New assistant CEO touts his credentials

Rick Francis, former chief of staff to county Supervisor John Moorlach, begins his new job in January for Costa Mesa.

December 14, 2011|By Alicia Lopez, Special to the Daily Pilot
  • Rick Francis
Rick Francis

COSTA MESA — It's no surprise that any move made by city leaders can get people talking — and worrying.

When Costa Mesa CEO Tom Hatch named Rick Francis as his new assistant CEO, starting in early January, many wanted to know why he would leave his job as chief of staff for Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach.

Others wanted to know how his work with the county would translate to city government. And a few even wondered about his time as a pastor for Newport Mesa Church in Costa Mesa.

Francis, 49, said he left the supervisor's office because there was always an end date to the job because of term limits. As for being a pastor, well, that was a need he filled temporarily for his church when the senior pastor changed.

And in response to worries that his move is a sign that Moorlach, a fiscal conservative who has championed pension reform, is planning to become more involved in Costa Mesa — or that the majority leadership on the City Council are looking for a Moorlach clone to do their bidding — Francis said that's just not going to happen.


"A lot of people think there is a grand conspiracy," he said. "The supervisor and I agree on a whole lot of issues, but I'm my own person."

He said his move to Costa Mesa has nothing to do with Moorlach and that his role in that office and his role at City Hall are very different.

"I'm not going there to be a John Moorlach junior," he said.

Hatch said he found him to be his own man.

"I got to know him over the month or so of interviewing — if anyone has any questions they should meet with him and talk to him," Hatch said.

He added that the 20-year resident is "excited and cares for Costa Mesa."

On the hot-button issues of outsourcing and considering changing to a charter city, Francis would rather wait before getting into those details. But he said in general a charter city gives the city and the council much more local governance — which, he added, is a good thing.

He said outsourcing is a complicated issue that works well in some cases, but is not always the best option.

"People are concerned, and I understand why they are concerned," he said.

He said the issue affects real people who are worried about their jobs, but also people who depend on the city to have enough money to maintain programs on which they depend.

"The city has a responsibility to explore it, and the City Council has to weigh all these things," he said.

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