Sunday, October 09, 2016

Campaign Lies And Some Perspective

The end of last week, in many mailboxes around town, there arrived a campaign mailer that clearly indicates it came from Costa Mesa Mayor Steve Mensinger.  I've reproduced it in this entry for you.  You can read it at the top of the page that includes the mailing address.  It says, "Paid for by Steve Mensinger for Costa Mesa City Council 2016," and includes the return address for what apparently is his campaign office in Santa Ana.  That was the last time the reader would see the truth.
When you begin unfolding this piece of malicious falsehood the lies come rolling out at you.  You'll see this page:
It says the average Costa Mesa firefighter works 10.1 days per month.  Well, maybe, but those are 24 hour days!  It says "you work an average of 20 days a month", but those are 8 hour days... catching on yet?  And, it tells you that the top 15 firefighters make an average of $295,000 a year.  Another lie!

Then you'll come to this page: (Click on it to read the numbers more clearly if need be)
OK, let's dispel the lies on this one.  First, the liars who put this thing together couldn't even read the Employee Compensation Report from the City website accurately.  You'll find the page from which they extracted this data HERE, on page 2 of the 2015 Employee Compensation Report.  If you carefully examine that page you'll see that they managed to overlook one firefighter while scavaging data with which they are trying to pillory Costa Mesa firefighters.  That's beside the point.
As they put this bit of misinformation together they conveniently left out the columns that show how many overtime hours and how much each firefighter was paid for that overtime and they left out of the equation the city contribution towards health benefits.  And, no mention is made of the employee's contribution to his retirement - all of which was available, but inconvenient for them to show.

Let's talk about the numbers, but first, remove retired Battalion Chief Fred Seguin - as dedicated firefighter as we've ever had, who literally wore every hat available in the department during his career -  because he was in an administrative job working a different kind of shift -  8-5, five days a week - worked almost no overtime and his numbers are skewed by the fact that he received more than $50,000 in vacation/sick leave payout when he retired.

That leaves the fourteen others shown on this chart.  Those men worked an average of 1,166 hours of overtime for the year, which averaged $71,368.72 per man.  It was nearly a million dollars in overtime pay for just those fourteen for calendar year 2015.  The second man on the list, Fire Captain Mike Hurd, worked 1,662 hours of overtime and was paid $99,106.36 for those hours!  He worked nearly an equivalent of another full job in overtime hours.  Do you REALLY think he wanted to do that?  Preposterous!
That final column, Total Pay And Benefits, combines the total of all pay categories PLUS the employers pension contribution towards retirement.  In Hurd's case, that was $ 78,389.09.  It's NOT cash in his pocket.  To reach that number you must take the total in the final column and subtract that $78,389.09 AND the city's contribution to his health benefits - $6,672.12 - and any state and federal withholding taxes.

So, let's take a look at another couple charts.  The first takes those 15 men and includes the scheduled hours and overtime hours each worked.  This one will knock your socks off.  Regularly scheduled hours for Costa Mesa Firefighters is 2912 hours. (click on the image to enlarge it)

The second isolates the section of the chart showing hours and overtime hours plus the TOTAL hours each worked.  Most folks working a 5-day a week job, 8 hours each day, will work 2080 hours in a year.  You'll notice these 15 men work much more than that - some well over 4,000 hours in a year!  That's two jobs worth of hours!

Much of the overtime they worked was required due to the insufficient staffing of the department.  Some of that is predictable and is scheduled a month in advance.  Much of it, though, is NOT predictable - a colleague calls in sick so a firefighter will be held over to work another 24 hour shift. The only choice they had was either work the overtime and help keep us safe, or NOT work the overtime.  And, in actuality, they don't have that last option... they MUST work the overtime - sometimes a thousand hours per year or more away from their families.  Could, or would, you do that?  I think not.
In 2009 the Costa Mesa Fire Department had 96 firefighters budgeted to protect our neighborhoods.  That year they responded to 9.100 calls.  In 2015 they responded to nearly 13,000 calls with only 66 firefighters available to fill 72 budgeted positions!  Calls were up 42% while the number of firefighters available to respond to them dropped 25%.

