COSTA MESA — Tuesday night my daughter and I attended the Costa Mesa City Council meeting. I have never seen such solidarity over any issue concerning Costa Mesa in the entire time I have lived here. One after another, citizens stood before the City Council and voiced their outrage regarding the outsourcing of city services. And of course there was the tragedy of the suicide of Huy Pham and the unforgivable behavior by the mayor following Huy’s death that was addressed as well. Some speakers identified themselves as Republicans as show of support for what they believe to be a nonpartisan issue. It was a proud moment for me as a resident of Costa Mesa.
I happened to be sitting in front of Amy Leece, daughter of the only city council member who voted against the outsourcing of city services, Wendy Leece. I said to her, “Oh, Wendy’s daughter! She’s the “good” council member. You must be so proud of your mom.” Her response to me was, “My mom said she didn’t want to be known as ‘the good one.’ She voted the way she did because it was the right thing for the city.” She also shared with me, of course, how very proud of her mom she is.
Costa Mesa resident Susan Meyer took my breath away with her articulate confrontation. She referred to Mayor Monahan and Mayor Pro Tem Righeimer as;
“A pair, a duo, a couple. This was a duo with a political agenda, using our great city as a trial to push a political agenda.
Gary Monahan, your callous statement made to the press ‘I hire and fire people all the time.’ When I saw you on the television, the news, celebrating an Irish holiday when you knew an employee had committed suicide, it made me sick to my stomach. You did not tend to the needs of our city. You chose to party. Gary, because you have so much experience, I ask you to fire yourself. You are not fit to be our mayor.”
Her words were followed by thunderous cheers and applause from the crowd.
Repair Costa Mesa member, and Estancia High School Teacher Joel Flores said, “You have cooked the books, cried poor, and then pretended this is something you have to do. We demand that you rescind the layoff notices! We demand that you restore Costa Mesa!” I spoke with him after the meeting to personally thank him for speaking up.
One speaker after another called for the city council to rescind the layoff notices and expressed grave concerns over the consequences of outsourcing. Again and again speakers angrily accused the council of embarrassing the city and of putting their personal political agendas ahead of the city’s best interest. Speakers who spoke in support of the council were outnumbered in mass.
I left that meeting having witnessed something I have always wanted to see; party lines thrown to the side, and the issues taking center stage.