Irvine, 3rd Best Run City in Nation, Looks for Cheaper Contracts


A Republican mantra oft heard is that government should run like a business.  Mind you, the goal of a business is to be profitable and there are many things Government does that can’t be profitable and are a straight expense while being necessary for service to the taxpayers.  The 2013 List of “Best Run Large Cities in the Nation” has been published by 24/7 Wall Street and Irvine went from the second best managed city in the county down a spot to #3. Well done former progressive council majority.

Now third is not shabby at all.  This is thanks largely to the great work of Irvine City Manager Sean Joyce, his band of outstanding city employees who took on extra responsibilities without extra pay during the economic downturn, policies well established by members of the then-progressive Irvine Council majority, and the work of great city contractors — businesses and professional who handle things like landscaping, surveying, traffic management and the like.

From a story in Yahoo about the rankings:

With almost 97% of residents aged 25 and over with at least a high school diploma, and with nearly 63% with at least a bachelor’s degree, Irvine has the most educated population of all of the 100 most populous cities. The city’s high educational attainment has translated to a highly compensated population — a whopping 18.8% of households earned more than $200,000 in the last year. Irvine has the lowest violent crime rate of all the 100 largest cities, with just 0.56 violent crimes per 1,000 people in 2011. Irvine’s government has received a lot of flack recently for its efforts to transform the Orange County Great Park, with critics arguing that more than $200 million worth of spending has gone to waste. The newly elected City Council has pledged more oversight on spending and has terminated contracts with two firms working on the project.

Irvine’s second consecutive top 5 finish is laudable and one that should be maintained and even copied by its neighbor to the West.  Santa Ana ranks among the worst run cities at #15 (this under the leadership of soon to be gone City Manager Paul Walters).  So what does the city do next? There are tons of city contracts now out to bid. So while there’s a new Republican majority in play, it looks like long time city vendors are going to lose out to a new crop of businesses that, we believe, are going to have personal or professional ties to the new city council majority.

The city is seeking a project manager to run the Solar Decathlon for only an eight month contract.  If the Solar Decathlon is botched, then say goodbye to future such events that one city insider tells me has an economic impact of about $30 million.

The city wants bids for its consultant team program to handle the following responsibilities:

90600 – Architectural Services, Professional
90607 – Architect Services, Profession
90610 – Buildings – Architectural Desi
90627 – Energy Management – Architectu
90628 – Energy Conservation; New Energ
90629 – Environmental – Architectural
90638 – General Construction – Archite
90656 – Landscape Architecture
90657 – Land Development and Planning
90664 – Planning, Urban (Community, Re
90666 – Planning, Site (Installation a
90672 – Recreation Facilities (Parks,
90674 – Recycling Systems – Architectu
90688 – Towers – Architectural Service
90690 – Tunnels and Subways – Architec
90693 – Video Systems Design – Archite
90700 – Architectural And Engineering, Non Professional
90735 – Designing Services
90742 – Geotechnical – Soils
90779 – Surveying Services (Not Aerial
90783 – Testing Services
91016 – Energy Conservation Services
91800 – Consulting Services
91804 – Accounting/Auditing/Budget Con
91806 – Administrative Consulting
91812 – Analytical Studies and Surveys
91814 – Appraisals Consulting
91815 – Architectural Consulting
91827 – Community Development Consulti
91831 – Construction Consulting
91835 – Disadvantage Business Enterpri
91837 – Economy Consulting
91841 – Energy Conservation Consulting
91842 – Engineering Consulting
91843 – Environmental Consulting
91846 – Feasibility Studies (Consultin
91849 – Finance/Economics Consulting
91855 – Geological Consulting and Stud
91858 – Governmental Consulting
91863 – Housing Consulting
91873 – Landscaping Consulting
91875 – Management Consulting
91879 – Minority and Small Business Co
91888 – Quality Assurance/Control Cons
91889 – Real Estate/Land Consulting
91892 – Urban Planning Consulting
91894 – Traffic Consulting
91896 – Transportation Consulting
94620 – Auditing Services
95800 – Management Services
95815 – Building Management Services
95816 – Business Management Services
95825 – Conservation/Resource Manageme
95826 – Construction Management Servic
95891 – Transit Management Services
96100 – Miscellaneous Professional Ser
96109 – Building Permit Services
96128 – Economic Development, Domestic
96129 – Economic Impact Studies
96132 – Environmental Impact Studies
96143 – Hydrological Services
96145 – Inspection and Certification S
96148 – Laboratory and Field Testing S
96164 – Real Estate Services
96169 – Testing and Monitoring Service
96176 – Telemetry Services
96194 – Zoning, Land Use Studies
96222 – Chemical Laboratory Services
96800 – Public Works And Related Servi
96847 – Inspection Services, Construct
96866 – Right of Way Services (Includi
96875 – Streetscaping Services
96876 – Street Light Maintenance and R
96883 – Traffic Signal Maintenance and
96884 – Traffic Control Device Placeme
96885 – Traffic Counting Services
96892 – Water Supply Plant Operating a
96895 – Wastewater Treatment Plant, Op
96896 – Water and Wastewater Treatment
98852 – Landscaping (Including Design,
98863 – Park Area Construction/Renovat
98864 – Parks Systems Administrative S
98865 – Parks Systems Technical Servic

