In an earlier post called Wisconsin Comes to Costa Mesa, I wrote that “Costa Mesa is at the bloody tip of the spear in California Republicans’ war against public employees.”
I meant that metaphorically.
Today it became literal as one of the 213 laid-off employees leaped to his death from the 5th floor roof of Costa Mesa City Hall.
Employees are stunned, yet nobody is surprised.
Costa Mesa’s pension crisis was phony. Its budget crisis was vastly overblown.
But Jim Righeimer, a ruthless Republican ideologue trying to position himself for higher office, was trying to show that he was the real OC anti-employee, anti-pension, anti-union crusader. Riggy took advantage of a vacant seat to name one of his cronies, Steve Mensinger, to the City Council, and the two of them have pushed to outsource employees in 18 city departments. Two other weak-minded Republican Council members followed along.
They didn’t do any studies about cost effectiveness. They didn’t show their work. They just appointed a two-person committee that arbitrarily came up with a list of departments that might benefit from outsourcing, then rammed it through in a single Council meeting.
And because they were required to give six months’ notice to any employee they were to lay off, they arbitrarily issued pink slips to 213 employees on Thursday, March 17th.
It wasn’t just the fact of the pink slips.
Riggy is an arrogant bully, as is Mensinger. Instead of serving as part-time Council members, they have taken up residence in City Hally, threatening and bullying workers on a daily basis, arrogating power to themselves, and justifying their pompous pronouncements with a relentless series of lies and half-truths.
They’re not very different from some of the Assembly members from the OC. Don Wagner and Allan Mansoor are cut from the same cloth. Righeimer was a one-time roommate of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, as well as his campaign manager. He shares an office suite with lobbyist and former Assembly leader Scott Baugh.
Tempers are high.
The Orange County Register,reports.
Councilmen Jim Righeimer and Stephen Mensinger were threatened by a city employee at the scene, who ran toward the councilmen before being restrained by three coworkers. Another city employee said “You’re not welcome here,” referring to the councilmen.
Peter Naghavi, director of public works, was seen crying and consoling other city employees.
Nick Berardino, general manager of the Orange County Employees Association, was seen cursing out city CEO Tom Hatch in the lobby of City Hall.
“You cannot give out notices wholesale like that in this economy,” Berardino said. “That’s what’s going to happen.”
An LA Times article continues to try to provide coverage with false balance, quoting Stewart Drown and Joe Nation, two of the apologists for the anti-pension jihad. Curiously, the LA Times continues to restate the discredited claim that Costa Mesa’s pension costs will rise from 15 million to 25 million in a few years.
It’s not a new model. It’s the same model that the Republican party is trying across the country of attempting to destroy organized labor and roll back the safety network.
And it’s killing people.
Here’s a local blog story on Riggy which is also a rant on the sad nature of the alternative OCWeekly, sister to the LA Weekly.