By Devin Lucas
9:42 PM PST, December 12, 2012
The Costa Mesa City Council appointed the right two people for mayor and mayor pro tem in selecting Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger, respectively. They are the top qualified people for the difficult job and difficult decisions ahead.
To the disbelief of some, the council and respective mayor positions are about far more than ceremony, event attendance and desired polite cooperation. The positions are about civic leadership, difficult decision-making and budget-balancing on a scale most simply cannot comprehend.
These leaders have to balance the payroll, expenditures and revenue base of a midsize city with large-size financial problems. Not everyone will get what they want in this process. This is not the time to "kiss babies," as some residents contended with gleeful innocence; this is time to roll up the sleeves and get to work. There are hundreds of millions of dollars entrusted, projects and tasks needing attention, jobs at stake and existing pensions to save.
Serious leaders are needed to address these serious problems. Not just ceremony and self-serving public relations.
Though overwhelmingly elected during their respective council runs, Righeimer and Mensinger have drawn the ire of a select group of revenue beneficiaries, who in turn have fought tooth-and-nail, bringing unprecedented divisiveness to our city over a simple and factual reality.
The city cannot keep spending like it has in the past. The city simply cannot keep the pensions and salaries it has given away in the past. No city can. For addressing and daring to engage this unspoken truth to save our city and save our children from inheriting crushing debt, these leaders have been vilified by a strident and vocal few.
When your daughter wants two ponies, "compromise" is not giving her just one. Righeimer and Mensinger have made clear the gravy train of tax-dollars is cut off. Just as your daughter doesn't want to hear there's no pony under the tree this year, and is bound to throw a fit of temper, some are upset with these necessary positions and abrupt honesty in presenting them.
Being popular is easy — you just give everything away, make promises and kick the can down the road. I don't want "popular" leaders. I want actual leadership, individuals who are going to get the difficult job done.
I want leaders putting their feet down, rolling up their sleeves and tackling serious problems toward the improvement of Costa Mesa. Righeimer and Mensinger are going to improve this city and make difficult decisions, which will likely mean a few feathers will continue to get ruffled.
DEVIN LUCAS is a real estate attorney, broker and Realtor who lives and works in Costa Mesa.