Sunday, December 05, 2010

Lamm Bails Out In Westminster & COPS Grant

According to an article in the Orange County Register by former Daily Pilot reporter Deepa Bharath, HERE, Westminster City Manager Don Lamm has given notice to the Mayor of his intention to resign from his position effective December 26th, 2010.


Lamm held his position from May 1, 2009, having been Costa Mesa's Development Services Director and Deputy City Manager prior to his assignment.

According to the Register article, Lamm is resigning to "take a break from city g
overnment and start his own business to help boost economic development throughout Orange County". OK, but did he really give the job in Westminster a good shot, with less than two years at the helm?

So, it looks like the rash of citymangerbailoutitis in Orange County continues. Costa Mesa City M
anager Allan Roeder has previously announced his plan to retire in March.


On the agenda of the Costa Mesa City Council meeting is Item #10 on the Consent Calendar in which the council will be asked to accept and allocate funds from the 2010 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program (CHP) Grant. The city had previously applied for this grant but was rejected in 2009. This is the same grant, available only to cities who had applied but were rejected. The City has been accepted for this grant - $1,761, 595 for five new full-time officer positions over three years. The city will be obligated to fund them for a fourth year.

Presently the City has seventeen (17) sworn position vacancies with more possible due to the current budget conditions. It will be very interesting to see what a new city council, with Jim Righeimer part of the mix, will do with this item. It's possible that it will simply be approved as a part of the Consent Calendar. However, it is possible that a cou
ncil member or member of the public will call it up for separate discussion and vote.

It seems to me that accepting this grant may fly in the face of Righeimer's scheme to dismantle our current public employee compensation plans. How will he vote on this issue? Will he set aside his lockstep following of the GOP party line and vote for the good of the city? We'll see.

Labels: , ,


Anonymous A Resident said...

Maybe all of the smart individuals such as Roeder and Lamm are getting out of government before the house goes up in flames. California's state government now has well over $300 billion in unfunded liabilities and more cities are increasingly depending on grant money for day-to-day operations. I have a feeling there may not be much grant money in the future. Do you know where this specific grant money comes from?

12/05/2010 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

A Resident, according to the staff report, it comes from the US Dept. of Justice, created as part of the 2009 Recovery Act. Go to the city web site and navigate to the agenda for the Tuesday Council meeting and then down to the item in the Consent Calendar to read the entire staff report.

12/05/2010 02:46:00 PM  
Anonymous flyonthewalll said...

perhaps if there was a more rational pension plan for new hires such as 2.5@60 and the new hires paying all their share of the pension costs I would think it would be a no brainer to accept the money. Alas, that is not the case and we are locked in to a four year agreement to boot (thanks Wendy)!! Add in the fact that the police department has a cloud over its head and the way they treated Righeimer in the election I think this council meeting is the only chance for approval. When the new replacement for Foley (though I doubt she is leaving)is seated it will be rejected.

12/05/2010 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

So, flyonthewalll, you think the council should vote to reject this grant money? We're already down 17 sworn positions (not including the civilian staffers that were released) and you want to stiff-arm a chance to hire five officers? If we did have the pension you suggested recruitment of those 5 would be tough because it would not be competitive with our neighboring cities. we CAN NOT implement pension reform unilaterally and expect to hire other than the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel. Will you be happy with that?

12/05/2010 04:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

There seems to be this impression that we can cut pay, cut benefits and qualified candidates will still flock to get a job as an officer. Folks, police work is not something you fall in to, because you had no other options. It is the wrong career if it's not something "I always wanted to do". Yes unemployment is high, but that in my opinion is not sufficient motivation to choose to become a police officer.

This career is difficult on family life; it can be difficult mentally on the individual officer. The selection process is difficult, and if you can make it through that, then you have over 6 months of academy life, and another 6 months of field training, and a year as a probationary officer. From the time you get the job offer, it is two years before you are a California POST certified police officer.

What is POST? POST is the state body that certifies and accredits departments and officers. They set hiring and training standards and practices. We don't just make this stuff up as we go folks. I know that is what many seem to believe.

Mr. West has it absolutely right, that when you disincentivize the work force, and make the department an unappealing place to work, then it does in fact become a "dumping ground” It ceases to be a place where candidates want to work, but a place that those who can't get hired elsewhere go to work. Look no further than Desert Hot Springs Police Department. It became the place where officers who were fired from other agencies went to try to "rehabilitate" their career, because no one else would hire them. That agency and its officers became so problematic, that the department lost its POST accreditation.

To fill 5 positions, it realistically takes 200 candidates to apply. That is, if you want to get the "pick of the litter". If you want to just take what you can get, then you need far fewer applicants. Trust me, there are those who want to do the job, but have issues in their background, can't pass the written test, can't pass the physical agility test, you name it. Not everyone who "wants" to do this job can do this job. That's just a fact.

