It's Time To Talk!
RENE MENG REVISITED
Last week, in the previous entry here, I wrote about Reserve Police Officer Rene Meng's poignant comments before the City Council at their most recent meeting. To read that entry click HERE. The Daily Pilot published a similar essay which ran in print last Friday. You can read it online HERE.
STORM CLOUDS OVERHEAD
I continue to be very concerned about the fiscal well-being of our city in light of the national economic climate and the boneheaded moves made by our state government. It's my opinion that, unless our public employee unions decide to sit down with our city leaders very soon to discuss modification of their current labor agreements, the city will be forced into laying off many of those brave folks who serve us in public safety jobs and keep the wheels of city government working.
WHAT DOES THE RANK AND FILE THINK?
This morning, as my wife and I were finishing breakfast at one of our favorite places, I noticed four members of the Costa Mesa Fire Department also finishing theirs. As they left and passed my table I spoke out to them, thanked them for their service and asked what they thought about the current budget situation.
"WE'VE BEEN TELLING THEM..."
The two more senior men stopped at our table and began to talk about it to me. One said that, and I'm paraphrasing him here, "We've been telling them for years that they have to do something." Turns out he meant the city, and that they have been telling "them" to find new sources of revenue. One mentioned the Transient Occupancy Tax and I told him that ship has sailed. We cannot address that issue again until 2010.
SHUT UP AND KEEP WALKING!
Then, curiously, the other fellow told his friend that they were not supposed to be talking about this subject. He acknowledged that admonition, then agreed that they'd been told not to discuss it and left the restaurant. I was just a little disappointed, because it's important to know how the men and women who will be directly affected by the decisions of their union leaders feel about this situation.
HEELS DUG IN?
I had the strong impression that, based on what they said and the way they said it, the employee unions are not eager at all to re-open discussions of their current contracts. Instead, they will be pointing the finger at city management for falling down on their job of raising revenue for the city. This does not bode well for the near-term problem of balancing this year's budget nor does it hold out much hope for a good solution for the Fiscal Year 09/10 budget, either.
NEGOTIATION TRAINING ON TAP
In an interesting bit of timing, the agenda for next Tuesday's City Council Study Session includes an item that was on the last council meeting agenda but was pushed off because of time constraints. This item is a presentation to them by an organization that specializes in training folks in leadership roles on the nuances of negotiating with employee groups.
I wonder if any members of the employee unions will be present at this study session?
BLEAK ECONOMIC NEWS CONTINUES
The economic news over the weekend continued to be bleak. The talking heads on the weekend news shows continued to provide us no good news. Quite the contrary. Our trainee President seems determined to completely re-make our country within his first 100 days and to saddle the next two generations of Americans with a debt load that will be virtually impossible to carry.
LOOKING FOR HOPE (NOT BOB)
I hope our local leaders find ways to lessen the impact of stupid, destructive decisions being made at the state and national level. I keep looking for a silver lining in the storm clouds that surround us these days. So far, there are only dark clouds.
One more time... I'm NOT against the public employee unions! I don't want them to shoulder all the burden of balancing our municipal budget. What I DO want them to do is to sit with our elected leaders and the city staff and negotiate, or at least listen.