COSTA MESA — At one point during the Feet to the Fire forum discussion on Monday night, Orange County Employees Assn. General Manager Nick Berardino questioned the heart and wisdom of having city employees work on proposals to contract out their own jobs.
"That is just ugly," Berardino said. The crowd applauded.
"It's reality," retorted Costa Mesa Councilman Jim Righeimer over that applause.
That exchange just about summed up the tone of the night's panel discussion at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center, which had more than 100 attendees.
Moderated by Orange County Register columnist Barbara Venezia, a panel made up of Register columnist Frank Mickadeit, Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis, Voice of OC reporter Norberto Santana Jr. and Newport Beach Independent Editor Roger Bloom asked Costa Mesa politicos if Costa Mesa should be run more like a business.
On opposite sides were Berardino and Righeimer — both immovable objects in their own right during the debate — and Councilwoman Wendy Leece and Planning Commissioner Chairman Colin McCarthy, who also helps lead the fiscally conservative Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn.