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Harlan: Exploiting DUI call harms Costa Mesans

September 01, 2012|By Jeffrey Harlan

Does anything more need to be said or written about the bizarre incident involving Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and the 911 call alleging his erratic driving as he made his way home from Skosh Monahan's the evening of Aug. 22?

Unfortunately, yes.

While I certainly hesitate to contribute to an incredible story that should have ended quietly, I think the event demonstrates why Costa Mesans should be particularly vigilant as we approach Election Day in November.

Let me state up front that I understand Righeimer's initial reaction to the situation. Being asked by a police officer to take a sobriety test after he arrived home was probably shocking. I can imagine the indignity he suffered, especially since he hadn't been drinking. I would have been justifiably angry, puzzled and slightly embarrassed.

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However, seeing that no actual harm resulted — the officer's exam was quick, no one was injured, and no arrest was made — I would have probably let it go. Sure, the emotional rush would have taken a little while to wear off. But really, what more is there to do?

It's natural for everyone to want to know what really happened. In fact, it's imperative that the truth be revealed (at press time, the Costa Mesa Police Department's investigation had not reached a final conclusion). If someone had, in fact, filed a false 911 call, then I would want justice. If evidence surfaced that others were involved in a criminal enterprise, then I'd want them to be prosecuted under our legal system too.

But if you're Righeimer, unabashed enemy of union labor, you view the situation differently. We all carry biases and view the world through different lenses, and in Righeimer's case the unions are to blame for the ills we suffer today, especially in Costa Mesa. Even before any information surfaced about the 911 caller, or any of his alleged associations, Righeimer was declaring this was a "setup" by the unions.

So it should come as a surprise to no one that this incident provided a convenient platform to rail against the city's employee associations. While basking in the media spotlight — he called two press conferences and has participated in several radio and TV interviews — Righeimer seems no longer interested in justice for an alleged crime; rather, he's solely focused on campaigning against and punishing the unions.

Why should this matter to Costa Mesans?

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