Best Political Coup (2011)

Repair Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa was once known for ritzy South Coast Plaza, great dive bars and its toothless, deranged, white-supremacist gangsters. But thanks to Repair Costa Mesa—a conglomeration of angry citizens, local public employees and labor-union bosses—the city is the main California proving ground for conservative policies to curtail city-worker wages and wasteful programs during dismal economic years. All but one of the city's all-Republican council has supported multimillion-dollar cuts and the chopping of more than 200 city jobs. Normally, Republicans can do whatever they want in Orange County, except in Santa Ana. But Costa Mesa's action, led by freshman Councilman Jim Righeimer, prompted Repair Costa Mesa to produce an avalanche of potent daily cable-TV commercials that accuses four of the politicians—Righeimer, Eric Bever, Gary Monahan and Steve Mensinger—of lying about the city's true financial condition to execute a nationwide Republican conspiracy against unions. That message has been drilled into our minds—sometimes a dozen times per day—month after month. Who knew that in such a traditionally anti-union locale as OC, unions would fight back so vigorously and put the likes of a Righeimer, a cagey veteran politician, scurrying for defenders on his own turf?


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