Monday, October 25, 2010

OC GOP Pressures Leece On Contract Vote

In a press release issued this morning Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece announced that she has been receiving tremendous pressure from high-ranking members of the Orange County Republican Party to reject the contract proposals negotiated with the employee bargaining units at the Special City Council Meeting Tuesday night.


In an article in the Daily Pilot online this morning,
HERE, Leece is quoted as stating that many high-ranking members of the OC GOP have sent emails and have been in telephone contact with Leece over the past few days demanding that she vote to reject the contracts. Leece apparently has voicemail recordings of those conversations to backup her announcement. We have made an official Public Records request from the City of Costa Mesa for copies of those recorded messages and email messages.

his stunning development is not unexpected. Leece has been shoved aside during this campaign as the OC GOP has marshaled all it's forces to get Jim Righeimer and Allan Mansoor elected. It's clear from this current action that Chairman Scott Baugh and his cohorts are willing to cast Leece - about as loyal a Republican as you'll likely find in Orange County - under the bus.


Through the interference of their leadership, it is also obvious that the OC GOP is willing to force Costa Mesa into bankruptcy to make it the tip of the lance in their quest for state-wide public employee pension reform. This is unacceptable interference with the governance of our city and, once again, demonstrates the arrogance of the leadership of the Orange County Republican Party when it comes to trying to muscle municipal leaders to bow to their wishes.

Keep in mind that council candidate Righeimer is part of this OC GOP hierarchy. He's practically a conjoined twin with Baugh. This kind of intimidation and bullying is just a sample of what the residents of Costa Mesa can expect if Righeimer is elected to our city council next week. If he's successful, more than 100,000 residents of our city will find themselves controlled by the whims of a handful of lock-step lemmings at the top of the OC GOP, where political dogma is more important than the well-being of our city.

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Anonymous Honeyman said...

Off subject, but what happpens if Mansoor gets elected to the state assembly? Do we have a special election for his seat at the city council?

10/25/2010 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

Funny, Wendy BEGGED the OCGOP to endorse her and needed her pal Allan Mansoor to get her over the hump when they refused. Now, after getting the endorsement she turns on them. This woman has no loyalty to anyone. She even secretly records phone calls. Ewwww. I'm voting Righeimer and McEvoy!!

10/25/2010 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

I am now officially ashamed of my own party.

10/25/2010 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Bob from Costa Mesa said...

I was never a very big Leece fan, but if she stands to her beliefs(and not that of the Central Party) then I will consider voting for her.

10/25/2010 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Honeyman, Mansoor is termed out. He's off the city council regardless how his Assembly election goes. If he loses to Phu Nguyen, perhaps he can get a job at Target as a security guard.

10/25/2010 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Thomas, I'm not so sure she recorded the calls - I think they were voicemail messages. It's a moot point - the calls were made to pressure her. You should be blaming Righeimer and his pals at the OC GOP, not Wendy. She did the right thing.

10/25/2010 03:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

Pot Stirrer, where is Righeimer implicated in this? That's a conclusion you jumped to. Funny, everyone on this page is so up in arms about the out of town GOP throwing its weight around but the out of town unions have been doing so in this election for months. Double standard?? Wendy as a victim, I don't think so. The bottom line is that this contract proposal fixes nothing. The City is still $6 mil short. Even if the TOT passes (and we hope it does) there's $5 mil you have to make up. Where? Where does it come from? Fire and Police will say they did their part. Our budget is 80% salary and benefits so it has to come from there. There's nothing else to cut. Money does not grow on trees. Layoffs are coming next and you have the Police and Fire unions to thank for that!!

10/25/2010 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Thomas, you're correct. Nowhere in Leece's press release nor in the Daily Pilot article does Righeimer's name come up. However, since his entire campaign has been based on his displeasure with the Costa Mesa public employees compensation plans and he launches into a diatribe about it at the drop of a hat and since he's one of the anointed few at the very top of the Orange County GOP, I really don't think it's a stretch at all. Do I believe he was one of the many, many people who contacted Leece over the weekend? I doubt it, but it's likely that he's alone among his runnin' buddies in the OC GOP who didn't contact her.

