Thursday, February 24, 2011

Runaway Train Continues...

At the end of my last post I warned you not to blink. The news this morning only affirms that admonition.


First, there is Orange County Register columnist Fra
nk Mickadeit's piece this morning, HERE, in which he tells us of Jim Righeimer's plan to have Costa Mesa become the first city in Orange County to utilize PRIVATE paramedics - which effectively dramatically impacts the members of the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association. And, Mickadeit quotes Costa Mesa Firefighters Association President Tim Vasin as being unaware of this new issue - it was the first he'd heard of it.

Then, almost simultaneously, I received the agenda for the next Costa Mesa City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 1, which contained this little entry under New Business:
LinkThere is no staff report attached to this item yet.

This follows on the heels of the receipt of the proposal by the Orange County Fire Authority late last week which, it is my understanding, will be discussed at the council study session on Tuesday, March 8. Certainly, any serious consideration of the use of private paramedics will affect how that proposal is going to be viewed and, in fact, it may be a deal-breaker with the county.


Don't get me wrong. Having spent more than a little time going over the OCFA proposal and discussing it with folks knowledgeable about the intricacies of emergency services, I think some serious consideration should be given to the way we presently deliver those services. I don't have solutions, but there certainly are lots of questions that need to be asked.

For example, one of the weaknesses in our emergency response system is the fact that, in the case of medical aid that requires the transportation of the patient to a hospital, the paramedic from the fire truck accompanies the patient in the ambulance and the truck and remainder of the team follow along, putting them out of service. This certainly should be evaluated when considering all these new proposals.


Of course, the core of Righeimer's plan is to remove as many union members as he can in whatever way he can. This plan for private paramedics is another "easy way out", which doesn't require negotiating with city union members.

Also, this morning, the irrepressible Register columnist, Barbara Venezia, takes on the issue of the probable lost of the ABLE helicopter program from the vantage point of a Newport Beach resident, HERE. She also throws into the mix the weakened position Costa Mesa will find itself in the annexation wars if it decides to shift to the OCFA. Her last paragraph says it all:

"Costa Mesa residents need to fully understand the long-term, real-life ramifications of what giving up control over fire and emergency services means to their city. This could very well be another cobblestone in that road of good intentions paved to hell."


As I said before, don't take your eyes off this Costa Mesa City Council. They're taking a page from Barack Obama's playbook and moving at light speed to re-structure Costa Mesa before the residents wake up and see what they're doing. DO NOT BLINK!

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Anonymous Barry P. said...

Great idea. Paramedics are much cheaper than firemen. Our firemen rarely fight fires. It's mostly paramedic calls Problem is there's a minimum staffing provision in fire contract. Thanks union. I'm supportive of this. Why didn't we look at this earlier?

2/24/2011 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

Hey Barry....ever heard of the phrase "you dont know how good you had till its all gone." Trust me when i say Costa Mesa residents are about to find out. Say what you want sir. This is NOT a good deal at all.

2/24/2011 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Barry P. said...

Why? Why should taxpayers pay $100k to fireman to retire at 50 and work 3 days a week when we can pay a private paramedic 50k to do the same job for less expensive benefits? It's the same fender-bender they're responding to. Keep the 3 firemen on the truck, loose the expensive and unnecessary paramedic fireman! You've cut fire costs by at least 15-20%. I like this idea more and more!

2/24/2011 01:43:00 PM  
Anonymous thisiscrazy said...

Well here is a thought.... When CMFD responds with the paramedic there is no charge. It comes out of your taxes. When the private company shows up you will be charged for their service at what ever over-inflated price they come up with. You will not have the opportunity to shop for the lowest priced paramedic. So in effect you will now be taxed on something you previously received for free.

2/24/2011 02:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Wanted: Good columnists said...

Venezia was serious about that? CM has never had a shot at annexation. Get serious.

2/24/2011 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Riggy n Mens are out of their minds said...

