Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Does Costa Mesa Share Anaheim's Dilemma?

A tip of the old hat to Chris Prevatt over at The LiberalOC blog, who addresses an interesting subject that is being faced by the City of Anaheim - one that has potential impacts here in Costa Mesa. In his piece today titled "What's The Matter With Anaheim?", HERE, he expands on an excellent investigative piece written yesterday by Adam Elmahrek at the Voice of OC yesterday, HERE, concerning potential, and probable, conflicts of interest within the Anaheim Planning Department. It seems a contract plan check supervisor had been routing significant volumes of work to his actual employer, plan check consulting firm Charles Abbott Associates.


I don't know if such a situ
ation exists in Costa Mesa, but we have so many contractors now working at City Hall in so many departments and wearing so many different hats and so many members of the regular senior staff that would ordinarily be overseeing their activities have departed, that it seems like the kind of malfeasance referenced in Anaheim could easily occur in our city.

I find myself wondering just what
kind of checks and balances are in place in Costa Mesa to keep this kind of stuff from happening. Are those few senior managers left reviewing the work of contract employees carefully? Some of the contractors came aboard with no-bid arrangements, apparently based on previous associations with members of the senior staff. We assume there are friendships involved there, so just how much "supervision" will senior managers be giving to "friends"?


Resident and former city empl
oyee Eleanor Egan recently pointed out a discrepancy in the contract of one of our current cadre of contractors at two city council meetings, and asked CEO Tom Hatch for clarification. It's unclear whether she ever received a response, but it dealt with this very kind of situation.

I joked many months ago that, in it's haste to flush out all the pension-bearing employee
s, our current city council majority's idea of the perfect city staff would be Hatch and a half-dozen contract administrators. It seemed funny at the time, but now it certainly seems like we're on a road to that destination, so any holes in the oversight procedures for contract employees need to be patched up immediately before we get ourselves into the kind of situation Anaheim finds itself in today. According to Prevatt, their city council will apparently address this issue in the very last item on the agenda for their meeting tonight. It's titled, "Discuss the existing policies and procedures governing the City's contracting and purchasing authority"

I think it's important for this subject to be dealt with immediately in Costa Mesa, since we are now beginning to see responses to the outsourcing RFPs being returned and will soon be undergoing evaluation for possible implementation. If we don't get a handle on just how all these contracting companies will be managed right now, the city could lose lots of money by inadvertent or intentional bad acts by contractors.

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Anonymous Daisy Mae said...

This is very interesting. I know from having contractors working at my house, that if I did not watch them like a hawk and inspect every aspect of their work, I would of not gotten the project I paid for. It is absolutely necessary to have skilled senior level staff oversee whatever contract workers are hired. I have family that live in Temecula. While many city services are contracted out, they have many competent city workers who oversee the work of the contractors. These include the senior level staff who manage the contracts and the inspectors in the field. My concern with Costa Mesa is that I don't believe the council majority is concerned about quality, but only the bottom line.

10/25/2011 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Gas On The Fire said...


This is you being informative?

This is speculative at best and ignorant at worst to tie an event in another municipality to our current situation.

I acknowledge that it may be a concern, but have a little more justifiable cause before you start breaking out the pitchforks.

10/25/2011 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous That all you can find? said...

With all the outsourcing that is, has and will be going on, one example is all that Geoff West can come up with to make his Union point.

I bet if we inventoried all the employee screw ups the stories would be much greater.

Perhaps the RFP’s themselves should be outsourced. That is a great place to start to look at poor performance.

10/25/2011 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Moon said...

Ever wonder why we, the citizens of the U.S., developed a civil service? This is the reason. The bribes, campaign contributions, over charging, shoddy work and cost over runs are in the history books.

100 years ago 'Boss' Tweed and his cronies ran New York from 'Tammany Hall'. The corruption that ensued lead to the creation of the civil service in New York and eventually to the election of Teddy Roosevelt (a Republican).

We've forgotten all this. Now we're going to repeat it. Nothing new here. This time it's the Republican party laying the groundwork for graft.

10/25/2011 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Other Mike said...

"This is speculative at best and ignorant at worst to tie an event in another municipality to our current situation."

Wow, really?

Council majority and their minions (Fitzpatrick, McCarthy et al) have done nothing but compare the good, bad and ugly in Costa Mesa to other municipalities, and them to us.

If it was good,like the "city that outsourced everything" (Sandy Springs, GA), or the comparison to Laguna Niguel who has a plethora of outsourced services and a handfull of full time city employyes to staff city hall etc, they linked every article, sang the praises to the rafters etc.

If it was bad, like Vallejo, San Jose, and most recently Santa Ana, they sternly warned that those situations could be Costa Mesa.

So, when someome like Mr. West points out s scenario on the other side of the fence, why is it off sides? You can't have it both ways Bub.

10/25/2011 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Example: There is a contract in place for the cleaning of bus shelters in the City, but nobody available to ensure they are living up to their contract. That's low on the priority list. Result: some of the most disgusting bus shelters around, but the City still pays them. There are dozens of contracts in place such as this.

Verifying contract work is like babysitting; while necessary, who has the time to do that? Staff is busy responding & writing reports for all of Council's "important" requests.

10/25/2011 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Eleanor said...

Since you brought it up, Geoff -- I did discuss the GrowthPort Partners contracts with Tom Hatch and learned that most of their work has dealt with Worker's Compensation, although that isn't quite their main expertise.

