Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Real Cost Of The CMCEA Contract

Tonight the Costa Mesa City Council will, during their short meeting, consider the new labor agreement between The City and the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (CMCEA).  It is CERTAIN that there will be much hoopla about this being the first agreement consummated using Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger's bastard offspring - the Civic Openness In Negotiations (COIN) ordinance.  Expect to see dislocated shoulders as Mayor Jim Righeimer, Mensinger and perhaps others as they pat themselves on the back and tout what a wonderful, money-saving tool this has proven to be.

Well, besides the fact that this agreement - in which the employees had to give up so much -  will almost certainly make it extremely difficult to recruit employees now, your crowing elected "leaders" will certainly omit some important facts that are very relevant to this issue.... some of the REAL costs involved.

Let's begin with the much-ballyhoo'd hiring of Richard Kreisler of the law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore to be The City's labor negotiator.  At the time Righeimer and Mensinger presumed that previous negotiators - the City Manager, Allan Roeder, and the Human Resources staff - were more than willing to give away the store and the future of The City to those "hard-nosed" CMCEA negotiators - folks like our favorite Jiffy Lube Guy, Billy Folsom.  You remember him - the guy who dedicated more than three decades to the city to keep our public safety equipment running so the police and fire folks could respond to your emergencies.  He's now happily retired.

The high-powered Mr. Kreisler - who, by all reports, is a competent lawyer and negotiator and a good guy - was hired by our contract City Attorney, Jones and  Mayer, back in April of 2012 - you can read the staff report about that transaction HERE.   Included is a list of fees, which tops out at $300 per hour - or segment thereof - for certain staff positions.  Then, if you peruse the reports available on The City website, you can see just what that cost has been.
Legal Expenses, FY 2011/2012 -   $41,316.00
Legal Expenses, FY 2012/2013 -   $66,560.00
Legal Expenses, FY 2013/2014 - $222,418.00

However, that's not all.  Back in September, 2011, HERE, The City retained the uber-powerful law firm of Jones Day - At $495 per hour -  to represent The City in the lawsuit filed by the CMCEA against the city as a result of the bogus, illegal attempt by Righeimer and his pals to layoff more than 200 CMCEA employees - a move that demoralized most of the city staff and resulted in young maintenance worker Huy Pham leaping from the City Hall roof.  Since that time their legal fee meter has been spinning like a slot machine in Las Vegas.  Referring back to those same reports, you will find that Jones Day and Jones & Mayer have been charging large numbers to that litigation:
                                                         Jones Day             Jones and Mayer
Legal Expenses, FY 2011/2012       $999,112                  $16,344
Legal Expenses, FY 2012/2013       $475,469                  $10,849
Legal Expenses, FY 2013/2014       $296,929                  $0.00*
                                                                       $1,771,510               $27,193
These numbers do NOT reflect any charges for FY 2014/2015.  *No specific numbers broken out for this litigation from General Litigation.

So, when the crowing begins this evening, remember that the actual costs of this process are more than they will be telling you.  The tangible ones are reflected above.  However, the intangible costs - in morale of the employees and the diminishing of service to the residents and visitors to this city are not quite as easy to quantify.  We continue to see highly-skilled employees depart for perceived greener pastures and/or retire much earlier than anticipated, taking with them years of expertise and institutional knowledge.  Many of those vacancies have been filled by expensive consultants who, while perhaps well-intentioned, have NO real loyalty to The City and those it serves.

These are facts that should be remembered in November....

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Anonymous Tom Egan said...

Pot Stirrer:

Those rent-an-attorney bills you've totted up seem very high. On the other hand, for all I know, maybe they are in line with what we paid prior to Righeimer tucking the cash box under his arm.

This seems to be a legitimate issue for this election, but I haven't seen anyone address it.

9/16/2014 10:31:00 PM  

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