OC Weekly 2012 Election Guide: Costa Mesa!

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer
Unlike other city election guides that have graced the benevolent blog pages of Navel Gazing, this one will take on a different format. A brief mention of the proposed city charter, titled Measure V, will precede an outline of city council candidates. Current council members tried to bring the initiative before voters in June but missed the filing deadline. Now it's back.


Perhaps the most contentious issue among Costa Mesa voters is deciding whether to pass or strike down Measure V, which aims to make Costa Mesa a charter city as approved by the council. If passed, Costa Mesa would follow a local constitution, giving it more control over its municipal affairs. Essentially, it allows the city council to outsource its workforce, mandates voter approval for any increase in public pension benefits, and prohibits unions from taking money out of city employee paychecks for political use. All of which, the council majority says, will save the city money. Critics, including union members and community activists, contend the proposed charter places too much power in the hands of a few council members, and is unnecessary to balance the budget.

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Genis helped block the $100 million OC Fairgrounds sale.
And now, introducing the cast of characters vying for three open city council seats.


Sandra "Sandy" L. Genis is on the ticket with attorney John Stephens and business man Harold Weitzberg. She served as councilwoman from 1988-1996, and as city mayor from 1992-1994. Genis is among critics who contend that outsourcing public services leads to cronyism. Born and raised in Costa Mesa, she dubs herself as an "old style Republican," and is well known for blocking the sale of the OC Fairgrounds from the city to the state of California. In her opinion, current council members are changing things up too quickly for her conservative tastes.

Her comrade, political newbie John Stephens, advocates for an expansion of the police force, opposes the city charter because he says it leads to corruption and fraud, and criticizes the current council's legal decisions as rash. For a trial lawyer, however, Stephens says he prefers negotiating at the table rather than in court. 

The third musketeer on the anti-charter team is Harold Weitzberg, who taught special education for 10 years before jumpstarting his own business consulting company. At 63 years old, he's finally ready to enter city politics. He believes the city council's decisions have discouraged businesses and families from moving to Costa Mesa. On medical marijuana, he thinks the city should create an ordinance authorizing dispensaries to operate. His wife, a registered nurse, operated a dispensary before the feds shut it down.

Steve Mensinger
The other team, backed by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, are dubbed the "3Ms." They include Colin McCarthy, Greg Monahan, and Steve Mensinger. Clever, no? All three share the same vision of cutting government workforce and investing city money into public infrastructure. McCarthy has served as the city's planning commissioner since 2009, and co-founded Costa Mesa Taxpayers Association, a fiscally conservative group that supports the council's austerity measures. McCarthy believes approval of the proposed city charter will free up city funds from paying union wages.

Steve Mensinger is one of two incumbents in the race. In his two years in office, he and fellow council members handed out more than 200 pink slips to city employees, for which they subsequently had to deal with an ongoing lawsuit with the unions. He strongly advocates for reduced pensions and sizing down on public employee benefits to balance the city's budget.

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Monahan claims a union set him up by shooting this photo of him celebrating St. Patty's Day soon after Pham's suicide.
The second incumbent is Gary Monahan. He served a turbulent term as mayor, after he was elected for the third time to office in 2008. More than a year ago, he was the face of an attack ad criticizing him for not coming to City Hall upon learning of maintenance worker Huy Pham's suicide shortly after the pink slips debacle, instead dressing up as a leprechaun at his pub for St. Patrick's Day. He also partook in overseeing the federal shutdown of city marijuana dispensaries. He resigned in March from his mayoral position, but kept his council seat. He's up for reelection, and has named pension reform and "structural budget change" as his priorities in his candidate statement.

And then, there are the Ron Pauls of this race. One spoiler is Al Melone, a retired certified public accountant who advocates for seniors and animal lovers. He says he has no expectation of winning a seat, but he hopes his campaign will shed light on two very important issues: the July 4th fireworks are too loud and the Tewinkle dog park discriminates against small dogs. Another self-declared non-winner is James Rader, who decided not to actively campaign after he entered the race last-minute; instead, he threw his endorsement behind Genis.


There are no competing candidates, and thus no elections for Coast Community College District and Newport Mesa School District. There is however, another measure!


This Coast Community College District has proposed a $698-million bond measure, which would fund rehabilitation of its facilities. If passed, officials would strictly appropriate the money for construction repair of school buildings, laboratories and technical facilities, expanding classes for math and science, and bolstering educational resources for veterans.   

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its just horrible what jim righeimer has brought to costa mesa. this use to be such a great city. now many employees i know are just embarrassed working there. If I could i would move just for spite. But I have to stay, at least I can post my signs-  No on V and  yes to Genis, Stevens, Weitzberg.



   Its clear the GOP puppets that are running for the Costa Mesa City Council are going to every length to use lies, rhetoric and the newspaper commentaries to push their agendas and the proposed charter.  They try to convince the public that Costa Mesa needs to run itself and be controlled by a group of five and not follow state laws. But that is not the first thing that needs to be discussed. Debating over a charter should actually be done , NORMALLY. The problem is these inmates want to run the asylum. Its the agenda of the GOP and one Jim Righeimer that wrote the charter.  Better yet, he cut-and-pasted it. Using only parts of other charters that gives him and his other minions ultimate power. This charter, as written, puts no caps on contracts, has no review of bids, and makes it very difficult to see if there are any “back-door” deals for services.

    Lets actually look and who is asking for the keys to the city.  It’s a group of council members that have tossed the city in chaos. Cut services to bare minimum. Hired numerous consultants with unlimited funds. Hired multiple law firms, again with no cap spending. Created budget short falls, not once but twice, to push their agendas.  They went against their own consultants on staffing levels and then had the audacity to attack police officers for holding the “city hostage” because crime levels have risen dramatically. They’ve lied on the Dias about city employees and attacked the fire department about their unwillingness to come to the table and negotiate, when the truth was the city’s fire group had months of meetings with city paid negotiators. (city paying $450/hr) and in fact offered SEVERAL financial contracts.  Giving the city every single thing they asked for and sacrificing more pay and benefits then ANY FIRE DEPARTMENT IN THE STATE.   And the response from this council and city was always a big fat NO.  Even after a deal was finally done, saving the city millions of dollars, what was Mr. Jim Righeimer’s response the day after, on his favorite radio talk show…… I am going to grind up the rest of their contract in 2014.  But its not just the way they treat the city’s employees, or how they use millions of city funds to push their agendas. It’s the way they treat the public.  Nearly every meeting they interrupt, insult, and belittle public speakers. I lost count of how many times Mr. Righeimer has pounded his chest and said , “I will do what I want”, or pointed at staff and said “you WILL do….”.  Always remember, Jim Righeimer is a politician.  He only came to this city months before the election. He talks and lies a lot.  He has never met a microphone, radio station, or TV camera he didn’t like.  I seem to recall another leader that lived by the motto of,  “ Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it  and eventually they will believe it”, and we all know who that is. 

  When its time to actually debate a charter for Costa Mesa, we can have a healthy discussion. We can debate how a many “charter cities” have filed bankruptcy because of its leaders abusing their powers with over-spending (ie San Bernardino and Stockton). We can actually debate the need for this charter when Costa Mesa city employees have shown they are willing to bend over backwards to help in every way financially, AND ALWAYS HAVE. We can debate many things, but first things first. It’s not, should there be a charter,  it's can we trust this council with the power of THIS CHARTER. That is a resounding NO.

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