Community Commentary: Union should be working with the city [Corrected]

Several months ago, I wrote a piece about the Orange County Employees' Assn.'s fierce and unrelenting attack on our great city. At the time, I encouraged the union to become part of the solution and stop the petty bickering and name-calling.

After all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that times are difficult and high unemployment continues. Our city is faced with a long-term budget mess that will require everyone to work together to solve.

Not surprisingly, the union has refused to help solve the problem. They continue to force the city to spend legal dollars to defend its sovereignty to manage the problem. Their surrogates continue trashing every street and residential parkway in our city with their "Cancel the Layoffs" signs. Recently, they even hired a private investigator to question and intimidate high school students whom they accused of stealing their campaign signs.

An earlier version of this piece said employee union members placed “illegal” ¿Cancel the Layoffs¿ signs. In fact, there is no publicly available evidence that the that the signs are illegal. In addition, the original version stated that a private investigator was hired to ¿harass and intimidate¿ high school students accused of stealing signs. The union maintains that it hired the investigator to find out what happened, not intimidate or harass students, and they never accused students or anybody else of the thefts.

Which is why I was not surprised to read the latest PR piece from union spin master Jennifer Muir ("Community Commentary: Council cannot justify legal, PR costs," Sept. 9). In her recent op-ed piece, Muir takes issue with the City Council's recent hiring of two law firms to defend the city in pending litigation. The ultimate irony in this piece is that it's the union that has filed the lawsuit. Yes, Muir is criticizing the city for hiring lawyers to defend against her own frivolous lawsuit!

The employees union has nearly unlimited funds through mandatory union dues (your taxpayer money) to fight Costa Mesa. They have made Costa Mesa their last stand to fight the bi-partisan financial change that is sweeping across this county and state. The unions care little for the citizens and our inherent right to manage our city government without fear of intimidation and threat. Their "New Jersey" approach to peddling and buying candidates only denigrates the democratic process.

The union is fighting a losing battle as taxpayers wake up to our financial realities and demand that we not simply dump this debt on our children and grandchildren. As more and more cities outsource certain municipal services to remain solvent, the union's thuggery, lies and "spin" become less and less relevant.

Isn't it time that the employees union work with the city to solve our long-term financial situation? Couldn't the money, time and energy spent on lawyers, private investigators and negative public relations be better spent helping the city solve its long-term budget deficit? I think so.

COLIN MCCARTHY is the president of the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn.

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