Friday, March 11, 2011

End To A Chaotic First Quarter

Tuesday, March 15, 2011, the Costa Mesa City Council will have their final council meeting of the first quarter of the year - a period in the history of this city that has been marked with turmoil.

The first quarter of this calendar year found a new dynamic on the council. Wendy Leece was re-elected despite some last-minute dramatic attempts by the fat cats of the Orange County Republican Party to affect the election because they got their noses out of joint for her vote on the collective bargaining agreements in the fall. Funny, nobody criticized Gary Monahan for his vote on the same issue.

Jim Righeimer was finally elected to public office after failing several times in the past. He was selected by his peers on the dais as Mayor Pro Tem, to be the right-hand guy of Monahan in his most recent role as Mayor.

Righeimer's runnin' buddy, Steve Mensinger, was appointed to the council to fill the vacancy created after he sweet-talked Katrina Foley into running for a seat on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board to which she was elected in November. Despite his early denials of such a plan, after she resigned her council seat he applied for the it and was appointed, thereby avoiding a nasty election where the voters would actually have a chance to get to know him a little before he began controlling their lives.

That leaves the council with a "super majority" of Monahan, Righeimer, Mensinger and Eric Bever with Leece turning out to be a lone voice in the wilderness on most issues.

We entered the first quarter of the year with huge holes in the municipal leadership. Marc Puckett was not replaced as Finance Director at a time when the city has been in extreme fiscal distress. The Fire Department has been without senior leadership, with retired Fire Chief Mike Morgan moving to the same job in Newport Beach and no bodies in the Deputy Fire Chief nor Fire Marshall positions. None of those slots will be officially filled until the issue of contracting with the Orange County Fire Authority for our fire and emergency medical service is resolved. Police Chief Chris Shawkey remained only a memory as he was placed on administrative leave for reasons never made clear. He eventually resigned last week, which now officially leaves his position vacant and the subject of a search to fill it.

And, City Manager Allan Roeder announced his retirement to be effective last Friday. His assistant, Tom Hatch, was immediately named to replace him.

The new council's first move was to dismantle ABLE, the joint powers agency with Newport Beach that has been the model for such programs around the country. It's clear that public safety is much less important to the majority on the council than their image as "budget crusaders". You can read officer/pilot Rob Dimel's commentary from the Daily Pilot HERE.

After that the new council launched itself into a full-court press on the budget shortfall by deciding to outsource every job they could - BEFORE any kind of analysis had been done. As the dust settled following the original dust-up more than 200 employees - 43% of the total - were anticipating receiving six-month layoff notices this week. In a brief memo to the staff Hatch - now designated as Chief Executive Officer of the City - announced today that the process for issuing those notices didn't get completed this week, but he expects it to happen next week. So, one more week of angst and trepidation for roughly half the staff.

I know I'm not the only person in this city who believes the new council is moving much too fast with their plans to outsource jobs under the guise of saving money. Anyone paying attention realizes that this is the only alternative left open to Righeimer and his pals to accomplish "pension reform" during his term of office and save face with his Orange County Republican Party cronies. Since he can't negotiate a new deal he's going to take the "easy way" out and just get rid of the employees who have those pensions, one way or the other. He can get rid of a quarter of the "problem" by contracting with the Orange County Fire Authority. The Costa Mesa firefighters would go to the OCFA and take their pension obligations with them. The rest of the staff will get the old municipal stink-eye - be assessed as possible candidates for outsourcing. And, there goes those nasty pensions with them.

So, the agenda for Tuesday's meeting is a short one. Perhaps the most controversial issues will be Wendy Leece's requests for a review of two items recently passed - the request to send a letter to the head of the Orange County EMS program to evaluate the possibility of private paramedic services and the approval of the outsourcing scheme. These will be short and not-so-sweet. Leece doesn't have the votes and it's unlikely that her peers will care what reasons she brings forward for her request. Speakers will likely be limited to addressing only the request for a re-hearing - not the re-hearing itself. We'll see.

Of course, there's always the "council member comments" section at the end of the meeting. This is where they spring new schemes on those of us paying attention. We'll be watching.

This Sunday, March 13, 2011, Leece and Righeimer will appear together on Fox News at 10:00 p.m. to discuss the outsourcing scheme. It should be worth watching. I'll report on their performance. It's possible that they will be preempted by more earthquake/tsunami news.

Speaking of which, you may wish to read this essay I wrote a few years ago following Hurricane Katrina. The passage of time has dated some of the assumptions, but when I researched and wrote this as a possibility the Japanese earthquake/tsunami we had yesterday is precisely what I had in my mind's eye.