Let's talk about that "10.1" days worked a month.  Costa Mesa Firefighters have a work schedule common in the firefighting business.  They work one day on, one day off, one day on, one day off, one day on, then four days off.  It begins all over again after that.  Their shifts typically begin at 7:30 a.m. and ends 24 hours later.  In October of this year a firefighter might "work" 11 twenty-four hour shifts.  However, that's not how it typically goes.  I scrolled down that list I linked to above - all 766 line entries of employees, Active, Retired or Terminated, at the end of 2015.  EVERY single firefighter worked some overtime, except Chief Dan Stefano, and I suspect his actual work hours would stagger most of us, but he's not eligible for overtime.
Let's talk about those "greedy" firefighter's pensions, shall we?  Here's some numbers provided to me for your reading pleasure.  It compares the Police, which work a fairly normal work week - you could probably compare to most of your jobs, too - to the Costa Mesa Firefighters.  I think you'll find them interesting.
That's right... because of the way their schedules are designed - without any overtime considered - your typical firefighter will work 12 more years worth of time to qualify for his pension than a member of the police department.  Those are hours away from families, protecting ours.

"Well", you huff, "Even though they're "on duty" for 24 hours at a stretch, not all that time is spent fighting fires or rescuing cats!"  You're correct - some of it is spent doing fire inspections, training, polishing the equipment, visiting schools, cooking and sleeping.  However, when that bell goes off they must respond instantly!  We're told the response time to emergencies in our city is supposed to be 5 minutes or less.  Imagine bouncing out of bed from a sound sleep and staring into a roaring blaze five minutes later!  Imagine trying to read a map after jumping out of bed a minute earlier.  Imagine the paramedic trying to insure he gives you the correct dosage of medicine 10 minutes after rolling out of bed.  These are VERY SPECIAL people, performing VERY SPECIAL jobs.
Because of the poor judgment of the current council majority we are running six fire stations but are staffed for only five.  Because of the poor judgment of the current council majority we bought six Rescue Ambulance for around $1.6 million a couple years ago, but that majority refuses to let us deploy all of them, choosing to continue the contract with CARE Ambulance instead.  That decision not only adversely affects the efficiency of the department and the safety of the public, we are leaving more than $3 million in transport fees on the table for CARE Ambulance to scoop up and take home.  Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer even lied about approving the purchase!
On the page with the chart above Mensinger lies about the firefighters spending $400,000 to defeat his slate.  That's a lie.

Finally, on this page of the flyer Mensinger begins with a lie - that previous councils "squandered" our $35 million surplus.  That surplus - the reserves squirreled away by wise administrations to get us through tough times - did just that.  They got us through the economic downturn that began in 2007.  He says "Today we're stronger than ever without raising taxes!"  Well, yeah!  If you budget to fill your full compliment of staff, then intentionally fail to fill those slots, you'll certainly have some money left at the end of the fiscal year.  In the meantime, public safety - both police and fire - are operating well below even marginally satisfactory levels of staffing!  Another lie!

He raves about paving roads, fixing alleys and curbs and gutters while public safety - and the safety of the public - suffers. Poor priorities, at the very least.
He says he "established pension reform to guarantee our employees' retirement will be funded, and are paying down our unfunded liabilities".  Well, they didn't and they are not.  His pal, Jim Righeimer, has stated many times that he's not sending another cent to Sacramento on the pension debt.
He bleats about working hard to shut down the sleazy motels, but that's all smoke and mirrors to feather the nests of his developer-buddies who want to buy the land on the cheap after Mensinger and his pals squeeze the owners with code enforcement, fire and police calls and penalize them if the calls for service are made.  Heck, Righeimer told us a couple years ago that was his plan - to cause the motel owners to take a "more realistic" look at the value of their properties.
While we're on that subject, a person who looked into that issue found that one of the main sources of money behind the anti-Measure Y (the Smart Growth Initiative) movement is a law firm in Los Angeles with no ties - except cash - to our city.  And we've also seen quantified developer contributions in excess of $100,000 to defeat that issue.
Lies, lies and more lies.  Mensinger is following in the footsteps of Righeimer and has become a spontaneous liar.  Righeimer has been deemed by the courts to be a liar - maybe Mensinger wants that mantle, too.
It's very clear to me, and it should be to every voter in this city, that Steve Mensinger will do ANYTHING to retain his seat on the city council - including publishing such scurrilous flyers as this one.  The only way to hold him accountable is to boot him out on his butt.
And, by the way, who gave him permission to use that image on his flyer?  That photo was paid for with city funds.  You can find it on his page on the city website.

