Tuesday, March 01, 2011

First The Fun, Then The Bad News

This evening, following the 5:00 p.m. reception for retiring City Manager Allan Roeder and resigning City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow in the City Hall Lobby, the City Council will hold what may be the most rancorous City Council meeting of this young year. It is anticipated that the auditorium will be packed to overflowing, most likely with employees anxious about their future with the city and residents worried about their safety and services being provided to them.

The meeting will op
en up at 6:00 p.m. with Mayor Gary Monahan doing his "feel good" routine by making announcements of upcoming events - in this case it will be youth baseball, a presentation Wednesday by the Costa Mesa Green Task Force and Saturday's re-opening ceremony for the Diego Sepulveda Adobe.

Employee of the Month, Tim Sun, will be honored. Officer Oscar Reyes will receive the MADD Deuce Award and presentations will be made to Roeder and Barlow. Roeder will provide an update on the Orange County Fairgrounds in what will likely be one of his final official pronouncements in the City Council chambers. His retirement date is Friday, March 4th.

There will be a Public Hearing on the new fee schedule for the Recreation On Campus For Kids (ROCKS) program.

Under Old Business Steve Mensinger's pipe dream of changing the title of the City Manager to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the City will be adopted. What a colossal waste of energy just so a guy with an inflated ego can say, "Hey, look what I did!"

The five council sub-committees will then present reports. Those are:

Economic Development and Development
Sports and Recreation
Policies, Procedures and General Plan/Circulation
Budget and Capital Improvements
Motel Issues

Under New Business, current Assistant City Attorney Tom Duarte of the firm of Jones & Mayer will be appointed City Attorney. Duarte has functioned as the City Attorney for the Planning Commission. He will replace Kim Barlow, who abruptly and unexpectedly resigned as City Attorney recently, citing personal and business reasons. More than a few folks around this town wonder if she was shoved out by the new city council because she kept telling them "NO" when their plans violated the law or city regulations. We'll probably never know - yet another top city official departing without reason being given.

The council will then approve an amendment to our Municipal Code related to building permits for Masonry Walls.

Then, under New Business #3, the council will discuss Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer's most recent scheme, HERE - to privatize our Emergency Medical Service. This one is to transmit a letter to the Medical Director of the Orange County Emergency Medical Services requesting that he determine the feasibility and requirements to evaluate he addition of the City's ambulance provider, Care Ambulance, as added capacity to the current Costa Mesa Emergency Medical Service-Paramedic delivery system.

This is a big d
eal. Once we kick this ball off the "T" we're not exactly sure where this process goes next. In the staff report, HERE, there is not yet any discussion of the potential increase in costs to the city AND RESIDENTS if this scheme is adopted. I know this is only to get the ball rolling, but this City Council has demonstrated in only two short months that these things take on a life of their own and decisions are made well in advance of public input. Some folks knowledgeable on this subject tell me that costs for the use of a private EMS service provider could very significantly increase to those who need the service - perhaps as much as $2,000 per trip, if not more.

The staff report talks about "enhancing" our EMS service. That means "adding" to me. What about the costs to the city? How does this affect the proposal by the Orange County Fire Authority to replace our Fire Department? Again, this is happening much too quickly.


The last item under New Business will be the biggie - Outsourcing of City Services. You can read the staff report HERE, which lists the functions the sub-committee - Monahan and Righeimer - think can be successfully outsourced. You will notice at the top of the list is the entire Fire Department - nearly 90 employees. Nobody has yet calculated the actual total number of employees covered by this plan, but some estimate it to be around 150 employees - nearly a third of the current staff.

One interesting comment made in the staff report is found under FISCAL REVIEW. The comment is "The fiscal impact for outsourcing the identified City services is unknown at this time." Of course, because six months notice is required for any employee and bargaining unit for operations being outsourced, the council will almost certainly approve this issue and employees will be provided official notice immediately.


In the separate staff report on Noticing Requirements, HERE, I found an interesting statemen
t in Item 2. The question posed in that item asks, "Is the City required to be specific as to the service/program being considered for contracting out? In other words, can the City Council issue a blanket notice to all employees of its intent to contract out all services to keep all options open?" The answer provided is, "NO". We assume that answer is to the second question, not the first.

The explanatio
n to that answer is as follows (EMPHASIS IS MINE):
"The Council MUST FIRST consider and determine which specific services would be contracted for AND THEN give the required six months' notice to affected employees and bargainin
g units. Article 19.2 with the CMCEA states that 'once a decision is made by the City to contract out for a specific service' the required notice is given. Staff believes this REQUIRES that notice be given out AFTER the decision to contract out, NOT BEFORE."

