Thursday, March 21, 2013

Costa Mesa Employee Compensation Report

As I mentioned briefly in an earlier post, the 2012 Costa Mesa City Employee Compensation Report is now available for viewing on the city web site, HERE.  And, if you want to compare it to the 2011 report you can view that one HERE.

Some will recall that certain members of the City Council went berserk when this listing was first produced last year.  They and many of their sycophants - in an election year - misrepresented the numbers to pillory "greedy union employees", always failing to mention that the reason many of the persons they criticized were members of public safety organizations and the council at that time refused to permit the leaders of the Police and Fire organizations to staff at reasonable levels.  That refusal led to mandatory overtime in those organizations to provide adequate staffing for our safety, which pushed individuals up the compensation list.  Many times now-mayor Jim Righeimer referred to a "firefighter earning $350,000" - a lie of the first magnitude.  He was referring to Fire Battalion Chief Bill Kershaw, who was at the top of the 2011 list because he worked more than 4000 hours during that year.  And, that "$350,000" number included almost $70,000 in pension costs - not dollars he put into his pocket.  And, Righeimer conveniently rounded the numbers up - Kershaw's number, including the pension costs, was actually $346,167.60.  Kershaw is #2 on this year's list, at $296,733.97 but you can be sure it will come out as "$300,000" as critics flap their jaws on this issue.

Another fact conveniently neglected was that much of the overtime that shows up in the public safety staff numbers overtime attributed to instances where firefighters were sent to wildfire locations as part of our mutual aid agreements and we are reimbursed for that cost.  Similarly, when members of the police department work overtime to provide contracted support for the Orange County Fair those costs are also reimbursed to the city.

The much-delayed Fire Department restructuring plan proposed by Interim Fire Chief Tom Arnold, based on the presentations made months ago, will save a lot of dollars.  We hope that plan, one we're told is being fine-tuned for presentation at yet another study session, will finally be approved and implemented.

As you scroll down the list you'll find Police Chief Tom Gazsi at the top - a bargain by anybodys estimation.  You'll also see outgoing Interim Director of Economic and Development Services and Deputy CEO Peter Naghavi, who's numbers include almost $50,000 cash out for unused leave and vacation in anticipation of his departure this year.  He was supposed to depart at the end of the year, but agreed to stay to help select his replacement and aid in the transition.

Here's an interesting exercise for you.  This year the report includes an "Overtime Hours" column.  As you scroll down the list you'll find fourteen (14) of the first 22 persons listed show more than 1,000 overtime hours.  Continue to scroll and you'll see that nearly half of the top 41 persons listed - 20 - show overtime hours greater than 1,000 hours.  Those hours represent time spent on the job that most would prefer to spend with their families.  The overtime is necessary to keep us safe.

CEO Tom Hatch, during his comments last Tuesday at the council meeting, addressed the reduced staffing levels by observing we have more non-sworn staff today than we did previously.  Well, most of those positions were ones that had been canceled during the budget crunch, then re-filled recently.  Those folks, as wonderful and dedicated as they are, cannot go out and snatch up criminals like the shotgun bandit earlier this week. They can't go out and work effectively with the multiple gangs in our city.  They can't jump into a patrol car or onto a motorcycle to snag DUI offenders.  They won't be out patrolling the illicit massage parlors mentioned at the last council meeting or working the "problem motels" in our city.

The Police Department had, just a few years ago, 164 sworn positions.  Today the authorized strength is 131, which includes 5 "grant officers", the funding for which was from federal grants for only 5 years.  The last City Council - the core of which is still in control - ignored their own consultants and former Interim Chief Steve Staveley, both of whom said the bare minimum staffing level should be 136 - 140 would be better - and slashed the budget to its current level.  And, of course, they disbanded the A.B.L.E. helicopter program - the model for municipal airborne law enforcement organizations throughout the country.  Are we safer today?  Of course not!  The year end crime statistics, HERE, clearly demonstrate that fact.

