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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Time to Rest

Sometimes it is good to take a day off and just catch up.  I did that today. My mountains of paperwork were starting to get to me, so I needed to sort them into piles.  The biggest piles are for pensions and budget information of course.
Late this afternoon, I was a judge for the City's Farm after school program.  Those kids are pretty smart!  They did presentations on various aspects of the farm--vegetable gardening, animal care.  I was so impressed. The presentation about the four parts of a cow's stomach was excellent. What an awesome program we have.  The winners will be announced on Friday at 5 at the Farm. 

Then I went to the Costa Mesa Community Foundation meeting--all volunteer board members lead by Bill Turpit, who are working to make our city the best! (Watch for the 5K Run on April 22 and 23 and the FIVE Concerts in the Park series this summer that the CMCF is sponsoring).

Which brings me to my point.  We have a wonderful city of which we all--residents and employees should be very proud.  Things are still humming along in spite of changes happening.  But the sky is not falling in Costa Mesa. There is no budget crisis.  Yes, we do need to do some serious trimming in the next few months.  But I'm not spending time grandstanding on national tv shows.  I'm actually looking for solutions.  And I turned down a FOX interview today so I could do my paperwork, catch up on emails,  make some long overdue phone calls, talk to two daughters and just enjoy life in this great city.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I, Public Employee from American Thinker. Thought I would share this

I, Public Employee
This could be a Costa Mesa employee.
There is so much anger, innacurate information out there.
I hope to clarify things within the next few days.
Have a nice Costa Mesa weekend.

Wisconsin in Costa Mesa?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Huy Pham Is Bringing Us Together

I'm still in shock, saddened and trying to process what happened yesterday when one of our own city family members took his life at City Hall.
I'm numb and can't seem to shake the unbelief.  This must be a dream.
I went back to City Hall tonight, for more hugs and tears. We're all in this together now. We stumble. There are no answers.  What are all these tv people still doing here?
The flowers, candles, kind notes. (Thanks, Greg for doing this). We see former mayors, many employees, policemen and policewomen. We meet Costa Mesans we've never met before who came tonight because they too were sad. More hugs.  They do seem to take away the pain if only for a moment.
We pray for Huy's friends and family and read the messages about his life. Thankful for his committment to our city. He was a good worker.
We hate to leave but finally drive away in the darkness.
We love our city, and now, we really do know it: we love each other too.  Any differences we might have had over the years don't matter now.  And all that matters is that we Costa Mesans stick together and try to be there for each other--and especially for our employees, through this trying time.  This won't be easy and it won't be over soon.  Miles to go before we sleep kind of thing. Maybe Huy is smiling from Heaven. In his own way, Huy is bringing us together. And that has to be a good thing.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Employees Honor Allan Roeder

We laughed, we cried.  Brad and Dane produced a great summary of Allan's life. Allan spoke, with a few tears, of his great love for all of our employees and our City.   You'll have to ask one of our great employees to fill you in. 

Why are we such a great city? Because for more than 25 years Allan Roeder has been the leader--through many, many council members, who came and went--he was there for continuity.  His integrity. His humility. His love for our city. His love for our residents.  The way he LISTENS to you and helps you understand everything, even pensions and pension reform. All of that stuff matters, it really does.

His legacy?  Our employees who serve our residents with respect--regardless.

I am not opposed to analyzing how we deliver services which may lead to outsourcing, I just don't think we need to jump the gun and send pink slips to our employees before we do our homework.  I agree to the principles, just not the tactics.

Out of respect for our residents and employees, we always have, under Allan Roeder's direction, asked staff to gather all the facts, present the options, listened to the public and voted. We were prepared before we made our decisions.

In the last four years that I have served on the Council it has not been "us" versus "them".  All residents were equal in my opinion and I have tried to go out of my way to listen to other viewpoints.  Everyone knows I am a Conservative Republican, but I understand we have residents who have other ideologies and as an elected official who wants the best for Costa Mesa, I feel it is my duty to listen to their viewpoints and try to understand and take that information into account when I vote on issues impacting Costa Mesa residents. We are all taxpayers and want the best for our city.

In the past, although I  may have disagreed with residents and public input, I was respectful and honored those who had different ideas. Sometimes, after public input, I have changed my mind on a matter. (I voted for the city manager-CEO name change, for example. ) That's what the "public hearing" is for. As a public official I have been reminded many times, that I should not make up my mind on any matter before I come to the meeting.

However, now a new process has begun whereby one or two council members present some item to the mayor to be put on the agenda, and voila, it happens and takes on a life of its own.  The facts will be gathered later, input from residents (who don't understand what is going on anyway), doesn't matter and there is a bigger picture here that only a few are privy to.  There is a condescending attitude toward our residents and employees and their input. There is an unwillingness to be flexible and study issues before voting. I think we are micromanaging and doing things the city manager should be doing or delegating.  Being on the city council is NOT a full time job.

What's the rush? People have asked me about how I plan to solve the budget issues--I will continue to work with staff as I have always done. We have a standard budget process.   I do not believe our situation is as dire as others believe.  We are not running out of money. There are some exaggerations of the projections--the PERS numbers after next year for example.   The chart "Pooled cash investments by fund" show we are trending back with $66 million total in the fund.  Pension projections vary also. There is not just one way to look at something. Outsourcing could be more expensive.

In the last two budget cycles we have cut about $35 million and employees have helped us by offering solutions including paying for their retirement benefits. I don't think we should put the blame on our employees--it is what is--we need to work together to find solutions and I will continue to do that. But at this point the Council is not willing to even meet with them. I can't understand why staff was not brought in to discuss adding paramedics.  I am concerned about legal challenges to the lay off notices as well.  We might end up spending more on legal costs when we intended to save money.

With sadness, I bid good bye to Mr. Roeder and thank him for all he has done for our city and to help me be a better public servant. He has set the bar very high as an example for us, and to honor him I believe we all will continue to maintain that bar as we go forward.