Thursday, September 01, 2011

Labor Day In Costa Mesa

As we approach the Labor Day holiday - a time when most of us think very little about "labor" and a lot about trying to squeeze the last drop of recreation into a waning summer before either returning to school or going back to putting our collective noses to the grindstone - I thought it might be appropriate to provide a little perspective. I originally submitted this for publication in the Daily Pilot, but I was too late and too long, so here we are...


According to the Department of Labor, this holiday was first observed on September 5, 1882 - 129 years ago - in New York City, following plans put forth by the Central Labor Union. The movement grew and the first Monday of September became an official National holiday in 1894. In most cases it has been celebrated with parades and other kinds of recreation and amusement - including speeches by politicians, which certainly counts as amusement.

While I'm not a strong advocate of organized labor, I readily admit that I have belonged to two unions in my working life. I was a member of the Retail Clerks as a box boy a half-century ago and, at roughly the same time, was a member of the Teamsters - one of Jimmy Hoffa's boys - a requirement for the job I had putting sticks in popsicles, but that's another story.


I also readily acknowledge the part organized labor played in the advance of our nation to a position as the greatest industrial entity in the world. Without the efforts of those hardworking men and women - whose sweat and toil helped build this nation - things would have been very, very different for those of us who grew up during the last half of the 20th Century.

This year the Labor Day holiday takes on a more special, serious meaning for me. I view the labor/management relationship through a different prism now. Having closely watched events in this city over the past few months, for the first time in my life I can actually understand why the organized labor movement began in this country. This is the first time I can recall the leaders of a city in which I live taking such an aggressive anti-labor stand. It is the first time I can recall any local elected officials becoming so angry with the employees of a municipality that they willingly ignore their own operating rules to find ways to toss them into the unemployment trash bin. It's the first time I can recall municipal leaders fabricating a "crisis" to use as a reason to cast loyal, hardworking employees aside like a used Kleenex.


In March of this year, when it became clear to the new City Council led by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and non-elected councilman Steve Mensinger, that "pension reform" was not possible because contracts with the employee associations extended into 2014, a decision apparently was made to do the next best thing - get rid of those folks who would be eligible for the pensions. In discussions held in secret by a two-man sub-committee composed of Righeimer and Mayor Gary Monahan a plan was concocted to dump as many employees as possible by "outsourcing" their jobs to private industry.

Unfortunately, they chose to ignore Council Policy 100-6, which was codified back in the early 1990s to facilitate just such an action. That policy described a methodology by which Contracting Committees, composed of relevant staff members would be formed, and calm, rational meetings would be held to hash out the technicalities of such an outsourcing plan.

Instead, the council hastily issued 6-month layoff notices to 213 employees, including the entire Fire Department, on March 17, 2011 - St. Patrick's Day. The abrupt callousness with which this was done resulted in a day of turmoil at City Hall, the exclamation point of which was the tragic suicide of young maintenance worker, Huy Pham, who was called into work while recuperating from an injury to receive his notice but, instead, leaped to his death from the City Hall roof. It was on that day that Monahan chose, rather than going to City Hall to take charge of events and console a distraught staff, to stay at his pub, wearing his kilt, pulling beer taps on what he described at the time to a television reporter as "the biggest day of my life."


In the nearly six months since that tragic day we have seen demonstrations - a rainy-day prayer vigil by more than 100 residents surrounding City Hall, shrines in Pham's memory placed at the site of his death in the parking lot and hundreds of speakers standing before the City Council, meeting after meeting, to express their anger at the way this issue was being handled - and a fracturing of the relationship between the City and its employees. Bill Lobdell, former Daily Pilot editor and, more recently, a columnist, was hired as the Interim Director of Communications by the city and has earned every cent of his fee. No city in recent memory has needed a Public Relations representative more than Costa Mesa the past few months.

All this turmoil got the attenti
on of the media - local, regional, national and international - and Righeimer became almost omnipresent on television, telling his version of events. We've had representatives of national publications - The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and The New Yorker magazine, for example - visiting our city and writing scathing articles. Our once-proud city had become, not the tip of the lance in the battle for pension reform that Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh envisioned, but the negative example of how this issue should not be managed.

One of those writers, The New Yorker's Tad Friend, spent more than a week in Costa Mesa this spring, interviewing dozens of people, attending meetings and observing - trying to figure out just what was going on. The product of that effort finally hit print this week in the September 5, 2011 edition of that magazine. There, beginning on page 34, is an article titled, "Contract City - When a town's budget fight turned deadly". I summarized the article in my blog, HERE, and also provided links to access it online FREE and to a radio interview with Friend about the article.

In my view, Tad Friend captured the real essence of the situation h
ere in Costa Mesa, and provided an insight that may have been missing from the dialogue over these past several months. He quotes many of the players in this drama extensively in his piece. For example, he quotes Jim Righeimer several times, including once when describing Righeimer's views on outsourcing. He quotes the mayor pro tem as saying, "We had one manager we had to write a three-hundred-thousand-dollar check for because he grabbed some employee's ass. We outsource that, someone else is writing that check."