So, as you scroll down the Employee Compensation List and questions arise, just take a deep breath and think about what those numbers really represent.  Before you force your blood pressure off the charts because Billy Folsom - #315 on the list - earned $82,000 last year before he retired, understand that you're looking at 30 years of service and a man who could keep every vehicle in the fleet running.  This is the man referred to derisively by Righeimer and his sycophants as a "Jiffy Lube Guy."  Of course, that derision has nothing to do with the fact that Folsom was an articulate outspoken critic of the council's outsourcing scheme (he says, tongue in cheek).

In case you're interested, you can find the City Council members listed way, way down the list.  Wendy Leece is #461, with a total comp. number of $32,386.28.  Gary Monahan is just below her at #462 with the same dollars.  Steve Mensinger is at #464 with at total comp. of $31,590.63 and departed Eric Bever is at 466 and $31,106.78.  Mayor Jim Righeimer is at #530 with a total comp. number of $1,322.07.

The City is about to launch negotiations with the General Employees - the members of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA) - immediately.  Their contract expires in a week.  We'll find out very soon just how Mayor Pro Tem Mensinger's COIN ordinance, HERE,  is going to work and whether it will facilitate openness and timely negotiations or become an anchor and a club used to flog employee organizations into submission.  I'm hoping for the former.

Have a great weekend as you peruse the Compensation report.  I'll look forward to your observations.

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Anonymous Try honesty said...

Geoff, it doesn't matter that pension costs don't go into the employees pocket - they are still paid by the city for that employee! The city (and you and me and every other taxpayer) IS PAYING THOSE DOLLARS.

The city is paying that money to PERS on behalf of the employee and the employee WILL be getting that money (often more than double that) in retirement.

How dare you chide others for misrepresenting facts when you do the same damn thing?

Stop the nonsense and start being honest.

3/21/2013 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Well, let's see here...

I provided you with links to the "facts" and suggested you do your own analysis. I described how those "facts" had been twisted in the past. I did not misrepresent the facts - I just gave them to you. The City does, indeed, pay the money to CalPERS as contractually obligated. Would you have it do something else?

Sorry you don't like the facts, but they are what they are.

3/21/2013 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous honestly said...

i dont get why we bemoan people doing VERY important dangerous work getting paid decently. Im starting to feel bad for costa mesa employees.

This society is crazy, were more than happy seeing people who play sports or act get paid millions, yet people who serve critical functions in society while teachers, police, firefighters are treated like leeches. Guess what? We pay the incomes of EVERYBODY through high priced movie/event tickets, banking fees, dont act like bc its tax money its oh so different. Most of us fund millionaires and billionaires in some capacity on a daily basis. Some expenses arent optional, im sure you would find them far more costly on a per-profit/non tax funded basis (think of the contractors hired in the middle east)

3/21/2013 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

How dare you post facts instead of hate rants and RIG-spin?!

Thanks for the info and your work compiling it all. :)

3/21/2013 06:41:00 PM  
Anonymous facts are funny said...

total compensation is what needs to be looked at since that is the cost to employ a person.

3/21/2013 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Gericault said...

I pay very little for what I get in return. All these shrilly nellies screaming about all that tax money...when I break down what I actually pay and what Inrecieve in return I'm satisfied, or I should say I was satisfied. Now that they have decimated staff, and the service levels are deplorable, I guess they should be happy. When do I get my rebate check? Or am I just now paying to remodel their offices and get them a nice coffee lounge?.

3/21/2013 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Politics suck! said...

Riggy and pals whine and moan about employee costs all the time. They are just as bad as the political opponents: expecting everything for very little or nothing. Do they really think they are going to get quality dedicated people to work and stay at our city? NOPE- all we will get is the bottom of the barrel candidates. Remember, only less then 2% of all the people who applied for a police job actually could meet all the initial requirements. Who knows what percentage of that actually completes the training.

3/22/2013 06:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Tired of it said...

We continue to get ripped off by these employees. It's just a little game they like to pay, pushing all of their comp into overtime and pensions, etc. Did you all know that many of the Costa Mesa firemen have second jobs and businesses. Many have corporations, most don't even live remotely close to our City. These guys have been riding the gravy train for years. It's time to put a stop to it.

3/22/2013 08:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Try honesty said...

Nice dodge, made even more amusing by your "headline" for that paragraph - MISLEADING USE OF "FACTS".

This is what you said:

Many times now-mayor Jim Righeimer referred to a "firefighter earning $350,000" - a lie of the first magnitude.

