"We met with the city several times this year and offered solutions related to a second-tier pension, that the current City Council rejected," Chamness said. "Then the city canceled our last scheduled meeting and did not respond to our last request to continue discussions. The city never addressed overtime in those meetings."

Police Chief Tom Gazsi, who is not represented by the association, confirmed that police showed willingness to meet with representatives from the city.

"I was very pleased, at my request, that the police association offered to meet with the city about compensation issues over the summer. However, the city canceled future meetings," Gazsi said.

Mensinger called the proposed pension plan for new officers unsustainable and said that Costa Mesa police are well compensated when compared with other cities.

"The police union has negotiated very generous and unsustainable compensation packages for its members that rank as the highest or among the highest in Orange County, depending on how they are measured," Mensinger said in the email. "The union leadership has not agreed to open their contract, and they are unwilling to even give the city a sustainable pension plan for new officers."

Whether Costa Mesa officers are the county's highest paid remains in dispute. Officers said they believe they are the county's fifth- or sixth-highest paid and fall among neighboring Newport Beach, Irvine, Huntington Beach and Santa Ana.

"Fact: Costa Mesa police officers are not the highest paid in the county, and City Hall recently dispelled that rumor," Chamness said.

The city's finance director, Bobby Young, said there was no information available about where Costa Mesa police rank in compensation when compared with other county cities.

Gazsi said he does not believe the CMPD's officers are the best-paid.

"According to Human Resources, based on total compensation of police officers, we are not the highest paid in the county," Gazsi said.

Former Councilwoman Katrina Foley said the mailer was an attempt to mislead voters. She said that she recalls the police association making overtures to the city in an effort to negotiate compensation.

"It's filled with lies," said Foley, now a school board member. "First of all, Costa Mesa's police officers are not the highest paid. [That was] refuted by the city itself. They knew that that was a lie, and they went ahead and misled the public anyway. It just shows they can't be trusted."

However, Mensinger said organized labor is distorting the issue to its advantage before the election.

"Costa Mesa police officers and residents deserve better than what the police union is doing," Mensinger said in an email.

lauren.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @lawilliams30