He quoted non-elected councilman Mensinger, when referring to the relationship between the employee associations and the city management, as saying, "I don't think the prisoners should be running the prison." I can't think of a statement that more accurately defines the view this council has of the employees who serve our city. The relationship between the council and the employees has gotten so bad that new CEO Tom Hatch, referring to the city council, actually told a gathering of members of the police department that "They don't trust us. They don't trust me and they don't trust you.".


Eventually someone "discovered" the aforementioned council policy 100-6, a
nd the Requests For Proposals for outsourcing of several units were canceled, the required Contracting Committees were formed and have begun meeting - just as it should have been done months ago. Had this process been followed back then, it is unlikely that young Huy Pham would have thrown himself off the roof.


In the meanti
me, almost every city department head has departed, leaving a leadership vacuum that only contributes to the unease at City Hall. City Manager Allan Roeder - the rock of stability that kept the city from budgetary disasters over the years - retired after serving the city for more than three decades, and was replaced by his able assistant, Hatch. There remains only one department head in place who held the same job last year at this time - Public Services Director Peter Naghavi. Most of the senior leadership positions have been occupied by consultants - hired guns retained to bring specific expertise to a city in chaos, but who have no long-term commitment to the city, its employees or residents.

And, the City Council
majority has demonstrated, time after time, it intends to ignore the advice of those consultants retained for their knowledge and background. For example, they picked an arbitrary staffing level for the Police Department that met no rational criteria and ignored the sound advice of the consultants hired to do the assessment of the department and also that of Interim Police Chief Steve Staveley - who resigned in protest, leaving behind a scathing letter which, in part, called members of the City Council, "...incompetent, unskilled and unethical." This indictment came, not from a WalMart security guard, but from a man revered for his four decades of law enforcement experience and leadership throughout the state and nation.


hen, today, Chasen Marshall, staff writer for the OC Weekly, produced a multi-page tome titled, "It's Gotten Costa Messy in Costa Mesa", that is an excellent follow-on to Tad Friend's New Yorker piece. You can read it HERE. I suspect that the four members of the Costa Mesa City Council will be so thoroughly riled after reading these two lengthy articles that they'll approach next Tuesday's council meeting with elevated blood pressure and a skull full of epithets, ready to spit back at anyone who criticizes them - kind of like it's been at most meetings this summer.


Tuesday marks the first council meeting in almost a month - one that is packed with im
portant issues. It will be preceded by the swearing-in ceremony of our new Police Chief, Tom Gazsi, at 3 p.m. in council chambers. Gazsi, a long-time Costa Mesa resident with a three decade law enforcement career in Newport Beach, brings experience and much-needed leadership to a department struggling to keep up with service demands as staffing levels shrink. I've met Tom Gazsi and think he's the right man for this job.

As you mull over the circumstances in which our city finds itself over this Labor Day holiday, I hope you'll realize that this turmoil is the direct result of the political aspirations of at least one council member and the willingness of the Orange County Republican Party hierarchy to use our city as a Petri dish for experimentation without regard to the damage that will be left in the wake of their experiments. Apparently, in their view, Costa Mesa is expendable. As the crime rate rises and service responses in other areas of city government decline because of the draconian staffing cuts dictated by this council, please remember that a year from now you will be considering candidates for three council positions - enough to change the balance of power in this city and to return it to sanity.

Of course, in the meantime, you can always join those voices of dissent in the city - those fe
w people who actually study the issues and dare to step before the council to express an opposing view. You can attend council and commission meetings and make your views known. You can write letters to the council expressing your views. Part of the reason our city is in such dire straits now is because this council assumes that, because there are not 110,000 people standing in the City Hall parking lot with pitchforks and torches, they must be doing a great job. They are not and they need more people telling them they're not. It's up to you...

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Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

Thanks Geoff for such a thorough and moving commentary. I keep praying that things will change and the nightmare of the last six months will be over, but after reading the OC Weekly article, I know this will not be the case. Righeimer will do everything in his power to insure that he wins this fight. He clearly admitted that it was not about money. Hopefully the legal challenges will prevail and the residents of Costa Mesa will have the sense to elect true leaders the next time around. One can only hope.

9/01/2011 06:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Harriet said...

I would dearly love to stand in front of the city council, meeting after meeting to exclaim my discontent with their conduct and decisions. But alas, their proven ability to retailiate against employees, citizens and even a fellow council member in a public forum leave me silent. How dare they think we all support them???? It is more that we fear for our jobs, our dignity, our livihood, or our self esteem. The article in the New Yorker and OC Weekly are excellant, but would hate to be quoted in a national publication and have it come back to haunt me or those I represent.

9/01/2011 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Thanks for the OC Weekly article link. They had some good things to say about you and BC which I strongly second. It seems like everyone who takes time to study the situation soon sees Righeimer and his cohorts for what they are.

As Labor Day approaches, I remain pessimistic about Costa Mesa. There is NO evidence I'm aware of that indicates the council majority will deviate from their ideological course. And truly, why would they?

