OC councilmen claim harassment by law firm that represents police unions


They claim that harassment is coming from a local law firm that represented police and other public safety unions in labor negotiations with city officials.

Costa Mesa City Councilman Jim Righeimer says a local police union and its law firm is behind a 911 call that led an officer to his home to perform a field sobriety test. Righeimer says surveillance video clearly shows he was not drunk and stumbling out of a restaurant last Wednesday night. The sobriety test indicated he had not been drinking.

Lawmakers from several other cities joined Righeimer on Tuesday, claiming they, too, have endured similar harassment.

"I'd like to ask the help of the public and of average residents who are concerned about the financial wherewithal of their municipal government to stand up to this kind of intimidation and abusive tactics," said Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker.

"Frankly, these type of Gestapo tactics by the police union has to stop," said Irvine City Councilman Jeff Lalloway.

The councilmen say the common denominator is the law firm Lackie, Dammeier & McGill, which represents several public safety unions. Up until last week, it also represented the Costa Mesa Police Association.

In a statement, the law firm denies it targeted Righeimer or anyone else, but also made no apologies for the tactic it employs.

"When our clients are treated unfairly or unlawfully, yes, we are aggressive, within the limits of the law, to vindicate our client's position," it said.

The law firm also accuses city management of using aggressive tactics against its clients. Righeimer believes the police union wants to embarrass him because of an ongoing dispute between the city and labor leaders over police pensions.

"It is a chilling effect on elected officials to vote the way that the labor unions want them to vote, which is completely against the best interest of the city itself," said Righeimer.

The police union has denied any wrongdoing, calling the accusations ridiculous. In the meantime, the Costa Mesa Police Department says it is investigating the motive behind the 911 call.

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