The police and fire, as well as the other bargaining units, have met and negotiated in good faith - not only this year, but last year, as well. The furloughs they agreed to last year made a very significant hit to each family's income. The agreements on the table tomorrow are also huge for each employee. Not mentioned in the staff report is the fact that the firefighters agreed to re-visit a 2-tier retirement plan if any other bargaining unit. Since that is part of one of the agreements, we assume they will be good to their words and commence negotiations with the city on that issue.

You've been drinking too much of that CM Press Kool-Aid, referring to them as "out of town unions"... they are not! They are the bargaining units of Costa Mesa Municipal employees, many of whom do, indeed, live in our city. If we can't find money somewhere to balance the budget then, yes, layoffs are the only solution. Tomorrow I expect there will be a discussion of the Fund Balance - the pot from which previous budgets have been balanced and which has been drained to the tune of over $30 million the past three years. It's my understanding that the "undesignated" part of that pot has been exhausted, leaving only those funds designated for emergencies and other specifically designated purposes. We'll see how that conversation goes.

10/25/2010 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous folkinhippy said...

just posted this at the pilot:

like the fact that all of the properties that have been empty lots for more than 2 years in the city boast huge righeimer support. if developers or land owners that cant get anything done, despite their boy being planning commish, suppot jim, then why shouldnt i? its a shame that victoria and placentia lot became a used clothes store. that wouldve been a great righiemer sign location. maybe if he gets elected, he can shut more places down in the next 4 years so there are more places for his billboards.

if that's a perfect republican candidate, wendy should feel no shame in feeling a little distance.

10/25/2010 09:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

I strongly suggest that you all read the Pilot article, as updated.

According to that article, Ms. Leece, in exchange for their endorsement, promised the OC GOP Central Committee that "...going forward she would support defined contributions for new hires to make into their retirement programs." Remember, she ran for a seat on the Central Committee this past election and narrowly lost.

These contracts do NO such thing, and while they are a step in the right direction, we still have everyone not picking up even the full employee share of their pension contributions. Layoffs, program cuts, deferred maintenance, depleted reserves, etc. - and yet the city is still picking up portions of the employee shares! In the CMPA contract, it is for 4 years, not one or two as a temporary measure.

As pointed out by others, this isn't small change, and will immediately have an impact on employees - but let us be clear, this is NOT pension reform, and shouldn't be for four years.

As for the basic principal of the GOP trying to influence a local election, please be serious. Ms. Leece sought a seat on the CEntral Committee, and if you don't think that other sitting council members have been encouraged to vote a certain way by other political entities, I've got some land in Florida to sell you. And I'm sure that Gil Cedillo didn't have an opinion on any Costa Mesa issues when he was in town last week, right?

10/25/2010 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rob Dickson,
So, you STRONGLY suggest I read the updated version, huh? And if I don't? As a matter of fact, I did read that update (as of 7:19 p.m. tonight), which includes quotes from Scott Baugh and John Moorlach - who admits to being one of the callers. My link still takes you there.
Be advised that another item has been added to the agenda for Tuesday evening's meeting - another bargaining unit's proposal will be presented for approval, the Costa Mesa Fire Management Association.
As previously stated, the proposals won't get the city to a balanced budget - not even close - but that doesn't mean they should not be ratified. And they certainly should not be rejected to bow down to the power brokers at the top of the OC GOP.
There may be other reasons to reject them - we may learn about that tomorrow evening. The numbers are pretty simple - Mansoor will certainly vote NO to keep his fanny covered with his pals at the OC GOP. Bever, if he even bothers to show up, will also vote NO. I suspect Katrina Foley will vote YES, which leaves us with Leece and Gary Monahan. If either of them vote against the proposals it throws the city into a fiscal tailspin that will almost certainly require significant layoffs to recover from. Even if the amendments are approved they don't cover the budget shortfall. And, it is my understanding that there is not enough money left in the Fund Balance to cover it without some significant changes in the way our finances are managed. There is no doubt that tomorrow night will be interesting.

10/25/2010 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous CostaMesaIsBroke said...

Leece brought this upon herself and for her to claim victim status is a joke. Finally, the GOP has put a stake in the ground.

