Union agrees to work with committees

COSTA MESA — City employees have reluctantly agreed to participate in the newly formed Contracting Committees that will review Costa Mesa services before city Chief Executive Tom Hatch opens them up for bidding from outside groups.

In a letter to Hatch on Tuesday, Costa Mesa City Employees Assn. (CMCEA) President Helen Nenadal said the organization will participate, but she repeated her request that the union see the committee's guidelines ahead of time.

Her request was in response to a letter Hatch sent to the CMCEA on Friday.

"You will have an opportunity for your representatives to review the city attorney guidelines at the same time as the other members of the committee, which is completely consistent with that policy," Hatch said. "I am sure you will find that the guidelines are consistent with the policy and [employee contracts.]"

There remains little trust between Costa Mesa's workers and top management.

"I remain uncomfortable embarking on this process without having first reviewed the city attorney's guidelines," Nenadal responded in her letter Tuesday. "The council majority's actions and statements, most recently the comments directed at me personally during the last City Council meeting, have made it clear that the city's motives do not promote the best interests of its employees."

During a heated debate at the Aug. 3 council meeting over giving funds to a youth sports program, council members addressed Nenadal repeatedly as she sat in the audience. In one instance, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer argued the CMCEA sues the city "every time we turn around" then complains about rising legal fees.

Costa Mesa may have saved itself from another lawsuit by forming the Contracting Committees. The city was on the brink of opening up several city services for bids to public and private organizations when Nenadal informed them that committees must review any service up to be contracted out before its opened up for bidding.

Despite her discomfort, Nenadal assured Hatch that she and two other city employees will be at the committee's first meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

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