Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Mandoki To Lawndale As City Manager

Reports are all over the news media tonight that Steve Mandoki, who resigned earlier this week as Costa Mesa's Director of Administrative Services, will soon begin a new job as City Manager in Lawndale, CA. You can read the Daily Pilot coverage HERE and a more detailed account from the Daily Breeze HERE. According to media reports, he will be confirmed at the Lawndale City Council meeting on April 18th. His last day on the job in Costa Mesa will be April 15th.

Lawndale is located in southern Los Angeles county and is bordered by Hawthorne, Redondo Beach, Torrance and Los Angeles County. It is bisected by the 405 Freeway. The 2010 Census tells us that Lawndale has just under 33,000 residents, with 61% Hispanic and 43% White. City Council members are paid about half what Costa Mesa's council members receive. The median age is 29.3 years, with nearly 50% between 25 and 54 years of age. Police and Fire protection are provided by Los Angeles County.


Mandoki's loss to Costa
Mesa is a very significant one. His departure leaves yet another department head vacancy at a time when stable, senior leadership is sorely missed. The city is currently without permanent staffers in the positions of Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, Fire Marshall, Finance Director, Assistant City Manager (CEO) and now Mandoki's slot as Director of Administrative Services.

From all reports this is a good move for Mandoki, who grew up in that part of Los Angeles county. Apparently this move has been in the works for some time and is not dire
ctly related to the fact that he, along with more than 200 other city staffers, recently received 6-month layoff notices.

We here at A Bubbling Cauldron admire Mandoki for the skills, both as a manager and technician, he brought to his six years service in our city. We wish him well. He will be missed.

I cannot close this entry without observing that I suspect this will not be the last departure of senior staffers in the near future. The current city council, led by Jim Righeimer and
Steve Mensinger, who, through their haste and thoughtless slash-and-burn management technique, have created a hostile work place - one in which the morale is the lowest in memory. In their haste to follow the Orange County Republican Party mantra and effect "pension reform" they've chosen to simply dump employees instead of inviting the employee bargaining units to the table to discuss possible adjustments to their contracts. The relationship between city management has gone from one of collaboration and cooperation to one of distrust and combat - as witnessed by the recent post on the OC GOP web site mentioned here in an earlier post. Righeimer and his handlers of the OC GOP have basically declared war on the municipal employees, to the detriment of every resident in this city. Unfortunately, by the time most residents of Costa Mesa wake up and realize what has happened, Righeimer will have moved on to the next step up the GOP ladder, leaving our city in shambles. Shame on him and his pals.

Labels: , ,


Anonymous Jeff said...

I’m a resident of CM and I support the decision of layoffs. It’s sad but necessary. If you don't have the $$ to pay for the positions you either expect city staff to keep working for free or have to give them the bad news.

Geoff West, if you’re opposed to these layoffs how about you layout a working strategy to save these jobs. Would you layoff any employees at all? Where would the funds come from? How would you restructure city services, or would you?

Before you comment on this blog I’m asking the same of each of you, If YOU were on the city council what would you propose? Thinking up smarmy names to call the council members in not a solution that will help our city or the employees who were let go. So let’s hear YOUR solutions to save these jobs.

4/07/2011 07:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry P. said...

Don't be a hypocrite Geoff. For years you have been praising our City Manager for his ability to teach and train the best and prepare them for bigger jobs. You celebrated when Don Lamm left for Westminster, praising Allan Rodeder for breeding leadership. Now another leaves for a City Managers job and instead of praising management for it, you blame our Council members for it. Which is? Stop having things whatever way you want them. Pick a position.

4/07/2011 08:16:00 AM  
Anonymous ttularc said...

Also consider the fact that once you "slow down" and make some decisions you have to slow down even further and wait six months before you can implement any changes. Nobody has been laid off (current round) - they have been given layoff notices - there is a big difference - hopefully the six month requirement is removed from any future employee contracts.

4/07/2011 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

I'm not privy to ALL the information the council is supposed to have. However, their "Ready, Fire, Aim" tactic is not only bad management, it's divisive in the community. I do, in fact, have some experience with budgeting and management and understand the process. The problem we have with this crew is that they're making up numbers to fit their plan, not the reverse.

Barry P.
It's hardly hypocritical to bemoan the loss of an excellent senior manager at a time of crisis in the city. Mandoki is going to a bigger job in a smaller city, but I seriously doubt he'd have even considered looking without the poisoned atmosphere created by this current council. He's a smart guy and could read the handwriting (graffiti?) on the wall when Righeimer was elected and Mensinger appointed. I'm happy for him, but sad for our city.

