Friday, July 22, 2011

What Is Talon Up To?

WHAT'S THE STORY ON TALON?I received some disquieting news this morning. It seems that representatives of Talon Executive Services, the high-profile security firm retained by Jones & Mayer a month ago, HERE, to investigate the death of Huy Pham in anticipation of potential litigation, have been nosing around city facilities performing some kind of a security assessment.
I contacted Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell for information about this. He checked with CEO Tom Hatch and was told that during the investigation into Pham's death members of Talon's staff noticed what they described as "security lapses". According to Lobdell, upon hearing those concerns Hatch asked Talon to "provide, for free, an overview on what additional security measures should be added and the estimated cost". Hatch will then "decide how to proceed, if at all, based on factors such as cost, how specialized is the project, how urgently it is needed and which recommended measures he believes are needed".
NO DATES SET YETLobdell summarized this situation as follows: "Talon is giving the City a free proposal on how to enhance security. Hatch will decide the next steps (bid, no-bid, RFP, some combination of the three or leave security as is) after he receives and reviews the recommendations." No date for the completion of this assessment was given, nor was a date given for Hatch's decision regarding this security situation.

This is bo
thersome for a couple reasons. At last Tuesday's council meeting, when they finally got around to the Consent Calendar very, very late in the evening - after 90% of the audience had long since departed - there was heated discussion on a couple items dealing with single-source contracts - Lobdell and GrowthPort Partners. Both had received no citizen awareness nor oversight before they were signed, sealed and delivered and have subsequently evolved into much more lengthy - and costly - assignments. Lobdell has been extended through the end of this year. GrowthPort Partners was extended through June of 2012. In this case, it's not entirely clear whether Hatch will simply choose to retain Talon to perform whatever security enhancements they feel are necessary or whether he will generate an RFP to open the requirement for public bidding.
Also, the expansion of the Talon Executive Services activities in the city, based only on what I know at this time, reeks of Big Brotherism. It has become well known that the current city council majority does not trust the city employees and CEO Hatch. We know this because Hatch told a meeting of members of the Costa Mesa Police Department that very thing in very unambiguous language. He said, "They don't trust us. They don't trust you and they don't trust me."


I want to know the scope of Talon's new assignment. I want to know just how far-reaching
this "security assessment" will be. I want to know whether telephones will be tapped - I've already heard rumors about that - and whether regular monitoring of city email correspondence will be taking place. I want to know if listening devices will be placed in offices. I want to know if there will be security guards at each facility and whether our municipal facilities will become lock-down sites, where security badges must be shown and metal detectors passed through. I want to know if our municipal employees will be working as though they are in prison, where the warden(s) are the City Council. I want to know all of that and more.

TALON AMPLIFY THE HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT?This council has already created a hostile work place by anyone's definition. There was an attempt during the budget process to implement some kind of a computerized time clock situation. That initiative failed to receive budgetary support, but it's an indicator of the mindset of this council. Will the result of Talon's "free" assessment be an even more onerous work environment?

It became very clear last Tuesday that the current city council majority
is tired of criticism and will use every legal means possible - and try to use some illegal means, as well - to stifle dissent from residents and other concerned parties during public meetings. By juggling the agenda Mayor Gary Monahan effectively quashed a large part of the public comments - most folks just couldn't wait until nearly midnight to speak and express their concerns and grievances. The exclamation point on Monahan's feelings was his ham-handed attempt to forbid resident Terry Koken from presenting his most recent observations to the council in the form of a song. He has done that twice before, so there's a precedent for it. Instead, Monahan badgered him and forced him to speak the lyrics to his song instead of singing them. He would not have permitted that if contract City Attorney Tom Duarte had not intervened. Monahan was ready to have Koken dragged from the council chambers - shades of Benito Acosta - and would have almost certainly exposed the city to yet another lawsuit.

TOO MANY CONTRACTORS AT CITY HALLWe have way, way too many consultants prowling City Hall these days. As one speaker observed Tuesday, "Who are these people?" If you look at the current budget, on the page that lists the senior management staff of the city and compare it to the same page in last year's budget you will find only one name on both - Public Services Director Peter Naghavi. All the rest of the "command staff" - those charged with making short and long range decisions to guide our city - are either contractors or other "interim" staffers. Most of these folks, while probably skilled professionals, have no long-term obligation or loyalty to our city and its well-being. They are basically mercenaries - hired guns given a mess to handle, who then ride off into the sunset without looking back over their shoulders.


