Union Boss: Costa Mesa Budget Cuts Are "Premature, Illegal"

Don_Drozd.jpg
Don Drozd: attacks on public employees are misguided
A day after Costa Mesa councilman Jim Righeimer claimed during a television interview that he has public backing for slashing the city's budget and laying off employees, a union boss fired back on the same show this morning.

According to Donald Drozd, general counsel and staff operations officer at the Orange County Employees Association, the city's plan to save money by privatizing some public services "without a single study" is "ill-advised, premature and it's illegal."

Drozd, who appeared on Today in L.A. Weekend on NBC with host Ted Chen, claimed that the city council has manufactured a fake financial crisis and that it has "slush funds" that could be used to pay necessary expenses rather than eliminating city jobs.

For example, Drozd said that Costa Mesa has an equipment replacement fund with as much as $8 million "that really is never touched."

After Chen asked him to respond to Righeimer's suggestion that laid off city employees would be hired by companies winning privatization contracts, Drozd claimed the none of the written plans contain provisions requiring that city "employees get jobs."

Drozd, a member of the union's leadership, said that city employees--"the people who make the city run everyday"--have already "doubled" the size of their contributions to their own retirement funds and are "willing to come back to the table again," but that willingness to compromise "has been rejected roundly."

Righeimer, a freshman member of the all Republican city council, a pal with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and a longtime GOP operative pushing efforts to reduce the influence of public employee unions, has repeatedly claimed that Costa Mesa government must shrink so that it's not spending each year more than annual revenues.

Expect unions across California and those local residents outraged by Righeimer's moves to target his defeat if he runs for re-election.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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10 comments
Mesa del Mar Resident
Mesa del Mar Resident

The simple fact is, things change. The defined benefit plan model no longer works. The people in Costa Mesa against the layoffs are, for the most part, blue collar workers and side with the unions. The people for the layoffs are white collar workers. My neighborhood, Mesa del Mar, has a good mix of blue and white collar workers, and it's funny to drive around and see the "Cancel the Layoffs" signs. You can tell where they stand just by looking at their house and car.

Government employees need to be realistic. Private industry got rid of defined benefit plans a long time ago.

Alex
Alex

Righeimer wanted to use bond debt (with Costa Mesa taxpayers on the hook) to buy the Orange County Fairgrounds.  He also wants to use our taxpayer dollars to buy up hotels in Costa Mesa.  What's even worse is when everything is contracted out, our city will be ripe for corruption.  Contractors will have to get as friendly as they can with Righeimer and friends to do business in our city.  Plus, there is no plan at all to prevent contractors from hiring illegal immigrants.  Keep in mind Righeimer also wants the police department to be staffed at 1980's levels.  I can't imagine a better architecture to breed crime and corruption and fiscal collapse.

Prague2006-web
Prague2006-web

"For example, Drozd said that Costa Mesa has an equipment replacement fund with as much as $8 million "that really is never touched." Yeah, it isn't touched until you need to replace equipment.  I love the essential argument unions are making in this issue which is - raid all reserve funds to maintain the status quo.  None of the union arguments to date address the fundamental issue which is the city has been spending more than it takes in; and benefits/pension costs are escalating so fast they will bankrupt the city in a few short years if its not dealt with now.

This year has been a real eye opener for me.  I never imagined the costs incurred by cities due to these crazy contracts.  We have city employees who are underutilized, and receive unreasonable benefits.  If I worked in goverment my whole adult life, I too would feel entitled to the benefits received.  After all, the unions have always complained employees were never given enough.  The only problem is most residents don't work in goverment. Upon seeing the ridiculous benefits received and long terms implication on city finances, we get very angry because as taxpayers we see that we are being fleeced.

Regarding this  - "Drozd claimed the none of the written plans contain provisions requiring that city "employees get jobs."   The city does not need to include a provision whereby "employees get jobs".  The union wants a guarantee but it's not needed.  However, as a local employer myself, it would make sense that whomever gets the contract would offer the job to those who hold the positions currently.  It makes the contractors job of finding employees that much easier because they are already in those positions.  Either existing employees will agree to work for their "new" employer, or they won't. 

Drozd said that city employees--"the people who make the city run everyday"--have already "doubled" the size of their contributions to their own retirement funds.  Sounds great except the they are still contributing a fraction relative to what those of us in private industry pay.  Ultimately the whole pension system needs to go away and everyone moved to a defined contribution plan (401K) instead of a defined benefit plan just like we have in the real world.

Mayor Quimby
Mayor Quimby

Union boss? Jeez, Scott, he's an attorney for the union.

Berardino is the boss. If you want to use a derogatory term, why not just call him a shyster?

Leeward762
Leeward762

Hmm, where should I begin... Let's see.... "In my neighborhood, you can tell the peasants by their cars, it's so funny." Okay, Thurston Howell, we can see up your nose.

Private industry will do whatever it needs to satisfy shareholders, even close shop and move to a different country where they improve the bottom line. Try moving a city or state somewhere more favorable, the SAME RULES DO NOT APPLY.Defined benefit plans are a solution to a very real need, manpower to maintain an infrastructure, and a trade off when you consider the logistical inflexibilty. These systems do not change with the wind, although I'm sure that would suit your business if they did.

mitch young
mitch young

"Plus, there is no plan at all to prevent contractors from hiring illegal immigrants."

Bingo, this is where I can agree with the libs here -- a lot of Republican politicos are totally hypocritical on this issue (then again, a lot of establishment Republicans won't take on illegal immigration, its more independent people).

Frustrated
Frustrated

The problem with this analogy is that no RFP's for contract services has even gone out for bids yet.  The City has not idea if the proposals will save money or not.

Guest
Guest

Dude, you can't even get an exact quote right, so why are you even commenting? And yes, I take pride in my home and keep it up, unlike a lot of other people who can't afford to do so. Does your landlord keep your place up, loser?

The role of government is to take care of it's citizens. BUT, it has to do it within it's means, just like everyone else. There aren't any exceptions to that.

Alex
Alex

I hope you didn't just call me a liberal because I would take offense to that.  Criticizing someone like Righeimer clearly does not make one a liberal.  That's like calling someone a liberal for criticizing Reagan for amnesty and tripling the deficit.  I don't vote for anyone, regardless of what religion or what political party they are registered as, if they are dishonest, unethical, incompetent, or are fiscally irresponsible.

With fewer and fewer controls on city contracts, the importance of having someone honest is more and more important.  Righeimer is pretty much the last person I want anywhere near my tax payer dollars.  I'll take an honest politician from any party (although preferably conservative) over Righeimer.

BobD
BobD

Use history for your guide.

Outsourcing will save a ton of cash!

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