I do not have a dog in the Costa Mesa City Council fight, but if I had one in it I would be somewhat chagrined by Eric Bever and Jim Righeimer's new campaign modus operandi.
But first, I feel bad about Mr. Righeimer's previous financial difficulties; perhaps if he had paid more attention to his finances and his website and less to party politics, self promotion and interests that interfered with his family and financial life, he would be in a better position to offer advice on financial matters and community standards or serve in elected office. He seems too busy to devote much quality time to city matters when Sacramento or Washington might be on his horizons. Should I mention that a confrontational disposition toward things about which one is uninformed is not recommended for taking public service positions? If I project just a bit, perhaps Mr. Righeimer is bothered that the public employees were still on payrolls while he was in the throes of getting his life back in order.
Righeimer sees the Costa Mesa Police Department (or at least its leadership) as his political adversaries. However, the stink in this Riggy vs. Police mess goes back to Mr. Righeimer's ill-advised decision to insinuate himself into a sobriety checkpoint brouhaha of a few weeks ago. After that incident, Mr. Righeimer stated to the press that he was justified in his actions because citizens have the right to speak to public officials, although he identified himself to the peace officers at or near the site as a Costa Mesa planning commissioner, not as a citizen, and being unable to persuade the officer in charge to break down the check point, Mr. Righeimer requested a meeting of relevant parties to discuss the matter later.
Where, when and how the Daily Pilot got the story is not clear, although one item is plain: Mr. Righeimer told the Pilot reporter that the police association was attempting to smear him as a council candidate because of his political position "regarding benefits and pensions of public employees." I suppose that explains everything then: knowing that Mr. Righeimer would be in a hurry to reach the Estancia High School football game (because they have a file on him) the evening of the DUI checkpoint, the police set up the check point in order to provoke him into a confrontation with them so they could ratchet "up [its] rhetoric against his candidacy" for council. Of course, he is entitled to his personal opinion, but that doesn't make him right.
Mr. Righeimer has managed to promote his interpretation of the council race smear into its third week in the newspaper, and now Eric Bever has been drawn into the fray through the innocence of his remark at a council meeting about postponing contract negotiations with employee unions until after the election, which suggests to me that public employees may take exception to any proposed 11th-hour change in the negotiation agreement.
To exacerbate the feud, Mr. Bever allows that he has been "stink eyed" by passing officers in police vehicles and he would be apprehensive to call the police should he have the need to avail himself of their services. But being "stink eyed" is just being observed with disdain. On a daily basis, I am passed by peace officers patrolling local streets and I see them observing their surroundings and environment for questionable activities. If people are assembled on street corners and I pass them I become a looky-loo just like my neighbors and other citizens. Isn't that what police officers do? That seems to me to be in their job descriptions.
So two City Council candidates posit that the police are out to get them, and since it is impossible to prove otherwise, we are invited to believe their fallacious arguments. Their remarks are hogwash!
By the way, I don't need a letter of restraint from Mr. Righeimer's attorney, but as a citizen I have 1st amendment rights also.
JERRY ALSTON lives in Newport Beach.