Costa Mesa Fires City Workers While City Leaders Get Free Lunch

Categories: Breaking News
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Yesterday, lawyers for the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) filed a complaint in Orange County Superior Court, asking a judge to stop Costa Mesa's city council from firing 100 city employees. The complaint, which names Thomas Hatch, the city's chief executive officer, as a defendant, alleges that the city's proposed layoffs, as well at its plan to outsource services to save cash, violate state law. Now, in a press release issued today, OCEA asserts that the same city officials who are ordering the layoffs, have been spending lavishly on everything from meals at local restaurants to a new carpet. 

According to OCEA, council members spent more than $5,300 in the past few years on breakfasts, lunches and dinners for themselves and other city officials. Of that amount, $4,200 paid for meals eaten just by council members at restaurants like Avila's El Ranchito, JT Schmid's Restaurant and Newport Rib Company. Still, the meals cost less than a carpet for the city's finance department, which came with an $8,000 price tag. One particularly irksome expense? $425 for jewelry-encrusted badges for the entire city council.

That's just spare change compared to what the city planned to spend on a new clock system at city hall: $75,000. That plan got scrapped after Repair Costa Mesa, the same group that made a recent commercial attacking Mayor Gary Monahan, exposed it. Oh yeah, and then ther's the $7.8 million the council plans to spend on cosmetic repairs for city hall. And let's not forget the $3,000 per week Costa Mesa is paying their spokesman, Bill Lobdell, the former editor of the Daily Pilot. At $75 per hour, OCEA notes, that's more cash than the spokesperson for the California Governor earns. But I guess with all this bad publicity, Lobdell's got his work cut out for him.


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35 comments
johnncruse
johnncruse

Complaint, which named as defendants Thomas Hatch, of the city's chief executive, the accusations are in the city's proposed plans for layoffs, outsourcing to save money, in violation of state law.

Drink Driving

Tom
Tom

Something's fishy about the City Council crying poor. Costa Mesa has a huge tax base (South Coast Plaza, Metro Pointe, IKEA, auto dealerships, etc.) but has substandard parks, libraries and community services. It spends less per capita on fire and police than most OC cities. Most streets need long-awaited repairs. City government is not a playground for political ideologues; it exits to provide services. So as a Costa Mesa homeowner, my message to City Council is: pick up my trash, and shut your yap. Oh, and do something with Triangle Square. What a fiasco. 

Tom
Tom

Something's fishy about the City Council crying poor. Costa Mesa has a huge tax base (South Coast Plaza, Metro Pointe, IKEA, auto dealerships, etc.) but has substandard parks, libraries and community services. It spends less per capita on fire and police than most OC cities. Most streets need long-awaited repairs. City government is not a playground for political ideologues 

Tim
Tim

Let's audit the shit out of the city I pay for.  I want to know where my taxes are going. 

Cypher
Cypher

Having first hand knowledge about the carpet being replaced in the Finance dept, I'd like to set the story straight.  It was replaced due to a massive roof leak in which the roofing company paid a majority of that $8k.  Stories like this make you realize why the word 'gullible' is in the dictionary twice...

Bill T.
Bill T.

One of the maxims touted by top people in government is the avoidance of even the APPEARANCE of wrong-doing. Of course, in practice, this only applies to the worker bees, not to those who are actually in postitions to do real harm. It can be argued the the costs of the meals are well down in the noise but without question come under that heading. Arrogant bastards.

ANCORA_IMPARO
ANCORA_IMPARO

 I don't really care how little money it is, I still want to know why tax payers are paying ANY amount of money for their meals.  It is still disgraceful

Mayor Quimby
Mayor Quimby

Lunches?

How about the $135,000 the contract City Attorney billed in April? If he's billing at $200 an hour, that's 675 hours (or over 16 weeks) of attorney time.

Even if Duarte is being pimped out at $400 an hour, which is what Dick Ackerman charged the OC Fair Board, that's 8 40-hour weeks.

Is this like the one car mechanic at Campell Nissan who charged me for 16.2 hours of work and was finished in four  hours?

Me
Me

That almost adds up to the over $200 billion pension amount the city owes from bloated salaries and pensions of it Union workers.  Maybe the union should go on a diet from all their lunches!!!!!!!!!! 

jmms
jmms

I think where Nick is going is the absurd amounts of money they put out for many things.  Any Costa Mesa resident should stand outside if they are within the perimiter of the Police Department and watch how the helicopter just whirls and whirls and whirls around City Hall day in and day out and throughout the night as if they have something special going on.  Costa Mesa is the biggest waster of money, period.

Guest
Guest

 So Nick, you and the OCEA don't think this sort of thing doesn't go on in every city in the state?  Why don't you check out Irvine and see what Larry and his cronies are eating?  Get real and do some real reporting.

Gustavo's Favorite Stripper
Gustavo's Favorite Stripper

Math isn't my strong suit, but let's see if I have this right.....The amount spent was approximately $5,300. There are 5 council members. That is $1,060 each. Let's say over 3 years, which is $353 per year. Lunch, without ice tea or soft drinks, but including tip, for two people is about $30 at these restaurants. That is 11.778 meals a year. Round up to 12.

Holy shit, that is one meal a month for each of them, and a guest, for three years.

