Council Meeting Wrap Up
Well, the Costa Mesa City Council meeting last night was short, but not without it's interesting moments, beginning with the fact that Eric, "I didn't sign up for this!", Bever was absent - again. Of course, that's a mixed blessing. Left without his possible "tie-breaker" vote it's possible that items on the agenda might not receive a proper decision. I say that with tongue in cheek, since the council still had the majority, even without Bever. And, without him on the dais, interrupting speakers and chiding others, things seem to have run much more smoothly. The folks who vote for positions on the Mesa Consolidated Water District should remember that in November.
UH-OH - RIGHEIMER'S IN CHARGE!
That left Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer in charge - always an adventure. Right off the bat he juggled the agenda, bringing the last item on it - the two Fire Side Letters - forward to be considered first. More on that in a minute.
I was amused when a couple of the early speakers during Public Comments were obviously imported hacks, spouting the anti-union party line. In fact, one of those guys - "Martin Thomas" - actually mentioned my blog - twice. I didn't have a chance to thank him for the publicity because he and his crony - "Ari David" - skulked out of the auditorium shortly after speaking.
WHO IS THAT MASKED MAN?
We also had the first masked speaker I can recall. A gentleman, later identified by his companion speaker as Pedro Paramo, addressed the council in Spanish, apparently cautioning the city to not turn into another Bell and referring to that city's corrupt police department. I suspect none of the council members understood a single word he spoke. Mr. Paramo apparently is the editor of Watchourcity.com, an online watchdog organization focused primarily on southeast Los Angeles County.
FIRE DEPARTMENT SIDE LETTERS
As mentioned, Righeimer juggled the agenda, moving the discussion of the two Fire Department Contract Side Letters from the end to the beginning. I believe he did that because $300 per hour labor negotiation/lawyer Richard Kreisler was there to answer questions. The short version of events is that the council approved the action proposed by the staff report, HERE, 4-0. The following is the text from the staff report that summarizes the agreements in question.
The Costa Mesa Firefighters Association (CMFA) agreed to:
1. Current employees covered by this agreement shall contribute 5% of the employee’s PERSable earnings towards their employee retirement contribution through June 30, 2017. This contribution will begin retroactive to the pay period beginning July 1, 2012.
2.The City will implement the 2%@50 CalPERS Benefit Formula for new employees. New employees covered by the 2%@50 CalPERS Benefit Formula shall contribute 9% of the employee’s PERSable earnings towards their employee retirement contribution.
3.Suspension of the RHS (Retirement Health Savings) Program - neither employee nor employer provides 1% retiree medical funding through June 30, 2017.
4.Through and including June 30, 2017, there shall be no base salary adjustments.
5.Staffing level – minimum staffing of Article 12.1 is null and void and to be replaced by Fire Department Operational Restructuring document (Exhibit A of Attachment A) prepared by the Fire Chief.
6. The there shall be no extension of the CMFA MOU expiring on June 30, 2014.
The Costa Mesa Fire Management Association (CMFMA) also agreed to six points:
1. Current employees covered by this agreement shall continue contributing 5% of the employee’s PERSable earnings towards their employee retirement contribution through June 30, 2017. This contribution will begin retroactive to the pay period beginning July 1, 2012.
2. The City will implement the 2%@50 CalPERS Benefit Formula for new employees. New employees covered by the 2%@50 CalPERS Benefit Formula shall contribute 9% of the employee’s PERSable earnings towards their employee retirement contribution.
3. Suspension of the RHS (Retirement Health Savings) Program -neither employee nor employer provides 1% retiree medical funding through June 30, 2017
4. Through and including June 30, 2017, there shall be no base salary adjustments.
5. Staffing level – minimum staffing is null and void and to be replaced by Fire Department Operational Restructuring document (Exhibit A of Attachment B) prepared by the Fire Chief.
6. The City’s contribution towards employees’ medical and health care benefit frozen at the 2010 level shall continue to be frozen for calendar year 2013.
LET'S GET MOVING!
So, that is that! Now it's time to get cracking on Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold's plan for the reorganization of the Fire Department that was so roundly supported a month ago.
CLEAN-UP LEGISLATION MAY CHANGE THE GAME
It is unknown at this time precisely what effect, if any, Governor Brown's recent proposal for Pension Reform will have on these agreements. Kreisler provided scenarios of what MIGHT happen in January, but there's the strong possibility that this law, AB 340, will change dramatically before the effective date in what Kreisler called "clean up legislation". I glanced at Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, observing from the audience, and saw a slight smile when he heard that statement.
In a further bit of juggling, Righeimer next took Old Business #3, Steve Mensinger's Civic Openness In Negotiations (COIN) scheme, HERE. This was the second reading and Kreisler stayed to provide legal support. After much discussion, during which the majority once again stiff-armed Wendy Leece's request to broaden this "transparency" initiative to include other communications besides those related to labor issues. No, sir - this was just another initiative aimed directly at the forehead of the employee associations. Mensinger didn't much care for the criticism, either. Nothing new about that. It passed on a 4-0 vote.
Next came what should have been the first item on the agenda, the Neighborhood Improvement Task Force report. You will recall that this was shoved off until tonight from the last council meeting two weeks ago - but not before making the staff and consultants cool their heels in the auditorium until 11:00 p.m. that night.
PROGRESS AND PLANS
Assistant CEO Rick Francis and consultant Muriel Ullman presented the overview and the report, HERE. You can read that report to see the progress that's been made and where the City plans to focus its efforts downstream. Not unexpectedly, "problem motels" were a major issue and the staff is expected to turn up the heat on them by way of increased visits for "inspections". When Mensinger suggested that we eliminate all long term stays legal counsel cautioned that they are, after all, businesses operating within the rules. I had the impression that certain members on the dais didn't much care about that. They don't like rules, period. Speakers opined that the "problem" of the transient population seems to be moving around as enforcement is tightened up in one area, a little like squeezing Jello. Francis agreed and suggested that new plans need to be devised to manage that element. The council voted to receive and file this report and await the next progress report in six months.
At 10:20 the council finally briefly spoke about the new Wireless Telecommunication Facilities in Public Places ordinance, generated by the installation earlier this year of this monstrosity in my neighborhood, HERE. The ordinance passed on a 3-0 vote - Righeimer is in the business, so was out of the auditorium for the discussion and vote.
The council, after the briefest of discussions, agreed to a plan for Permit Parking on Ballow Lane and then adjourned to the next council meeting on September 17th at 10:35 p.m. Yea! A meeting finished in the same day!