Saturday, March 24, 2012

McCarthy Attacks Employees

Colin McCarthy, president of the OC GOP shill organization, Costa Mesa Taxpayer's Association and current Planning Commission Chairman, has produced yet another anti-employee screed straight from the OC GOP song book as edited by Jim Righeimer, HERE.

Just as Righeimer did at the last city council meeting, in his latest attempt to ignite the ire of residents of our city against all public employees McCarthy paints Costa Mesa firefighters as a bunch of greedy laggards, intent on destroying the fiscal well-being of our city by earning outrageous salaries and benefits. He points out that two battalion chiefs earned what he described as, "a whopping $347,000 per year and $313,00 per year, respectively." and goes on to mention that one of them topped nearly $110,000 in overtime pay last year.

Well, what he doesn't tell you as he rants about overtime is that those men were forced to work those hours - in one case nearly 4,000 hours in a year - because THIS city council has refused to permit them to fill vacancies that would have eased the pressure for such overtime. Do you actually believe that ANY of our firefighters prefer to work what amounts to two jobs rather than be with their families? He also conveniently neglects to mention that EVERY expert in this field, including our current Interim Fire Chief, Tom Arnold, has acknowledged that the use of overtime in some cases is actually less-costly to the city than if we hired more firefighters to cover all the hours required.


McCarthy implies that the overtime adds to the pension burden of the city - it doesn't. Overtime pay is NOT included in the calculation of retirement benefits, but acknowledging that fact doesn't fit the agenda that he and others have in attempting to bust the employee associations.

Near the end of his piece McCarthy says, "In addition, we need to remove the politics from the discussion." Well, just who is he talking to when he says that? The only people who have injected politics into this discussion are McCarthy himself and his fellow-travelers on the far right wing of local politics, led by OC GOP President Scott Baugh. It was Baugh who declared Costa Mesa "Ground Zero" in the state-wide battle for pension reform.

The current council has rejected overtures by the firefighters to save the city money in recent months - $500,000 was rejected by the council at one point. In an attempt to help th
e city understand our fire and emergency medical response organization, the firefighters paid to have the Orange County Fire Authority assess the Costa Mesa fire operations and provide a bid to take it over. Three proposals were included in that bid, each of which would have saved millions of dollars and would have cost many individual firefighters pay and benefits, but the current city council stiff-armed that proposal and it sits molding on a shelf somewhere.


current city council and their shills like McCarthy are, at best, disingenuous as they attempt to mislead the residents of our city with incendiary rhetoric full of half-truths and fabrications. They have attempted to use the public employees of our city as scapegoats for their perceived fiscal crisis and yet we had a budget surplus last year. We would be even better off this year if they were not incurring legal fees at double the budgeted rate - an increase caused by their own misguided and malicious actions.

So, while Chief Arnold and Costa Mesa Firefighters Association President Tim Vasin are working hard to find solutions, McCarthy and Righeimer continue to dump gasoline on the fire THEY started with bogus claims and fabricated crises. It's no surprise to hear that our city is rapidly becoming a laughingstock among those who actually understand municipal government management. It seems that a week does not pass lately without this cabal making one more attempt to destroy our fine city.


It is widely assumed th
at McCarthy and his Vice President of the CM Taxpayers Association, Ethan Temianka, will run for higher office in November - McCarthy for city council and Temianka for a seat on the Mesa Consolidated Water District Board. There is a groundswell within our community of plain old regular folks who are tired of their shenanigans and will resist the takeover of our community by this band of political extremists. We will, indeed, remember in November.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Special City Council Meeting Tuesday

Late this afternoon the City of Costa Mesa announced a special City Council meeting to be held on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers. You can read the announcement HERE.

The open session will apparently be to codify the expenditure of dollars to high-priced law firm, Jones Day, for their work on the lawsuit against the Registrar of Voters on the Charter missed deadline issue. Jones Day is already working on that case without this action, so approving it is a good idea.


The remainder of the agenda is a closed session with the Charter deadline and negotiations with the employee bargaining units.

You will recall that Monday, March 26th, Judge Franz Miller will determine which parties can be "interventors" in the Charter deadline case and then, the next day, will hear arguments and likely rule on the issue. Depending on how he rules, his decision might be appealed, which has the potential to drag out this issue beyond the official "drop dead" date for submissions, April 1, 2012. Tuesday is going to be a big day in our city.

