Monday, November 26, 2012

Homework For A "New Era"

OK, all that turkey is behind us now, so I want to talk just a little bit about the "new" attitude we anticipate from the new City Council that will be seated next week.

You'll recall that Mayor Pro Tem (and probably soon "Mayor") Jim Righeimer appeared to be offering a peace pipe to the employee associations at the last city council meeting.  I've expressed some skepticism, but am taking a "wait-and-see" position and will give him a chance.


In the meantime, the local media has had a couple very interesting articles on "unions" and pensions and their impact on organizations that I wanted to bring to your attention.

The first is an OC Watchdog column in the Orange County Register last week, HERE, titled "'Pension Envy': Few private workers have secure retirement".  As you will see when you read it, it presents a pretty compelling viewpoint of why folks who work for - or have retired from - private industry are so willing to begin frothing at the mouth when public employee pensions are discussed.  The author quotes Orange County Employee Association General Manager Nick Berardino thus:
  “When you talk to workers who don’t have those pensions,” Berardino said, “their immediate thing is, ‘Unions have those pensions. We don’t have them.’ And it creates a shift – pension envy.  You'll find this an interesting and provocative article.

The second is a column by business reporter Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times Sunday, HERE, titled "Poor management, not union intransigence, killed Hostess".  In his piece Hiltzik debunks the myth that the unions caused Hostess - the manufacturer of Twinkies and Ding Dongs - to go out of business.  His second paragraph sets the tone for the column:  "It failed because the people that ran it had no idea what they were doing. Every other excuse is just an attempt by the guilty to blame someone else."  I think you'll find Hiltzik's column informative, to say the least.

I hope you'll read both these excellent articles in preparation to observe just what new overtures the City of Costa Mesa - led by a Righeimer-controlled council - might make in the near term to deal with the employee associations to move forward in a post-layoff, post-litigation future for our city.  We'll talk more about this as we move through the end of this year and into 2013.

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Anonymous Byron de Arakal said...


I'd like to suggest that we also keep in mind that the taxpayer is the employer of the public sector. As such, the taxpayers - through their elected representatives - establish the wage and benefits they're willing to pay for services provided to them by their government. I'm not sure it's constructive to label the motivation of the employer for seeking to right sizing public sector wages and benefits as 'pension envy.' Indeed, I think what the employer - we the taxpayers - are seeking is no different from what the so-called 99% is seeking from the so-called 1% with respect to paying their 'fair share' in taxes. It's fairness. You see, if we're going to accept the idea that wealth in this country needs to be more evenly distributed, the regression to the mean of that wealth is going to occur from both ends of the curve - from the private sector side (the 1%) and the public sector side (3@50).

11/26/2012 05:03:00 AM  
Anonymous genis envy said...

it is the public safety pensions that are ridiculous and must be changed. Or kept as is and take a 20 per cent pay cut. It is OUTRAGE, not envy, that epperson gets 160K a year , going up every year, for life for being a .....cop? wow. Hey , if the $$$ he put into his retirement org can generate the $$ promised to him , then ok. But no shortfall from his investment should be made up by taxpayers. Anyone agree or disagree? Oh, I know Wendy will, our bestest should get it all in her simple view, but what about the other anarchists/lefties such as ridge and hermanos, and flores. do you guys think the pensions are too generous?

11/26/2012 06:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Check Your Six said...

@ genis envy--Public safety pension formulas have and are being changed on the State, County and local levels. Cities all around including Newport and Costa Mesa have added these new formulas to new hires just like the Councils have been asking/demanding for.

11/26/2012 09:02:00 AM  
Anonymous two cents worth said...

No one gave a rats hind end when the economy was hot. The where did the private sector put THEIR money during the dot com boom? They freakin spent the huge private sector bonuses that public safety will never see.

When PERS was superfunded, where did CM put the money? When pub safety went to pers and gave up the annuity money, where did CM put it?

Why did the 5th floor at city hall give their friends juicy contracts including a GREAT PERS retirement?
City Hall is way too top heavy NOW.