It might surprise some to know that the last couple of tests we actually had here at Costa Mesa, the turn out of applicants was less than stellar. That bothers me, because we used to be a sought after agency. Those looking to get into this job talk. The word gets around about what departments have "issues" who is cutting programs etc. Candidates then look elsewhere.

It's more than pay and benefits that attract candidates as well. What number of specialty assignments does an agency have to offer? Candidates who are forward thinking enough (and most are) want to look to see what things they can specialize in over their career. If you don't have much to offer, you won't get the volume of candidates.

Gone are the day where we are getting applicants who are simply high school graduates looking for a secure line of work (such as post Viet Nam era). Today's officer candidates are almost always college graduates, many with post graduate degrees. I believe we have two JD's and one PhD candidate on our department. And that is at the LINE LEVEL, not management. They do this job because they love doing it. Not because they didn’t have other options. At some point, we were able to draw that level of candidate. Can we still?

12/05/2010 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rob Dimel,
Thanks for the clarification and amplification of our situation. One thing you didn't mention in the recruitment process is the perception of the leadership of a department by potential recruits. Because the law enforcement community is a close group, perceptions of various law enforcement leaders are shared - usually without hesitation. I suspect that you'll agree that truly excellent law enforcement leaders are rare and are held in high esteem by the rank and file.

I don't know what the perception of recent CMPD leadership has been, but I think I can guess. I DO know that former chief Dave Snowden, now the chief at Beverly Hills, was one of those rare men. I don't know if Les Gogerty, now acting chief, is one of those men or not. I certainly hope he has what it takes to get us through what is almost certainly going to be a very contentious time over the next many months. I guess we'll see.

The unfortunate recent announcement of the placement of administrative leave of both Chief Chris Shawkey and Captain Ron Smith leaves way too many questions unanswered. When facts are not available people will speculate, which certainly doesn't serve our community well.

By the way, Rob, you mentioned Desert Hot Springs... it's interesting to note that former CMPD Chief John Hensley is the current chief of that department.

12/05/2010 07:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Runaway Train said...

The only reason the PD is getting so many college graduates is because they pay more than private industry. People need work today and they will gravitate to whatever field pays the most. When you look at the city pay scales it's no wonder Costa Mesa is broke. The city council needs to slow their runaway train.

12/05/2010 08:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

Runaway Train: you are so far off the mark. You mean to tell me that someone with a JD couldn't do better practicing law? The fact is, we WANT college graduates. We want officers who are articulate and educated. This job requires a lot of writing. This entire job is communication.

Besides, if we hired nothing but the minimum requirement H.S. grad, we would get accused of being overpaid GED holders. The fact is that there has been a change in the law enforcement culture since the 80's. The push has been to prefessionalize the workforce, and move it out of the "blue collar" realm. Officers are expected to have expertise in areas not previously expected of cops.

Notwithstanding, the numbers published for officer total comp are completely misleading. Have you seen the Register article wherin they list our city council as the second highest paid in the county? Where is the outcry about that? Where is the beckon call for reform in pay for a part-time position. One in which the total comp was listed at 46k?

Do your own research, do your own thinking.

12/05/2010 09:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

One last question to Runaway Train or anyone else that cares to provide an answer. Can anyone who keeps throwning out the "private sector pay" argument, please find me a private police department. Failing that, I will accept ANY other true comparison in the private sector. It's hard to compare apples to apples when no private sector parrallel exists.

12/05/2010 09:07:00 PM  
Anonymous A Resident said...

Pot Stirrer,
Well heck, if the grant is from the Fed's then let's grab it up baby. It's been funded by the issuance of Treasuries which were then purchased by the Federal Reserve. We'll end up suffering the eventual consequences of debt monitization whether we take the grant or not.

Mr. Dimel,
I know of several recent college graduates who have applied to various police departments in Orange County and Los Angeles. I also personally know three young men who have recently returned from military service overseas, two of whom have been hired as police officers and one currently in the process. The high pay has been a huge factor for each of them in making their decision to apply, not all have always dreamed of being a cop. Most did consider a private sector career path.

I agree that we want a police force that is articulate and educated, but we can't afford to competitively attract a bunch of candidates with JD's.

You are correct that, for the most part, there is no private sector comparison that we can make. That is what happens with a complete government monopoly in any sector. We don't really know if the taxpayers are getting a good deal or not. All we do know is that the city is having a tough time paying the bills.

12/05/2010 11:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Joey said...

The fact that officer Dimel continues to use this blog to justify the the AVERAGE Costa Mesa Police officer making $150,000 per year in salary and benefits is outrageous. That $150k figure is based on the 2009 salary information released by the City. Since when did our civil servants begin to get such shocking pay packages. Costa Mesa needs to fix this problem ASAP.