Righeimer's doing what Baugh and the OC GOP tell him. Unlike many of us, he has no real investment in Costa Mesa. He'll just move to another town when it's convenient to further his political agenda.

This is Mensinger's last hurrah. He has the political saavy of a wannabe African dictator. How dare this Central Valley joyboy compare OUR employees to prison inmates? The Pop Warner votes won't be enough to get him anything more than a cameo on "Jersey Shore."

As you said after March 17th, Monahan is finished politically. Too many people believe he was promised things to hand the mayorship over to Righeimer, and he has yet to offer a sincere apology for his disgraceful behavior on 3/17/11. To cover up his abdication, he has committed new crimes against common sense like calling for a bogus investigation of Berardino, and attempting to muzzle Terry Koken from the dais.

Bever is another one we believe was promised things to sustain a council majority. Despite his previous service, the events of the last year have exposed him as an insensitive dolt to those who may have thought differently.

Starting at some point in grammar school, I was taught that in life there aren't any pure "good guys" and "bad guys" like on TV; everyone has good traits and bad traits and exhibits good behavior and bad behavior.

The present situation belies this:
Because of their contribution to the death of Huy Pham and the damage they've done to our city employees and citizenry, I see Righeimer, Mensinger, Bever, and Monahan as bad guys. Period.

Like you, I was a union member as a kid in the grocery store and still have my retirement card. AFL-CIO. It used to annoy me to see money deducted from my meager paycheck for dues. But as an adult living in beleagured Costa Mesa, I'm reminded of the value of unions to this country and am glad to see how they've defended our employees against this unwarranted attack by extremist ideologues.

As I've said before- CMPD has protected my family for over 21 years. Now it's being attacked and minimized by people not fit to shine our officers' shoes. And that disgusts and worries me. Just yesterday there was another murder in Costa Mesa. Less cops almost always means more crime.

The next 15 months will be most interesting.

9/01/2011 08:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

All over this country there is a new disdain for the working class that ran our factories, built businesses and created our infrastructure and an equal disdain for intelligence and informed discussion. In my opinion it is created by super wealthy who want to trim every expense rather than contribute a dime in taxes. It is perpetuated by wannabe-rich folks who want to protect the fortune they don't have, but will when they win the lottery. So this weekend, I will work and celebrate my ability to do so.

Meanwhile, I doubt the councilmen will read the article in the New Yorker: it's too long and there are no pictures.

9/01/2011 10:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Noah said...

Let me preface my comment by saying that in my ideal world, opposing sides take an open approach to negotiations. At this point, things appear to be where they are because the players involved seem caught up with publicizing how "tough" they are. That may get people to places they want to go in the future, but in the meantime, CM has little to show for it.

With that said, Geoff, I don't understand how anyone can look over the budgets from the past three years (I assume you've done so) and still believe that a fiscal crisis was "fabricated". In his introduction to last year's budget, Mr Roeder even warns that the continued use of reserves to cover the budget gap is not sustainable. Certainly there are some new methods of tax revenue that could be found to help close the gap, just as some spending cuts can be found.

Could you elaborate on how the city's dwindling reserves is not an indication of a fiscal crisis?

9/02/2011 02:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Sick to my stomach said...

As employees prepare for a long weekend, hoping to forget about work for 3 days, many were called into their supervisor's office again to receive yet another pink slip.

That's right prisoner #240242, here's your second pink slip courtesy of the warden. Enjoy your weekend of doubt and and uncertainty!

All kidding aside, that's exactly what happened thursday afternoon. Some employees actually think because of the judge's injunction that it's all over, or at least for now....WRONG!!!

Some are questioning why the RFP committees are still meeting to talk about private outsourcing and at such a rapid pace. Didn't the judge give the employees an injunction to protect them?

The fact of matter is this. While hard-working employees sit at their cubicles doing the work of 3 people and thinking that their jobs are safe based solely on the fact that they're extremely busy and turning over a great work product, they need to know that the councilmen and Hatch are quietly plotting the end of their careers.

I feel that most employees are clueless as to what is truly going om behind the scenes. Why was the city so quiet when their very high priced attorneys from Jones Day filed a writ of mandate? Why didn't they feel the need to post that on their transparency page? Some are thinking that the injunction will protect them until the trial. Sadly, little do they know that high priced attorneys who also have families to feed are working just as hard to help the city rid of the injunction. Once that is done, the rfp's will be put into plCe faster than anyone can say, what the heck just happened?

It is my sincerest hope that both employees and residents who support the employees not become complacent or think that the war is over by any means because it most certainly is not. What can you do to help the city remain intact? Get involved! I see the same employees and residents at every council meeting. Get the word out and sign up to volunteer with repair costa mesa.

Why is it that out of the 213 employees who got pink slipped that I've only seen maybe 3 or 4 speak up? The councilmen already want to fire you. There's nothing more you can do to help speed up the process if you're still showing up for work and doing your job.

If and when the day comes that the employees lose their jobs or the residents lose their city to the county, I for one can say that I tried my best to fight for my city. Can you?

9/02/2011 04:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Ha! said...

