It seems that in the past week, the Los Angeles Times has finally rediscovered Orange County. In particular, Costa Mesa and the boiling controversy created by extreamist in the GOP who are hell-bent on destroying public sector employees, their benefits, and their ability to collectively advocate and bargin through their unions.
On Thursday the LA Times featured a front page story Republicans promote Costa Mesa as a pension-slashing leader that revealed the truth behind the partisan political agenda driving the attack on public workers in Costa Mesa. On Sunday, LA Times columnist Steve Lopez dug down deep into this bubbling cauldron with his report: In Costa Mesa, are extremists playing politics with people’s lives? and found the meat of the story
Councilman Jim Righeimer, whose strafing of public employees helped get him elected last November, told me pensions are rising and revenues are shrinking.
“We have no money in our budget,” he said.
But when I visited Costa Mesa this week, I heard a bit of a different story. Yes, people agreed, Costa Mesa has budget deficit problems like lots of communities. But critics of the outsourcing plan, including some Republicans, think the tough talk is about philosophy more than about numbers, and that extremists are playing politics with people’s lives.
What Steve, as well as bloggers and reporters in Orange County covering this story for the past several months have found is that the crisis Councilmembers Righeimer, Mensinger, and GOP Chairman Scott Baugh are claiming requires the mass outsourcing of public services, is nothing more than the same type of problem being successfully managed by municipalities across the state. Lopez concludes that:
The answer is pension reform, not bashing employees or firing them en masse.
If Costa Mesa ever gets around to doing the cost-benefit analysis it should already have done, and decides it can save a few bucks by going private, what about the cost to the rest of us when fired city employees end up on the dole and going to county emergency rooms because they’ve lost medical coverage?
Read the complete Steve Lopez column from Sunday here.
I wonder when Righeimer, and his gang will come to their senses and figure things out?