Monday, August 22, 2011

Outsourcing Jousting

It is with great interest that I read the recent exchanges of correspondence between City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch and Helen Nenadal, President of the Costa Mesa City Employee's Association on the subject of outsourcing and City Council Policy 100-6. Most of that correspondence is available on the City web site, HERE, in "The Latest Headlines" block in the center of the home page. The relevant entries are listed as:

City to add employee association representatives to outsourcing process

Costa Mesa's response to employees' association 2nd letter regarding outsourcing process

CEO Hatch responds to latest association letter about outsourcing process

Latest exchange of letters bet
ween city, association regarding outsourcing (Aug. 19/Aug. 20)

It will be helpful for you
to read them in that order, but if you want to speed read to the end, read the latest letters.


My opinion, in a nutshell, is that now that City Council policy 100-6 has finally been unearthed and the City has agreed to stop the outsourcing process, recall the Requests for Proposals (RFPs), back up and begin anew following the guidelines provided by policy 100-6, all this arm-wrestling that's going on about who and how many representatives should be allowed to be on the Contracting Committees is counterproductive to resolving the issues at hand.

The bargaining
unit, through correspondence signed by Nenadal, demanded that outsiders be permitted to be members of the Contracting Committees. The City said "NO!" - correctly so, in my view. The bargaining unit, through Nenadal, demanded that she be a part of every Contracting Committee. Even though her participation is not prescribed by the policy, Hatch agreed to that demand. Again, I think this was a constructive step - one that should facilitate progress being made.

The City requested that parti
cipants on each of the first four Contracting Committees be identified by August 16th, the bargaining unit had not done so by August 20th. They need to understand that the ship is sailing and that the City is fulfilling its responsibilities under policy 100-6. If they don't jump aboard they will be left standing on the dock.

I know that Helen Nenadal did not write any of the correspondence in question. One must assume, since it's written on the letterhead of the Orange County Employees Association, that members of that organization composed the letters for her signature. That is even more clear when you realize they misspelled her name on the first couple of letters. I don't have any problem with someone else writing those letters for Nenadal. I have a problem with the obstinance in the letters.

Anyone watching this drama for the past six months understands that the
current City Council messed this up big time. They - led by the impatient political opportunist, Jim Righeimer and his non-elected pal, Steve Mensinger - went off half-cocked on the outsourcing issue and the results were turmoil among the employee ranks - rightfully so, in my view - a young man leaping to his death from the roof of City Hall and a tsunami of local, regional, national and international media attention that has brought only shame and infamy to our city.

As w
e now know, it didn't have to be this way. If the council majority had not been trying to force-feed a political agenda and augment a political resume this issue could, and should, have been managed in a more business-like manner. The City - inexplicably - didn't turn up Council Policy 100-6 until this majority had already incurred more legal difficulties for The City. Those difficulties are far from over.


Whether Righeimer, Mensinger and the rest of the council majority messed up now is alm
ost moot. We are now back at square one and the employees should recognize this as an opportunity and, hard as it might be, to try to put all the bad feelings aside for a moment and work in good faith on each of these Contracting Committees. Those discussions may result in decisions they are not happy with, but that can be dealt with downstream. Right now, in my opinion, it is important to participate in good faith - to bring the best authoritative perspective to the deliberations that is possible - and move forward from there. To do less will cost them dearly in the hearts and minds of the residents of this city - in my opinion.

Let me be clear. I think the tactics employed by both sides on this issue left much to be desired. Certainly, the haste with which this council majority has tried to disassemble this city is unforgivable. However, the tactics employed by the OCEA and their shell front organization, Repair Costa Mesa, irritate the heck out of me. I'm so sick of seeing those pervasive pop-up adds on my computer and on cable television... And the whole "sign" drama is getting very old, too. And the distasteful manipulation of children in this process should give any parent watching some pause about the men who would permit and encourage these actions.

In my opinion, it's time to wipe the blood off the knives, let some of the woun
ds heal and for both sides to meet in good faith to assess the RFPs as prescribed by policy 100-6. It's time to make this process work, and to tone down the rhetoric, if possible. As I write those words I know that I will NOT stop writing about malfeasance, vindictiveness and stupidity as I perceive it. However, public urinating contests from the dais and the speaker's podium are not helping get the issues resolved. I do understand the passion of the issue - livelihoods are at stake - but there is now an opportunity in hand to potentially create a better outcome.

So, let's see if this process can work. We're going to know soon enough - it won't take too many meetings before the employees and The City have a sense of how things are going. Since the rules of conduct of the meetings preclude any outsiders - like me, for example - from being there and, according to Hatch's most recent letter, disclosure of confidential information from the meetings is discouraged, we'll just have to sit patiently and wait for progress reports from the inner sanctum. I'm willing to do that, keeping my fingers crossed that progress can be made. Now, let's get on with it...

