Commentary: Controversy of mayor pro tem is ‘Orwellian’


Only in an Orwellian world is a vote for the councilman whose majority side won this past election considered controversial. Yet, this is what the losing pro-union side now advocates.

They claim that Councilwoman Wendy Leece — who pooh poohs the fact that our city faced a crisis that nearly bankrupted us — nonchalantly favors using nearly all of our rainy day reserves ($33 million) to balance budgets; and who advocates “police over potholes” should be the mayor and the face of Costa Mesa for the next two years. If we want to be like San Bernardino, Stockton and other cities that did not confront their financial problems until forced into bankruptcy, then this certainly make sense.

Ms. Leece, while a fine person with a long history of community service, chooses to ignore the facts: our rainy funds are drained; we have unfunded pension liabilities exceeding $200 million; we continue to pay unsustainable wages and pensions that comprise nearly 80% of our budget and consequently we’re ill-prepared for any future economic slowdown.


Of course, this “controversy” is the latest salvo from the big-moneyed union interests that have been at war with Mayor Jim Righeimer and all who support him, since he dared speak the truth: that our city was facing financial calamity and that continuing to pay oversized salaries, benefits and pensions to public servants will eventually bankrupt us.

These big-moneyed groups tried to buy our election by spending well north of $500,000: more than 10 times the amount of those who favored the charter. Their overeager supporters also attempted to rig the election when they tried to set up Councilmen Righeimer and Gary Monahan with a false police call to police and a potential blackmail scheme, respectively. Their supporters, one of whom was caught on tape, criminally vandalized tens of thousands of dollars of campaign material.

Who suffers in this corrupt system? Each of us suffer through potholes not being fixed, capital improvements not being made, parks not being maintained and sports fields not being built. While we don’t have the financial resources or the political muscle to bully our way to power, as honest citizens we can fight such corruption with our vote.

Righeimer and Steve Mensinger are the perfect fit for mayor and mayor pro tem. They stabilized our sinking balance sheet, balanced our budget and developed plans to not only improve services, but in a way that begins to protect us from future downturns. They’ve done all of this while taking on the current corrupt system. This is real leadership, leadership that Costa Mesa voted for and deserves.

Timothy Sesler is a Costa Mesa resident.