Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jones & Mayer Tosses A Hot Potato

What did I say earlier today about not much happening at City Hall this week? WRONG! I should have known better.


Joe Serna, in a Daily Pilot article this evening, HERE, tells us that Assistant City Attorney Harold Potter of Jones & Mayer has estimated that the legal fees the city will rack up dealing with the lawsuit filed by the Costa Mesa City Employee's Association (CMCEA) will likely reach a quarter million dollars and may take two years to resolve. Yikes!

He also tells us that Jones & Mayer is tossing this hot potato to yet another firm, Hanson Bridgett LLP, a move that will almost double the hourly rate charged by Jones & Mayer. And, since this new firm is "San Francisco-based", one must assume we will be paying very significant travel and lodging expenses for their staff as they work on our case. Do you know any lawyers that stay at Motel 6 or eat at Carl's Jr.? Neither do I.

Let me see if I've got this right. Some council members have pointed to our
contract attorney - Jones & Mayer - as a great example of how well outsourcing can work. I remember the process by which they were selected and one of the reasons they were chosen was because they were a "full service" firm, with all the legal specialties normally associated with municipal government right there under their roof. At the time the City had it's own, in-house legal counsel, but we apparently frequently found ourselves having to contract with outside firms for litigation expertise. That was the big sell for outsourcing the legal department back then - the need for litigation expertise. So, our outsourced legal department is now outsourcing our work itself!


Jones & Mayer - a reputable firm by all reports - is presently billing us well over $100,000 per month. That rate, which, if we extended the last three months payments for a full year, would be $1.4 million annually. We budgeted $800,000 for the 2011-2012 budget year. And, on top of that, we will now be incurring higher fees yet because of this shift of responsibilities on the CMCEA case. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal for Jones & Mayer, who will certainly also have to provide some oversight on this lawsuit - all billable hours, of course.

Interim Communication
Director Bill Lobdell has advised me that comparing the legal department budget to the checks written each month is misleading because some of those amounts will be charged against the Self-Insurance Fund. However, after a couple weeks since I asked about it, nobody has provided me with any indication of which, if any, of the recent payments will be charged to that account.


Is anybody els
e a little nervous about this? And, more important, is this the kind of experience we can expect from other outsourced operations? Can we expect firms to bid on the other 18 operations being considered for outsourcing to give us a nice, low, cost-effective price for the service, then end up billing us for "extras" that will blow our budget out the window? Is this what Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger mean when they say our city "should be run like a business"? Geez, I sure hope not.


Oh, yes. Lest we forget... it was Righeimer's political ambition that gave us this whole "outsourcing" fiasco in the first place. Now we hav
e a very, very significant legal expense staring us in the face because he wanted to show his pals in the OC GOP that he was a "pension reformer". This is the kind of government you get when you elect political hacks and major municipal decisions are hammered out on soggy bar napkins by bogus "committees".

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Anonymous Al said...

Our city used to be like In N Out Burger. Quality you can taste. Now it's like Righeimer Burger. A lower quality replica of the original with shady owners, cheaper ingredients, lower standards, lower employee morale, but 5 cents cheaper (not counting the doctor's bill).

7/27/2011 10:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Stop the Silliness said...

In my opinion, it really doesn't matter "where" the fees are being charged. That's just smoke and mirrors. It's still money out the window.

7/27/2011 11:01:00 PM  
Anonymous gobble gobble said...

Al the burger is not only cold but it really isn't made from beef anymore either. I hope you don't mind filler meat like ostrich.

7/28/2011 12:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Pentagon Hexagram said...

This starts to be reminiscent of John Moorlach's multi-million dollar waste of taxpayer dollars on overpriced lawyers, when he went to court to try to reverse contracts that had been approved by past supervisors.

Remember that everything is a crisis, and Costa Mesa can't afford anything, until it comes to hideously expensive attorneys making far more than any city employee. It's also fine to spend lots of money on overpriced consultants and public relations.

Is this what Riggy promised when he ran for office - reducing the number of police officers so he could hire more lawyers?

Sure hope that Costa Mesa Taxpayer group is on top of this absolute waste of government money.

7/28/2011 06:52:00 AM  
Anonymous harry said...