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Anonymous RickandJenn said...

Outsourcing is coming. You can claw, fight, use OCEA lawyers all you want. The fact is that all cities are outsourcing and Costa Mesa is just one of them. In the end, this is just an exercise in futility that only makes the lawyers richer (both the union and City lawyers) The times have changed and outsourcing is the here, like it or not.

8/22/2011 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Great sentiments, and I can't disagree with you intellectually, but, is there ANY evidence that the Council sans Leece will do anything in good faith here??

Everything I see and hear screams NO:
The attacks on citizens from the dais;
RiggRants from the dais;
Smirking from the dais;
Attacking Leece on the dais;
Making up a phony complaint against Berardino (by former Mayor Kilt), etc., etc.

And that was just in the last 30 days or so...

8/22/2011 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

The council is NOT involved in any of the Contract Committee meetings. I'm hoping things go smoothly, but...

8/22/2011 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

"The council is NOT involved in any of the Contract Committee meetings.."


Not directly, but my impression is it pulls a lot of strings. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

8/22/2011 04:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Danny Boy said...

RickandJenn are loopy! The facts are not all cities are outsourcing. All cities except Costa Mesa are following the rules and regulations afforded to General Law Cities. Wake up you fruitcakes.. reality is Costa Mesa is breaking the law left and right and living proof that: Hypocrisy reigns king. Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, ideals, thoughts, feelings, qualities, or standards that one does not actually have.[1] Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie[1].

Hypocrisy is not simply failing to practice those virtues that one preaches. Samuel Johnson made this point when he wrote about the misuse of the charge of "hypocrisy" in Rambler No. 14:

Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself.[2]
Thus, an alcoholic's advocating temperance, for example, would not be considered an act of hypocrisy as long as the alcoholic made no pretense of constant sobriety.
Hmmmm.. understand you two??

8/22/2011 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

RickandJenn, the city already outsources a lot of things. Just look at trash collection. As a general rule, the city saves money this way unless of course CR and R turns into a monopoly and demands high enough prices to warrant inhouse trash hauling services.

What I don't understand is why you would want to outsource things that will cost the city more money? Righeimer and friends are a bunch of tools. They messed up. They showed no proof anywhere they could save us money. They only thing they did was break a bunch of laws and get the city in trouble.

As a general rule, outsourcing has been brought up in the past many times. That's why many things are currently outsourced. If the city could save money with outsourcing (and still maintain the high quality of service we are used to using American citizens for labor) there is a good chance they would have already done that.

Let's all hope your jobs get outsourced to India or China or to day laborers that are here illegally since you are such big fans of outsourcing.

8/22/2011 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

GREAT piece about trolls 1 and how to deal with them:

1 NOT about Former Mayor Monahan

8/22/2011 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Earl Grey said...

shared services between cities might be a good option. it is happening all over. Good blog post pot stirrer though the "political agenda" of balancing budgets and looking at long term unfunded pension liabilities should transcend all political parties, though the methods differ from reducing liabilities to taxing the hell out of the taxpayers or cutting everything but pensions and benefits to keep status quo. That's where the GOP has the right platform for these economic times. The Tea Party in CM is amazing to watch grow from meeting to meeting. It's best feature is the lack of calling people with opposite views names during the discussions but rather how to convince them of the soundness of policy that will be presented. A great patriotic group.

8/22/2011 07:15:00 PM  
Anonymous in my opinion said...

I think we news to focus on restructuring the budget. Pensions must receive a fundamental change. So do medical benefits.

The process of working with the union is necessarily confrontational. Change is necessary.

Maybe I am simplifying the opposition but they are focusing on the how the council implemented change, not they why or what.

That is an emotional argument, not fact based. Not solution oriented. If the council opposition is focused on that side of the debate, makes no sense to me to engage in the dialogue. What to do is the only discussion.

If that logic is sound, then outsourcing consideration is a must as soon as possible.

It is a math problem. Not an emotional discussion.

8/22/2011 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

I agree with you Geoff, all these tactics stink. This entire situation stinks and is completely unnecessary. Riggy picked a fight thinking he would just roll right over the city workers and their tiny employee association just like he and the non elected one did to city staff as planning commissioners. Without the OCEA involvement 200+ employees would be a couple weeks from unemployment. Our city has become a multi million dollar battlefield between the OCGOP vs labor groups and as you have stated in your blog many times, these outsiders need to get out and stay out of our city.

8/22/2011 08:14:00 PM  
Anonymous caught red handed, again said...