We also thought that Tom Hatch would be a good choice for City Manager. He WAS a good man. Hatch just lost a backbone when he sold his soul for a paycheck.
We also hope the new Chief will make the right decisions for the PD and not just rubber stamp Riggys orders...

9/02/2011 07:54:00 AM  
Anonymous CM welcomes their newest YesMan! Security Chief Ganzi! said...

I think the timing of the new chief is interesting...

Did they really think that we'd all forget that a highly respected chief stavely not only got disgusted at the councilmen and quit, but he also exposed all of their dirty laundry to the world? Lies, unethical behavior and deception are among that laundry list.

Do we really think this new chief is going to come in and do the right thing for his troops? Please...

Talk about false hope. Doing the right thing and being ethical is what tom hatch already sold his soul To the councilmen, it's simply fame and fortune to get into higher office.

Costa Mesa wants us to believe that they'd hire an honest police chief to who would go againt them? Please...

Righeimer runs the show. It's his way for the highway. We can all see that this new chief will be a yesman for a year to inflate his pension and get the heck out of here. Or perhaps he'll finally open his eyes and quit like stavely did. My hope is that he is ordered to so something ridiculous like cut officers from 165 to 125 and be so stressed out that he sues the city for unnecessary stress coupled with a hostile work environment. I'm sure a good attorney and make sense of it all and sell it to a jury.

The councilmen will never stop. The legal fees will keep coming until the city is broke...just like all the companies righeimer and mensinger drove into the ground. Funny riggy talks about a $300,000 ass grabbing payout...tell me again about the sexual harrassment lawsuit messy was named in!

9/02/2011 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

Sick to your Stomach...You are absolutely right about what is going on. Righeimer has stated that he will stop at nothing to rid Costa Mesa of it's employees. The new round of pink slips is just a way to remind employees that they are in for the fight of their lives. I hope CMEA is up to the challenge.

9/02/2011 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous HatchsEBriefingsMakeMeThrowUpInMyMouth said...


I believe that the CMEA will be just fine with the help of OCEA. It is because of Beradino's fine staff that the employees got their protective injunction. Thank the good lord the judge had the gift of discernment to see right through the councilmen and hatch's illegal scam. The city is definitely positioning themselves to do a lot more than just "explore" outsourcing to private companies which the law specifically prohibits.

I read your post and the reason why Righeimer got in is because no one really pays attention to local politics. He got a total of just over 14,000 votes out of the 117,000 population. I have a feeling that there will be a lot more folks at the voting polls next year!

Like Geoff said, Righeimer has been unsuccessful in getting electected for a reason. Fountain Valley residents saw right through him and its just Costa Mesa's bad luck. With a republican mayor who is struggling to stay afloat in his failing bar, it was easy for the OCGOP to get Righeimer in with Monahan's help. Again, our bad luck.

We will get our City back, but it will be a fight until the end. After reading the recent article from The New Yorker magazine, everyone will know just how evil Righeimer & Mensinger truly are.

9/02/2011 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Prisoner #29999 said...

As prisoner number#29999 I have to say I am amazed at the hypocrisy of the Council. The City Manager's Tom Hatch created a new position for "his errand boy" with HCD money (illegal since 50% of funds are NOT going toward a HCD position), a Public Affairs Manager position will be open soon and along with it an Assistant City Manager position? Now, were all of these three positions open or will be open for recruitment? Or will they just appoint Lobdell and his cronies to these positions? Explain to me- I get a pink slip, but yet the City Manager's office can afford 3 NEW positions? Oh and hiring a new executive secretary because they "moved" the last one because she wouldn't perform illegal assignments as requested by City Council. You don't know Tom Hatch if you think he is an honest person. What the public sees is only a tiny portion of what really is going on in city hall. There are back door deals and money changing hands with all kinds of folks. It starts in Development Services whereas the Director is promising contracting companies the contracts in exchange for a hand-outs- just like he did with Solar Companies. But, no one is the wiser because employees are scared for their positions. The hypocrisy is so deep it would take days to expose all the dirt- but seriously, anyone who can investigate- please do and expose all the wrongdoing (City Council, Tom Hatch, Director of Development Servcies)as soon as possible.

9/02/2011 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Vote...OCLonghair said...

Labor Day weekend seems a perfect time for me to announce I will be running for one of the seats opening next year.

Listed are just a few of my qualifications:

1. I am able and ready to step over the "Bar" of politics; it has been set SO low I find myself more than qualified for a council position.

2. I have little knowledge of the inner workings of city hall and/or the Union.

3. I know someone that filed bankruptcy... that should count for a few votes.

4. I know I can make at least half of the meetings... at least enough to collect my stipend.

5. I will get more than 3 votes from the CM electorate, unlike some council members. Early polls show a significant amount of support from multi-registered voters to keep me in the top two.

6. I promise my votes can’t be bought; leased... definitely.

I will be accepting campaign donations at my business address in Newport Beach. I will post it as soon as I figure out a new security system and brick proof my windows.

NOTE: Please remember that there is a $250 per person maximum. If you would like to donate more, have friends, families with students in sports and employees send their checks for you; no matter which State they live...

