By Bradley Zint
10:10 PM PST, December 12, 2012
It was a small beginning for a large, uphill effort to recall Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer.
The door was open at Chris McEvoy's Westside house on Wednesday night for the dozen or so supporters who came in to join or inquire about his endeavor to unseat the councilman.
McEvoy needs 15% of the electorate, or more than 9,000 voters, to bring the recall question to voters. He's shooting for 12,000.
"I think there are so many groups of people in this city that have bad tastes in their mouths from the way the council has behaved that groups are going to come together," he said.
His main concern about Righeimer? His July vote to approve a $4.4-million traffic agreement between the city and developer of Banning Ranch. McEvoy and others have contended that the West Newport development would add considerable cut-through traffic to their neighborhood and impact other quality-of-life issues.
"This wouldn't be necessary if we had a council that put residents first," he said.
During the Oct. 16 council meeting, McEvoy, a schoolteacher who unsuccessfully ran for council in 2008 and 2010, first announced his intent to recall Righeimer. The councilman later called it a political "stunt."
On the petition for recall, Righeimer writes that his tactics to rein in employee pension and salary costs have drawn the ire of organized labor. He writes that the mitigation agreement does not exist, and that McEvoy is "simply joining with public employee unions because he doesn't like the tough decisions" made to get balanced budgets.
The agreement, which the developer is reexamining, has not been signed, nor does it have any legal validity, Deputy city CEO and Economic and Development Director Peter Naghavi has said.
In response to the recall intent, Righeimer said during the Oct. 16 meeting that anyone has the right to attempt such a feat, but that "it's amazing what politics has gotten to now. If you don't like the vote, you go for a recall."
According to interim City Clerk Brenda Green, any names on the recall petition are not public record. If McEvoy and his supporters can gather enough of them, they must be delivered to City Hall by May 15.
The signatures will then be sent to the Orange County Registrar of Voters for validation — a process that may cost Costa Mesa $20,000 to $25,000, Green said.
If certified, the registrar will sent them back to the city. The City Council will then vote to call an election. That election must then be held between 88 and 125 days later, Green said.
Jay Humphrey, a former councilman, said he would sign the recall petition.
"It's a process that should move forward, if for no other reason than to make sure that the people of Costa Mesa have a chance to talk at this time," rather than waiting for the end of Righeimer's term, he said.
Added resident Terry Koken: "[Righeimer] scares me. Understand that I'm not shaking with fright, here. I don't go to sleep and have nightmares about Jim Righeimer; but the idea for me is that I'd rather relax. I'd rather not have to keep my eye on him all the time."
He cited two of his reasons as the Banning Ranch vote and Righeimer's "vendetta against the employee associations."
Sandie Frankiewicz, who lives on West 19th Street and owns another rental property there, said she'll be gathering signatures for the petition.
"It's just unfortunate that they just continue to railroad us down and not pay attention to what we want on this side. I don't ever want to have Righeimer continue on this council. I'm done with him."