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Commentary: Mensinger mixes up his David, Goliath

March 14, 2012|By Perry Valantine

I just read Steve Mensinger's commentary ("In this scenario, Goliath is the unions") in Sunday's Daily Pilot.

Mensinger and others continue to try to characterize the issue as "them" vs. "us" — "unions" vs. "the people." This is a convenient red herring to draw attention away from the real issue, which is whether to approve a proposed charter that gives power to the City Council, not to the voters.

First, if the "unions … have been so successful in electing council members," as Mensinger claims, how did the four anti-union council members get their seats? The answer is three of them were elected by the city's voters. So maybe the "unions" don't call all the shots, after all.

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Second, it's not just the "unions" who are opposed to the charter. Mensinger and his friends complain about all the time taken at council meetings by members of the public speaking against the charter and other actions of this council. A review of the speaker list will reveal that the vast majority of those speakers are Costa Mesa residents, most of whom have no union affiliation.

The speakers, like Costa Mesans for Responsible Government, are a diverse collection of conservatives, liberals, libertarians, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, white-collar workers, blue-collar workers and retired people who are concerned about the future of their city.

If, as their ballot argument claims, the council really wanted to "transfer … power … from the politicians in Sacramento to the citizens of Costa Mesa," why would they propose a charter that strips the citizens of many of the protections provided by state law?

Why would they say the charter provides an election process that follows state law, when the proposed charter gives the council the power to adopt ordinances that change that process?

Why would they claim to "save millions in tax dollars by competitive bidding" when the proposed charter specifically gives them the power to avoid competitive bidding?

If we want to talk about Goliath, let's examine just two of the proposed charter provisions that would apply to the city's employees, the employees Mensinger says "are not to blame" for the city's problems.

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