4/07/2011 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

Uh Barry i have a feeling that Mandoki started looking when the new council came in. He knew right off the bat that this meant it was time to get out of Dodge. Geoff is simply saying that while he wishes Mandoki well it is sad that now is when he is leaving cause the employees and the city need him. No shaming just concern for what is gonna happen next.

To answer your questions Jeff, i would follow protocol. I would take a long hard look at the REALISTIC numbers and go from there. I would talk to the employees and get their suggestions as well find out, if needed, what more they are willing to financially contribute. I would NOT hire unnecessary consultants to do a job i am already paying employees to do. I would actually LISTEN to what is being said by the residents. I wouldnt let my party whisper THEIR agenda in my ear but rather do what is truly best for the community.

What exactly is your suggestion?

4/07/2011 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Jeff said...


I'm glad you have skill in budgeting and management so let’s see you put them to use. Any information you feel the city council has that you don't you could easily do a public information request. You could even post the info on your blog for others to brainstorm ideas. So let’s hear your ideas not excuses.

I suspect you will have aprox. 15 responses to your current post and not one will have any suggestions to fix the problem without layoffs.

4/07/2011 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous ttularc said...

Day One: Hand out Layoff Notices
Day Two-Through Month 5: Create RFP's, advertise, obtain proposals.
Month 6: Review proposals, see where costs can be saved without service being jeopardized.
Last Day: lay people off or retain them.

Sounds about right.

4/07/2011 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Hand'm his Hat said...

Mandoki always reminded me of Dilbert, in looks and action.

I think this is a good move, probably the design of Hatch, getting rid of Roeder dead wood.
Hatch needs a Team that will be responsive to his new direction.

Remember, all this stuff happened on the watch of Roeder & Mandoki. Mandoki was the key negotiator. Mandoki did nothing on things like Lions Park.

Don’t give me this Roeder only took Council direction. Kiff in Newport Beach is a leader we need, hope Hatch soon displays similar leadership. This is a start.

4/07/2011 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

Jeff you are asking for suggestions and yet not giving any yourself. Also, as much as you may not believe me when i say this, but even asking for a public records request is going to get you all the information needed. The council hides a lot and because they have been putting a lot of their own people in they have the power to hide more.

Hopefully the people doing the audit will see this taking place and really go after ALL the info they need.

4/07/2011 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous At the public Trough said...

Can someone please look into this Perry “my pension is my” Valentine guy. He is way to cozy with staff folks, and is really starting to annoy me.

How much does Perry earn in retirement … looks healthy enough to me?

4/07/2011 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

I agree with Barbara V.'s piece today in the OCReg, "Men Behaving Badly"... both sides are behaving badly.

I am NO fan of the "Famous Four" and how they have pushed, shoved and bullied their agenda down our throats, but… I hate Unions more!

Union Officials are “Agenda Bullies” as they come. They claim to want to renegotiate, but won’t give any meaningful concessions. They spend “unspecified” dollars, monies from dues collected, to slam anyone who doesn’t agree 100% with their agenda. Bottom line with Union Officials… they care about Power, Position and Pride as much as any Politian around.

Let’s follow the money: If union workers (in any profession) get let go, laid off or take a pay cut there will be less money coming in from membership dues; less money coming in means less money they have to spend on raises, hiring, trips, strikes or defaming commercials… "Their Agenda". Now they will have to cut back on spending, hiring… WAIT… this sound familiar…

It’s ALL politics.

4/07/2011 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Jeff said...


I'll be first to admit running a city isn't easy and that's why I have not applied for the job. As mentioned in the FIRST LINE of my first post, with a lack of funds, I’d suggest layoffs. Not sure how you missed that.

1. Listen to employees
I'm sure there are some talented employees working for CM but only a few may be able to make suggestions that would reduce the budget shortfall by millions. “Stop buying paperclips” only saves so much. Consolidating printers and office equipment is another popular suggestion that saves very small amounts.

How about cutting services (I.e. ABLE.), good idea or bad idea?

2. Listen to residents
I think we saw how that panned out at the last CC meeting. Lots of frustration but little in the way of solutions. Hopefully we’ll see some workable solutions at the following meetings.

3. I'd like to believe an audit would turn up additional ways to save funds, but I fear it wont. If 70% of the city budget is going to pay employees I really don't see how you can avoid layoffs and balance the books.

