dailypilot.com/opinion/tn-dpt-1220-commentary2-20121219,0,1087658.story

Daily Pilot

Commentary: Righeimer decisions bad and costly

By Charles Mooney

3:56 PM PST, December 19, 2012

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I read Lauren Williams' Nov. 28 article, "State court denies Costa Mesa's outsourcing appeal," and was very concerned about some of the comments in the article and their implications.

It was reported in Williams' article that the California Supreme Court denied a petition to hear Costa Mesa's appeal on an injunction barring its outsourcing plan and that this decision will have wide-ranging implications for the state's general law cities; specifically, it will limit their ability to outsource services to the private sector.

First concern. This means that general law cities that, unlike Mayor Jim Righeimer's approach, collaborated with their respective city employee associations were able to outsource (privatize) and they didn't need a charter to do it.

Unfortunately, this was before Righeimer and his council majority rushed the layoff notices, which resulted in an unnecessary and self-inflicted lawsuit with Costa Mesa City Employees' Assn.

The lawsuit resulted in a published court decision that made it against the law for California general law cities to outsource anything, other than special services, to a private company.

So Righeimer has actually reduced the ability of all California general law cities to control costs due to this poor decision on the layoff notices. Keep in mind that this lawsuit has cost the Costa Mesa taxpayers more than $1 million.

Second Concern. The article stated that Righeimer said that 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. He went on to say that the outcome didn't affect Costa Mesa.

OK, let me get this straight. Does this mean that the taxpayers of Costa Mesa are now paying for the legal work to help these other cities? We can barely afford our own legal expenses at $495 per hour, let alone those for other cities.

We need to get back to making good decisions and putting Costa Mesa first.

CHARLES MOONEY lives in Costa Mesa.