Tag Archive for City of Costa Mesa

The Context for California’s Senate Bill 7: California Unions Advance Plot to Neuter City Charters (My Article in www.UnionWatch.org)

My article With Senate Bill 7, California Unions Advance Plot to Neuter City Charters was posted on www.UnionWatch.org on February 28, 2013.

More than 30 California cities are likely to defy top union officials by asking their citizens in 2014 to vote on enacting a “home rule” charter for local control. Cities want to free their purely municipal affairs from costly union-backed state mandates…

It includes links to recent news stories about cities in California that are considering bringing a proposed charter before voters for approval in 2014:

Murrieta

A Former Mayor of a Southern California City Provides an Intellectual Argument for City Charters and Local Government Authority – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – February 19, 2013 (a commentary on Reasons to Consider Becoming a Charter City – San Diego Union-Tribune – February 19, 2013).

Costa Mesa

Outsourcing Back in for Costa MesaOrange County Register (editorial) – February 6, 2013

…passage of Measure V would have made the privatization task easier. But the union outspent Measure V proponents by more than seven-to-one. However, Mr. [Councilman Jim] Righeimer said he hopes a new charter measure will be put on the June 2014 ballot…Within 60 days the council will hold a study session on how to set up the independent committee for the new charter measure.

Stanford Professor Warns Costa Mesa about Pension DebtOrange County Register – February 27, 2013 and City’s Pension Outlook Called ‘Stark’ – Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – February 27, 2013. (With the failure of the Measure V charter in November 2012, Costa Mesa is now in the union paradigm with a proposed solution to raise taxes.)

Redding

Unions Rise to Defense of “Prevailing Wage” Rates Jeopardizing Hotel Project in Reddingwww.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – February 15, 2013 and Redding Needs a Charter to End Nonsense Definition of Private Hotel as a “Public Works” Project – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – January 31, 2013.

Escondido

Escondido Mayor Touts Urban Renewal, Embracing DiversitySan Diego Union-Tribune – February 20, 2013

Delivering his annual State of the City address to nearly 300 residents and business leaders gathered at the city’s arts center… [Mayor Sam] Abed said he also wants the city to take another shot at becoming a charter city, which would increase Escondido’s independence from Sacramento and reduce the cost of some city construction projects.

Moreno Valley

Moreno Valley: City to Explore Becoming Charter City – Riverside Press-Enterprise – February 26, 2013

The Moreno Valley City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 26, unanimously approved establishing a subcommittee that would explore becoming a charter city and appointing two council members to it.

Moreno Valley: Charter City Committee Could Be Created  – Riverside Press-Enterprise – February 25, 2013

The Moreno Valley City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 26, is to follow through on plans to determine whether to become a charter city. The council is set to vote on whether to establish a charter exploratory subcommittee and appoint two council members to it.

Buellton

Buellton Continues “Home Rule’ Talk – Santa Ynez Valley News – February 7, 2013

The idea of changing Buellton to a “home-rule” city is on hold again after City Council members decided to set up a workshop for more discussion about a draft plan…City Manager John Kunkel said the committee wants voters to be comfortable with the measure and, if the council wants to have a dialogue with unions, there is no rush.

Charting Best Path to Buellton’s Future – Santa Ynez Valley News (editorial) – February 7, 2013

…being a charter city does mean that local elected officials and voters can make more of their own decisions, and are therefore better able to tailor policy to fit specific local needs…Being a charter city also lets local government off the hook for paying a prevailing wage. Labor unions don’t like that possibility…

Arroyo Grande

Arroyo Grande Considering City Charter – www.CalCoastNews.com – January 28, 2013

The Arroyo Grande City Council has created a committee to explore the idea of becoming a charter city in order to cut costs…Many union members oppose city charters because they allow exemptions from state-mandated prevailing wage agreements. City staff says adopting a charter could save Arroyo Grande $50,000 to $300,000 annually.

Study Under Way to Find Out if Arroyo Grande Should Try to Become a Charter CitySan Luis Obispo Tribune – January 27, 2013

A committee has been convened to study whether Arroyo Grande should try to become a charter city, a move that officials say could save money and give it more local control. The idea, however, faces stiff opposition from local union members…

My Report on www.UnionWatch.org: Tracking California’s November 2012 Elections Related to Labor Issues

See my article posted this morning (November 5, 2012) on www.UnionWatch.org called Tracking California’s November 2012 Elections Related to Labor Issues.

