Monday, June 13, 2011

Steve Lopez: Answering an invitation to visit Costa Mesa - latimes.com

Steve Lopez: Answering an invitation to visit Costa Mesa - latimes.com

I love it when private-sector guys think they can fix any government agency without breaking a sweat. Didn't their real estate industry just crash? And if the private sector is so clean and efficient, why does the business section of every newspaper look like the crime report?

Righeimer handed me a printout of total compensation for every one of Costa Mesa's several hundred employees. It shows that 85 of them — almost all of them from the police and fire departments — cost the city more than $200,000 in 2010 when you count salary, overtime, health benefits, city pension contributions and other forms of compensation.

He believes that outsourcing would lighten the load by getting the city out from under contracts it can't afford. And he says it wouldn't necessarily throw massive numbers of city employees out of work, since they could end up being hired by the private contractors. But I wouldn't bet on it. The city says it would look favorably on bidders who hire current employees and offer them healthcare and 401(k) plans, but it wouldn't require any of that.

While we were talking, U.S. Rep. John Campbell pulled up in a shiny, cinnamon red Corvette and said, as if on cue, that the feds should be thinking more the way the boys in Costa Mesa are.

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