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Transparency proposal to get second review

Many residents at City Council meeting agreed with concept of 'COIN' ordinance but said the l aw should apply to negotiations with private firms as well as city workers.

August 22, 2012|By Joseph Serna

An ordinance that would open for public review many aspects of negotiations between Costa Mesa employee groups and city management will come back to the City Council for further review.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer said the proposal needed more detail before going forward.

The Civic Openness in Negotiations, or "COIN," ordinance would require the city to lay out the costs of current employee contracts by provision and hire an independent negotiator.

It would also require the council to tell the public of each side's offers and counter-offers, presumably allowing residents to give input on proposals.

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Because of exemptions in open-meeting laws, the only portions of a negotiation that could not be publicly discussed would be the city's decisions related to the offers.

Righeimer suggested that the ordinance highlight the costs of contracts in a year-by-year basis.

Residents at the meeting agreed with the general idea of COIN, but most said it did not go far enough. Councilwoman Wendy Leece concurred with residents, casting the only vote against the proposal.

"If we're going to do it one way, we should do it 100%," Leece said. "I think it only goes halfway. It's not complete in its transparency."

She and the council critics wanted the transparency to stretch into council discussions with consultants and companies proposing to take over city services.

"If it's a good idea in one part of your business, then it's probably a good idea in all the parts of your business," said former Councilman Jay Humphrey.

COIN requires giving the public at least two council meetings to comment on a contract before it's approved. A report outlining the short- and long-term costs of the agreement would also be included.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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