The Bell Curve: The arrogance, the ego and the ugly

October 13, 2010|By Joseph N. Bell

Coming to you straight from the American College Dictionary: "Arrogant: making unwarrantable claims or pretensions; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud; haughty, imperious, presumptuous..."

And this: "Ego: having or regarding self as the center of all things; conceit."

Sound familiar? Play these definitions back against each other and you have, in this corner, Costa Mesa Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer and, facing him from the opposite corner, the Costa Mesa Police Assn.

And, in the middle, on Nov. 2, are the citizens of Costa Mesa.

They are being asked to promote Righeimer to the City Council where he would be provided a much broader stage for his massive ego presently on display in a traffic incident. Or, instead, follow the lead of the police union — already hostile to Righeimer for his stance against rising police pensions — using its muscle for a personal attack on him built on piffle.


And, finally, for the childishness all this exposes in so-called public servants.

Unfortunately there are no laws against either arrogance or ego. We must take the best — or the least worse — of what we are offered. And, in this sorry episode, the pickings are lean.

Pilot readers have been updated regularly on the details. Righeimer was caught in a traffic jam occasioned in large part by a sobriety checkpoint set up by the Costa Mesa Police Department at a busy intersection during a weeknight rush hour. He left his car to complain to officers running DUI tests about the checkpoint's timing and location.

When the cops on the job didn't genuflect to an imperious planning commissioner, this turned into an exchange in which Righeimer demanded an audience with the city manager and police chief. He got his audience the following day, but the ball, by then, was rolling. Meanwhile, it was also well covered by local media as it regressed from an administrative look at sobriety checks to an irrelevant pile of personal history to threats of a lawsuit, each step of which tells us more about the quality of our public servants and less about checkpoint safety.

What Righeimer should have done when he found himself trapped in a clearly dangerous traffic situation was what those of us lesser mortals would have done: cuss the idiot who caused this to happen, tough it out and write a letter to the Pilot the next morning.

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