Monday, August 15, 2011

City Council Policy 100-6 & Town Hall

While out of town for a long weekend of birthday pampering by my sweet wife I tried to stay in touch with the important issues that were percolating here at home during my absence. Funny how things just don't seem to stop while I'm away.

The most disturbing issue i
s something I wrote about just before I left - the disclosure by the City of Costa Mesa that it would rescind the three "outsourcing" Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that had already been issued and that they, and all the other RFPs, would be individually evaluated by "Contracting Committees".


The stunning part of this announ
cement is that there is a seventeen-year-old council policy - 100-6, dated 8/15/94 - that provides very specific guidelines for the process required when contracting city services is anticipated - and that this policy had been very specifically ignored when the current council launched its bogus outsourcing scheme last March.

This policy, the link for which was provided in my earlier post, is copied verbatim below.

PURPOSE The purpose of this policy is for each department to develop a written “organizational vision” which comprehensively evaluates each operation within the department to develop the most cost effective and efficient method of providing City services. This continuous analysis of departmental operations is essential to providing the highest quality of City services at the lowest cost. This policy emphasizes Council’s desire to “rethink” service delivery to achieve optimum effectiveness and efficiency. This organizational analysis process will include consideration of contracting for services, and departmental reorganization and/or consolidation, and will be made a part of the City’s annual budget process. This policy provides guidelines for evaluating potential contracting of on-going City services on a long-term or permanent basis. It is not intended to apply to temporary contracts for short-term projects nor to contracts which are utilized to augment permanent staffing levels on a limited basis.

The financial instability of the State of California and the lingering effects of the economic recession have
significantly impacted Costa Mesa’s General Fund resources. To that end, the City Council has directed that greater emphasis be placed on the development of an operatio
nal master plan for each department which addresses short and long-range service delivery objectives.

At City Council’s direction a hiring freeze was implemented in July 1991. The purpose of the hiring freeze is to allow departments to analyze service delivery and to systematically achieve, through attrition, optimum staffing levels for each service provided by the City.

It is the policy of the City Council that the
hiring freeze be utilized as a tool to achieve long-term service delivery efficiency in each department. The City Council remains committed to treating all City staff in a humane and considerate manner. It is the City’s goal to achieve optimum service delivery through attrition whenever practical. Where practical, contracting for services
will be considered as a viable, realistic alternative to providing such services with City staff. The opportunity exists to look beyond our current organizational structure and to review options for downsizing and/or contracting service delivery. Additionally, new self-sustaining services may be considered for implementation utilizing either outside contract services or contracting in as was achieved by our staff with the in-house maintenance of our Police patrol vehicles.


Written proposals for contracting City services may be submitted fro
m any source through the appropriate Department Head for consideration by the City Manager for evaluation by the Contracting Committee for further study. The following is an outline of the basic process which will be utilized for evaluation of contracting proposals as they occur.

The Contracting Committee is comprised of three segments:

1. Project Responsibility/Facilitator

Finance Director
Personnel Director

Budget and Research Officer
Personnel Manager

2. Department Representative

Department Head, Manager, and/or Supervisor of service being evaluated.
Representatives from the service area being evaluated with the technical expertise and qualifications to knowledgeably discuss the contracting proposal.

3. Employee
Representatives designated by the appropriate employees’ association to evaluate and
provide input regarding the specific service being evaluated.

The contracting evaluation process is described below:

1. The entire evaluation team meets as a group. The appropriate department will review and
explain the components of their written contracting proposal. The Association representatives as well as the facilitator group will have the opportunity to ask specific questions of the department to clarify their understanding of the pro
posal under circumstances.

2. The team wi
ll work together to outline how to evaluate a comparable City effort to provide the same or similar services that would be required of the contractor at the same or lower cost.

3. The project facilitator will determine what, if any, additional back-up data and/or information is
required for evaluation of each contract proposal, and will direct the preparation of a draft analysis addressing the available alternatives for service delivery as outlined by the team. The options evaluated will include a “contracting-in” component, if deemed appropriate by the Committee.

