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Costa Mesa PR Guy Pushing Righeimer’s Agenda

Councilman Jim Righeimer - Costa Mesa, Photo: Chris Prevatt

COSTA MESA — Transparency is a good thing and should not be coopted to promote a political agenda. Of course, that is not how Costa Mesa’s $3,000 a week public relations consultant see’s it. Apparently he sees transparancy as an opportunity to dump meaningless data on the public in order to support the outsourcing political agenda of the Orange County Republican Party and their lead “Town Crier” Jim Righeimer.

In a press release yesterday, consultant Bill Lobdell crowed about how the City’s legal bills had dropped significantly (on average) due to their outsourcing of the City Attorney functions. Funny thing about averages, they hide about as much as they reveal.

If you take a time of high litigation cost and compare it to a time of low litigation cost your averages will reveal that your costs have dropped. But when you compare apples to apples, using the numbers Lobdell promoted you find a much different reality. In 2003-2004 the in house legal costs for the City were $738,150. During 2006-07, the first full year with contracted law firm Jones and Mayer, the costs were $626,108. Initially the costs for legal fees were indeed lower.

But as with most services contracted out, costs seem to jump dramatically after the outside folks get their contract. The base legal costs for the city jumped by just under 26% to $800,943 in the second year of the contract. In used car sales they call this bait and switch; I just call it a scam.

Geoff West, over at A Bubbling Cauldron raised a couple interesting points about Lobdells figures here. First, he reminded us that a couple of the years prior to the hiring of Jones and Mayer, the legal costs for the City were significantly higher because of legal bills related to the “ill-conceived Benito Acosta lawsuits.” Second, West pointed out that “after all is said and done, the proof of the value of an attorney is the job he does for you in court – or keeping you out of court.”

Given the fact that Jones and Mayer had no problem changing their legal opinion to allow the illegal layoff notices to be isssued, their value is questionable given the legal fight the city is in for over that ill-conceived stunt.

So while Lobdell tried to spin the average reduction in overall legal fees for the City of Costa Mesa as a justification for outsourcing, the facts revealed by his figures show a very different story. To date, the city’s base legal costs have risen by more than 30% since Jones and Mayer came on board.

Seems like transparency isn’t working too well when it comes to supporting the alleged savings of outsourcing. I’m sure Lobdell won’t let these facts get in the way of the political agenda.


  1. Matthew Cunningham Matthew Cunningham May 25, 2011

    Chris, I have a question for you: which choice places pension obligations on city taxpayers: employing city workers to provide a service, or outsourcing that a service to the private sector?

    • Kathy Findley Kathy Findley May 25, 2011

      That would depend on how you look at it. If the workers who are hired by the out sourced companies who can not make a reasonable living wage and have little or no benefits, and that will be the case as it is the only way outsourcing can be made “affordable.” Then I would say outsourcing will put the greater burden on the tax payer as low wages and lack of benefits do. But then we’ve known that since The Industrial Revolution. And you will still be paying for pensions, it will just be for elected officials and their appointees.

    • Mstimc Mstimc May 25, 2011

      The whole pension “crisis” is the latest in a long sad history of right-wing scams to demonize government and those who serve in it. Go to for the facts. Not that facts matter to extremists. Pension costs make up about 4.5% of the state budget. The deficit is billions more. So even if you got rid of all pension costs, it wouldn’t make a dent in the deficit. And then who would the right wing have to blame?

  2. JFW JFW May 26, 2011

    Does Lobdell have a problwm with the SEC because of his work with Barry Minkow?

  3. Joe Joe May 26, 2011

    What do tyou mean? Lobdell and Minkow were partners in a stock-related enterprise. Lobdell left, Minkow got indicted, and plead guilty.

    Best I could find is that Lobdell was dismissed from the Medifast action:

    Surely any current/remaining problems Lobdell might have from his past association with Minkow would be relevant vis a vis his work for the city of Costa Mesa today.

    • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski May 27, 2011

      Bill is a respected writer and journalist, thought green as far as PR experience goes. His experience with Minkow has nothing to do with his work for the City of Costa Mesa. Guilt by association doesn’t work; it’s guilt by action. Minkow is the one who was held accountable, but Bill.

  4. Chris Prevatt Chris Prevatt Post author | May 26, 2011

    Lobdell’s problem isn’t his former association with Minkow. His problem is that he is nothing more than the first, in a long line of friends of Righeimer, who benefit from no-bid contracts that the gang of four plan on handing out to their friends.

  5. JFW JFW May 26, 2011

    If Riggy and Menssy pick a plumbing contractor to outsource city work to, then we hear one of its former partners had been involved in criminal business activity, I’d want more information.

    FTR, I’ve met Lobdell and think he’s a nice guy and a good writer;
    but this whole thing reminds me of the scene from “Braveheart” where Wallace finds out the future king’s been bought off by the English.

    • Chris Prevatt Chris Prevatt Post author | May 27, 2011

      I agree that Lobdell is both a nice guy and good writer. This post was not meant to be a judgement on those aspects.

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