Monday, May 16, 2011

Costa Mesa Employees File Complaint (Amended)

The Costa Mesa City Employee's Association (CMCEA) announced through a press release from the Orange County Employee's Association (OCEA) that they have filed a complaint asking a Superior Court Judge to stop the layoff of more than 100 City employees.


City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch was also named as a defendant. The complaint asks for a temporary restraining order and long term injunctive relief. The full text of the press release is below.

In a related issue, we are still awaiting the response from City Attorney Tom Duarte on the letter from CalAware General Counsel Terry Francke that opined that the City has been breaking The Brown Act through the use of the 2-person Working Groups. Duarte promised word on that issue today. As I type this there are still a few minutes left in the work day at City Hall.

NOTE: Late Monday afternoon, after the close of business, the following statement was sent to me by Interim Communication Director, Bill Lobdell, as the City's official statement on this matter: "The City Attorney's Office has not seen the complaint. Once the attorneys can review it the city will have a response."

And when they do I'll post it for you to consider.


For Immediate Release

May 16, 2011

Costa Mesa employees seek court intervention
to stop layoffs

Attorneys for the Costa Mesa City Employees Association today filed a complaint against the City of Costa Mesa asking a Superior Court judge to stop the layoff of more than 100 City employees.

The complaint, which includes a request for an immediate temporary restraining order to stop the layoffs and long term injunctive relief, also names Costa Mesa Chief Executive Officer Thomas Hatch as a defendant.

According to the complaint, the City's action to lay off City employees and outsource their jobs is prohibited under both California law an
d the agreement between the City and the City Employees' Association.

California law prohibits general law cities like Costa Mesa from outsourcing services except under very narrow circumstances. The City's action to outsource nearly all city services (except Police) exceeds the powers granted to municipalities and clearly violates California law.

Additionally, the City's contract with the Employees' Association prohibits this type of mass outsourcing during the term of the agreement, which doesn't expire until March 31, 2013.

"As we have said since the very beginning, the City did not have the legal authority to take this action," said Nick Berardino, General Manager of the Orange County Employees Association. "The Council majority has had a series of opportunities to avoid litigation, but they ignored repeated public and private warnings and instead irresponsibly chose to send layoff notices unlawfully to nearly half of the City's workers."

Please contact Jennifer Muir for a full copy of the complaint.

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Anonymous Pentagon Hexagram said...

And we thought last month's legal bill was high.

It's time to add some more staffing to the Costa Mesa Ministry of Truth.

5/16/2011 05:26:00 PM  
Anonymous unionquiltersforleece said...

Councilmember Bever brought up the narrow guidelines of outsourcing from the dais. Therefore the council will make the judgments based on the guidelines. Since there have not been any jobs outsourced isn't the lawsuit premature? I hate to see more $$$ wasted on attorneys. Even if you win it costs money. Look what the ACLU did to us with the anarchist Acosta case. They lose, we pay anyway. This loss of $$ cannot help retain our employees.

5/16/2011 06:53:00 PM  
Anonymous DAN said...

Many employees have retained their own attorneys. Emotional duress, Intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED, emotional or mental abuse. This is one of several lawsuits- Recall the UNFAB 4 before the entire city is bankrupt.

5/16/2011 07:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

You have witnessed the death of OCEA as a reputable entity. They have embarrassed themselves and residents of this City will see this lawsuit for what it is: a joke.

5/16/2011 07:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Jennifer- You're a joke.
Two months ago Huy Pham jumped to his death to send a message to the City Council. California law prohibits general law cities like Costa Mesa from outsourcing services except under very narrow circumstances. The GOP agenda/City Council will be paying millions of dollars of lawsuits long after they have been recalled.

5/16/2011 08:21:00 PM  
Anonymous mas or menos said...

if the end game is bankrupting the city and breaking the unions, than what difference does it make if they use attorneys and lawsuits to do the job. Lets settle for the 60 million CM has in the bank and riggy goes to washington or sacramento. mensinger gets un not not elected and retires washing tables at monahans sports pub
watching football and texting his orders to the kitchen

5/16/2011 08:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Shefmire said...

Has anyone kept a list of the steady stream of red-flags that just seem to keep popping up week after week with this Kangaroo council? Let's all remember the ICEBERG analogy!
-The infamous Stink-eye incident.
-Planning commissioner Righeimer publicly/obnoxiously threatening Katrina Foley over some Fairgrounds committee that he just had to be included in.
-How about the mysteriously abrupt / Silent departure of the rock-solid City Attorney Kim Barlow?
-Mayor Gary's bar hosting the birth of the new upstart political front group calling themselves Costa Mesa Taxpayers.
-The questionable two member Council task force meeting secretly to decide which of the 18 departments would be eligible for outsourcing. Nobody knows what their criteria was. No one had a chance to comment. There were no staff reports available for public review.
-The hiring of a Public relations Rep at $3000/week.
These are all major red-flags, highly visible and disturbing. I can't even imagine what's going on behind the scenes!

5/16/2011 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Don't Be So Gullible said...

Dan, you are the joke. Huy didn't jump to his death.

5/16/2011 10:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

H. Pham jumped to his death, from the roof. He left his shoes off before he plunged to his death outside facing Vanguard. In Asian culture that means something. This was a very symbolic gesture. H. Pham was my friend and a very nice and caring man. He was from a good home and cared deeply with what was occuring in the city. To claim anything other than suicide needs to be investigated especially those who make those comments. Tread carefully, your ISP address is recorded and if you continue to make insane comments I will personally report this thread. This City Council is contributing to the personal decay of many families and finances.