If you are a regular reader of the Dayton Public Policy Institute blog (a project of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC), you know a lot about the following races in California:

  • Proposition 32 – Stop Special Interests state ballot measure (includes “paycheck protection”)
  • Measure V – proposed charter in Costa Mesa
  • Proposition P – proposed charter in Escondido
  • Measure I-12 – proposed charter in Grover Beach
  • Measures Q and R – authorization to borrow $414 million through bond sales for construction at Sacramento City Unified School District (which imposes Project Labor Agreements)
  • Measure Q – authorization to borrow $348 million through bond sales for construction at Solano Community College District  (which imposes Project Labor Agreements)
  • Measure E – authorization to borrow $360 million through bond sales for construction at West Contra Costa Unified School District (which imposes Project Labor Agreements)
  • Proposition Z – authorization to borrow $2.8 billion through bond sales for construction at San Diego Unified School District (which imposes Project Labor Agreements)

There are also some elections for local government offices in California that have significance for people interested in labor policy issues.

City of San Diego

If Republican Ray Ellis defeats Democrat Councilwoman Sherri Lightner for the one undecided city council race (in La Jolla), Republicans will have a 5-4 majority on the city council. What a change from ten years ago, when Republicans almost disappeared from a city council they had long controlled. (I credit the Republican Party of San Diego County for this transformation: see my www.FlashReport.org article The Untold Story: Years of Challenging, Unglamorous Work Led to Big Republican Election Night in San Diego on June 5.

Republican Councilman Carl DeMaio stands a good chance of defeating Democrat Congressman Bob Filner and getting elected as Mayor of San Diego. A few weeks ago I wrote an article comparing DeMaio’s campaign to the 2010 campaign of Rob Ford, a libertarian-oriented city council member who unexpectedly won election as Mayor of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (See Carl DeMaio’s Campaign for Mayor of San Diego Echoes Rob Ford’s Successful Campaign for Mayor of Toronto.) Chris Reed wrote the following in a November 1, 2012 article for The American Spectator (Anger Mismanagement on the Ballot; linked at www.CalWatchdog.com as Will San Diego Elect a Gay Libertarian or a Snarling Misanthrope as Mayor?):

All this is remarkably good news for DeMaio and for libertarians who have long wondered what a government run by a Reason-blessed true believer would be like…If Filner has this [negative] effect on enough people, in five weeks time, America’s eighth-largest city will inaugurate as mayor a brash reformer bent on transforming the government status quo. Thanks to a June initiative primarily authored by DeMaio, San Diego is by far the largest U.S. city to have ended costly defined-benefit pensions for nearly all its new hires. As mayor, DeMaio would ramp up San Diego’s already-aggressive attempts to bid out a wide array of government services. He also wants to end automatic “step” pay increases given to public employees just for years on the job and to finally bring to government the productivity revolution that has fueled U.S. private-sector growth for two decades. The goal, DeMaio told me in April, is to set up a national model for downsized, efficient government. If elected, DeMaio appears likely to have a GOP majority on the City Council. If these more conventional Republicans back him up, San Diego could become Ground Zero for government experimentation – of a sort that many will call radical but that libertarians will call long-overdue.

City of Costa Mesa (Orange County)

In the City of Costa Mesa, three of the four city councilmembers (the 3Ms, Gary Monahan, Steve Mensinger, and Colin McCarthy) who voted in 2011 with Councilman Jim Righeimer to “outsource” government services and put the Measure V charter on the ballot in 2012 are running as a slate. They are challenged by a slate of three candidates associated with a group called Costa Mesans for Responsible Government who oppose outsourcing and the charter. Obviously this a battle based largely on labor issues.

City of Brentwood (San Francisco Bay Area, in Contra Costa County)

In the City of Brentwood, unions are trying to keep Mayor Bob Taylor in office. Taylor voted in 2009 and 2010 to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement to build the city’s civic center and associated parking garage. I wrote about this race in Electrical Workers Union Tries to Salvage Political Career of City of Brentwood Mayor Robert Taylor (Bob Taylor) and Contra Costa Times Recognizes Fiscally Responsible Candidates for Brentwood City Council: Endorsements EXCLUDE Project Labor Agreement Supporters.

Union Slush Fund Sends Mailers to Costa Mesa Residents Attacking Measure V, the Proposed Charter

UPDATE (October 23, 2012): news coverage of the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust contributions against Measure V, the proposed charter in Costa Mesa:

Trade, Labor Groups Spending Big to Defeat Costa Mesa Charter – Orange County Register – October 18, 2012

Construction industry trade groups and labor unions are spending aggressively against Costa Mesa’s Measure V, the city charter initiative that could severely limit labor unions’ influence. The most money so far has come from the California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperation Trust, a Sacramento-based organization representing trade unions and major companies in the construction industry. It has contributed $100,000 this year to fight the measure, according to city campaign finance filings…

The money from outside groups has infuriated Councilman Jim Righeimer, the proposed charter’s architect and its chief advocate. He said construction labor groups are spending to preserve their high wages, as the charter would abolish the city’s requirement to pay a union-level wage for city-funded public works projects. “They don’t want to give up prevailing wage,” Righeimer said. “That’s the whole issue…”

The construction industry group says it is only natural for them to oppose a measure that could lower wages and toss out state rules on public works contracting. Lower wages ultimately harms the local economy, said Bob Balgenorth, chairman of the industry trust. His members “believe that prevailing wage benefits the community…it makes sure that low-wage contractors don’t bring in workers from out-of-state.”

