Spinnin' The Judge's Ruling And More Lopez
After the battle of press releases Tuesday afternoon, there is no doubt in my mind why the City of Costa Mesa and the Orange County Employee's Association, representing the non-public safety Costa Mesa employees, are in court. They can't even agree on what the judge said Tuesday, for goodness sake!
THE JUDGE RULES, KINDA...
Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann issued a ruling from the bench, which apparently will be followed up in writing soon. So, what to do the opposing sides think? Well, you tell me!
Below are two press releases issued shortly after the ruling. The first, sent out by OCEA spokeswoman Jennifer Muir just after 4 p.m. today, gives us one view.
Judge stops Costa Mesa layoffs
SANTA ANA, CA – Expressing concern about a looming layoff date, a Superior Court judge this afternoon told attorneys she would issue a preliminary injunction precluding the mass layoffs of municipal employees within the City of Costa Mesa.
Nearly half the City’s workforce received six-month layoff notices on March 17 after the Costa Mesa City Council majority voted to outsource their jobs. At the time, the City Council had not studied the cost of outsourcing or the negative impacts to community services, and they still have failed to do so.
The Orange County Employees Association, on behalf of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association, filed a lawsuit in May to stop the layoffs.“This is a positive outcome, but it is only one step toward holding this Council accountable,” OCEA Communications Director Jennifer Muir said. “It will prevent the City from laying off employees to outsource to the private sector. At least temporarily, it removes a dark cloud from over the heads of City employees, their families, and the entire community. ”
Judge rules Costa Mesa can continue outsourcing process, but can't lay off employees until after all 'proper procedures' are followed
COSTA MESA, CALIF.—Orange County Superior Court Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann ruled today that the City of Costa Mesa can continue its exploration of outsourcing many of its services, but can’t lay off employees until all “proper procedures” were followed.
The Court didn’t make a finding that the City wasn’t following “proper procedures.”
The preliminary injunction was sought by the Costa Mesa City Employees’ Assn., which filed a lawsuit in May to stop the potential outsourcing of 213 employees. In March, Schumann denied a temporary restraining order to stop any potential layoffs.
Schumann didn’t specify what exactly the proper procedures were, but Costa Mesa City Attorney Tom Duarte said the City has and will continue to follow the law and provisions in the employee association contract while it explores the viability of outsourcing services. The association’s contract mandated a six-month notice if City jobs were outsourced. The City began issuing the notices in March.
“We are following the proper procedures,” Duarte said. “This ruling doesn’t affect the City’s ability to research outsourcing possibilities and, if it’s prudent, to outsource City jobs down the road.”Under the judge’s ruling, the City can continue to request proposals for outsourcing from other agencies and private companies and weigh whether the outsourcing is viable. If the City decides to outsource a service, it would meet with the Costa Mesa City Employees’ Assn. on the impacts of the outsourcing and, with the “proper procedures” followed, lay off the affected workers.
MAYBE SOME ENLIGHTENMENT ON WEDNESDAY
So, I guess we're left to our own devices to figure out just what is happening. I will, however, follow-up with lawyers from both sides tomorrow if at all possible to see if they will, or can, slow the spin down just a little bit so we laypersons can try to figure out what happens next.
LOPEZ SIGNS IN AGAIN WEDNESDAY
In the meantime, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez gives us his third in what looks like a mini-series on Costa Mesa's travails with his column in print on Wednesday, HERE. He gives us some pretty provocative quotes to contemplate and kind of affirms how we got here in the first place - meetings at Skosh's bar, sipping suds and designing strategy.