Near two grand a month for a very part time job's health care benefit? wow! I'd like that too!! Why aren't you folks bi#ching about that???

You are right, good questions. Lets ask ALL of the relevant questions, not just the ones we WANT to hear the answers too.

BTW, 99% of your readers, including the city council, couldn't pass the background at the PD, let alone do the job.

11/26/2012 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Defined benefits include SS said...

Keep in mind the OC Register article starts on a totally misleading and false premise. Most in the private sector do not have a retirement pension.

Unless the private sector is ripping off the Gov't they all participate in Social Security. Social security mind you is also a DEFINED BENEFIT retirement.

You can go to several websites, even the Social Security website, and calculate a close estimate of what you will be paid for life when you retire in the private sector.

Also keep in mind in 1978 the City of Costa Mesa switched from Social Security to CalPers for their employees. CalPers replaced Social Security as the retirement plan.

I do not understand why entities and writers keep playing these misleading games. OK I do get it. It creates hate and anger toward the City Employee if you misrepresent the truth and claim they get what you don't.

Now when you understand the truth and are willing to play with the truth, um
Ike the OC Register and others, we can sit down and discuss e real problems and solvent them.

Here are the real problems with Social Security vs Public pensions such as CalPers.

The formula for CalPers is much more generous to Public Employees. Especially for Public Safety. General City employees if you look the city is not paying that much more for them than a private employers pays for its workers if there is a matching 401k included along with it's social security requirement.

And example is Colin McCarthy who told us his employer pays a matching up to 10% of his salary into his 401k. For years the employer paid 7.5 % for Colin's Social Security. So Colin McCarthy's employer paid 17.5% of his salary toward his 2 retirement plans. Today at the highest levels the city has ever paid for it's General City Employee is about 18%.

Often times in the past the City paid much lower rates when CalPers investments were doing well. So the actually benefited many years being in CalPers.

But this brings us to another problem. That 18% for City Employees can go back down much lower in the future or it can go higher because the city is on the hook. Social Security is 50/50 share set at 13% today. They dropped it from 15% when the economy tanked. CalPers increase risk is shouldered by the city.

Spiking is another issue that needs to be addressed.

These are just a few of the things that need to be addressed. Keep in mind that Fire and General City employees have already made concessions toward these issue. City Employees did it way back over 2 years ago even though they got trashed and never received due credit for stepping up before most any other city or group did this.

So let's have some productive discussions to help some of the remaining issues and in order to help I ask that organizations and people like those at the OC Register start providing their readers with the truth and not the misleading and basically misrepresenting information they continue to do so to create hate anger and divisivenss.

11/26/2012 09:51:00 AM  
Anonymous A Free City Council said...

The City of Costa Mesa should do what the City of Tustin just did with Measure HH, they voted to repeal all salary and benefits for future Council Members.

What better way to show the residents that you truly want to serve, then to do for free and not get the perks and benefits that come along with the positon.

11/26/2012 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin said...

There is risk inherent in having a “free” city council. Those who take the job seriously know it is more than a 20-hour /week job and takes a lot of work. Not every one who wants to serve the community can afford to do it for free, if we remove salary and benefits we run the risk of limiting local government to wealthy participants. If a council member can afford it and would like to voluntarily surrender salary and benefits, that would be great!

11/26/2012 11:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Obsessed with Wendy said...

Why is it that the Northside Racist harps on Wendy this and Wendy that....

She was outnumbered 4-1.

Hey Marty, the clock called....they want their cuckoo back!!! Climb back in!!!

11/27/2012 12:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Let's work together! said...

Jim Righeimer passes on almost 20k per year health benefits from the city. He does however accept the monthly salary which he, Wendy and Mensinger earn. Monahan and Bever should payback some of what they get. Sandy will certainly earn hers.

I was intrigued to read the comments about Social Security and how it is a defined benefit retirement and how the Register decided to not include that in their claim when they stated that the private sector does not receive defined benefits. Truly a flase claim. Interesting indeed why they would do that!

