Mailbag: McCarthy Favors A Flawed City Charter

This letter appeared in the July 14 edition of the Daily Pilot.

I am always disappointed when I read a letter on the Forum page by Costa Mesa City Council candidate and Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy, his most recent being “Candidate is wrong about charter cities (July 10),” and now I see what a disappointment he would be if he were elected as a councilman.

In his letters he never seems to have enough fact or law on his side to keep him from making derogatory comments about his opponents, in this case attorney John Stephens.

McCarthy is critical of Stephens and school board Trustee Katrina Foley, who together defended the rule of law when the city of Costa Mesa missed the June filing date for the proposed charter.

Is McCarthy saying that he is against upholding the rule of law? If so, he should check the preamble to the proposed charter he so loves.

It is clear that McCarthy favors the proposed and poorly written charter. However, I am not sure he has read it because, as a lawyer, he has to admit that there are sections in it that will unnecessarily provoke expensive and time-consuming lawsuits, as Stephens warns, and some other sections that would never be acceptable to a normal person signing a contract.

McCarthy charges Stephens with ruling by fear when he warns of future lawsuits. Keep in mind it isn’t ruling by fear to warn people of situations based on real and pertinent examples, as Stephens described. Would you consider it ruling by fear if I told you that you will get hurt if you stick your head in a cement mixer because I have seen others do it and they got hurt?

However, it seems that McCarthy has his own brand of fear mongering when he implies that we need a charter to be “emancipated from the union-dominated Legislature in Sacramento.”

The big bad unions are obviously out to get us, and they want us to pay prevailing wages. McCarthy argues against Stephens’ position and says that public safety and work quality won’t be compromised by using contractors who are not union and don’t pay prevailing wages.

Evidently, McCarthy thinks that all construction workers are of the same quality, and a policeman is a policeman, and a fireman is a fireman, and they’re all the same.

Where were McCarthy and his Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn. when the city hired $495 an hour lawyers? Why are we paying so much for these lawyers? Aren’t all lawyers the same and deliver the same quality of work?

McCarthy goes on to imply that the charter will deal with the pension plans. Again, I question if McCarthy has read the proposed charter. The charter has nothing in it that will deal with the current levels of retirement benefits. This issue will need to be addressed in contract negotiations and this will occur with or without a charter.

Lastly, McCarthy claims that the city took a stand for residents and tried to outsource services to reduce costs and, as a reward for this good deed, got sued by the employees. I don’t know if he has read the lawsuit but, yes Mr. McCarthy, if you breach a contract, as the suit claims, you can expect to be sued.

McCarthy has always been a surrogate mouthpiece for the council. He has thoughtlessly backed its every move; supporting the proposed charter as if it is an automatic solution to city problems is just another example.

Charles Mooney is Vice President of Costa Mesans for Responsible Government and a Mesa Verde Resident