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Mayor asks blogger to apologize for Hitler reference

Writing on Facebook, Geoff West likened Jim Righeimer to the Nazi dictator, although not by name.

April 16, 2014|By Bradley Zint

Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer during Tuesday's council meeting demanded an apology from a local blogger who posted online comments comparing the way he runs the city to Adolf Hitler.

Eastside resident Geoff West alluded to the Nazi dictator in an April 11 Facebook posting about the operating structure of the Preserve Our Neighborhoods Task Force. Righeimer recently created the citizens group to examine complex legal issues associated with problematic rehabilitation homes in the city.

"This is how they roll," West wrote, responding to a friend's Facebook post. "Create a 'task force' — no open-meeting law compliance required — then meet in secret and hatch (pun intended) plans to focus 'enforcement' on specific types of groups. 75 years ago this is what another strutting dictator did in Germany. 'Transparency' seems to be a one-way mirror [for] these guys!"

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Righeimer read most of West's comments aloud from the council dais during Tuesday's meeting, calling the missive "beyond the pale."

"I've got a wife, I've got a family, I've got people that I work with, and to have that happen is absolutely outrageous," he said.

West told the Daily Pilot on Wednesday that the mayor should not expect contrition.

"I won't give an apology," West said. "I'm not apologizing for calling him a dictator, because that's how he acts."

West's comment was in response to a posting that criticized the Preserve Our Neighborhoods Task Force, particularly how the small group is not legally required to meet in public. It is one of three task forces in Costa Mesa that are not required to comply with the state's open-meeting laws.

Righeimer, who said he saw the comments only after someone sent them to him, was indignant at being compared to "someone who murdered 6 million Jews. I don't think I live in that community. I don't think people in this community think that way."

He added, "As a kid growing up, you get beat up for a German name. You kinda take it. But this is a man who the Daily Pilot says he's the 19th most important man in this community. This is a man who the OC Weekly said his blog was the best."

The Pilot's annual "DP 103" list of newsmakers for 2013 called West's blog "uncompromising and sharply opinionated." Righeimer was also on the 2013 list, in the No. 4 spot, and placed No. 1 in 2010 and 2011. The OC Weekly named West's "A Bubbling Cauldron" the best blog in 2008.

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