4. You throw in a lot of speculation behind the councils motives, not helpful. Conspiracy theories.. also not helpful. Thank you for your suggestions I hope other residents take the time to do the same.

4/07/2011 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger feral390 said...

For some reason it seems there are more "pro-council" posts with a lot of new screen names appearing here since the last council meeting.
Just an observation, take from it what you will.

4/07/2011 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Billy Bob said...

Billy Bob said...the last time an audit was made on the City books lone and be hold they found millions of dollars that was hidden yes hidden and it was then was spent in our City towards budget items....YOu all stil buy the BS of the Bell 4 and until u see it you will continue down the path of destruction. It is not the so called unions because they are not, they are associations who stepped up and saved us citizens millions last year when they came back to the table with suggestions. Maybe they need to be on the council to get us out of the rut we are in. They would have a vested interest.... Dump the BEll 4

4/07/2011 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous lumpy said...

feral390, it almost looks like the "other side" is doing what they can to discredite BC. It will take a lot more than these to do it. Besides, GW only offers his opinions, and we all have one, or two!

4/07/2011 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

One can only feel for those who MAY lose their jobs over the next few months. But feeling bad for them is all Costa Mesians can afford for now. I get the anger, they are fighting for their jobs… no matter the consequentes.

Suggestions… how about making each employee an in dependant contractor. They can negotiate their individual contract; then with the negotiated funds pay their own insurance, state and fed taxes, put money into whatever savings they chose. This works very well in a number of private sector organizations.

Performanced base pay... wait if teachers don't have to why should CM employees?

If our City's budget is so connected with SoCstPlaza, then why not set a flex-pay-scale that all City employees (CEO down to the toilet cleaners) are paid a "FED" minimum wage plus commission, this based on how grand or poorly SCPlaza does each quarter (let's make it fair... add IKEA, a couple of Hotels and Harbor Blvd of Cars. This is how private sector companies pay employees when they have numerous locations; wait… again performance based pay and no one likes that idea.

How about, each department head will get extra paid holiday days if they manage their department under (not on) budget each quarter. Let's see how loyal to their fellow workers they would be under that form of management. FYI, your local grocery store manager in not allowed to stay a member of the Retail Clerks Union when he is promoted, this allows the manager to manage at arm’s length; also he doesn't have to strike every time the Union needs more funding.

Here’s a couple… anyone else got some?

4/07/2011 02:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Tony said...

Hey Bro, you said it was possible to vote more than once on the Daily Pilot poll. I tried to vote a second time on two separate occasions and could not do so.

4/07/2011 02:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/07/2011 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous facts said...

Newport laying off 25 workers and eliminating 30 positions because of rising pension costs.

The notices were distributed yesterday.

Where is the outrage? Where was Nick Berardino?,0,643807.story

"City Manager Dave Kiff said Thursday that most of the cuts are planned for the municipal operations department, which maintains streets, parks, beaches and other public areas. Some lifeguards could be let go as well.

About 60 employees received letters Wednesday saying their positions could be eliminated."

In fact, this is about fighting the OC GOP, or about saving jobs?

4/07/2011 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Anonymous, wish you'd have taken 5 seconds to pick a name. I'll make an exception for you this time.. you're suggestions are right on the money.

4/07/2011 04:47:00 PM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

Facts...there wasn't an outcry when Costa Mesa had to do the same last summer. It was understandable then
(okay I lie because money was found after the layoffs showing that they didn't have to happen to begin with).
This is different on so many levels.

4/07/2011 05:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Viable Permanent Solution said...

The bottom line is the City needs to modestly increase the business license fees which have not increased since about 1985, so as to help bring in enough revenue to close the proposed budget deficit, upgrade IT systems, re-pave alleys and streets, etc... that the Council is suggesting at this time. Do you realize that all CM businesses grossing over $500,000 in yearly sales only pay $200 per year, and they have been for the last 25 years? That's why the City only collects about $860,491 (08/09 City figures) in sales tax revenue from all the lucrative companies like South Coast Plaza stores, IKEA, AAA, etc...

When one factors in inflation over this time (2.91% according to inflation calculator) CM businesses originally paid the equivalent of $410.16 a year in today's money. No wonder there is not enough revenue to provide for the various City services when companies basically pay half of what they originally paid back in 1985! An increase .025% of gross yearly sales was suggested back in 2003, and Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Ed Fawcett agreed to this plan, but unfortunately the Council never agreed to put it on the ballot. So here we are ....

4/07/2011 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger valan2 said...

Suggestions are only useful if: (1) the Council will actually consider them, and (2) the REAL problem is balancing the budget.