Barry, you are kidding yourself if private is the answer.

80% of private medics are kids just out of paramedic school and another 10% are old guys that arent near good enough to make it in the fire service.... FEEL SAVE YET?

Private amb. are there to MAKE A PROFIT... they are not there to help the community. So they will always hire cheap and bill high.
So what do you really save? How much risk are you willing to take?
Don't the citizens deserve a high quality protection for their tax money?
Maybe with the little savings, the city can build another bridge to nowhere, have better bike asphalt, etc.

DON'T FORGET- the city has a mutual aid agreement with the surrounding cities. That is why Costa Mesa Fire and other Fire departments ( FV, NP, etc ) can run one of the lowest Firefighter per population numbers around. (ONLY 28 A DAY PROTECT 120,000 PEOPLE PLUS ANOTHER 40K - 50K VISITORS A DAY) If the nutty Righeimer's plan goes through you bet Newport , Huntington and Fountain Valley will tell Costa Mesa to go pound sand. Why would they respond into the city when COSTA MESA WOULD HAVE NO EQUIPMENT TO RECIPRICATE.

Yup, the citizens are screwed.
YUP THEIR INSURANCE RATES GO UP!!!!.... because the city's ISO rating falls (insurance rating- look it up) with less personnel and less engines/ trucks....

So HIGHER INSURANCE RATES , SAME TAXES, AND LESS PROTECTION just so Rig and Mens. can bow to GOP. Good plan.

A WHOLE LOT OF THINGS RIGHEIMER AND MENSINGER NEVER TALK ABOUT... they just spew crap from their mouths, just to here themselves talk.

2/24/2011 03:27:00 PM  
Anonymous beth said...

Anyone else find it funny the city council voted down having the city web site worked on by young, cheaper college students to save money but has no problem having young, cheap college students protect the citizens of costa mesa. Seems a bit out of whack.

Guess righmeimer or mensinger only votes for things that benefit them or their business friends. What is happening to the once great costa mesa?

2/24/2011 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Table of the Coast said...

Here is an example of who will be taking care of your citizens:

2/24/2011 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous NOT Crazy said...

This is Crazy, ... YOU are crazy.

A MINIMUM of $300 is charged each time you dial 911 and are taken to a hospital.

2/24/2011 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Hey, hey, hey.... play nice or I'll send you to your rooms!

You may be correct about that $300 charge, but I think we've heard elsewhere that they don't pursue the charges... can somebody help me out here?

2/24/2011 10:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Gunny said...

Barry P. CMFD Paramedics are both medics and firefighters. It's not one or the other.

The unions have NOTHING to do with minimum staffing provisions. It's all calculated by average calls for service, population etc.

Seems like so many people wnat to blame so much of what is wrong with society and our country as a whole on unions. When have you ever seen any CM employee pulling the shenanigans that are going on back east? Have you ever seen our fire dept. strike? Work slow down? When have you seen them do anything but provide a high level of service?

When was the last time any CM employee went on strike to get a raise, increase in benefits, or anything for that matter? I certainly have never seen that.

I can tell you why the city has never looked at all this privatazation. Because we have never had a majority council that was more concerned about lining the pockets of private enterprise, instead of providing basic essentail public service.

I have no doubt these idiots are working deals behind closed doors about getting their buddies, and campaign contributirs the contracts for all of this privatization.

These "men" know nothing about the fire service, or police service, but they will certainly fake it, and continue to attempt to run those departments. Is there any doubt why the chief issues on either department have not been solved? It's easier to call the shots when there is no one at the top of those departments to challenge you.

This reminds me of the politicians trying to run the war in Viet Nam, instead of letting the commanders on the ground call the shots. Everyone knows that a bunch of suits with no technical subject matter experience can do it better, right? What did we learn from the Viet Nam experience? It doesn't work. That's why departments have heads. Whether it's the Department of Defense or the little old CMFD.