How is this any different than General Contractor A who's responsible for street maintenance subcontracting street slurry to Contractor B? Happens all the time. And don't bother to mention the union thugs that created the problem in the first place.

7/28/2011 07:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Ha! said...

THIS is going to cost a fortune. ALL to get Riggy to a higher office. COSTa Mesa will be paying for this for a long, long time.

When will we wake up and see exactly what these clowns are doing to our city?

Oh yea,,,outsourcing legal should not cost nearly double....

7/28/2011 07:58:00 AM  
Anonymous RickandJenn said...

The blame is ALL ON THE UNION! They are the ones that filed the lawsuit, not Costa Mesa. They are the ones spreading lies about mysterious bags of money at City Hall. They are the ones fighting a process that every City in OC is moving towards. Thankfully, most of my friends know who the bad guys are here. If you haven't seen it, the CM union's approval ratings in this City are at all time LOW.

7/28/2011 08:49:00 AM  
Anonymous JennandRick said...

RickandJenn (aka: Martin Millard)
My bet is you are still unemployed and have nothing much to do but envy those who actually work for a living and write. Instead of blogging, please clean up your yard or at least water it for heaven's sake.
Your friends only number about three and they are probably relatives.
Get a life.

7/28/2011 09:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Danny Boy said...

RickandJenn are you crazy? The only people at fault for the finances "today" are the city council. Costa Mesa just hired another outside attorney from San Francisco at approx. $295 an hour plus travel expenses. IF the City of Costa Mesa did not break the law and lay-off employees with out following procedures; Costa Mesa would not have had a lawsuit filed against them. EVERY SINGLE CITY in ORANGE COUNTY has repeatedly confirmed at their council meetings they won't repeat the mistakes the Costa Mesa City Hall has made. Listen to the City of Irvine's graticus on their website starting at 60 minutes.. defending the employees and the list goes on and on. THE enemy my friend is the City Council..

7/28/2011 09:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike 1 said...

I was waiting for someone to blame the union... what a surprise.

7/28/2011 09:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Too Funny said...

Harry and RickandJenn-

Blame the Unions? You are too funny. I hope they drag this lawsuit out for longer than two years and cost this city so much money it loses track.

Really? Anybody thinks Righeimer and the rest of the council (Leece excluded) cares about the cost? It isn't their money! It's the cities money.

I laughed when I saw this article today. I hope the city employees union finds more things to sue for and costs this city every penny...=)

Blame the Unions!!!! haha!

I'm glad your friends know who "The bad guys are." Maybe the council can use you and your "friends" as character witnesses in civil court.

7/28/2011 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous HadEnuf said...

RickandJenn :

Who speaks for whom here? Good grief man, dude reach down make sure they're still there and speak your own mind...sure everything is the "greedy union's" fault...that's why this city has done so "Poorly" for the last 58 years prior to Riggy right? With the venom you spew, I'm guessing you must have ran a his and her's stated income loan company...

God forbid the union people stand up for their earned rights (and I don't mean employment for life), guys like Chief Steve Staveley demonstrate integrity and courage where there seems to be none left in this city leadership. This is all on your fab 4 councilmen, not the union folk. Costa Mesa is a general law city. The government code prohibits outsourcing a general law city's public office (position) to a private entity, except in very limited, specific or specialized circumstances.

Secondly, there has been no meet and confer as required by their memorandum of understanding.

Third, there is no financial crisis, the independent audit clearly revealed that and that it was only a matter of priorities, shifting monies and overloading accounts unnecessarily to create the illusion of financial crisis. All of the positions the fab4 are looking to outsource are budgeted for in a balanced/ surplus budget this year.

So now we know there's no fiscal crisis, but wait the infrastructure...we have POTHOLES! I drive the streets at night and Redhill is the only street I can find in disrepair, other than the back lot of the PD/FD that is chewed up something terrible and doesnt drain but floods. Can someone PLEASE give me 5 other streets? And Mesa Verde residential streets are really good despite the fact they somehow get treated first.

So what our fab4 have accomplished is running out senior leadership and valuable public safety personnel. They've managed to dismantle a fully funded helicopter safety program that was the model and envy nationwide. Theyve hired and given no bid contracts and positions to former buddies and colleagues, they have created a HOSTILE working enviornment like no other and theyve spent hundred upon thousands of unnecessary dollars on attorneys and PR to support and defend their indefensible position.