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Employee Lawsuit Pushed Out Until Fall

Sources tell us that the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA) against the City for it's bogus outsourcing scheme, originally scheduled to go to trial beginning April 9. 2012, has been delayed until the appeal of Judge Barbara Tam Nomoto Schumann's temporary injunction is heard by the 4th District Court of Appeals.

According to sour
ces on both sides of the issue, this move was agreed to by both parties and Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann and means that it is very possible that this trial may not be heard until sometime late in the late fall - near the November elections.


In the meantime, the temporary injunction remains in effect and, except for those operations that might be outsourced to another public entity, no further action can take place except to gather bids and sit on them.


This is the most recent step in this ill-advised, ham-handed attempt to disenfranchise the employees of the city. This news comes in the wake of the first anniversary of the tragic death of Huy Pham, the young maintenance worker who, when called to City Hall to receive his 6-month layoff notice last St. Patrick's Day, instead went to the roof of City Hall and leaped to his death.


This debacle has become a dismal example of the management style of the current city council majority. Rather than attempt some kind of conciliatory negotiations with employees last year they chose the bull-in-the-china-shop approach and the result has been, much like that bull, only chaos destruction and broken dishes.


This administration has been marked with lies, fabrication of "facts" and bu
llying that has turned the City Hall into a toxic, hostile workplace, where employees are constantly looking over their shoulders rather than staying focused on the job at hand. It is this environment that results in mistakes - like the missed Charter submission deadline. I did not use that word "toxic" lightly. Stress levels are so high at City Hall these days that employees at every level are experiencing health issues as a result.

Led by head thugm
aster, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, this council majority demanded unrealistically low staffing levels in public safety organizations, then vilified the employees who were FORCED to work overtime to provide appropriate levels of safety to the residents, businesses and visitors in this city. They've fabricated "budget" numbers without any kind of analysis and then hold the CEO, Tom Hatch, and his staff responsible for meeting those fabricated numbers. Their 5-year Forecast spreadsheet was only a "wish list", but now Righeimer demands that those "wishes" be met without any kind of consultation with the senior staff. One speaker Tuesday night had it right when he said this council has created an oligarchy - a government ruled by a small group of people.

I'm not sure what it's going to take to awaken the voters of this city to wh
at has been happening to their town over the past 15 months. Those of us who do pay attention have spoken out, only to be vilified by the council majority as not being representative of the majority of residents. Well, the majority of residents do not pay attention, so they may be right. However, those days are coming to an end. Groups of citizens are coalescing around the city, forming organizations to inform their neighbors about how this proud city is being destroyed by a clique from the Orange County Republican Party - MY PARTY - the result of which will be the enhancement of the political future of one man - the carpetbagger, Jim Righeimer.

It's well-past time for the voters of this city to wake up and see what's going on. We're going to help them. We're going to be sure they remember in November.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Newport-Mesa Unified School District Needs Your Help!

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District urgently needs members to serve on the Superintendent Selection Community Interview Group.


The deadline for application to this panel is this
coming Monday, March 26, 2012! Yeah, I know... not much time, but the need is urgent and the task is important.


The information at THIS LINK gives you all the particulars about how you might qualify for this 31-member group that will be part of the process through which Dr. Robert Barbot - former Superintendent and consultant heading the search for a replacement for the disgraced Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard.

Anyone interested in this very important task should follow the instructions on that page, including submission of the application that is linked at the bottom of the page. Thanks, in advance, for participating in this very important community effort.

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Righeimer's Rant...

Well, the video archive of Tuesday/Wednesday council meeting is finally up and available for viewing. There were significant computer problems that kept it from being uploaded promptly. You can watch it HERE if you wish.

While watching this recording is an interesting exercise, it is more than five and half hours long. I gave you my take on the meeting yesterday. However, some folks have been insistent that they be able to view what I referred to as Jim Righeimer's meltdown. So, I've carved it out for your viewing pleasure below, but I need to provide you with a preamble.

This vide
o clip - it's about 9 minutes long - comes at a point in the meeting where the mid-year budget review is taking place. Director of Finance and Information Technology, Bobby Young, presented what amounted to a short-hand version of the numbers since the council had already had a lengthy presentation at an earlier study session. The culmination of this presentation was the request by staff - Young - for the council to approve the transfer of money from the General Fund into the Self Insurance Fund because legal bills are being racked up at an unanticipated rate due to hiring one of the most expensive law firms around - Jones Day - to work the lawsuit filed by employees against the City. This is really just a matter of taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another, then paying the legal bills out of that pocket. Pretty simple, yet an essential bookkeeping function. Without that transfer, when the Self Insurance Fund is depleted the City would, technically, not be able to pay Jones Day. The thought of that makes me smile just a teeny bit.


