Commentary: Stop slamming the City Council

Even before he was elected to the City Council, some Costa Mesa police officers were out to keep Jim Righeimer from being elected.

He couldn't be counted on to vote to give away the store to the unions. Righeimer ran on a campaign of representing the hard-working residents of the city — not the unions.

Even residents who don't pay much attention to local politics realized what was going on when they saw off-duty Costa Mesa police officers who don't even live in the city and who can't vote here pulling a garish, lighted A-frame sign bearing negative comments about Righeimer.

When Righeimer, who was on the Planning Commission at the time, saw a police checkpoint on Harbor Boulevard and traffic backing up on the off-ramp, creating the potential for a crash, he did the right and responsible thing and pulled off the road and politely told the police of the problem.

Some anonymous cops created the impression in the Daily Pilot that Righeimer had thrown his weight around and was acting like a wild man. However, when the audio tape of what happened was finally revealed weeks later, it became clear that Righeimer was simply acting as a concerned citizen and was extremely polite, even deferential, to the officers.

Then, you have the private eye following Righeimer and calling in what turned out to be a bogus report of driving under the influence.

Recently, we saw a well-orchestrated small group of liberal residents, union supporters and Democratic Party members waving signs that seem to have been delivered in one or two cars to the waiting mini-mob in front of City Hall to show supposed spontaneous grass-roots support for our police officers. By implication, this was also to show no support for the three members of the council who are trying to represent the residents of this city and get our expenses under control.

Right now in the newspapers we see over-the-top negative comments from some former and current police officers that seem calculated to make potential new hires to the Police Department shy away from Costa Mesa by making it sound like a terrible place to live and work.

The reality is that Costa Mesa is a great place to live and work, and a bright police officer would be wise to choose to come here. Costa Mesa is large enough so the job will remain interesting, yet it's a pretty safe city.

Good police officers get the respect of most residents (who don't have to have a pretend AstroTurf rally in front of City Hall to show it), and this makes their shifts safer than in many other cities. Another thing for prospective officers to know is that many residents of the city want our police officers to actually live here — we want them as our neighbors — and in this regard, we finally have a police chief who lives here and who has his family here. He has a very real interest in having a nice city and a good Police Department that serves the people of this city.

Add it all up, and this is a great city for a cop to live in and work for.

One might conclude that these reports all sound like a planned attack on the people we've elected to be the good stewards of our city — the council. But who would want to do that?

The answer is political opportunists jockeying for election next year who are looking for anything to build a campaign on. And union members who are using the now infamous Playbook, which tells police officers to do exactly the types of things that have been done.

Let me emphasize that the Playbook encourages just the type of AstroTurf support, as we've seen, from residents who will try to whip up bad feelings toward a City Council based on fears about rising crime.

The comments from former and current police officers are an insult to the residents of Costa Mesa and our city, and they are having a corrosive effect on the trust in our police officers.

Blogger M. H. MILLARD lives in Costa Mesa.

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