Measure V Becomes a Six-Figure Battle – Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot – October 23, 2012

When it comes to Costa Mesa’s charter ballot initiative, organized labor so far has raised more and outspent its opposition, campaign finance records show…The majority has come from the Committee for Costa Mesa’s Future and its $100,000 contribution from the Sacramento-based California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperation Trust.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer — the architect of the charter, which he contends will lead to taxpayer savings — said the campaign spending demonstrates the outside influence of the labor unions trying to decide city matters.


The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust has provided $100,000 as of September 30, 2012 as the sole donor to “Committee for Costa Mesa’s Future – No on V – Sponsored by Labor and Management Organizations.” This a political committee established to oppose Measure V, the proposed charter on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the City of Costa Mesa, California.

The treasurer for the “Committee for Costa Mesa’s Future – No on V – Sponsored by Labor and Management Organizations” is Robbie Hunter, head of the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council.

The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust is a secretive group authorized by the obscure Labor-Management Cooperation Act of 1978, a law signed by President Jimmy Carter and implemented by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The head of the California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust is Bob Balgenorth, head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE).

California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust 2010-2011 Form 990

For information about how this organization gets its money, see my www.UnionWatch.org article Mysterious Union Slush Fund Spends $100,000 Against Costa Mesa Charter.

For more information about this organization spends its money, see my article Where the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust Spends Its Money: Now We See How Unions Spread It.

Here are examples of mail funded by the California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust through the “Committee for Costa Mesa’s Future – No on V – Sponsored by Labor and Management Organizations.”

The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust funded this mailer opposing Measure V, the proposed charter in Costa Mesa, California, in the November 6, 2012 election.

The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust funded this mailer opposing Measure V, the proposed charter in Costa Mesa, California, in the November 6, 2012 election.

The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust funded this mailer opposing Measure V, the proposed charter in Costa Mesa, California, in the November 6, 2012 election.

The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust funded this mailer opposing Measure V, the proposed charter in Costa Mesa, California, in the November 6, 2012 election.

The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust funded this mailer opposing Measure V, the proposed charter in Costa Mesa, California, in the November 6, 2012 election.

California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust funded this mailer opposing Measure V, the proposed charter in Costa Mesa, California, in the November 6, 2012 election.

The California Construction Industry Labor Management Cooperative Trust funded this mailer opposing Measure V, the proposed charter in Costa Mesa, California, in the November 6, 2012 election.

 

California Local Election Report: Three Cities Seek Voter Approval for Home-Rule Charters

Today’s www.CalWatchdog.com (October 16, 2012) has a second article in a series about the 121 charter cities in California and the attempts of additional cities to enact charters and free their municipal affairs from the costly mandates of the California State Legislature. (See Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions?) I am quoted in this article as well as in the first article.

Cities Vying for Local Control on November Ballotwww.CalWatchdog.com – October 16, 2012

But the biggest benefit, according to Kevin Dayton, CEO of Dayton Public Policy Institute, an employment and labor specialist and charter city expert, would be not having to pay prevailing wages on local public works projects. In a recent interview, Dayton said that labor union prevailing wage rates do not accurately reflect the actual industry rates, nor do they accurately reflect the construction industry in all areas within the state…

But the rational discussion about cost effectiveness has turned into an all-out assault. According to Dayton, unions have steamrolled right over smaller cities’ efforts to adopt charters. “Union leaders get very testy when someone points out that a charter city can establish its own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates,” Dayton said…

Also, see the first article in the series: Push for Charter Cities Enrages Unionswww.CalWatchdog.com – September 30, 2012

Three cities in California have proposed charters on the November 6, 2012 ballot for voters to approve. Two are medium-sized suburban cities and one is a small beach community. All three charters would give these cities the freedom to establish their own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates on purely municipal construction or private construction that gets any form of financial assistance from the city. Here’s the current status of each effort:

1. City of Costa Mesa (Orange County) – population 111,600

In November 2010, Costa Mesa voters elected a 4-1 majority on its city council that wanted to reduce the city’s budget deficit by cutting back on its workforce and contracting out services. Obviously this became a microcosm of the cataclysmic battle over the future of America: smaller government and lower taxes versus bigger government and higher taxes, or, to put it bluntly, free markets and minimalist government versus socialism. As the city council majority found its authority to manage municipal affairs continually suppressed by laws passed by the union-controlled California State Legislature, it decided to present a charter for voters to consider.

