Monday, October 24, 2011

Costa Mesa Rolls Out The Big Guns

In a press release issued this morning, Costa Mesa Interim Communications Director, Bill Lobdell, announced that the City of Costa Mesa has hired a professional labor negotiator to deal with the City's six bargaining units. The complete text of that press release follows:

Costa Mesa, California - The City of Costa Mesa has hired a negotiator to lead labor talks with its employee associations, City Chief Executive Office Tom Hatch announced today. In recent years, Costa Mesa’s chief negotiator had been the City’s administrative services director.

Richard Kreisler, a partner with the Los Angeles-based Liebert Cassidy Whitmore law firm, spent the first 14 years of his 35-year career representing police and fire associations. For the past two decades, he’s worked with public agencies on a wide variety of public safety issues, including labor negotiations. He will charge the City $300 per hour.

“The employee contracts represent, by far, the largest expense in the City’s budget, and hiring a professional negotiator to help us during these challenging times is a cost-effective investment for the Costa Mesa taxpayer,” said City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch.

Per the City’s Council direction, Hatch has asked the six employee associations representing City employees to renegotiate their existing contracts to help Costa Mesa financially withstand the economic downturn that’s adversely affecting local governments.

And the City is currently negotiating with the Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn., which agreed last October to have its members contribute 5% of their CalPERS-eligible pay to their own pensions for one year. This contribution is set to expire next month.

If you
click on that link to Richard Kreisler's name you'll find a very impressive list of credentials, including MANY assignments as chief labor negotiator for several municipalities.

As each day passes it becomes more clear that this current city council, led by the carpetbagging opportunist, Jim Righeimer and his non-elected bully buddy, Steve Mensinger, is serious about emasculating the employee bargaining units and are willing to pay $300 per hour to a hired gun to do it.

't get me wrong here. I really like the new tools being used to provide positive information to us. But no matter what kind of feel-good news this regime presents in the Costa Mesa Minute, with timely important news each morning, and on the CEO E-Briefing, complete with Michael Josephson "Character Counts" words of wisdom, the true colors of this council show through in their actions. We've seen Righeimer frequently praise the city employees on one hand, then do whatever he can to get rid of most of them.

I'm going to be very interested in seeing just what kind of response this evoke from the bargaining units. I doubt seriously that they will meekly roll over and open their contracts. I know that many of them feel that would be a huge tactical error, one that would allow this administration to gut the contracts. The hiring of Kreisler only seems to affirm that apprehension.

And the drama continues....

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Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Well, if the council at least stays consistent, then shouldn't this new hired gun sub contract his work to another hired gun at, say $450 per hour?

10/24/2011 11:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Outsource the councilmen! said...

Let's see, $684,000 a year in new positions for 5th floor, $3,000 a week for Lobdell, $1,000 an HOUR in legal services and now add $300 an HOUR for this negotiator. Hmm... How much are they saving toward the city's portion of PERS contributions?

This City is ridiculous!!!

10/24/2011 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Barry said...

The unions have highly paid gunslingers to negotiate contracts. Shouldn't the taxpayers.

One of the reasons we're always on the losing end with the unions is that they outnegotiate us. Glad to see we are leveling the playing field.

10/24/2011 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

The council wants to run the city like a business. Do you think if the checks for all these additional expenditures was coming from their check book, they would be handing them out like candy? No! So what do they care......write-a-away.

Cha-Ching $$$ for all the interim's and consultants!

10/24/2011 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Surprised said...

What would be the point of the employees opening up their contracts? Based upon what the recently passed budget showed, Costa Mesa is not in a financial bind. Since most of the general, fire and a few management employees received layoff notices, why would they open up their contracts? It is not like Hatch said he would rescind the notices, if they opened their contracts. All the groups have agreed to a two-tiered retirement program, so what is left to negotiate here? Police have no incentive even though they cost the city the most money. They are not on the layoff list and if things get bad, the officers will just go to another agency as there are plenty of cities looking for lateral transfers. This is just a bullying tactic by the Righeimer regime and their puppet Hatch. The issue is that the Righeimer regime must have some success before the next election. They know the smart residents of Costa Mesa are already on to them. A few like Barry keep drinking the kool aid. The contracts will expire in a few years. Negotiate then and save all this money on lawyers.

10/24/2011 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous unanimous said...

