[UPDATED with Caller a Police Union Stooge?:] Jim Righeimer, Costa Mesa Councilman, Cop Critic and Pension Cutter, Alleges DUI "Set Up"

See Update No. 2 at the end of this post on media reports the false DUI caller is a Costa Mesa police union stooge.

See Update No. 1 on a new Costa Mesa Police Department statement claiming the agency is super serious about investigating the false DUI report.


jim-righeimer_150.jpg
ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 24, 2:25 P.M.: Costa Mesa Police say a call came in around 6 p.m. Wednesday from a motorist who said he was behind a possibly intoxicated driver. Cops say they got a description of the car that was followed to a Costa Mesa home. Cops say an officer met the caller in front of what turned out to be the residence of City Councilman Jim Righeimer, who the motorist promptly fingered as the suspected tipsy driver.

But, this story has a big "but" . . .

The big but will be even more dramatic once we put it in full context.

Righeimer, a conservative activist, protege of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and employee of Republican sugar daddy developer George Argyros, used to write local columns for the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot. He once called me with a tip about a little-known bonus paid to Costa Mesa cops--actually, all cops in California. It was a topic Righeimer said was too hot for the Pilot (and apparently Navel Gazing, because I never did anything with it).

Riggy ran for Costa Mesa City Council in 2008, a year after the city started pulling funds out of its reserves to pay bills. During the same election that saw Barack Obama win the presidency, Righeimer finished fourth, just behind another candidate who advocated reigning in spending, Eric Bever. Unfortunately for Righeimer, only three seats were open that year.

Despite the city's financial juggling act, a council majority that did not include Bever but did count among its number conservative, anti-immigrant stalwart Wendy Leece later voted for a more lucrative contract for firemen and an increase for their retirements, something known as the 3% at 50 pension plan.

At a time when more money was leaving Costa Mesa's budget than coming in to the city of 110,000, the country's financial crisis lingered and other cities began declaring bankruptcy trying to pay their own six-figure pensions to retired government employees, including cops and firemen.

Well, Costa Mesa Republicans were livid, with resident and former county treasurer-turned-Board of Supervisors chairman John Moorlach angrily calling out Leece as a traitor. For his part, Righeimer campaigned on the issue in the 2010 council election, pointing out pension costs had more than doubled to $15 million in a decade, that a deputy fire chief retired with an $182,000 annual lifetime pension and that the police chief was pulling down nearly $300,000 in total compensation yearly.

A city planning commissioner at the time, Righeimer seemed to take particular delight in calling out the abuses of Costa Mesa cops. Driving through a DUI checkpoint on Harbor Boulevard next to the 405 Freeway, Righeimer later got out of his car, walked over to a supervisor and complained thee operation could cause a traffic hazard. Police later claimed he whipped out a city badge and demanded the checkpoint be shut down, something Righeimer denied.

During that race, the Costa Mesa's fire and police unions trucked a sign around town demanding that residents vote against Righeimer who, if elected, could join a new council majority critical of higher pensions and over-spending. There was so much type on the sign I think they even had Righeimer's kindergarten report card on there.

Things got nastier a month before Election Day when Bever and longtime Costa Mesa resident Christian Eric were putting up Righeimer campaign signs when they say they got the stink eye from cops in a slowly passing Costa Mesa unit. Moorlach and attorney Mark Bucher, who previously formed a political action committee with Righeimer aimed at helping more conservatives win elections, demanded an investigation.

Local public employees spent more than $100,000 opposing Righeimer, with six unions from neighboring regions spending another $33,000 endorsing his opponents. But Righeimer's message resonated with voters, who were just then learning lifeguards in neighboring Newport Beach and down coast in Laguna Beach were retiring with lifetime annual pensions well over $100,000, exceeding even many what Costa Mesa couples were together bringing home each year. Righeimer wound up being the top vote-getter in the 2010 City Council election, something he considered a voter mandate.