The city quickly earned national news media attention for taking on the public employee unions, which aggressively fought outsourcing. Its public meetings attracted every element of the Left intent on preserving and expanding the power and size of government. I have written about the Costa Mesa situation extensively; for more details, see Costa Mesa’s Bold and Meaningful Government Cost-Efficiency Plan on Hold Until November 6, When Citizens Vote on a Proposed Charter (Measure V) and for Three City Council Members.

2. City of Escondido (San Diego County) – population 146,032

Like in Costa Mesa, a 4-1 majority of the Escondido City Council wants to wrest the city from the costly mandates of the union-controlled California State Legislature and get more local control over the city’s budget issues. Opposing this move are unions and other leftist activists (see the Prop V section of the Escondido Democratic Club web site).

Unions tried a clever tactic to derail the charter proposal. As I wrote earlier, the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California engineered a lawsuit against the city based on the California Voting Rights Act of 2001; for more details, see Escondido City Council Votes 4-1 to Approve Proposed Charter for Voters to Consider on November Ballot and California’s Voting Rights Act of 2001: A Weapon for Unions.

3. Grover Beach (San Luis Obispo County) – population 13,275

City councils for a cluster of beach towns on the Central Coast (Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, and Grover Beach) have toyed with the idea of passing charters, but Grover Beach was the first to jump. As seen in Costa Mesa and Escondido, unions and certain factions of the Democrat Party are opposing Measure I-12.

PublicCEO.com Reports on New Third Edition: Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions?

Local government news site www.PublicCEO.com reports today (October 2, 2012) on the release of the third edition of the first and only guide to the status of government-mandated construction wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”) in California’s 121 charter cities.

The report is Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions? It is published by the California Construction Compliance Group.

As stated in the article “Charter City Report Updated,” www.PublicCEO.com covered the release of the original report in 2009 and the first update in 2011. In the three years since the first edition was published, www.PublicCEO.com has seen an explosion of proposals to California voters for city charters.

Voters in Costa Mesa, Escondido, and Grover Beach will consider charters on November 6, 2012. Links to the proposed charters are here:

I’m cited in the www.PublicCEO.com article:

Kevin Dayton, President and CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, authored the introduction to the Charter City Report, and made the case for cost savings through charters.

“One way (to save city resources) is to enact policies that allow wage rates for city construction contracts to more accurately reflect economic conditions in the local market region.”

The report was designed to not only educate local officials about charters and cost savings, but Dayton also presents it as a tool to help establish a charter or amend one to include prevailing-wage exemptions.

“This third edition of the guide to the status of government-mandated construction wage rates in California’s charter cities provides all the information necessary for charter cities considering exercising their constitutionally-guaranteed right to determine the government-mandated wage rate policies in their own municipal construction contracts.”

The article also quotes Costa Mesa City Councilman Jim Righeimer talking about cost savings that would result if voters in the City of Costa Mesa approve a proposed charter through Measure V in the November 6, 2012 election. Righeimer wants the City of Costa Mesa to establish its own government-mandated construction wage rate policy for purely municipal projects under the authority of its proposed charter:

Those kinds of savings, and many of the other freedoms afforded to cities, have three cities looking to charter in November. One of the highest profile cases comes from Costa Mesa, where the City Council has been pursuing a charter for the better part of a year.

For Costa Mesa, it’s about controlling local affairs and being able to leverage local solutions to local problems. The most obvious case, as Councilman Jim Righeimer told PublicCEO in the past, is outsourcing and contracting.

Pointing to the city’s jail services, Righeimer said that, “…savings alone on a $1.5 million cost could be $50k a month. That’s just one contract.”

But the city also included language exempting local projects from prevailing wage laws.

“Prevailing wage is clear as day,” said Righeimer. “We want to be able to negotiate with market rate wages like Newport and Huntington. We don’t want to have to have a union wage.”

Here are links to two current examples of charters recently approved by voters:

Also, I have begun a project to create from scratch a new model charter for California cities. See link below; I’ll keep you informed:

Project Underway to Create a Cutting-Edge Model Charter for California Cities to Free Their Municipal Affairs from the State Legislature – YOU Can Help!

For more than a year, I’ve talked and written about developing a model charter that city councils and appointed charter commissions in California’s general law cities can use as a basis to develop their own proposed charters to bring before voters for consideration.

A model charter would also help city councils and appointed charter commissions in 121 California cities to amend and freshen their existing charters. (Note: voters in three more cities – Escondido, Costa Mesa, and Grover Beach – will consider enacting proposed charters in the November 6, 2012 election; there may be 124 charter cities in California at the end of 2012.)

Generally, the dozen cities that brought charters before their voters in the past six years obtained existing charters from other cities and tweaked them a little. City council members and staff have not started from scratch in developing their proposed charters, perhaps to avoid the political and legal risks of trying new concepts, and perhaps in part because developing a constitution from scratch is a time-consuming intellectual exercise better suited to James Madison or modern policy institutes.

