Monday, September 15, 2014

Small, But Potentially Contentious, Council Agenda

Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 16, 2014, the Costa Mesa City Council meets again for their final meeting of the month with a small agenda, but one that might bring some fireworks to the proceedings.  The open portion of the meeting begins at 6:00 in Council Chambers, preceded by a closed session at 5:00.  You can read the entire agenda HERE.

Let's just take it right on through the agenda, beginning with the Consent Calendar.  This is where items that are considered "routine" in nature are placed and it is anticipated that they will all be passed without discussion and with one vote.  That almost never happens, and probably won't tomorrow night.  This time we have an extraordinary number of items - 16 - on the Consent Calendar. For example...

Item #3, Warrant #2522, HERE, has some items that a member of the council, staff or public might like some explanation about.  I won't list everything on it, but here are just a few things that caught my eye as I scrolled down through the 40+ pages:

0182736 - Jones & Mayer - $153,406.53 - A long, long list of legal services
0182737 - Lilley Planning Group - $19,070.00 - Planning Consultant Services
0182760 - Civil Source - $6,890.00 - Park Staff Support Services
0182774 - FTOG, Inc. - $2,475.00 - Interim Buyer
I'll let you cruise down through the list, but you may wish to know that on the previous warrant earlier this month we also paid Jones & Mayer more than $73,000.00, which gives us roughly a quarter million dollars to one law firm this month alone!

#11, HERE, is the amendment to extend the contract of CARE Ambulance Services another year.  You'll recall that we recently spent several million dollars for Paramedic Vans, which could - and should - be used to transport patients so that revenue goes to the city instead of an outside contract firm.  Yet, here we are, extending the contract of a major campaign contributor to the mayor's campaign for another year.

#15, HERE, is the biennial review of the City Conflict of Interest Code.  You'll find the list of included positions, HERE, of interest.

The only Public Hearing, HERE, is the COIN hearing and vote on the contract with the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA).  We wrote about this at the time of the first hearing earlier this month.  This contract is a disaster for the employees.  Their representatives refused to comment following the first hearing, but I suspect they'll be willing to give us their thoughts after this one is passed by the council.  Attachment IV, HERE, is a 20-page PowerPoint presentation of the issues.  The staff report summarizes the key points as follows:

The following are the key provisions of the negotiated agreement and are summarized in
Attachment IV:
  • Salary - No salary increases, in addition, merit increases will be frozen for current
    employees during the term of the MOU. 
  • Salary Ranges - New employees’ salary ranges will be 10% less than current
    salary ranges for existing employees. New employees will be eligible for merit
  • CalPERS Retirement Employee Contributions – All CalPERS unit members shall
    contribute an additional 2.469%“classic” members (hired prior to January 1, 2013)
    shall pay 60% of the two year (2013 and 2014 fiscal years) total CalPERS
    employer contribution increases equivalent to 3.3% total. In addition, CMCEA
    members shall pay 60% of such increases thereafter without sunset. 
  • Vacation Leave - Reduced total vacation maximum accruals for current and new
    employees. Reduced vacation accruals for new employees.  Sick Leave - No cash out/no cash value of any primary or secondary sick leave account balances.  
  • MOU Language Revisions - The parties agree to several language changes to
    MOU Articles including, but not limited to overtime, classification and
    compensation, maintenance of benefits clauses and labor marketplace.  
  • Retirement Health Savings Plan (RHS) – Participation will be eliminated including
    matching City contributions.  
  • Flexible Benefit contribution - effective the first payroll period commencing on or
    after Council adoption of a 2013-2016 MOU, employees will receive an additional
    $120.00/mo. ($919.00 mo./total).  
  • Contracting Out – It was agreed upon that Street Sweeping operations will be
  • provided by an outside agency.
The CMCEA members have ratified the tentative agreement. This agreement is
presented to the City Council for final approval and adoption and is included herein as
Attachment I. The above mentioned provisions will also apply to Confidential employees.

In most negotiations there is give and take.  It sure looks like all the "giving" was done by the employees and all the "taking" was done by the City.  As an old - emphasis on the old - HR guy who did a lot of recruitment over a long, long career, as I read through the summary I find myself wondering just how much more difficult it has become for the City of Costa Mesa to attract - and retain - the high-quality employees we've come to know.  I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Clearly, this contract is a result of guidance given the negotiators by men who view "human resources" as they view boxes of nails - just run down to Home Depot and pick up a couple more boxes.  This is a sad time - and a not-so-perfect bookend to the influence of Jim Righeimer on this City Council.  This contract forms one bracket and the ham-handed attempt to layoff most of the same people affected by this contract during his first year in office that resulted in an on-going lawsuit and the death of young Huy Pham forms the other.  Thanks, Mr. Mayor, for reminding us just how unfit you are for this office so close to the election.

The only other item on the agenda is Old Business #1, the second reading of the Annexation plan for the so-called Santa Ana/Colleen Island, HERE.  The first reading produced many speakers opposed to this scheme and I'll be very surprised if similar numbers of residents and concerned citizens don't show up for this one, too.  It's VERY interesting that the owners of the odd-shaped vacant property located within this island have waited for this annexation scheme to be proposed before presenting a development plan that - just coincidentally - benefits from the 6,000 square foot minimum lot size the City will impose on the site.  The county has a 7,200 square foot lot size, which would mean many fewer homes - and much less profit - for the developers.  By the way, it's my understanding that the developers of this property have ties to the folks who tried to buy the Orange County Fairgrounds not too long ago - and also have a relationship with hizzoner, the mayor.  Thanks, again, Mr. Mayor, for providing us with even more fodder for our "oust Righeimer" cannon.

I have no idea how long this meeting will last.  It's campaign season, so public comments could be feisty.  Certainly, the last item on the agenda will generate some conversation.  I'm guessing we might be out of their by 10:00 p.m., but one just never knows.  Regardless, check back here for a report on the proceedings.  See you there.  HINT:  Council chambers is air conditioned!

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Anonymous David on Lorenzo said...

Jones and Mayer is such a huge law firm with clients all across California. They have many "consultants" on their payroll. Someone should do some investigative reporting on these guys.

9/15/2014 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Skeptical in Costa Mesa said...

Bradley. . . .? While we're at it, can get to the bottom of the DG path too?

9/15/2014 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger zennymoon said...

Jones Day has many, many cities they represent. It would be interesting if freedom of info obtained all city billings from Jones Day to see the overlap of billing services (if any) across all those cities listed as their clients. Just wondering....$250,000 in one month, how many bad decisions are they representing in our city?

9/15/2014 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Yes, Jones Day sucks up city money at $495 per hour. Jones & Mayer, our contract City Attorney firm, is the one in question here.

9/15/2014 03:39:00 PM  

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