Poll: Most voters don't want Costa Mesa to outsource

Survey funded by employees' association finds that 59% of registered voters oppose city's layoff plan.

April 01, 2011|By Joseph Serna,

COSTA MESA — A majority of residents oppose a cost-saving plan to lay off nearly half of the city's workers and replace them with contractors, according to a poll that itself has come under fire because outsourcing opponents paid for it.

About 59% of registered voters opposed the city's plan to lay off 213 employees from 18 city services to balance the budget, while 34% supported it. The sample included 400 registered voters contacted by phone from March 24 to 27.

The Orange County Employees Assn. (OCEA), which represents about 200 city employees, funded the poll conducted by San Francisco-based Tulchin Research.


The OCEA paid for the survey but it will be released Monday by Repair Costa Mesa, a group of city residents who oppose the City Council's plan to lay off hundreds to avoid future pension costs.

"It's not surprising to me given the approach that the council took," said Nick Berardino, general manager for OCEA. "Will it change anything? Change comes, in this situation … once the veil is pulled off. Change comes through the hearts and actions of the citizens, so it'll be up to them."

Councilman Jim Righeimer had little faith in the results, particularly since the city has not yet presented taxpayers with a formal plan for consideration.

"It's just a poll by some group we don't even know — before we have any information about what the cost savings are going to be by outsourcing," said Righeimer, a member of the city's budget committee that recommended the layoffs. "A public opinion poll is premature."

The Daily Pilot obtained an early copy of the results Friday. Full results are expected to be released Monday, but the early numbers showed a trend of dissatisfaction among Costa Mesa's voters with the council's direction.

The recommended layoffs would take effect in September if the city found suitable replacements for city services.

Divided by ideology, respondents who identify as conservative were evenly split: 46% supported the layoffs and 43% opposed them.

Moderates opposed the council's plan by more than 2 to 1, a 66% to 29% difference, and liberals overwhelming disagreed with the plan at 79% opposed.

The survey had a 4.87% margin of error.

Tulchin does polling for Democratic candidates and labor and environmental organizations.

Company President Ben Tulchin said the results surprised him because of Orange County and Costa Mesa's conservative roots.

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