WHAT? Didn't I mention the "BAR"?

9/02/2011 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous H.M.A. said...

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." Martin Luther King Jr. 1963

9/02/2011 01:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Doomsday said...

Noah...Here is a direct quote from your buddy Righeimer "In the end, whether the economy does well or doesn't do well, the city's going to be fine; there's more than enough money here to fix our problems—there really is. We're not a poor city," says Righeimer, peering out the window of his Newport Beach office. "[The union's] only hope is if they can stop the process before the next election. The only hope they have is if they get the majority, and I can tell you that is not going to happen in any way, shape or form. Part of it is who these people are, but the whole country has figured it out—they get it now."

Now does this sound like a city with a fiscal crisis? I don't think so.

9/02/2011 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous I am not Entitled said...

Dear Geoff,

This labor day reminds me that I am out of work. Before getting downsized, I was in a place that was not ideal, but I kept my mouth shut and was thankful of the steady pay check. One I wish I had now, or at least some good leads to get one.

I understood why the owner did what he did. I don't hate him for it.

I am not sure I can stay in my home. There has already been a guy who has made me an offer. He plans to rent it out.

It does make me sick to see employees complain so much. I really feel like they feel they are entitled to their jobs.

I am often bumbed out to see you care so much for these folks that seem to whine so much, and do not spend enough time thinking about residents with families. I just don't think you are connecting with my generation.

Anyway. I will pack a lunch and ride bikes to the beach with my family. Hug them and appreciate them.

Come Tuesday I will get back out there and try to find work.

It is very hard out there right now. Just can't accept people complaining.

9/02/2011 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

You can join repair Costa Mesa, you can plant a sign, you can email, write a letter, post a blog, speak at a meeting and it won't make one bit of difference. This corrupt and incompetent council has shown time after time that THEY DON"T CARE what you or anyone else says thinks or does. This isn't about you or about our city, it's only ABOUT THEM and what they want and need. Sadly this will only be settled in court all at the expense of the taxpayers, we are being used as Riggys private campaign and publicity fund.
In the words of Johnny Rotten....
"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

9/02/2011 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Stop destroying my city said...

Not entitled,

It saddens me that you are obviously oblivious to what's going on in costa mesa. Righeimee finally came and said its not about money. Of course this was only after a forensic auditor uncovered $26!

This is about politics. There is money to pay for the employees and the "pension problem" Righeimer keeps talking about is a joke. Calpers just reported returns of over 20%! Meaning costa mesa will not only not have to contribute like they continously have not for a good 10 years!

If the city truly didnt have money, then fine, fire them all! However, if you truly believe its about money then ask yourself how they afford oursourced legal services at over $100,000 a month and $3,000 a week Pr guy!

Doesnt make sense does it?

Why does q carppetbagger like Righeimee feel entitled to spend our hard earned tax dollars to defend an illegal outsourcing scheme?

9/02/2011 03:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Danny Boy said...

You think I am complaining? I work each day (the job of 3 people), rarely complain; nevertheless, I am treated like an inmate in jail. Told I am worth less than trash and am demonized by the City Council at every council meeting. I love public service; however, James Righeimer, Eric Bever, Mensinger, and Monahan, Duarte (the attorney) and Hatch are a disgrace to good, hard-working employees. Why do I stay? I stay because I will not let those individuals drive me away. I will fight to the end for the taxpayers and myself.

9/02/2011 03:25:00 PM  
Anonymous My Opinon said...

Wow. Entitled energy is following likes drinks on this holiday.

Let’s do some math here and place some facts in consideration. So many are so emotional.

Of all the Lay Off Notices about half are Firemen. No loss of jobs there. They will still have their high pay, great work schedule and plenty of toys at the River. About half.

Of the 18 considerations for outsourcing, some will not make sense. The economic spread between what we have now and the outsource numbers won’t work. They will not lose their great City jobs with all that pay and benefits.

And, many City Employees will be hired by the outsourcing companies.

So, in the end, after all is said and done, tell me, tell all of us, just how many jobs will be lost in this challenging economic cycle? How many? 20 ? 30?

Are we really using this much energy over that few jobs? The Union is.

Danny Boy. Here is what I think. I think you stay because compared to private sector, you are overpaid. And you have a big fat retirement. Compensation that you cannot replicate in private sector. Period, end of story. Save the emotional comment for the Union.

My observation is that Hatch is slowly hiring people that he can trust. Soon he will have a leadership team to call his own. Then I believe he knows who you and other whiners are, and helps them get jobs with Newport Beach, Irvine, Lawndale or whoever will take you. Or, you see how hard it is out there and how appreciative you should have been.

9/02/2011 04:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Keep your head up! said...

Danny boy!

Thank you for all that you do! People in Righeimers own party are starting to get mad at them and I see cancel the layoff signs in their own neighborhood! It's a war we're fighting and it has been tough on everyone, so please come out to the picnic on sept 17th so we can show our thanks and all come together as one! Keep your head up danny boy! The law is on your side and so are thousands of thankful costa mesa residents!!