Labels: , ,


Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

I hope this information finds its way into letters to the DP, LA Times and Register in a calm, factual way that also points out the Gary and Alan voted for 3% after 30, not Sandy or Jay.

10/10/2016 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger zennymoon said...

I am shocked any of the council majority can sit on their collective keisters with their pants in a four alarm blaze. The more desperate they feel, the more lies they spit out of their mouths. Now let's give credit, where credit is due, Dave "i never told a lie I didn't get paid for" Ellis. He has had his band of out of county, attorney goons, write and sponsor the"crap" winding up in your mailbox. I heard a very appropriate term relative to this group..
"they are so low, their hole has no bottom.". Nov 8, do Costa Mesa a, Humphrey, Stephens

10/10/2016 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

First he was a bully, now a liar too. Great example for our youth.

10/10/2016 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

"On the page with the chart above Mensinger lies about the firefighters spending $400,000 to defeat his slate."

If $400,000 is false, what's the actual total?

10/10/2016 03:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

I promised Mensinger I wouldn't call him a son of a bitch, and I'm not gonna. Last Tuesday, though, proved him a spiteful, inciting loudmouth, intent on silencing anyone who is not aligned with his particular rhetoric. His behavior toward Katrina Foley was a particularly bad example. I hope, when he gets home, that his mother runs out from under the porch and bites him.
If you divide the 2912 hours of regular time each fireman puts in a year by 24 (the number of hours in one shift) you get 121-1/3 "days" per year. Divide that again by twelve, and you get 10-1/9 -- the number of "days" Mensy says our man works in a month. I'd surely like to see Steve put out that kind of sustained effort -- not only would his fat gut probably become smaller, but his fat cheeks might go away. I have my doubts about his fat head, though.
He bitches about Sandy's being endorsed by the firemen, and says she should recuse herself from negotiations; then pulls a silly number like this out of his bunghole. He must have had help on the long division. It's certain the help did not come from Righeimer, as he's too challenged arithmetically. This must mean that Steve has a friend or a henchman who actually finished third grade. I wonder who? Could it be... Aw, no, couldn't be him.
Steve should not only recuse himself from negotiation with the fire personnel, but should probably lock his own head in a box when he presides at council. It would make it much harder to get his foot into his mouth, although I have to admit, that's a much better use of his mouth than he's been making at Council.

10/10/2016 03:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

That particular flyer is the most heinous oneI've seen coming from them, and I've seen a lot of lies coming from them. This bunch of bozos is diabolical with lying to the public. It is becoming apparent the public isn't buying his BS either. People are wising up and I feel the tide turning. They've lied and lied and lied, and people caught on. Mensinger, Righeimer, Mercurio, Fowler, all of them. Complete liars.

What is really sad is that they feel they can attack our public safety personnel. These men make me sick. I can't wait to get them out of office so the truth can reign once again from our city hall.

10/10/2016 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Atlas Shrunk said...

Excess overtime, especially if allowed to pyramid and compound, is a problem for all concerned. The idea of overtime at 1.5 times base rate is to encourage the employer to increase staffing.
Pensions were common in the private sector. The 401k was a supplement to an otherwise qualified pension plan. It was never supposed to replace such plans. After all, if experts have a hard time making good investment decisions, how is the average person supposed to invest so as to perform well enough, with their tiny pool of funds available, supposed to do as well?
The real problem is not that the fire and police have pensions, it is that others don't and the green-eyed monster rises up, every time.
That said, 3% at 50 is not and never was sustainable.

10/10/2016 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

Before my father made a career at U.S. Divers and then Voit on Harbor Blvd, he was a Pasadena fireman in the early 1950's. A job he loved until a raging fire trapped him on a second floor, where he was overcome by such intense smoke, he passed out. He was rescued just in time to save his life, but forever after, had serious heart and lung problems and passed away at 58. I have no comment on pensions other than our household draws CalPers. It was an earned pension. Anyone that thinks that we should retroactively reduce that pension will get my foot up their ass.
I talked to both Steve and Jim during a lunch on day about leaving pensions alone, and I doubt I made an impact at all, but I tried.
I was happy to read the details of my mentor, Warren Buffet, release of his 2015 tax returns. He has all 72 years worth. Now there is a real businessman.
I would think that it might be time to have some tax returns released for Costa Mesa politicians... and see what is what.