(1) Suggestions have been made to put an increase in business tax on the ballot. (Costa Mesa's business tax rates are abysmally and laughably low, and I don't think even the business community would object to increases.) This could bring in at least $1 million per year, and maybe more. So far, all Council has said is, "it can't be done soon enough to help this year." True, but if we start now, it can help in future years. Forward thinking years ago would have reduced the current problem; forward thinking now will reduce future problems.

I understand additional suggestions have been made by the employees, but have not been addressed or accepted by Council. I don't have details but it sure wouldn't hurt for Council and employees to sit down and discuss the ideas. The current atmosphere makes cooperation difficult, but it must take place. It's hard for those of us without real information to offer credible suggestions, but the groups with that information need to share it truthfully and address it seriously.

(2) Based on the fact that the Council has not addressed some of the budget-balancing suggestions that have been made, combined with their apparent desire to undertake new programs and capital improvement projects at a time when resources are at a critically-low level, it appears that balancing the budget is not their primary motivation.

Combine that with certain Council members' media campaigns which reach well beyond Costa Mesa's borders, one could reasonably conclude that their real objective is to become GOP heroes in ridding the world of the menace that is "public employee pensions."

So, we first need to decide what battle we're fighting, and then talk seriously and honestly about how to win it. I suggest that the only appropriate battle is the battle of the budget. And, the best way to win it is with full and truthful information, honest evaluation of all alternatives, and full participation of City staff experts, employee groups, and City Council.

4/07/2011 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Anonymous comments will NOT be posted... pick a name, for goodness sake! Geez, is that hard to understand? If you've got something worth saying simply pick a name and submit your comment using it!

4/07/2011 07:59:00 PM  
Anonymous jim fisler said...

There currently is lack of meaningful disclosure regarding the value of State or local government pension benefit plan assets and liabilities. This lack of disclosure poses a direct and serious threat to the financial stability of such plans and their sponsoring governments. The ability of taxpayers and officials to understand the financial obligations are seriously impaired and reduces the likelihood that State and local government processes will be prudent in management of their plans. This is a serious threat to the health of the Nation and places an undue burden on State and local government taxpayers who will be called upon to fully fund existing and future pension promises. The plan participants and the general public need to be protected. Meaningful disclosures are necessary for the general welfare and free flow of commerce. The formation of capital, regional growth or decline, national markets for insurance and the markets for securities and trading of securities of State and local governments are all substantially impacted by the health of the pension plans. Reductions in services and tax increases have already occurred because of the large financial burdens these pension plan benefits impose.
Each year we should be provided a schedule of funding status stating current liabilities, plan assets, net unfunded liability (if any), and funding percentage of the plan. A schedule of contributions by the plan sponsor for the year should also be included. Projections reaching twenty years into the future relating to the amount of annual contributions, fair market value of plan assets, current liability and the funding percentage should be prepared and backed up with data used to make the projections. This would include the assumptions related to funding policy, plan changes, future workforce projections, and future investment returns. Data should include the number of participants who are retired and receiving benefits, including future benefit adjustments, and the number of those who are active under the plan. A statement of the plan’s investment returns, including the rate of return, for the plan year and the preceding five years should be studied along with a statement describing the degree and manner in which the plan sponsor expects to eliminate any unfunded current liability that may exist for the plan year and a statement as to the extent the plan sponsor has followed the plans funding policy for each of the preceding five years. A disclosure of any and the amount of any outstanding pension obligation bonds should be provided. The interest rate used for liabilities should be based on the appropriate U.S. Treasury yield curve current rate that is use the 5 year curve segment for projecting the next five years benefits payable, the 15 year segment of curve for benefits payable during the 15 year period, etc. This is a riskless rate and should be the rate we use to make sure all pensions are funded. These rates are lower than the rates currently used in making assumptions and would require larger deposits of monies into pension plans than now and admittedly could result in layoffs, tax increases, and/or reductions of services. But given the billions in unfunded liabilities in the State I believe this is the best way to go forward and structure future employee wage/salary/benefit negotiations around. The taxpayers deserve it and the beneficiaries deserve it. I believe the actual best end result is the END of defined benefit contribution plans, they are unsustainable. Defined contribution plans are the way to go. Start now with new hires. It will not save us much money now but at least it will help the future of our children or grandchildren.

4/07/2011 08:08:00 PM  
Anonymous R U big enuf to apologize? said...

