COSTA MESA — City Hall is fighting back against an organized labor ad campaign critical of its employee outsourcing plan with a "Fact Check" campaign of its own.
"We are trying to make sure the public gets the facts about the Costa Mesa budget and then can draw their conclusions about the best direction to go," said Costa Mesa's interim communications director, William Lobdell, a former Daily Pilot editor and columnist. "We're trying to create an equal playing field for debate based on facts."
In a news release Tuesday, Lobdell corrected misstatements in a recent TV spot by citizen group Repair Costa Mesa, which claimed the City Council has laid off half its workers and that city Chief Executive Tom Hatch has a $10,000 annual car allowance.
The release said the city has only issued layoff notices, informing 213 city employees — about 43% of the city's workforce — that their jobs will be outsourced in September. Of those workers, nearly 100 are firefighters, who could be employed with the Orange County Fire Authority should the city contract with them.
Also, city officials have said the notices were issued to meet a six-month advance notice requirement and may not include all 200-plus workers. If the city cannot find a suitable outside company, the layoff notices could be rescinded.
"Regardless of how the City Council's plans to outsource services materialize, the fact remains that employees received notices that they won't have a job in six months, " said Jennifer Muir, spokeswoman for the Orange County Employees Assn. "The pink slips did not say, 'You might not have a job', or 'your job is negotiable.'"
"The fact that the city is spending this much time defending his nearly $275,000 compensation package at a time when they're laying off nearly half the city's workforce is just another example of their bad priorities," Muir added.
Lobdell went on to state that Hatch receives a $477 monthly car allowance, totaling $5,724 annually.
According to Costa Mesa's 2010-11 adopted budget, the city manager's office receives an annual $10,800 auto allowance. That total, Lobdell said, includes the assistant city manager.
The campaign comes in the effort by the Repair Costa Mesa spanning the web, TV and print — using Orange County Employees Assn. money — to rally residents against the council's layoff plan and Mayor Gary Monahan. The mayor is one of four council members who voted in favor of the layoff plan.