9/02/2011 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Ignore the Man behind the Curtain said...

Great articles in both the OC Weekly and the New Yorker...well worth the read.

Great quotes from Mensinger, Righeimer and Moorlach, all very telling. Menisinger wants to treat the employees as prisoners and equates everything to pee wee football. Righeimer goes off on a racist rant and finally admits the city is financially fine and that he is basically a crusader.

Moorlach let the cat out of the bag with his plan of, just fire everyone and rehire them at a lower pension. Gee could that explain the arbitrary number of 125sworn officers? That pretty much eliminates any who are not already vested in PERS.

So Monahan threatens layoffs of sworn (even though they will say they weren't going to do it) thus causing valuable experienced personnel to flee for stability elsewhere. Now that many have left, they can say they didn't lay anyone off (political nightmare laying off safety personnel) yet they still accomplished their wish.

All this for political aspirations of a couple.

Not sure what the Beav will get from this, hell I still cant figure out what he does for a living...

Monahan, well rumors are circulating that he wants to open another restaurant in South OC. Wonder who's friends are gonna bankroll that? I'm sure it's all on the up and up tho right? It's not like he used his position to reward the people who are on his current liquor license with a lucrative tow contract..oh wait...

Enjoy your weekend folks, layoff notices are out, again, its gonna get interesting...

9/02/2011 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous WillTheRealMikeGilbertPleaseStandUp! said...

My opinion is it now? Come on husker2112 from the daily pilot who is now cm optimist and many other names. Why not just be mike gilbert! We all know its you!

How is it that you have so much time to post attacks on our employees? Are you paid $1 a post instead of $1 for every sign you steal?

Have you looked at all the perks of an assemblyman or congressman? MUCH more than a city employee! Why are you helping Righeimer get into higher office? Did he promise you a corner location of a fairground lot? Oops, deal didnt go through and report will be coming to find out how we almost lost our beloved fairgrounds!

Give it a rest mike and enjoy your weekend in mesa verde.

9/02/2011 04:54:00 PM  
Anonymous double standard said...

I would just like to know why Righeimer thinks it is okay to work in Newport and live in Costa Mesa since apparently he thinks Costa Mesa employees should have to live in Costa Mesa? Seems like another hypocrisy coming from him- that is unless, of course he doesn't actually have a job in Newport. Seems to me that he likes to eat in Newport, take reporters to Newport, and pretend Costa Mesa is Newport.

9/02/2011 05:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Surprised said...

Wait until you see the agenda for the council meeting on September 6th. The City is looking to hire several employees that will work on the 5th floor with Hatch. There is also an item about hiring additional attorneys to lift the injunction. So for a city that is supposed to be broke, more money is going to be spent on new pension earning employees and legal fees. Kind of hypocritical don't you think?

9/02/2011 10:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Peg Bundy said...

@ Will the Real Mike Gilbert...

That blow hard Gilbert doesn't even live in Costa Mesa. He lives in Newport. He used to live in Costa Mesa (queue the "Movin' on Up" theme...). He's just another bully who hangs out at the Pop Warner fields and coaches , so he can re-live his glory days. He can't get any real adults to look up to him, so he makes himself the hero to impressionable kids. He's a lot like Al Bundy re-telling the story of the big game over and over and over. Long live Polk Hight Football!

9/02/2011 11:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Read City Council Agenda said...

People wake up: Look at this week's City Council Agenda. Tom Hatch is hiring "yes men" to do his bidding. Will these positions be open "recruitment"- or appointed friends of Tom Hatch, Righeimer and Mensinger. This is called back-door deals. DO YOU REALLY WANT ANOTHER BELL? Whereas you complain about the employees when the one's making the six figures are the ones only on that work on the 5th Floor and they are getting hired because they cohorts in crime. Geoff, seriously, you think Tom Hatch is a good guy? How long will you keep your eyes shut to his involvement?

9/03/2011 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Traci said...

For those employees who think it's "over" because an injunction was granted, I'd like for you to read the next council agenda. There are 2 engagement letters for legal services to fight the injunction. One is from Jones Day and the other is from HansonBridgett. It's a little odd to me that they're approving it now when they've already hired Jones Day for the writ of mandate. Is it more fire aim ready? I'm not sure but as a resident who has never gotten involved in city politics, everything seems to be messed up at city hall. I attended the last council meeting with a friend of mine and were shocked at the way Jim Righeimer was acting. To say that he was rude and disrespectful to Helen Nenadahal, the employee union president, would be a severe understatement.

I've lived in Mesa Verde for 20 years and have raised 2 beautiful children. We love the City and it wasn't recently that I learned about what was really going on. After attending a council and reading this blog and also researching the facts, i became angry. Angry because I've been lied to. I supported the layoffs at first when I thought was broke. However now with Jim Righeimer saying that the city is not broke and he just doesnt want to use city employees. Why not just come out and tell the truth and just say you want to bust the unions? Why lie? Why keep wasting our tax dollars on unnecessary legal fees to fight with the employees? I'm not an attorney but I've read the government code. General law cities like costa mesa cannot outsource to private companies. Seems pretty simple to me. If the city wants to rid of its employees so badly then go ahead and outsource to other government agencies. OCFA seems very professional at a savings of a few million a year if I remember correctly. Do it already!

