Thursday, March 08, 2012

Costa Mesa Wins National Transparency Award

In a press release issued late this afternoon, Costa Mesa Communication Director, Bill Lobdell, announced that the City has been awarded a "Sunny Award" by Sunshine Review, described as a nonprofit dedicated to government transparency. Apparently Costa Mesa is one of only 214 governments of the 6,000 reviews - and the only Orange County Government entity - to receive this award. You can read the entire press release HERE.

I agree that this is a very worthy achievement, and that we, the residents of this fine city, have much more inf
ormation readily available to us today than was the case a couple years ago. Important information on the budget, the outsourcing process, the bogus charter scheme and many other issues are right there at your fingertips.

Personally, I attribute this to a change in attitude by the City Council and to the hard work and skill of the City Staff - including CEO Tom Hatch and Lobdell - who produce the information we see.


I also think that part of this "transparency" is a mindset by some members of
the City Council to attempt to show the world just what greedy slackers the Costa Mesa staff members are. They become almost giddy when the new annual compensation report is posted, and just can't seem to wait to misrepresent the facts. I thought Steve Mensinger was going to have an orgasm last Tuesday night as he contemplated digging into the recently-released Workers Compensation report.

And yet, where "transparency" really counts - as the council goes about doing the job we hired them to do - is where the City comes up short. For example, several weeks ago they went through an exercise to develop a 5-Year Forecast, and used a spreadsheet provided by Finance and Information Technology Director Bobby Young. With Jim Righeimer leading the way, they merrily just plucked numbers involving millions of dollars out of the air with no substantive discussion on why they chose those numbers. They did this at such a pace that those of us trying to follow along couldn't write fast enough. That spreadsheet, with it's fabricated numbers, is still not available on the City web site. And, of course, come budget time those fabricated numbers will become cast in concrete as though they had origins in fact and the staff will be required to find budget dollars to accommodate those flights of fancy. This is not "transparency".

And, of course, we have the "one-man Charter" and the "two-man" working groups that contrived the bogus outsourcing scheme on cocktail napkins at Mayor Monahan's bar. And that led to the ignoring of a council policy that delayed the process, causing a "re-start", and which eventually led to a very costly lawsuit filed by the employees to protect their contractual rights. This is not "transparency".

And, the grand idea of the weekly E-Briefing - the online newsletter generated by Hatch - has lost much of it's steam. It now shows up every once in awhile - sporadic seems to be an appropriate word - whenever somebody gets around to it. And, of course, there has been plenty of fodder for that cannon since the first of the year.


Yes, the City Staff is doing a better job of providing information. The City Coun
cil, on the other hand, is far, far away from being open and forthright about how they conduct business for the city.


So, kudos to Hatch, Lobdell and the rest of the City Staff who actually do the hard work that produces the information we now have available to us. This recognition is well-deserved.

And a big, wet Bronx Cheer to the City Council for attempting to pla
y games with the word "transparency" while doing exactly the opposite as they stumble and fumble their way through their ham-handed attempts to change governance as we know it. Pfffssst!

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Anonymous Wako Jacko said...

It seems to be a common trend for Lobdell to issue a press release "late in the afternoon". Whether it's positive or negative for the City, it's always towards the end of the work day. Why not send it out early the next day?

3/08/2012 06:27:00 PM  
Anonymous History Always Repeats said...

You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows.
-Bob Dylan

3/08/2012 06:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Truth be told said...

Councilman Mensinger here is the list of the 5 councilmembers who ALL approved CMCEA increase to 2.5 @ 55. So I guess Mansoor and Bever were bought buy the unions to increase CMCEA's pensions too? Really Steve this is what you say and think about Allan and Eric.

Mansoor Yes
Bever Yes
Leece Yes
Foley Yes
Dixon Yes

The "David" is the Costa Mesa residents. The "Goliath" is the unions that have been so successful in electing council members and securing unsustainable pensions that they nearly bleed our city dry.

3/08/2012 09:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Truth be told said...

Mayor Bever not only made the motion to approve the enhancement, he in his statement thanked staff for this mutually benefitial to The City of Costa Mesa and to the Staff taken action. He furthered stated it showed, based on CMCEA agreeing to pay for this enhancement, that CMCEA and our city employees were thoughtful toward the community.
This is all from the May 20th 2008 council meeting. I would bet those meetings are still available online. If not you can request the minutes from the city clerks office.

3/08/2012 09:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Truth be told said...

This is from the agenda report. It shows the City Employees not only agreed to pay for the cost but they actually paid 1% for an entire year before it became effective in 2008.

I guess this really shows how greedy and uncaring Costa Mesa City Employees are toward the community. Especially the part where Mayor Bever said it showed the employees cared enough about the community and understood the financial aspects enough to agree to pay for it themselves.

Fourth Year of the Agreement – Effective the pay period that includes September 1, 2007…employees covered by this agreement shall contribute 1% of their salary toward the cost of the 2.5% at 55 CalPERS retirement benefit. To the extent permitted by CalPERS and the IRS regulations, this 1% contribution shall be implemented through payroll deduction on a pre-tax basis.

Fifth Year of the Agreement – Effective the pay period that includes September 1, 2008…employees covered by this agreement shall contribute an additional 2.6% of their salary toward the cost of the 2.5% at 55 CalPERS retirement benefit for a total cost of 3.6% (both employer and employee rate based on CalPERS actuarial data on September 1, 2007 and subject to update in 2008)

3/08/2012 09:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Traitors Among Us said...

Mayor Bever indeed. We'll never see that again. The new Tewinkle plan should include a fountain with statues of Bever and Monahan and the inscription:

"o homines ad servitutem paratos."*

* Men fit to be slaves

3/09/2012 07:38:00 AM  

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