War On Pensions California Edition: Costa Mesa Lays Off Employees, Citing Pension Costs

Uber-conservative Costa Mesa politicians have laid off half their public workers, citing pension costs as a "crisis". They're not. Costa Mesa is one of the most affluent communities in Orange County, but it is a deep Republican stronghold where politicians feel free to advance the national conservative wars on employees and their benefits whenever possible.

Jim Righeimer appeared on Fox News this morning to assure their viewers of the depth of the pension crisis and how absolutely necessary it is to make the shift from defined benefit plans for public employees to 401k/defined contribution models. This is, of course, a Republican favorite theme from the days of Reagan until now.

OC Progressive at Calitics has the counternarrative:

As documented at Pacific Progressive and in local Costa Mesa blog, A Bubbling Cauldron, Costa Mesa is at the bloody tip of the spear in California Republicans' war against public employees.

Newly-elected Council Member Jim Righeimer and recently-appointed Council Member Steve Mensinger are leading the ideologically-driven jihad, with an agenda item to give notice to 250 Costa Mesa employees that their jobs will be outsourced. This represents a third of the city's public employees in a wide range of departments. Without any study of the problem, Righeimer has also used local columnist Frank Mickadeit, to float an ill-conceived idea to privatize paramedic service in this column.

Their notice fails to take into account the opinion of Costa Mesa's City Attorney, which required that notice be given after a decision has been made to outsource, not based on a vague idea to study outsourcing. But, in a move that some see as directly related to the direction of the new City Council, the City Attorney has resigned and the City Manager abruptly retired.

As in Wisconsin, Republicans are battling a phantom "budget crisis" which is disappearing after Costa Mesa residents approved an increase in the hotel tax in November to protect public services and as revenues from sales taxes return.

A massive phantom gap in future pension costs for public employees is forecast, although the cost to the city has been flat for years as public employee unions have picked up part of the cost.

Oh, in case you don't know who Jim Righeimer is, here's an intro:

You may not recognize Jim Righeimer's name, but he has been one of the movers of Republican politics in Orange County for decades, managing Dana Rohrabacher's Congressional campaign in 2008, as a founding member of the Education Alliance, and as a co-author of prop 226. Righeimer and his brother-in-law Mark Bucher have led movement conservatives through groups like the Family Action PAC. Support by Riggy and his regressive allies helped elect wacky movement conservative Don Wagner (R-Irvine), Assembly leader of the Taxpayer Caucus.

Remember the name. He has no remorse for this man, who committed suicide after receiving one of those layoff notices. Let's count Huy Pham as the first death in the Republican war on pensions. I'm certain there will be others, since part of the layoffs may include either paramedics or the fire department.

Evidently Righeimer and Co. think they can outsource the fire department and save money. Lives don't really matter to these idiots. Just money. It's always about money.


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