Why Costa Mesa Just Keeps On LOSING.

Costa Mesa was smacked down in court.


Today Superior Court judge Franz Miller ruled against the City twice in the City’s lawsuit to get their Charter amendment on the June ballot.

First he ruled that two groups could join the suit despite the City’s opposition. Then he issued a tentative ruling denying the City’s petition, agreeing that a mandatory deadline was in fact a mandatory deadline and that no harm would be done if the election was held in November instead of June.

It’s been 15 months since Jim Righeimer was sworn in as a City Council Member. To date, he has a record of dismal failure, as one after another of his initiatives has been foiled by his own incompetence or the incompetence of his lackeys.

It’s the lackluster record of a bully who is not very bright and sadly lacking in any understanding of how city government works.

The latest screw-up was blowing the deadline for submitting the paperwork for the Charter election to the Registrar of Voters. This is the type of error that well-run cities with good management don’t make. In a competent city, the timelines would have been checked and double-checked by the City Attorney, City Clerk and City Manager as part of an overall plan for the election.

But under Righeimer’s regime of terror, there’s nothing well-run at all about Costa Mesa. The long-term City Attorney, Kim Barlow, was forced out when her opinions conflicted with what Riggy wanted to hear, replaced by someone more pliable. Barlow’s replacement, planning attorney Tom Duarte, is way over his head and has been running up hundreds of thousands of dollars with outside lawyers because of his own ineptitude.

The staff on the fifth floor includes patronage appointments with no real government knowledge.

Bill Lobdell in the Ministry of Truth came from the media by way of a lackluster public relations practice. Public Affairs Director Dan Joyce was peddling rubber sidewalks a year ago. New Assistant CEO Rick Francis arrived via the political side of the County government, a policy advisor in Supervisor Moorlach’s office, who came there from his stint as a pastor at Newport Mesa Church in Costa Mesa.
What these guys have in common is that they really have no idea how to run a city government.

And it’s not like there is a single Council Member with any depth of experience. Bever and Monahan, the veterans, are frequently missing in action. Bever’s attendance is spotty. Monahan’s attention seems to wander, and he stepped down as Mayor. With Monahan, you have to wonder if he returned just for the generous health insurance benefits. Righeimer and Mensinger don’t bother to learn how things work – it’s just their way or the stairway to the roof. Wendy Leece has her heart in the right place, but she’s not what we would call a deep thinker.

Most of the experienced department heads have fled the City, and the consultants hired to fill the gaps are either woefully short of experience in government, or are has-beens who moved into the private sector after retiring or being forced out somewhere.

The staff running Costa Mesa is  what you’re left with when your two leaders are insufferable assholes with experience in the dank, sleazy alleys of the corporate world.

Which brings us to our latest failure and the blown deadline for submitting the ballot measure. It sounds like the spin doctors were trying to get their critics to submit their ballot argument early. Nothing like having a peek at the opponents’ arguments to fine tune your own ballot statement. As the deadline drew near, the Costa Mesa gang got confused about when the ballot measure was due, and the later deadline for submitting ballot arguments. In a competent city with a competent senior staff, this stuff would have been on a timeline with checks and double checks. In Costa Mesa, there just wasn’t any core of competency.

It’s a continuing theme in Costa Mesa, whether in Police Chief Stavely’s parting shots or in the losses in court on the issues surrounding the mass lay-offs.

And it’s something that the voters may just Remember in November.

UPDATE: One of my attorney friends reminds us that there is still a curious question regarding paying what are likely to be hefty attorney fees from Jones, Day.  In the judge’s ruling,  he questioned the standing of the petitioner, City Clerk Julie Folcik. “Clever”, notes the judge, but he assumes that the petitioner is really the City of Costa Mesa.

What’s the catch?

Well, the City of Costa Mesa isn’t voting to retain Jones Day on this matter until tomorrow. There has been no closed session where they discussed hiring Jones Day for this matter.  Would Righeimer ever have the gall to claim that some other guy was responsible for attorney’s bills?

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