COSTA MESA — I just about fell out of my chair on Friday when I read that Field Marshal (Mayor Pro Tem) Jim Righeimer was going on a “trade mission” to the City of Ordos, in Inner Mongolia, China. According to the press release Righeimer, City Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce, and Susan O’Brien Moore,Vice President of the Executive Board of the Convention and Visitors Bureau (VCB).
According to the press release, Righeimer will be paying his own travel expenses for the 7 day excursion to the land of Genghis Khan and the VCB will be covering for board members O’Brien-Moore and Joyce. Their mission is to “establish a close relationship to one of China’s fastest–‐growing and most prosperous cities, which we believe will result in an influx of travelers to our city.”
Okay, that works for a pretty good cover story but I’ve got a feeling that Righeimer’s reason for going is probably a bit less benign. Communist China is known for a few things that might have a greater appeal to Righeimer than tourism opportunities. Such opportunities as outsourcing (maybe he want’s to outsource city accounting functions and 911 dispatch jobs to Ordos, China) and the all important expertise the Communist Chinese have at supressing public dissent and public employee unions.
Remember how the residents of Costa Mesa had a field day last week hammering the Council over it’s priorities during their meeting. Well here we have an example of a lack of rational priorities. The VCB should have been able to handle tourism issues with the Chinese just fine without Righeimer and a city manager of Public Affairs. With Righeimer out of town, we have two less meetings of the City Council for the month of August, and a management staff member on the payroll for a trip to China.
Author’s Note: Costa Mesa’s PR guy Bill Lobdell sent me a note Monday evening pointing out that the VCB is covering the cost of Dan Joyce’s time while he is in China. I’ll be sure to request a copy of the payment.
I thought Costa Mesa was facing a crushing budget crisis? I thought the city needed all hands on deck to deal with public relations? Isn’t that why they hired a $3,000 a week no-bid contractor to help Joyce with Public Relations?
I really don’t know what Righeimer expects to learn while he’s over in China. While Genghis Khan was definitely a big bully, Righeimer has appointed Councilman Stephen Mensinger to handle most of that. And silencing public dissent is one area where Righeimer is no slouch. But who knows, he may be able to learn a bit more about outsourcing and how to get rid of public employee unions. At least he’ll have a city staff member to follow him around like a little puppy to take notes.