Mailbag: McCarthy favors a flawed city charter

I am always disappointed when I read a letter on the Forum page by Costa Mesa City Council candidate and Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy, his most recent being "Candidate is wrong about charter cities (July 10)," and now I see what a disappointment he would be if he were elected as a councilman.

In his letter he never seems to have enough fact or law on his side to keep him from making derogatory comments about his opponents, in this case against attorney John Stephens.

McCarthy is critical of Stephens and Newport-Mesa Unified school board Trustee Katrina Foley, who together defended the rule of law when the city of Costa Mesa missed the June filing date for the proposed charter.

Is McCarthy saying that he is against upholding the rule of law? If so, he should check the preamble to the proposed charter he so loves.

It is clear that McCarthy favors the proposed and poorly written charter. However, I am not sure he has read it because, as a lawyer, he has to admit that there are sections in it that will unnecessarily provoke expensive and time-consuming lawsuits, as Stephens warns, and some other sections that would never be acceptable to a normal person signing a contract.

McCarthy charges Stephens with ruling by fear when he warns of future lawsuits. Keep in mind it isn't ruling by fear to warn people of situations based on real and pertinent examples, as Stephens described. Would you consider it ruling by fear if I told you that you will get hurt if you stick your head in a cement mixer because I have seen others do it and they got hurt?

However, it seems that McCarthy has his own brand of fear mongering when he implies that we need a charter to be "emancipated from the union-dominated Legislature in Sacramento."

The big, bad unions are obviously out to get us, and they want us to pay prevailing wages. McCarthy argues against Stephens' position and says that public safety and work quality won't be compromised by using contractors who are not union and don't pay prevailing wages.

Evidently, McCarthy thinks that all construction workers are of the same quality, and a policeman is a policeman, and a fireman is a fireman, and they're all the same.

Where were McCarthy and his Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn. when the city hired $495-an-hour lawyers? Why are we paying so much for these lawyers? Aren't all lawyers the same and deliver the same quality of work?

McCarthy goes on to imply that the charter will deal with the pension plans. Again, I question if McCarthy has read the proposed charter. The charter has nothing in it that will deal with the current levels of retirement benefits. This issue will need to be addressed in contract negotiations and this will occur with or without a charter.

Lastly, McCarthy claims that the city took a stand for residents and tried to outsource services to reduce costs and, as a reward for this good deed, got sued by the employees. I don't know if he has read the lawsuit, but, yes, Mr. McCarthy, if you breach a contract, as the suit claims, you can expect to be sued.

McCarthy has always been a surrogate mouthpiece for the council. He has thoughtlessly backed its every move; supporting the proposed charter as if it is an automatic solution to city problems is just another example.

Charles Mooney

Costa Mesa


McCarthy spins like the rest

The commentary by Costa Mesa City Council candidate and Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy ("Candidate is wrong about charter cities", June 11) is another example of his and the council majority's well-practiced skill of fact-twisting and propaganda.

McCarthy says council candidate John Stephens and school board Trustee Katrina Foley "initiated legal action against the city ..."

In reality, the city initiated the legal action by asking the court to order the registrar of voters to accept a ballot proposal that was filed after the deadline.

What Stephens and Foley did was simply represent the other side of the issue — and at no cost to anyone but themselves, I might add. We don't know how many thousands of dollars the city's lawyers spent on it. Without Stephens and Foley, the court would only have heard one side of the story.

How can you reach a fair conclusion after hearing only one side of an argument?

As to McCarthy's allegation that the employees are responsible for the expensive legal battle over the layoff notices, that's like saying the police and the district attorney are responsible for expensive prosecution of law-breakers. If the council hadn't violated state law and/or city policies and contracts, there would have been no reason for a lawsuit.

Finally, he plays on fear of unions. McCarthy says the city is being "held hostage by employee unions."

First, the issue of prevailing wages — the subject of the state Supreme Court decision that was the subject of Stephens' commentary — has nothing to do with unions. Nothing requires cities to use union contractors. A city may pay prevailing wages to nonunion workers too.

Second, were all the current and previous council members puppets of the unions? This list includes Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, Councilman Gary Monahan, Mayor Eric Bever and Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), three of whom were on the council long before the 2010 election.

If the unions are in charge, how did these people get elected? Furthermore, the unions don't set wage and pension levels for the city — the council does. These decisions result from a negotiation process, but the council has the final say.

To properly and effectively address the city's personnel costs, the city and the employee associations must work together, in good faith, to find a solution that will benefit all parties — above all the residents of Costa Mesa.

Unfortunately, "good faith" is hard to come by after the heavy-handed way this council majority started the process 18 months ago. Perhaps they can try to atone by extending an offer — without strings or conditions — to sit down and talk.

We're waiting.

Perry Valantine

Costa Mesa

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