In an OC Watchdog story over at the OC Register: Righeimer: Huge O.T. bill is firefighters’ fault; Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer blamed Costa Mesa firefighters for the overtime costs posted in the city’s compensation report. Such madness requires thoughtful response.
“They could do the job with six people per shift, but they want to do it with 18 or 19 people because that’s what their contract says,” Righeimer said. “That contract is a political document. It basically says, ‘We don’t care how many people you actually need to do the job — you have to hire more.’”
Righeimer is not a firefighter, and he demonstrates both arrogance and ignorance at the same time with his statement.
In five days it will be one year since the City of Costa Mesa, upon Righeimer’s initiative, voted to issue layoff notices to city workers including firefighters as part of his contracting out scheme. That single action placed a freeze on hiring of new firefighters to replace those who left the city to go elsewhere or retire. The staffing levels for the fire department are well within established standards necessary to effectively maintain the excellent level of service the residents of Costa Mesa currently receive. There is a simple truth when it comes to staffing any operation, government or private, if you don’t hire replacement workers and you workload remains the same you will have overtime or the job won’t get done.
The OC Register stories on the back and forth between on the issue documents the debate pretty well, but Geoff West over at A Bubbling Cauldron provides a witty and accurate analysis of what Righeimer is up to. From Geoff West’s post: Another Reason You Can’t Trust Jim Righeimer
Because that information is readily available, and because it’s easy to misinterpret without some explanation, members of the City Council and some of their sycophants – like councilman wannabe Colin McCarthy, President of the council shill organization Costa Mesa Taxpayer’s Association – have taken the raw data and twisted it to suit their personal agendas.
The overtime was necessary because the City Council has refused to permit new firefighters to be hired unless a change is made to their pension plan – a second tier. Only two firefighters were hired in 2011 according to Costa Mesa Firefighters Association President, Tim Vasin. As a result, in order to provide even minimal coverage with staffing levels well below the authorized strength, overtime has been essential.
Righeimer is either stupid, ignorant, an angry, frustrated political opportunist who will do or say ANYTHING to get his way on issues – or, maybe he’s just a liar. Some might say all of the above. This man – a carpetbagger who saw Costa Mesa as ripe pickin’s for his personal political agenda – slithered into town almost six years ago and has been the focus of controversy, turmoil and distrust ever since. The fact that he might actually think that the residents, businesses and visitors to Costa Mesa would be properly served by six firefighters per shift – that would be one firefighter per fire station per shift - tells you how little he actually understands or cares about public safety.