I know the city can outsource to other government agencies. However, now that we have a balanced budget, I'm wondering why they would? Is it just to spite the employees? What have the employees done to Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger to make them hate the employees so much? I've been on the calpers website and they are reporting an over 20% return, the best in recent history.

As a resident I'm really worried that this war the councilmen are having with the emoloyees will have a trickle down effect. I heard our police have been cut, the firemen dont even want to work for the city and employees are being drastically reduced. We recently called for a building permit to get signed off and we had to do it through phone punching buttons for options. When we were fed up with it, we called the building department and the person told us to call the hotline because that was the procedure. I was so angry! It's ridiculous the person couldnt just make our appointment like they did years ago before all this was going! I heard that the city has outsourced the entire building inspection department. If this is the kind of service we will be getting then we're better changing over to the county if there is a discount for the same horrible service.

I just want to say thank you for the employees who are left. I dont know what will happen to you guys but my family and friends support all of you. Minus the council of course.

9/03/2011 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike O'Reilly said...

Please allow another union man to ring in -- not too longwindedly, I hope -- on Labor Day weekend. (I’ve been, variously, a Teamster, United Mine Worker, and AFSCME member.) What is too often overlooked in our current municipal contretemps is the savage attack by ideological cranks and greedheads not only on working people but on the only organizations actually trying to protect their rights to a decent wage and safe working conditions: the unions. Four of our city council -- and too many others ignorant of labor history -- insist on trotting out the same tired crap: Unions are corrupt, union members are greedy thugs, and we don’t need unions now anyway. This is ignorance and historical amnesia on a breathtaking scale. Can they possibly believe that what few benefits working people still have came about through the largess of the business community? Have they forgotten that Social Security -- the most enlightened and cherished piece of American legistation ever enacted -- was modeled on a retirement plan fought for by the railway unions? Do they believe that U.S. Steel, say, or the Southern Pacific Railway gave us the 40-hour week, time and a half, vacations, and sick leave? Do they realize that children are no longer worked to death on the looms and mills of the northeast or the coal fields of Pennsylvania? Twelve to 16 hours a day, six days a week? Our rights as working people, including the right to bargain collectively for our labor, occurred because “we organized,” said my late friend Utah Phillips, “we broke the back of the sweatshops in this country; we have child labor laws. Those were not benevolent gifts from enlightened management. They were fought for, they were bled for, they were died for by working people, by people like us.” Amen. But apparently, and sadly, we need to fight for them all over again.

9/03/2011 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous unionquiltersforleece said...

Traci, what you have failed to comprehend is that although the city is not broke, too much of our dollars go to providing outrageous pensions and early retirement to safety employees. Unsustainable in the very short future. Righeimer has vision and sees this, unions don't want the taxpayers to see this. Many residents think we could spend less on pensions and ridiculously early retirements and spend more on other things for our city such as road repair, upgrading parks, senior services, recreation, etc. Neither side is technincally wrong, they just have different ideas of where the money should go. Right now pensions will eat up more and more of our budget and we will be paying two sets of employees, the retired ones and their replacements (although sometimes they are one and the same person). Righeimer has it right in our opinion.

9/04/2011 06:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Traci said...

Union quilter,

I see you mentioning safety pensions. The councilmen did not issue pinkslips to a single pinkslip to police for firemen. They issued them to the municipal employees right? So if police and fire are the problem then why are they trying to fire the city workers? Like the maintenance worker and the building counter people?

I've read that our very own john moorlach already tried taking away the pension from the county police, failed numerous times in court like costa mesa is and lost like costa mesa will. I see the judge who granted the protective injunction is not stupid and she sees right through the "exploration" process to private companies.

I know that the municipal employee union offered up hundreds of cost saving and money making ideas that the council refused to implement. I also know that the municipal employees agreed to a two tier retirement which they have yet to inact. Are they waiting to "hook up" lobdell and all their buddies in the pension gravy train that they're fighting so hard to get rid of?

Im starting to get a very clear picture as to how Righeimer, Mensinger and the other councilmen operate. Help us with this scam and we'll help you. Its a win win for all of them. Righeimer wants to get into higher office and collect the fat pension and all the perks. Yet his ticket to higher officr is to lie to the nation about a make believe pension problem just to benefit from it. Hmm...lobdell and the other boys will also collect pensions once they are hired as city!

A few glasses of wine and its all so very clear to me. These stinkin local politicians are nothing but liars!

So again, you got a problem with high pensions for police and fire? Go mess with them! Oh wait! They already cut our police from 165 to 125 with no real explanation which leaves all of us to believe that it was payback for towing around the kNOw righeimer trailer!

Get out of my city Righeimer, Mensinger, Beaver and Monahan! and take Hatch with you!!! He's one of you now! Dont ever come back!!!!!