Anyhow, R
igheimer had just finished a mini-rant about how we need to "take care" of things - infrastructure improvements in particular. He cited the 5-Year Forecast spreadsheet that was created a few weeks ago. You can read that spreadsheet HERE. You can also read the Vacant Positions document that they referred to HERE. You will recall that, at the time, I observed that they were just plucking numbers out of the air and plugging them into slots in the spreadsheet. I told you then that somewhere along the way Righeimer would use those numbers - most of which were not arrived at by any kind of analysis - as gospel and demand that the staff created a budget to meet those numbers. Well, that's precisely what he did late Tuesday night. He used those bogus numbers as the foundation for his larger rant following the vote.


In this video clip you will see the vote taken which resulted in a 2-2 tie. You will re
call that former mayor Gary Monahan was absent from this meeting. His presence would have broken the tie. That meant the vote failed and the transfer of funds could not take place. It was actually pretty funny to watch in person because Steve Mensinger was clueless about how the vote turned out. He was sure Righeimer had voted for the issue. Leece voted no, citing her displeasure with funding the legal fees that she thought were excessive.

Then Righeimer began his rant. He was like an infant with colic. Listen to him say he's not going to vote on anything anymore. He demanded that Hatch come back with a plan for tax increases to cover the "$12 million". Well, that $12 million is the bogus number from the spreadsheet. The foundation of his rant is based on a fabricated document. But then, that's his modus operandi - create a crisis to fit his goals.

One of the great ironies was him, at about 5:20 on the tape, demand some "adult supervision up here". That, coming from a guy in the midst of an infantile display of petulance. I'm not sure why Righeimer threw his hissy fit, as my grandmother used to call these kinds of displays of immaturity. I'm sure he's frustrated because his takeover of our government isn't going as he planned. That's good news for the rest of us.


Near the end of the clip you'll see CEO Tom Hatch try to salvage the situation, but his overture was rejected. When this item was complete I saw Young gather his paperwork and leave the dock looking like a man who had been shot by a taser! Watch the clip...

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In stark contrast was the outstanding, mature presentation by young Jacob Serber. This roughly 100 second clip shows us why there is still hope for this community.

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Liberal Conspiracy Ousts Elephants From Fair

Jenny Stockdale reports in the Daily Pilot, HERE, that the Orange County Fair Board voted today to not renew the contract with Have Trunk Will Travel to provide elephant rides at the Orange County Fair this year.


According to Stockdale, comments were evenl
y split and the board voted 6-1 against the renewal of the contract. Only member Dave Ellis voted in favor of the renewal and Kristina Dodge was absent. (Number corrected from original article. Member Ali Jahangiri was also absent)


This is clearly a liberal conspiracy caused by the new tilt of the Fair Board as a result of Governor Jerry Brown's recent appointments. This is an effort to sweep ANY indication of Republican symbolism from the Fairgrounds. They certainly don't want those hundreds of children who have ridden elephants at the Fair for the past quarter century to be unduly influenced to think like a conservative. No sir! I fully expect to see this very popular attraction replaced with donkey rides in the very near future.

OK, cut me some slack. Sometimes you just have to have some fun with the n
ews. More serious stuff to follow soon.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Monahan Absent - Righeimer Freaks Out

How many times have I mentioned in the past that, as the hour grows closer to midnight, Costa Mesa City Councils typically make bad decisions? I know, I can't count the number of times I've said that, either. Well, last night was typical of that problem, only worse. Last night, as the council discussed the last item on the agenda, the mid-year budget review, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer had what amounted to a meltdown. But, before I explain what happened you need a little context. And, oh yes, former mayor Gary Monahan was absent from his first meeting after stepping down as mayor. No word was given for his no-show.

You may rec
all that I've been complaining that the City had not posted the 5-year Forecast spreadsheet on the City Web Site yet, even though it had been created a few weeks ago. And, during that meeting, Righeimer pulled numbers out of the air with no discussion about how he arrived at them. At the time, and a couple times since, I speculated that he would cast those fabricated numbers in concrete then expect CEO Tom Hatch and his staff to prepare a budget to cover those expenditures. Well, tonight that's exactly what happened!