Early this year I joked that the current city council's idea of a perfect city staff would be Tom Hatch and a half-dozen contract administrators. I thought it was funny at the time. Since that seems to be the way we're headed, it doesn't seem to be all that humorous today.

I understand the p
ressure Hatch is under these days. The council majority, ramrodded by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, is running roughshod over our city and have absolutely no clue about the legal and ethical requirements of running a municipality. Hatch serves at their pleasure and a 9-month severance package is not much solace in today's economy. They demand he find budget dollars where there is none, then add more requirements that take staff to accomplish. They tell him he's doing a great job, then just load more work on his back with no resources to accomplish it.

The outsourcing RFP's may be the best example of that. We are four months into the six-
month notice period required by the bargaining unit contract and most of the RFP's have not even been released yet. There is virtually no way for them to be released, received back and analyzed sufficiently before September 17th - the date most non-public safety employees anticipate losing their jobs.

I'm worried that this r
ecent revelation about the "security lapses" and subsequent retention of Talon Executive Services to provide an assessment may lead to an even more dictatorial approach to governance in our city. I'm worried that those employees who are left will find it harder to do their jobs with outsiders peeking over their shoulders.


Incidentally, Lobdell tells me that the investigation by Talon into Pham's death is complete, but the report has not yet been provided. When asked when that will happen he said, "Soon". That was it.. no further explanation or date. So, we wait.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

RFP Tracking Sheet Updated

News from Transparency Central! The City has finally updated the tracking sheet for the RFPs outlined back in January for units and functions that might eventually be outsourced. After announcing the plan to outsource 18 units the tracking process was created to help interested parties stay abreast of the progress - or lack thereof - in the management of this situation.


Although the original plan was to perform weekly updates, that quickly fell by the wayside a
nd, as of three days ago, the list had not been updated for over a month. Happily, the City responded to some gentle prodding and this new, updated list, HERE, is available for your review. It is also linked on the City Home Page.


According to
Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell, it is the intent to update this roster as often as necessary. That seems just a little vague, but it's all we've got right now. As of today the list is current. It is also "enhanced", with color coding to show where each RFP is in the process.

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Costa Mesa To Investigate Combining Services With Others

Recently renewed Costa Mesa Interim Communication Director, Bill Lobdell, issued the following Press Release just after noon today:

City to explore joint services with Newport, Huntington

COSTA MESA, CALIF. - The neighboring cities of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach will formally explore the viability of combining five municipal services to improve efficiency and save taxpayer dollars.

After preliminary discussions, officials with the three cities have decided to study five areas as potential candidates for shared services: Police Special Weapons and tactics (SWAT) services; lifeguard services; jail services; animal control services; and police and fire dispatch services.

To facilitate an in-depth analysis of the impact of shared services, Management Partners, Inc. has been contracted to prepare a study. Each city will pay a third of the $81,675 fee ($27,225 will be Costa Mesa's share).

The overall goal of the report will be to assess the intial and long-term costs and savings for shared municipal services, along with the implementation and service-level needs.

The study will start within the next few weeks and is scheduled to be completed within five months.

From my view, these studies make some sense. In these troubled fiscal times we cannot ignore potential opportunities to combine certain public safety-related functions if it can be done without any drop in service levels and can save the cities tax dollars.

It's interesting that the consultant chosen, Management Partners, Inc., is the same outfit Costa Mesa contracted with to do the restructuring evaluation of the Costa Mesa Police Department a few months ago. After spending thousands of dollars on the study, done by an organization with decades of experience under it's collective belt, the micro-managing element of the City Council rejected their recommendations and arbitrarily "picked a number" for the staffing level of the department. It was that scenario that caused former Interim Police Chief Steve Staveley - a legend in California law enforcement - to depart, leaving in his wake a scathing memo that pointed out the deficiencies of this council.

