The following appeared in the Daily Pilot mailbag on July 13, 2012.
Tuesday’s commentary by Costa Mesa City Council candidate and Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy (“Candidate is wrong about charter cities”, June 11) is another example of his and the City Council majority’s well-practiced skill of fact-twisting and propaganda.
McCarthy says council candidate John Stephens and school Trustee Katrina Foley “initiated legal action against the city … “
In reality, the city initiated the legal action by asking the court to order the registrar of voters to accept a ballot proposal that was filed after the deadline.
What Stephens and Foley did was simply represent the other side of the issue — and at no cost to anyone but themselves, I might add. We don’t know how many thousands of dollars the city’s lawyers spent on it. Without Stephens and Foley, the court would only have heard one side of the story.
How can you reach a fair conclusion after hearing only one side of an argument?
As to McCarthy’s allegation that the employees are responsible for the expensive legal battle over the layoff notices, that’s like saying the police and the district attorney are responsible for expensive prosecution of law-breakers. If the council hadn’t violated state law and/or city policies and contracts, there would have been no reason for a lawsuit.
Finally, he plays on fear of unions. McCarthy says the city is being “held hostage by employee unions.”
First, the issue of prevailing wages — the subject of the state Supreme Court decision that was the subject of Stephens’ commentary — has nothing to do with unions. Nothing requires cities to use union contractors. A city may pay prevailing wages to non-union workers too.
Second, were all the current and previous council members puppets of the unions? This list includes Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, Councilman Gary Monahan, Mayor Eric Bever and Assemblyman Allen Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), three of whom were on the council long before the 2010 election.
If the unions are in charge, how did these people get elected? And, the unions don’t set wage and pension levels for the city — the council does. These decisions result from a negotiation process, but the council has the final say.
To properly and effectively address the city’s personnel costs, the city and the employee associations must work together, in good faith, to find a solution that will benefit all parties — above all the residents of Costa Mesa.
Unfortunately, “good faith” is hard to come by after the heavy-handed way this council majority started the process 18 months ago. Perhaps they can try to atone by extending an offer — without strings or conditions — to sit down and talk. We’re waiting.
Perry Valantine is a Costa Mesa resident.