I filed a Public Records Act request and received some of what I asked for. However, the rest has been with the City's attorneys for over a month for "review." I was told I would have the documents by October 13th, but so far I have not received them.

10/25/2011 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Thank you, Eleanor, for filling in the blanks in my report. I knew Hatch had replied to you, but was under the impression that your request was not fully responded to... (dangling participle, drat!)

10/25/2011 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Angry White Man said...

Building inspection services already have contracts in place. They have been contracting plan checks and inspections for some time. Recently all but 1 of the full time city inspectors have resigned and moved on to other cities or retired. So the current procedure to fill a vacancy is for the Building Official to call an old friend or former co-worker and advise them to apply at CSG or Bureau Veritas (those are the contractors)then they can be "interviewed" and hired.
What's that old saying? It's not what you know, its who you......
Isn't outsourcing great

10/25/2011 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Of course! said...

I agree with Angry White Man. Isn't this the procedure that Tom Hatch uses? Growth Port was used by City of Brea, where Tom came from; and others have come to the City from his connections with Brea. So, it IS who you know! Unfortunately.

10/26/2011 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Harriet said...

Many of us who tried communicating with the council men advised them of this being(and a number of other cons)a potential problem with outsourcing, Now we are only assured of possible shoddy work, shoddy merchandise, and no potential for replacement.

10/26/2011 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Fact Question said...

What issues do the Council Haters find with the street improvements in Mesa Verde that have been outsourced?

It is easy to try and create doubt. Can you find real issues?

10/26/2011 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

I suspect none. No city dollars were used.. grants obtained long before the current regime came to power were used for that project. Next question...

10/26/2011 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Occupy Mesa Verde/Lunatic Fringe said...

My issue regarding the council and the streets in MV - that they tried to take credit for it when absolutely none was deserved. Just another photo op.

But since you brought it up... the contractors didn't do a very good job (shoddy at best), at either replacing curbs/driveways/sidewalks and the streets themselves. And when do we get stripes painted? They were sealed two months ago, and the project started in July on my street - it's almost Nov. and not finished.

Any other questions?

10/26/2011 04:43:00 PM  
Anonymous West Manufactures Hate said...

Ah, I get it now Geoff West. Contractor screw ups, or lack of Staff oversight can only occur on projects that Council approves funding for.

As Chief Council Hater, your true colors show.

The way I see it. Council set investment in infrastructure as a priority. Then Staff "found" the money and bundled it up. Great job by all.

I bet the Eastside can't wait to get their streets done.

I just wish Geoff West would not manufacture the hate.

10/27/2011 07:08:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

As a matter of FACT, the road repairs in Mesa Verde were already in the works BEFORE this council took over. The ONLY part they played in this was that two of them were the beneficiaries of the new paving.

10/27/2011 08:42:00 AM  
Anonymous harriet said...

To "West Manufacturres Hate". Use your computer to research the pros and cons of outsourcing, lact of control of work and workmanship are found in the list of cons. This has nothing to do with hate, love, it is logic and facts. I can personnally attest to my comments earlier in this blog, based on previous employment. By the way I do not "hate" the council men, I just believe their decisions are not in the best interest of my city.

10/27/2011 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

A few days ago, Lansner (OCRegister) wrote an article, "Fountain Valley: O.C.’s hottest home market."

Q: If we get Reeemer
to move out of Costa Mesa, will our home market be listed as the hottest market?

Eric - You can run but you cannot hide... wait, you're a LAME DUCK jackhole...you can't even run. Now that's great news for Costa Mesa.

See Geoff, I too can demonstrate a positive attitude.

10/27/2011 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Eugene A. said...

"West Manufactures"-No one "found money" or "bundled it up". The money was there, and has been. It was never listed as part of the geberal fund and was set aside in the budget, because those funds could only be used for roads and infrastructure.

The current council never "approved" these projects, it was done before Righeimer took over. What our council did do, was make a great PR play by spinning up fervor over the need for infrasturcture improvements and that the greedy employee's pay and bennies need to go so they could get down to the business of infrastructure repair. All that rhetoric, knowing all along those funds for the roadwork were already there and set to be spent on the very jobs that are getting done.

With the spin up complete, all that was needed to be done was put up some signs (a' la' WPA circa 1930's) and claim the great victory as budget crusaders and union killers. It was a nicely played piece of theatre.

So the only thing being "manufactured" is by our council. These men like to take credit for things they didn't do or had little to do with and fail to take responsibility for their personal failures. Not a true conservative in the lot. Neo-Cons one and all.

10/27/2011 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Must consider outsourcing said...

Harriet, I don't need a computer to research the fact that City employees also make mistakes. Some are great. Some have poor performance. The public employee does not have an exclusive on top performance.

Many private sector companies use technology in vehicles to know if , when or how long a truck stops to service a bus shelter. Many other examples.

To not consider outsourcing would be irresponsible.

10/27/2011 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous harriet said...

To: "Must Consider Outsourcing" If your would read my blog carefully I never said we should not have outsourcing, I only say it can bring on problems we do not need. Employees can be fired, disciplined, reassigned duties, sent for retraining if giving poor preformance. It is extremely costly and time consuming to break a contract with and outside company and in the meantime we have to tolerate, live with and even have safety issues with their poor performance or shoddy parts. Outsourcing over half our city jobs is not the bestste answer to the budget issues.

10/28/2011 04:04:00 PM  

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