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As you may remember, last we left our heroine Costa Mesa Councilwoman Wendy Leece, she was still undecided on how she would vote Tuesday night – whether to accept the offer of over $4 million in savings from the Costa Mesa Police Association (and other groups) that would be on the table that night, or bow to OC GOP pressure to reject that offer, restart negotiations down the road with the new (possibly Riggified) council and try to force even more concessions from the cops?
And the OC GOP pressure against Wendy was mighty and relentless. I have a copy of the e-mail from thuggish wingnut lawyer Mark Bucher (of Stink-Eye press conference fame) that probably generated most of the harassment, but it’s so full of bullshit I don’t want to reprint it here. Addressed weirdly, “Please forward this to everyone who believes in freedom,” it provides Wendy’s home number and e-mail, instructions to harass, and also makes it clear that it IS all about electing Righeimer to the Council.
So Tuesday night’s Costa Mesa City Council meeting was sure not one I was going to miss; having missed the bus I sprang for a taxi, and it was one dramatic, suspenseful and riveting spectacle. Would Wendy cave to the pressure, attempt to find some sort of middle ground? And what about fellow Republican Gary Monahan who’s been going rogue on the OC GOP as well? Would he continue to think of his city first? And how come the GOP doesn’t care what Gary does and just picks on Wendy?
As usual, the Potstirrer produced such a thorough and entertaining description of the meeting (entitled “The City Wins – Lemmings Lose“) that all I have to do is add my own impressions.
I finally had the dubious pleasure of hearing Martin Millard speak – the unabashed white supremacist and probable puppetmaster of Allan Mansoor on all things immigration-related, who has made a new bid for relevance by jumping into the labor-bashing business with both feet. Millard was one of three or four speakers to trash Wendy for her daring to complain about the GOP pressure she was getting. He bizarrely compared her to someone who wants to join a church but doesn’t believe in God, and then whines that the church wants to excommunicate her for not believing in God. In this case, evidently, the GOP is the church, and “God” is the act of taking away cops’ and firefighters’ benefits and pensions. Also, DAMN, what a self-righteous, self-satisfied, smug prick Martin Millard is!
And he wasn’t the only one. During the long closed session that interrupted the meeting, with absolutely nothing else to do, I decided to introduce myself to “blogging” uber-hack Jon Fleischman, who absolutely hates the Orange Juice mainly because of the famous photoshop of him to the left. But I have to say that, up close, this really is exactly how he looks, but with a bigger gut.
Jon was there expressly to intimidate Wendy and document her heresy, sitting in the front for the whole meeting and giving her the “Stink-Eye” (which is especially toxic in Costa Mesa these days) and video-taping her every time she would open her mouth. During breaks he would run outside and giggle cell-phone reports to his GOP superiors, which I managed to overhear a couple of times.
I don’t think he liked me.
Anyway you could see Wendy throughout the meeting trying to find some kind of compromise, some middle ground, between accepting the police’s offer and rejecting it outright – for example, “continuing” the question to another meeting. It’s just that really nothing of the sort was possible. As City Manager Roeder explained, going back to square one with new negotiations would take many months while costing the city $250,000 a month.
On top of that, the only legal way for Costa Mesa to actually reduce all its employee contracts and wage scales the way the OC GOP wants to do would be for the city to declare bankruptcy and void all city contracts, as Vallejo in Northern California did. THIS is what the Party insiders want for Costa Mesa?? NO THANK YOU!!!
So long story short, Wendy and Gary both ended up doing the right thing, accepting the workers’ offer, saving their city from bankruptcy, and drawing a standing ovation. The speeches BOTH of them gave explaining their yes vote were thoughtful and heartfelt – I’ll try to get them on YouTube for you. (I hadn’t thought much till now of Monahan, who usually votes lockstep with Mansoor and Bever; now I kind of want to go by his restaurant Skosh Monahan’s and get to know him.)
So, how would the OC GOP exact its punishment on Wendy?
