Yesterday, lawyers for the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) filed a complaint in Orange County Superior Court, asking a judge to stop Costa Mesa's city council from firing 100 city employees. The complaint, which names Thomas Hatch, the city's chief executive officer, as a defendant, alleges that the city's proposed layoffs, as well at its plan to outsource services to save cash, violate state law. Now, in a press release issued today, OCEA asserts that the same city officials who are ordering the layoffs, have been spending lavishly on everything from meals at local restaurants to a new carpet.
According to OCEA, council members spent more than $5,300 in the past few years on breakfasts, lunches and dinners for themselves and other city officials. Of that amount, $4,200 paid for meals eaten just by council members at restaurants like Avila's El Ranchito, JT Schmid's Restaurant and Newport Rib Company. Still, the meals cost less than a carpet for the city's finance department, which came with an $8,000 price tag. One particularly irksome expense? $425 for jewelry-encrusted badges for the entire city council.
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That's just spare change compared to what the city planned to spend on a new clock system at city hall: $75,000. That plan got scrapped after Repair Costa Mesa, the same group that made a recent commercial attacking Mayor Gary Monahan, exposed it. Oh yeah, and then ther's the $7.8 million the council plans to spend on cosmetic repairs for city hall. And let's not forget the $3,000 per week Costa Mesa is paying their spokesman, Bill Lobdell, the former editor of the Daily Pilot. At $75 per hour, OCEA notes, that's more cash than the spokesperson for the California Governor earns. But I guess with all this bad publicity, Lobdell's got his work cut out for him.