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Costa Mesa Big Spender Mensinger Proposes Another Waste of Public Money

Costa Mesa City Councilman Steve Mensinger (Appointed)

For someone who claims to be fighting to trim back costs due to “extravagant spending” by previous city councils, Costa Mesa Councilman Steven Mensinger sure likes to spend more than he saves. Let’s exclude from this equation the millions in unnecessary spending to defend the efforts he and his colleagues have flushed trying to skirt the law and outsource city services. Let’s skip the fact that their so-called savings plans would save little if any money, while sacrificing quality services for Costa Mesa residents. Mensinger has made two proposals, the first Annual Efficiency Audits, to reign in spending that spend money without any evidence of actuial, or potential cost savings.

Mensinger’s most recent shell-game is a proposal, the Civic Openness in Negotiations  ordinance, that he claims will bring transparency to contract negotiations with city employee organizations. On tonight’s Council meeting agenda Mensinger proposes to ban all employees from negotiating on behalf of the city if the contracts they are negotiating on will benefit them. This provision alone, will cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultant fees to pay for $300-plus an hour contract negotiators. On top of that, Mensinger proposes that an audit of the fiscal impacts of current employee benefits and pay be conducted and provided 30 days prior to contract negotiations. Such an audit compiles information that city managers already have from their annual budget development process. This useless audit will not review any impacts of proposed revisions. More consultants, more money.

We’re all for transparency her at LiberalOC, but when the costs outweigh the public benefit we have to wonder if there is more grandstanding than substance for nothing more than personal political gain.


  1. Phil Phil August 21, 2012

    As a resident, I LOVE this ordinance. Levels the playing-field for the residents against the unions. Anyone read the awful and thuggish “playbook” from the Lackie Daimmier police negotiators in the OC Register? Those guys should be in prison. Yet, we the taxpayers have to go up against them in our negotiations without our own negotiators? How is that fair? $300 an hour is a very small price to pay to get better contracts that are more fair to the residents. The unions hate transparency, therefore, I LOVE THIS. Way to go Mensinger!

    • CM Man CM Man August 22, 2012

      Go back to your race-obsessed blog, MARTIN.

  2. patrickrodgers patrickrodgers August 21, 2012

    Phil, first let me say the alleged textbook on negotiation strategy the Register referred to is a load of crap. I say that with some expertise having negotiated Police contracts in Irivne for seventeen years. I was also actively involved in PORAC, the statewide Police Employee organization and never heard them advocate such a methodology.

    You do have a representative at the negotiation table and he is called the City Manager. He works directly for the Council and no contract concessions are granted, except by specific approval of the elected representatives. That is part of his/her job and he doesn’t get paid extra for it. By the way, the City Manager has his own contract set by the Council so there is no conflict of interest, as you have been led to believe. My experience in negotiations with City Managers was generally favorable, with them being professional, tough, yet fair to the employees. That attitude generates high performance levels by employees and in ratio service levels exceed the norm. This is what Costa Mesa used to have, but no longer.

    Steve Messinger is just another political clone of those who are Anti-Union and bound and determined to run rough shod over employees. Having lived in Costa Mesa for a number of years and working for the City earlier in my career, I am aware of the outstanding local government it once had, along with many dedicated employees. Then, along came the “Four Stooges,” and things went into the toilet quickly. This City Ordinance is just another attempt by the Council to gain more power and smacks of a lack of confidence in their City Manager? Haven’t seen the proposed Ordinance, but chances are that there are parts of it which will not stand up in court. Employee relations and neotiations are relatively well defined by State Law and the Costa Mesa power brokers cannot superceed that.

    If Costa Mesa voters are as smart as I believe them to be, those of the “four stooges” up for election in November will be fired. Semper Fidelis to both the City employees and the citizens of Costa Mesa.