Further down in the staff report the issue of "bumping rights" is addressed. It indicates
that part-time positions will be eliminated first. It then says, "In addition, employees who are notified of layoffs are required to exercise their 'bumping' rights WITHIN FIVE WORKING DAYS of receiving layoff notifications. Thus, whether thirty days' notice or six months' notice is given to specific employees, the notified employees will have to notify management of any position which they elect to displace into, which would in turn trigger layoff notices to those effected who otherwise would not have been laid off." Yikes! That's not much time for an employee to make a life-changing decision, is it?


So, the way I
interpret this information is that the council will determine, based on the information provided to them in the staff report and testimony at THIS council meeting, which specific units will be contracted out. The big question I have, though, is how will they determine whether there are cost savings to be had BEFORE any bids for the contracting is taken. They've got the cart before the horse. They should FIRST decide which functions MIGHT be contracted out, then get bids for that contracting and compare them to the current costs for service by employees, THEN make the decision and start the noticing process. That logical sequence of events, though, doesn't play well with their pre-disposition to outsource everything, as articulated so clearly by Righeimer in the first council meeting of the year.

They will tell us that they can cancel this noticing any time, so they are providing it now "just in case" we actually decide to outsource some of these functions. Swell - throw the ENTIRE city staff into chaos while they play God! This is looking more and more like a scene straight out
of "Through The Looking Glass", with Righeimer cross-dressing as the Queen of Hearts - "Off with their heads!"

They will reply that the logical sequence will take too long - that we'll be well into the new budget year before any action could be taken. OK, so what? We still don't know exactly what our fiscal condition is for THIS fiscal year, much less the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The last we heard from our friends in Finance was that revenues were trending upward. It's entirely possible that we will have a balanced 2010-2011 budget by the end of June, for goodness sake.


And, again, under FISCAL REVIEW, there is this statement: "The potential financial impact of eliminating, reducing or contracting out specific services CANNOT
BE DETERMINED until the specific positions/services are identified." Again, the cart before the horse. Again, this council won't give a rat's rear end about this. They want to dump the unions and their pensions and are taking the easy way (for them) to accomplish that goal. No negotiating, just slashing, then smiles all around with their buddies at the OC GOP for a "job well done". It's truly disgusting!

The meet
ing will end, at who-knows-what-hour, with council member comments and suggestions. You will recall that I've reminded you frequently that this segment - when almost everyone is tired and has departed - is when the mischief begins. This is the time when they will request this or that from the staff - issues that end up like this "outsourcing" debacle. Time for some "No Doze", my friends. You just cannot blink around these guys - but then, I've said that before, haven't I?

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Anonymous almostdone said...

"Chaos". No doubt about that! Put yourself in any of these employees positions. They are looking elsewhere as we speak.
The cops with any significant time left in their careers are getting their resumes ready you can bet on that. In their future job interviews when they are asked why they want to leave their current employer, the answer that "I work for Costa Mesa" will be enough said!

Private ambulance company EMS!Welcome to the year 1959.
There are places that actually do that you know. Some of the citizens here in Costa Mesa need to take a bus trip to those places. It would be great! You'll see the future.

The only hope is that there are lot of sleeping dogs amongst the citizenry here. Maybe these guys will wake them up with their zeal to assend in their Republican rocket ship and find out that they over goosestepped themselves.

3/01/2011 06:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Pot Belly said...

Come out, come out , wherever you are ... tonight is Council ... time to share your recall initiative (NOT)... just remember, everyone goes home 3 minutes later if you do not say something meaningful …

Or, you can go and deliver the stink eye

Check out the Pot Stinker, fearless leader of the Jerry Springer brigade. He will be the gray haired guy, stinking up the back corner seat. Notice, he has no friends. Then, he runs home and stays up until 2 am, angry and dribbling … does everyone realize that the Pot Stinker put money into the last election, candidate lost. Supporters for Council … lost. Commissioner picks, all lost. Measure C, which should have won big, only by a little. Every initiative he champions, down in flames. Keep up the good work there ye ol Pot Stinker, you are one angry person.