Significant and recent developments in proposed city charters in California have been related to explicit provisions concerning the establishment of policies for government-mandated construction wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”), prohibitions on requiring contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions, and requirements for unions to get permission from city employees to deduct money from their paychecks to use for political purposes. In addition, some charters have contained provisions meant to prevent the kind of corruption among city council members and city staff that occurred in the City of Bell in the late 2000s.

As I wrote in the Auburn Journal newspaper on September 26, 2011, cities in California need to consider asking voters to enact a charter that would be “a searing and unprecedented manifesto in support of fair and open competition, free enterprise, economic growth and job creation.” A charter needs to give a city full control of its municipal affairs, so it can implement “lower taxes, reasonable regulation, fiscal responsibility, limited government, local control and more freedom from corrupt urban legislators.”

Defenders of the status quo prefer California’s advocates of economic and personal freedom to be apologetic, mealy-mouthed, submissive and ineffective. I noted that an ideal charter, with its “defiance of excessive state authority,” would enrage numerous special interest groups.

Of course, aggressive opposition from special interest groups indicates a proposed charter would be effective in expanding local control. Should city councils and city staff regard this opposition as an insurmountable obstacle to achieving meaningful home rule?

My thinking is that even a slightly effective proposed city charter will agitate the unions, the environmental extremists, and any other parties who use the California State Legislature as an agent to impose their utopian visions on communities where a majority of people just want to mind their own business. Opposition from powerful special interest groups will come if the proposed charter is 100% effective or 10% effective in changing things. So why not pursue a goal of claiming 100% of the potential for a city’s governing authority over municipal affairs?

I Need Your Help to Develop the Ultimate Model City Charter for California!

Almost everyone squatting in the state legislature for the duration of their term limit wants to leave a legacy of some sort of accomplishment; that is, something inserted in California law that they can proudly show their grandchildren and cite in speeches to inspire youths to pursue public service. Think about how the California State Legislature enacts a parade of inane laws every year that interferes with or intrudes in municipal affairs.

In Sacramento today, I spoke to a group of free market-oriented policy intellectuals based in California about my plan to collect ideas for provisions in a model charter. I expect to get some great recommendations from them concerning transportation, land use and zoning, air quality, etc. You can help too. Below are resources to help you develop ideas to send me for the model charter:

1. At the end of this post, I cite relevant language from the July 2012 California Supreme Court case State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, AFL-CIO v. City of Vista about the Constitutional right of charter cities to control their own municipal affairs. This citation also includes the four criteria under which an issue is a municipal affair versus an issue of statewide concern. Read the criteria and think about problems in your city that the city council can’t fix or evade under the status quo.

2. Here are links to a few of the city charters recently enacted by voters or to be considered by voters in the November 6, 2012 election. These are the current examples of charters now being circulated among California local officials:

City of Oceanside

City of Vista

City of Costa Mesa

City of Escondido

City of Grover Beach

3. Here is a link to my 94-page report (third edition) published by the California Construction Compliance Group about the status of policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”) in California’s 121 charter cities. It’s the first and only comprehensive report ever written about this right of charter cities:

Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions? – 3rd Edition – Summer 2012

4. The League of California Cities (which is NOT part of this project) has excellent information about charter cities and home rule: Resources on Charter Cities from the League of California Cities.

5. To send me your ideas for charter provisions, call me or go here on this web site and use the form to contact me in writing. Thank you for your ideas to advance economic and personal freedom!

California’s Home Rule Doctrine

(Excerpts from pages 6 and 7 of the City of Vista California Supreme Court Decision on charter cities and prevailing wages – citations removed and language simplified – see the decision itself for more technical guidance.)

Charter cities are specifically authorized by our state Constitution to govern themselves, free of state legislative intrusion, as to those matters deemed municipal affairs.

Article XI, section 5, subdivision (a) of the California Constitution provides: “It shall be competent in any city charter to provide that the city governed thereunder may make and enforce all ordinances and regulations in respect to municipal affairs, subject only to restrictions and limitations provided in their several charters and in respect to other matters they shall be subject to general laws. City charters adopted pursuant to this Constitution shall supersede any existing charter, and with respect to municipal affairs shall supersede all laws inconsistent therewith.”

The roots of this provision trace back more than 100 years. It was originally enacted upon the principle that the municipality itself knew better what it wanted and needed than the state at large, and to give that municipality the exclusive privilege and right to enact direct legislation which would carry out and satisfy its wants and needs. The provision represents an affirmative constitutional grant to charter cities of all powers appropriate for a municipality to possess and includes the important corollary that so far as municipal affairs are concerned, charter cities are supreme and beyond the reach of legislative enactment.

