A History Lesson Applied Today in Costa Mesa

by Eleanor Egan

It is said of the Bourbon royalty who once ruled Spain and France that they learned nothing and forgot nothing. The same could be said of the Righeimer-Mensinger-Monahan triumvirate who rule Costa Mesa as their joint fiefdom.

In resonance with the Bourbon kings, they have never forgotten how to get things done in the private sector, but they have failed to learn how local government works in a democratic society.  The Righeimer-Mensinger-Monahan threesome have demonstrated a consistent pattern of bullying ahead with their plans regardless of citizen opposition and heedless of potential legal and financial consequences to the city they are sworn to serve.

Just over a year ago they tried to privatize a huge portion of TeWinkle Park, to turn it over to a corporation called Big League Dreams for a commercial sports stadium with bars and restaurants. Residents’ objections were ignored. But residents’ research of the documentation regarding the Federal Government’s grant of the park land to the city revealed stringent restrictions on the permitted uses. Once residents contacted the U.S. Park Service regarding the privatization plan, the City Council quietly dropped it.

Now they’re at it again in a thinly-veiled scheme to open Fairview Park to development. First they pushed through a project to install lights in the park, which is closed at dusk.  Next, a decomposed granite trail mysteriously appeared one day, without notice to anyone who might object. It extended directly across a vernal pool, a rare habitat for a Federally-protected endangered species, prompting a Federal investigation

Further, the Councilmen created a plan to open a second major entrance to Fairview Park at the end of Pacific Avenue, with 42 parking spaces and a children’s playground. There ensued an even greater uproar from the citizens than followed the TeWinkle Park conversion plan. Mayor Righeimer insisted on, and the Council majority approved, a totally unnecessary vehicle turnaround, a paved area that would encroach into the park, as well as a playground, all on top of what turns out to be a Native American burial ground.

Charles X, Last Bourbon King of France.  Once again, they did all this without bothering to check whether any outside agency or group might have a protected interest in Fairview Park or, if someone did check, they ignored the result. Now the Federal Government and Native American tribes have raised objections.

The Righeimer-led council majority seems to have adopted as its guiding principles, “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission” and “Fire, Ready, Aim.”

Will the three-man city council majority finally learn to open their ears and their hearts? Or will they go the way of the Bourbon king of France?