Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More On The Hiring Freeze

VERY early this morning I wrote my previous entry summarizing important points covered in last night's Costa Mesa City Council Meeting. I led off with my description of events that resulted in a de facto hiring freeze until the employee bargaining units agree to install a 2-tier pension system. I described the situation as I saw it and quoted Mayor Gary Monahan verbatim from the tape I made of the meeting.

This morning I had an exchange with Interim Communications Director Bill Lobdell in which he refuted my statement that we have a hiring freeze. We went back and forth until he finally presented
to me the following statement attributed to CEO Tom Hatch:

"The Council agreed with the recommendation in the staff report. I’ve formed a three-person committee that will determine if a position is critical enough to the City’s operation that it needs to be filled. If so, I will make the hire and also keep Council informed about any new personnel. In the meantime, we are working hard to enact a two-tier pension system so new hires will be given a pension plan that is much more sustainable for taxpayers."

OK, if that's what Hatch thinks happened in open session, but it's not what I saw and heard. It may be what he WANTED to happen, or it may be what actually happened in subsequent conversations in the closed session, but it's NOT what happened while the public was watching.

Don't get me wrong. I think his plan was the right one. He wanted the authority to hire staff members when he felt it was critical to providing proper, essential levels of service. That should always be the goal of our CEO, and the council - if it has confidence in him - should give him the latitude to perform his job.

So, since we have this clear difference of opinion, I'm going to let you decide. I'm going to give you a couple clips from that segment of the council meeting - late at night Tuesday - and you decide what you heard.

The first is a memorable moment by Jim Righeimer. This short - 30 second - clip sets up the second one. Please listen to the last sentence:

Really, Jimbo? You don't want to layoff people just because of a "pension problem"? What the heck do you call what you and your cronies on the city council did back on March 17th? You issued over 200 layoff notices, an act that caused one of them to leap to his death from the City Hall roof! Do you ever listen to what you say?

The next clip is about 3:30 long and includes the discussion that led to my quote from Gary Monahan. That statement is included in this segment. I think you'll agree that Righeimer, Steve Mensinger and Monahan all were firm that they didn't want Hatch hiring anyone unless and until the 2-tier pension system in in place.

So, that leaves me wondering just how much more of the City's business is being done in secret. If Hatch's understanding of the situation is different than what was presented to the public in open session, where did he get that idea? Is it any wonder that the employee units no longer trust the City Council and, to a great extent, Tom Hatch? It's no surprise to me.

It's going to be VERY interesting to watch this part of our municipal drama play out. It's going to be VERY interesting to see just which positions Hatch thinks are critical enough to the mission that he will request council approval before hiring. I wonder if the two PR managerial slots in the CEO's office will fit that description? Will they get the nod over police or firefighter positions? I don't know about you, but if push comes to shove, I'd much rather have more cops and firefighters on the street than PR folks spinning slow response times and rising crime rates. But that's just me - a 38 year resident of this city.

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Anonymous Inexcusable!! said...

Geoff, you need to retract your post immediately.


For you to unequivocally state - not imply or suggest - that Jim Righeimer's act caused Huy Pham's death is totally unconscionable, absolutely inexcusable, and beneath contempt.

10/19/2011 02:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Your irresponsible entry said...

How dare you! You just wrote, "You issued over 200 layoff notices, an act that caused one of them to leap to his death from the City Hall roof!" You have no proof whatsoever of the victim's motive. Stop the inflammatory remarks now by removing this reference. That entry is despicable. If you think this is true, then manslaughter charges are in order. So, tough guy - call the DA's office and see what they think. (I'll save you the trouble. They'll tell you there's no evidence of any connection between the death and a layoff notice.) Stop this!

10/19/2011 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Let's save the trolls a few minutes this afternoon. I'll do all their posts in one so they can go on that date with their cousin or sister tonight a couple hours earlier:

There no freeze. West old, dumb, angry. He no hear right. Riggy is employee friend. Lobdell tell West he wrong. Swaim write new blog saying West bad.

Bever genius. Monahan leader, still mayor. Shining Riggy boots just part of friendship.

Cops and firemen not necessary. Criminals run away when Riggy eat all their food. Fires burn out by themself.

More crime mean money from fines, cause balanced budget. Riggy go Congress, get fatter.

10/19/2011 02:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

Amazing how two former journalists (and I can't emphasize the word 'former' strongly enough) like Lobdell and Swaim have sold out and moved on to flackdom, for lack of a better term.

10/19/2011 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous unanimous said...

