By Lauren Williams
5:24 PM PST, November 28, 2012
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a petition to hear Costa Mesa's appeal on an injunction barring its outsourcing plan, court records show.
Both labor and city leaders predict the decision will have wide ranging implications for the state's general law cities and their ability to privatize services.
Some cities may flock to a charter, a city constitution of sorts, predicted Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, because the decision will limit their ability to outsource services to the private sector.
"We'll see many cities become charter cities in the years to come," he said.
The city of Costa Mesa appealed the decision that prohibited its privatization plan not for the city's sake, but for other cities that could have benefited from a ruling that may have lifted the injunction, Righeimer has said.
He said the outcome didn't affect Costa Mesa.
"The injunction isn't really as much for us as for other cities," Righeimer said. "Whether it was a published case doesn't make a difference to the city of Costa Mesa."
Orange County Employees Assn. General Manager Nick Berardino said he doubts there will be a sea change toward cities moving to charters.
"There may be some that might," he said, "but I think what you'll find is that because of the corruption and lack of oversight and control that characterizes a charter city with recent events in California, I think most of the public will be very hesitant to leave the jurisdiction and protection of California's constitution."
The decision to not hear Costa Mesa's case he said is a milestone.
"It is one of the most significant decisions for labor in the last several decades," Berardino said. "And it upholds the law which was clear — that general law cities are not allowed to contract to the private sector except for a very narrow range of services."
An Orange County Superior Court judge initially halted the outsource effort after the Costa Mesa City Employees' Assn., backed by the Orange County Employees Assn., sued the city in May 2011.
Recently, the city has backed away from its initial outsourcing plan that began with laying off about 200 city workers. Recently Righeimer said he wanted to work with the employee associations more closely to see where outsourcing was a good fit, and where it didn't make sense.
Berardino said Wednesday's court decision didn't affect his willingness to work with Costa Mesa.
"Even in light of this decision, we're still anxious to collaborate and corroborate with the city," he said.