The argument dealing with pensions, employees, medical benefits, etc. is not emotion it is an ethical issue. Ethics is something neither Riggy nor any tea bagger will ever understand since they live in a land of double standards with a belief that compromise is a sign of weakness, not a sign of an educated person.
For example, tea baggers love Mr. Ryan who has been screaming to close tax loopholes, but guess what just came out, yup he has been secretly been creating tax loopholes for his biggest donors. Like I said, it is an ethics issue, something politicians and failed businessmen do not understand.

8/22/2011 08:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Try a little tenderness . . . said...

So the council and administration have agreed to stop the outsourcing process and recall the RFP's. They just messed up.

Now they're ready to observe existing city policy and start anew - in good faith. The employees should now begin participating without any concerns.

That would be nice. Wouldn't it.

Unfortunatly, this council and administrations account at the bank of "Trust and Credibility" is empty.

I love you Geoff. I also love all the Costa Mesa citizens that have supported us through this absolute NIGHTMARE. God bless you all.

I'm sure you and others have your reasons for being sick of OCEA but I love them. They have really been there for us during these very dark times. God bless all of them.

Please don't blame the employees for being cautious - even at this stage. They're just trying to get the best people possible at these meetings.

Also, please don't judge too harshly the language in the letters. Remember how pissed you were when you found out about 106? The employees are still a little pissed.

Believe me, we're all interested in moving on.

Thanks for providing this great blog.

Note: All previous references to the council are not intended to include Wendy. I love her too.

8/22/2011 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Try a little tenderness...

Please understand that I DO appreciate what you all have gone through and I DO understand your apprehension. I want to believe that representatives of the City will meet in good faith. I know most of them and feel they are very honorable people. I wish it was possible to undo these months of rancor, but it's not. And, since we've not had council meetings for a few weeks, there have been limited opportunities for the majority to telegraph their feelings. That comes to an end on September 6th. Until then, I hope all of you involved in the Contracting Committees will give it your best professional shot.

Thanks for the kind words... By the way, as I composed this comment I flipped on YouTube and listened to Otis Redding sing that song a few times.... :-)

8/23/2011 12:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

What many hear do not understand is that the unfunded pension liabilities do not go away with the elimination of employees. Right now part of the employees pay goes to this unfunded liability. If you get rid of the employees,the City is on the hook for the entire amount. Just something to think about in these discussions.

8/23/2011 07:21:00 AM  
Anonymous unanimous said...

Daisy Mae: the unfunded part ideed does not go away until it is paid. However, it ceases to increase. think about that also

8/23/2011 07:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

Unanimous...You have a point. Maybe new employees can be hired under a different plan. I think keeping the existing employees on board to assist in paying off the unfunded liabilities may be a more cost effective strategy, then canning them all at once. If police and fire agree to pay their entire amount into their pension accounts like the general employees and managers do, then the pension cost will be reduced significantly. Every employee group should pay their fair share and have the same retirement formula.

8/23/2011 09:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

RickandJenn... Costa Mesa already outsources many functions. Tree trimming is another function. Contact Public Services and they will tell you which services are currently contracted out. A balance of in-house and out-source services, which Costa Mesa already has, serves the public the best in my opinion. The largest cost to the city is public safety, yet only fire is being selected for outsourcing.

8/23/2011 09:39:00 AM  
Anonymous HowmanynamescanIuse said...

If PERS continues on the current trend for the next decade, the unfunded liability we hear about so often will not affect the city or your taxes .10 cents. All the assumptions being made by OCGOP and the current council majority are based on a flat or dwindling economy. As we all know, PERS just had their best returns in a decade and recovered all the losses they suffered during the down economy. All predictions are that the fund will continue to grow or in worst case scenario, remain even. The economy is growing. Look at our hotel occupancy rates or South Coast Plaza to name just a couple. The mantra of unfunded liabilities and reduced revenue sources are greatly exagerated and are being used only to keep the momentum for cutbacks going full steam ahead. The city's own audit showed that there is no financial crisis, but they keep up the sherade anyway.
Outsourcing is and has been a source of improving services and reducing costs when and where appropriate. Doing so wisely and legally is the issue for Costa Mesa.
When a new council with wisdom and integrity is in back in office, the city will recover. Until then, we will just have to endure a corupt regime.

8/23/2011 09:39:00 AM  
Anonymous my opinion said...

How many names ... Pers has had a swing for the fence risky investment strategy , unsustainable in my opinion, but is the basis of your comments.

Not only will outsourcing attempt to control the unfunded portion, I think you will see a significant reduction in direct & indirect costs.

If you think the role of government is to fund the middle class , or that wall st caused all this,, or the like, my conclusion is that no amount of dialogue will change either of our minds.

You can keep venting on the blog pw join the dwindling numbers at the podium.

Me, I support our elected's who are making change.

Very true that public safety needs to be addressed

8/23/2011 11:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Howmany.... said...

