Sunday, April 03, 2011

"Outsourcing" Polarizes Community

As mentioned previously, the hit counter at the Daily Pilot has been spinning like a top at record pace recently. The motivator is "outsourcing" and all the ugly tentacles that subject seems to have sprouted.

Since the new City Council was seated in January "outsourcing" ha
s become yet another irritating buzz word thrown around by the new power elite in our city, along with equally irritating "new normal" and "kick the can down the road".

But, more than a simple buzz word, the philosophy of outsourcing - replacing municipal jobs with theoretically less costly private contractors - has been the meat cleaver wielded by Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger that has divided this city almost exactly in half. This festering wound came to a head on St. Patrick's Day, Thursday, March 17th, when the first round of more than two hundred 6-month layoff notices were handed out to employees all over the city and maintenance worker Huy Pham leaped off the roof of City Hall. That act turned what was probably one of the darkest days in the city's history into one that guaranteed that status and received unwanted national notoriety.

Since then there has been much rhetoric on
both sides of the issue, with St. Patrick's Day AWOL Mayor Gary Monahan attempting damage control for his unwillingness to leave his gin mill on "the biggest day of my life" to do his job as mayor. Mayor Pro Tem Righeimer's bloated face seems to have been everywhere on local and national media, bleating his misinformation about the fiscal condition of our city to drum up support for the Orange County Republican Party's plan to make Costa Mesa the tip of the lance in their effort to effect state-wide pension reform. Righeimer is using this issue to garner national recognition for what some feel is a possible run for his buddy, Dana Rohrabacher's congressional seat in the near future.

As I mentioned before, last week Mensinger and I, unbeknown to each other, both submitted our views in commentaries to the Daily Pilot, which cleverly chose to run them Wednesday and Thursday, HERE and HERE, and paired them up in the online editions. The hit counters began spinning with those two.

On Wednesday Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis wrote a column titled "Let's talk about Costa Mesa's future", HERE, which hyped the up-coming Feet To The Fire forum hosted by the Orange County Register's Barbara Venezia on April 18th also began tallying up hits and cranking out comments.

On Friday, April 1st, Eastside resident, land planner and really smart fella Jeff Harlan had published his commentary which eventually carried the title, "Long-term growth, value of city is important", HERE, which gave us a less emotional, more thoughtful view of this situation.

Then, on Sa
turday afternoon Joe Serna wrote an article in the Daily Pilot about a poll recently conducted by Tulchin Research, titled, "Poll: Most voters don't want Costa Mesa to outsource", HERE, in which nearly 60% of the polled residents opposed the outsourcing scheme and the dam seemed to break. Before it could make print this morning the hit counter was burning up and, as I type this Sunday afternoon, there are over 180 comments posted on it. The "conclusion" of the poll, a copy of which is in my hands, states the following:

"In conclusion, this poll clearly demonstrates that Costa Mesa voters are solidly opposed to the City Council's approach to balancing the budget and object strongly to the proposed lay-offs of nearly half the city workforce and to outsourcing most city services. This opposition transcends ideological lines and should serve as guidance to the city's elected officials that their actions defy the will of Costa Mesa voters."

In a separate, non-scientific poll, the Daily Pilot asked readers to respond to a question relevant to the outsourcing
issue. Here are the results:As you can clearly see, the responses indicate a community split right down the middle.

While all t
his is going on, around town there have been small knots of residents trying to meet and form groups to present opposing views of our current "financial crisis" that the current council majority is attempting to use as a wedge to bust the unions that carry the "unsustainable" pensions and salaries.


One of these groups included former mayor Sandra Genis and Westside activist Greg Ridge. Based on reports from those who attended, their first meeting resulted in very little in the way of goal-setting and officer-electing. They were unable to identify a name for the group, but planned to meet later to continue to plan.

However, an impatient Ridge put the pedal to the metal and took off on his own without consultation with his associates. He apparently created a name on his own - REPAIR COSTA MESA - set up a web site and, apparently with the help of the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) and it's president, Nick Beradino, was complicit in the creation and distribution of the now-infamous ad, HERE, denouncing Monahan for his shameful acts on St. Patrick's Day and then at the bogus press conference the next day. This poured gasoline on an already out-of-control situation and generated a huge backlash within the community and nationally, too.

