Righeimer Freaks Out!
OK, let's get this out of the way first. I'll write about the remainder of Tuesday night's council meeting separately because there is much to discuss and this will distract from that information.
RIGHEIMER BLOWS HIS STACK!
Tuesday night, during his turn at bat in the Council Members Comments segment of the meeting at just about 7:00 (In case you want to look it up on the streaming video or the recorded replay on CMTV) Mayor Jim Righeimer absolutely flipped out and used the power and authority of his bully pulpit - a perfect term, by the way - to criticize ME, specifically and by name, for something I wrote about him as a comment on a thread on Facebook about his "Preserve Our Neighborhoods Task Force" last week. The person who generated the original comment, paraphrasing, postulated that residents who wanted to know about the task force couldn't because it was not subject to the Brown Act and the meetings are not announced - held in secret was the phrase used. No reports, no minutes, etc. Mine was the first comment. Here's that comment:
This is how they roll. Create a"task force" - no open meeting law compliance required-then meet in secret and hatch(pun intended) plans to focus "enforcement" on specific types of groups. 75 years ago this is what another strutting dictator did in Germany. "transparency" seems to be a one-way mirror fro these guys!
I subsequently corrected the typo at the end to "for".
THE MAYOR FLIPS OUT
Righeimer demanded an immediate apology from me - in person - and apologies from the four people who had the audacity to "like" the comment - and read their names, too!
HE CAN'T READ ME ON FACEBOOK, SO...
It's interesting that, since he's blocked me on Facebook, he cannot actually see what I write. Someone else did a "screen shot" and sent it to him. He read it almost verbatim. He DID NOT read the last sentence about transparency, which really was the punch line.
HE ATTACKS LEECE...
Immediately after that, during her segment, Councilwoman Wendy Leece began to mention that I had the right of free speech when Righeimer came unglued again, interrupting her and demanding to know if she thought it was OK for him to be compared to someone who killed 6 million people. To her credit - I'm sure it took all the composure she could muster and that she relied on years of teaching petulant children - she did not get into an argument with him. She just calmly sat there, bit her tongue until he finished his rant, then completed her thoughts.
...AND ANNA VRSKA
At the very end of the meeting he almost ignored the final speaker of the evening, Anna Vrska, who had filled out a card and had waited patiently for her turn to address the council. Right off the bat she criticized Righeimer for his rant about me and said she agreed with me. Immediately he tried to bully her, demanding to know if she thought it was OK that he was being compared to someone who killed 6 million people. Vrska, however, was not going to be bullied - again! She told Righeimer not to interrupt her and they actually got into a shouting match before he relented and shut his yap. It was a joy to watch.
HE EARNED IT, AND DEMONSTRATED IT
If Righeimer took offense at being compared to a 20th Century dictator, so be it. I used that reference because, since he took office, he's conducted himself EXACTLY like a dictator. His behavior has been chronicled here at length. Last night he demonstrated, one more time, just how capricious he is with rules - even those he instituted unilaterally. At the end of the meeting, during the discussion of the proposed "resident only parking" on Center Street, he permitted several residents to step up to speak. In fact, he invited them to speak AFTER the public comments segment for that issue had been closed, even though none had filled out speaker cards and had, apparently, not intended to participate! He did NOT require them to fill out speakers cards. Councilman Gary Monahan chided him for it at the time, but Righeimer just shrugged it off. He only follows rules that please him, when it pleases him.
A BETTER CHOICE
Maybe I should not have compared Righeimer to Adolf Hitler. In fact, the more I think about it, a better comparison might have been Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator of the same era. Here's a phrase from the Wikipedia page about him:
"After destroying all political opposition through his secret police and outlawing labor strikes, Mussolini and his fascist followers consolidated their power through a series of laws that transformed the nation into a one party dictatorship."
What do you think? "secret police" - maybe that fifth floor Code Enforcement group that does his personal bidding? "outlawing labor strikes" - sounds like the kind of relationship Righeimer has established with our labor organizations, doesn't it? "series of laws" - Well, where do we begin with that one? The Nuisance Ordinance; the Excessive Use of Resources Ordinance; his unilateral stifling of speech at council meetings by bifurcating Public Comments, and on and on. Righeimer's behavior has been dictatorial from the get-go and is only getting more so as the weeks pass. He demonstrated that last night when he interrupted Leece and tried to interrupt Vrska.
HYPOCRITICAL DOUBLE STANDARD
And, by the way, back on September 29, 2013, Dennis Popp - you know, that "kinder, gentler" blogger as described in the Daily Pilot profile of him last year - wrote an entry on his pathetic, pandering blog, HERE in which he describes the by-partisan grass-roots organization Costa Mesans For Responsible Government (CM4RG) as behaving like Nazis! Where was the outrage then, Mr. Mayor? Popp - that pontificating pile of partisan puffery so roundly praised by you and your sycophants - is much more overt in his comparison and yet you apparently support him and his role as campaign manager for your hand-picked campaign companion, Lee Ramos.
TO THE MAYOR...
Since I know Mayor Righeimer reads this blog I will now address him directly. Mr. Mayor, here's the deal. I AM NOT going to apologize to you for my characterization of you on that Facebook snippet. In fact, I have affirmed that characterization here. If you don't like criticism you're in the wrong business. You CHOSE to be a politician and with that choice comes criticism. What's that old phrase? "If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen!"
IT AIN'T WORKING...
Your reaction is just one more classic example of your attempts to intimidate and stifle folks who disagree with you. Be advised, Mr. Mayor, it's not working. All you're doing is demonstrating to EVERYONE just what a shallow, vindictive person you are - one who is certainly not worthy of the public trust granted to you as a member of our City Council.
In fact, Mr. Mayor, I demand an apology FROM YOU to me and to the others you called out last night, for abusing the power of your position to chide members of the public - your constituents - and for trying to deny me rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Your behavior was unacceptable for a public official.
And, by the way, Mr. Mayor, don't bother unleashing your ex-brother-in-law/lawyer on me again. As you and your sidekick, Steve Mensinger, know, that didn't work the other times you tried it and it won't work this time, either. I understand the SLAPP laws, as you know.
STOP DOING STUPID STUFF!
There's only one way for you to avoid criticism, Mr. Mayor... stop doing stupid stuff. Of course, it may be too late for that. Stop trying to run this city like it's your own little fiefdom. Follow the rules established to protect the rights of the residents of this city. Stop your attempt to take over absolute control of my city with yet another bogus attempt at a Charter - the residents already resoundingly told you they don't want a Charter less than two years ago. If you don't want people to compare you to a dictator, just stop acting like one... it's really that simple.
WILL HE LISTEN?
OK, back to you, my loyal readers. Do you think he'll pay attention? Nah, I don't either, but I guess we'll see. One of his sycophants, Jim Fitzpatrick, recently posted on a NextDoor thread that "we don't need listeners", so I guess that answers the question. Thanks to all of you who have communicated your support on this issue. It's very interesting to sit in the back of the auditorium and have the mayor of your city criticize and vilify you in front of more than 100 people and who-knows-how-many watching on television at home. I hope Righeimer's behavior won't discourage any of you from continuing to participate in the process. As I've said many times before, this is going to be a very contentious campaign season and it appears that Mr. Righeimer is already feeling the pressure. Maybe he'll decide to NOT run again - he has until August 8th to make that decision. We should be so lucky...