The employees have repeatedly made concessions. They have always been middle of the road in salary when compared to neighboring agencies and like positions. Substantial changes were adopted to the pension. (contributions/two tier). In less than 5 years there will be a 20-25% turn over at the PD due to retirements. That could be substantial had there been negotiations and a two tier brought in for newly hired PD.

Any group would be crazy to open their contracts with Riggy and Mensy- they have no idea on leadership, building consensus or collaboration. A hint- to collaborate with someone means you recognize you do not have all the answers, and that you VALUE them as they have something unique to offer. But I guess thats not the business way...

7/28/2011 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Hadenuf said it all......and very well.......Rickand Jenn?

any response?.....or are you going to slink away to the sound of crickets?

I was going to comment on your "damn the torpedoes", blame the unions rhetoric, but Hadenuf nailed it.

One point to ponder......Moorlach tried this against the Sheriffs Union to the tune of 45 Million of County taxpayer money. Took it all the way to the Supreme court and lost three times. Each time the answer was, "you can't negotiate contracts by legally elected officials and then fight these contracts as unfair because you don't agree with them". This is EXACTLY the same thing. When the City requested a $1.2 million dollar bond the judge scoffed and reduced it to only $50,000. That was to cover attorney fees for the losing side. This judge obviously felt it was the OCEA that was not going to be the losers.
For Righeimer and Co. to keep this city on this tragic course, is pure hubris and folly, fueled by political dogma and ambition.......the question simply is , What will make them come to their senses?

7/28/2011 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

If the Employee's Assoc (EmpAss) lawsuit is upheld, this suit will cost the city plenty; not just financially.
If the court finds no merit in the suit then the city should be reimbursed by the plaintiff (EmpAss) for filing and losing.
If the EmpAss doesn’t fight they look weak;
If they lose, they lose members.
If they lose members they lose funding and their jobs... so they fight.
If the EmpAss gave a schnike about CM, its citizens or its employees, they would be fighting harder toward settling instead of hoping to prolong the “Cold War” at ANY COST.
If the megalomaniacs on the council would stop acting like school yard bullies; thinking they own this space and can do whatever they damn well please.
If these two warring factions would drop their egos at the door and understand that… If the game they’re playing ends in a tie; it would be a win-win and a win.

7/28/2011 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Get Over It! said...

The legal fees are nothing more than an investment in our future. I suggest you people get over it. The taxpayers are behind our city council whether you like it or not.

All future "employees" hired should be contract labor only. Contract labor can be fired a whole lot easier than laying off employees who think they are entitled to whatever they want.

And Al, In-N-Out Burgers suck! Gericault, nothing you say ever impresses me so you should save your breath.

7/28/2011 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Chinabeach45 said...

The employees association filed the lawsuit because the city broke the law. End of story. The associations did not start this mess, the city did.

7/28/2011 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous more union bad behavior said...

I just read that Costa Mesa employee union has hired an investigator to go around and ask minors without parents questions about signs.

That is unbelievable. Why isn't anyone investigating how much money the union is spending?

What poor behavior.

Why not spend money policing those illegal signs?

7/28/2011 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

Gericault - Hopefully money, from out of their pocket. I noticed, cause I live right next door, that Skosh is now open at 12:30 on Sat and Sun, All day happy hour on Sun and Mon, 1/2 pitchers all day Thursday (this isn't an ad for his bar btw :) ) . . . they never really did these kinda deals before, that I noticed. Think someone might be expirencing a downturn in business ? The parking lot has been looking thinner and thinner lately.

7/28/2011 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Sorry that should read $5 million not 45......missed the shift key

7/28/2011 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary Craig, CPA said...

The reason union pensions are high, is because municipalities bargained better pensions later, lower wages now.

That said, if you take two identical engineers, one who worked for municipalities, and another in the private sector, at the end of their respective careers, the private employee still has made more, even counting the defined benefit pension.

There is no greed to which you speak.

7/28/2011 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

Will the OCGOP be writing a check to the city to cover legal fees? This is their fight after all

7/28/2011 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger valan2 said...