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Anonymous Kent Morrow said...

Maybe Riggy will get a letter like this,

March 10, 2011
Mr. Tom Ellis, President
Marshall & Ilsley Corporation
770 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Dear Mr. Ellis:
As you undoubtedly know, Governor Walker recently proposed a “budget
adjustment bill” to eviscerate public employees’ right to collectively bargain in
Wisconsin. ..

As you also know, Scott Walker did not campaign on this issue when he ran for
office. If he had, we are confident that you would not be listed among his largest
contributors. As such, we are contacting you now to request your support.

The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor
Walker’s efforts to virtually eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in
Wisconsin. While we appreciate that you may need some time to consider this
request, we ask for your response by March 17. In the event that you do not
respond to this request by that date, we will assume that you stand with
Governor Walker and against the teachers, nurses, police officers, fire fighters,
and other dedicated public employees who serve our communities.

In the event that you cannot support this effort to save collective bargaining,
please be advised that the undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the
goods and services provided by your company. However, if you join us, we will
do everything in our power to publicly celebrate your partnership in the fight to
preserve the right of public employees to be heard at the bargaining table.
Wisconsin’s public employee unions serve to protect and promote equality and
fairness in the workplace. We hope you will stand with us and publicly share that

In the event you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact the
executive Director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, Jim Palmer,
at 608.273.3840.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from
you soon.

James L. Palmer, Executive Director
Wisconsin Professional Police Association
Mahlon Mitchell,President
Professional Fire Fighters
Jim Conway, President
International Association of Fire Fighters Local 311
John Matthews, Executive Director
Madison Teachers, Inc.
Keith Patt, Executive Director
Green Bay Education Association
Bob Richardson, President
Dane County Deputy Sheriffs Association
Dan Frei, President
Madison Professional Police Officers Association

3/12/2011 09:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry said...

Best quarter in City's history. Finally a Council that will stand up to fix our broken machine!

Love the post with the union extortion letter in Wisconsin. That's what you get with fire and police unions. What thugs!

3/12/2011 09:31:00 AM  
Anonymous I'll be back said...

Yes, someone did criticize Monahan for his vote. It was someone on the Daily Pilot. I remember reading it and thinking that it was true - Monahan voted for the contract but only Leece got criticized. I'll try to find it.

3/12/2011 09:35:00 AM  
Anonymous HadEnuf said...

Best quarter in city's history - really Barry? You really think that has anything to do with this council?

Lets see...businesses are rebounding as is the stock market- PERS has actually recovered over 70Billion. There are more businesses coming into CM (Fiat being latest). South Coast Plaza has had another record breaking year- over last years record breaking year, and we're still waiting on 4th quarter holiday numbers.

This budget is being fixed merely because of an improved business climate and it is being balanced on the backs of the employees and systematic dismantiling of our public safety. I myself have lost roughly 30% income due over the last 3 years due to loss of promotion, furloughs and the latest "cost sharing". Not to mention all the free time and "flexing" (FLSA?)to accomodate what needs to get done. The city employees offered up 120 ideas to cut costs and increase revenue - ALL SHOT DOWN. The original police assoc negotiation in June offered up more savings than currently agreed on, as did the police managements, but council went with their philosophical agenda instead, trading dogma for dollars.

Instead of looking to generate revenue, they have cut everything else and those that cant figure it out whine about personnel costs being such a high percentage of the budget...duuhh...btw- is it the budget or the streets, or the infrastructure or the pensions that justifies this? I cant keep track it seems to change all the time...

And this whole outsourcing thing, could possibly be okay in some areas if done with clarity and thorough research understanding the costs/benefits...but the way this is being handled, they may study a dept and determine it is not feasible, only to find those who had the knowledge and did the job have moved on, not wanting to wait til the final hour on their 6 month "notice". MANY are looking and going elsewhere.

Finally- where is the city leadership??? Rather convenient...

Maybe you should thank the employees for their contributions, for continuing to do more with less and for coming to work and continuing to be the professionals they are in spite of the loyalty and appreciation they have been shown..(sarcasm)

3/12/2011 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Barry, nice try again with your incorrect facts. I will correct you this time. The best quarter in the city's history occurred mostly because of the rebounding economy. The most significant concessions made by the employees only started to kick in January 1st so things will undoubtedly improve further due to the willingness of these "thugs" to give up pay and benefits to help the city. But keep it up, your true colors shine through every time.

3/12/2011 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

I'll be back, you are correct that Monahan received one minor criticism, but it was nothing like what has been unleashed on Leece. Obviously the OCGOP needs him to be a solid puppet, I mean vote, from here on out and they did not want to piss him off too much.