Definitely a needed hire. Many cities are going this route. The councilmembers are not professional negotiators. The contracts are usually negotiated by staff, such as Alan Roeder, who share in the gains of the general employees, a conflict of interest. I remember reading Newport Beach is doing this also. It will definitely level the playing field and put the numbers out there in a clear manner for council before they vote. This may have helped Leece last time around. Good move, totally expected and required. No reason for employees to be upset about this but you know there will be the usual whiners. Thanks council!

10/24/2011 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous 30 year resident said...

I'm sad to see that our councilmen continue to waste money. Everything including tragedy our city has suffered was caused by the council's failure to negotiate with the unions in the first place. Other cities have learned from the tragic mistakes of Costa Mesa which was spear-headed by Righeimer, Monahan and Mensinger.

Their ruthless and reckless act of issuing 213 pinkslips is what go us here. The city hall employees have always worked with the city and are the only ones who pay their full retirement contribution. Yet, the council council continues to waste our money on unnecessary staff and outrageous legal fees.

10/24/2011 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

How much doe the Unions pay their negotiators to rip-us off every few years.

This is great news for the residents. Bad news for the thug unions! Payback is goig to be a "B"

By the way, didn't the CALPERS expert say the City needed to negotiate better deals for benefits with the unions? Is this really a surprise?

10/24/2011 01:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Surprised said...

Phil, It was Bartel that said that about negotiating a better deal. Remember he was paid to give the council the answer they wanted. The actual representative from CALPERS who, by the way, was not compensated for his opinion back in August, gave a different scenario. If you pay someone for their opinion they are going to give you what you want, not what is correct. Bobby Young is the same. He admitted he made up numbers and assumptions, and yet he gets a promotion and now is only going to present the party line on numbers regardless of facts. Believe what you want, but remember Righeimer and his regime are not interested in the welfare of Costa Mesa. Righeimer's only goal is to eliminate public employees so he can get his pat on the back from the OCGOP and get their endorsement for higher office. You have to ask yourself why would someone move to Costa Mesa from such a nice city like Fountain Valley if Costa Mesa was such a bad place and in such a dire financial situation? It was because Fountain Valley saw what kind of loser he is and would not elect him to office. Too bad Costa Mesa cared so little to find out the facts about this man before they elected him. Also if you think this hired gun will get the employees to open their contracts, think again.

10/24/2011 02:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

The council members aren't professional negotiators? Here I thought their business acumen qualified them as such. Then again, I'm just part of the 'lunatic fringe.' But we sure are spending a lot of taxpayer money on attorneys and now negotiators. That's lunacy.

10/24/2011 02:46:00 PM  
Anonymous unanimous said...

Mike M, a lot of stuff can be called lunacy but a hired negotiator is spot on brilliant nless you side against the taxpayers

10/24/2011 03:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Great Decision said...

What West misclassifies as “drama” is actually a very astute decision.

The Unions have long had a professional negotiator or hired big gun on their side. But the old fart Geoff West turned liberal in his old and curmudgeon ways fails to bring that fact into the conversation.

The Union contracts are the largest budget expense. To not hire an expert is irresponsible.

Geoff West’s motives on the other hand are not clear. Perhaps age and early stage dementia are possible causes for the constant criticism, name calling and a clear pattern of getting it wrong?

If you asked Geoff West to spend $100 to save $1,000. I bet that all day long Geoff West would complain about having to spend the $100. Or the mean way the question was asked. Or by whom the question was asked. Or the grammar used in the request.

Here is the new reality and dilemma for bargaining units. Open the contracts and it is a win in the next election. Don’t open the contracts and it is a win in the next election. I would be more worried about all the money the bargaining units pay for such horrible bad advice.

10/24/2011 04:14:00 PM  
Anonymous get a clue, again said...

You council lackeys seem to assume the city hasn't had a negotiation firm on their side in the past... do some research.

10/24/2011 05:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

Why would I side against the taxpayers when I'm one myself? I pay my property taxes as a homeowner in Costa Mesa just like any other. Perhaps the council should have tried negotiating with the unions, which I have no connections to, BEFORE handing out layoff notices? All they had to do was follow proper procedure, but not these guys.

10/24/2011 05:28:00 PM  
Anonymous So confused said...