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24 comments
Moon
Moon

"not affiliated with firm"? "does some work for the firm"? Lanzillo only works for Dameier's firm and they've been in bed since the firm represented him in his (forced) retirement from Riverside. His cell phone records at 951-377-2030 should show a good pattern between him and the firm. Sounds like a conspiracy to obstruct justice and false 911 report. Get them both OCDA!

Dweezle
Dweezle

I tend to agree with Lt Parr, however, I believe it will come to, a private person observed a man leave a bar, (probably monahans) saw him drive erradically, (most likely busy talking or texting on cell phone) and reported his observations.

 

When I was a designated driver in Costa Mesa, Newport Beach & Huntington Beach, we were told that Costa Mesa had the highest DUI arrest rate in the state...

moonbandito
moonbandito

The goal was to get publicity and to get the issue (union busting) linked to a poor white male politician (aka 'the victim'). You did your job, and no one paid a dime for the free publicity. Does every potential DUI stop get this coverage? Nope. The $4m payment by the developer of Banning Ranch to the city, agreed to by this council without even looking twice is actually more important and will impact the lives of many living in Jim's 'kingdom'. That issue wasn't covered.You did your job, and no one paid a dime for the free publicity. Next time, dig a little and write a real story, please.

goldencody
goldencody

retired oc law enforcement here - always remember cops in most cases are bigger criminals than those they arrest! This crap happens all the time like with this city council man - cops are so damn good at lying and they have made an art of it

etsnell
etsnell

It's hard to always tell which ones are police union moles, But my guess would have it that the ones calling people stooges are probably clowns them selves. 

 

ET Snell

Clown Community Activist

www.etsnell.com

etsnell
etsnell

I am  impressed with  this councilman and what he has had to endure. It could of been worse if he would of been in Bell and  got set up and attacked by the Bell PD like I was and sent to state prison on phony terrorist threat charges. The polygraphs are on www.etsnell.com

Righeimer is the OC  hero of the week. The guy in the white Kia should get arrested.

In closing after what the clowns pulled at the BOS meeting on ol man Fitzgerald I would distance myself from them politically that is if I where a politician on the horizon

 

ET Snell

Clown Community Activist

www.etsnell.com 

NGCoot
NGCoot

CMPD a professional organization - I don't think so. The cop who knocked on Rigg's door had no business doing so - except the business of union harassment. The cop could not have done anything to Riggy. The cop was not a witness. Pure union thuggery.

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

CMPD is a professional organization and will get to the bottom of the incident.  While personally believing Righeimer and the three other "Stooges" in his group portray the worst of an elected official, if it turns out that this was an intentional false report, the party involved should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Meanwhile, Righeimer has played the incident for all it is worth to the media.  It is doubtful however, that this deflection will cloud the sorry track record of the "Four Stooges," and will not be enough to fool the voters of Costa Mesa.  What will the "Stooges" come up with next to pump up their egos and try and make the employees of the City of Costa Mesa look bad.  With people like Righeimer and the gang, the end justifies the means.      

miller9
miller9

He's DC Mayor for Life Marion Berry. Bitch set me up.

paullucas714
paullucas714 topcommenter

These police, fire and WTF? Life guards pulling down lifetime pensions of 100K every year for life? jesus H cheerist man. Whole families dont pull donw that much while they are working. Let alone in their 401K. Something neds to be done. WTF makes these guys worthy of a lifetime pension that high? hell they maybe have one or two dangerous situations in a years time. Nobody should be getting a pension that high. Something needs to be done.

wdoo5
wdoo5

if true the cop that followed him is on the take and needs to spend time in jail.

