Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Operation Transparency" Continues

City Chief Executive Officer, Tom Hatch, sent a message to all employees today, briefing them on the current condition of certain issues in the city and advising them of the near-term actions that are being taken.


Hatch discusses the current state of city finances - grim - and advises that further information will be given at the April 26, 2011 special Budget Briefing beginning at 4:30 p.m. in City Council chambers.


He also announced that the video production staff will be transferred to the CEO's office from Administrative Services. No mention of whether their 6-month layoff notices will be rescinded as a result of this move.


Hatch mentioned that the RFPs for possible outsourcing are still being developed and should be distributed soon.


He also mentioned that plans are in the works for a permanent memorial plaque and planting a tree to celebrate the work Huy Pham did for the city. We can only assume this in response to the ongoing outpouring of grief since Pham leaped to his death.

The complete text of Hatch's message is published below.

CEO Message Sent Today to City Employees

Fellow City Staff,

I will try to be as brief as possible with this update but there are many updates that need to be communicated. I want to start by thanking the many groups of employees that I have had the opportunity to personally meet with over the last two weeks. I appreciated the many tough questions and I gave frank and honest answers to those questions. I look forward to craving out more time in the near future to continue as many of these meetings as possible.

On the issue of the budget several points need clarification. First, the current year budget (FY 2010-2011 ending June 30, 2011) has a $1.6 million dollar gap. It is impossible to predict exactly where the year will end but this is our latest estimate (based on projections from January). With the discontinuation of the ABLE Program effective July 1, 2011, the City reduced its on-going expenditures by approximately $800,000 per year and upon the dissolution of the ABLE Program, funding of approximately $2,000,000 in ABLE fund balance will come back to the General Fund. Because of this structural change to the budget, the City Council is not looking for any additional changes for the current year budget.

For next budget year, we are focused on the development of the FY 2011-2012 Preliminary Budget. Based on the submittals from Departments, we have a $5 million problem. This is a very significant and difficult problem that must be resolved by July 1, 2011. The following is occurring:

  • The City Council Budget Working Group and I discussed the concept of focusing on the $5 million dollar problem now but also developing a longer-term real solution and financing plan for our many other needs. This list of financial needs is being developed by our staff and will include issues like the PERS under-funded liability, retiree health liability, numerous financial needs for capital projects like roads, technology improvements, allies and facility improvements, etc. There are issues that need
  • attention and a plan to fund the improvements. The value of these deficiencies is in the tens of millions of dollars. We will develop a 5-year projection list that will include a comparison of future revenue and expenditures and a detailed plan for funding as many of the issues on our list of financial needs as possible. In addition, the preliminary budget for next year must have a plan to balance the $5 million dollar gap now. Over the next few weeks the plan will be develop and it will involve significant cuts to our operations and significant service level reductions. We cannot afford the service levels we are currently providing to the community. I will provide more information on these issues in the near future as well as at the April 26 Budget Briefing. I have also provided a briefing to most of the association boards. You can also discuss these issues or ask questions of your department director. More information to follow.
  • On April 26, 2011 at 4:30 we will be holding a Budget Briefing for the City Council, employees and the community in the Council Chambers. The focus of this meeting will be an overview of where we are going with the budget for next year but also a briefing on our current fund balance situation as well as an independent perspective on our future PERS rates and underfunded PERS liability. The goal is to help get all of us on the same page about where we are at with these important issues. I don’t know if we will ever get everyone to agree but the interest is to work together to find solutions and not spend valuable time disagreeing about what the problem is. I have high expectations that this meeting will help clarify and build agreement about the details of our financial problems.
  • The video production team of Dane Bora and Brad Long are being transferred from the Administrative Services Department to the CEO’s Office. We need their focus and assistance on helping to increase communication related to the details of the budget. They will be designing informational videos that record members of the City staff including Interim Finance Director Larry Hurst, as we seek to clarify financial issues and provide an understanding of how we project various revenues sources for the City.
  • The RFP’s for possible outsourcing continue to be developed and no detailed update is available at this time. I will provide a detailed update on the status of this work in a few days.

Peter Naghavi and Public Services Staff are working on creating a memorial plaque and planting a tree for Huy Pham. The memorial to celebrate his work for the City is planned for the south side of City Hall and/or the Estancia Adobe location. More information will be available shortly.

