Mailbag: An open letter from new schools chief

It is with respect and commitment that I have accepted the responsibility and confidence that you have entrusted in me to serve as the interim superintendent and to facilitate the process for the selection of a new permanent superintendent for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

Newport-Mesa is a student-centered school district with wonderful and caring stakeholders. It is by continuing to listen, support, respect and work together to strive to do what is right that we will continue to give all students the excellent educational opportunities they deserve. This has been the historical and demonstrated practice of the N-MUSD and its communities.

All successful organizations have times when they falter. It's during these times that we need to recommit, make course corrections and move forward. This approach is at the core and nature of all organizations that are successful.

I am humbled to once again be a member of Newport-Mesa's dedicated team of stakeholders. I look forward to reconnecting with those of you I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with in the past and making new connections.

Robert J. Barbot

Costa Mesa

The writer was recently named interim superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.


Farewell, Whitney Houston

Some music went out of our lives after the death of Whitney Houston. During this quietness, we might all remember her wonderful smile, and the courage to get up on the stage and share her God-given talents with us. God is with her now, and we are all the more sorrowful for her passing.

Sarah Moss

Costa Mesa


We can all express opinions on our city

Re "Mailbag: Commissioner's commentary unfairly insulted officials," Feb. 8:

Costa Mesa resident Tom Egan takes Planning Commissioner and Costa Mesa Taxpayer Assn. President Colin McCarthy to task for his editorial challenging the city's rising pension costs and exposing the exact toll those pensions are taking on the city.

Egan somehow believes that because McCarthy is a city commissioner, he is not allowed to criticize poor decisions by elected leaders. I find this criticism ironic since Egan spends so much time publicly criticizing our elected school board members for their decisions.

First, McCarthy does not write his editorial as city commissioner, but as the president of the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn. McCarthy doesn't somehow lose his right to comment simply because he is a city commissioner.

This is not North Korea. We have the right to express our opinions, especially about how the city is managing or mismanaging our pension costs.

I applaud McCarthy and his group's efforts to educate the residents about how their tax money is really being spent. Maybe if McCarthy had written this important editorial exposing these outrageous pension costs years ago, the city would not be facing a quarter billion dollar unfunded pension obligation and a long list of retired employees making $200,000 per year!

Egan should stop trying to silence those who want the residents to have the facts and figures about what our employees are really making and what their lavish retirements are really costing us.

Phil Lesh

Costa Mesa


Costa Mesa council is 'unsustainable'

We need to ask ourselves, are Costa Mesa's city leaders benefiting from the misery of the citizens? Is this not the same pattern of behavior that we have witnessed from four City Council members here in Costa Mesa since January 2011?

The citizens of Costa Mesa now need to be informed by local attorneys how we can hold city leaders, when they behave like vulture capitalists, personally responsible for deeds against the well-being of Costa Mesa.

This year we finally have hard evidence of what is really going on under City Council leadership here in Costa Mesa. They have loaded Costa Mesa with unlimited legal debt and are transferring Costa Mesa taxpayers' money into the coffers of private attorneys at a horrifying speed. The Costa Mesa City Council has certainly become unsustainable.

Greg Thunell

Costa Mesa


CM influenced by out-of-town politicians

There is something more than the proposed charter happening to Costa Mesa and it could affect other nearby cities.

The majority in California's government favor labor and collective bargaining. Union members make up a middle class voting bloc that usually supports them.

The out-of-town politicians (OTPs) can't seem to change this situation directly at the state level so they have developed a plan that focuses on city governments, such as Oceanside, and which can be used like a cookie cutter in other cities, such as Costa Mesa.

Once friends of the OTPs have been elected to the council, they begin to weaken the unions. This usually starts as a result of a city budget/spending crisis, and if there isn't a real crisis, then one is fabricated or exaggerated, like the one in Costa Mesa. The budget issue provides an opportunity to demonize the unions.

They usually start with blaming the tradesmen (mechanics, electricians, plumbers, etc.) and their union. As a result, the solution is to outsource or privatize the city's work and lay off the city union workers.

Layoffs and outsourcing are usually hard to do because of general state laws that govern the vast majority of cities in California, like Costa Mesa is now, so in parallel the OTPs hint that city councilmen should change the city to a charter city, even though the councilmen did not campaign on this issue.

Just a few examples from the second draft of the proposed Costa Mesa city charter will demonstrate how the charter fits into the OTP Plan (weakening unions, maximizing City Council power, minimizing checks and balances, and perpetuating campaign donations).

•Section 604. Voluntary Municipal Employee Political Contributions

"Unless otherwise required by law, a city employee labor union, city contractor, or city employer ("Organization") may only make expenditures for political activities if…."

•Section 401. Purchasing and Contracts

"No City Public Works Contract or Other Public Contract shall require payment of the prevailing wage schedule unless.…"

•Section 700. Construction and Interpretation

"The language contained in this Charter is intended to be permissive rather than exclusive or limiting and shall be liberally and broadly construed in favor of the exercise by the City of its power to govern…."

•Section 801. Review of the Charter

"The City Council shall hold a public hearing during the second meeting of every tenth year…." - Waiting 10 years to revise a charter is too long.

Below, you can see that the City Council can set any value for granting no bid contracts. If a company gets an outsourcing or a no-bid contract, you can bet that they will provide a campaign donation.

•Section 401. Purchasing and Contracts

"Annually, the City Council shall set a value at which Public Works Contracts shall be exempt from public bidding…."

As examples of questionable donations we might see in the future, Joseph Serna wrote in his Feb. 8 article in the Daily Pilot that Righeimer got donations from some attorneys from the law firm of Jones Day.

This is the firm selected to defend the city against the OCEA lawsuit. The same article described another Righeimer donation from TNT Fireworks, which got the days it could sell fireworks extended.

So this is the OTP's plan for Costa Mesa and beyond. Do you like it? I don't.

The OTP plan needs to be stopped by voting against the charter in the June election.

Charles Mooney

Costa Mesa

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