I am confused on why this person was hired? The employee groups said they won't open up their contracts until they expire. The council issued layoff notices to over 200 employees. Employee groups said they would open their contracts if the council rescinds the layoff notices. Council says no. So what would be the point of hiring someone to negotiate when the employee groups said they won't open their contracts because they could be laid off anyway? Fire wants to go to OCFA, so let them go already. Police are not subject to the layoffs, so why would they open their contracts? I hope this post is not too confusing, but my brain just can't grasp the logic of why this person was hired. Can someone explain it to me? Thank you.

10/24/2011 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Lead by example Mr. Hatch said...

What about Hatch opening up his contract? What about Monahan, Leece and Bever giving up their medical and pension benefits? Lead by example whould be a good start.

10/24/2011 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Resident said...

About time. Great leadership. Glad the tide is turning. We will not Costa Mesa become the next Santa Ana.

10/24/2011 08:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Let me clarify one point here, the PD is subject to layoffs due to the arbitrary and public safety endangering staffing level conjured up by Rig, Mens, and the Monahan. The only reason there have been no layoffs is that enough officers have taken their training and experience elsewhere (by the way, the OC Chiefs of Police agree it costs approximately $100,000 from the time an officer applies, through the academy to the end of training, $100,000 per officer, CM has lost at least 12 cops in the last 6 months equaling at least $1,200,000 in lost taxpayer money to other agencies). There simply is nothing in the PD contract that requires a 6 month notice for layoff.

10/24/2011 09:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Need 2 Tier said...

Unions will come to the table when inevitable head count reductions actually occur. How can anyone hire into a broken pension structure? As time goes by there are more and more examples of Cities all around us actually doing what Costa Mesa has advocated and yet to implement.

10/25/2011 05:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Open the contract? Really? said...

Get a clue. So many of you have no idea what you are talking about.
For many years, the associations and the City plugged a few numbers in to an agreed upon formula that included an AFFORDABILITY factor. There were no high powered gunslinger negotiators on either side.
EVERY council including Monahan and Mansoor signed off WITHOUT duress.
CMPD was ALWAYS number FOUR out of SEVEN in the benchmark cities which are the cities that border CM plus the Sheriff Department.
CMPD was ALWAYS below median. forward...The economy tanked. Enter Riggy who vowed to attack pensions. What did you expect the Associations to do? They fought back.
This mess CAN be fixed but there is NO REASON for the associations to open up their contracts. Riggy will gut them.
As I see it, the $300 an hour negotiator should just sit tight till somewhere around June of 2014.

10/25/2011 05:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Fear based discussions not said...

Wyatt , ABLE pilots have higher investments. They want us to believe it is no problem to make that investment and then have them go fly for the private sector.

For those that left, someone else will have to pay their go forward pension burden.

When new public safety officers are hired under a new tier paying their full share of contributions.

Over time that $100k loss will be made up

Several other cities have adopted a 2 tier structure. Anyone have stories about not being able to hire? Or increase in crime? Or response times to crimes or fires?

Fear based decisions only work with Geoff West and Wendy Leece

10/25/2011 07:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Public Enigma said...

Now ..... the City Council wants to negotiate with the Unions? After handing out pink slips, lying, and using just about every other backhanded tactic known to mankind.... in Good faith, Good luck.  The City employees have negotiated openly and fairly since the City's inception. Their salaries and benefits have been based through the years on several factors including salary comparisons with neighboring City's and the Private sector. No big or hired guns, just the average maintenance worker who sits on the association board. Who I doubt, has somehow been outsmarting, out negotiating the City's Human Resources Department and prior City Councils all these years. Most past Councils have not let future political aspirations guide their decisions. They chose to look without bias, at many factors and economic variables to keep the City competitive. They also had the forethought to realize  the economy can and does fluctuate severely. Throughout history, tough economic times have offered those who wish to benefit, a chance to further their personal political agenda. This Council majority needs a victory to further their political agenda, if there is one to be had it will surly be on the backs of the General employees, not Police or Fire, offering very little toward solving anything.

10/25/2011 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Fear based discussion not, try as you might, it is still a loss to the city when an officer leaves the PD because you will have to pay that $100,000 to replace them. You can't get around that. The $100,000 is not a pension based cost, it is the hiring process, academy and field training related costs. That salary and benefits involved does not apply (common sense would dictate the cost would be much higher if these were factored in). Even if you eliminated salary and benefits completely, this cost would still exist. So no, hiring under a lower retirement tier will not effect this.

