Advertisement

Community Commentary: Let's not be hasty about charter city decision

November 03, 2011|By Geoff West

Late Tuesday evening, at the tail end of the Costa Mesa City Council meeting, after most observers had left and local reporters had already filed their stories, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer dropped a bombshell ("Chart city request proposed," Nov. 3).

Following a rant in which he whined about the city being forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defending itself in a lawsuit filed by an employee association when, as he said, "We didn't do anything wrong," Righeimer instructed contract City Attorney Thomas Duarte to bring back to the council "in writing" the process that would be necessary to convert Costa Mesa from a general law city into a charter city.

First, Righeimer is wrong about not doing anything wrong. He, and the rest of the four-man council majority, rushed down the wrong path last spring when — in their haste to crush the employee associations and get rid of pension obligations — they announced their intent to outsource operations of 18 city functions and then issued more than 200 layoff notices to employees in direct contravention of their own council policy, 100-6. It was those acts, and their unwillingness to sit down with the individual bargaining units to discuss possible concessions and pension reform, that led directly to the lawsuit being filed.

Advertisement

You will recall that it was on the day the layoff notices were issued, St. Patrick's Day, that a young employee, Huy Pham, leaped to his death from the City Hall roof and Mayor Gary Monahan dishonored himself and his office by choosing to remain at his pub, pulling beer taps on what he called "the biggest day of my life," rather than go to City Hall to look after the welfare of the employees and the city.

When the council announced that it was going to issue requests for proposal (RFPs) for 18 city services without performing any kind of study to determine whether internal restructuring could result in cost savings, they ignored the advice of then-City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow, choosing to plow ahead down the wrong path, with the St. Patrick's Day events becoming the exclamation point marking their inappropriate and illegal decisions.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles
|
|
|