Wu: What if we outsourced police, fire?

May 12, 2012|By Jack Wu

When I was a kid, one of my favorite comic books was "What If … "What If Phoenix Had Not Died?"?"

If you remember the movie "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006), you might recall that Jean Grey/Phoenix (Famke Janssen) dies in the end. The comic book dealt with what would have happened if Phoenix had lived.

Long story short, her fury swallows up the entire universe.

With that in mind, I'd like to play, "What If …" with the cities of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

"What if … Costa Mesa and Newport Beach outsourced their fire departments?"

Oh boy, right? Costa Mesa has already toyed with that idea for a minute or two, but backed off. Why?

But before I do that, let's examine the word "pride."


According to, pride is defined as, "a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc."

While the Bible, Proverbs 16:18 says that "pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall," and Dante called pride the "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor."

And of course pride is considered the original and the most serious of the seven deadly sins.

But on the positive side, there is national pride, especially when the United States wins a gold medal in the Olympics, or gay pride, ethnic pride and even city pride.

Costa Mesa and Newport Beach residents and their City Councils are very proud of the fact they have our own police and fire departments, regardless of cost. Costa Mesa and Newport Beach deserve it, and their residents are willing to pay more for it.

But "What If" you could get the same service, from the same people, at the same excellent level … for less, while ensuring that your former employees earn more than before?

More you say?

Would it matter that instead of the city of Newport logo on the fire truck, it said County of Orange?

The people on the trucks would be the same.

Consider the city of Santa Ana, where the 128-year-old Fire Department was just dissolved. The city now contracts with the Orange County Fire Authority, to the savings of almost $10 million.

The biggest uproar at first involved pride for Santa Ana having its own Fire Department, with its own firefighters, most of whom had served in the city for decades.

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