OC GOP tries to bully Wendy Leece into voting against $4 million savings for Costa Mesa


Hang in there, Wendy, we’ve got your back!

Remember a couple weeks ago, when Phu Nguyen slammed Allan Mansoor for voting to reject an offer from Costa Mesa”s firefighters – a partial giveback of wages and benefits that would save the cash-strapped city over $650 grand over the next year?

Fortunately for Costa Mesa, the offer was accepted on a 3-2 vote, thanks to Gary Monahan and Wendy Leece, who are turning out to be much less reliable OCGOP tools than their colleagues Eric Bever and Allan Mansoor.

Tonight the other shoe drops – a much bigger one:   The town’s police association, as well as some other groups, are bringing in their, even more generous, offer of givebacks – which will save a dearly needed $4 million.  And anyone who cares about Costa Mesa should hope that Gary and Wendy stick to their guns, and do what’s right for the city’s finances and public safety.

Riggy, the root of so much trouble…

Now here’s the thing:  Yesterday morning Wendy put out a press release – sounding more like a cry for help – that Republican bigwigs were inundating her with threatening phone calls and e-mails warning her of dire consequences if she didn’t vote to reject tonight’s offer.  As she complained, “I find it very disconcerting that I am getting this pressure on how to vote by non-Costa Mesa residents who would not be affected by the contract.” And my first thought was, I don’t remember the Democratic Party ever doing that to city officials who happen to be Democrats.

As always this has a lot to do with the political ambitions of Council candidate (and lifelong carpetbagger) Jim Righeimer.  It’s well known – admitted by Riggy – that he wants DRASTIC reductions of public employees’ salaries and pensions to be the issue he runs on, so he doesn’t want this to be settled before next week’s election.  Yes, as substantial as the long-negotiated giveaways on the table are, Riggy and the OCGOP meddlers want to extract even more, to the point where working as a cop or firefighter in Costa Mesa rather than another town would just be a stupid choice for a person with a family to support.  (More weedy details from Mona and the Potstirrer.)

As Katrina Foley – the most  responsible and independent councilmember (who just happens to belong to a party that doesn’t bark orders at city councilmembers) – as Katrina points out, these “defined contributions” Riggy and the meddlers want to switch to just won’t work:

The city is a member of CalPERS and cannot easily switch to defined contributions. Defined benefits would take a lengthy process, and the city can’t afford not making the cuts now, Foley said.

And the Potstirrer:

If either (Leece or Monahan) vote against the proposals it throws the city into a fiscal tailspin that will almost certainly require significant layoffs to recover from.

Costa Mesa: The OC GOP’s little laboratory for economic shock treatment?

Baugh, Righeimer, Costa Mesa

But I’m starting to see it this way,  as bigger than just Riggy’s ambitions:  The insiders running the Orange County GOP, most of whom don’t even live in Costa Mesa, have seen the town for years as a laboratory to try out all their anti-government, anti-labor, anti-immigrant schemes;  a sort of Petri dish for what they’d like to do to the rest of the county and nation. Much like Bush and L. Paul Bremer saw Iraq after the invasion:  a blank slate on which to create a whole new corporate utopia where big business and the rich can do whatever they want and everyone else is left to fend for themselves.  And they’ve been slowly achieving that with their obedient puppets Mansoor, Bever, usually Monahan, and … well, Riggy is more like ONE of them.

I was going to bring in the whole Grover Norquist “shrink the government to the size it can be drowned in the bathtub,”  but Sandy Genis disagreed, saying, “These guys don’t care if the government is big or small, as long as it helps to enrich them.  They’re corporatists, Vern.”

Well, maybe.  But “starving the beast” is definitely part of their program – ruthlessly cutting down on government revenue until they can’t afford NOT to cut the vital services we’ve always expected – their ultimate goal.  Suddenly tired of blaming all Costa Mesa’s fiscal ills on illegal immigrants, they now shift the blame to public employees’ contracts.  But the place we SHOULD be looking is these revenue drains which they’ve been consciously responsible for:

  1. Costa Mesa’s ridiculously low business licensing fees – from a low of $50 a year to a high of $200.  Hence, the Auto Club, which covers half a square mile, pays only $200 a year to the city.  Hence, the Nordstrom’s at South Coast Plaza – the highest-grossing Nordstrom’s in the world – pays only $200 a year to the city (in contrast with the Mainplace Nordstrom’s which pays Santa Ana $50,000 and gets along just fine.  Multiply that by South-Coast-Freaking-Plaza and tell me where the deficit would go.)
  2. Costa Mesa’s absurdly low hotel fee of 6%. There’s a Measure L will be voted on next week to bring it up to 8%.  It should be 10% like most OC cities have.  Wait – isn’t the savings passed on to consumers?  No, no it is not.  It goes right into the pockets of hotel owners (who of course give a percentage of that to the politicians who keep things this way.)
  3. Endless giveaways to well-connected developers – such as waiving of impact fees – which end up coming out of Costa Mesa taxpayers’ pockets.

Policies like the above make the city so broke that our OC GOP puppets are able to do what they really want – chop away at services like after-school programs, community centers,  and youth sports programs for the community; then,  lay off cops and firefighters;  and eventually, if they get their way, lower the remaining cops’ and firefighters’ compensations until they seek work elsewhere.  And this is what the OC GOP would like to do to the rest of the County, once they get done with it in Costa Mesa.  If we let them.

Here’s hoping both Wendy Leece and Gary Monahan stick to their guns like they did two weeks ago and put the financial health and public safety of their city over the twisted plans of these meddling political hacks.

Costa Mesans!

Chris McEvoy & Wendy Leece for Council!
Phu Nguyen for Assembly!
Yes on Measure L for slightly higher hotel fees to help ease our deficit.
Let’s put this nightmare behind us!

Chris McEvoy, Costa Mesa’s best hope for avoiding a RIGGY decade.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.