Quality candidates desperately needed

October 21, 2010|By William Lobdell

Costa Mesa has gone softer than a kitten wearing cashmere.

Last weekend, Councilman Eric Bever reported at a press conference that he felt intimated after a "chilling" encounter with Costa Mesa police officers.

From the Pilot's headline — "Bever alleges police intimidation" — I imagined the councilman being slammed into a wall of a dark alley by rogue cops who wedge a billy club under his neck and warn in menacing tones, "Listen, pal. Stop supporting that Righeimer for council or you'll find yourself swimming with the fishes. Capeche?"

My scenario was a little off.

Bever's spine-tingling run-in with the police happened as he and Chris Eric were putting up campaign signs near West 17th Street and Superior Avenue for council candidate Jim Righeimer, who has vowed to trim police pay and pensions if elected.

The intimidation began, according to Bever and Eric, when a squad car drove by three times, the officers apparently displeased with the posting of signs.


Bever said he did have permission. And then, the pair said, the police officers did the unthinkable. They drove past the sign hangers two more times, stared at them and took photos!

"They gave me a hard look," Eric said. "The stink eye."

The dreaded stink eye? (By the way, if the pair did get the stink eye, it might be the first time in modern history that police officers weren't wearing sunglasses during the day.) Did they mad dog him, too? A lesser politician would have crumpled under the brutal police tactics. How did Bever not wet his pants?

The visual beatdown was so savage that Bever, Eric and Righeimer staged a press conference two days later to decry the alleged police intimidation. Bever said he also believed the police had him under surveillance. What's next? Reports of black helicopters hovering over his backyard?

The allegations have triggered an independent investigation (I wish I were joking) into possible police misconduct. I can save the cash-strapped city some time and money right now. The police officers in question will say they were on routine patrol and weren't staring. Bever and Eric will say the cops were staring. There will be no findings of wrongdoing.

This election season, the pro-Righeimer forces aren't alone in crying … wolf. Some members of the Costa Mesa Police Department got their panties in a wad when Righeimer got out of his car last month to tell some officers it was absurd to set up a DUI checkpoint on Harbor Boulevard during evening rush hour.

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