Costa Mesa Councilman Falsely Accused of DUI; Tactics of Police Union Negotiator
The city of Costa Mesa has been a high-profile battleground between labor and city officials and the battle has only gotten uglier. Unsurprisingly, at the center of the latest turn of events is the law firm Lackie, Dammeier & McGill, which we relayed previously has advocated hardball tactics that attempt to hold local government hostage to their demands. See our coverage here. The law firm represents over 120 unions in cities all over the state, but it has just lost Costa Mesa’s police union as a client due to the uproar over new controversy.
Costa Mesa Councilman Jim Righeimer had two cokes at a local bar recently and he drove home. However, a mystery caller dialed the cops to accuse the councilman of driving drunk and an officer arrived at his house to conduct a sobriety check. Righeimer passed the test and the OC Register reports that the mystery caller has been identified as Chris Lanzillo, a fired Riverside police officer now working as a private investigator. Guess which law firm Lanzillo has worked for? Lackie, Dammeier & McGill. His name used to be on the firm’s website but it has reportedly been removed.
Righeimer is understandably outraged and claims that he has been followed for some time. At a news conference, the councilman stated, “What these organizations are doing is trying to get personal dirt on elected officials so that they'll vote against the interest of cities or counties to protect themselves. That's what makes this so horrendously wrong. ...It's against the whole American system.” The law firm has denied any involvement and Lanzillo claims he just happened to be in the same location as the councilmen. An attorney from the law firm wrote to the Register stating, “When our clients are treated unfairly or unlawfully, yes, we are aggressive, within the limits of the law, to vindicate our client's position.”
After this incident, a press conference was held with officials from Costa Mesa, Irvine, Fullerton and Buena Park to criticize the law firm’s bullying and aggressive methods of securing favorable contracts for unions. And U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) has called for the U.S. departments of Labor and Justice to investigate.