We set forth an analytical framework for resolving whether or not a matter falls within the home rule authority of charter cities.

  1. Does the city ordinance at issue regulate an activity that can be characterized as a municipal affair?
  2. Does the case present an actual conflict between local and state law?
  3. Does the state law address a matter of statewide concern?
  4. Is the law reasonably related to resolution of that concern and narrowly tailored to avoid unnecessary interference in local governance? If the subject of the state statute is one of statewide concern and that the statute is reasonably related to its resolution (and not unduly broad in its sweep), then the conflicting charter city measure ceases to be a municipal affair and the Legislature is not prohibited by Article XI, section 5(a), from addressing the statewide dimension by its own tailored enactments.”
Note: in the City of Vista case, the court ruled that “no statewide concern has been presented justifying the state’s regulation of the wages that charter cities require their contractors to pay to workers hired to construct locally funded public works. In light of our conclusion that there is no statewide concern here, we need not determine whether the state’s prevailing wage law is “reasonably related to . . . resolution” of that concern and is “narrowly tailored” to avoid unnecessary interference in local governance. The court didn’t need to consider #4 in the analytical framework listed above because the answer to #3 was NO.

Costa Mesa’s Bold and Meaningful Government Cost-Efficiency Plan on Hold Until November 6, When Citizens Vote on a Proposed Charter (Measure V) and for Three City Council Members

The Costa Mesa City Council has received significant state and national news coverage in the past 18 months as four of the five council members have attempted to implement bold and meaningful efforts to make city services more cost-efficient. (See “Costa Mesa Gets National Exposure” – Orange County Register – Column by Frank Mickadeit – June 1, 2011)

Of course, legislative initiatives are bold and meaningful when they challenge the agenda of public employee unions. Aggressive union opposition indicates legitimate potential cost savings for taxpayers.

The California 4th Appellate District Court, Division 3 issued an unpublished decision yesterday (August 17, 2012) in Costa Mesa City Employees Association v. City of Costa Mesa that affirms the July 15, 2011 decision of an Orange County Superior Court judge to suspend a plan of the Costa Mesa City Council to layoff city employees and contract out their jobs to private firms. The appeals court ruled that the lower court’s preliminary injunction to stop the plan was proper.

This means the Costa Mesa City Council cannot proceed with its cost-efficiency plan until the courts fully consider and decide the plan’s legality. It means that future advancement of such a plan will depend on two factors to be decided in the November 6, 2012 elections: (1) whether or not Costa Mesa voters approve Measure V and enact a city charter that gives the city more authority to contract out services; and (2) whether or not public employee unions and their political allies can replace three current city council members with pro-union city council members, thus bringing the cost-efficiency plan to a screeching halt.

BACKGROUND ON THE COSTA MESA GOVERNMENT COST-EFFICIENCY PLAN

As described in the unpublished court decision, “On March 1, 2011, the City Council of Costa Mesa approved an outsourcing plan to contract out for a variety of city services, including street sweeping, graffiti abatement, animal control, jail operations, special event safety, information technology, graphic design, reprographics, telecommunications, payroll, employee benefit administration, building inspection, and park, fleet, street and facility maintenance. Thereupon, on March 17 and March 31, 2011, the City’s Public Services Director sent layoff notices to over 100 city workers who are represented by CMCEA.” The decision notes that the plan did not “just target one particular position or department; rather, it is aimed at 18 different sectors of the City’s workforce that provide a wide array of services to the citizens of Costa Mesa.”

CMCEA is the Costa Mesa City Employees Association (a public employees’ union that is part of the independent Orange County Employees Association), which has a collective bargaining agreement with the city established in 2004 and scheduled to expire in 2013. It responded on May 16, 2011 to the city council’s cost-efficiency plan with a lawsuit against the city to stop it. Its complaint alleged the City’s government reduction plan violates the Government Code in that it calls for the outsourcing of jobs that do not involve “special services” (California Government Code Section 37103 and California Government Code Section 53060) and alleged the plan violates the parties’ collective bargaining agreement because the City did not meet with CMCEA to determine which specific services should be contracted out and how to best mitigate layoffs.

How meaningful was this government cost-efficiency plan? The appeals court felt it was highly meaningful:

Indeed, defendant Hatch, the City’s CEO, admitted in his declaration, “City leadership is earnestly pursuing the outsourcing of City services[.]” While he said there was a “possibility” the RFP process would not actually result in the outsourcing of any jobs, it is readily apparent CMCEA’s members were in serious peril of being terminated.