3/01/2011 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

With soooo many things going on in the city, I have this question. Has the $200,000 consulting firm been chosen yet? If so or when, will anyone do a background check on them as far as previous work with Righeimer et.al.
I think I remember seeing CARE ambulance service donating to Righeimers campaign, but I could be wrong and cannot find that website anymore. Political paybacks.
As a self employed business owner I only want to pay for my bills and retirement, I am getting tired of the spoiled running around thinking they are immune to putting some of their labor into their own retirement. When I think of unions, I immediately think of Cal Trans. I had experience working alongside them in my college years and was amazed at how little they did, our company would be finished ahead of schedule, had to, or we would'nt get paid. They got paid no matter what. Lets level the playing field a bit.
I agree with you Geoff, if we are going to outsource, then do it correctly. I am thankful that the fire employees (for example) are not just being thrown away, rather being absorbed. From what I understand, the CMFD employees are actually looking forward to the OCFA idea. How come we are not hearing from Vasin? If this situation was so grim, wouldn't he be on the Beves case?

3/01/2011 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rich, The OCFA issue has yet to be discussed by the council. I understand it will be on the Study Session agenda on the 8th. You will recall that it was Vasin, representing the Costa Mesa firefighters, who offered to pay for the RFP to which the OCFA responded. One would hope that he, and/or other members of the CMFD, will take the opportunity during the Study Session to address the proposal and their opinion of it. In my view, they should be part of the agenda that afternoon, not limited to a couple minutes speaking, since they paid for the thing.

It's my understanding that, even though most of the members of the CMFD would be absorbed into county fire the pay scales fall far short and the individuals will have to pay much more, maybe resulting in a 20% cut in net pay.

3/01/2011 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry P. said...

Disappointing that I can't attend Council meetings anymore because the seats are filled with out of town cops and firefighters upset because the feeding at the trough of bloated salaries and ridiculous benefits are over. Just wait, and listen. When their item is over, they will jump in their cars and head out of town to their nicer homes. They don't care about anything in this City except their MONEY. Residents like myself are glad the light has been cast on this dirty little secret with outrageous benefits and salaries. Until this past election, I was in the dark. Thanks Council. Thanks for bringing transparency to this problem. The fix begins here.

3/01/2011 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous OC Progressive said...

One of the items that hasn't been mentioned by your ready-fire-aim Council is what happens to their existing obligations to PERS, especially if they contract out to the OCFA, which has a separate pension program?

Would these anti-union, anti-pension blowhards actually increase the cost of public employee pensions and give firefighters a chance to double-dip?

3/01/2011 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

Barry P. This "fix" is a cope out. Those two new council members have been too chicken to attempt to look into other, more cost effective, ways . Also i have no doubts that these guys are hiding a few secrets themselves that are illegal. WHEN those come out exactly what will u say then? Their reputation and undeniable urge to be bullies and impulsive will be their demise.

3/01/2011 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Thankful for Life Savers said...

Yes Barry,
That is exactly why policemen and firemen do the jobs they do, so they can make a ton of money. Never mind the fact that they put their lives in danger for their jobs, and their children and spouses live with the possibility every day that they may not come home, or suffer life changing injuries. Never mind the fact that if YOUR house is burning down, or YOUR children are hit by a drunk driver, or YOUR wife is shot by an intruder they are the ones coming to save their lives or save your home.

What do you do for a living Barry P? Sit at a desk job? And how much money do you make at your job? Or are you one of those who has suffered from the economic downturn, which WAS NOT caused by the greedy public servants that you are so eloquently insulting. Are you one of those that thinks it's not fair that you don't get the same benefits they do? You think you should have the same as them? All the citizens should? So are you a Socialist? Hugo Chavez fan? You are obviously against Capitalism. The "If I can't have it then they can't have it" attitude that has permeated our culture these days is obviously something that you believe in.

Do you believe that all the policemen and firemen that died on 9/11 were only doing their jobs to "feed at the trough of bloated salaries and ridiculous benefits". Your words. Or is it only Costa Mesa policemen and firemen that you have a problem with...cause you do realize that if, say, South Coast Plaza was attacked by terrorists then those same CM public servants would be the ones going into the destruction to save lives and catch the bad guys. Oh, but I forgot, the only reason they do that is to "feed at the trough of bloated salaries and ridiculous benefits".

You should be ashamed of yourself!

Or are you proud of yourself because that is how you roll?

3/01/2011 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Thankful for Life Savers...


3/01/2011 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Boo Hoo said...

Oh, boo hoo.

People are getting laid off from private industry all over town and none of them are whining like the public employees. NONE of them!