10/26/2010 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

CostaMesasBroke, more like they want to drive a stake in the heart of our city.

10/26/2010 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am one of the ones who reached out to Wendy to ask her to uphold her promise after the party endorsed her. Why is it so important to do this contract right before an election? It's obvious that the unions feel threatened by what may happen at the ballot box and they are desperately trying to get an extension done before the new council is seated. Wendy was begging us to endorse her last month despite her 3 @50 vote. I thought after all that, that she would see the light and not carry water for the unions anymore. I guess I was wrong.

10/26/2010 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous marko said...

Orange County Republican Party isn't that your party Geoff?

10/26/2010 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Allan Bartlett, it's important to our city to get the contracts done because until they are completed we're operating under the terms of the old one. Each month delaying costs the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.

marko, yep... I've been a registered Republican all my voting life. With very few exceptions I've been proud of that affiliation. I'm still proud, but very concerned that a few local party officials are so willing to force our city into bankruptcy to try to force state-wide pension reform.

10/26/2010 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Why can't the contract wait until after the new council is seated? This smacks of desperation by the unions.

10/26/2010 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger PeterMeuter said...

Geoff, thanks for keeping the voters on their toe's...
Lets see what happens tonight.

10/26/2010 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

For all of you so outraged at the GOP's alleged meddling in this, answer one simple question: where will the remaining $6 mil come from? Not from fire, not from police, not from employees. It will come from layoffs. There is no where else.

10/26/2010 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

Allen Bartlett:

I too have been a registered Republican my entire voting life. I am also a Costa Mesa Police Officer, CMPA board member, and resident of the City of Costa Mesa.

It's important to get the contract completed, because as Geoff said, the city will continue to lose money until it is complete. I am sick and tired of my own party claiming to be for "law and order", then willing to break it off in the 4th point of contact of those of us who actually hold that "thin blue line". It's absolutely hypocritical.

Members of our party want to lump a small municipal police association in with unions, and equate us to UAW, SEIU, Teamsters etc. It's an unfair comparison and you know it. I am not fond of unions or the prevailing wage terms they set. We absolutely do not do that and you know it. The funny thing is. with all of this anti-union rhetoric, it has not stopped Mr. Baugh from lobbying for SEIU. Talk about incongruity.

The fact is, the most vocal and militant members of OUR party rail against the unions until it suits their needs. Righeimer, Mensinger et al are more than willing to label the CMPA a union, tell everyone how evil we are, then put their hand out for a donation for whatever their pet community program is. We always oblige.

You might be reminded that almost every officer we represent are Republicans. There has been banter about a defined contribution program vs. a defined benefit, or perhaps a two tiered system. The reality is, this will only apply to new hires. How will this save money now? We ARE NOT HIRING. Our current proposal saves money right now by those that are already working.

Get a clue sir.

10/26/2010 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Alan the question should be why did the council sit on this for four months without responding to the public service unions offer until the last couple of weeks?

The unions aren't rushing this ......the council has delayed it, until right before the elections. I think we all know why.
It was what Righeimer wanted....even if it cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, it benefitted Righeimer. It's ALL about the politics and nothing about the issue or the solutions.

10/26/2010 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Allan Bartlett,
Either our messages crossed in the ether or you're not paying attention. Every month that passes without an agreement will cost the City a quarter million dollars! That's easy to understand. The council decided to cancel it's November 2nd regularly scheduled meeting, so the next one would be November 16th - another month, another quarter million bucks! Maybe that's not important so you guys in the GOP hierarchy, but it's no small potatoes to those of us here in Costa Mesa trying to balance a budget.

10/26/2010 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Vicki said...

The city is completely OUT OF MONEY. Are the city employees now willing to accept IOUs?

10/26/2010 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I understand the situation Geoff, but where is the other $6 or $7 million gonna come from to balance the budget if you don't extract more concessions from the public employee unions? I'm just asking the difficult questions here. You guys can't print money like our federal government can.