NGCoot
NGCoot

The CMPD should have gotten a name and a phone number with the phoned in report. The cop making the call should have spoken to the person who placed the call - and gotten their ID - since apparently that person was present when the cop knocked on Riggy's door. The KIA with no plates should have been run for ID and ticketed for no plates. All of that should have been adequate to identify the person ratting on Riggy. We will see what CMPD comes up with.

jon49417
jon49417

 @Moon you got to have a dead body for Rawcockus to investigate a cop in OC.  then it's typically a whitewash

jon49417
jon49417

 @Dweezle and drive around without plates and the police see nothing.  go ahead, try it for a test

MatthewTCoker
MatthewTCoker topcommenter

 @moonbandito What, someone pays dimes for coverage? Anyone out there paying dimes for coverage, email me at mcoker@ocweekly.com. I will beat ALL bidders. Shoulda thought of this before the damn Discover bill collector calls.

jon49417
jon49417

 @NGCoot probably hoping for anything he could label resistance.  then ex-piggie in the KIA would be the witness

Dweezle
Dweezle

 @ltpar For the sake of clarification, can you state roughly how much retired line officers collect in their pensions? I really doubt it is in the $80 to 100,000 + amounts that many people believe. paullucas714 below states they collect $100,000 a year pensions.

SENSIBLECITIZEN
SENSIBLECITIZEN

 @ltpar

  ltpar is a retired police officer "PIG" who is happily ridingout his days in Irvine after twenty years of powering down Doughnuts and writing tickets. Yet he gets a comfortable retirement and medical on me.

 

But, I digress, with the average CM policeman making $100+ a year for a job that requires little more than a high school diploma, the POA's are going to fight. Fight hard. They will blackmail, strongarm, abuse, and in the greatest violoation of AMERICAN VALUES force thier communist ideals on the electeds....OR ELSE.

 

 

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

 @paullucas714

 Ok hot shot, you think the Cops are paid too much, put up or shut up.  Come on down, take the test and see if you are the 1 in 100 people who pass the screening process including a polygraph, psychological and physical agility test.   Then you can complete a stress Police Training Academy and then pass an 18 month probationary period.  If you are successful, which is doubtful at best, then put on your uniform, buckle on your gun and push a Cop car around for the next thrity years cleaning up the shit left behind by the dregs of society.  Only consolation to this is that the 99% of the great citizens we protect and help solve their problems more than compensate for the 1% of the bad people.  If you survive for thirty years without catching a bullet, getting run over by a fleeing felon or having a heart attack, you too can grab that cushy pension like the rest of us.  Better hurry, those applications are flying out the door like hot cakes. 

Dweezle
Dweezle

 @paullucas714 I know that former Sheriff Carona makes $20,000 a month ($240,000 a year) while in Prison. Can you provide FACTS on which non management Deputies/Officers anywhere in Calif take home over $8000 a month in pensions?

 

I understand many non management deputies & some non management active officers make over $100,000. a year due to overtime earnings, however the county and city management allow that as they claim it is cheaper to pay the overtime than to recruit, select, train, & pay benefits for new deputies/officers.

 

Many cry about how State, County and City Workers rape taxpayers for outrageous pensions. Here is a link which shows the top pension earners in OC for the year 2009:

http://www.voiceofoc.org/blogs/article_271fc9f2-84bf-11df-930c-001cc4c002e0.html

Read that then tell me how many BLUE COLLAR type State, County & City WORKERS earn unreasonable pensions. The $100,000 year pensions are going to Administrators/Managers/Dep DA's etc . not worker class people.

Dweezle
Dweezle

 @wdoo5 Perhaps I misread the article, however, I believe it said the guy following Riggy was a Private Investigator NOT a cop.

jon49417
jon49417

 @NGCoot wanna bet the Kia is a police impound? and who can drive 5 miles w/o a plate and not be pulled over.

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

 @Dweezle  @ltpar

 Current salary schedule at Costa Mesa P.D. for a sworn Officer is:

$71,028 to $95,184 per year - Add to this approximately 10% in Special Assignment and Education incentives, which count toward the single highest year of retirement and you are looking at an annual salary rate of  $104,702. 

 

Assuming the Officer had worked for 30 years and with PERS Retirement calculation being 3% for each year of service, the retirement salary would be in the ball park of $94,232. 

 

Higher ranks (Sgt, Lt & CAptain) have a higher base salary and their retirement income would increase proportionally.   

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