Monday, September 03, 2012

Homeless, Wireless, "COIN" And Fire Deals

OK, folks... you're back from your long weekend away celebrating the labor of yourselves and others that has made this a great country in which to live.  Time to get back to the business at hand - the actions taken by some of your elected and appointed officials that are trying to make Costa Mesa a less-desirable and safe place to live.


First, the Costa Mesa City Council meeting of Tuesday, September 4, 2012 will commence at 4:00 with a Special Joint Closed Session of the Costa Mesa City Council and the Costa Mesa Housing Authority beginning.  Normally closed session meetings begin at 5 and are followed immediately by the regular meeting at 6 p.m, but the event previously mentioned caused the schedule shift.  This closed session has two (2) items on the agenda.  The first is a conference with CEO Tom Hatch to discuss labor negotiations.  The second, as a "joint council and housing authority meeting", apparently to deal with anticipated litigation.  Sound familiar?  It should, since we've racked up well over $2 million in legal fees since this council took over.  Anyhow, the agenda for this meeting is available for viewing HERE.


 Next, at 5 p.m. on the City Hall lawn, as mentioned in my previous post, the City will honor five Olympians with ties to Costa Mesa.  Kudos to each of them and to the City for this event. 

During the regular meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., there will be several items worthy of your attention.  I'll mention them in the order they appear on the agenda so you can follow along.


First is the only Public Hearing on the agenda, but this one should generate some interesting discussion.  It is a "de novo" hearing for a 7-11 at 1548 Adams Avenue, where the liquor license is being transferred and the applicant wants 24/7/365 operating hours.  The Planning Commission didn't buy that and changed the hours.  The applicant is back with what amounts to a brand new hearing before the council.  You can read the staff report and all it's attachments HERE.

Old Business #1 is the Neighborhood Improvement Task Force update.  This item was shoved off from the last meeting after members of the community, volunteers from the faith-based organizations that have a big stake in it plus a half-dozen staffers were told to go home at 11 p.m., having spent basically an entire work day waiting.  The staff report can be read HERE.  This is a pretty big deal and takes off where the Homeless Task Force left off earlier this year.  I'm not going to re-print the staff report, but will tell you that it looks like much progress is being made.  The goals established by this task force following its creation in February read as follows:

Goal 1: Reduce Homelessness
Goal 2: Improve Motel Standards
Goal 3: Minimize Nuisances from Problem Properties
Goal 4: Develop Citywide Policies and Ordinances to Improve Quality of Life
Goal 5: Better Utilize Law Enforcement Resources to Protect the Public’s Health and Safety

Take some time to read the report.

Old Business #2 is the second reading of the change to the Municipal Code regarding Telecommunications Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way.  You can read that staff report HERE.  Hopefully, this will help avoid monstrosities like this "super suppository" that was erected in my neighborhood last year.

Old Business #3 is the second pass at Steve Mensinger's Civic Openness in Negotiations (COIN) Ordinance.  You can read that staff report HERE.  I'm not quite sure what to expect from this one because at the first reading last month Mensinger invited folks to contact him with suggestions for changes.  There is no indication in the staff report that he met with anyone or included any suggestions made by the public.  Perhaps he will enlighten us.  One thing is clear - he plans to use this as a major part of his campaign platform for his run for a legitimate council seat in November.  Before you get your shorts in a wad, no, I'm not suggesting that his presence on the council for the past 18 months has been illegitimate, but he did ONLY get three (3) votes when he was appointed.  There are many folks in the community that feel his scheme doesn't go far enough - that this "transparency" should be extended more broadly to include communications by council members and anyone else who might be trying to influence a vote - not just folks from labor.

Following a short item about "resident only" parking on Ballow Lane, New Business #2 is going to be VERY interesting.  This is the discussion and vote on the Side Letters of Agreement to the existing Memorandums of Understanding between the City and the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association (CMFA) and the Costa Mesa Fire Management Association (CMFMA).  You can read the staff report HERE and the actual Side Letter for the CMFA HERE and the CMFMA HERE.  Take a few minutes to at least read the staff report.

In a nutshell, plucked right from the pages of the staff report, the CMFA agreed to six points.

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 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.

It is unclear how these agreements will be affected by the Pension Reform deal hammered out in Sacramento late last week.  I suspect we'll find out about that during the council meeting, but you're going to have to stay late to hear about it.  Since it appears that the Fire organizations have given EVERYTHING the City negotiators has asked for, it will be interesting to see if the council approves these deals.  Without these agreements we cannot hire more firefighters nor implement Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold's restructuring plan.

And, just in case you're planning something special for Wednesday evening, please do not forget that the second Costa Mesa Candidate Forum - the Feet To The Fire Forum - hosted by Orange County Register columnist Barbara Venezia and her band of journalist/interrogators, will be held at the Neighborhood Community Center.  More details in a separate entry.

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Anonymous Sam Grady said...

I think the two fire proposals do not go far enough. Current fire employees should pay their entire employee contribution, not just 5%. It is police and fire PERS payments that are the majority of the unfunded PERS liability. I totally support the work that fire and police do for our city, however they need to start paying their entire share of their pension costs.

9/03/2012 08:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Development B4 People said...

I'm not a fan of the parking there, plus there's a 7-11 just down the street. Maybe Riggy, Mensy, and Colon will let customers use their driveways. Gary heard "liquor license" and put on his skirt.

9/03/2012 10:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Pension Shocked! said...

Sam Grady, I couldn't agree more. I will be appalled if our city council after all their tough talk about the costs of pensions, demonizing, being held hostage and greed accusations approves this deal.

