defeat.

About 75 Newport Beach residents and employees had gathered at the Newport Beach Public Library to hear thoughts from the mayor of their neighboring town.

Mentions of the relationship between the two cities coursed throughout the speech, which was part of a morning speaker series hosted by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.

The sodas recalled an incident last fall when police responded to a 911 call alleging that Righeimer was driving drunk after leaving a bar. Police determined he wasn't under the influence after giving him a sobriety test at his home.

His only bar purchases? Diet Coke, he said at the time, producing a receipt as evidence.

Righeimer began his talk with discussion of the cities' linked beginnings.

Both Newport Beach and Costa Mesa share an "organic flavor," he said, because they became cities at about the same time and have developed side-by-side.

"We grow, and we change," he said. "We've been tied together at the hip for a long time."

As siblings might, the cities have the potential to work together, he noted. They once shared a helicopter program and could one day consider joining their city lockups.

Yet the communities also share a healthy rivalry.

Righeimer touted how Costa Mesa's police chief, Tom Gazsi, used to work for Newport Beach's Police Department.

Then he conceded to being jealous of the sizable Newport Beach budget.

"You guys have a tax base," he said. "We look at the numbers and wipe the drool off our faces."

Righeimer also hopes Costa Mesa will soon become a charter city like Newport Beach.

Most cities, including Costa Mesa, are general law cities, meaning they follow the state's legislation rather their own constitution, known as a charter, he said.

Founding a city with general state legislation is easier, he said, but as a result cities are bound to more difficult rules regarding the outsourcing of work otherwise done by municipal employees.

Looking toward Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry, who sat in the audience, Righeimer wagged his finger and said, "Curry, you've got it made over here."

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