10/10/2016 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Some of the misinformation being spread around blames Jay and Sandy for 3% at 50, which is too generous, and forget the Alan Mansoor, Gary Monahan, and another of their friends voted for it. Jay and Sandy weren't even on the council then. Gary also made the motion for lifetime health benefits for city employees after 10 years and made it retroactive! (It may have been changed later.)

10/10/2016 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Helped me make my final decision on whom to vote for... and the guy who payed for the flyer would probably not be happy with my decision.

10/10/2016 08:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

After all the lies are said and done, if the contract with the firefighters is not acceptable, then for God's sake, renegotiate it. Don't just spread lie after lie. It has apparently shot them in the foot this time. But the firefighters have been waiting to negotiate their contract for a very, very long time. There is no reason not to have gotten it done by now. They could have at any time ditched the lies and gotten the job done.

Another reason to dump the idiots that make up the council majority.

Let's hope its BUH BUY, come November.

10/11/2016 08:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After graduating from college, I just couldn't see myself doing any of the jobs that I could easily attain in sales, management, finance, etc. A lifelong lifeguard, I truly enjoyed the excitement and satisfaction of helping others. As an Eagle Scout, I was raised to believe in the importance of putting others before yourself and that public service should always be a priority. Being raised by Grandparents, who both were raised during the real "Great Depression," working hard was always demonstrated in my household, a fact I learned every weekend when my Grandfather and I would get up very early on Saturday mornings, to sift through commercial trashcans, collecting aluminum cans and copper. I bought my first car with the proceeds of the aluminum cans that I collected as a kid.
When I became a firefighter over 22 years ago, I didn't pick my retirement system. Or my pay, or my benefits. I picked a career in the Fire Service to serve and to have the opportunity to be the person helping, not standing on the sidelines. Twenty-two years later, I still don't pick, nor do I have control of my retirement system. I love what I do, and unless you have experienced what I have done over the last two decades, there is really no way to understand how it feels to do what any firefighter or police officer does for a living. That being said, pay and benefits are generally generous and are greatly appreciated; however, the way that they are portrayed here are beyond any reality. I started as a firefighter in my community and am currently a "Chief Officer." I won't be retiring until I'm probably closer to 60 and maybe, 1 out of 10 individuals in my department have retired at 50. Most of those retirements are due to injury, illness, or other factors (Working environment, lack of movement of pay or benefits, other opportunities).
As a Chief Officer, my hourly wage is $57. That includes special pays like Paramedic Certification, Hazardous Materials Specialist, Chief Officer Certification and others. I manage several stations, their crews, emergency response, as well as administrative tasks as assigned. I'm actually qualified to do quite a lot and am more qualified, and have more consistent, quality training than many of my peers in their respective private industries. I'm not trying to justify my $57 per hour to anyone. I know I earn it, but want to put it into perspective. So working my 10.1 days per month, or 56.5 hours per week, or 240 hours per month, I still manage to bring home just over 3000 every pay check. That's after taxes, health insurance contributions, maximum PERS contributions, etc. That's what I brought home about 7 years ago. So even though my hourly wage went up with my last promotion, I have not received a COLA raise in 8 years. So while inflation has continued to grow, my take home pay remains stagnant. Please believe me when I tell you that I am not looking for any sympathy and I'm certainly not complaining. I love my career and know how truly fortunate I am to be in the position that I am to raise my family somewhere close to the coast and in a community we love. That being said, if I wasn't married to my lovely wife who is an attorney, we could never afford to live close to our families and where we were raised by our parents.