Every person who goes to work is in danger of losing their life, regardless of what kind of work they do. A prime example being all of the office workers in the twin towers that went down on 911.

Costa Mesa PD and FD employees need to either grow up, or grow a pair. The taxpayers are not your mommy and daddy.

3/01/2011 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Concept said...

What a concept! OCFA can offer millions in savings because they PAY LESS, and their employees CONTRIBUTE MORE.

3/01/2011 02:14:00 PM  
Anonymous RECALL Riggy and Menstrual (opps Mensinger) said...

BOO HOO AND BARRY... quick go change your stained white underwear you are sitting in and come back to reality.

Barry, the avg base salary in OC is about $70,000/ yr. for 40hr week
A firefighter base is $85,000 for a 56 hr week. ( more hours more pay ) That is not exactly bloated.... sorry to screw your rant with facts.

And BOO HOO, where were you when the economy was great and the private sector was doubling and tripling their salary ( real estate especially ) yet the Fire and Police got the standard 3% cost of living raise... ITS NOT THE FAULT OF FIRE AND POLICE THAT YOU HAD TO BUY 5 HOUSES, A HUMMER, AND FAKE TATAS FOR YOUR MISTRESS. Now you bitch that the public makes no money so why should fireman?

Fire and Police negotiated their salary, ( AVG OF THE COUNTY ) and part of that pay pays into CalPers. If you stopped spending your money on bags of cheetos and saved you'd have a pension too.

3/01/2011 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Barry P. said...

Thankful for Life Savers, did you hear the Governor today. Pro-labor, Governor Moonbeam--police, you have to work past 50. He's still working at 72! It's appalling that our police and fire retire at 50. I had to work until 67 just to get my meager social security (which my kids won't get) Why are you so different? Because you put your life on the line you get to check out at 50? Outrageous! We can't afford that. Folks are starting to understand that. I wish you would!

3/01/2011 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous almostdone said...

So Barry... You had to work to 67 and all you have is a minimum SS payment every month?
It's understandable why you are bitter about the guys who have done something commendable with their lives. You didn't and now you resent paying what little you do in taxes out of your meager income to support public safety.
At your age and with as much stress as you must be under you might be making a big mistake supporting that private EMS proposal. Good luck.

3/01/2011 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

So Barry, your not happy that cops or FD are able to retire at 50. Imagine if a pro athlete couldn't retire until 50. He would be useless. Theses guys need to be at top reaction speed, mental accuity, pain free and agile. How were you at 50? Would you pay the money or spend several hours on your couch to watch the aged athlete. Not too many folks watching the senior tour. The biomechanics of the human body and spine can only sustain so much physical stress before it breaks down rapidly. I do not have a problem with the retire at 50 or 55. Would I like these professionals to put a little more of their income towards their own retirement, yes. Do I think they deserve the benefits package they get, I'm on the fence on some of those issues. However, I think they deserve the money they get.

3/01/2011 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Recall riggy and menstrual said...

Again Barry, facts screwup your rant. 0.7% reach retirement limit at 50. Most retire after 58 or later. Look it up... FACT. And of them the avg live only 10 yrs beyond retirement because they sacrificed. As for you flipping burgers til 67 and never contributing to society or a retirement SPEAKS WONDERS TO THE PERSON YOU ARE. (A Righiemer supporter)

3/01/2011 05:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bitter P (AKA Barry)
I've worked for the City of Costa Mesa since 1986. I'll put my 25 years of caring for the citizens of Costa Mesa against your beloved Riggy's 15 minutes of living here. He cares deeply...only for himself.

3/01/2011 07:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Barry P. said...

I never realized how entitled our public employees feel. This is a symptom of a bigger problem. By the way almostdone, they have a name for when the government jobs are all better than the private sector jobs-it's called Cuba! Good luck competing with the private sector now that we're outsourcing. Since I live here, I'm the one that matters. I may not agree with all that our current Council is doing, but I'm glad they're addressing the fiscal disaster we're in and not just pandering to the unions as most electeds do. These guys have my respect!

3/02/2011 08:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Sissy Casper said...

Barry P.-

This was said by Joe the other day and should be repeated until you and the other Riggy's read it.

The method of several of our "elected" leaders (one of whom was not elected) - laying blame for a problem on a group of people, demonizing and criminalizing that group and attempting to turn an entire community against that group; all as a part of master plan to increase political clout so that one individual can move on to higher political aspirations - is not only shameful but wrong.


