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Council OKs plan to outsource jail, street sweeping

The meeting, which lasted until after 3 a.m. Wednesday., also agreed to maintain a hybrid model for building inspection that uses both city employees and outside contractors.

May 16, 2012|By Lauren Williams

In a marathon meeting that concluded after 3 a.m. Wednesday, the Costa Mesa City Council pushed through plans to outsource the city jail and street-sweeping services to private companies.

"Today is a momentous day, a great day," said Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer. "... I know we're going in the right direction, and I think by the time this is over I think the rest of the city will too."

Councilwoman Wendy Leece, who cast the lone dissenting vote in 4-1 splits on the jail and street-sweeping measures, said such an important decision should not be made in the early-morning hours, when most community members have gone home.

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"[These] savings are not remarkable," she said. "Not enough to switch from trained jailers. I don't think we should be discussing this at 2 in the morning. There's no hurry. The appeal is coming up. It's not an apples-for-apples deal."

Mayor Eric Bever told her that because the outsourcing plan was so important to the city's future, it had to be discussed and decided upon as soon as possible.

Orange County Employees Assn. spokeswoman Jennifer Muir saw the nine-hour meeting as a way for the council majority to advance an ideological agenda with less dissent.

"Waiting until 1 in the morning, rushing their scheme through when there was no need to hold the process hostage like that, only serves to diminish public input in the process," she said. "Unfortunately, that's been typical of the City Council majority in the past year. They've been willing to do anything and say anything to advance their political career. I just think it's a shame for the residents of Costa Mesa."

Supporting the council were 10 members of the Orange County Young Republicans, who praised the council for its fiscal responsibility.

Although the council chose to outsource some services, the plan cannot be enacted yet because of an injunction stemming from a lawsuit filed last May by the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn. An appeals court will decide whether to lift the injunction this month.

In addition, the council chose not to go with outsourcing in some areas. The council agreed to maintain a hybrid model that uses a combination of employees and outside contractors for building inspection.

For jail services, the city tapped G4S Security Solutions, which is used by Irvine, La Habra, Beverly Hills, Whittier and Azusa.

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