You then link to and post the actual amount paid by the city to and on behalf of that employee. In fact, he did EARN almost $350,000.

Why do you have to spin and fudge, Geoff? How hard would it be to just play it straight?

3/22/2013 09:19:00 AM  
Anonymous officer said...

Today while at a doctor's appointment I ran into a police officer employed by an LA County agency. When I told him I work for Costa Mesa he started laughing. I think that pretty much says it all... it feels pretty terrible to be the laughing stock of even LA County.

3/22/2013 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Tired of it - "A game they play." Really - they are in a system and the system works that way. Righeimer's council decisions forced the overtime.

Have you ever turned down a raise or benefit from a private employer because it might be too much? Because your needs would mean a consumer paid more for a product/service?

Would you encourage any family member to work in public safety and take a low wage and benefit program for the good of the whole? So, if not them, who?

You are angry that they have second jobs. It makes me wonder if what truly angers you is that someone you believe beneath you might make more. Or your idea is that we have a recruiting campaign that says, "Come here, give your all, work for wages lower than mine with fewer benefits and don't you dare pursue the American dream with a second job or a business." Where do I sign up?

3/22/2013 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Officer...I had the same thing happen. A contract assistant CEO I met, shook his head when he found out we lived in C.M. and just said, "you people need to get rid of those idiots".

Not like we didn't know that already, huh?

3/22/2013 06:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Hope for the future said...

I have a similar story. I attended the LAPD reserve officer recognition, award fund raiser banquet this year at the Ronald Reagan Muesum. Truly amazing and enlightening event. The Muesum was packed. Everyone sang nothing but praises and positive things about the police. When I spoke with fellow officers and they learned where I worked they could not understand why we were being treated so poorly by our city and asked me why I would stay and work there when I could go anywhere. They seem to understand when I told them that I am dedicated and loyal to our city and the people who live there. One of the main reasons for the event. I told them, I try to stay out of the politics even though our department seems to be being dragged through the mud for political gain. They understood when I said it saddens me when other officers have left, that I am worried about our future when I look at staffing levels, the number of officers planning to retire, the pace of calls for service and the rising criminal trends.

I could continue, but I will stop. I want to say thank you to all the citizens who support us. I look forward to the day when Costa Mesa is known for all the things which truly makes it great again and not the negative politics which seem to permeate the media.

3/23/2013 07:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Think about it said...

@Tired of it- hey you ever think the reason employees don't live in the city is because they cannot afford it? You claim they are overpaid, yet I bet if you asked them they would tell you they probably would prefer 4 min commute instead of a 40 min one, but they don't make enough to buy or rent a decent house in Costa Mesa.

3/23/2013 08:07:00 AM  
Anonymous subject to abuse said...

One thing that is rarely factored into employee compensation is the fact that every 2-4 years the public employee has to put up with the latest and greatest politician,carpet bagger,chest bumping, headline grabing, self proclaimed tv personality that is elected by a disengaged,delusioned and lied to public.
Hold your breath for a few more years and hope they are voted out.

3/23/2013 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

And there you have it-
In complying with Scott Baughmeister's Master Plan to make our city a "model" for his OC GOP ideology, we are now infamous for trashing our city employees, especially our police officers, the ones who keep us safe 24/7.
Mr. Righeimer and sycophants, is this the legacy you want?
It's the one you have and it's nothing to be proud of.

3/23/2013 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous liars said...

no way a fireman earned 350k. he would have to work 3 1/2 jobs for that

3/23/2013 12:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Visible Eye Daggers said...

Mr. Righeimer is so critical and untrusting of the Police Department that himself and the chest-bumping phone dropping junior mayor showed up at the funeral of a recently deceased CMPD detective to make sure that officers weren't getting too much overtime.

3/23/2013 02:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Good Luck said...

Dear visible, if they did not show you would be angry at that as well. Bottom line is thag you and others are angry mo matter what.

We think that there have been some retirements and promotions. There have been some who have left. The culture atill needs to change. We think a couple more retitements. If they are as good as they think then a couple more leave.

Soon the culture change at city hall and in public safety will evident in a better work force.

3/23/2013 04:08:00 PM  
Anonymous cont said...

