By Bradley Zint
9:50 PM PDT, October 30, 2012
From within the smallest office of a six-story building near the edge of the city limits, voices on the topic of Costa Mesa's biggest debate were broadcast Tuesday night.
KOCI 101.5 FM hosted a discussion about Measure V, the city charter initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot, with Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and Planning Commissioner Robert Dickson supporting the measure and City Councilwoman Wendy Leece and community activist Perry Valantine urging voters to turn it down.
Troy Davis and Steve Ray, two hosts for the nonprofit radio station broadcasting from East 17th Street, moderated the 90-minute event. Each of the four guests answered six questions, had a chance for a short rebuttal, and gave opening and closing statements.
Righeimer, the charter's architect, and Dickson contended that the charter would give the city the tools it needs to "get its financial house in order."
Righeimer said 60 percent of it follows the general laws set by Sacramento and that the nearly $500,000 that labor unions have pumped into fighting the measure is an example of outside influence.
"It's really about the money and who's not going to get the money," he said.
"If the unions are really that powerful, why do we have four antiunion members on City Council?" asked Valantine. "Somehow they slipped through? I'm not sure."
He questioned if the employee associations' ability to buy more mailers really gives them more power in the city.
Leece said the charter doesn't address pension reform and that its creation was done without "our due diligence."
"I've said before many times, it's a vague charter," she said. "And that's because it was rushed. It didn't have a collaborative process ... "
Dickson countered that the charter would give Costa Mesa citizens more power and allow them to comment, participate and vote on future pension contracts.
"The charter is very simple," he said. "It's 10 pages long. There are no blanks. It covers everything it's supposed to and leaves the rest to state law."
The entire debate is planned to be available on KOCI's website, http://www.kociradio.com, by Wednesday afternoon, said Brent Kahlen, the station's director and general manager. Any re-airings are still to be determined.
The debate seemed popular. During Tuesday night's broadcast, KOCI's website was getting three times its normal traffic, Kahlen said.