I can tell you from very recent first-hand personal experience that the residents and visitors to our city are not going to be served well by the reduced staffing levels. We are going to have an under-staffed police department that will, necessarily, be forced to work more overtime hours to meet the crime-fighting demands in our city. They will be exhausted by the continued extended schedules and, sadly, will likely begin to make mistakes because of the stress and pressure of those extended hours.

Does this move violate the terms of the Preliminary Injunction recently imposed by Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann in the outsourcing case between the City and the CMCEA? It seems like it might. If so, and the City decides to proceed with this study, are there legal consequences?

We can only hope that there are no serious incidents as a result of this short-staffing situation.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another Long Meeting - And It Showed(Amended)*

Just when we start thinking that most of the council meeting chaos is over, The Mayor throws us a curve ball - as did my day today. I would have posted this hours ago, but an unanticipated, but wonderful. visit from relatives stopped me in my tracks. I was "forced" to spend the day with beautiful 6 and 10-year-olds at the Balboa Fun Zone and the beach. Got my priorities straight...

Last night all s
eemed right with the world as the second Costa Mesa City Council meeting of July began on time. However, immediately following the "moment of silent expression", Mayor Gary Monahan shuffled the deck on us. Instead of just letting the agenda flow in the order published, for some inexplicable reason he decided to move New Business Item #3, the SR-55 Study Update, to the head of the pack. So, following presentations to Colin Moran for being selected to the PacSun Surfing Team; Ivan Calderon, founder of Taco Mesa and Taco Rosa for his community involvement and a brief presentation by members of the Huntington Beach helicopter program that currently provides contract aerial law enforcement support following the misguided decision by our city council to disband the A.B.L.E. program, we heard about the plans for the continuation of the study for the improvement of SR-55 (Newport Blvd.) at the terminus of the freeway at 19th Street.

By the time that presentation was finished only 20 minutes was left for Public Comments, so Monahan told the crowd that any speakers who had not spoken by the magic 7:00 hour - when Public Hearings are scheduled to commence - would be trailed to the end of the meeting. As it turned, out the final three speakers began at 11:35! More on that later. If you care to do so, you can watch the entire meeting - all 5 hours and 45 minutes of it - on streaming video HERE.

ng the fact that the Consent Calendar had not been address yet, at 7:00 sharp the Public Hearings began and both of them were dispatched with little comment. The council agreed to have the police department begin charging $10.00 for the certification of vehicle code violations, with the exception that NO Costa Mesa resident will be charged, regardless where the violation occurred. So, if our neighbors in Newport Beach, for example, decide to visit our police department for the certification instead of going to theirs, where it costs them $22.00, we'll make a couple bucks off their dilemma.

The c
ouncil also approved the resolution certifying special assessments for collecting delinquent fines for municipal code violations. The list totals $32,000. Both those items were completed in less than fifteen minutes.

On to Old Business where the City
Clerk had barely finished reading the title of this second reading of the new Massage Parlor ordinance before the council voted to approve it. That whole transaction took less than one minute.

They then briskly approved the extension of a grace period requested of the Newport Mesa Girls Softball and Group 1 Field User status for Friday Night Lights Flag Football.

New Busi
ness then brought us the Statement of Investment Policy, the discussion of which lasted only about 4 minutes. It was approved. The council blitzed through 6 items in less than 40 minutes.

Then, at 7:
40, we came to the discussion and presentations of the proposal by the Orange County Fire Authority, who were represented by a hoard of blue-suited folks - I counted 7. Interim Assistant CEO Terry Matz led the presentations, discussions and deliberations that went until 10:25, with a short break mid-way. I'm not going to attempt to give you a play-by-play account of this issue, but will tell you that the council decided to "receive and file" the report and instructed the staff to continue to work on questions that came up during the discussions last night; to investigate joining with surrounding communities to provide joint fire fighting efforts - Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, for example - and to open conversations with the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association to determine what kind of concessions they are willing to make if the city decides to keep the Fire Department an independent entity.

There were some int
eresting moments in the Fire Department discussion. Perhaps the most interesting was the announcement by Association President Tim Vasin that his group supports going to the OCFA and that they think option 3 - the one which closes a station and reflects the greatest reduction of staff, from 29 current to 23 under that plan - is the best choice.