One has to wonder whether there are no law firms in Orange County (or at least L.A.!) that are qualified to defend the City in this case.

And, if the City approved the contract with Jones & Mayer for $175 an hour, does the City have any say in J & M "outsourcing" to another firm for $295-$325 an hour? Or do they just spend our money without asking? What happens when the budgeted amount runs out? I guess we're forced to approve it. So much for a balanced budget.

Have these issues been discussed/decided in the many closed sessions the Council has been having over the last few months?

Lots of questions. Think we'll get any answers?

7/28/2011 03:22:00 PM  
Anonymous SNL "Church Lady" said...

I find it "Costamazing" that Jones & Mayer can't locate any specialized attorneys anywhere in all of Southern California, let alone all of Orange County, and not one in all of Newport Coast or Laguna Beach?..... "Well isn't that special!!!"

7/28/2011 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Too Funny said...

Way too funny-

I truly am an idiot? =( That's not a nice thing to say!..=)

Keep the lawsuit moving folks! Cost CM as much as you can.

Maybe Way too funny can donate some of his/her money for the CM cause?

7/28/2011 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

More union behavior,,,,,,they are protecting their property that has been stolen from residents yards. Over three thousand residents have requested and place signs in their yards, unfortunately, many have been stolen.
Witnesses have come forward seeing "teenagers in red shirts" stealing the signs.
The city currently has those signs stored "not" at the corporate yard w/ all the Subway signs where they usually go, but they are currently being held up on the second floor of city hall, where they are being ransomed for $15.00 each.
I'm not surprised that the Repair Costa Mesa campaign has started investigating what essentially is criminal behavior.
Whats despicable, is threatening high schoolers futures by using them as a personal brown shirt squad for your own political gain.
This is between the adults......nobody should involve the kids......I completely agree. Maybe these parents will stop them.

7/28/2011 07:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Harriet said...

To "Hadenuf" thanks, you have it correct. "RichnJenn", unions have provided the working men and women with healthy, safe working conditions, fair compensation and benefits, protection from unfair management historically. "GetOverIt" I am a taxpayer and I totally disagree with the 4 men on our city council. Our city, thanks to the four men on the council is headed for doom. Recall is the only answer, we need to clean our house!! Wendy, hang in there, we need a council with more members like yourself who have a loyality and dedication to our city, and listen to our citizens and truely represent them.

7/28/2011 07:58:00 PM  
Anonymous culture clash said...

If anyone thinks Riggy or menacing cares about money for lawyers. Google, Sun Cal (their past employer)and the city of Alameda. This is their culture and they are happy as pigs in a poke, as cash in a cash register,
politicians in a room full of suckers, to play this game. This will be 5 mill before it is over that s why talon is working for free.

7/28/2011 08:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Greg Ridge- do as i say, not as i do said...

Really Greg Ridge? Really?

Rumor that kids were wearing red shirts justifies harassing our youth?

I find you and your groups consistently violating the things you challenge so much I'm others.

Seems that rules are only for others to follow.

So, these employees that are so great. They don't know the rules of our City? Or are theu choosing not to follow them?

Harassing our youth is flat out unacceptable. Crossed way over the line.

7/28/2011 09:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Get Real said...

First of all, why do people keep harping about Talon? They are supposed to be investigating the death of Huy Pham. I hardly consider them to be food for political fodder.

Harriet, please take the time to register for a simple math class before complaining. You also need to know that Wendy Leece is the reason the city is in the mess it's in right now. Also, please educate yourself with regard to her voting record. In effect, Wendy voted for the bankruptcy of Costa Mesa. Plain and simple.

It's more than obvious that you may, or may not, be a taxpayer, but you do not reside in our city. Most likely you are an out of town city employee looking for even more handouts.

7/28/2011 10:00:00 PM  
Anonymous FixGregRidge said...

Gericult suggestion, stop illegally placing signs on city property and they won't be removed.

7/28/2011 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous allbu said...

In effect, Wendy voted for the bankruptcy of Costa Mesa. Plain and simple.

So did Gary. Remember?

Harassing our youth is flat out unacceptable. Crossed way over the line.

I'd say if our youth stole signs, it that which is unacceptable and them who crossed way over the line.

7/28/2011 11:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Danny Boy said...