12/06/2010 08:18:00 AM  
Anonymous flyonthewalll said...

sorry for thinking outside the box. it would be interesting to see how hard it would be to recruit with reduced pensions. I guess we will never know unless we try it. apparently we have high hiring standards so i doubt we will just have scrapings from the bottom of the barrel on the force. i have also heard a RUMOR that our pd discourages new hires from applying in order to have vacancies and thus trying to justify ever increasing pay and benefits to be able to fully staff. this RUMOR says new academy graduates know they will be treated like outcasts should they apply and reveal how many really want to work here. With all due respect for the demands of the job Mr. Dimel mentions there are a lot of other professions with stress and danger with much lower pay. As for the JD's and the PhD, that is great we have them. we can always use another lawyer. did they apply with those degrees? or did we pay for their schooling after hiring to get them? With the city being financially handicapped and other cities having massive unfunded pensios that threaten to stop all caital improvements I thought maybe suggesting lower pay/benefits would be worth thinking about. Apparently that is for the private sector and non safety government workers only. I appreciate our officers but cannot believe they do not know what a sweet deal it is. Instead, Dimel mentions our city council is very highly paid. Altogether those five make in pay and benefits what one cop does, still have to work othe jobs, have stress, and no job security. bad comparison.

12/06/2010 08:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Runaway Train said...

I've got news for you Mr. Dimel. There are lots of BAs, MAs, and JDs out of work right now. Do you honestly think they "want to be cops"? No, their families need to eat and they have mortgages to pay. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to grasp that concept. Hungry is hungry.

Another thing, people go to college in order to get a job that won't be endangering their lives. College graduates only apply to the police department out of need. In other words, they are lowering their goals in order to eat. Sad but true none the less

12/06/2010 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Lumpy said...

Runaway Train: you must be joking. College graduates only apply to be cops out of need? they lower themselves, their goals to be cops? I guess no one ever got a degree in Criminal Justice, after all many of them want to be cops.

I have a son who is a cop, he never lowered his goals, believe me. He felt a desire to serve his community by being in law enforcement. I could not be more proud of him.

I certainly hope you never need the services of one of these "sad, goal lowering, derelicts" who chose to put their lives on the line.

12/06/2010 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

Where to start? A resident: I agree that we can not continually attract candidates with JDs or other advanced degrees. I was just trying to point out that officers today are typically more educated than the offerings of the past several decades. I am glad that you recognize that there is no true apples to apples comparison (public v. private) with regards to the police department. There are in fact many government monopolizations of services that should probably be privatized. Realistically, the police department is just not one of them.

I said this before in another post her on Mr. West's blog (I was the only commenter): The preamble our constitution sets forth what the government must and ought to do and the rest is left for common sense on what it ought not do. The essential functions of government are to provide a common defense, establish justice, promote domestic tranquility, and promote the general welfare.

The bottom line is that there ARE necessary functions of the government. Policing ("promoting domestic tranquility/establishing justice) is one of them.

Many of you folks are singing to the choir when you talk about out of control government, ever expanding government etc. I couldn't agree more. We have far too much government interference in our daily lives as it is. We enact more new laws, when we can't get the judiciary to enforce those that are already on the books. It's the same old song.

To those (Joey) that accuse me of "using" Mr. West's blog to justify anything, take your blinders off for a moment, read and absorb what I write. I am not trying to justify anything. I am simply providing another part of the story.

We get all fired up about over issues, and then never really put a lot of thought into how those issues will take shape, be implemented or what it’s actually worth to us. We get a mass of people who shout a collective "amen" when we declare that we will be a "Rule of Law City". A great idea. Most of you here who want to string up every public employee in the town square were no doubt on that train when it rolled into Goat Hill. Yet, you want to say the people who will be the ones out there implementing that policy for you are "greedy", "overpaid", pick your pejorative, I have heard them all. You want us, you want us to secure you, do your bidding of sorts, you just want to do it "on the cheap".

Fly on the wall: Most had their degrees when they were hired. Others went to school on their time, on their dime while working. The city does not pay for our education. Where you got that idea, I have no clue. I never mentioned danger, I did mention stress. You are correct that there are many other jobs that have a higher inherent risk. I am not taking anything away from those. If they are lower paid, that’s a shame.

Look at it in these terms: we pay up front for a better, more highly educated candidate, who by most indicators will make better choices in the field, thereby limiting the city’s liability. That’s just a fact. Or, we do it on the cheap, get the candidates that we can, and pay for it on the back end in lawsuits. We have very few lawsuits here, as compared to other agencies. It’s not a coincidence.

I guess what I’m hearing is that lowering our standards is acceptable. Perhaps we should cease being “City of the Arts” (or “Hub of the Harbor Area” whichever one you prefer) and coin the motto: “Striving for Mediocrity”.

