More On The Hiring Freeze
VERY early this morning I wrote my previous entry summarizing important points covered in last night's Costa Mesa City Council Meeting. I led off with my description of events that resulted in a de facto hiring freeze until the employee bargaining units agree to install a 2-tier pension system. I described the situation as I saw it and quoted Mayor Gary Monahan verbatim from the tape I made of the meeting.
JOUSTING WITH LOBDELL
This morning I had an exchange with Interim Communications Director Bill Lobdell in which he refuted my statement that we have a hiring freeze. We went back and forth until he finally presented to me the following statement attributed to CEO Tom Hatch:
"The Council agreed with the recommendation in the staff report. I’ve formed a three-person committee that will determine if a position is critical enough to the City’s operation that it needs to be filled. If so, I will make the hire and also keep Council informed about any new personnel. In the meantime, we are working hard to enact a two-tier pension system so new hires will be given a pension plan that is much more sustainable for taxpayers."
OK, TOM.. IF YOU SAY SO
OK, if that's what Hatch thinks happened in open session, but it's not what I saw and heard. It may be what he WANTED to happen, or it may be what actually happened in subsequent conversations in the closed session, but it's NOT what happened while the public was watching.
IT'S THE RIGHT DECISION
Don't get me wrong. I think his plan was the right one. He wanted the authority to hire staff members when he felt it was critical to providing proper, essential levels of service. That should always be the goal of our CEO, and the council - if it has confidence in him - should give him the latitude to perform his job.
YOU CAN DECIDE FOR YOURSELF
So, since we have this clear difference of opinion, I'm going to let you decide. I'm going to give you a couple clips from that segment of the council meeting - late at night Tuesday - and you decide what you heard.
The first is a memorable moment by Jim Righeimer. This short - 30 second - clip sets up the second one. Please listen to the last sentence:
WHAT A HYPOCRITE!
Really, Jimbo? You don't want to layoff people just because of a "pension problem"? What the heck do you call what you and your cronies on the city council did back on March 17th? You issued over 200 layoff notices, an act that caused one of them to leap to his death from the City Hall roof! Do you ever listen to what you say?
WATCH THE DISCUSSION
The next clip is about 3:30 long and includes the discussion that led to my quote from Gary Monahan. That statement is included in this segment. I think you'll agree that Righeimer, Steve Mensinger and Monahan all were firm that they didn't want Hatch hiring anyone unless and until the 2-tier pension system in in place.
WHAT OTHER SECRETS ARE THERE?
So, that leaves me wondering just how much more of the City's business is being done in secret. If Hatch's understanding of the situation is different than what was presented to the public in open session, where did he get that idea? Is it any wonder that the employee units no longer trust the City Council and, to a great extent, Tom Hatch? It's no surprise to me.
It's going to be VERY interesting to watch this part of our municipal drama play out. It's going to be VERY interesting to see just which positions Hatch thinks are critical enough to the mission that he will request council approval before hiring. I wonder if the two PR managerial slots in the CEO's office will fit that description? Will they get the nod over police or firefighter positions? I don't know about you, but if push comes to shove, I'd much rather have more cops and firefighters on the street than PR folks spinning slow response times and rising crime rates. But that's just me - a 38 year resident of this city.