Righeimer Uses Fear and Envy to Attack City Workers



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.

  8 comments for “Righeimer Uses Fear and Envy to Attack City Workers

  1. junior
    August 19, 2013 at 8:03 am

    “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.”

    By your reasoning you are saying that it makes sense for CM to take the Don Quixote stance and buck the entire national employment picture. Hell, maybe they should really show the nation how the cow ate the cabbage and double down on CM employee benefits.

  2. junior
    August 19, 2013 at 8:09 am

    “There is no pressing bill for hundreds of millions of dollars hanging over the heads of Costa Mesa taxpayers.”

    However, there IS a “bill for hundreds of millions of dollars hanging over the heads of Costa Mesa taxpayers” – and independent actuaries say that bill must be paid at a certain rate in order to avoid an enormous city bankrupting bill in the future.

  3. Ltpar
    August 19, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Righeimer, posing as a conservative Republican is actually part of the radical arm of the Party focused on challenging Public Employees and their unions. Unfortunately, for Costa Mesa, Righeimer and his two “Stooges” are in control of the Council and have brought chaos to town. Balancing a local budget, even in times of economic turbulance needs to be done with cooperation of the stakeholders and a scapel and not by blindly swinging a meat ax. We see what the meat ax approach continues to do the the City of Costa Mesa. In the end, if the “Three Stooges” are allowed to continue to disect one of the previous best managed cities in Orange County, service levels will drop substantially and the voters will have no one to blame but themselves. Voters need to remember, “Efficiency and good government is in direct proportion to the quality of the men and women they elect.”

  4. junior
    August 19, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Ltpar is taking the Stockton, San Bernardino, Detroit and soon Atwater stick your head in the sand until it is too late approach.

  5. August 19, 2013 at 11:55 am

    These guyus keep shouting unfunded liability so much I have to wonder if they still have mortgages on their homes or a car payment? If they do, could they pay it off today? They can’t? These guys have an unfunded liability.

  6. Noclib1
    August 19, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Good comment, Dan. 90 percent of the unfunded liability “debate” is a scare tactic that reminds me of the 1950’s Red Scare. People are throwing huge numbers around without the least bit of understanding the context. To begin with, most of the of the doom and gloom predictions are based on assumptions that aren’t very likely. If most of the employees retire when they are first eligible (the vast majority don’t); if all of them stay in the system until they retire (many get jobs elsewhere); if nothing had changed (now new employees are hired at a mandatory lower rate and most existing employees are paying more). For a little perspective, you may want to Google CALPERS Responds. The chief actuary for PERS points out that the critics are using a few bad years to predict what will happen, whereas PERS is looking long-term–20 to 30 years out for its investment portfolio, just as we’re told to do for our 401(k)’s. A certain amount of unfunded liability is an acceptable business risk. If all of the Bank of America’s customers walked into their local branches tomorrow and asked to withdraw all of their cash, the B of A would be bankrupt by lunchtime–its imply does not have all the cash on hand because it uses customers’ cash to make loans and investments. The campaign against traditional pensions–public and private–is being backed by the same irresponsible firms that nearly destroyed the economy in 2008; they can’t stand the thought of not getting their hands on the last pool of money not available to Wall Street greed-heads.

  7. Ltpar
    August 19, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    junior, if the Costa Mesa Council majority were as interested in solving problems as they are destroying the unions and employees, they would have come up with a plan to pay down the unfunded pension liability. The Irvine Council, to their credit, recently enacted a ten year plan to do just that. They will be paying down a one hundred million dollar pension liability. It is a matter of priorities and problem solving is not one of Righeimer and his “Stooges.”

  8. junior
    August 20, 2013 at 9:45 am

    The gap between what state and local governments currently owe workers and retirees for pensions – and what they actually have – is a sobering $80 billion to a half-trillion, depending on who you ask. City contributions to CalPERS are expected to rise up to 50 percent in the next few years in an attempt to fill that gap. And if CalPERS also decides to make further changes to its assumptions — i.e., factoring in longer projected lifespans for retirees, and lower expected returns on investments – pension payments will swallow up even more of city budgets.

    “This is a problem that all Californians should care about,” Pulido and Reed wrote in their opinion piece for the U-T San Diego. “It is draining money away from core public services. It is increasing pressure for new taxes and steeper borrowing. It is preventing much-needed investments in infrastructure. And it threatens to leave our children and grandchildren with an enormous debt that they won’t be able to afford.”
    From the OC Reg –

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