Lobdell: Standing up to GOP, union bullies

November 04, 2010|By William Lobdell

For a mercifully short time, a bully harassed me in elementary school. He was a grade ahead of me, a head taller, and had the beginnings of a moustache. I dreaded recess.

One evening, I told my dad about the kid who kept pushing me around, and the old man gave me this piece of fatherly wisdom I'll always remember: "Just pop him once in the chest. Bullies are cowards at heart, and when you fight back, they will leave you alone."

Right off the bat, this didn't make a lot of sense to me. Wouldn't one little punch from my spindly arm, which at the time was roughly the diameter of a pipe cleaner, do nothing but unnecessarily anger my tormenter?


But Dad seemed so sure that the next time the bully hassled me, I reared back to throw a punch. But before it could land, my nemesis threw a devastatingly powerful counter jab to my chest, dropping me to the ground like a British heavyweight. On the gritty asphalt, I tried — with tears in my stunned eyes — to desperately suck in the air that had been knocked out of me.

The weird thing was, he never bothered me again. He may have just gotten bored with me, but I'd like to think the intimidation stopped because I had at least tried to stand up to him.

I learned two lessons that day: 1. Dad isn't always right; and 2. Bullies needed to be confronted, even if you end up on the ground with the wind knocked out of you.

In this week's elections in Newport-Mesa, three candidates courageously stood up to bullies, got popped hard in the chest during the campaign, and still went on to win.

Costa Mesa Councilman-elect Jim Righeimer took on the Mike Tyson of bullies this campaign season — the Costa Mesa public safety unions and some of their brotherhood around the county — and finished first among five candidates that included incumbent Wendy Leece.

The unions — rightly worried that Righeimer would work to put their members' compensation in line with what the city can afford — waged an all-out blitz against the businessman with a website of dug-up dirt, a blizzard of anti-Righeimer campaign signs, hard-hitting mailers and a semi-hysterical request for an investigation. Oh, and Righeimer says 800 of his 1,000 campaign signs were swiped, and I'm guessing it wasn't his fellow candidates who did it.

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