Community Commentary: Councilmen fed well while on the job

During the past few City Council meetings, Councilmen Jim Righeimer, Gary Monahan, Eric Bever and Steve Mensinger have all bellyached about having a full plate even though their jobs are part-time. What we didn't know was they were feeding at the public trough — literally!

Did you know from July 2008 to January 2011, the Costa Mesa City Council spent more than $5,300 on dinners, lunches and breakfasts for city bureaucrats?

The single largest recipient of city meals was the City Council, which received more than $4,200 of taxpayer-paid meals at dinners and receptions. They ordered food from fine food restaurants, such as Avila's El Ranchito, JT Schmid's Restaurant & Brewery and Newport Rib Co. (They could have at least taken advantage for the two-for-one deal the Orange County Register reported this week.)

How many part-time jobs come with free gourmet meals? Nice work, especially if you can get appointed to it.

The City Council was elected to maintain the city services Costa Mesa residents overwhelmingly rate good to excellent. They were not elected to collect these perks. Charging taxpayers for meals while claiming to they want to tighten their belts is just another example of Costa Mesa's city councilmen making taxpayers the biggest losers.

If the City Council was serious about reducing the budget, it would give up free meals and other perks.

It's time for the City Council to start watching its waist. Let's cut the taxpayer-paid free food. May we suggest brown-bagging it next time? (Not to be confused with bagging the Brown Act.)

Transparency check: It's been 23 days since Righeimer was asked to release personal e-mails regarding official deliberations on outsourcing and the layoff notices sent to 213 employees. We're still waiting for those e-mails.

Waste check: Waste Watchers and Repair Costa Mesa have already pointed out the following wasteful spending:

• New carpet for the finance department: $8,000

• Literature holder for City Hall lobby: $500

• Centralized clock system at City Hall: $75,000 (cut from budget after exposed by Repair Costa Mesa)

• Planned cosmetic repairs at City Hall: $7.8 million

• Jewel-encrusted badges for City Council: $425

• City spokesman who makes more than the governor's spokesman: $3,000 per week

• Salaries and benefits of seven city bureaucrats: More than $1.5 million per year

Jennifer Muir, Orange County Employees Assn., Santa Ana

Editor's note: This piece was written as an open letter to the community and is being reprinted with permission from the association to run as a letter to the editor in the Daily Pilot.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World