At a subsequent meeting of the group-that-isn't-a-group Ridge took full responsibility for that act, but shrugged it off as inconsequential. It was dur
ing that meeting that copies of the poll mentioned in Serna's article, above, were distributed. Serna tells us that the poll was funded by the OCEA, but in the last sentence of the poll document itself it clearly states that it was paid for "by Repair Costa Mesa, a non-partisan coalition of community members, city workers and business leaders united to repair Costa Mesa." The problem here is no such organization exists! That was the name Ridge pulled out of thin air when "the ad" was distributed.

All the while, Planning Commission Chairman and Righeimer/Mensinger sycophant, Colin McCarthy is the front man for a group called Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association, which professes to be "grassroots, non-partisan taxpayer advocacy group" and yet their mantra is straight from the OC GOP playbook. As is the case with Righeimer and Mensinger, this group's leadership already has it's mind made up, is using the same fabricated numbers that the council majority is attempting to sell the public and apparently made it clear to the assembled group at the first meeting at Monahan's pub that divergent views would be unwelcome.


An amusing sidebar of tha
t event was the red-meat rant by my new Eastside neighbor, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, attempting to whip the crowd into a frenzy with an anti-Barack Obama screed that seemed completely inappropriate to the event. I've seen the video clip of his "speech" and, as a lifelong Republican, can only say that I was completely embarrassed by it.

On Tuesday, April 5th, the Costa M
esa City Council will have its first "official" council meeting since the St. Patrick's Day debacle and the bogus press conference. I say "official" because I don't know how many unofficial meetings they've had since that time. We do know that a quorum was present at the above-mentioned Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association meeting, so it's likely that a Brown Act violation occurred that evening. The agenda is thin for Tuesday's meeting, but we do look forward to the reports from the 2-member sub-committees - "working groups" - to find out just what decisions have already been made without the inconvenient need to include public input. And, there is always the much-anticipated "council member comments", which usually give us huge clues to just how this group plans to further violate our rights and disassemble our city in the name of "pension reform". I wouldn't be surprised if there is a pretty good crowd at Tuesday's meeting. I wouldn't be surprised if a few members of the public rise to ask about all the consultants that have been hired in the past couple weeks - to see how the council justifies those very significant expenses, yet move forward at warp speed to dump more than 200 employees - and that's just the beginning. I also wouldn't be surprised if members of the public ask the council about their reported plan to add an additional $15 million to an already-projected $5 million deficit for the next budget and yet move forward with their plans to flush employees down the sewer. I wouldn't be surprised at all...

There have been many interesting questions asked on this blog and on others. One
of those is, "With all the angst this council has about out-of-control pension and benefits costs - and with all the disclosures of employee pay packages by Righeimer and his buddies - why has the council not stepped up to offer concessions on their compensation packages?" Of course, it's quite possible that they have no clue as to precisely what their packages include. We did see Righeimer tell a television interviewer, when asked what the Mayor Pro Tem of Costa Mesa makes, say "...around $760 a month and I've got a 401K". Well, Mr. Righeimer, you were only off a little. Council members earn $904.40 per month and DO NOT have a 401K - they participate in the same CalPERS program other employees have. We know, in the game of horseshoes you call your life, close is good enough.

We're also eag
er to hear how Righeimer and Mensinger - who both rode divisions of SunCal Corporation straight into bankruptcy - plan to apply those management skills in Costa Mesa. We already know, because he's told us several times during his campaign, that Righeimer never filed for personal bankruptcy - that he took 9 years, but paid off all his debts. What he didn't tell us was what happened to all those vendors he stiffed, and whether they somehow avoided their own bankruptcies while waiting for nearly a decade for him to pay his debts. Nope, we don't hear about that.

And we don't hear much from our non-elected council member, Mr. Mensinger, about his own l
ittle jousts with the legal process. He's not talking about his abuse of authority documented by the Los Angeles Times in 2006 when he flashed his "Mike Carona" bogus badge and threatened to have a airline employee fired. And we don't hear about the lawsuit filed against him while a honcho at Arnel. We don't hear about that stuff because he managed to sweet-talk Katrina Foley into abandoning her seat for the school board run so he could avoid all the inconvenience of an election and simply be appointed to her empty seat by his pal, Righeimer, and his cronies. Nope, we don't hear about that stuff.

Maybe we'll hear about som
e of that stuff, including the whereabouts of Eric Bever during the past few weeks, at Tuesday's council meeting. Or, maybe not...

