Commentary: I am not affiliated with unions, as Righeimer suggests

Re "Residents seek to intervene in city charter lawsuit," March 21:

In the article about my and Katrina Foley's intervention in City Clerk Julie Folcik's Mandamus Petition, Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer suggested that I was somehow involved with unions. There is absolutely no basis for that insinuation.

I have never been in a union. I have never represented a union. I have never had a case against a union. I have never received one penny from a union.

For the first nine years I practiced law, I worked for a large international law firm. For the last 14 years I have owned my own law firm.

In the pending petition, the city clerk is asking the court to order the registrar of voters to accept the charter resolution even though it was filed after the mandatory statutory deadline that was published on the registrar's website for months.

There is on-point case law that prevents such a ruling by a court. This case law was not disclosed to the court in the petition filed March 14. Foley, a member of the Newport-Mesa Unified school board, and I have now brought the law to the court's attention.

My interest in the petition is as a property owner, taxpayer and Costa Mesa citizen of 23 years. A blown mandatory statutory election law deadline is not a "clerical error."

The City Council majority has to play by the rules; they have to follow the law like everyone else. The current petition is just another attempt by the council majority to circumvent the law and to make their own rules to govern their own conduct.

That is a very dangerous game. In this instance, someone had to stand up for the people.

Since Foley and I have as much legal training and experience as the overpriced lawyers the council has hired, we decided to get involved to prevent election law from being violated with impunity by our elected officials.

I am against the proposed charter because, among other things, it gives the council majority (this and future councils) the right to make up the rules as the go along even if they conflict with longstanding California law.

No matter what happens with regard to the pending petition, the citizens of Costa Mesa will have the opportunity to vote for or against the proposed charter. The only question is whether the election will be illegal in June or legal in November when more citizens will participate because it is a presidential election. If the City Council majority truly cared about the will of the people, they would withdraw the petition and have the legal vote in November.

Righeimer needs to get his facts straight. Tired, baseless, anti-union rants and illegal charter elections are not the answer to the problems facing Costa Mesa.

JOHN STEPHENS is a business litigation attorney who lives in Costa Mesa and practices in Newport Beach.

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