10/26/2010 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Ah, ms. Vicki, I'm happy to provide a forum for you to demonstrate your ignorance. The city is NOT completely out of money. I know it's too much to expect you to actually do some homework here - you'd rather take the blather you read over at the CM Press as gospel. We are in deep financial trouble and, hopefully, we will here about other possible solutions tonight. In the meantime, Vicki, just keep on displaying your ignorance here - it makes the other commentors look so much better.

10/26/2010 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Allan Bartlett,
I don't know where that other money will come from. The City has cut all the flesh off the skeleton. There is 14.25 million in the emergency reserve and a few million in other reserved accounts... perhaps we'll hear about that tonight. Tune in on the streaming video on Costa Mesa's web site at 6:30 to watch.

10/26/2010 02:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

Assuming that the total number of sworn police officers, including management, is 150, and the total number of sworn firefighters, including management, is 100, that means that each police officer and firefighter would need to forfeit, on average, $38,000 in compensation to close the budget gap. That simply isn't going to happen, so we need to all get on board with the fact that our budget gap and future deficits will not be fixed by cuts to public safety alone.

There has been a lot of rhetoric about this issue from both sides, but the reailty is that a highly trained and quality employee asked to take a 25% pay cut is going to seek employment elsewhere.

Now, take that $9.5 million deficit and spread it over 600 employees, and the average number is $15,800 per employee. Still a hell of a lot to most, especially when you consider the fact that the original gap was $16 million and that has ben pared down by cuts and concessions.

The point I'm trying to make is that whatever the council does tonight, we're still going to be stuck with a fundamental, structural budget problem unless we figure out how to reduce employee costs. Increasing the business license fee or TOT just won't do it, and even the proposals that the City start charging fees for every service government provides (ON TOP of property taxes in the thousands for every property owner) - it won't fix the problem we have.

The OC Register just published an article that identified Costa Mesa as the City with the highest percentage of revenue spent on employees in the whole county. The statistics really are shocking, if accurate. Here is the relevant excerpts:

"Among Orange County cities that year, Costa Mesa spent by far the highest percentage of its budget on salaries and benefits."

"Other figures from the almanac depict a city that spends much more on salaries and benefits than the average city.

In 2007-08, the statewide average for cities was 47 percent of the operating budget spent on salaries and benefits; the median figure was 49 percent. Costa Mesa's figure was 80 percent that year, and 78 percent for the fiscal year just ended.

Over the last 17 years for which data was available, Costa Mesa spent between 61 percent and 93 percent of its operating budget on salaries. Most years, the number was in the high 60s or low 70s.

In recent years among Orange County cities, only Newport Beach and Brea have spent a comparable percentage on salaries. Other full-service Orange County cities spend percentages in the 50s and low 60s on salaries and benefits."

It is obvious that all of our employees need to continue to work with the City on a workable, long-term solution to our structural budget problem. New taxes in this economy are not the answer. As others have noted, with the percentage of our budget spent on employees at 80%, there is nothing else to cut.

Side letter agreements that extend the existing contracts for another four years, even with significant concessions that will save money, are not appropriate, as they do not address the structural issues. Even with the savings offered, we're still millions in the hole. I'd support the agreements if they were temporary, for a year at most. In that year, the city and associations can work on comprehensive new MOUs that reflect the new reality, see what pension reform comes from Sacramento, and evaluate the revenue implications of Measure L and other strategies.

The only alternatives are layoffs, and that hurts everyone.

10/26/2010 02:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Diogenes said...

Sukoshi and Wendy did the right thing tonight, thank God. We expected Katrina to, and it was manifest that Allan and Eric would vote ag'in it. The only negative I can raise about the whole night is the longwindedness. We coulda been out of the chamber half-an-hour earlier, but for the cover-your-arse speeches given by nearly everybody on the council. Bever's was particularly objectionable. Thank God also that Pigheimer wasn't on the council. With a little luck, the status quo may yet be maintained.

Wendy, though I am not particularly enamored of her politics, listens to input from the citizenry here. She doesn't, like Mansoor and Bever, come to the meetings with her mind firmly set, particularly against citizen comment. She's probably worth a vote. Mansoor -- when does his replacement get inaugurated/anointed? Is he gonna be a lame duck for a while, or what?

10/26/2010 11:13:00 PM  

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