Then, you could almost hear the angry GOP insiders all across the county, jumping up and down in rage like Rumplestiltskin. What would the first volley against Wendy entail? The answer came first thing the next morning, when she was “summoned” to an “emergency hearing” before the GOP’s (LOL) “Ethics” committee, immediately conjuring up images of Stalinist or McCarthyite show trials, or the Inquisition.
Quite presumptuously (as a Democrat not even living in Costa Mesa) I called and left Wendy a message, congratulating her for standing up for what she knew was right, and encouraging her to ignore the summons. “Let them pull their endorsement, let them send out a nasty mailer, but they have no right to order you around like that. You don’t work for them, you work for the voters of Costa Mesa! And you have a campaign to run.” I assume a lot of other people told her the same thing.
(Note: Wendy is something of a Juice friend, having appeared on our radio show to discuss Costa Mesa and Fairgrounds issues; I also know her from when she and Katrina Foley were the only politicians working to derail the sale of the Fairgrounds.)
Late that night I was pleasantly surprised to get a call back from her. Sure enough, she didn’t go to the hearing, and would not have gone in any case without a lawyer. She appreciated the support she was getting from me and so many others. She said that her promises last month to the Central Committee while getting their endorsement had been misquoted and exaggerated, and expressed great frustration over the fact that – far from caving on pension reform – the police’s offer she’d accepted WAS pension reform, just not as extreme as the OC GOP wants. She complained correctly that she’d been working hard at the negotiations with the cops for weeks and was privy to countless details that these GOP busybodies weren’t. And she said that although she’ll always be a proud and loyal Republican, she doesn’t want the OC Republican Party running Costa Mesa. Ouch – now that is some HERESY!
Can an e-mail be “apoplectic?” Because that’s how I’d characterize the message Scott Baugh, anti-labor jihadist and OC GOP chair, sent out to his loyal followers the next day, ordering them NOT to vote for Wendy and ONLY to vote for Riggy. He went on to express great regret that there was NO TIME for the Central Committee to meet and withdraw its endorsement before the election.
Enter the amazing Speedy Un-Endorsers, Atlas PAC!
Who is the Atlas PAC? Funny, I just found out TWICE yesterday morning. As my unlikely pal Chip Hanlon of Red County describes them,
“…they’re thought of around here as sort of a junior Lincoln Club: conservative, a membership made up of respectable young professionals from around O.C., a group headed up by a guy who most folks around here seem to like. Bottom line: good folks.”
(And I imagine these young professionals like to carry around a copy of Atlas Shrugged to impress other young conservatives in the cafes they haunt.) Thank God, the group is small, young, and nimble enough that even if Baugh’s Central Committee couldn’t pull off a presto un-endorsement, Atlas PAC could – and DID un-endorse Wendy first thing yesterday morning, in an e-mail to all their peeps!
The other time I heard about Atlas PAC was maybe an hour earlier, when my unlikely pal Chip Hanlon forwarded me a two-part story he’d just written, busting them for funneling money (at a slight profit) from the OCEA (union) into ads attacking Shawn Nelson on behalf of his opponent Harry Sidhu – a Republican I’d last seen backslapping with Union bigwigs at the OC Labor Federation’s Labor Day bash! D’OH!
Could this lightning-quick un-endorsement of Wendy be intended as a penance for the Atlas PAC’s big pro-labor faux-pas?
And on and on it goes, where it stops no-one knows. Chip seems to have tagged the responsible party for hooking up Atlas PAC with the OCEA as one of two labor-friendly Orange-city RINOs, Jon Dumitru and/or Denis Bilodeaux – both of whom he’s been ripping regularly for waste and hypocrisy. (My unlikely pal Chip, with whom I disagree on most every issue, has been doing some most excellent RINO-ripping lately.) But I can’t get into writing about Orange city politics; this story is long enough and I don’t want to be stuck up in Orange after the buses stop running and have to spring for another taxi.
I’m just going to continue to watch and chronicle the crazy unpredictable spectacle of
the Orange County GOP’s rifts and tectonic shifts,
as its Jacobin leadership tries to pry its members away from
the money, the power, and the actual importance
of public safety workers.
Phu Nguyen after being endorsed by
Orange County and Costa Mesa police and firefighters.