We Needed Community Involvement At The Charter’s Beginning

by Charles Mooney

I read Lauren Williams’ November 7 article “Measure V trailing in early returns” and was struck by Mayor Pro Tem Righeimer’s comment that “I think through this whole process we heard the community loud and clear.”  “The community wants more of a committee-type process.”  “And that’s what I’ll be bringing forward to get the community (involved in the writing) of the charter and to make sure any of the concerns and safeguards are put in the charter to make the public feel comfortable.”

The desire for an elected charter committee (community involvement) to write the charter was expressed in public comments when the charter was first proposed by Righeimer and at nearly every city council meeting thereafter.  But now, since his proposed charter was voted down, Righeimer says that he hears the community loud and clear.  It should not require an election to communicate with him.  If that is the case, we will need an election every month.

There are a few other points worth noting.  Righeimer told us that he was opposed to using a charter committee to write the charter because it would take too long.  So he rushed through a flawed charter that was defeated and it may now take another year or more to clean up the mess.  Haste makes waste.

Righeimer also said, authoritatively, that an elected charter committee wasn’t needed because he hadn’t found any other city that used a committee to write their charter.  He frequently referenced Newport Beach’s charter but evidently didn’t read their charter history.  If he had, he would have known that they used an elected charter committee to write their charter.  Can we trust what Righeimer says to us in his authoritative way, particularly when we now suspect that he never really studied this issue in any detail?

There are some other issues of trust.  Remember that he tried to rush the first even more flawed charter onto the June primary election ballot.  This strategy has been used by others before because the voter turnout is usually lower and this can be used to gain an advantage for getting Measures (charters) passed.  He might try this strategy again in 2014.

Also, he tried to force the current proposed charter onto the citizens of Costa Mesa that, by his own admission now, does not have detailed safeguards for the city residents.  Can we trust a person that knowingly tried to push through a charter with such a flaw?

I am glad to hear that he is now considering a charter committee, and it should be an elected committee; but, I am still not convinced we need a charter.  However, if we do, we need someone other than Mayor Pro Tem Righeimer to lead the effort.   We need a different leader because of his deafness to residents, hasty actions, questionable credibility and trustworthiness, and his repeated oversight of details.  I suggest that Councilwoman Leece and past Mayor and now new Councilwoman Genis be considered to lead the restart of the charter effort.

Charles Mooney is Vice President of CM4RG and a Costa Mesa resident.