  3. Roy Roy August 22, 2012

    Let me use an analogy to try and clarify what’s going on here: The city (taxpayers / investors, ie the buyers), via their board of directors (the city council) bids to acquire a $75MM annual service company (govt employee union contract, ie the sellers), which includes an extremely detailed and complicated contract with many T’s and C’s. The seller is well represented by full time professional “investment bankers” (union labor negotiators, contract attorneys and so forth). The buyer is represented not by their own professional “investment bankers”, but rather, by their CEO, who in turn relies on information supplied by employees of the seller. The buyer cannot report back to their investors (taxpayers) during the negotiating process until the deal is inked, at which point the investors have to pay the price. Does this scenario sound a bit ludicrous? It is. That has changed with “COIN” are two important things: 1) Transparency. Investors (taxpayers) now can see what they are buying before paying for it, and; 2) Due diligence. The investors, as represented by the council, will now have their own “investment bankers” (auditors, professional labor negotiators and so forth) to use their own list of assumptions and generate their own valuation of the “acquisition” of the $75MM a year service business they desire to purchase. Prior to “COIN”, the buyer (the city) was, for all intents and purposes, using the seller’s agent to price and negotiate the “acquisition.” For those who claim this will add a layer of bureaucracy and cost to the negotiating process either are very uninformed as to common business practice (and fiduciary responsibility), or wish to keep the city at a disadvantage, or possibly some combination of both. I can’t imagine any well-informed person not understanding or being opposed to a reasonable and common sense measure such as “COIN.”

  4. RHackett RHackett August 22, 2012

    I applaud Mensinger’s half attempt at openness.

    He should go the extra step and require ALL contracts, including vendors, be opened to Civic Openness for public review.

    I’m sure the public will be quite interested in being involved for the contracts for services like the city’s attorney and others who benefit from city taxpayers.

    • CM Man CM Man August 22, 2012

      Steve needs to be transparent with us about:
      1) His altercations with a baggage clerk at JWA and
      a teacher in Costa Mesa;
      2) The lawsuits he was a defendant in while working at Arnel.

      • Roy Roy August 22, 2012

        1) Unfounded accusations and irrelevant to the topic at hand:
        2) Common in real estate as representative of a very large property owner / lamdlord of thousands of units to have lawsuits of all sorts. Anyone in that business will tell you the same. And again, irrelevant to the topic of discussion. Nice try, but nobody’s looking at the shiny mirror 😉

      • merelyashadow merelyashadow August 23, 2012

        Especially the one in 1991.

    • Sam Sam August 22, 2012

      Leece proposed just such a policy. Righeimer shot it down. Last thing he wants is the public to know what kind of dirty deeds he does behind closed doors.

      • merelyashadow merelyashadow August 23, 2012

        Exactly. Anyone who thinks he will make public his negotiations, is nuts.

    • junior junior August 26, 2012

      All contracts with vendors are open for public review – but you need to know that they exist in order to request the info as Freedom of Information Act Public Information.

  5. Sam Sam August 22, 2012

    I believe Wendy Leece was the first one to propose this and she wanted all contract negotiations to be made public, not just those that include the employees. Righeimer lit into her from the dais. Now when Mensinger proposes a watered down version, all those loser council supporters praise him as the next messiah.

    • Roy Roy August 22, 2012

      To be accurate, Ms. Leece proposed her version late Fall last year. It was so overly broad in regard to ex parte communications as to render it almost impossible to comply with. This idea actually originated with Mr. Mensinger about 1.5 years ago, but because of the other fire drills the new council, particularly Mr. Mensinger, were trying to get a handle on, it never received the time it should have. Ms. Leece simply regurgitated Mr. Mensinger’s idea last Falll, but in an impractical manner.

      • merelyashadow merelyashadow August 23, 2012

        Mensinger was only appointed to the council 1.5 years ago.

    • RHackett RHackett August 23, 2012

      Why would anyone be surprised? Too bad Leece didn’t chime in and remind Mensinger she had the idea first. It just included people that Riggy and Mensinger have no problem protecting.

    • merelyashadow merelyashadow August 23, 2012

      That is correct. She mentioned this several months ago. Can you believe Steve would take credit for her suggestion?

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