9/04/2011 09:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Surprised said...

Unionquilter...I agree with Traci. It is public safety that is costing Costa Mesa so much in pension costs. Only public safety get 3% at 50. Even the chiefs who are management still get that sweet deal. Look at the compensation report. About 90% or those making over $100k/year are police and fire. Most aren't even managers. The new chief was hired at the top step of the salary range even though he had never been a chief before. Because of the cuts to PD and so many officers leaving for other cities, the ones who are left are getting a huge amount of overtime. Righeimer comes up with some arbitrary number and because of minimum staffing the cops who are left are making significantly more money because of overtime. How public safety got that sweet retirement deal that they did not have to pay one cent for is crazy. Righeimer says he hates the cops for their campaign against him last fall, but PD is not on the layoff list. So what is the real story here? Why has fire not gone to OCFA? Why is contracting out PD not being explored other than sharing some minor services with neighboring cities? Some many questions and no real answers.

9/05/2011 01:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

Just a reminder that the Costa Mesa City Council will be resuming their normal meeting schedule Tuesday evening (Sept. 6) at 6:00 pm at City Hall (77 Fair Drive). After canceling the August 16 meeting, they have a pretty full agenda tomorrow. (

Among other things they will be addressing:

Hiring not just one, but two, additional attorney firms to help them with the outsourcing (consent calendar, Nos. 12 and 13). What a way to save money! increases attorny fees to $995 a billable hour if all three read the same brief.
Update on the status of outsourcing and requests for proposals.
Proposed restructuring to re-arrange the chain of command for certain divisions, create a whole division for PR, instead of just the one consultant spinmeister, and hire an executive secretary whose only duty will be to serve city council members full time.
Presentation on the current employee pension system status and funding
Proposed helicopter landing pad at 3132 Airway Avenue considered by some to be an expansion of the JWA/Orange County Airport footprint.
Proposed transparency ordinance regarding “ex parte” communications, which would require that council members reveal by whom they had been lobbied before voting on an issue.
Creation of a successor agency to take the place of the old redevelopment agency, which will soon be dissolved under State law.
More dipping into the contingency fund, i.e. slush fund, for non-essentials, in this case a grant to radio station KOCI, 101.5 FM, to install an emergency alert system like the ones already operated by existing commercial radio stations—which might not be a bad idea if you are in a part of town where you can consistently get the signal clearly.
Posting signs on City property warning of the dangers of amalgam dental fillings—requested by a man who refused to support posting signs in City parks when pesticides were being used and who makes a good chunk of his income selling more-than-just- medicinal booze.

But they didn’t have enough going on to have two meetings in August!

Nothing like doubling the public meeting time expense onto the resident taxpayers so that Righeimer can visit Ordos China.

9/05/2011 06:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Cheese to go with Whine? said...

All Greg Ridge ever does is whine.

He is never positive. Does not offer reasonable solutions nor has accomplished anything meaningful in the city.

Reminds me of Chris McEvoy without the captain caveman beard.

9/06/2011 06:14:00 AM  
Anonymous unionquiltersforleece said...

Gericault must like seeing himself in print. Dude why not just provide a link to the agenda instead of writing it out? Then add your snide comments and personal attacks after the link. there wasn't even room for the hilarious "ready fire aim" joke.

9/06/2011 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike O'Reilly said...

@unionquiltersforleece: “Righeimer has vision”? Don’t make me laugh; my lips are chapped. Righeimer’s vision appears to be the same as every other political demagogue and grifter, a** and elbows at the public trough. Boss Tweed, Spiro Agnew, and Huey Long come to mind. And now “the city is not broke”? I heard just the opposite from Righeimer et al. several months ago. Couldn’t you at least get your stories straight? I’m sure some of us here in Costa Mesa would like the city to spend more on infrastructure. And that appears to be the council’s intention, their "vision," if you will: Lay off our municipal workers, and bring in the vendors. Does the council not realize the appearance of blatant cronyism here? My own opinion? The city council thought busting the unions and decimating our municipal employees would be a walk-over. But they didn’t realize they had too many junk-yard dogs like Geoff West -- and many others -- to contend with. Apparently, they still don’t.

9/06/2011 06:40:00 PM  
Anonymous unionquiltersforleece said...

Hey OReilly, if the vision of Righeimer doesn't make you laugh here's one for you: ready, fire, aim.

Haha , hilarious.
Cronyism? Where? You are paranoid dude. Outsourcing is happening all over the State, get used to it.
Of course they knew they were going against junkyard dogs and union thugs and they are up for it. Righeimer announced it during his run for council and was the top vote getter. Police ran a high profile neg campaign against him. He won. Go figure. Not all of us are getting work from his outsourcing, we just like the vision due to a huge pension mess accelerating in the future. You don't see it, you are worried about today. That's ok, you have no vision and not everyone does. You may have other skills that are good but probably not in the field of governance. We know how to quilt, a very rare skill we were blessed with. Everyone has something to contribute in their own way. Anyway, getting too serious. Ready Fire Aim, haha.

9/06/2011 11:12:00 PM  

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