That was made evident by the many layoff notices that the City sent out. The trial court’s interpretation of the notices as a “significant step” in the outsourcing process is supported by the fact the notices set September 30, 2011 as the expected date the recipients would be terminated. The notices did state they were contingent on the recipient’s job being outsourced and were subject to being rescinded, but they also made clear the City Council was presently determined to pursue a plan that called for the recipient’s job to be outsourced. And, according to CEO Hatch, the City was pursuing that plan in earnest. The notices also referred the recipients to the City’s Human Resources Divisions for help with job loss issues and expressed regret “the City’s current conditions require that City employees be laid off.” (Italics added.) Clearly, the recipients of the layoff notices were facing a very real threat of losing their jobs.

Obviously no one wants to lose a job, and the CMCEA appealed to the emotions inherent in the government cost-efficiency plan:

Job loss is always a serious matter, and in this post-recession era of high unemployment, it cannot be taken lightly. Defendants admit that losing a job, and the income it entails, amounts to irreparable harm. (White v. Davis, supra, 30 Cal.4th at p. 559 [lost wages and other benefits during lawsuit over budget impasse constituted serious hardship to those affected by impasse].)

The court recognized this argument is balanced by “the citizenry’s interest in cost-effective government”:

Notwithstanding the prospect of city workers losing their jobs, however, defendants contend, “The residents and taxpayers of Costa Mesa have a substantial interest in a local government that is able to provide better municipal services while improving its financial security.” Defendants also submit that, unless the preliminary injunction is lifted, the City cannot even attempt to further that interest by putting its outsourcing plan in motion. We do not question the citizenry’s interest in cost-effective government… 

This court decision outlines the fundamental clash over the future of California. One side (the Costa Mesa City Council majority) tries to reduce the city bureaucracy and its control over most aspects of city operations, thus freeing the taxpayers from the costly commitments made through collective bargaining with unions when times were prosperous. The unions doesn’t want to lose jobs (both for economic reasons and because of the honest commitment of some of their members to be public servants).

Obviously the primary solution as seen by unions is to obtain more revenue for city operations through tax increases. In the meantime, they can derail any outsourcing plan by appealing to their collective bargaining agreement and using the courts to enforce it. Of course, they also have the threat of going on strike and of election campaign activity to change the city council.

It’s “important for Costa Mesa residents to throw off the yoke of the Legislature and govern their own city affairs…” – from my commentary in the July 13 Daily Pilot Newspaper

“This was a solid victory for California citizens who believe that a city council might know more about local market conditions and the specific needs of a community than corrupt state legislators from Los Angeles and San Francisco. It was also a victory for California citizens who pay for local government services and want them provided efficiently and at a reasonable, competitive price.”

“It’s important for the unions and their sycophants in the Legislature to make sure Costa Mesa remains firmly under their thumb. It’s even more important for Costa Mesa residents to throw off the yoke of the Legislature and govern their own city affairs, by voting for their charter in November.”

Those are excerpts from my commentary in the July 13, 2012 Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot newspaper about the California Supreme Court decision in State Building and Construction Trades Council v. City of Vista on July 2, 2012. That ruling upheld the constitutional right of California’s 121 charter cities to establish their own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates on purely municipal projects. I anticipate Costa Mesa citizens will vote in November for their city to be among the next batch of cities to adopt “home rule” under a charter.

Read the full opinion piece from the Daily Pilot here: Commentary: Vista Ruling Benefits Local Governments, Residents

The Local Charter City Rebellion Against the Destructive California State Legislature Is Underway!

The Sacramento Bee published an editorial today (July 11, 2012) entitled “Will Cities Seize the Opportunity of Wage Ruling?” that urges charter cities to “seize the opportunity” and free themselves from costly state-mandated construction wage rates (also known as “prevailing wages”). It is the latest of numerous articles, editorials, blogs, and opinion pieces describing this court decision as a turning point for local governments seeking to provide adequate public services at a competitive and reasonable price. See my compilation of these articles here.

Regarding the July 2 California Supreme Court decision in State Building and Construction Trades Council v. City of Vista confirming the right of charter cities to establish their own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates, the Bee says the following:

…charter cities in California that use their own money to build new fire stations, libraries, sewer systems or other municipal facilities can ignore the state’s prevailing wage law.
The ruling is a blow to organized labor but a boon to taxpayers. If they have the political will to take advantage of it, struggling municipal governments can save a lot of money.

Do elected officials in charter cities have the political will to develop their own city prevailing wage policies, or even simply to exempt their purely municipal construction projects from state-mandated construction wage rates? They should proceed to do so, at least until the California State Legislature approves more reasonable definitions of public works through Assembly Bill 987 and approves more accurate methods of calculating prevailing wage through Assembly Bill 988? These two comprehensive, detailed, well-informed bills were introduced by Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) but rejected in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on party-line votes (Democrats opposed, Republicans in support) on January 4, 2012. These bills need to be reconsidered!