5/17/2011 05:06:00 AM  
Anonymous ttularc said...


Your first comment on this thread is disturbing. Hiring lawyers for emotional duress after being given a layoff notice is crazy to me. We would be in a world of hurt if everyone that ever got laid off was as sensitive as our City employees. Grow up, pick yourself up, and move on. If all these City employees are such stellar performers they should be back in the workforce in no time, if they even get laid off. And the six month lay off notice procedure really should be considered a benefit to the city employee, in my opinion they should be thankful.

5/17/2011 08:23:00 AM  
Anonymous John Ringo said...

Sadly, this complaint will no doubt be the first of many yet to come. This Council has lost sight of reality in thier quest for fame and control. It is clear that Piggy is following a map to higher office. Mensinger is now able to carry another badge to help throw his ample weight around and Skosh is being used like a condom by the other two. Like a condom he will be flushed when they are through with him.I shall refer to them as the three little Piggies from now on.
If South Coast Plaza and all of the Segerstrom contributions to our city's reputation were to suddenly vanish tomorrow, CM would be a very undesireable place. How many years will it take to fix the damage being done by the three little Piggies? Mesa Verde is correct, we need to clean house and elect people that care more about the city than they do themselves.
Jennifer: Maybe you blame public employees because you got in the wrong employment line and don't have the same benefits they do. Your career was your choice.
"Don't be so gullible": Are you on drugs? What an insane, insensitive statement to make about a tragic loss of life by a fine young public servant.
This is my first response to a blog. Maybe my last. Iwish we could do more to fix the city than write about it.

5/17/2011 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous In All Fairness said...

It seems to me that you protestest too much Dan. Why would you not want a police investigation and more transparency? The taxpayers in Costa Mesa have a right to know what happened on March 17th. If Huy were my son I would want a full investigation, leaving no stone unturned. Sweeping this whole episode under the carpet and blaming the city council does not look good, especially with so many out of town, union oriented, hot heads in the community.

Righeimer has done nothing that hasn't been done all across the country. He is neither a leader, or a follower. Our entire nation is in jeopardy due to the national debt. How in good conscience can you blame our city council for problems being experienced everywhere. Cities all around Costa Mesa already have, or are currently, laying employees off. This recession is world wide now.

What is your problem little buddy? Do you even live in Costa Mesa? Somehow, I doubt it.

5/17/2011 01:11:00 PM  
Anonymous MSC Esq. said...

ttularc: At issue here is not the laying off of employees, because the positions are no longer needed (obsolete etc.), the issue is to lay off and fill the same jobs with other workers.

If the positions were cut completely, to be removed from "the books", then only a 30 day notice is warranted. The "benefit" of a 6 mo. notice is only for jobs to be outsourced.

Now, there are those who say why are public workers any more entitled to their jobs than a private worker. In fact they are not. However, if you are filling a position and that position is to remain; pulling worker "A" out of that job and filling the same job with worker "B",has some ethical questions. If it were the private sector laying people off and sending the jobs overseas, would the private sector workers not be outraged? I would submit that it happens all the time and private sector worker are typically outraged when it does happen. However, companies have a business to run and the bottom line is the bottom line (as it should be in a for profit industry).

This is tantamount to that same scenario. the ethical issue is whether or not te outsourcing will actually save money. If not, why go through these pains. According to the Admin Regs, the due dilligence was to have been done and outsourcing put in place prior to noticing. That simply did not happen. It's not a matter of sensiivity, rather sensibility.

Finally, I would add that the "should be back in the workforce in no time" is simply incorrect. I know too many people with advanced degrees who are either unemployed (and looking) or underemployed. Jobs are not exactly falling out of trees at the moment. If you have one, you should do what you can to keep it.

5/17/2011 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous ttularc said...


We are going to disagree on this one. From my point of view it is not ethical to ride a government gravy train and then cry foul when you are found out. It is not ethical to run smear campaigns on City residents that step up and give their time to the City of Costa Mesa. And if Person B can do the same job for a little less money and be happy they have a job, then I am all for it.

5/17/2011 06:41:00 PM  
Anonymous I have an advanced degree too said...

MSC while you are normally correct, you miss the boat on the ethics issue and outsourcing saving money. The ethical issue is not saving money but instead whether a company whose primary concern is the bottom line (saving money) can deliver a service as equitably as a government agency whose main concern is equity not the bottom line. This doesn't mean that public agencies have to be inefficient, it simply means that the goals for government and private business are inherently different and this is why "running government like a business" has been proven over and over again to be inequitable and often more costly in the long run (lawsuits etc) when it comes to certain government services. Notice I said "certain" and not "all" government services. Government is not supposed to be about how cheaply we can get a service, but instead how equitable we can get the service.

5/18/2011 12:35:00 AM  
Anonymous logic shmogic said...

ttularc you get an F in logic. By your logic, a slave 200 years ago should be happy to be a slave since they get a roof over their heads and food to eat as payment. Also, people should be happy to have minimum wage jobs because it is a job, despite the fact that minimum wage is hardly a living wage and the person has to live in a slum lord apartment with 10 other men he doesn't know. Yes life sure is good isn't it?

ttularc's logic, or lack thereof, is a prime example of the misguided thinking of many people too ignorant to know they sound like fools when they speak.

5/18/2011 02:00:00 PM  

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