Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Outsourcing" Infection Spreads

A piece in today, HERE, tells us that the tiny community of Atherton, California, has become the most recent municipality to become afflicted by the infection known as "outsourcing".

Atherton, a very, very wealthy community of just under 7,000 residents, is located in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can read about it in Wikipedia, HERE. Although less than 10% of its size, the demographics and wealth very much resembles Costa Mesa's neighbor, Newport Beach. The average home value is said to be more than $
4,000,000, and the family income in excess of $200,000.

According to and the article to which it refers from the San Jose Mercury News, HERE, Atherton is poised to layoff 30% of the staff tomorrow. There have been talks of strikes and, as in the case of Costa Mesa, a lawsuit has been filed to stop the outsourcing.

As mentioned in my previous post, tomorrow I will attend the debate between Jim
Righeimer and Steve Mensinger on one side versus Nick Berardino and Jennifer Muir on the other that may give me a sense of just how deep the infection is in our city. Sadly, we are not alone as this epidemic begins to sweep municipalities throughout the state, fanned by the rhetoric of local, state and national politicians with only their own political futures in mind.

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Anonymous Pentagon Hexagram said...

So you have a debate between two groups who consider Costa Mesa ground zero in their war. Labor unions vs anti-union partisan ideologues.

When are they going to have a debate where somebody represents the vast majority of the people in Costa Mesa who think both sides are wrong and that Costa Mesa shouldn't be their battleground.

7/14/2011 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

re PentaHexa:

Great point!

The anti-union (i.e., Jim Righheimer, John Moorlach, Scott Baugh, and, by extension, everyone up the line to Grover Norquist) vs. pro-union (i.e., CM employee associations) battle has, unfortunately, sucked all the oxygen out of the air for Costa Mesa residents.

Nothing else has gotten any real traction.

For example:
1. What are the risks/benefits of Council policies to the safety of the humans in CM?
-a. Crime
-b. Fire
-c. Future of our offspring and their offspring
-d. Paramedics
2. What are the risks/benefits to property values?
-a. Homes
-b. Businesses
-c. Municipal (e.g., parks)
3. What are the risks/benefits for existing and future businesses E.g.:
-a. Will South Coast Plaza's worldwide reputation suffer or benefit;
-b. Will Council policies discourage/encourage entrepreneurs who are looking for a city in which to get a new business going)
4. What are the risks for political corruption?
-a. Graft, kickbacks
-b. Biased contractor selection
-c. "Wired" RFPs (favored contractors gain info that enables them to best any other bid)
-d. Gifts of public funds (e.g., to narrow special interests)
-e. Outsiders running our city, instead of our elected representatives

These concerns, and others, are vital to residents, but haven't gotten the in-depth look they deserve.

Maybe now that the outsourcing battle has quieted down we can dig into all the ramifications of the councilmen's policies.

We report. You decide.

7/14/2011 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous RickandJenn said...

Costa Mesa isn't ground zero. In fact most OC cities have already outsourced lots of services. Cities like Fountain Valley, Newport Beach, Placentia, Westminster, etc. The only reason CM is in the news is the way they did it. Other cities are doing it quietly, CM is not. When all is said and done, many of these services will be outsourced. It's a train that's already left the station.

7/14/2011 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

RickandJenn, clearly you're not paying attention. BOTH sides of the outsourcing issue have declared Costa Mesa "Ground Zero" in this fight.
No argument about the WAY it's being done in Costa Mesa - it's wrong in so many ways.

7/14/2011 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous 2 sides to every coin said...

Wow, Tom - not one question regarding the risks/benefits of the union position.

7/14/2011 03:55:00 PM  
Anonymous New to CM said...

All of the services being considered for outsourcing have been outsourced by other local governments in OC.

Irvine, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, San Clemente, etc.

My main point is both sides, starting with the leadership should stop being such drama queens about it.

Council Chambers should not resemble high school hallways with each side trying to out drama queen the other.

Act like big boys and girls and do it rationally and professionally.

7/14/2011 03:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

Re 2 Sides:
I guess I didn’t make myself clear; I wanted to get beyond the oxygen-sucking arguing about the way outsourcing was done by the councilmen. That chapter is apparently finished for now. The city can, and will, I presume, now proceed with outsourcing the way a responsible business (or any responsible employer) would do it … Ready, Aim, then Fire, not the reverse.

However, there are a lot of things going on under the radar that need some overdue sunshine. For example, do you know why a once-routine request for quotes for tires is going out for bids again? Has it suddenly become rocket science to find a supplier of tires? Or was a favored supplier not the winner … yet? I’m not saying that’s what’s going on, but I’ve seen enough, and read about enough, procurements to recognize faint fingerprints of corruption.

Another: Messrs. Righeimer and Mensinger frequently assert that the city needs to buy up motels along Newport and turn them into pocket parks, ostensibly to reduce crime. Maybe there’s a staff report that supports their desire, but I haven’t seen or heard of one. Scuttlebutt has it that developers Righeimer/Mensinger have a lot of friends in the business who would, of course, love to see a burst of buildable land open up in Costa Mesa. I have no knowledge that this is what’s motivating them, but isn’t it weird that leaders of a city that’s purportedly broke can think of buying expensive land that’s been producing tax revenue and turning it into non-taxpaying parks? Is this businesslike? Have R/M turned socialist?

This one reminds me of the March decision by the two-man study team (Righeimer and Monahan) that, without any staff report for the public to study, told the rest of the council that layoff notices had to go out right away, then study whether it was a good idea. It was good, I guess, for Mr. Righeimer’s political climbing in the Republican Party, but a lot of non-union residents – both Republican and Democrat – are outraged.

I propose a rule of thumb for citizens: If they want to deviate from time-honored city practices, be very, very skeptical. After all, we've weathered a lot of storms since incorporating 58 years ago, and we didn't suffer the upheaval that the current councilmen have forced on us.

We report. You decide.

7/14/2011 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Eleanor said...

There's a deeper meaning to the GOP war against unions. Union are a major source, if not THE major source of funding for the Democratic Party. If the GOP can destroy labor unions, while big businesses can provide unlimited funding, anonymously, to the GOP, the Democratic Party would be crippled, and America would become a one-party state.

Of course, money is not enough to win a campaign for elective office, but it is essential for candidates to put their messages out, and for the public to hear them. Dry up the funding for one party, and it goes silent and unseen. This, as I see it, is the main purpose of the war against labor unions, to which the aim of cutting labor costs for businesses is a subsidiary aim.

7/14/2011 09:14:00 PM  
Anonymous unanimous said...

Eleanor has it right. Unions bought the Democratic Party and ruined California. The Unions must be weakened to Save Our State and our Educational system. We are a one party State and that is not healthy.

7/14/2011 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous for real said...

Too bad this GOP war in Costa Mesa has turned many lifelong republicans into people swearing they will never vote R again. I never thought I would see that, but then again I never though I would see a lot of things I have.

7/14/2011 11:34:00 PM  
Anonymous 2 sides to every coin said...

Tom, please provide details - innuendo does not help anyone.

With six month notice requirements, the notices had to go out to accomplish anything in the next fiscal year. 6 months of study would have meant an entire year.

Where was the outrage over the 139 jobs actually lost? Not one peep from the "outraged" residents until Righeimer was seated - well after the associations sacrificed 139 members of their "family" so that more senior family members could protect their packages.

Where was the outrage at the associations forcing through contract votes despite Allan Roeder's clear and unambiguous warning that approval of those contracts would mean 70-100 layoffs?

Where is the outrage at Berardino's and Nenedal's refusal to negotiate unless the layoff notice required by their contracts are rescinded?

7/14/2011 11:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

Response to 2 sides’ comment at 7/14/2011 11:46:00 PM, “Tom, please provide details - innuendo does not help anyone.”

I apologize for any innuendo, as I try really hard to stick to facts where available and logical inference when enough facts are hard to come by. However, you may have noticed that there are rarely enough facts that everyone can agree on. Thus, logical inference is usually necessary to advance any discussion. What I see as logical inference may look like innuendo to someone else.

(Whoops! Here I go again, the “man of few words” writing yet another essay. I’ll cut it short.)

Some quick responses to your points:
 I have no problem with an employer laying off people when necessary; the problem I have with the four councilmen is that they’ve done it bassackwards. If you really valued your employees wouldn’t you quietly research outsourcing to see which jobs, if any, should be outsourced, THEN issue the pink slips? Every other city has done it that way, so why did Righeimer, Monahan, Bever, and Mensinger choose their unusual and disruptive path? What did they get out of it? Especially now that we know the city was not broke!
 You ask where was the outrage over results of negotiations that occurred before Mr. Righeimer was elected. I can speak for myself only: I saw them simply as policy decisions made by union and management leaders during routine negotiations, the kind of decisions that have been made for decades. In other words, it was not something that an ordinary citizen needed to pay attention to, it was what city hall gets paid to do. If union leaders, with membership approval, decide on a course of action that leads to layoffs, well, that’s their collective decision.
 As to unions refusing to negotiate until the layoffs (found to be probably illegal, per a Superior Court judge, because notices were given before outsourcing was studied) are rescinded, I refer you to textbooks on negotiation strategies. The books, BTW, will probably also describe using the meat-axe strategy employed by the Righeimer majority as a possible negotiating ploy, albeit one with nonreversible negative consequences.

7/15/2011 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

How did the meeting go at Coco's? Did anything new happen or was it the same old rhetoric? Also what happened in Atherton? A judge was going to rule on the legality of Atherton laying off it's employees today at 2:00 pm. Does anyone know the outcome?

7/15/2011 06:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

This just in...A judge has issued an injunction temporary halting the layoffs in Atherton until the issue can go to trial.

7/15/2011 07:06:00 PM  

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