Cities such as Costa Mesa and Escondido and Grover Beach [added August 19, 2012 – ed.] are definitely asking their citizens to approve robust, assertive charters. The cities of Temecula, Murrieta, Arroyo Grande, and Grover Beach are seriously considering asking their citizens to do the same. Several cities that already have charters are preparing to establish their own government-mandated construction wage policies.

Yes, unions will aggressively and viciously oppose any effort by the citizens of local governments to escape the oppressive mandates of the California State Legislature, long dominated by foolish union puppets from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Their opposition only confirms that city charters are a very powerful and meaningful way to assert local authority over local matters and provide public services at a better price for ordinary taxpayers.

Costa Mesa City Council Gets Email from the Center of the Great Quest to Free California’s Fiscally Responsible Local Governments from Centralized State Government Excesses and Mandates

From: Kevin Dayton, Labor Issues Solutions, LLC

Subject: Costa Mesa City Council: Suggestion for Formal Pro and Con Presentations on Provisions of Proposed Charter

Date: June 12, 2012 7:21:34 PM PDT

To: Righeimer@costamesaca.gov, Eric.Bever@costamesaca.gov, Stephen.Mensinger@costamesaca.gov, Gary.Monahan@costamesaca.gov, Wendy.Leece@costamesaca.gov

Cc: CityManager@costamesaca.gov

Costa Mesa City Council members:

Greetings!

As someone identified by “Costa Mesans for Responsible Government” (see here) as the Center of the Great Quest to Free California’s Fiscally Responsible Local Governments from Centralized State Government Excesses and Mandates, I am writing to you about your proposed charter.

[Councilwoman Leece, I’m sending this to the (Orange County) Register and (Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily) Pilot, so “WOW, you won’t all need to continue to write letters to the Register and Pilot to expose this statewide scheme.”]

I saw that your first informational hearing on June 5 on a proposed charter for the City of Costa Mesa was – according to the Orange County Register – marred by “much of the same conflicts and arguments that plagued the first hearing process.”

Obviously your proposed charter is meaningful public policy – otherwise everyone would be praising it unanimously as if it were a resolution for Take Your Dog to Work Day. (That’s June 22 if you want to put that on your June 19 meeting agenda to bring peace, harmony, and unity to the community.)

I watched the video, and I saw some members of the public asking for thoughtful changes in a civil manner. Others are absolutely intent on maintaining the power of centralized government in Sacramento.

But I noticed that yet again there was a lack of informed public discussion regarding the actual statutory and regulatory aspects of state-mandated construction wage rates and the state’s expansive definition of public works. How does the state calculate construction wage rates? Why does the definition of “public works” apply to so many private projects?

It needs to be emphasized that under Section 401 of your proposed charter, the city council will have the power to evaluate the benefits and liabilities of each provision of the following California Labor Code sections and determine their relevance to Costa Mesa municipal construction:

PART 7. PUBLIC WORKS AND PUBLIC AGENCIES

CHAPTER 1. PUBLIC WORKS

Article 1. Scope and Operation …………………………. 1720-1743
Article 1.5. Right of Action ……………………………… 1750
Article 2. Wages ……………………………………… 1770-1781

I propose a formal set of presentations at your next informational hearing to discuss various aspects of the charter. I would be interested in speaking about why it is reasonable to question the city’s current absolute subservience as a general law city to California Labor Code Sections 1720-1781 and related regulations.

Just one example: what is so wrong with the city being able to set a project cost threshold of $1 million for government-mandated construction wage rates on purely municipal projects, instead of the $1000 set by the state in 1931 that persists today? As a charter city, you could set your own project cost threshold for city projects.

I suggest inviting top representatives of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California to speak about why the city needs to remain firmly under the authority of the benevolent and enlightened California State Legislature. Perhaps they can explain the section of their brief submitted to the California Supreme Court on State Building and Construction Trades Council of California v. City of Vista that claims charter cities must abide by state-mandated construction wage rates (“prevailing wages”) because “construction workers today routinely commute to projects outside the cities in which they happen to live” and “it is not uncommon for today’s construction workers to commute more than 100 miles to work at a job site.”

By the way, here’s my report on the defeat of the proposed charter in the City of Auburn in the June 5 election:

Who Defeated the City of Auburn’s Proposed Charter, and How Was It Done? (Answer: Three Union Entities, by Spending $56.40 Per NO Vote

Also, please let me know if there are any upcoming community forums where the charter will be debated (chamber of commerce, etc.).

In the meantime, congratulations on the initiative of four of you to seek meaningful local control over municipal affairs that could bring relief for middle class taxpayers and small businesses that are interested in fiscal responsibility and freedom from costly state mandates.

Kevin Dayton
President and CEO
Labor Issues Solutions, LLC

California taxpayers and small business owners: it’s bad out there! See my blog postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com

P.S.  Have you seen where various organizations and publications rank California nowadays among the 50 states for business climates and regulatory and tax burdens? Yes, there is a problem!