Mr. West: I just read your comments online at the Daily Pilot website - the one after the Daniel Foster story where you called Jim Fitzpatrick names. You are really out of line there and you should apologize for using this great announcement as an excuse to sound off on someone you don't like. The story was about Daniel Foster, not about you.

4/07/2011 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

R U,
If you read the comment thread you know I already addressed the young soldier. That's as far as I'm going. Fitzpatrick remains a boot-licking wannabe bully. Thanks for asking.

4/07/2011 09:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary W. Craig, CPA said...

Your understanding of these pensions is superb. I wish the other city execs understood the financial aspects of how pensions work this well.

I agree whole heartedly with you regarding full disclosure.

I respectfully disagree with you regarding the risk free rate liability calculation, because Cal pers, as I understand it has consistently kicked out an average 7% return for 20 years.

I think the risk in defined benefit market based pension plans is the prevalence of derivatives in all financial markets, which add quite a bit of financial instability to any plan, defined bene, or 401K style. Defined contribution (401K) just kicks the risk to the individual as opposed to the pool.

Defined benefit plans worked very well for a couple generations of Americans. The changes to the markets have made them unsustainable. 401K's have not worked well for anyone I know.

For those of you who in the past couple weeks who have forgotten what a dialogue is folks, I think we just had one. Thanks Jim.

4/07/2011 09:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Be Prepared said...

Jim Fisler, you have presented the most intelligent, sensible solution I have heard yet. That too has been my thinking, with a slight twist.

This city needs to really clean house. It's only by starting over that Costa Mesa can get a grip on the problem it is now staring down. In the end, if common sense fails to prevail, we are all going to be toast.

I see a huge bomb on the horizon that is about to explode, right when most of today's city employees will want to retire. All the money funded to that date will quickly disappear if we have a major financial meltdown all across the country. I'm talking about a meltdown that is 10 times the size of what we are now experiencing.

The only way to survive something of that magnitude is to get a handle on the problem now. That famous Boy Scout motto comes to mind "Be Prepared". Lay off all current city employees, then let every new hire fund his/her own pension, just like the employees in the private sector do. The government cannot be expected to wipe everyone's (you know what) from cradle to grave.

In other words, citizens cannot expect the government to help them in their hour of need, if the government no longer exists! We are killing off the very government we may need some day.

Face it, if all the city employees are laid off, they would be the most likely to be rehired. Why? Because experience is everything!

4/07/2011 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

Facts quote a daily pilot story that has Newport Beach laying off employees. The story ACTUALLY said Newport Beach is CONSIDERING laying off employees. There is a big difference.
Once again truth and facts are elusive and apparently inconvenient.

4/08/2011 06:40:00 AM  
Anonymous OC Progressive said...

@jim fisler,
Your "idea" is something that already happens every year, with documents that are sent to the City of Costa Mesa by CalPERS. Each of the city's three plans receives a 40+ page annual valuation report from the CalPERS actuarial office.

On Monday, I went to a study session at the City of Huntington Beach where they brought in an actuary to review the reports. Of course when you do that, you get a sober, balanced approach rather than a deceptive PowerPoint that lets you lie and tell the media that "CalPERS has projected that Costa Mesa's pension costs will go from 15 million a year to 25 million a year.

All depends on what you want and whether your Council actually bothers to learn anything about how things work.

4/08/2011 08:07:00 AM  
Anonymous OC Progressive said...


Council members have a fiduciary responsibility. That requires them to behave like reasonable people, rather than relying on apocalyptic visions of a great crash.

Not that we couldn't have a great crash, or benefit by investing all our money in gold, pork bellies, or solar panels. It's just that the general definition of fiduciary responsibility includes a reliance on professionals instead of crackpots.

4/08/2011 08:14:00 AM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

Be Prepared....Please help me with something. Why should we eliminate all the city employees and "start over" having "no pension liabilities" and yet leave all politicians alone to have their benefits and perks? AND could you define what "all" city employees mean? Does that mean CEO Hatch should be out of a job. He collects a pension and allowances. These allowances are for personal use too on top of what the city already covers for him. I mean if this is gonna be done this really should be done with a squeaky clean slate.

4/08/2011 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous TalesitNeverFails said...

Hand M His Hat, your comments indicate your lack of knowledge on Closed Session. The CM's job is to advise the Council, Roeder did just that. Mandoki followed direction, as well. Just as the new CEO is following what he is told to do. Your type needs to find their scapegoat. You think Lawndale hasnt done their homework? Why dont you stick to the facts and keep the name calling in check.

4/08/2011 07:59:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home