I agree that there is no proof that the layoff notices caused the coke user to jump to his death. Of course you are entitled to your opinion but perhaps state is as an opinion rather than a fact. Hopefully Hatch will work with just consultants until the two tier pension is in place but that may be impossible with three years remaining on the contracts. At least we now know that the associations refuse to negotiate. I knew it all along but now it is out there as fact. Very unfortunate that police and fire will not step up to the plate. Fire would rather take the cut with the fire authority rather than give in to the City. Staffing levels have a lot to do with them willing to go to fire authority take a cut in pay and pay 9 per cent towards pensions. As Bever and Roeder told us: the contracts will lead to layoffs, they are unsustainable. Wendy told the OCGOP she knew they were and would take steps to correct. Then, all of a sudden, she reversed course, blamed the OCGOP of meddling, let the unions fund a major campaign for her and voted for these contracts. Voted for 3@50 a year earlier also. She begged for forgiveness for that to the OCGOP and begged for endorsement from them and then something wierd happened and she suddenly became a puppet of Genis. A spell was cast perhaps? Mad because she did become mayor? Very sad to see Wendy go from barnacle to puppet. Nice lady, totally clueless and unfit to govern.

10/19/2011 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger feral390 said...

This city government is in total chaos. The council has given themselves the power to approve or not approve the hiring of employees, Hatch is totally powerless and a figurehead at best. Every important decision is being made in secret by a couple of power hungry ego maniacs (wanna guess who I'm referring to).
And yes....Righeimer, Mensinger, Bever and Monahan are 100% responsible for the death of Huy Pham. Their ILLEGAL outsourcing scheme and resulting layoff notices pushed a young man over the edge.

10/19/2011 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Outsource the councilmen! said...

Keep up the great work Geoff! No amount of money or spins can wash the blood off of the councilmen's hands!

10/19/2011 07:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Mr Righeimer clearly states that he will continue the discussion in closed session. Does this qualify as a subject appropriate for closed session? It sounds as if there is yet (another) infraction there and where the terms were most likely changed. Until there are public minutes stating differently, stand your ground Geoff.

10/19/2011 07:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Up with former journalists said...

Mike M.: These "former journalists" are keeping irresponsible bloggers like Geoff West honest. Most recently, West accused Righeimer of causing Pham's suicide. He has accused Mensinger of being involved in the SunCal bankruptcy (it's on his blog archives) He is wrong. He accused Righeimer before the last election of wanting to take the city into bankruptcy (it's on his blog archives). He is wrong. He said the city would be a war zone (my term) because of the extra two days of fireworks. He was wrong there, too. So before you take out these "former journalists," understand that there are many of us who appreciate them for holding bloggers accountable for their lies and incorrect predictions.

10/19/2011 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Not Surprised said...

Hey unanimous, have you forgotten that Monahan approved all those contracts too. Also why would any of the groups open their contracts if the council will not cancel the layoffs? What would be the point? Also Geoff clearly says that this blog is his opinion and he the right to say whatever he wants. If you do not like what is written, then don't read it. For some reason you can't stay away. Why is that?

10/19/2011 08:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

Up - as a "former journalist" (your quotes, not mine) myself, I get it. Regardless, Lobdell is now a well-paid shill, nothing more - that's not even debatable. I used to have tremendous respect for his work, but that's no longer the case -first he got in bed with Barry Minkow after losing his religion and it's been all downhill ever since. I don't know what Swaim's motivation is, but he's sure changed his stripes since his days helming the OC Weekly.

As for Geoff and his blog, he never claimed to be a reporter or journalist - he observes and gives his opinion, to which he is entitled. Regardless, his in-depth reports are far more informative than anything in the local mainstream press, i.e. the Pilot, Times or Register. If you choose to weed out his opinions, he presents plenty of facts. It just so happens that I tend to agree with most of his opinions, and will offer my own - these councilmen are opportunistic, self-serving d-bags.

Fact - whether Mensinger led SunCal into bankruptcy is debatable, but he certainly played a role as an executive (as did Riggy). Regarding Riggy, he's still got time to lead the city into bankruptcy. And as for the 4th of July, maybe your neighborhood was peaceful, but my street was plenty busy with activity. A war zone - no. But it was a pain in the rear.

And if you want to talk about lies, look no further than your heroes on the council. There, that's MY opinion - and it's clear we disagree. That's what makes America great!

10/19/2011 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike M said...

And one more thing, Mr. Up - before you 'take out' commenters on here with your opinion, if you wanna call someone out specifically for their comments on here, man (or woman) up and use your real name. I can say all kinds of nasty things like Martin Millard does under assumed names, but I don't.

Good night now

10/19/2011 10:23:00 PM  
Anonymous two sides said...

some might say that "opportunistic, self-serving d-bags" could also apply to those who cost the city $250,000 a month and who refuse to make the same contract concessions their fellow employees make, especially when they know that their fellow employees are facing layoffs.

two sides to every coin, like it or not.

10/20/2011 01:51:00 PM  

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