Just two days before the Orange County Registrar of Voters is expected to certify the results of the general election, and on the heels of his defiant proclamations after election night results showed his Charter Initiative doing down in flames, Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer seems to be wanting to punt. In an Orange County Register interview yesterday, Righeimer called for a truce with the Orange County Employees Association representing Costa Mesa city employees and offered to call off the layoffs that sparked almost two years of conflict and a protracted legal battle costing Costa Mesa more than $1 million in legal fees.
From the Orange County Register story yesterday:
Costa Mesa Councilman Jim Righeimer, who led the council’s efforts to privatize city services, is now calling for administrators to rescind pink slips issued to employees last year and to negotiate a deal with the city labor union… Righeimer plans to announce the proposal at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
The overture is a sign of moderation from the conservative, who built his reputation over the past two years with hard-line measures against labor. Last year, he led the council to approve more than 200 notices to employees warning that their jobs might be outsourced. He and others said the city was in dire financial straits because of employee pension debt and high compensation.
But this election, voters broke up his 4-1 bloc and rejected his charter, a city constitution that Righeimer had hoped would allow for easier privatization.
“We should sit down with the labor unions and work through those issues,” Righeimer said Monday.
OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino indicated that if indeed the layoffs are taken off the table they would be willling to talk.
“As we’ve indicated before, once they remove the layoff notices, we are always interested in sitting down and talking to the city,” Berardino told the Register.
It remains to be seen if this is a sincere effort on Righeimer’s part, or if he’s pulling a Tebow and delivering a fake punt. There is little trust between the parties and words alone are unlikely to build trust.