Apologies for the cut-off words, but that’s how it arrived in my email box.

And while the bidding process is now closed, the city was seeking professional labor negotiating services where, frankly, none were required before because of good relationships between the city council majority and the city’s labor unions.  Irvine’s reserve funds, balance sheet, and bedrock revenue picture shows you can pay city employees a good wage while getting quality services that benefit the community at large. But the new council majority regards Irvine as a bigger Costa Mesa.

In the real world, it makes good business sense to change a contract from time to time.  But this sort of wholesale change all at once just isn’t smart business.  What’s likely to result is the city will pay less than it did but get substandard services.  We’d take bets on how many politically connected businesses get city contracts, but we just don’t have that sort of dough lying around.  Irvine residents are accustomed to a level of quality.  Should that slip, we’ll know where to point the finger.

  5 comments for “Irvine, 3rd Best Run City in Nation, Looks for Cheaper Contracts

  1. junior
    February 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    “Santa Ana ranks among the worst run cities at #15 (this under the leadership of soon to be gone City Manager Paul Walters”

    It is REALLY unfair of you to put it that way Dan – as if all of Santa Ana’s woes can be laid at the feet of Paul Walters. He was City Mamager for what – 1 1/2 years?

    So if the woes of a city can be laid on the most recent short-time city manager – shouldn’t that also apply to the woes of our nation?

  2. art lomeli
    February 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    OK,………..Then why all positives get credited to him only? This not fair too? And the talk that he was the savior and the city will get shoved into the ground without him with only 1.5 yrs into the job?

    • junior
      February 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      I don’t debate for the “pleasure” of arguing with you or anyone. I made my statement – it stands. That is all I have to say on the issue.

  3. Gericault
    February 24, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Wow, that was quick. Irvine Republicans bringing in Costa Mesa’s particular brand of Republican mismanagement. While touting “cost savings” they will pay outside consultants up to $300 an hour to study how the city runs. They will alienate the city employees whose jobs will be threatened and create a mass exodus of valuable senior staff and management who will easily be recruited by other cities. Lawyers will undoubtably be called in to see where the rules can be bent or broken further costing the city millions in unnecessary fees that will pad outside lawfirms that will in turn donate generously to campaign coffers. The services and city infrastructure will suffer while tax monies are plundered to friendly no-bid consulting contracts. Face it, they aren’t hiring consultants who will tell them what they need to hear, they will hire consultants that will tell them what they want to hear. This is the “New Republican Strategy”, now that all the redevelopment money has dried up these municipal “succubuses” have to create “needs” so that their “useless services” can be well compensated. Watch as all the regular list of names start lining up at the Irvine trough. They are number “3”, watch them start dropping like a stone.

  4. cook
    February 24, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Irvine was planned from the outset to be a master planned city, which helps the city government greatly.

    I find it interesting that the article puts a lot of weight on the education of the population and the school districts.

    The cities governments have no say so in how the school districts are run.

    To say Santa Ana is badly run because of the independent school district that is required to follow the orders of the state.

    How many notches would Irvine fall and would Santa Ana changes spots with that northern cesspool of corruption known as Sacramento if the school districts were not part of the judgment pie?

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