Councilmember Mensinger crows about management paying their full share and we know the general city employees agreed to pay their full share and part of the employer share in 2010. Why would public safety which is the lions share of pension costs and claimed to be bankrupting our cities get such a deal?

The straight talk has been all groups need to pay their fair and full share. 5% is a slap in the face to the other groups whom agreed to pay their full shares in 2010. This deal leaves the city still covering about 40% of the firemen's PERSable salary toward their pensions.

2 @ 50 is in line with other public safety reforms and is nice... but the current costs the city is paying needs to be impacted more than just 400k+ per year. 5% is what the fireman agreed to and were paying before when it lapsed recently. Bever stated before it wasn't enough and things have gotten worsen since then.

I hope but don't expect during the staff report that staff enlightens the public to the costs the city will still have to pay, some 40 percent of the firemen's PERSable salary.

On a 100K firemen's salary the firman pays 5k toward his retirement and the city will still pay 40K.

If this is approved after all the tough pension talk, the lay offs and pink slips etc. and the city only saves currently 400K per year, then I'd say once again this council and staff got out bargained, as did the past councils or this was all a total scam to start with.

9/04/2012 05:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Pension Shocked! said...

Here is Gary Monahan from a December Daily Pilot commentary. I believe a 10 percent contribution is more than fair for our public safety employees. The city asked for 15 percent fire fighters offer 5 percent. Take the 10 and let's move on making the city a better place.

Based on need for significant help in reducing pension costs, the city rejected the firefighters' association offer and asked them to pay $15,839 — the maximum amount employees can contribute to their pensions. The taxpayers would still be paying about twice as much — $30,565 — and be on the hook for all the predicted cost increases.

The firefighters countered with an offer to pay $6,000 through June 30.

And that's where the negotiations stand, though the firefighters are no longer paying $6,000 total because the one-year agreement has expired. But they are paying an already-agreed-upon $1,000.

For a firefighter who makes $100,000 annually, the taxpayers are now paying about $45,000 toward his pension costs, and he's paying $1,000. Projected over a 30-year career (and yes, this is a simplification, but still a powerful illustration), the taxpayer would pay $1.35 million toward the pension, and the firefighter would contribute $30,000.

The city and taxpayers now need real help from city employees in paying for these retirements. The good financial times, which some thought would last forever, are gone for the foreseeable future. Costa Mesa and any other city can no longer afford to pay $45,000 annually toward a pension of a firefighter who makes $100,000 per year, while the firefighter only contributes $1,000.

A 50-50 split on pension contributions would be generous in the private sector, where retirement age is usually 65 (firefighters can potentially retire at 50 with 90% of their pay). Costa Mesa taxpayers now have a 45-1 split with their firefighters. The city is asking the firefighters to pay about a third of the cost.

9/04/2012 06:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Joey G. said...

gotta love this blog. first paragraph states that those in power are trying to make this a less desirable and safe place to live. nonsense. egans big lie.

9/04/2012 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Joey G.,
Facts are facts. Fewer cops and firefighters equals a less-safe city.

If you don't like the information you find here just stop reading...

9/04/2012 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

7-11 will pass 3-2, with Leece and Mensinger (so he can campgaign/say he did) voting against it. Planning Dept. recommended no 7-11 at all, Planning Commission recommended conditions including hours of 6 a.m. to midnight. Now the council will ignore all of that and approve.

9/04/2012 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous COIN Operated said...

On the CMFA website midway down there is letter dated from March 2012 with all the current concessions offered, but with a 10%pension offer to the City. My question is if the CMFA offered 10%why didn't the City take it? And if it's not the table anymore who asked for it to be removed, the City or the CMFA? I guess these are questions that COIN would be able to answer.

9/04/2012 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous heading for the bottom said...

Pension Shocked.. Your numbers are more than a "simplification", they are complete BS.

9/04/2012 11:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike McNiff said...

Victory! The 7/11 item has been pulled from the agenda as 7/11 accepted the conditions of approval set forth by the Planning Commission. Now if they'd just stop doing construction work at 2 a.m...

9/04/2012 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous joey g. sent me said...

a less safe city is not caused by fewer cops and firemen if their deployment is efficient. a less safe city is caused by elements of the population that are, let's say, "crime prone". We throw out welcome mats to them. think MIKA as a cause.

9/05/2012 06:41:00 AM  
Anonymous The Lure said...

There is a strong case to be made that who you attract to your city has an effect on safety. Just look at how the city attracted Righeimer and now we are not only less safe but losing employees and services to the city.

9/05/2012 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous lucky ones said...

Joey G it doesn't matter how efficient deployment is when the police force is overwhelmed by calls for service. I heard the other day there were 2 officers in the entire city for hours. 2 officers... sounds like the city got lucky nothing happened.

9/05/2012 09:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Pension Shocked. said...

heading for the bottom... Those are not my numbers those are the numbers Monahan stated in his Dec. 2011 Daily Pilot piece.

Please feel free to enlighten us if you disagree with those numbers with what you think they are.

I missed last nights meeting. Did staff reveal what the city will now pay under the agreement last night?

With firefighters only having to pay 5% of their persable salaries toward their retirement do you know what percentage the city now will have to pay?

Why are the new hires going to be paying 9% and getting less pensions while those who will still get 3 @ 50 a much greater pension only paying 5%?

This council got out negotiated too!

9/05/2012 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

The Lure: Absolutely. We need to vote these characters out, so we can get some good people in there that can negotiate and put this city back on track. We've been run over (or over run) for too long.

9/05/2012 12:50:00 PM  

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