Moorlach: Leece 'not qualified'

Reelected councilwoman appears unfazed by rumor that GOP party is trying to oust her for her recent support of employee contracts.

November 04, 2010|By Mona Shadia,

COSTA MESA — Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach on Thursday confirmed that he had heard rumors about an effort to recall Costa Mesa Councilwoman Wendy Leece based on her recent support for public employee contract extensions, but he stopped short of saying he would back such an effort.

"She'll always be a friend, but she's not qualified to be a City Council member," said Moorlach, a Costa Mesa resident. "The point is we need some leadership and someone who understands finance. She shut the door on this opportunity to negotiate with the unions with these contract extensions."

Moorlach said it was too early for him to entertain support for a recall effort, but that removing Leece from office was something he would consider backing in the future.


Six months is the earliest an official can be voted out of office in Costa Mesa. A recall of a member of the City Council would require a petition and a vote of the people.

Leece, a Republican, seemed unconcerned about the recall rumors, feeling that she has a mandate from the community to hold a non-partisan office.

"I just got reelected," Leece said of winning her second four-year term on Tuesday. "More than 8,000 voters decided that I was doing a good job and wanted me to continue. The people of Costa Mesa have spoken. They want me to continue. I don't know what I've done that would justify putting the city through a recall."

Orange County Republican leaders are unhappy with Leece's recent decision to break ranks and vote in favor of extending new city employee terms and contracts for police, firefighters, managers and executives.

The GOP is exerting pressure countywide to convince municipal governments to reduce pay and retirement packages for public employees and move toward private-sector 401(k) programs, which are generally less costly.

Leece said she voted for the contracts based on confidential information provided during negotiations that she cannot publicly discuss.

"There was no other plan presented, other than the one that would have caused daily losses for the city, and there were never any ideas or plans presented that would have stopped the bleeding if this did not pass," she said.

Scott Baugh, chairman of the O.C. Republican Party, said that the GOP is not working to recall Leece and that any such movement would have to start at the local level.

"I know there are a lot of people that are upset with Wendy, but if there's a recall of Wendy Leece, it has to start in Costa Mesa," Baugh said.

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