That news seemed to energize some members of the council - particularly Jim Righeimer. During the discussion he seemed displeased that the numbers presented did not include any savings that would potentially be realized by staff reductions in support areas where, for example, mechanics would no longer be required to work on the fire equipment - the OCFA will maintain the fleet. We know from previous discussions before the council that the fire-related fleet makes up a very large part of the workload of our maintenance team.

Another interesting point made by the OCFA number-cruncher was that the OCFA member
s, including the Costa Mesa contingent if the contract goes through, will receive no pay increases for the next several years. This is based on negotiations with their bargaining unit recently. According to Vasin, the CMFA is OK with this fact.

No time line was given for mak
ing a decision on this proposal or any of the other actions described above. In the meantime, the clock ticks and we operate without senior leadership in the fire department.


At 10:40, following another short break, the council re-convened and took about a minute to decide to cancel the scheduled council meeting of August 16th. A light calendar for that evening was the reason given. Personally, I think everybody just needed a break, so the meeting on August 2nd will be the last one until September 6th, right after the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Then, the council finally got around to considering the Consent
Calendar, with Eric Bever pulling the minutes of previous meetings as a tool to launch into a discussion of what he felt was the inadequacy of the current minutes. City Clerk Julie Folcik was interrogated about the format and eventually the council decided to go with an even MORE abbreviated version. It seems some were irritated that the current version quotes speakers in detail, but didn't quote the points made by council members. Folcik reminded them that the "Action Minutes" were implemented when the streaming video became available as a verbatim record of each meeting. Previously, the staff had to laboriously transcribe each word by each person verbatim for the minutes - a task that could take weeks to complete.

Wendy Lee
ce pulled Item #4, the Warrant resolution that contained the $117,000 charge from Jones & Mayer, indicating that not enough information was included. Eric Bever proposed that each entry should be divided by account to make it easier to determine how the dollars are allocated.

Resident Tom Egan pulled Item #5, the contract with Vision Intern
et Providers, Inc. for the redesign of the city web site, indicating that he thought that because it included a 40% contingency that was apparently not known by the bidders, it should be canceled and re-bid. This got CEO Tom Hatch's dander up. He rejected the contention that the contract was not fair. During the discussion of this item councilman Steve Mensinger got off the best line of the night - one that brought chuckles from the crowd that had dwindled to around 20 people by this time. He said, "As council members we should not be meddling." I'm sorry, but that is so funny that it's almost preposterous, since his entire short tenure on the council has been marked by meddling. The contract was approved as proposed

Egan also pulled Item #6, the extension of the contract for Interim Communication Director, Bill Lobdell. He apparently felt it was inappropriate to pay him more than 47 public safety staffers. Supporting his view, former Mayor Sandra Genis also stood to complain about the extension of the contract, stating that it was a no-bid contract in the beginning and had been extended twice so far. She felt the contract should have had a Request for Proposals issued and alternate candidates considered. She said Lobdell's assignment was cronyism. This prompted Mensinger to call Genis back to the podium and challenge her - a real "in your face" confrontation that was totally unacceptable by a council member. But then, that's who he is. Further in the discussion Mensinger pointed out that Irvine has a handful of highly paid PR types on staff. Wendy Leece, during her turn to speak, said Irvine doesn't matter on this issue. Mensinger tried to interrupt her - bully that he is - but Monahan shut him down and let Leece continue.

When Mensinger spoke again he p
raised Lobdell for being able to tolerate working in the city where things "move at glacial speed". That was a real clue to how he, Mensinger, feels about government and is obviously one of the reasons he keeps champing at the bit about making it work more like a business. His idea of a business is one where he, as the boss, can simply demand that an action be taken and nobody questions it. He's not looking for a government, he's looking for a dictatorship.

Bever took this opportun
ity to bad-mouth former City Manager Allan Roeder, saying that he never delegated anything - a lie. Righeimer chimed in and said he thought we should just make Lobdell an employee and be done with it. The contract passed, 4-1, with Leece dissenting.


