Was Righeimer Kicked Off the OCTA Board?

Councilman Jim Righeimer - Costa Mesa, Photo: Chris Prevatt

Councilman Jim Righeimer – Costa Mesa, Photo: Chris Prevatt

Cotsa Mesa Council member and former Mayor Jim Righeimer was appointed to the OCTA Board last November, but when it was discovered by the County of Orange that the City Selection Committee had violated the Brown Act, so the results of the November action were cancelled.  With new mayors sworn in and a new vote scheduled last week, Righeimer didn’t make the cut and was the only member of the OCTSA Board named in November not to be elected moving forward.

The Voice of OC reported details here and the Daily Pilot has their story here.

From the Daily Pilot story:

Righeimer was selected in November to replace former Huntington Beach Mayor Matt Harper, now a state assemblyman, on the county transportation’s board. However, because the meeting was not noticed properly by county staff, his appointment and others were considered in violation of the Brown Act, the state’s open-meetings law.

County counsel mandated that the City Selection Committee, comprised of all Orange County mayors, hold another meeting to vote on their appointments again.

The committee cast new votes Friday night for several OCTA board seats, including Righeimer’s, who represented the 2nd District seat. The person selected for the 2nd District seat represents Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Stanton, Seal Beach, Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos, La Palma and Cypress on the 18-member OCTA board.

With a new makeup of mayors in the 2nd District, Righeimer did not have enough votes to maintain his seat, losing it to Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Jim Katapodis, a retired Los Angeles Police Department sergeant.

“Nobody got kicked off,” Righeimer said in an interview Saturday. “All of us had to be revoted … I did nothing. The staff who handled it didn’t notice it properly.”

Katapodis could not be reached for comment Saturday morning.

Righeimer was the only OCTA board member to lose his seat Friday.

I hate to break it to Mr. Righeimer, but when you’re named to a board, a mistake is discovered and you don’t make the cut with a new vote, you are in fact Kicked Off.  This point was the subject of an extensive debate on a Facebook page, “Costa Mesa Public Square,” ignited when a poster named Sue Lester wrote the following:

“Jim Righeimer got kicked off the OCTA Board tonight for allegedly committing Brown Act violations with Matthew Harper.  Supposedly, HB had the seat on the OCTA Board and Harper traded it away for Righeimer’s support in the last election.  People in HB found out about it and tonight the OCTA Board kicked Righeimer off.  It is unclear what if anything will happen to Harper. Another black eye for Costa Mesa!”

This ignited howls of protest from the conservative Costa Mesa faithful.  OCTA chair and Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway chimed in with this:

“I’m not sure who you are Ms. Lester but I am the Chiarman of the Orange County Transportation Authority and I can categorically state you are spreading a vicious lie about Mr. James Righeimer.  he was not kicked off the OCTA Board.  I understand you are probably a political enemy, but you should try to keep your debate civil and not spread lies.”

(Right, like Sukhee Kang supported Choi’s slate, Sharon Wallin joined Republicans on a education slate and Lalloway himself had the support of Irvine cops even though the Irvine Police Association did not back him — yet all were IEs in the last Irvine election so forgive me for laughing my butt off here).

Lester got a few details wrong.  There was a Brown Act violation and it did cause Righeimer to be kicked off the OCTA Board.  The nicest thing you could say is Righeimer wasn’t elected to the Board after the negated brown Act vote had to be recast.

There were some of the board that felt Lester should be held accountable for speading slander against Righeimer (slander is spoken, libel is written).  But because Righeimer is a public official, he would have to prove that what Lester wrote was false and knowingly false with intent to defame.  There were enough correct details in her original post that would quash any lawsuit but there was enough defamation levied at Lester — a private citizen who only has to prove a statement is false — to give her actionable issues against some of the posters if she wishes.

But the negative tone about the post in the Costa Mesa Town Square page simply illustrates the onion thin skin a lot of conservatives there have.

  12 comments for “Was Righeimer Kicked Off the OCTA Board?

  1. January 26, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I believe the Facebook post you mention was on the Costa Mesa page, not the Costa Mesa Public Square, which is a closed page. I can see Sue Lester’s entry, so it cannot be native to the Costa Mesa Public Square page because they’ve refused to let me join up – again.

  2. Cindy Black
    January 26, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Sue Lester’s comment was posted on the Facebook groups Costa Mesa and the Costa Mesa Sand Box. Public Square had a screenshot of Sue Lester’s comment which was posted by Stephan Andranian, calling it, “Civil Discourse”, Costa Mesa style.”
    Stephan Andranian is the new Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner nominated by Mensinger(appointed with the usual 3-2 vote).
    Stephan Andranian is an attorney and had been appointed to the OC Parks Commission by OC Board of Supervisor John Moorlach. I’ve never seen him before last week at any council meeting. Can you guess why he was selected?

    • Jim Fitz
      February 4, 2015 at 7:07 am


      Please stop disparaging people you do not agree with. I am tired of these unfounded attacks and aspersion cast upon characters of people simply because you do not share their views.

      Yet, you give Sue Lester a free pass on this egregious error of inflammatory fact.

      And say nothing about when Katrina Foley chimes in, in support of belligerent comments about a fellow Council Member while telling everyone else how to behave.

      Personally, I wish they would let Geoff West into Costa Mesa Public Square, so , that when he brought his angry nonsense to that page, many could debate and shred his Pot Belly logic

      • February 4, 2015 at 4:47 pm

        Sue got some details wrong but she was accurate in stating Righeimer was voted out and a Brown Act violation had something to do with it; she made fewer errors than Righeimer makes when he talks about public employee unions and pensions in Costa Mesa.

  3. Dan Chmielewski
    January 26, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Geoff, I first saw it on the Costa Mesa Public Square. I’m part of that group….somehow

  4. Michele Maynard
    January 26, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    I love how Mr. Lalloway was quick to say what had NOT happened, and to deride Cindy Black, but couldn’t be bothered to add what actually had happened, which was that Jim Righeimer was no longer on the board. Obfuscate much?

    • Michele Maynard
      January 26, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      Whoops I meant Sue Lester.

  5. January 26, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Haha, so typical of Riggy to blame it all on staff. Those damn public workers screwed me over again!

    Actually the fortunate voters, who got a mulligan due to SOMEBODY’S screw-up, preferred nice guy Jim Katapodis to the raving carpetbagger. And Riggy HAD been good on toll lanes, but he’s also been caught consorting with the Pringle/Dunn crowd of late, so I do trust Jimmy Kat a lot more on that important OCTA issue. Specially after me and Diana Lee Carey get done briefing him!

    • Dan Chmielewski
      January 27, 2015 at 7:43 am

      Oh Vern, you transportation whiz you…. I’m sure your feedback to “Jimmy Kat” will be invaluable *koff*

  6. January 27, 2015 at 12:38 am

    Well, since the folks now administering the Costa Mesa Public Square refuse to re-admit me – I was member Numero Uno – I no longer can see anything going on on that Facebook page. They’ve got it locked down tighter than a medieval virgin’s chastity belt! Thanks for picking this story up, Dan. The original post by Sue Lester is heading north of 500 comments so far.

  7. Dave
    February 3, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Dan, OCTA has nothing to do with the City Selection Committee or it’s process of selecting members to regional boards. Sloppy.

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 3, 2015 at 9:45 am

      Take it up with Voice of OC or Daily Pilot Dave….

Comments are closed.