Finally, as we continue to work through this very difficult time, please continue to be supportive of one another and sensitive to the needs of our fellow employees. The organization has long been recognized for its quality customer service and professionalism and never before has our need for our best skills been called into service. Thank you for all you do for our organization and community.


Thomas R. Hatch. Chief Executive Officer

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Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

If this keeps going, it can't do anything but help the workers and citizens of Costa Mesa get closer to understanding how real the problems are.

I continue to encourage the city council to keep making factual information available. Then we can debate policy while understanding the financial situation we have currently.

4/14/2011 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

It has been 98 days... where is the petition to recall the Appointed One?

There is a June ballot... short time to get enough signitures.

4/14/2011 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Barry said...

Funny thing about recalls. The people who talk about them here don't live here so they can't vote and they can't circulate a recall petition. I think the only recall talk going on now by the actual residents is for Wendy Leece for the lies, union pandering and inability to propose a single idea or solution to anything. The only thing that woman has done in nearly 5 years on the Council is put in a stupid God plaque that no one wanted. Recall Leece!! Where do I sign?

4/14/2011 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous More cuts said...

What is left to cut?!?!?!

4/14/2011 01:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Deborah said...

More transparency is needed. For instance, when is the investgation into Huy Pham's death going to be made public?

4/14/2011 02:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Just Wondering said...

Hey Geoff,
Does this mean that Riggy can no longer call it a 15 million dollar budget shortfall?

4/14/2011 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Wisconsin's governor just admitted: No savings.

When will Riggy,Menssy, and their other two henchmen admit it re Costa Mesa?

4/15/2011 12:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Daniel Stephens III said...

More transparency is needed. Let's talk about Lobdell. His character. He is about to be sued by for his associations. This is the spokesperson the City hires? What does this tell you? I was told the employees can't place flowers for their co-worker because City Council refuses to let them. Is that transparentcy? Geoff- there are many back stories I am hearing. Are you hearing them? Also, no remarks about the new furniture in the 5th floor lobby or main floor lobby? Why? Because they are on order.

4/15/2011 04:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Pentagon Hexagram said...

Great. Adding the Costa Mesa tv crew to the CEO's office. We may not be able to afford police, but we will have a propaganda operation second to no one.

4/15/2011 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

"Hatch also explained that the fiscal 2010-11 budget would be essentially balanced once the city fully decommissions its police helicopter program."
Also had the city taken the $1.3 million we would actually have a $1.2 million dollar SURPLUS. Riggy couldn't let That happen now could he?

4/15/2011 07:48:00 AM  
Anonymous CM Watacher said...

As usual, the message is murky rather than transparent. What exactly is the budget shortfall? Is there really a shortfall or just an excuse to make significant changes to the levels of service due to a political agenda? If Hatch and his Council were truly interested in the residents and staffing, they would increase the business license fees, and generate enough revenue (without costing residents a dime) and solve this entire problem. It's an easy fix and no one is proposing this. Why?

4/15/2011 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

CM Watacher, it was proposed a year ago. Now we have to wait until 2012 because the Business License fee structure requires a vote of the electorate. The council rejected it last year, just as Gary rejected the staff recommendation to bump the TOT 3 points. He held out for 2. That additional 1% increase would have meant around $300,000 in what was left of this fiscal year alone. Very short-sighted (no offense, Gary).

4/15/2011 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Max said...

Barry, I live in Costa Mesa and don't work for the city and am not a liberal. I will definitely sign a recall for Righeimer. He's the ring leader and can't be trusted.

The city manager just said the budget is balanced. Of course we are in the hole if Righeimer wants to pave our streets with gold and make his friends rich at our expense.

Righeimer is abusing our city for his personal political career. The chance of him saving us any money with the same level of service we have enjoyed over the years is highly unlikely.

If this was just one simple issue, a recall wouldn't be necessary. However, with Righeimer it goes much deeper.

By the way Barry, why not move to a contract city in South County? You and Righeimer would be in nirvana with all of those illegal immigrants working for city contracts.