4. The findings included in the draft analysis will be presented to t
he entire evaluation team.

5. Based
on the draft evaluation, a decision will be made if outside comparative data would be useful. For example, survey other cities that contract out for the same or similar service to estimate our expected contract cost. Determine the approximate staff effort that will be required to maintain and oversee each contract based on the experience of other cities.

6. Based on all of the data collected above, if contracting remains a viable option, the appropriate department will prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP) for contract services.

7. The appropriate department will provide a written evaluation of each option addressed by the
contracting team for service delivery.

8. The project facilitator will prepare an analysis of all of the alternatives available for service delivery including pro’s an
d con’s of each option for review by the City Manager and ultimate approval by the City Council.

9. City Council reviews each proposal and makes approval accordingly.

10. The affected department(s) implement the City Council’s direction.

Although I tried to keep my mind off this kind of stuff this past weekend, this was like the proverbial eight hundred pound gorilla - impossible to ignore. I kept thinking about just how different the past five months might have been if the current Costa Mesa City Council had not just charged ahead like a herd of bulls in a china shop with their outsourcing scheme and had, instead, taken a more rational, reasonable approach. If they had, for example, discussed their plans with the employees through their bargaining units and followed this policy, it is very likely that none of the chaos and turmoil we've seen since St. Patrick's Day would have occurred. We might not have seen Mayor Gary Monahan effectively end his political career with his callous disregard for the tragedy at City Hall that day. We may not have seen seasoned, excellent employees leaving the city in droves. While we will never know, it is possible that Huy Pham may not have leaped to his death that dark day.

It's very difficult to not get angry about this now. Those of us who have been
watching this scenario play out understand that there are national political issues at play here, and that a big part of this council's actions are driven by a political imperative delivered by folks higher up the food chain - at the county, state and national level. That doesn't make it any easier to swallow, though.

It's hard not to get angry when we read that city officials describe this new revelation as a "bump in the road" (Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer) and "They knew from the beginning that there would be things thrown in their path." (Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell). Really? Following city rules is a "bump in the road" and something "thrown in their path", like a spike strip to be avoided? The arrogance of these guys! With absolutely no humility I will remind you that I've been warning you about these jokers from the beginning. The current council, directed by Righeimer and his pal, Steve Mensinger, don't like to be bothered by little things like policies or other inconvenient rules. This is precisely what I expected to happen.


So, as Righeimer - the main perpetrator of this scheme - wings off to China today
on a week-long junket to dazzle the officials in Ordos - the million-person empty city - with his charm and business acumen, we wonder just how this new revelation is going to play out? We wonder if city officials knew of the policy and decided to strategically ignore it, assuming nobody would be the wiser? Did they roll the dice and try to jam the outsourcing scheme through without proper legal advice? We wonder if former City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow knew of this policy and based her advice to not proceed with the outsourcing plan on its existence? We wonder how the city's failure to follow its own, long-established policy will be viewed by the courts? And, finally, we wonder how the family of Huy Pham - the young man who has recently been characterized by some as a drug-addled, mentally-unstable slacker - might view this violation of city policies as being contributory to his death?

TOWN HALL TONIGHTWendy Leece's Town Hall tonight will deal with "public safety" and I have no doubt that the conversation will turn to the reduced staffing levels of the Costa Mesa Police Department - an arbitrary decision by the council majority based on numbers they pulled out of the air - and of the plans to potentially shift the Fire Department personnel to the Orange County Fire Authority. And, I expect the dismantling of the A.B.L.E. helicopter program might get some discussion, too. These moves are all part of the grand scheme by the council majority to look like pension reformers while simply destroying our once-proud city. I'll see you at the Neighborhood Community Center at Lions Park at 6:30 this evening.

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Anonymous unanimous said...

I would have expected someone from staff to know about this but, if not, certainly the city atty should have mentioned this up on the dais at the beginning. If Barlow knew, she did not cite it. I do not think she knew. No one, including Leece, on council seemed to know. Who was on council when this was adopted? Are any of them speakers at public comments during council meetings? Why didn't they mention it? It seems to have been overlooked by everyone. I really doubt Righeimer knew of it and decided to proceed hoping it was not discovered. Personally, I put the blame on the city attorney and or city mananger. They should have cited policy at beginning. Looks like a good policy, every city should have regular service reviews to deliver services efficiently and at lowest cost to taxpayers as possible. Amazing that the policy was written 17 years ago and no one stepped up to see if any savings were possible with contracting out services until now.