Using our youth by Mensinger for his own interests is nothing new for that thug; however, to blame the Union is down right stupid. Mensinger employed the youths to "steal"- the common thread in his life. Do you really want someone as combative as Mensinger in office. Yes, using the youth is horrific- put the blame where the blame should be on: MENSINGER

7/29/2011 05:04:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...


"Using young people to support the Fatherland is nothing new. We must remove all signs which contradict the teachings of Das Riggmarshal."


When First Amendment issues are involved, we need to investigate. Are youths associated with specific Council members involved in removal of signs opposed to their rule?

7/29/2011 06:17:00 AM  
Anonymous PTAMOM said...

I wonder if Mensinger has his "team" wearing arm bands along with the red shirts while doing his dirty work. As a mom, I am appalled that he and his pals on the council would stoop so low as to having students involved in dirty politics and outright theft. What a sad example they are setting for local youth.
What these men are doing doesn't fall under team sports.

7/29/2011 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Sounds Familiar said...

"We told them not to touch the signs." WOW! That reminds me of Jack Nicholson in the movie "A Few Good Men."

Tom Cruise questions Nicholson about giving his orders to NOT touch Pvt. know the rest.....

I wonder if someone said..."You're G... D... right I told 'em to take the signs."

7/29/2011 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous A Big Can of WOOP-A$$ said...

The youths that allegedly stole the signs should better get used to their "redshirts" (status) because their future "athletic eligibility" doesn't look very good if any of us catch them!

7/29/2011 03:07:00 PM  
Anonymous oh we do have a line? said...

We are suprised Mens and Rig are using kids? Really? I didn't see any parents complaining when the entire estancia football team got those cool baseball caps with that awesome riggy logo on the back. Now we are drawing a line?

7/29/2011 06:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

Harry said..."How is this any different than General Contractor A who's responsible for street maintenance subcontracting street slurry to Contractor B? Happens all the time. And don't bother to mention the union thugs that created the problem in the first place."

The difference is a General Contractor includes the subcontracting in his original bid. He doesn't bid the job, then outsource it and ask for more money to pay for the outsourcing. If Jones and Meyer wants to pay for another firm to handle the lawsuit it can come out of their current contract with the City. It was my understanding that Jones and Meyer is a very experienced firm and has dealt with labor issues before. I wonder why they need to hire another firm for the lawsuit?

Oh and why is it that the associations are being blamed for this. It was the City that did not follow the law, not the other way around.

7/29/2011 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

Any parents of any Estancia student athlete should be questioning the school administration as to who is actually running their athletic programs, school staff or some obnoxious overzealous boosters

7/30/2011 07:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Level the playing field said...

Harry and Daisy Mae - You ask the question about a general contractor subcontracting out a portion of their work. Per the Public Contracting Code if a contractor is going to use a subcontractor to perform any portion of a contract greater than 1/2 of of 1% of their overall bid then that subcontractor must be listed at the time of the bid! If they use a subcontractor who is not listed or if they fail to self-perform the work they are subjected to fines and penalties.

7/30/2011 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous PTAMOM said...

Feral390: You are So right on. I would pull my sons out of school sports or change schools before I would have them exposed to self righteous a**holes bullies like Mensinger. What a terrible role model for kids who should be learning team work, sportsmanship, leadership, integrity, honesty and a host of other attributes that would prepare them for a solid future. Instead, they are being trained to follow, not lead, and that any means to an end is ok, including theft.
The School Board should step in and stop this type of influence before a generation is spoiled.

7/30/2011 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

"We all tell them not to remove the signs," Murtha said.

I don't think the question has ever really been "Are the kids doing it?", you do have to wonder" why would they"?, .....I mean are teenage football players really paying that much attention to local politics?
More crying wolf......and "I'm a victim"...
Mensinger gets exposed for poltitcizing these kids and then blasts the Unions for asking about it.
I guess he thought he could use them for his own personal poltitcal action squad and because they were kids they can't be touched.You know, kind of like the Drug king pin that use ten year olds as runners, because they can't be prosecuted. The poltical rhetoric these kids are exposed to is pretty disgusting.
I've witnessed it first hand. It has no place in a school sports program.

7/30/2011 01:54:00 PM  

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