In looking at tonight’s agenda for the Costa Mesa City Council, I find myself wondering if the Four Boys of the Council have been hanging out in secret a bit too much at Monahan’s Pub. In spite of the fact that they have been told by a judge that they cannot contract out to private contractors any jobs currently held by public employees (1. it’s illegal, and 2, the judge has said they cannot do so until the legal challenges are resolved.) they are still spending the time of City staff, high priced consultants, and the City Council, on the fools errand of outsourcing before determining feasibility, or even if it will actually save any money.
Like Supervisor John Moorlach’s failed attempt to break the law and unilaterally roll back negotiated public safety pension benefits, the Costa Mesa City Council, led by Jim Righeimer, is wasting their time, and public funds. The experiment of outsourcing has been tried before in the Costa Mesa. Several years ago, the city decided to outsource their legal services to a private law firm, Jones and Mayer. After the first year of that contract, they saw their savings fly out the window, when the contractor increased their billing and erased the “savings.” Today, the city’s base legal costs have risen by more than 30% since Jones and Mayer came on board.
In a story from the Orange County Register yesterday, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer crowed about the potential savings available to the city if they could accept the current proposal from a private contractor.
One proposal is from G4S, which already manages jails for five other Southern California cities including Irvine, La Habra and Beverly Hills. The proposal lists annual costs of $364,640, compared to the city’s fiscal year budget of $1.3 million. The 46 percent savings come from the reduced cost for custody officers and supervisors, according to G4S.
“The public needs to know how much money the city labor unions are costing them,” Righeimer said.
What the Register and Righeimer failed to point out is that the staff report adjusted the estimated costs of the G4S proposal up by about double, because the proposed staffing levels were not sufficient. This is just another example of how estimated savings quickly evaporate when you try to contract out services with hastily thrown together Requests For Proposals (RFP’s) issued outside of any policies, procedures, or standards. I’m surprised that the Register missed such an important piece of information; but then again, why mess up a good frame with inconvenient facts.
Costa Mesa City Employee’s Association President Helen Nenedal points out in a letter to CEO Tom Hatch yesterday regarding the proposed RFP Evaluation Process for the outsourcing of City services, that although policies governing any outsourcing process are in place, the City has wasted both time and resources, to proceed as if no policy exists at all.
“… the proposed evaluation process completely ignores the contracting evaluation process that already exists, as described in Council Policy Number 100-6, Contracting City Services. That policy mandates a clearly-defined process by which a Contracting Committee is to determine whether contracting is a viable option, and neither proposals from the City Council, nor any City Council “working group” are excluded from the policy.
“Given the lengthy delay in the City taking any action, CMCEA assumed the City had encountered difficulty in determining how to proceed, given the clear mandates of Council Policy 100-6. Unfortunately it is now apparent that the City has instead completely disregarded that policy, and proceed to eventually develop its own, non-conforming procedure.”
The City has issued flawed RFP’s that will result in flawed proposals. Those flawed proposals, if implemented, will undoubtedly result in unforeseen costs that will devourer any potential projected savings.
So I am left wondering why the Four Boys are wasting so much time and taxpayer money. To that end, and since Mayopr Monahan hates songs, I’ve rewritten a portion of the lyrics from Jimmy Buffett’s famous song “Margaritaville.”
Wasted away again in Margaritaville
Searchin’ for their lost bucket of gold.
They just complain that the union’s to blame,
But they know, it’s their own damn fault.
Yes, and some people claim that the union’s to blame
And we all know it’s their own damn fault.