8/15/2011 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Yea, listening to the little general's "I got your point of order right here" rant in person was a bit scary.

I believe this tool has his eyes on a Congressional seat. The destruction of Costa Mesa will be his springboard. God knows what he'd do on a national stage.

What if you could go back in time and vigorously oppose the organizing efforts and rise to power of a certain WW1 German Army veteran..

8/15/2011 08:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Max said...

Monahan's first term began in 1994. You would think he would have known about this.

It sounds like Monahan and Righeimer might have violated this policy with their behind the scenes 2 person backroom meeting that made the decision to indiscriminately layoff city workers.

Maybe they were under pressure from all of their friends who wanted the contracts?

8/15/2011 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Those meddlin' kids and their dog said...

Ruh-Roh Garrrry!

Uh-huh huh-uh huh-heee-eeee-heee!


8/15/2011 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Stepped in it said...

Keep in mind that council policy is just that, COUNCIL policy and can pretty much be changed at its whim. It is, after a 4-1 vote. Thus, this will just be a speed bump.

8/15/2011 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous unanimous said...

If Gary won in 1994 for the first time he would have been seated many months after this policy was adopted. Genis would have been on council what, four or six years?

8/15/2011 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

The little general's rant was infuriating to listen to!
Lies about the investigator, fake drama " stop saying we don't care!", ( cue the violins), more union bashing,condescending taunts, lies, etc. I seldom listen to him anymore. It's detrimental to my health.
Ignoring the rules and city policy is what these councilmen do best.
Thank you, Geoff for finding the rules of this policy.
You are excellent in investigative reporting!

8/15/2011 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

UnaBoomer -

Read this from the guy we now pay $1500 per press release. I would like to know where THIS Lobdell went; oh yah... he's on the dole now.

they ALL knew what was up.

8/15/2011 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Calpers moving too fast! said...

I cannot attend tonight. Can someone please tell Weathervane Wendy that Calpers has just slashed outrageous Pensions. You can see it in the OC Register. Weathervane Wendy should be aware of this for 2 reasons.

First, clearly Calpers is moving too fast. They did not properly consult all the highly paid workers to see how they felt. To make sure they will be OK in tough economic times and to let them know just how much we care about them.

Second, how are we going to competitively higher personnel f we cannot offer competitive outrageous pensions? As Weathervane Wendy has said, this is a big issue for our City.

The good news is that as a result of this Town Hall, many of the kooks & nuts in our City will all be in one place, and the rest of us are free to roam around freely. We should all be thankful to 4-1 Leece for this unintended civic benefit.

8/15/2011 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Surprised said...

OC Longhair... After reading the article, Wow! I must of missed it the first time around. I still can't believe there are people who are ok with what the council majority is doing.

8/15/2011 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

kwahlf, I'd love to take credit for this, but the OCEA dug into this issue and found the policy, ignored or overlooked by city staff and council.

8/15/2011 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

OCLonghair wrote:
Read this from the guy we now pay $1500 per press release. I would like to know where THIS Lobdell went; oh yah... he's on the dole now.


What, OCL?
Where's the mystery?
Didn't you ever read Superman Comics as a kid?!

The article you sent the link on was written by the "Earth" Bill Lobdell, an excellent journalist.

Nowadays the guy talking for Rig..
er "the city" is the BIZARRO Lobdell!1
"This just bump in road."...


8/15/2011 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

Surprised... found this to be interesting from July 06

'The more things change, the more they stay the same.'
- Alphonse Karr (1808-90).

8/15/2011 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Just spoke with the author, who was surprised someone dredged this piece up from the DP Archives. Good catch on your part...

8/15/2011 03:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

unanimous, so you are saying Gary Monahan was a complete tool and didn't follow politics before he decided to run for city council?

As far as Sandy Genis goes, I doubt she would have put Costa Mesa in the mess we are in. Maybe she would have voted to layoff some city workers or reduce their salaries. However, it would not have been the reckless way Righeimer did it.

8/15/2011 05:04:00 PM  

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