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Commentary: There is hope this season for C.M. employees

December 13, 2012|By Nick Berardino

It's been a long time since the holidays looked so hopeful in Costa Mesa.

Last year at this time, more than 200 city employees were still reeling from receiving their fourth pink slips. The city had already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers and private contractors in an effort to hand over control of city services to private companies. Community members were spending their Tuesday nights at City Hall, waiting hours for a chance to speak out about a charter proposal that had just been introduced.

Nobody was thinking about Christmas. The future — just like the news reports that echoed across the nation chronicling Costa Mesa's ideological strife — was bleak and uncertain.

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This December is different. This December, there is hope.

The City Council has signaled that it intends to rescind the remaining pink slips with no strings attached. The city's lawyers have contacted our lawyers. And city employees are approaching the holiday season with some hope that soon, the layoff notices will be removed and the cloud of uncertainty over their futures will be lifted.

Meanwhile, Costa Mesa's employees remain committed to working collaboratively with the council and the community to build a shared vision for Costa Mesa. We truly believe we have a unique opportunity to change the nation's perception of Costa Mesa from being an ideological battleground to a place where labor, the council and the community can rise above our differences and begin working collaboratively to overcome the challenges that face us all.

We are excited about sharing some of our ideas about the great opportunities ahead, including:

•A government efficiency model called LEAN, which was born in the private sector and adopted by businesses like Toyota and Boeing. Last year, representatives from the Orange County Employees Assn. traveled to King County, Wash., to watch LEAN in action. What we saw was exciting: public employees and management working collaboratively to streamline government functions, reduce bureaucracy and save millions of taxpayer dollars. We would like to help Costa Mesa become the next LEAN success story.

•A customer-service initiative to that would elevate Costa Mesa services. We envision a program that solicits resident feedback and ensures the highest possible marks for resident satisfaction.

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