Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Spinnin' The Judge's Ruling And More Lopez

After the battle of press releases Tuesday afternoon, there is no doubt in my mind why the City of Costa Mesa and the Orange County Employee's Association, representing the
non-public safety Costa Mesa employees, are in court. They can't even agree on what the judge said Tuesday, for goodness sake!

Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann issued a ruling from the bench, which apparently will be follow
ed up in writing soon. So, what to do the opposing sides think? Well, you tell me!

Below are two press releases issued shortly after the ruling. The first, sent out by OCEA spokeswoman Jennifer Muir just after 4 p.m. today, gives us one view.


Judge stops Costa Mesa layoffs

SANTA ANA, CA – Expressing concern about a looming layoff date, a Superior Court judge this afternoon told attorneys she would issue a preliminary injunction precluding the mass layoffs of municipal employees within the City of Costa Mesa.

Nearly half the City’s workforce received six-month layoff notices on March 17 after the Costa Mesa City Council majority voted to outsource their jobs. At the time, the City Council had not studied the cost of outsourcing or the negative impacts to community services, and they still have failed to do so.

The Orange County Employees Association, on behalf of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association, filed a lawsuit in May to stop the layoffs.

“This is a positive outcome, but it is only one step toward holding this Council accountable,” OCEA Communications Director Jennifer Muir said. “It will prevent the City from laying off employees to outsource to the private sector. At least temporarily, it removes a dark cloud from over the heads of City employees, their families, and the entire community. ”

The second one, fired off by Costa Mesa's Bill Lobdell an hour later, gives us his take on it.


Judge rules Costa Mesa can continue outsourcing process, but can't lay off employees until after all 'proper procedures' are followed

COSTA MESA, CALIF.—Orange County Superior Court Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann ruled today that the City of Costa Mesa can continue its exploration of outsourcing many of its services, but can’t lay off employees until all “proper procedures” were followed.

The Court didn’t make a finding that the City wasn’t following “proper procedures.”

The preliminary injunction was sought by the Costa Mesa City Employees’ Assn., which filed a lawsuit in May to stop the potential outsourcing of 213 employees. In March, Schumann denied a temporary restraining order to stop any potential layoffs.

Schumann didn’t specify what exactly the proper procedures were, but Costa Mesa City Attorney Tom Duarte said the City has and will continue to follow the law and provisions in the employee association contract while it explores the viability of outsourcing services. The association’s contract mandated a six-month notice if City jobs were outsourced. The City began issuing the notices in March.

“We are following the proper procedures,” Duarte said. “This ruling doesn’t affect the City’s ability to research outsourcing possibilities and, if it’s prudent, to outsource City jobs down the road.”

Under the judge’s ruling, the City can continue to request proposals for outsourcing from other agencies and private companies and weigh whether the outsourcing is viable. If the City decides to outsource a service, it would meet with the Costa Mesa City Employees’ Assn. on the impacts of the outsourcing and, with the “proper procedures” followed, lay off the affected workers.


So, I guess we're left to our own devices to figure out just what is happening. I will, however, follow-up with lawyers from both sides tomorrow if at all possible to see if they will, or can, slow the spin down just a little bit so we laypersons can try to figure out what happens next.


In the meantime, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez gives us his third in what looks like a mini-series on Costa Mesa's travails with his column in print on Wednesday, HERE. He gives us some pretty provocative quotes to contemplate and kind of affirms how we got here in the first place - meetings at Skosh's bar, sipping suds and designing strategy.

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Anonymous Diogenes said...

So -- Two city councilmen meet with a newspaper columnist in a third city councilman's bar... Violation of the Brown Act!

Cancel the Layoffs!
Layoff the Council!

7/06/2011 01:12:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Spin, Lobdell, spin!

He did the same thing when the TRO was denied. At that point I said TROs like the one asked for were rare and we should look to the preliminary injunction to be granted. And it was. But not before the extremists practically danced in the middle of Fair Drive.

Great article by Lopez. Hell, I'm so old I remember when Bill Lobdell was a great journalist instead of someone who reminds me of the turncoat Scottish nobility portrayed in "Braveheart."

7/06/2011 06:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Sorry to burst the haters bubble, but this Council is on a roll. Balanced budget on time, quiet and enjoyable 4th of July WITH a police helicopter and greedy union angering more and more average Costa Mesans with their trashing of our City with their illegal signs. Tide has turned, finally, for our Council and now the real fiscal change can take place. Looking forward to some outsourcing of SOME services--now it will be in October, not September. That's the only thing I took away from the Court's ruling.

7/06/2011 07:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Jason R. said...

According to OCEA's lawyers, a City can never layoff an employee. It's guaranteed, lifetime employment. The union will defend an employee who steals, hurts other employees, lies, etc.--that's their job. If you follow OCEA's logic, once you work for the government, you are above reproach and are on easy street. It's so infuriating to me and my friends. That's the culture now. We suffer in this economny but public employees can't be touched.

More of us are getting this and starting to act. We're tired of this pettiness. We're all hurting in this economy. Grow up. I'm sorry, but that's how a lot of feel in this City. The unions are tearing it apart.

7/06/2011 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Hmmm? said...

Phil- You might want to go to Pot Stirrers' other blog about the fourth and read the comment from "Mad as Hell".

I think he disagrees with you about the quiet on the 4th. I'm not quoting him but he wrote something about cops not responding to illegal fireworks calls and not seeing one in sight for the whole night.

I don't know where you live in the city but maybe your neighborhood was quiet and you have law abiding neighbors but I'm willing to bet most Costa Mesans are going to disagree with your post about a quiet and enjoyable 4th.

