It is with great interest that I read the recent exchanges of correspondence between City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch and Helen Nenadal, President of the Costa Mesa City Employee's Association on the subject of outsourcing and City Council Policy 100-6. Most of that correspondence is available on the City web site, HERE, in "The Latest Headlines" block in the center of the home page. The relevant entries are listed as:
City to add employee association representatives to outsourcing process
Costa Mesa's response to employees' association 2nd letter regarding outsourcing process
CEO Hatch responds to latest association letter about outsourcing process
Latest exchange of letters between city, association regarding outsourcing (Aug. 19/Aug. 20)
It will be helpful for you to read them in that order, but if you want to speed read to the end, read the latest letters.
WE HAVE A "DO OVER"
My opinion, in a nutshell, is that now that City Council policy 100-6 has finally been unearthed and the City has agreed to stop the outsourcing process, recall the Requests for Proposals (RFPs), back up and begin anew following the guidelines provided by policy 100-6, all this arm-wrestling that's going on about who and how many representatives should be allowed to be on the Contracting Committees is counterproductive to resolving the issues at hand.
DEMANDS AND CONCESSIONS
The bargaining unit, through correspondence signed by Nenadal, demanded that outsiders be permitted to be members of the Contracting Committees. The City said "NO!" - correctly so, in my view. The bargaining unit, through Nenadal, demanded that she be a part of every Contracting Committee. Even though her participation is not prescribed by the policy, Hatch agreed to that demand. Again, I think this was a constructive step - one that should facilitate progress being made.
ASSOCIATION DRAGGING ITS FEET
The City requested that participants on each of the first four Contracting Committees be identified by August 16th, the bargaining unit had not done so by August 20th. They need to understand that the ship is sailing and that the City is fulfilling its responsibilities under policy 100-6. If they don't jump aboard they will be left standing on the dock.
IT'S NOT WHO WROTE THEM, IT'S THE CONTENT
I know that Helen Nenadal did not write any of the correspondence in question. One must assume, since it's written on the letterhead of the Orange County Employees Association, that members of that organization composed the letters for her signature. That is even more clear when you realize they misspelled her name on the first couple of letters. I don't have any problem with someone else writing those letters for Nenadal. I have a problem with the obstinance in the letters.
COUNCIL ACTIONS BROUGHT INFAMY TO OUR CITY
Anyone watching this drama for the past six months understands that the current City Council messed this up big time. They - led by the impatient political opportunist, Jim Righeimer and his non-elected pal, Steve Mensinger - went off half-cocked on the outsourcing issue and the results were turmoil among the employee ranks - rightfully so, in my view - a young man leaping to his death from the roof of City Hall and a tsunami of local, regional, national and international media attention that has brought only shame and infamy to our city.
PUSHING A POLITICAL AGENDA
As we now know, it didn't have to be this way. If the council majority had not been trying to force-feed a political agenda and augment a political resume this issue could, and should, have been managed in a more business-like manner. The City - inexplicably - didn't turn up Council Policy 100-6 until this majority had already incurred more legal difficulties for The City. Those difficulties are far from over.
BACK TO SQUARE ONE
Whether Righeimer, Mensinger and the rest of the council majority messed up now is almost moot. We are now back at square one and the employees should recognize this as an opportunity and, hard as it might be, to try to put all the bad feelings aside for a moment and work in good faith on each of these Contracting Committees. Those discussions may result in decisions they are not happy with, but that can be dealt with downstream. Right now, in my opinion, it is important to participate in good faith - to bring the best authoritative perspective to the deliberations that is possible - and move forward from there. To do less will cost them dearly in the hearts and minds of the residents of this city - in my opinion.
THE TACTICS ON BOTH SIDES SUCK
Let me be clear. I think the tactics employed by both sides on this issue left much to be desired. Certainly, the haste with which this council majority has tried to disassemble this city is unforgivable. However, the tactics employed by the OCEA and their shell front organization, Repair Costa Mesa, irritate the heck out of me. I'm so sick of seeing those pervasive pop-up adds on my computer and on cable television... And the whole "sign" drama is getting very old, too. And the distasteful manipulation of children in this process should give any parent watching some pause about the men who would permit and encourage these actions.
A CHANCE FOR HEALING
In my opinion, it's time to wipe the blood off the knives, let some of the wounds heal and for both sides to meet in good faith to assess the RFPs as prescribed by policy 100-6. It's time to make this process work, and to tone down the rhetoric, if possible. As I write those words I know that I will NOT stop writing about malfeasance, vindictiveness and stupidity as I perceive it. However, public urinating contests from the dais and the speaker's podium are not helping get the issues resolved. I do understand the passion of the issue - livelihoods are at stake - but there is now an opportunity in hand to potentially create a better outcome.
LET THE PROCESS WORK
So, let's see if this process can work. We're going to know soon enough - it won't take too many meetings before the employees and The City have a sense of how things are going. Since the rules of conduct of the meetings preclude any outsiders - like me, for example - from being there and, according to Hatch's most recent letter, disclosure of confidential information from the meetings is discouraged, we'll just have to sit patiently and wait for progress reports from the inner sanctum. I'm willing to do that, keeping my fingers crossed that progress can be made. Now, let's get on with it...