During a live, three-minute interview on NBC's Today in L.A. Weekend, Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer asserted that he is getting public support to continue slashing his city's budget.
Righeimer told Ted Chen during the interview that residents are telling him, "Keep on going. Don't stop."
Public employee unions certainly would like Righeimer to go and never return to Costa Mesa, where Orange County Republican Party boss Scott Baugh, a longtime Righeimer ally, has said the city is "ground zero" for a national GOP effort to confront bloated government.
City employees and union officials in California have responded to the Righeimer-led cuts with outrage. In potent television commercials, they've slammed the all-Republican city council for taking lucrative, unnecessary perks for themselves while slashing city jobs and services. Steve Staveley, an interim police chief, noisily resigned in protest this month over planned cuts to his department.
But Righeimer blasted Staveley, calling his angry departure "kind of bizarre" and "political" and labeled him a stooge of union bosses who backed him in an unsuccessful 2002 campaign for Anaheim mayor. Righeimer hinted at laziness. Police employees are whining about being asked to work eight-hour days for five days each week, he claimed.
Righeimer also said a push for a 3 percent budget cut isn't drastic, but that "outside forces" are "playing politics" with the city's dire financial situation. He maintained that the city has spent $33 million of its reserves in recent years and can't sustain spending each year more than the tax revenue it receives.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"We have to live within our means," said Righeimer, a freshman member of the city council and a longtime Republican Party operative who has spent nearly two decades trying to reduce the power and influence of public unions in California.
Righeimer opponents have their own website: www.repaircostamesa.com
Go HERE to see a previous Righeimer profile in the Weekly.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly