Nearly half of this city’s workers were told late last week that, come September, they would probably be out of a job. Nearly every city department will be eliminated. More than a dozen tasks will be outsourced, including graffiti removal, firefighting, building maintenance and street cleaning.
Unlike the drama that played out over several months in Madison, Wis., the battle over public workers in this bustling suburb of upscale shopping malls in the heart of Orange County is happening at lightning speed.
The letters went out last week to more than 200 of the city’s roughly 450 workers, sending many into a panic as they scurried to look for new jobs. The move will, in one great swoop, reinvent municipal government here, and perhaps lead the way for other cities to adopt similar plans.
Emotions in Costa Mesa, already running high, grew more intense after one city worker, summoned to receive his pink slip, instead climbed five stories to the roof of City Hall and jumped to his death. A small side entrance to the building is now decorated with supermarket bouquets and tall, white candles, a memorial to the 29-year-old man, who had worked for the city’s maintenance department for four years.
The layoffs have deeply divided this small city, just over the coast from affluent Newport Beach. While Costa Mesa has long been a politically conservative enclave, much like the other wealthy suburbs that surround it, the move to privatize so many city services strikes many residents as a harsh political tactic, meant to remake the city into a national model in the battle over public employee unions.
But the City Council, which moved quickly to approve the outsourcing and layoff plans, says the layoffs are the only way to solve a budget gap of as much as $15 million next year and deal with pensions that grow exponentially each year, eating away at the city’s $93 million budget.
This is the Wisconsin labor battle in miniature — union officials and opponents of the layoffs say it is politics and not money that is driving the decision. City officials say they do not know how much money they will save by outsourcing, although Mr. Righeimer said he expected to cut anywhere from 15 to 40 percent in labor costs.
They don't really care about saving money.
They just want to outsource.
Just as the Mayor of Money in NYC never met an outside consultant contract he didn't want to put up the money for, these people running the city government in Costa Mesa - real estate developers and other business owners - are going to make money coming and going on this stuff.
First, they get to cut government and government workers and bust the unions, which is the major intention here.
Then they get to turn some business the way of their business cronies who will pay them back in kind later on down the line.
Just another example of the New Feudal Order - making money coming and going, enriching themselves and their cronies at the public trough.
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