Eleanor Egan pulled Item #7, the contract extension for GrowthPort Partners for continuation of their personnel support activities. The extended date on the staff report was incorrect and was corrected to read June 30, 2012. The reasoning was much like the previous issue - a no-bid contract that is being extended without sufficient consideration of other alternatives. Genis stood again to complain about this one, indicating that the "augmentation" went beyond the original intent. Egan complained that the nature of the work involved highly confidential personnel issues by people who were not staff members and were here only for the money. The item passed, 4-1, with Leece again dissenting. *NOTE: The original version of this segment misstated that Tammy Letourneau was affiliated with GrowthPort Partners. She is affiliated with Management Partners, the group that did the Police Department Restructuring Assessment. I apologize for the error and hope Ms. Letourneau will forgive me for the erroneous association. Perfection continues to be a goal not yet met.

We finally got back to Public Comments around 11:35 p.m.! Sue Lester addressed the lawsuits the city currently has pending, including the one with the employee bargaining unit. Genis told the council the juggling of the agenda like this short-changes the public because many speakers had long since given up and went home. Of course, that ma
y have been Monahan's plan all along, as you'll see in the next paragraph.


Finally, crooner Terry Koken stepped up to present his most recent song to the council. Monahan warned him not to do it and the two went back and forth with Monahan threatening to have the police officer present remove him from the council chambers. Finally Koken, who looked like he was seriously considering singing and being removed, just read the lyrics to his song. The video - drag the scroll bar across to "05:18:00" to view it - shows this little drama and you can hear City Attorney Tom Duarte tell Monahan to "just let him speak". It was a tense moment and very disturbing. Monahan was obviously ready to violate Koken's right of free speech simply because he didn't think he would like what he was going to say/sing. This episode should make us all more than a little nervous about our rights to address grievances before our elected leaders.

This shakey, wobbly video is what happens when an old guy gets his hands on a new camera. The city video is MUCH better, but this shows Koken throughout the event. Watch him contemplate the future as Monahan threatens to have him hauled out of the auditorium.


So, at 12:10 a.m. this morning the council adjourned to Closed Session after another long, long and frustrating meeting. These marathon sessions clearly demonstrate the lack of str
ong leadership on the dais. Monahan seems to have lost his grip on the process. We are NOT being well-served by this group.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Council Meeting Tonight

You will recall that I gave you a homework assignment last Friday, HERE, which I suppose most of you failed to complete. :-) As you go back over that entry you'll see some provocative issues and a couple that will potentially affect every person living in or visiting our city. The biggest one is our fire protection.

The long-awaited report on the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) proposal to provide fire and emergency medical services to Costa Mesa will be discussed at length tonight. The staff report and attachments are available for viewing on the city web site. Based on information I've received it seems like the Costa Mesa firefighters are in support of making this change, even though it will cost many of them dollars and benefits. The discussion will be interesting, for sure.


Here's a little video that tells you just a little snippet about th
e OCFA. After you watch it, also click on the most recent monthly report, because it gives you a much better feel for the organization. Take a few minutes to watch them, and others that are also available at the site.

You Can Count On Us from Orange County Fire Authority on Vimeo.


I'm also going to be
interested in hearing the rationale for canceling the August 16th council meeting. I find myself wondering if the council will take a "furlough" day if there's no meeting. I mean, they're asking everyone else to sacrifice in these difficult fiscal times - how about them? Will they give up half their monthly stipend in August? They could save the city a whole $2,261.00 by doing so.

I expect the meeting tonight to be very interesti
ng. I wonder how many council members will show up tonight and give us a rare full dais? We'll see.


Monday, July 18, 2011

It's BARBARA, For Goodness Sake!

Before I hit the sack tonight after a day of venting my spleen, one last thing needs to be flushed out of this old skull before I snuggle up to the wife of almost 44 years and get some sleep.


In EVERY article and other news reports I've seen, heard or read about the lawsuit bet
ween the city employees and the City, the judge in the case is referred to as, "Tam Nomoto Schumann" - except HERE on this blog. HERE we refer to her with her entire proper name - Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann.

I'm trying to figure out just who is wrong in this case - me or EVERYBODY else. While I'm not always right (keep the laughter down, please), I think I'm right this time.

In every other news article where a judge is addressed the full name is used - like Judge David O. Carter, who heard the now-infamous Benito Acosta case and married Loretta Sanchez and her boyfriend the other day. So what is it with this situation? Is it possible that EVERY other media outlet just doesn't know her proper name? Really?

