Since our favorite crazy Uncle, Jim Righeimer current Mayor of Costa Mesa, had his butt handed to him in 2012 over his city charter scheme we’ve tried to ignore him as much as possible. But his commentary this past weekend in the pages of the Daily Pilot require at least some rebuttal. To ignore his rantings would allow his vile perspective to take root in the unsuspecting minds of his neighbors in Costa Mesa.
Jim’s rant this time is over what he calls “pay and benefits are what most of us in the private sector could only dream of” that Cost Mesa’s public employees enjoy. He argues that the city is still facing the same economic downturn and budget shortfalls that he dreamed existed in 2010, while ignoring the fact that his claims of doom and gloom have not materialized. Crazy Uncle Jim rants that city workers have too many vacation and sick days that they somehow leveraged out of unsuspecting city managers in prior negotiations; while ignoring that city workers negotiated their vacation and sick benefits as trade offs for salary increases that would have placed them at salary parity with comparable private sector workers.
We take issue with his sick day claims particularly and point out that he has the argument backwards. The public should be asking why every worker does not have the same sick and vacation pay benefits. Such compensation is in the best interest of business because it provides for a healthy and supported workforce. Nationally, business lose billions in lost productivity because of sick employees who come to work while sick with the flu and spread that virus to their co-workers. The sick and vacation allowances provided to public employees allows that workforce to be healthier and more productive than their “private sector” counterparts.
Uncle Jim argues that the “unfunded future pension liabilities” justify a 5% cut in employee compensation across the board (for non-management only of course). The liabilities Uncle Jim complains about are a future liability that is already being paid over time. There is no pressing bill for hundreds of millions of dollars hanging over the heads of Costa Mesa taxpayers, and there is no shortfall in revenue the city is enjoying due to the recovering economy.
Uncle Jim is that crazy uncle who blurts out crazy things at family gatherings. He should just be ignored. Maybe Costa Mesa residents should just send Jim outside to yell at passing cars.