I almost forgot; my mentioning of the council total comp is certainly not sour grapes. My comparison there is that I can not see how they came up with the total comp figure. It seems extremely inflated (see where I'm heading with this?). They get $1596.oo per month for medical benefits ($19,152.00 annually). That means they get roughly another 26k in meeting stipend and PERS contributions for retirement. That just does not sound accurate. Anyone have any insight on thet?

12/06/2010 03:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Runaway Train said...


Your son applied for work where work was available. Face it, he needed a job. College graduates (assuming your son is a college graduate) are having trouble finding employment today.

As far as needing a cop, they have never been that readily available. For many years they have resisted giving much service so I don't personally hold them in high esteem. Like every other public servant, they do no more than absolutely necessary in order to collect their paychecks!

Rob Dimel:

You also need to face reality. It's more than obvious that you have never needed to call a cop!

12/06/2010 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Before Lumpy and Rob Dimel go ballistic, let me chime in here.

Runaway Train, I don't know what kind of nectar you've been sampling, but the effects are showing. Your stereotyping of "public servants" demonstrates to me that you have not had much contact with Costa Mesa municipal employees. I suspect there are slackers and bad apples among them, but I have yet to see them. EVERY contact I've EVER had with a Costa Mesa municipal employee resulted in me coming away from that encounter completely satisfied. I watch those who present issues before the City Council and commissions and am always impressed with their professionalism. Contrary to your view, every one of them has gone well beyond what has been expected of them to serve the public. I'm offended - and I'm sure they will be, too - by your inaccurate, broad-brush attempt to defame them. Shame on you...

12/06/2010 04:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Lumpy said...

Thanks Geoff, I have no desire to debate. son has a college degree and his goal was law enforcement.

As for resisting service, ask the family of the cop in Riverside who was brutally killed, after serving in Iraq.

I won't debate a half wit.

12/06/2010 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Runaway Train said...


Let's be honest here.

How many times have you ever had to call the police department for a really serious infraction of the law? Your response tells me you have been one very lucky individual. Chances are, you have never had a serious problem or you wouldn't feel the way you do.

Officer Dimel is a helicopter pilot. How often has he ever responded to your needs? He is more than welcome to go ballistic if he thinks it is warranted.

Public discourse is always educational. People of all walks of life are entitled to their opinions, and we don't all have the same experiences in life.

12/06/2010 06:46:00 PM  
Anonymous mike m said...

some people in this town are downright spooky...

12/06/2010 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Costa Mesa is the original "Tea Party" town. Talk about a dysfuntional bi-polar electorate, that can neither spell nor vote for it's own interests. They are easily frightened and happily led around by their nose. I think I ran into Northside Phil the other night, running at the mouth about how the Fairgrounds fiasco was all the Democrats fault, and blaming it on Katrina Foley.This pendulum has swung so far to the right it's about to bust off the clock.
We get the type of government we deserve.

12/07/2010 07:21:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

""Dittos"" Mike M...

12/07/2010 08:35:00 AM  
Anonymous tmimitw said...

Rob Dimel: Count me as one of the overwhelming majority in this city who appreciate our police. But PLEASE do not remind us that, "This career is difficult on family life; it can be difficult mentally on the individual officer.." You all knew the job was dangerous - in many ways - when you took it. Don't tell us later on that it's difficult. If it is too difficult, find another line of work. BTW, at least you are working - many of us civilians are not. That's difficult on family life, too.

12/07/2010 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Gary, you had an interesting experience with animal control. Last September my cat got out and the first place I called was animal control. For 5 (five) days all I got was the answering machine. At that point I gave up.

12/07/2010 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...


Thank you for your support. My comment regarding the negative aspects of this job were not to garner any form of sympathy. If taken in context with the post, my intent is to point out that one needs to be sufficiently motivated for this line of work. A regular pay check and the amount of remuneration only goes so far. It is a two year process to be a certified officer. If someone's intent is to wait out the economy, and move on to other work when the economy is headed back up, then this career is not a good choice.

I can tell you that when the economy was first starting to tank, there was a huge influx of applications from folks whose work history was all mortgage industry, real estate and the like. When asked in their interviews "how long have you wanted to be a police officer", they typical answer was "all my life". However, here's guys in their 30's who have never taken any step in furtherance of becoming a police officer. They have worked extensively in industries that were tanking. So, either, they wanted to do it their "entire life", and never did, and were making too much money in mortgages to do what they really wanted to do. Or, they only decided it looked like a good idea, because it was steady and they pay is good.

And finally I agree, I am working and unemployment creates a lot of stress. My wife has been laid off twice in the last two years. She is currently out of work. Trust me, I get it.

Sorry for the long response.

12/07/2010 10:02:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home