Costa Mesa voters have a clear and simple choice this election. Vote for the 3M candidates: Councilman Steve Mensinger, Planning Commission Chair Colin McCarthy and myself, Councilman Gary Monahan. We believe in public employee pension reform and putting residents' interest first. The other three union-backed candidates will keep Costa Mesa under the thumb of union bosses.
The public employee unions know what is at stake in this election. Out-of-town unions have poured more than $500,000 into a campaign to defeat the Costa Mesa charter, which would emancipate us from Sacramento, therefore all public employee unions are working day and night to get their endorsed candidates elected.
Sandy Genis is one of the union-backed candidates. Sandy, not in office since 1996, represents the past, where candidates got onto the council with the backing of the unions and then approved ever-increasing compensation packages that are just plain ridiculous today.
The median compensation for Costa Mesa employees is $146,000, and that doesn't take into account the city's massive underfunded pension liability that has grown to more than $221 million. This craziness has siphoned revenues from the city's parks, streets, sports fields and libraries and put the money into the pockets of city employees and especially their out-of-control pensions. Ms. Genis doesn't understand today's issues and problems or the progress we are making on the forefront of government reform. Quite frankly, in the past she has voted against and recently, litigated against proposals to advance our city forward.
Having six Children, and Sandy having none, I understand how she misses our future's priorities. She is a retired Newport Beach Public employee, who receives a generous pension while continuing to work as a well-paid consultant to various government agencies. Protected in her public employee bubble, I wonder if she's even noticed how much this shift in local government priorities — from serving the residents to funding city employee pensions — affects the average resident who is struggling to bring home a decent paycheck, has no hope of a pension and is frustrated that his or her government and schools are delivering less and less.
In recent years, for example, Costa Mesa parents have seen government shift costs to parents for everything from bats and balls to pencil and pens while the sports fields deteriorate as money was shifted to pay for rising pension costs. Now in high school, students have to pay to play sports because again money priorities have shifted.
I have a strong feeling that Costa Mesa residents will not vote for candidates like Ms. Genis, who are strongly backed by the unions and yet promise to keep the city in control of the union bosses. Even liberal-leaning cities, such as San Jose, voted overwhelming for reforms designed to get public employee pensions under control.
Fortunately for our city, the choice is straightforward. A vote for Monahan, McCarthy and Mensinger is a vote for public employee pension reform and a return to common sense and resident-first policies, putting taxpayer dollars into sports fields, public safety, libraries, streets and other infrastructure. These things will better our city and attract families that choose to make our Costa Mesa they're home. Monahan, Mensinger, McCarthy and a vote for Measure V is a vote for Costa Mesa's future.
GARY MONAHAN is Costa Mesa city councilman and owner of Skosh Monahan's Steakhouse & Irish Pub.