4/15/2011 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

Quoted from CEO Hatchs memo...
"Over the next few weeks the plan will be develop and it will involve significant cuts to our operations and significant service level reductions. We cannot afford the service levels we are currently providing to the community."
to me this sounds like the council is going to plan B. The outsourcing plan and 6 month noticing is too slow for their agenda so they are simply going to eliminate positions and workers. If they cannot afford the current levels of service perhaps they could explain (in the interst of so called transparency) why they spent $200,000 on consultants, hired a PR guy for $12,000 a month, refused to take the $1.3 million of RDA money, want to allocate $130,000 for laptops for the building inspectors and code enforcment, plan on spending god knows how much on propaganda videos.
Every day this just gets more insane.

4/15/2011 02:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Recall Riggy and Mensinger said...

Interesting theory of why Mensinger was sooooo adamant about the City Manager's name change to CEO.

I've been thinking about it and hearing lots of talk about why Mensinger, who really is just a Righeimer whipping boy and not a politician, would really care about a name change. WELL, because of the Name change it opens the door to changing the job description of the City Manager. Thus making it very convenient to change the requirements and allow HIM TO APPLY FOR THAT POSITION. Remember, the City Council "appoints" that position. Mensinger has far too much dirty laundry to ever get voted into office so why not let his buddies in the council give him a job ( since he is unemployed except for being a council member) PROBABLY WHY HE WAS WILLING TO "WRITE A CHECK FOR THE LETTER HEAD CHANGE" AND WHY HE BOUGHT A NEW TOLIET (HIS NEW THRONE)

Just like this council, "favors pay for favors" Probably why Righeimer could afford a $1.5 million dollar house while only working on the planning commission at under $500/month.

Probably why butt kisser Starn is willing to clean bathrooms, because he is up to his elbows in political crap, and is bucking for police chief.

Costa mesa is the new BELL- problem is BELL officials were greedy and dump, while our council is greedy, power hungry and smart.

PS--- HEY RIGHEIMBER, pay your taxes tomorrow.... hate to have you add to your dozen tax liens.

4/15/2011 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous BC Reader said...

Hey Barry,
Are you and Bill from this LA Times article? I think they call you "con man".

See for yourself:

Bill Lobdell is now an Interim Communication Director for City of Costa Mesa. Give him a call, both of you can DO it again (short sell the city). May be you two have luck this time.

Now we know why they want to outsource the CMPD jail, so you two don't have to spend time in that cold place :-D

4/15/2011 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous braking news said...

Anyone know who this man is:

He was hired as an executive(?) without go through normal recruitment.

Don't be surprised in the next few months the city will start many "green" projects using his company's products or services.

Remember, you see it here first.
No speculation. Just the fact.

4/15/2011 03:37:00 PM  
Anonymous mirror said...

Max, you must be kidding!

Pave the streets with gold? How about just plain asphalt? We're sending people like Clay Epperson off to luxury retirements ($150,000per year for LIFE), while our streets are literally falling apart. Huge potholes exist even on Bear adjacent to South Coast Plaza, and many residential streets are in terrible shape.

Righeimer wants to enrich his buddies, what about the consultants and media people getting rich off the unions campaigns?

How about all the senior employees who refused to make enough concessions to prevent over 120 city employees from being laid off? Negotiating and pushing the approval of contracts that would guarantee the loss of jobs for fellow city employees.

4/15/2011 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

mirror, my point is that Righeimer is playing with the numbers to create a sense of fear. It's a great sales tool.

It sounds like you agree about Righeimer making his friends rich. You get a city contract, fire all of the expensive Americans and use immigrant labor while pocketing the profit. The city loses, the workers lose, yet the contractor gets rich.

I take it you wouldn't reward loyalty or longevity at an organization you were in charge of? You want the cheapest of the cheap? It's attitudes like that which is why there are 12 million people here illegally taking jobs away from Americans of all races.

4/15/2011 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous just wondering said...

well, lets see if we get rid of fire we still pay 17-20 million if we keep them we pay 17-20 million and have a say and can work with them on fixing the problem.....get rid of them and we an be like Stanton and pay more every couple of years...

4/15/2011 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous checkyoursix said...

just wondering has a ggod point, and he did it without childish name calling

4/15/2011 09:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Mayor Quimby said...

Following up on a comment above, here's some more questions about Dan Joyce and how he got hired to fill a position that had been eliminated from the budget,

4/17/2011 03:06:00 PM  

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