These "men" on council no nothing of service, or selflessness. It's about them gettting the spotlight. The only thing they have ever served is themselves. Those frat boys never served, never humped a pack and a rifle. they were working on theory and playing grab ass with their frat brothers. Frankly, they make me sick.

2/24/2011 11:49:00 PM  
Anonymous lumpy said...

Pot Stirrer, if a fire department charges a "service charge" quite often a resident's home insurance policy will cover, up to a limit. If the city outsources to a private agency, ie paramedics, I don't believe the insurance companies will compensate.

2/25/2011 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous I'll be waiting said...


I has always been a fantasy of mine having Rachel showing up in a nurse outfit. LOL

2/25/2011 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry P. said...

Gunny, I love how you twist reality. We should just leave it to the fire and police to tell us how much to pay them? They're better at that, I guess. I'm excited that elected leaders (R's and D's) here and across the State are stepping in and bringing some reform to our out of control public safety costs. It is clear from the last election results that the fear-mongoring extortion of "pay me $150k a year or your house will burn down" was rejected by our residents. They're smarter than that. The days of the $145k a year for life officer retiring at 50 and living in Mesa Verde are coming to an end. The gravy train has run out of steam! Our kids and grandkids aren't going to stand for carrying that debt anymore. It's an exciting time!!

2/25/2011 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Max said...

Righeimer has got to go!!! He's turning our City Hall into a cold, faceless, corporation that won't put the needs of the people first.

Next he will want to change the name of the city to Mesa LLC and kill all of the very things we moved to this city for.

We need to recall Righeimer before his experiments turn our city into a shell of its former self. Only the old timers will remember how much character, style, and individuality this city once had before Riggy carpetbagged his way in with the help of Scott Baugh who doesn't even live here.

2/25/2011 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"You may be correct about that $300 charge, but I think we've heard elsewhere that they don't pursue the charges... can somebody help me out here?"

The only charges not pursued are those belonging to the indigents, or the illegals.

The taxpayers HAVE to pay.

2/25/2011 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Barry P. You are so out of touch with reality. I have yet to see you offer any proof of the numbers you spout. Show me an officer who makes 145k a year retired, Show me a fireman that makes 150k per year salary. Simply put, you can't.

Show me ANY "fear mongering" wherin ANY of our LOCAL (that means Costa Mesa) safety people said "If you don't pay me X, your house will burn down".

I think you misunderstood the post by "Gunny". What I got out of it, was not, let the safety employees (or any employees) run wild and call their salary. Instead, let the council tell the department heads (if they actually had any) this is your budget, you choose what your priorities are based on your expertise in your field. Seems basic to me.

If you don't see that these fools are actually trying to run or at least dictate how the operations should be run (not the finances, the OPERATIONS), then you need to get your perciever fixed.

2/25/2011 02:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Sue L said...

RE: the $300 charge- This is a charge for NON-residents only. This charge is covered by most companies in association with your medical insurance. In cases when someone's insurance doesn't cover it and there is a financial hardship, the charge can be waved but someone has to ask for the fee to be waved and show cause. Again, COSTA MESA RESIDENTS are not charged!

2/25/2011 08:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob G said...