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Anonymous Max said...

I'm not a big fan of the "new normal" either. This is simply Righeimer fudging the numbers, creating an emergency when only adjustments were necessary, and trying to cover for his reckless decisions that will cost this city dearly in the long run. He wants us to get used to how crappy it is and will be living under his administration.

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

Jeff Harlan made some excellent points in his article. Someone like Righeimer will be long gone when our city is left in ruins after he carpetbags us.

As a "shareholder", I want a competent board of directors that isn't going to ruin the value of our city. We have a great city. Unfortunately Righeimer and Mensinger have ruined it's value ever since they got into politics.

4/03/2011 08:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Puzzled said...

Great points about their past experiences running a company "like a business". I'm sure they are used to being at the top of that triangle since a business typically strives to make as much money as possible for those at the top. Not sure how that translates to a city that isn't there to make a profit? And what of the service they provided and their employees while they were "running it like a business"? I'd guess they no longer provide a service. Is that an option for Costa Mesa should their "business" plan fail?
Tuesday should be interesting. I hope they actually respond to questions from the public and answer for lying on TV instead of giving another lecture about how people are "tone deaf" and how questioning what they are doing is just "noise".
Watching politics up close is sickening, and it's a shame it has to happen at the city level.

4/03/2011 08:29:00 PM  
Anonymous My Opinion said...

With Humpty Dumpty Righeimer and all three of his Councilmen plus Jester Beaver bent to outsourcing the City to all their Contractors no one will ever be able to put Costa Mesa back together again....... The Three wise men? Or, The Three Horsemen? Only time will tell.

4/03/2011 08:34:00 PM  
Anonymous OC Progressive said...

Good of you to note the problem with the two person working groups. Here's a little section of the Brown Act to ponder
"However, advisory committees, composed solely of the members of the legislative body that are less than a quorum of the legislative body are not legislative bodies, except that standing committees of a legislative body, irrespective of their composition, which have a continuing subject matter jurisdiction... are legislative bodies for purposes of this chapter ."

That reads as if the new working groups need to follow the open government laws, with published agendas, open meeting, and all those other pesky details that make running a government very different from running a bar, antique store, or development company.

I seem to recall that all of these guys swore to uphold the California Constitution, which gives the public a seat at the table when information is presented and decisions are made.

4/03/2011 08:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Judy Lindsay said...

From: Judy Lindsay (
Sent: Sun 4/03/11 8:53 PM
To: Gary Monahan (; Jim righeimer (; Eric Bever (; Steve Mensinger (


What you have done to our city is unconscionable.

Gary, number one puppet to "Riggie"I have lost what ever trust and belief I ever had in your honesty or devotion to our city.

"Riggie", the only reason I will not vote to recall Gary is because you would totally destroy our city for your own political aspirations.

Eric, the "ghost" of the city council, is too scared to fight against you and too timid to stand up to you if he cares at all.

Jim, I hope you enjoy being just another puppet to "Riggie", have you no original thoughts or always depend on others to think for you.

Do any of you have interest in the future of Costa Mesa??? Do you honestly feel you represent ALL THE CITIZENS OF COSTA MESA.

You live here, your families live here and u are jeopardizes their safety, security, maintenance of their infrastructure and the future of a beautiful, yearned after community being destroyed by ignorance, self absorption and political aspirations of a handful.


4/03/2011 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous false idol said...

The problem with having so many local governments, and with the ideal that government services should be mostly provided by the closest level of government (local)is that we are left with inexperienced, arrogant, narcissists, who believe they are a holy messiah to local government with some mandate to govern like they are Moses himself holding the Ten Commandments of local government. Basically, we get crazy people making decisions that have long lasting effects even after those men have faded away back into their mediocre lives and mediocre families once their false god-sent prophecies have been proven false and they have been forced to abdicate their false thrones. Long story short:
Righeimer and Messinger are nothing more than common fools given power they are not worthy of.

4/03/2011 10:02:00 PM  
Anonymous LongTime Maggie said...

Why is it that the Council never provides specfics about the budget, only political jargon, such as "kicking the can down the road" and the "unsustainable" argument.
They need to provide facts and answer questions at Council meetings and stop evading the residents. And, if Wendy Leece has opposing information then, she, too, needs to be more proactive about getting the specifics out.

