Commentary: Harlan conveniently overlooks firefighter pact

Re. "Harlan: Costa Mesa's 'professional city family' deserves more respect," (Sept. 9):

Jeffrey Harlan's latest weekly rant against the City Council majority (will the Pilot editors allow this one-sided column to continue during the election season?) comes several days after the council unanimously approved new terms to the Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. contract that will save the city millions of dollars each year, provide job security for the firefighters, and deliver emergency medical aid more quickly than the current model.

Big win for all.

So much for Harlan's premise that the council members can't work side-by-side with city employees. The firefighter agreement shows what true cooperation between city leaders and city employees will result in.

Costa Mesa firefighters stepped up and agreed to a sustainable financial model that also allows the department to reshape itself to better meet the needs of Costa Mesa in 2012 and beyond.

Harlan and others who blindly support public employee unions are an endangered species. The evidence can be seen throughout California and the nation.

The reason why so many taxpayers want public employee pension and compensation reform is simple. In the past decade, the powerful unions have simply gotten too much from local, regional and state politicians that they have elected.

Check out the Costa Mesa City Employee Compensation Report on the city website. The figures are astounding. No one disputes that the system that has been created is unsustainable. Cities, many of them run by labor-friendly councils, are already going bankrupt with more to come.

I suspect the vast majority of Costa Mesa taxpayers are in favor of the efforts the council has made at pension reform. The results can be seen in the firefighters' agreement.

Now it's time for the police and city employees unions to put the residents first. There's plenty of money for each employee to earn a decent living under excellent work conditions.

I also suspect most employees (though not their union bosses) would gladly make some concessions in exchange for job security, as the firefighters did.

Maybe next week, Harlan can take a break from criticism of the council and write a glowing column on the win-win firefighters' agreement. That's the biggest news of this election season.

JIM FITZPATRICK serves on the Costa Mesa Sanitary District board.

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