Mickadeit Misses The Mark
This evening Orange County Register columnist, law student and good old boy Frank Mickadeit published a column titled, "Costa Mesa keeps its Fire Department", HERE. Now, old Frank is an interesting guy who writes some pretty good stuff and this one is OK as far as it goes, but he only tells part of the story. And it raises some interesting questions, too.
WHAT MOTIVATED MICKADEIT?
The motivation for this column, apparently, is the final agenda item for the Costa Mesa City Council meeting Tuesday, April 17th. You can read it HERE. As I've mentioned in an earlier post, the council apparently plans to rescind all the bogus layoff notices issued more than a year ago to the entire Costa Mesa Fire Department, sworn and non-sworn.
He says, "The City Council is poised to rescind the notice of possible layoffs it had sent to 87 Fire Department employees. It has determined that keeping the jobs in-house will ultimately save money and provide more local control." Well, it LOOKS like the council is ready to rescind the layoffs based on the staff report, but how does Mickadeit know "that keeping the jobs in-house will ultimately save money and provide more local control."?
WHERE DID MICKADEIT GET HIS INFORMATION?
There have been NO public pronouncements to that effect. We do know that Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold has been working hard on a plan that has not yet been presented to the City Council - certainly not in a public forum of any kind - that MIGHT accomplish some of those goals. How does Mickadeit know? Has someone inside City Hall leaked this still-private and confidential information to him before the entire council has heard it? If so, who? And what laws does this violate, if any?
OCFA PROPOSALS REJECTED
Mickadeit mentions the Orange County Fire Authority proposal(s) - there were two of them - presented to the City Council last year as a result of a request by the Costa Mesa Firefighter's Association. Although each of the several permutations of the OCFA proposal theoretically would have saved The City money and the firefighters were in favor of the shift, the City Council majority stiff-armed the OCFA - twice.
MICKADEIT SAYS CITY COULD SAVE DOUBLE
The OCFA could have affected cost savings - according to Mickadeit, $6.6 million - by closing one fire station and providing coverage from other OCFA stations nearby. Mickadeit quotes the city as assuming it could save more than double what he presents the OCFA proposal saved - $15 million a year - by having the firefighters agree to reduce contractually obligated minimum manning staff level. This reeks of Jim Righeimer's hand - he's been complaining about the minimum manning aspect of the current contract and his shills posting here have been yapping about it too. And what would the cost be in response times?
Not only that, but in recent weeks Righeimer has tried to characterize the OCFA as a marauding hoard, intent on taking over every fire department in the county. He lied about the recent contract signed by the City of Santa Ana with the OCFA - a fabrication which he must have felt served his political purposes because any rational man would know that people would see right through the falsehood.
SANITY? I THINK NOT!
Mickadeit asks, "Doesn't the council's behavior regarding the largest department on the potential chopping block indicate that it will act similarly sanely when it comes to evaluating the other city services?", to which I answer "Not only NO, but HELL NO!" His assumption that this council has acted "sanely" in the matter of the fire department is, well, insane! If they'd have gotten away with violating their own rules half the city staff might have been laid-off by the end of last year, for goodness sake.
Not only has this council NOT acted rationally with the OCFA proposal, they have been capricious and irresponsible throughout this whole "outsourcing" calamity. They DID NOT generate the proposal - the firefighters did. They rejected the OCFA not once, but twice and left the Fire Department dangling, short-handed because Righeimer had one of his hissy fits and refused to authorize hiring any more firefighters until a second pension tier was in place.
SHORT-STAFFING REQUIRED OVERTIME
The department has been operating with at least nine (9) fewer staffers than required for months. So, that forced the firefighters and their leadership to rack up thousands of hours of overtime - for which Righeimer and his sycophants roundly criticized them. It's been clear from the beginning - with the irresponsible reduction of Police Department staffing levels far below the minimum recommended by their own consultants and former chief Steve Staveley, HERE, and their ham-handed handling of the Fire Department situation - that political posturing is much more important to a few of the council members than is the safety of the public in this city.
I EXPECT MORE...
I fear that Mickadeit has been spending too much time leaning against the bar of a certain local gin mill, having his ear bent by members of our city council. While his column is his opinion and what information he includes is his prerogative, he doesn't serve his readers well by presenting only a portion of the facts. I guess I expect better from him.