Here's a profile I found on the internet, which I'll just publish in it's entirety here to keep you from having to exercise your mouse finger reaching the link ( ). As you browse down through her background some familiar names may catch your eye.

SCHUMANN, Barbara Tam Nomoto, JUDGE, SUPERIOR COURT, Orange County.
Elected (succeeding Judge James J. Alfano, retired) for term of office commencing January 6, 1997. Judge, Municipal Court, Central Orange County Judicial District appointed April 5, 1979 by Governor Brown, Jr. 1979, Referee, State Bar Court, Orange County. 1974-77
Deputy County Counsel, Orange County, California. Private practice, 1974 Nossaman, Waters, Krueger & Marsh, Los Angeles, California. Admitted to California Bar 1973. J.D. 1973 University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkeley, California (recipient American Jurisprudence Award (twice); International Legal Studies Scholarship. B.A. 1970 University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California (Phi Beta Kappa). 1966(?) graduated Lowell High School, San Francisco, California. Born April 21, 1950, Oakland, California. Married Edward Schumann (attorney). Lutheran. Enjoys playing piano, equestrian, backpacking and aerobics.
Faculty: 1987 __University of California, Irvine, Lecturer, Criminal Procedure & Constitutional Law; 1985__, CJER Faculty; 1986 California Continuing Judicial Studies Program Judicial Planning Committee.
Publications: 1988__”Ask the Judge,”: Columnist for the Los Angeles Times, 1979
Orange County Conservatorship Manual, published by the Orange County Bar Association for general distribution to all attorneys; “Probate Conservatorship Termination and What is That Burden,” Orange County Bar Journal (Fall 1978); “The New Probate Guardianship and Conservatorship Law,” Orange County Bar Journal (Spring 1978).
Member: American Judges Association, 2003 __; California Judges Association 1979; Family & Juvenile Advisory Committee, 2003; Chair, California Judges Association Discipline Committee; 2001____Chair, CJER Governing Committee; 2001-2002 Chair, CJA Ethics Committee; 2000 - 2001 Vice Chair, CJER Governing Committee; 1990-91 CJSP, Chair; Secretary, Ethics Committee, 1989-91; Vice Chair, Ethics Committee, 2000-2001, Judicial Council; 1978 Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Law Section, Probate Legislative Committee, Japanese American Bar Association, Orange County Bar Association.
Assignments: 1997_ Civil Panel; 2002 Family Law.
Office: 1275 North Berkeley Avenue, P.O. Box 5000, Fullerton, CA 92632-0500.
Telephone (714) 773-4400.


Beyond The Line Of Decency

As most of you who read this site frequently probably know, I have a big problem with anonymous commenters, so much so that I don't permit anyone to use that pen name. I require your own name or anything else and no longer even look at the content of items submitted by "Anonymous" - I just delete it.


That's not the purpose of this post, though. I felt the need to address what I think is a despicable, egregious violation of common decency that has occurred recently on the Daily Pilot comment threads.

Over the weekend I was browsing through the comments attached to a couple articles in the Daily Pilot and saw some posted by a person who has chosen as a pen name "DEAD BABY BECCA". I immediately realized that this slime of a human being was using a pen name intended ONLY to inflict em
otional pain on Jim Righeimer and his family. This was later exacerbated when the scumbag included as an avatar a photo of a baby floating in water.

This kind of cruelty is what makes some comment threads so painful to read.. I don't even try to read the threads on the Orange County Register anymore because, after the first couple comments, they deteriorate into vile attacks on the other commenters and get completely off the track. This one, though, is well beyond the line of human decency.

I really don't have a problem if you don't like Jim Righeimer or his ideas - as an elected politician he's fair game for criticism. Cuss him out, make fun of him, point out his lies and foibles - whatever. However, his family is off limits, period.


I'm trying to figure out just what kind of a monster would stoop so low? What kind of a depraved person would do this kind of stuff? If you are the one who did this and you're reading this blog, shame on you!

So you know what kind of grief Righeimer and his family are dealing with following the death of their young daughter, Rebecca, HERE is a link that will explain it. Again, shame on you!

