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Union Member Videoed Stealing Campaign Signs Supporting “3M” Candidates In Costa Mesa

Posted by Greg Woodard on October 31, 2012

Anyone who has been involved in local politics even for the briefest of time knows that campaign sign stealing is typical fare for a city council election.  However, the practice recently has been raised to an art form in Costa Mesa, with candidates on both sides (the “3Ms” – Steve Mensinger, Gary Monahan, and Colin McCarthy vs. John Stephens, Harold Weitzberg, and Sandy Genis) claiming to be victims.  This year, the thieves have gotten out-of-hand.  While both sides have reported theft of signs from residential yards and commercial buildings, Mensinger and Monahan have pointed to the theft and destruction of large and expensive banners.  In at least one instance, someone scaled a private residence fence and slashed a banner that was placed up between two large poles.  Other 3M banners and signs have been cut and defaced with paint.  The thefts have become so prevalent that Mensinger and Monahan have put up $500 each for any information leading to the arrest of someone stealing banners (an anonymous donor put up another $100 bringing the total to $1,100.)

At least one vandal has been caught red-handed.  A video, taken by a Mensinger supporter, shows a bearded man pulling up signs for the 3Ms and supporting the proposed city charter, tearing them apart, and tossing them in the bushes.  At a candidates’ forum for Atlas PAC last week, McCarthy identified the man as Steve White, a Costa Mesa city employee and member of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association, the union that has sued Costa Mesa over its attempt to outsource union jobs to private companies to save the city money and reduce the city’s unfunded liability for skyrocketing employee compensation and benefits.  As the OC Register reported, White has been placed on paid administrative leave and is under investigation, though the city did not say the reason for the investigation.  White, classified as a Senior Maintenance Worker, earns approximately $86,000 per year in compensation and benefits (see #382 in the link).  Interestingly, though White has a prominent beard in the video, the Register reported that White’s Facebook page showed a recently shaven profile picture.

The union has deflected comment about White’s purported actions, stating “Sign damaging is something that has happened in every election,” said Orange County Employee Association spokeswoman Jennifer Muir, who added all sides’ signs have been defaced. “It’s not a good thing. It’s silly. It should stop.”  Muir would not comment about White specifically because city administrators have not officially linked him to the signs (don’t hold your breath for any comment after they do link him).  However, she did not waste a chance to again attack Mensinger and the council majority, stating “Now they can’t stand the scrutiny to their plan,” she said, “so they’re trying to drum up a political diversion.”  Muir apparently was not asked how a union member, making nearly $90,000 a year from the city, destroying the property of the 3Ms – something which the union-supported candidates have also complained about – is a “political diversion” rather than simply a petty act of vandalism.  It begs the question of how the union would have responded if one of the 3M’s supporters had been filmed destroying Stephens’, Weitzberg’s, and Genis’ signs.  Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

Just a couple of the signs on private property supporting the 3Ms and Measure V that were defaced

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