At the end of a long evening Finance and Information Technology Director Bobby Young provided a brief overview of the mid-year budget status, blitzing through the various exhibits because, theoretically, the council was familiar with them from the previous study session. The half-dozen of us remaining in the auditorium struggled to stay up with him as the minute hand on the clock swung past 11:30 p.m. and began that slow climb to midnight. The council really only had two actions to take - vote to approve the budget adjustment that was the result of information contained in the exhibits Young discussed and then vote to receive and file the report.

As they began to con
sider the question councilwoman Wendy Leece balked, first because Righeimer was demanding that Hatch chop vacant staff positions and was vague about how much money he wanted to get. Righeimer said something like, "Oh, five or six million". She continued, indicating that she would not be supporting the motion because of the excessive legal fees - $900,000 of the adjustment was to replenish the Self Insurance Fund from which litigation costs are covered. Budget projections show those numbers doubling before the end of the fiscal year. When the vote was taken it was 2-2, with Leece and Righeimer voting NO. A tie means the vote failed. Old/new part-time, part-time Mayor Eric Bever and non-elected councilman Steve Mensinger looked stunned! Then it got worse.


Righeimer began his meltdown, ranting about wanting Hatch to come back with what kind of tax increases it would take to cover the $12,000,000 shortfall projected in the 2012/2013 budget. Well, they have not even done that budget yet, but that is what his 5-year spreadsheet - full of fabricated numbers - said. So, in a fit of pique, he ranted about being tired of sitting up there and being criticized by some people (Leece) on the dais that can't add. On and on he went about Nordstrom, and how some people on the dais (Leece) thought a huge business license fee increase was all we needed, but that businesses other than Nordstrom would leave our city if we raised them. He looked and sounded just like a little kid throwing a tantrum! I must tell you that, in all the years I've been watching council meetings, I've never seen such an immature, petulant, unprofessional display in my life! And, what made it even more ironic was that Righeimer had just finished saying that they needed mature leadership up there! Gee, Jim... no kidding! They're sure not going to get it from you!

The upshot of that display of irresponsibility was that the much-needed budget adjustment did not get passed, so we will show nearly a $1 million shortfall due to excessive leg
al fees. I watched Bobby Young leave the auditorium reeling from what had just happened.


Earlier in the evening he showed signs of what was to come when he complained about people trying to keep the Charter off the ballot and, from the dais, blamed, specifically, the City Clerk for the error. He named former councilwoman Katrina Foley - as she was entering the auditorium - as some kind of conspirator because she is part of a lawsuit filed to keep the city from shoving aside the clerical mistake that was made and get the judge to order the Registrar of Voters to accept the ballot measure from The City. I watched Foley fume as she calmly waited her turn to speak, then ripped Righeimer - and properly so. He was way, way out of line - again. We should have know what was coming.


Oh, yes, some other things happened last night, too. The much-feared modificati
on of the agenda which, if passed as Bever proposed, would have moved public comments and the CEO Report to the end of the meeting and council member comments to the front. After a long, long discussion with many public comments, Bever finally relented and moved to keep the Public Comments at the front following Presentations, move the Council Member comments forward to follow Public Comments, then Hatch's report after that. He did, however, threaten any rowdies that he would reserve his prerogative of shutting down public comments if it got to be too long and trail the remainder to the end of the meeting. He and Mensinger both suggested giving priority to Costa Mesa residents during the public comments, too. However, since he ceased the use of comment cards last night, how would he know?

The long, long wait for the Homeless Task Force final report went off well. The short version is that the council approved the plan and wanted a progress report in 6 months. The task force actually did a terrific job on an impossible subject. I recommend you look over the reports linked in my previous entry.


The council also went along with Wendy Leece's plan for a Military Affairs Team - an all-volunteer force to work closely with our adopted Marine battalion, the 1/5. It was ironic that t
hey quibbled over a minuscule amount of staff time needed to support it, then spent money like they were printing it later. As a veteran, it really ticked me off to see such an apparent disregard for the sacrifices our fighting men and women make for us.

After a VERY brief presentation the council approved the use of Fairview Park for a Civil War Reenactment weekend later this spring.


I must say that I'm absolutely aghast at Jim Righeimer's performance last night. It was
clear to most in the auditorium that the pressure of his failures in his first year in the job are getting to him. It is causing him to act so irrationally that he's putting the city's financial well-being at risk. The best thing that could happen to our city now is for three new council members be elected in November - folks with a much more reasonable, mature approach to governance. The longer Righeimer is in control of the majority - and let there be no doubt that he is in control - the damage being done to our city is severe and may take a decade to undo. Remember in November...

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