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Judge Affirms "Outsourcing" Preliminary Injunction (Amended)*

As announced this morning by Managing Editor Norberto Santana, Jr., in the Voice of OC blog, HERE, Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann has issued an order prohibiting the City of Costa Mesa from laying off City employees until the case filed by the Orange County Employee's Association is heard. According to that article, no trial date is set at this time.

The OCEA, through it's spokeswoman, Jennifer Muir, issued the following Press Release today:

Judge issues order stopping Costa Mesa layoffs

SANTA ANA, CA – A Superior Court judge has issued an order prohibiting the City of Costa Mesa from laying off City employees pursuant to outsourcing their jobs to the private sector.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann issued the preliminary injunction late Friday following a verbal ruling July 5. After the Court’s July 5 ruling, the City issued a press release erroneously claiming that Judge Schumann’s ruling would expressly allow layoffs so long as the City followed “proper procedures.”

Judge Schumann rejected a request by the city to allow it to lay off City employees if it followed “proper procedures.” Instead, the order very clearly prohibits the city from contracting out services currently performed by City employees to any non-local public entity under the Government Code, and further prohibits the City from laying off City employees pursuant to any such contracting out.

“We respect the judge’s ruling, and we hope the City Council and CEO Tom Hatch will do the same,” OCEA spokeswoman Jennifer Muir said. “The ruling has been clear from the beginning, and we’re hopeful that now that it has been issued, the written order will clear up any confusion caused by the City’s press release.”

Nearly half the City’s workforce received six-month layoff notices on March 17 after the Costa Mesa City Council majority voted to outsource their jobs. At the time, the City Council had not studied the cost of outsourcing or the negative impacts to community services, and they still have failed to do so.

The Orange County Employees Association, on behalf of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association, filed a lawsuit in May to stop the layoffs.

Attached, please find the order for a preliminary injunction, the judge’s minute order, the City’s July 5 press release, and a copy of the City’s proposed injunction language, which was rejected by the Court.


I tried to contact representatives of the City of Costa Mesa for comment but was unable to reach anyone before I published this. I imagine word from the City will be forthcoming later today. When it does I'll report it.


The following is the response to the ruling by the judge, issued in the form a press release by Interim Communication Director Bill Lobdell late this afternoon:

Judge temporarily prohibits Costa Mesa from outsourcing jobs to private
companies until lawsuit is heard; contracting to public agencies OK

—Orange County Superior Court Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann issued a preliminary injunction late last week prohibiting the City of Costa Mesa from outsourcing jobs to private companies until a lawsuit filed against the City by the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn. (CMCEA) is heard.

No trial date has been set for the civil suit, which seeks to halt the outsourcing plan. The ruling doesn’t prohibit the City from contracting jobs with the County of Orange, neighboring cities and other public agencies or exploring the viability of outsourcing services to private companies.

The ruling also doesn’t affect a proposal by the Orange County Fire Authority to provide fire services for Costa Mesa and hire all City firefighters. The Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. employees are not covered in the injunction.

The written injunction clarified initial remarks made at a hearing on July 5 by Judge Schumann, who said at the time: “So as far as the City’s ability to explore other avenues of perhaps fiscal soundness, I do not think that this injunction extends to preventing the City from doing that as long as they do not terminate folks without following the proper procedures.”

Schumann did not make a reference to halting outsourcing to private companies until a verdict was reached in the CMCEA lawsuit (see transcript below).

The City Attorney’s Office had originally interpreted the judge’s oral remarks to mean that the outsourcing process—including the potential contracting of jobs to private companies—could continue as long as the City could show that it had followed “proper procedures.”

“The injunction makes it clear that the judge has ordered the City to not outsource jobs to private companies until the CMCEA lawsuit is concluded,” City Attorney Tom Duarte said. “We respect her decision and are now looking at our next legal options.”

In March, the City Council voted to send six-month layoff notices to 213 city employees—more than 40% of its workforce. The Council wanted to explore the viability of outsourcing to stem rising pension costs, among other concerns. Because of contracts with employees’ association, the City was mandated to give six-month warnings for any outsourced job.

Read the Court Reporter's Transcript of the July 5, 2011 court date HERE. This should download a pdf file to your desktop.

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