I am not aware of much evidence related to hiring experienced officers under the 2 tier system. The only story I am aware of comes from another county. That agency has 2% at 50 for new hires. They opened up hiring for experienced officers. They found their candidate list consisted of officers who had already been fired for misconduct, and officers who were still employed, but every single one of them was under investigation for misconduct. No one can say this is the future, but it is likely as close as we can get at this point.

10/25/2011 08:08:00 AM  
Anonymous don't stop said...

stop the benchmarking immediately. all it does is ratchet up the costs. pay according to budget ability. if a cop wants to leave say thank you and goodbye, enjoy patrolling SA, Long B, LA, where it is slightly more dangerous than facing drunks in CM. 200K+/yr and early retirement came from benchmarking, get rid of it. there are plenty of people who will apply to be firemen, a little less for cops but a lot of people want jobs.

10/25/2011 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Oh What a Difference said...

When Mandoki left the City, many said there goes a great employee. However, the place that we are in currently is a result of his negotiations or lack thereof. So this round the City will replace Mandoki with a professional. Seems like a giant leap forward to me.

10/25/2011 09:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Wyatt Earp said...

Dont stop, so what do you do when cops inevitably do leave for higher pay and benefits and you are left only with the candidates who could not otherwise be hired due to psychological concerns, background issues, drug use, etc? Are those the types of folks you want running around your city with guns, tasers, handcuffs, etc., and the duty and authority to use them?

Try as you might, being a cop is not as easy as turning a wrench to the left or right. Something like to 2% to 5% of all applicants are determined to be qualified for the job. I challenge you to have at it, make CMPD the experiment and see what happens.

10/25/2011 09:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Please stop! said...

Don't stop-

This is the typical "You don't work in a dangerous enough environment" excuse. You only deal with drunks...blah blah blah.

Clearly, whoever this person is has no clue about police work and could never do a police officers job.

I bet the police in Seal Beach heard all that before. You don't work in a dangerous enough environment...Oh wait, nevermind!

Again, you don't like police for whatever reason you are entitled to your opinion. Please don't come on here and cut these men and women down. You may need them one day.

10/25/2011 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Why Spend More Money said...

The employee groups are crazy to open their contracts. Since the council has refused to rescind the layoffs, what would be the point? A deal is a deal. These contracts were executed in good faith by the city council's who were in charge at that time and elected by the people of Costa Mesa. These contracts will expire and then a negotiator would be a good call. Spending this money now is just wasteful.

10/25/2011 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Fight Back Employees said...

Well Said Public Enigma. Also good officers have their choice of cities to work for. They won't be limited to high crime areas. There are many desirable cities looking for lateral transfers that still let the chief run the department and still have 3% at 50. The best officers will go where the money is. Costa Mesa will get the left overs.

10/25/2011 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

CM's legal fund should be named "Investing for the Future".

Politian’s don't think short term.
Actions they take today are seldom meant to go into action now. They are planned and enacted for the future; just in time for re-election.

Look at what Bever did (as a LAME duck), instead of appointing CM citizens who submitted application for VOLUNTEER positions; he changes the number of seats available (a number he admitted he was involved in changing in the first place). He also pushed back nominations to once a year… guess that’s so he won’t have to show up as often.

Wait… he’s never there anyway.

Now all those applicants who played by the rules have had those rules changed; mid-process. Does anyone else see a pattern here?

Eric… I know why you did this. You are the poster child for “LAME DUCK” Politian!

10/25/2011 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous MSC Esq. said...

Here's another ABLE reference on this thread. Why? Let it go people. What I'm wondering, is why anyone would have an issue with those guys taking their skill and continuing to use it, whether it's in the private sector or not? If the people here thought the skill those guys have is such an asset, then maybe they should have kept their program, so that those skills/assests could be used.

The world moves on, and apparently so do the pilots. Good for them. In fact, if anything it shows good capitalist principle, which I assume would be applauded. Apparently not though.

10/25/2011 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

They should only open the contracts if the city recinds the layoffs. Otherwise it's not dealing in good faith, so this is just $2400 a day down the drain. These guys really know how to spend money, they don't know how to save it.

10/25/2011 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Ike said...

Wyatt Earp, you are already hiding behind an anonymous name, citing anonymous information is really pretty ridiculous, ain't it?

Which agency are you talking about? No reason to play hide the ball, just tell us.

10/25/2011 07:17:00 PM  

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