Why is it that the City (or City Manager) doesn't provide budget and pension information in any discernible format. Certainly they have a responsibility to the public, not just to the Council.

As to our local paper, why is it that the Daily Pilot provides very little in the way of hard-hitting, journalism about these issues that are historical and so consequential in scope. These politicians definitely need their feet held to the fire!! Hence, I don't put much stock in their unscientific poll.

All these entities, in my opinion, are falling down on the job at the expense of residents; we need specfic, comprehensive information that gets at the facts of the city budget and our future.

Maybe, some Town Hall meetings are in order?

4/03/2011 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous MikeK said...


Sycophant - I had to look it up.

Please don't make my brain work so hard on a Sunday evening.

Sycophant - touché on that point Pot Stirrer.

4/04/2011 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Sorry, MikeK, but us old fellas have to keep the synapses firing! :-) Besides, I love that word..

4/04/2011 01:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Peggy said...

We love Righeimer! Hopefully he'll be our next mayor.

4/04/2011 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous checkyoursix said...

using the phrase "leaped off the bridge without a parachute" in the post and then commenter "my opinion" using "humpty dumpty"in his comment: Really?? we just had a tragic suicide from a roof and these words are used? kicking the can down the road and the new normal bothers you but these don't?

4/04/2011 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Growthpoint, the new personnel consultants, who were hired without any bidding, are charging over $200 an hour.

The only government agencies on their reference list are the City of Compton and the Compton Unified School District. The Compton Mayor and City Manager were prosecuted by the Feds for corruption, and the Compton school district was taken over by the state.

4/04/2011 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

LongTime Maggie, there are several reasons they do not give specifics. First is control of information. The four council persons want to control the message, therefore they must control the information. For example, Righeimer placed the slide up alleging what PERS numbers would be. He made them out to be numbers provided by PERS. When challenged by Leece, Bobby Young was forced to admit the numbers came from Rig and his group, not PERS and that those numbers could go DOWN as much as they could go up. That was an attempt to shock by controlling the message. The problem here is the media has become involved in the anti-public employee fiasco on the side of Rig. They have no incentive to actually paint an accurate portrait of how PERS works. They should hammer Rig for putting up false numbers in an attempt to mislead the public. CM is no different than any other OC city. Do you hear other OC cities imploding like CM? Of course not. In fact, the Orange City Manager recently said Orange has a deficit, but the city would not deal with it the way CM has. Do you think Orange city employees are willing to go the extra mile for him to work with the city? Of course, because he is providing fair leadership and is not blaming them for the city's problems.

Further, I have it on good authority this all being driven by Scott Baugh and John Moorlach. In fact, Moorlach had an impromptu get together at Mensinger's house the night of Saint Patrick's day. Any guesses as to if this was an emergency strategy session as to how to deal with the potential fallout from the Pham suicide? Moorlach lives in CM, but does anyone think he gets special access to the council that ordinary CM residents do not? Of course he does. The problem is Rig, Mens, Baugh and Moorlach will be long gone when and if things hit the fan in CM. My biggest concern is public safety. They are single handedly dismantling one of the best law enforcement agencies in the county. Moorlach, Rig and Mens all live in Mesa Verde and I heard Baugh may now live on the east side. Does anyone believe reduced service will affect these areas? So what do they care? Exactly, they don't

4/04/2011 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

Peggy sounds a little delusional. Sadly it really seems being Mayor really holds no job function. Just a face for the city. Righeimer is not the face that belongs there. It should have been Leece.

Geoff, the poll that was on the daily pilot seemed like it was one people could vote more then once on. Am I mistaken? If not then I don't know if I would trust that particular poll.

BTW how did the service for your friend go?

4/04/2011 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

checkyoursix, you are correct. My hasty phrase, while accurately describing what Ridge did, was in bad taste. Following your slap upside my head I changed it.

4/04/2011 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

ConcernedforCM, yes, it was possible to vote on that poll - or any of the DP polls - more than once. They included a disclaimer that it's not a scientific poll.

Bruce's service was terrific! A packed house - standing room only - with many lovely things said about my friend. I miss him... thanks for asking.

4/04/2011 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous My Opinion said...

Check6 seems a little OTT sensitive but understandable. I do apologize for the "Dumpty" reference that was made without any thought of relating to the tragedy. Just fit with the theme message. My reference to the Three Wise men? or Three Horsemen? stands however.