Barry P.
I want to clear something up for you.
I am a 20 year FD employee and am currently a captain. I make $39 per hour. It irritates me when I hear mis-informed people say that I only work three days a week. I work 56 hrs a week. Thats morning, noon, and ALL NIGHT. We get paid every 2 weeks, so I have 112 hrs on my time card. A "regular" person would work 40hrs a week or 80hrs per payperiod. Sooooooo, as it works out I am at work 32 hrs more in that same time period. ALMOST AN EXTRA WEEK!
Now before you spout off and say I eat and sleep at the station, realize that I am still away from my family. Im not at home with my family going to soccer games, baseball games, I miss alot of holidays and birthdays, and Im not in my own bed with my spouse. Im at work. Getting up 2-3 times a night for an hour each time. While YOU are at home dreaming about what to stir up next.
I work 120 assigned shifts a year. At 24 hours each that comes out to 2880 hours. At $39 an hour that comes out to $112,320. Now realize I havent paid for my swell HMO insurance that costs me $1450 a month yet, and I havent paid taxes yet either on all that. So take 17k off for insurance and 30% for taxes. Now take off medicare and all the other misc deductions the govt likes. Now how much do I make? Not enough for the risk I put myself in of acquiring some disease from a medical call, the hazards of fire, the irregular sleep patterns, the trauma of life (I will never forget the face of the young boy we pulled out of the burning apartment the other night...I havent stopped thinking about the condition he looked...think about that...I have more examples that stay with me that I think about EVERYDAY). I worry about my crew and if they will go home safe to their families and if they are properly trained in their skills so that when that time comes they perform out of instinct and dont hesitate. I could go on and on but this isnt the place. If you ever want to discuss any of this and listen to the facts or get questions answered I invite you to the station and I will do my best to provide you an answer and if I dont know it I will get it for you. I work at the Placentia station.

2/25/2011 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

Rob G, Well said.

I have worked in the corporate world and the public sector. I had great benefits from both places. That's how it should be.

However, to show solidarity with the non-public sector during this recession, I think pay should be temporarily cut for most government workers through furloughs or pay cuts. Once times are good then they should go up again to match everyone else.

Riggy's plan is just horrible though. Outsource everything? The savings, if any, aren't going to be worth the disruption in service and the loss of identity for our great city. That's only a plan a 4 year resident with hardly any ties here would come up with.

2/26/2011 12:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Max, every city employee has taken a cut to pay and benefits every year since 2008. Most of it was voluntary and outside the normal negotiation process. In fact, some employees, like the cops, made offers to the city that would have saved more money over a longer period of time than what the city eventually counter-offered with. Most every city in the county has made cuts to pay and benefits to it's employees, they just aren't trying the destroy their basic city services the way this council is. Could CM be the guinea pig for a larger OCGOP plan???

2/27/2011 07:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Not So said...

Sue L, Costa Mesa residents are charged a $300 fee if their health insurance carriers require they co-pay that amount.

911 service is not free. Too many people have had to pay that fee.

2/27/2011 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Pot Belly said...


Contract requires 4 on a truck. We could save millions by going with 3.

2/27/2011 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Pot Belly said...

Rob. $39 is a very misleading number. It is the total comp that the voters of Costa Mesa objected to, and voted in Riggy as the #1 vote getter.

It really does come across as a whine, should one complain about the number of overnights in a sales job?

In a prior life, we would hire firemen ... they all had second jobs. If firemen have second jobs, doesn't that negate the issues you share?

If your job is that bad, I suggest you find another job. There are literally hundreds that will apply to replace you.

Sorry, I know this is harsh, I am not a big fan of emotional arguments, I hear enough of that from Wendy Leece

2/27/2011 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Pot Belly, actually the total comp number is completely misleading. Example, FF's earn a salary and a certain amount of accrued vacation time per year, say 100 hours. The FF takes vacation, they code their timecard to reflect they took 100 hours of vacation time. The city has two accounts, one for regular hours worked and one for vacation time taken. The city pays the FF out of the vacation account when vacation time is used and deducts the 100 hours so that the FF cannot take more vacation than they accrue and so that they are not paid twice. So, the FF DOES NOT get paid twice. The total comp figure counts both together as compensation and it should not. Therefore, it is misleading.

2/27/2011 06:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

Wyatt Earp, I agree. That's also why the Riggster wants to spend millions repaving roads that don't need repaving. He's trying to create a bigger fiscal emergency than it already is. It's a political ideology experiment similar to what happened with the fairgrounds. Most people see right through it though. Even people that voted for Riggy are starting to get wind of his dirty tactics and wishing they hadn't.

2/28/2011 12:49:00 AM  

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