3/12/2011 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Thugs said...

At least the union thugs in WI are open about their extortion...

3/12/2011 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous SUPEROOSTER said...

Barry how many screen names do you currently have? LOL

3/12/2011 01:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Interesting said...

I want to point out that in your headlines, you refer to "Mensinger" and "Righeimer," but Wendy Leece is "Wendy." This is extremely disrespectful to Mrs. Leece.

3/12/2011 01:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Larry L, said...

Hey Barry,, looks as if the PD and Fire in Wisconsin are sticking up for the thousands of public employees it effects after all I believe the PD and FD did not fall under the plan. Pull ur head out and see the day light maybe you see what is truly happening.....

3/12/2011 05:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Sissy Casper said...

Wow- Barry said "You are a poor excuse for a human being!" Yes, it's a fine day in Costa Mesa when you essentially fire 200 employee's with families, mortagages, college tuitions, and all the all bills families accumulate. Yes, it's a fine day when you throw people out of their jobs, who took pay decreases, refused outside job offers and gave the last 15 years of their lives to public service. Yes, fine day sir, when the same day people are volunteering at the food bank they will be in line to get their dinner.. yes Barry, fine day indeed. May you be put in the same position or your son, daughter.. so you know.. a fine day..

3/12/2011 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous checkyoursix said...

The reason the OCGOP is irritated with Wendy is that she campaigned very hard for their endorsement. The screening committee turned her down, saying they could not endorse her because she was not strong enough on fiscal issues, especially voting for 3@50 a year earlier. She appealed and appeared before the whole central committee and pleaded to be endorsed, said she made a mistake, now understood the severity of the pension crisis and thus deserved an endorsement. It was a pitiful sight as she was almost in tears begging for their help. She got the endorsement, they spent thousands of dollars on her behalf and then four days before the vote ran to the Pilot and complained she was being pressured by the OCGOP to live up to her promises and basically tried to give the OCGOP a black eye in this as outsiders meddling in local politics, conveniently forgetting to state that the OCGOP did NOT approach any candidates, the candidates had to come to them for endorsements and help. Wendy did go to them and backstabbed them. Monahan did not go to them and presumably would not have been given the endorsement had he sought it. Thus the lack of criticism for Monahan. Also, the outside forces of our employee associations were very involved in the election but only the OCGOP seems to be criticized on this blog. Wendy got help from both by changing her position late in the game. She would have lost the election without this clever manipulation.

3/13/2011 06:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry's a troll said...

Stop talking to Barry!
One day he's a 67 year old retired burger flipper on a minimum SS income and another day he's something else.
It's obvious that actually he's just a troll that is having fun sticking his stick in the eyes of the people who are most affected by what's going on. Not uncommon with todays internet commentary.
Blogs like this have value in that they are a good source of information for someone looking to know.
He has nothing of any value to offer so... Stop feeding him!

3/13/2011 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

checkyoursix......Mansoor recieved their endorsement with the exact same votes cast as Wendy, why the double standard? Was she the Only Republican in Orange County to vote for reduced pensions? Or was this only because she was in Costa Mesa and the OCGOP has a special place for this city in it's warm embracing grasp. Were the Newport Beach council members pressured the same way? No , because they write the checks, and they can do as they please.Name another instance where these rules applied.Wendy was singled out. We all know why, and we also know who was behind it. Righeimer wanted the negotiations to fail so he could be seated and then "blow up the deal". Even though the wasted time and effort just so he could be involved would have bled the city millions of dollars. Huge concessions were won by the city during the laborous negotiations, Wendy saved the city millions while maintaining services. She fulfilled her elected duty and stood by her priciples of being fiscally conservative. The rest is just a political takeover of our city by those who don't even live here and govern from outside.

3/13/2011 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Beth said...

Gericault, checkyoursix very clearly, and accurately, explained to you why Wendy was singled out. Can't you read English?

Belaboring the issue only makes you appear to be dimwitted.

3/13/2011 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Thanks Beth, but I like to clarify points of hypocrisy that are usually omitted by you and others. If I need a telescopic sight into my opinions , I know where to get one. Or I can just read the regular trashing I read over at the CM Press for having and expressing a viewpoint.

3/13/2011 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

checkyoursix, Wendy would have won just as Monahan would have won (had he been up for election) without that endorsement. She doesn't have the dirty reputation Righeimer has ever since he carpetbagged his way in. Riggy sold us out. There is no way he could have won without the endorsement. The guy is incompetent. He cares more about keeping his nose brown from Scott Baugh than he does for Costa Mesa.

3/14/2011 05:21:00 PM  

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