Not only did the mayor and vice mayor show up to the funeral- they sat in front of every officer. That is, every officer who knew Det. Delgadillo, worked with Det. Delgadillo, and was a friend of Det. Delgadillo. It was a slap in the face to every officer in attendance and further proof of the the priorities of those men.

3/23/2013 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Come again? said...

To Visible Eye Daggers:

"Mr. Righeimer is so critical and untrusting of the Police Department that himself and the chest-bumping phone dropping junior mayor showed up at the funeral of a recently deceased CMPD detective to make sure that officers weren't getting too much overtime."

Wait a minute...are you telling me that CMPD officers who attended Det. Delgadillo's funeral were getting paid to be there? Seriously?!

3/23/2013 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

And...Riggy and Mensy went to the hospital on the night of the accident. They were not welcome. These guys just have no sense of decency, whatsoever.

3/23/2013 10:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Mesa Hollywood said...

Any truth to the rumor that Riggy and Mensy are taking over the Jim Carey/Jeff Daniels roles in the "Dumb and Dumber" sequel currently in production?

3/24/2013 05:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Come again? said...

Just wondering writes:

"And...Riggy and Mensy went to the hospital on the night of the accident. They were not welcome. These guys just have no sense of decency, whatsoever."

This is ironic. Gary Monahan gets drawn and quartered for not racing over to City Hall following the unfortunate suicide of Mr. Pham. Now the mayor and mayor pro tem get drawn and quartered for doing exactly what Monahan didn't sympathy.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

3/24/2013 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Too Late said...

Come Again, here's the difference: the Huy Pham incident was on the front end of this madness, wherein they all had th opportunity to stop, think and come up with a better tactic/solution. Instead, the rhetoric ramped up and the employees (especially police and fire) have been continuously put in their crosshairs. They have painted the officers in a bad light any chance they get.

Delgadillo died over two years into this. At this point any compassion (however motivated) is not going to play well with the people that actually knew, worked with and loved Mike. It's too late for them to make a token show of sincerity. That ship sailed two years ago.

Lastly, I know for a fact Mike had nothing but disdain for Hesse guys. He came in to work, did a great job, was a true professional. I don't think Mike himself would have wanted these guys there.

They're not damned if they do, damned if they don't. They had their chance to stop politicizing and hyping everything and they didn't. Too little way too late.

3/24/2013 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Come again, there is a HUGE difference between going to your place of business at a time of tragedy, and going into someone's family life, which should remain personal. They intruded right in...

Your office or place of business is one thing...their homelife is something else.

That is exactly the problem. Too stupid to tell the difference.

3/24/2013 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous officer said...

I personally don't have an issue with Rig and Mens showing up at the funeral (among other city dignitaries)... it was the right thing for them to do. However, they all should have sat in the back of the church behind the family, friends, and coworkers but in front of the newspaper photographer. It is common sense.

3/24/2013 06:43:00 PM  
Anonymous 2 cents worth said...

The main thread here has been hijacked, but I will chime in on the funeral.

I am a CM cop. I hate what Riggy and Steve have done. They condemn our pensions but handed out pensions to their friends. Bad.

They came to the funeral which was the right thing to do. Yes, they should have paid their respects from anywhere but the front.

Cameras and press are their "crack."

Thanks for the space Geoff.

3/25/2013 06:23:00 AM  
Anonymous higher taxes please said...

the men did the right thing. only intense haters would even bother to take time to post and spin. they must lead miserable lives. I am glad for that. ribbet
was wendy there? if not, why not. if so, why is it ok for her but not the boyz. stop the war on the boyz

3/25/2013 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

higher taxes please, it was just explained to you 7 ways to Sunday. Please read above, if possible.

3/25/2013 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary M.I.A. said...

Taxes--Was Gary there? Nope, and he should have been, being the longest serving Council Member in the City it would have made sense, but then again we all know that Gary has checked out of having to perform any official City duties. Just keep giving him the medical benefits and all will be just fine.

3/25/2013 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Higher taxes,
You wrote
" only intense haters would even bother to take time to post and spin. they must lead miserable lives. I am glad for that."
Mr. Chairman, you are describing yourself here.

3/25/2013 08:00:00 PM  

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