3/02/2011 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

If you think this has ANYTHING to do with the Budget or providing services to the city's residents , you are either a FOOL or a LIAR.


Republicans are battling a phantom "budget crisis" which is disappearing after Costa Mesa residents approved an increase in the hotel tax in November to protect public service

A massive phantom gap in future pension costs for public employees is forecast, although the cost to the city has been flat for years as public employee unions have picked up part of the cost.

3/02/2011 08:49:00 AM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

As I have said before....outsourcing is NOT a fiscal solution. However, Barry, since you are so convinced it is are you willing to admit you were wrong when (and I do mean when) it proves to be a bigger financial hassle and proves to be not in the best interest of the city and its residents? Are you man enough to do that? By the way....did you read about how it took one of the County Council members to publicly say that the IT company they outsourced to was pissing away county money with not a damn thing to show for it? None of the other members did. They just wanted to sweep it under the rug. In this case I will bet that when that happens here it will be to good ol' boy group wanting to hide the facts and Leece calling them all to the rug.

Why the hell city employees have to pay for the mistakes of upper management decisions and actions of the past is beyond me.

3/02/2011 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Train Wreck said...

Its quite interesting that Riggie ask's several questions to a care ambulance manager about fire department operations and not to the Fire Chief! (can u say hidden agenda). I suppose he was schooled enough by mr. grihavla last night that he could not take another beating. For the one question the ambulance manager could not accurately answer, is that for the biggest wildlnd fire in the history of the OC The Orange County Fire Chiefs were in constant communications to ensure that all EMS calls for service were handled thru out the County with no impact, after all thats the one nice thing about automatic aid agreements with Fire Departmetns the citizens get coverage for FREE!!!

3/02/2011 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Tail Now Wagging Dog said...

Barry P.

I, along with most of Costa Mesa, are solidly in your corner. The city council needs to at least dump the PD and FD. The council men are doing what they were voted into office to do.

This has quickly become a case of the tail wagging the dog and I am getting sick and tired of all the crap being spewed by the so called "good guys". How quickly good has gone bad. The cops are now nothing more than common robbers.

What is so commendable about that?

3/02/2011 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous John said...

For those of you who have been indoctrinated with the lies that fire department emergency services are free, let me assure you they are not! CARE bills local residents for the deductible on their medical plans. If you have no medical plan, and are not indigent or illegal, you are presumably charged full price.

To add insult to injury, the top 2 cops have robbed us 4 ways. First, they were grossly overpaid (and one of them still is). Second, they were padding their expense accounts. Third they were collecting their salary without even so much as showing up for work. Fourth they were draining the city treasury for their personal pensions. And they, and their cohorts, are trying to justify their positions? What a joke!

How much lower can people possibly go? It's way past time we outsource. It can't possibly be any worse than what we are now experiencing.

3/02/2011 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Train Wreck said...

Hey John, if you are a citizen of Costa Mesa you do not get a bill from the Fire Department for Emergency services (PERIOD)Thats what Mr. Griovalva said and I checked into it to verify....Only NON RESIDENTS recieve a bill for ems servise. However, you do get a bill for services from Care regardless if you live in the Mesa or not since they are the ones who transport to the hospital and use their supplies. So if private parmedics come along just wait you will get a bill 2 to 3 times the amount for their services and stil pay city taxes for the FD. talk about double taxing.....just think if you had a fire department ambulance based service like Newport, Huntington or even Santa Ana all of which make money and the citizens love it would pay for the progeam and equipment of which we would not be having money issues. Check with HB like I did. Do some homework before you bash or call the Firfighters or spoke people liars.....

3/02/2011 04:22:00 PM  
Anonymous CM concerned said...

Tail now waggin dog... Be careful for what you wish for and what you hear from your your sole called elected and appointed council members. Dump PD and FD you still have to pay for the services and if the replacement has a less than desirable reputation for actions watch you insurance rates take off higher than PERS rates!! Hoes about both sides talking and beign truthful it seems thats what the employees want but then again there not shooing for any other political office or seat...

3/02/2011 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Train Wreck said...

Hey John, I forgot do u remember Sheriff Corona, Where is he at and by the way Mr. Messinger appointed to r council was given a badge by him and used it not legally.............Not all cops are crooked but then again who isnt right, do we dare start with our elected officals in higher offices the=n work our way down to pro ball players, actors or actress so be careful with the rocks u throw in your glass house.....

3/02/2011 04:43:00 PM  

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