Come on, get serious Nick. $353 is more than Gustavo expenses each month for his "sources" at the rub and tug joint he goes to in SanTana.

Towelie
Towelie

 This article is bullshit.  Sorry.

Dougfromnextdoor
Dougfromnextdoor

really you are concerned with $5K in food, over a multiple year period???  hahaha...and you think EL Ranchito and the other restaurants are expensive???....What planet do you infest?...I would bet that is the lowest in the county....you guys are fishing 

Jebediah Webb
Jebediah Webb

I bet the paper shredder is running full time right now....

Tom
Tom

Sounds like the city of Bell, maybe a FULL audit of the books is needed. 

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

 I would ordinarily jump on your bandwagon, however, I have read that Costa Mesa PD has one of the best pay and benefit packages of any police agency in the State. Want to know where I read it? On the website of the Law Firm that negotiated their package.  But, how many police officers received pink slips? Thinking about Parks I know of 2 one is the puppy park by the 55 freeway, the other is next to the fairgrounds and it looks like a nice park...  no other parks?

Mayor miguel
Mayor miguel

Yeah aparantly some guy pissed on the roof and then jumped off! 

Bill T.
Bill T.

This is not a math theorem where one exception disproves.

Dont Cry for Costa Mesa
Dont Cry for Costa Mesa

Unless we see the invoices, we don't know what period it covered or how many hours were charged. $200/hour for a city attorney is about right, and cheap as far as lawyers go overall. 

Sorry to hear about your car. But maybe the city attorney thing is more like when you pay a hooker for an hour, she won't let you tough her, gives you a HJ, and she bails in 15. Sounds about right.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

 Perhaps the City Attorney was billing for assistants also? Just a thought. Shall the city be renamed Costa Bell or Bell Mesa?

Mayor Miguel
Mayor Miguel

They should do like the council does in SanTana, take turns eating Michelle and Claudia!

Mexican food all the way!

Nschou
Nschou

Hmmm, sounds fascinating. Is Irvine laying off half it's workplace, though?

Bill T.
Bill T.

It is serious. Their attitude is "do as I say, not as I do", see my post below for a fuller discussion. Apparently trivial incidents are often indicators of more pathological lapses. 

Nschou
Nschou

I didn't know we could expense those; thanks for the heads up.

Bill T.
Bill T.

The free lunches are in direct violation of policy.  Please see my post below for a full explanation and why what appears to be trivial actually is important. 

Mayor Quimby
Mayor Quimby

I don't think Duarte is going to turn out to be much of a bargain when his advice leads to huge litigation expenses.

Gustavos Favorite LMP
Gustavos Favorite LMP

 Maybe you can try to submit some of your old expenses. But Gustavo's tips at the burro show down in TJ might raise some eye brows.

But on a serious note, how much was the pension contribution the city was making every year for the employees that were laid-off? Probably millions. That isn't even considering the OPEB (other post-employment benefits, like medical, etc.) the city had to contribute for. (Besides the military and government, what job do you know where you get medical coverage for life if you retire from that job)?

The move to lay-off the employees was a cost saving measure. And it saved the taxpayers millions.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

 Isn't that how attorneys make money... force clients into litigation... make big bucks.

Nschou
Nschou

iphone auto-correction

Gustavos Favorite Stripper
Gustavos Favorite Stripper

If you want a sense of how screwed the city is, look at what the unfunded liability is to Cal PERS and for OPEB. The city is going to have to come up with that money. And if they kept the 200 employees it would only get worse. A lot worse.

If anything, ask yourself this question, will I get 3% of my highest salary for every year of service and be eligible to retire when I am 55? Because that is what every public safety officer (police and fire) get. Personally, I think that is rediculous.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Actually, anyone gets medical for life when they retire after age 65, Thanks to Lyndon Johnson back in the 1960's.It was called Medicare, but the Tea Party Millionaires are working on eliminating that and taking more tax breaks for themselves!

Have you been looking at Riggies and Monihans statistics? The statistics that they admitedly GUESSED, or more likely dreamed up? These people, (I use that term loosely) sit there and rant about the "insane" pension amounts while the REAL insane Pensions go to the Top Managers in the OC county Government. Like Our Jailbird Sheriff Carona who in Dec 2009 collected $18,121.47 a MONTH, and as I understand he is still collecting it while in Prison. I bet his wife is spending a hell of a lot of it on (the lil) Sancho!

I will take an EDUCATED guess at what the City of Costa Mesa spends on the 200 employees it is laying off based on the roughly $4.55 an Hour my Private sector employer pays into My Pension, (Yes it is a pretty good pension IF i work steady)(NO NOT Social Security) based on an average of 48 weeks a year is $8736 a year per employee for the 200 employees that boils down to a total Pension payout of $1,747,200 total payout. That is a far cry from saving Taxpayers Millions... and the city will be obligated to pay out those pension funds already vested. Now lets look at Social Security... I pay roughly $200. a week and my employer matches that... 400 a week x 48 weeks $19200,  9600 a year the Contractors will be paying just in Social Security (& employees match that) so tell me that cost will not be passed to the city? (the city does not pay Social Security on Employees as I understand) 9600x200= $1,920,000... The big unfunded pension payouts was a pure panic when they considered the losses pension funds lost to Wall Street speculators, however, Wall Street has rebounded quite well and those so called losses are now imaginary. for now...

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