Personally I am OK with the Police and Fire pay and their retirement package. I believe though that they should pay for their higher benefits.

These people do risk their lives everyday. What we forget is not just the physical dangers but more often the medical dangers too. Dealing with people in medical or disorderly issues puts them in contact with people with diseases such as aids, hepatitus's and many other contageous diseases. Infected urine, feces and blood are often weapons used against them.

So let's find reasonable and sustainable pay and benefits and if they want more then they can contribute more.

But I agree until people, politicians, reporters and even the employees themselves stop the rhetoric, stop the misleading and stop the lies it will make it harder to find those solutions.

Hopefully now we can all work together.

PS Robin thank you for all you did, all you do and will continue to do for this great city.

11/27/2012 12:26:00 AM  
Anonymous payem said...

riggy does not take medical benefits. Wendy cashes out her unused benefits. riggy should take them. they all work very hard for the city and their total compensation is akin to a rounding error in the city budget.

11/27/2012 06:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Method said...

Regardless of salary, corrupt pols get paid on the back end, in the form of favors and envelopes. In this town we could also look at food.

11/27/2012 07:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Shennanigans said...

@payem...a rounding error? The combined total compensation for the entire council is over 200k. Is that a rounding error? It adds up. It's a part time job. Find me any part time job with full benefits like they get. So Riggy doesn't take the benefits. Guess what...if you waive the benefits, you get the amount of the benefit paid out in cash instead. That's the rest of the story. Maybe he gives it away to charity, I don't know, but he still gets the comp whether he takes it in benefits or not.

11/27/2012 02:35:00 PM  
Anonymous ourlittle angel said...

shenanigans: riggy does not cash out. wendy does.

11/28/2012 04:12:00 AM  
Anonymous cm4r reporting said...

let's see: medical benefits to Righeimer, according to city website: ZERO
medical benefits to Leece: 19,140.

doesn't look like Riggy is cashing in Mr. Shennanigans. Are you a Frog?

11/28/2012 05:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Tustin Did It Right said...

@ cm4r--you're right Riggy may not take the health benefits but he still has a total compensation of nearly $ 11,500. You mention that Wendy draws the medical benefits, but you leave off that Gary, Steve & Eric also draw these full benefits and the four of them have a total comp. average of nearly $ 31,000 each. Not bad for a part-time position, and in Gary and Erics' case a very part-time job.

Maybe Riggy should try and influence Gary and Steve not to take these benefits and look good to the taxpaying people of Costa Mesa, I wonder how good that would go over?

Get rid of any and all Council benefits and pay and all this would be a mute point. Riggy could do just as much damage without one penny from the City.

11/28/2012 09:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Aint No Lottery said...

It is disturbing to see comments and blogs like this that are emotional and what little facts are conveniently placed to support bad logic are inflammatory and misguided.

It troubles my old bones to hear that Costa Mesa should be like Tustin. That action makes way for a council made up of Cops, Fireman and Teachers. All of whom have pensions and medical benefits. Throw in a high net worth independently wealthy member and that is what future councils will look like.

Can we focus on the quality of the public servant? What these folks are paid is peanuts in the big scheme. It disappoints me to see some support individuals that I don’t think are capable of doing this job. However, that is where I think the discussion should be. On the who not the how much.

11/28/2012 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous frog said...

Lottery: everything here is inflammatory. If somebody who lives here is an OCGOP person, they are automatically "taking over". It is best that they stay out, even if they live here. Friends of the boys are all cronies. Only the Leece allies are the good people, even though listening to them talk one would think they are nothing but bashers. Leece's friends are all independent thinkers, Righeimer's just take marching orders, can't think for themselves, all the while getting envelopes of money stuffed into their back pockets and penciling down sweetheart deals for their friends. Get with it! All OCGOP is bad. Every decision they make is wrong. Their beautiful wives and gread kid, just a cover for evil. Got it? God Bless Wendy.

11/28/2012 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Very perceptive...

11/28/2012 03:49:00 PM  

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