10/11/2016 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So for my entire career, I've actually saved lives. I've intubated, defibrillated, started I.V.'s and administered drugs, delivered babies, done everything I could to try to save a life from newborn to the elderly and failed. I've been proud to do my very best on every call for service. I've held people’s hands while my peers are cutting them out of crushed cars. I've gone into burning homes without a hose line because a Mom is on the curb screaming that her baby is inside. I've rescued people from fires and all sorts of other dangerous, weird and even comical situations. I've assisted in highly technical rescues, hazardous materials incidents, large scale disasters, coordinated relief for those in desperation. I've gone out of my City to help others in need whenever we have been called and been away from home for weeks at a time. I've been spit on, attacked, vomited on, pooped on, bled on. I've been exposed to diseases that have required that I be quarantined and not able to kiss my kids or wife until I finished baseline testing. I've fallen through a roof while fighting a fire. I've seen more things I would like to forget than remember. I have failed, I have succeeded. I've cherished it all, because when people call, they need people who can calmly, rationally, and effectively solve their problems. That's what we do. Regardless of the continuous attacks, slander, and misinformation, I am still proud of my profession and the value we provide by having professionals trained to do the jobs of several. My department can respond to any emergency with a timely, effective response that can mitigate almost any issue.
Beyond my $57 an hour, my family still struggles to do what our parents were able to do. We worry about when our kids reach college and how we will pay. We worry about how we are going to manage if something breaks, springs a leak, or needs replacement. We scrimp and save to make sure our kids can have music lessons, play baseball, swim, and do Jr. Lifeguards. We worry about the Presidential Election and why our choices are, well, what they are. We volunteer, go to church and are active in our schools, neighborhoods and community. We host a life group in our home. We are a family. We are a part of the community. We want to make our community a better place to live. We are people.
Regardless of the transient politicians who continuously come and go looking for their next job (In Politics/Government), I remain a constant in my community. Although I don't live in Costa Mesa, I found this flier particularly offensive. Not because I expect any different from these types of political operators who often have to deal with their bitter feelings of inadequacy with deception, lies and misrepresentation. Mr. Mensinger's flier smacks of a "Hail Mary," an appropriate pun. I find it offensive because, much like the content of his add, it has no relevance and is plainly a low brow, immature political piece that is so far beneath what we would expect of a qualified, respectable representative of the community. I am fortunate to live in a community that has appreciation for their employees, who address issues through respectful discourse, planning and action and not through lies, deception, and slander. I know for certain that I am grateful that these "Men" do not have careers in public safety. Not only do I doubt they could ever have done the job, their emotional outbursts, poor judgement, and lack of responsibility demonstrate time and again, they would be dangerous in any situation that requires the ability to make calm, well-reasoned and effective decisions.
I will gladly stand behind the value I have provide to the community I serve, at $57 per hour. While politicians will always come and go looking for their next opportunity, I will remain.

10/11/2016 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Honeyman said...


Geoff, I understand why you broke your rule about anonymous posts.

Thanks for the confession, Anon. Wonderfully written.

10/11/2016 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Yeah, it doesn't happen often, but the story was too compelling to pass up. It, of course, could be a complete fabrication.. I'm hoping the author will write to me privately at the email on this blog to confidentially identify himself. If not... OK.

10/11/2016 09:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

I figured out who it was in a matter of 10 minutes, unless of course the author is not really ********* ***** **** *******, and is someone else working the game, although I fact checked and it would require an intimate knowledge of someones personal life, down to one detail that is not well known, and three cross references that point to only one man in the CMFD. I won't name him, because I may be wrong, and Geoff would not publish this comment without proof from the author. I will say that anyone that takes home $3,000 every pay day after every deduction known to man and can't live on it, along with a spouse that should make a decent income, has some serious issues that need to be addressed.

10/12/2016 05:36:00 AM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

No Ken, they have a family and don't just happen to live in a trailer.

10/12/2016 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Ken, I don't see where this man ever said they couldn't live on their salary. Only that they haven't had a raise in 8 years. This man has earned every bit of his salary.

Ken, maybe you should stick to your trailer in the desert.

10/12/2016 08:52:00 AM  
Anonymous naturalist said...

just an FYI regarding hourly pay. Every time I check out the group On for a maid service (house cleaning), those get $35 per hour per head.

10/12/2016 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

Figures that it would come from the anonymous of life. Maybe you should use your name like I do.
just wondering...What's your real name?
Trailer is a big issue to you two isn't it. A couple of real magpies.
I guess you think you know something about me. I don't live in a trailer, so tell me something real, if you are capable, which I doubt.
Where's My Coffee..What's your name? I should know by now after reading all your hand wringing, whimpering comments over the years.

All these little people who hid behind a mirror and false sincerity...

10/12/2016 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Karen Rozier said...

I am biased. I admit it. My Dad was a firefighter (Captain, retired) and I thought I knew what they did, but I had no clue. Firefighters don't just fight fires. When our infant son stopped breathing in my arms, they were the first ones to respond. We have a healthy 18-year old son today because some firemen went to work that day and responded to my 911-call. Thank you.

10/24/2016 10:22:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home