4/04/2011 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Truth Told said...

Face it, Greg Ridge is nothing more than an idle rabble rouser. Talk about somebody with too much time on their hands. The man needs to get a job.

As for the DP Poll, when you deduct the 210 city employees who voted YES, you get 222 Yes votes and 425 NO votes. It's obvious that the non city employed Costa Mesa residents think the council should proceed at full speed. I don't think you can vote twice.

In my opinion, a man pushed off the roof by the union can hardly be termed a suicide. When is the "official" police investigation going to surface? It must have been swept under the rug, along with the truth.

4/04/2011 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Truth Told,
Yes, you CAN vote more than once on the DP polls....

Thanks for demonstrating that we permit ALMOST any comment, regardless how stupid it might be. "pushed off the roof by the union"? What did you smoke for breakfast today? Geez!

4/04/2011 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous LongTime Maggie said...

WyattEarp: I wonder if the four councilmen would have the guts to stand before a Town Hall meeting and try to manipulate their version of the facts now, given that many residents are in opposition to them and with the national media hovering around.

By the way, why doesn't the Daily Pilot do some actual investigation of the facts and hold these politicians accountable for what they're saying? Am I missing something; isn't a newspaper suppose to seek the facts? Is the Daily Pilot a partisan in this matter.

One more thing, when Monahan said "there are no sacred cows" in reference to the Police Department, I'd be willing to bet that many residents, if not most, would say the Police Department is, indeed, a "sacred cow" because safety is the #1 priority!

4/04/2011 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Max said...

Truth Told,

I'm glad there are residents out there like Greg Ridge who keep an eye out for all of the dirty things Righeimer has done. As a general rule, no one should have complete faith in any government official. This is especially true when it comes to Righeimer who has proven to Costa Mesa he can't be trusted.

I'm thankful for all of the Costa Mesa citizens that stay up to date on what's going on and have the ability to think for themselves.

4/04/2011 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous ConcernedforCM said...

Truth be you think before you write or what?

You can't officially go by that poll. If you had read what I had asked Geoff earlier you would have seen that.

Also there was a more legit poll that was taken and 60% of the REGISTERED voters of CM said they DO NOT like what council is doing. So your opinion is way off base.

I can handle misspellings in a post because I do that. But for the content to be way off base is just hard to ignore.

Better luck next time.

4/04/2011 12:26:00 PM  
Anonymous ttularc said...

The "legit" poll is hardly legit. Nobody knows what will be outsourced and what will remain in house. The poll basically asks if you want people to lose their jobs or not. Of course, most people don't want people to lose their jobs. Let's wait for their plan, see where savings can be made, and then decide where we stand. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Council trying to find ways to save our City money and spend that money on improving our City. The money that will be saved isn't going into anyone's pocket but ours.

4/04/2011 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Comments No Longer said...

The Pot Stirrer your " A Bubbling Cauldron" is Fabulous! Sadly, vastly more investigative reporting and coverage than the LAT, OCR and DP put together. However, the "Comments" are getting more and more rabid between several of the commentators in a non-productive tar pit of worthless waste. None of those individuals will ever convince the other to reconsider. Hate is dangerous to the fabric of our society. I will continue to read your website but no longer access the comments section.

4/04/2011 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Comments No Longer, thanks, but you're much too kind.

And, as to the comments here, give them a chance. I've given up reading the Register comment threads and the Pilot is also becoming more difficult to follow. I think most of the folks who comment here - not all, but most - have a clear view and do a pretty good job of explaining it. Of course, if you've stopped reading the comments you won't know my view. Drat! :-)

4/04/2011 07:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Comments No Longer, I disagree with you. I certainly have my points of view and others have theirs that are completely opposite of mine. But, several of those that I do not agree with have brought up valuable points from time to time that have caused me to re-think certain issues or at least look at them from a different perspective. That alone is quite valuable.
I do, however, agree with you 100% that we get more info here than any of the media you mention. In fact, if you read the Daily Pilot today you will finally see Joe Serna scratched the surface of the bogus PERS numbers Righeimer used at a council meeting to scare everyone and he found out they were not all they seemed to be. In fact, they (obviously intentionally) completely omitted employee contributions to pension costs. Isn't his the same cooking of the books we so vehemently point our fingers at the Wall Street fat cats for doing?

4/04/2011 10:05:00 PM  
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