My Opinion: Why? No amount of cuts will have an impact for years to come. By then, you will have swung the pendulum back so far against working in the public sector that labor will once more be able to call the shots to enable government to find the very employees needed to provide the services you need to lead your life.
Our council can't see the forest for the trees. They are only trying to make a statement about problems the futre economy will mitigate. I am all for outsourcing WHEN AND IF needed and when done Legally. Something clearly being overlooked by our council majority (who even failed to notice existing policy before sending out RFP's).
Pension reform is needed, was offered by police and Fire and ignored by council in their zeal to continue to harrangue the labor groups.
Wake up and see that these guys don't give a whit about the city or they would do more investigation and less condemnation before they plow ahead with blinders on.

8/23/2011 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous heart4costamesa said...

Ha! I posted this to the wrong thread in the wee hours...that's what happens when I stay up after midnight to play. Here's where I meant to post, & it incudes Geoff's very,very early morning reply:

Thanks Pot-Stirrer for keeping the stew fresh.

I too have been fascinated by the CMCEA/City Manager letters back and forth. I'm gonna guess Tom doesn't write all his own letters either. Some from the CMCEA have been terrific pieces of prose. If the City’s are written by Duarte then appearances had me fooled. I didn’t think he had it in him. Interesting how “Hatch” has deliberately minimized the importance of a “mere” policy even while the City hastens to comply.

Although you say no council members will be part of the committees, their presence will be felt, I am afraid, through Mr. Hatch. Chief Stavely hit it on the head when he said Tom has the ability to be a great City Manager, but not with this bunch in charge. C’mon Tom. Remember what a City Manager does. You manage the City, looking out for what’s best for the residents, the employees, everyone; not just taking orders from a self-styled Board of Directors.

I think not all RFP”s have been recalled, just some that were faulty in contents. Haste does make waste. The City still contends they have the right to proceed to solicit and evaluate outsourcing bids, but cannot act until the legal issues are resolved. I wish this were a restart. I doubt it’s a legit one. I’d love wrong on that! But I think as soon as they perceive an opening, they will pull the trigger again, without ever having bothered to get ready or take careful aim.

And I am not at all tired of all the Cancel the Layoff signs. There are more every week, it’s cool how people choose to express themselves this way. Whenever another pops up in someone’s front yard it means that another citizen, taxpayer, voter is expressing how they feel about the actions of this Council Majority, and isn’t afraid to do it.

8/23/2011 12:43:00 AM

The Pot Stirrer said...
I'm not sure about the "Hatch" letters - I know he was on vacation when at least one of them was composed. They have a firm feel to them - more than previous "Hatch" communications. Maybe that's just evolution in a stressful time.

It's my understanding that the three RFPs that had been released under the "outsourcing" plan have, in fact, been recalled and will be reviewed by the Contracting Committees for each before being re-issued - if that is what is determined by the committee to be the proper course of action. The "jail" RFP is being reviewed - today, as a matter of fact - by the committee. At least, this will be the first such meeting on that RFP.

You mentioned Chief Staveley. He's a fine guy, with a wealth of experience and a clarity of expression rare in local politics these days. I recall watching the tape of Hatch's conversation with the members of the CMPD in which he, Hatch, told them that this council doesn't trust them - or him. That was an astounding admission. It was very shortly after that comment that Staveley stepped up and told the troops just where that bogus 125 headcount came from - two council members on Staveley's first day back as Interim Chief told him that was the number they wanted, period.

8/23/2011 12:57:00 AM

8/23/2011 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Trying to earn a living said...

RickandJenn: Wait until the management of the company you work for decides to outsource your job. I wish there were a blog to deal with your comments then.

8/23/2011 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike O'Reilly said...

Mr. West: On the one hand, we have the city council shamelessly and arrogantly trying to "disassemble this city." On the other, we have the union opposing it with signs and pop-up ads on the internet. I don't see this as being malignantly equivalent by any stretch of the imagination.

FYI, another perspective:

One side does suck, but it ain't the union.

8/23/2011 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Lora said...

From my humble perspective I am glad that Union (CMCEA) is around to help us. I follow the rules, work well, and I am still punished for being a city employee. I don't receive social security, I have not taken pay raises in 6 years, and yet the City Council thinks I am the problem. I didn't hear a word when "we" (pensions) were funding at 98%- if it was just a pension issue it would be an open discussion. This is a OCGOP issue with the personal interests of Righeimer, Mensinger, Bever, and Monahan on the front burner. Tom Hatch will never be a strong leader; however, it would be nice if acted with integrity and ethics as we stumble through this incredible chaos. Employees have lost all faith in his leadership and think he is just a brown-nosing individual. Thanks Geoff for this forum!

8/24/2011 04:50:00 AM  

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