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Costa Mesa officials consider counsel to help with layoffs

Officials on Tuesday will weigh whether to hire lawyers to help with impending outsourcing program.

September 05, 2011|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — Outsourcing will dominate Tuesday's City Council meeting, with the city looking to approve two legal services contracts related to possibly replacing city workers.

More than six months since the council first approved replacing more than 40% of its work force with the private sector or another public agency, the agenda would move several pieces of the process toward that end.

The council is looking to retain two HansonBridgett lawyers for $295 to $325 an hour to work with the city attorney's office on implementing layoffs in the coming months.

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Costa Mesa may also bring in attorneys from the Jones Day law firm to defend the city in a lawsuit from the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn. Jones Day charges $495 an hour, according to the staff report.

While the lawyers handle the legal end of Costa Mesa's restructuring, the council will review the evaluation process for its request for proposals, or bids, to take over city services that it determines can be outsourced.

Underlying much of this restructuring push has been workers' pensions, and the council majority's claim that they will become unsustainable in the future.

To that end, John Bartel of Bartel & Associates LLC will present his firm's analysis of city workers' pensions. Bartel will explain the current plans with city workers — who in October agreed to contribute more to their pensions — and what the costs of those plans could be in the future.

Also on the agenda is a push for transparency by Councilwoman Wendy Leece.

Leece is proposing an ordinance that would require all council members to disclose any communications they have with a stakeholder — or anyone connected to — an agendized item leading up to the council's vote.

The council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

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