Also, I don't know how anyone can exactly state how "quiet" it was unless they work for the PD or FD. I would like to hear from them about why they did not respond to people calling in illegal fireworks.

Also, regarding the police helicopter. Can you tell the other bloggers about how the HB helicopter patroled the skies on the 4th since your comment clearly states it was there.

Be reading your comment you obviously support the council and thats fine, I just want to play devils advocate here.

7/06/2011 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I still say we should picket in front of Skosh's to hit him in his pocketbook. Should also develop a plan to throw these guys out of office at the next election.

7/06/2011 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

Phil - You keep believing that, that spin is almost as good as Scott's is.

Jason - They can be fired, but just not inmass like this, and without finalizing the RFPs first and going over that process. The Council never did that, so the layoffs are illegal.

The unions aren't the ones doing the attacking here. If you notice, there is a national movement to disgrace and villify teachers and union folks, by GOP and Tea Party members. Are some union employee's pensions a little too large ? Yes. Does that mean we need to scrap the entire idea of unions in our cities and counties and outsource everything to corporations ? No. Change the pension payouts, keep the overall system in place. It works and has worked for many generations.

7/06/2011 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous matistif said...

Poor Phildo

7/06/2011 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Picketing Mayor Kilt's Bar:

I thought about it too, but concluded that the potential for turnabout is too high: The extremists are well-funded, and as we've seen, they are not above hiring shills to fill the place. Monahan could end up making even MORE money.

Better: Keep asking what he and The Bever were promised for supporting the takeover of our city.

Of course we could always protest Riggy by picketing all the KFCs, but who knows where and when he'll visit..

7/06/2011 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Kathleen L. Mc Murray said...

Colin said "The unions aren't the ones doing the attacking here. If you notice, there is a national movement to disgrace and villify teachers and union folks, by GOP and Tea Party members. Are some union employee's pensions a little too large ? Yes. Does that mean we need to scrap the entire idea of unions in our cities and counties and outsource everything to corporations ? No. Change the pension payouts, keep the overall system in place. It works and has worked for many generations." The judges ruling states the lay-offs were illegal period. I attended the court hearing and only when employees are outsourced to another public entity (cooperative) can outsourcing be done. Sorry City Council you lose.
GOP games and tactics may work in the short term but when it comes to the law- these players know nothing and they all will eventually lose. By the way Riggy was to chicken s*it to attend the City Council Meeting? Huh.. Barry... where are your comments??

7/06/2011 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Kathleen L. McMurray,
You came very close to being rejected... keep that fowl (play on words) language out of the blog, please. Also, Righeimer was enroute to attend his very ill mother in the midwest. That's why he was not in attendance.

7/06/2011 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

Kathleen - thanks for the clairify, and I agree, I don't think these guys thought this through that well. They should have gone over all this legal stuff before doing their plan. Now they are scambling to figure out what to do next. This fly by the seat of your pants governance is really for the birds, to continue with Pot Stirrer's metaphors ;p

7/06/2011 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

Responding to Colin's " They should have gone over all this legal stuff before doing their plan."

Rumor has it that the city attorney at the time, Ms. Kimberly Barlow, had told the councilmen their outsourcing plan was illegal. She reputedly quit because they decided to bull ahead anyway. Leaders in all walks of life -- especially business -- frequently ignore the rules, because they know they can frequently get away with it. The aggrieved ones have to climb a steep hill to get a policy reversed.

If true, there's another hired gun, like Chief Staveley, who chose to act professionally. Professionalism isn't dead!

7/06/2011 01:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Kathleen L. Mc Murray said...

Sorry for the "misuse" of curse word. I promise it won't happen again! (Just riled up!)

7/06/2011 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

I understand, believe me! You're welcome anytime.

7/06/2011 02:29:00 PM  
Anonymous checkyoursix said...

tom egan: stavely acted professionally? please. worst exit ever. professionally was how the NB attorney exited. stavely lost his cool, not at all professional right tom?

7/06/2011 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous mstimc said...

To those who said the unions are "taking over" and employees can never be fired. I work for a city (NOT CM) and last year I sat in a room while 11 of my co-workers were told they were being laid off. These were working guys--making $25,000 a year or less. There is such as thing as due process in this country, and even power-hungry Republicans have to follow it, at least for now. All the judge saids was that the Council has to follow the rules--the CM Council doesn't get to make them up as they go along.

7/06/2011 08:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Change is the issue! said...

Tom Egan, Perhaps the Council was no longer having a 6th Council Member?

I observe many of those that post here using emotion driven logic that yields false conclusions. 4th of July was the same as any year, validated by CMFD.

The judges ruling says that City must follow rules. That is what City did when issuing 6 month notices. The judge should have gone on to say "Don't speed, pay your taxes", etc.

I see many seeking democracy by applause, that somehow if they line up 20 people to speak at the podium, and the opposing view only has 6 that they somehow win.

I wish someone would take the time to count the folks with emotion driven logic and false conclusions to count how many times they get issues wrong, flat out wrong. And create much to do about nothing. And hold them accountable for much to do about nothing.

I think it can be attributed to those that are allergic to change. Also, seems like age has a factor. Less change is favorable to some.

My observations, my opinions.

7/08/2011 07:23:00 AM  
Anonymous costa bell said...

General Law cities have to follow their own set of rules and decorum. This City Council does not know the difference in between General Law and Charter cities. THE CITY COUNCIL did not follow the letter of the law nor did it abide by the rules governed by the State of California overseeing a General Law city. Period. The misinformation from the last blogger is only purpose is to mangle the facts. The facts are what was presented in a court of law.

7/08/2011 09:15:00 AM  

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