CIVIC OPENNESS IN PUBLIC EMPLOYEE LABOR NEGOTIATIONS IS NOT COMING TO FULLERTON UNLESS THE PEOPLE STAND UP TO OUR CITY LEADERS


  • I REPORT, YOU DECIDE. By Barry Levinson
  • BARRY LEVINSON

    BARRY LEVINSON

    This is my first opportunity to compare an excellent law, the CostaMesa Ordinance on Civic Openness in Negotiations (C.O.I.N.) vs. theFullerton Draft C.O.I.N Ordinance, which can be passed into law by a

    vote of our city council on Tuesday, June 17th 2014.

     

    Costa Mesa’s Civic Openness in Negotiations ordinance was

    designed to make public employee salary and benefit negotiations

    open and transparent to the public and to all members of the city

    council as well.

    First, the Costa Mesa ordinance makes it clear that “the city shall

    have prepared on its behalf, by an independent auditor, …. a

    study and supplemental data upon which the study is based,

    determining the fiscal impacts attributed to each term and condition of

    employment.”

    More importantly “the above report and findings of the independent

    auditor shall be completed and made available for review by the city

    council and the public at least thirty days before consideration by the

    city council of an initial meet and confer proposal to be presented

    to any recognized employee organization regarding negotiation

    of an amended, extended, successor, or original memorandum of

    understanding.”

    Finally, “the above report shall be regularly updated by the

    independent auditor to itemize the costs and the funded and

    unfunded actuarial liability which would or may result form adoption or

    acceptance of each meet and confer proposal.”

    The draft Fullerton C.O.I.N. ordinance includes none of the above

    specific steps to ensure the public is being kept informed with

    accurate and timely data and information.

     

    What does our draft ordinance include? It includes the following:

    “Staff shall prepare an annual analysis of cost and liabilities related to

    each Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between a recognized

    employee association and the city of Fullerton …”. “The annual fiscal

    analysis shall be submitted to the City’s independent auditor during

    the course of the annual City financial audit.”

    Please notice ladies and gentlemen that this audit takes place

    annually, probably after the conclusion and the signing of the labor

    agreements. Learning of an error after a 3 or 5-year agreement has

    been signed, sealed and delivered is meaningless. How convenient

    for all city employees that City Manager Joe Felz and staff would

    rewrite this ordinance in this fashion. The auditing required under

    the Fullerton Draft Ordinance is a waste of money because it is not

    completed on a timely basis.

    Second, the Fullerton draft excludes the Report Format, which

    provides the framework and necessary detail to understand the

    impacts of various items in the proposals.

    Third, if the two items above do not derail the true purpose of

    C.O.I.N. then a simple majority of the council can do away with the

    requirement to have an independent negotiator. This part of the draft

    ordinance is ridiculous on its face. You take a cornerstone of the

    concept of C.O.I.N. and you make it optional with the vote of 3 out of

    5 members of the council. Section B.1 entitled Principal Negotiator,

    states “The requirement for an outside negotiator may be waived by a

    majority vote of City Council.”

    Fullerton city leaders have taken an open, fair and effective law for all

    parties and made it into a paper tiger.

    This is my first review of the Fullerton C.O.I.N. draft ordinance and

    you can see by the length of this critique that the two ordinances

    have far more differences than key points in common. In fact, I would

    be hard pressed to see any of the Costa Mesa key points being

    brought forward to our Fullerton ordinance. Based on all the above

    facts, it would not be far from the truth to state that our Fullerton

    ordinance literally guts the effectiveness of the Costa Mesa law.

    My recommendation is that we throw out this draft in its entirety. We

    start again with the Costa Mesa Ordinance as our draft ordinance as

    originally brought before this council some 7 months ago by Council

    member Whitaker. If any council members want to change any of

    the Costa Mesa requirements they should have documented valid

    reasons why their change would be for the better and each change

    should be voted on separately by our council.

    In my humble opinion, the Costa Mesa Civic Openness in

    Negotiations Ordinance is an excellent law. The only fault that some

    may find with it (certainly not me) is that it will actually accomplish its

    proclaimed purpose.—BARRY LEVINSON

 

  1. #1 by Bruce Whitaker on June 16, 2014 - 8:55 am

    Barry,

    A very good summary of the fraudulent “reform” which is being plated up for tomorrow’s meeting. During the last campaign, nearly every candidate professed to support improved transparency measures. Support for this sham is worse than no reform . . . it would be thumbing one’s nose at a public which wants and deserves changes in the closed-session bargaining process.

  2. #2 by Barry Levinson on June 16, 2014 - 10:03 am

    I am very glad to read that Council member Whitaker agrees with my assessment of the Fullerton C.O..I.N. draft ordinance. I also agree with him that to pass this ordinance as currently written, would be worse than not having an ordinance at all.

    When you peel back the political onion, you see city leaders trying to mislead the Fullerton public into believing that they really are for openness in labor negotiations.

    On Tuesday we will learn the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Any council member who votes for the ordinance without major improvements to the draft will be telling us that they are not for openness in labor negotiations.

    They also will be admitting that they do not work for nor represent the people of Fullerton.

  3. #3 by back door on June 16, 2014 - 10:23 am

    No one is looking except for Barry and his gadflies

    • #4 by Jamie on June 16, 2014 - 3:33 pm

      If “no one is looking,” why are you bothering to post the comment?

  4. #5 by Roger on June 16, 2014 - 10:33 am

    Thank you Mr. Levinson. This is a matter of tremendous importance. As various groups at City Hall vie for dwindling funds in the near future, the roads will continue to crumble and the police will inevitably become more predatory in order to maintain the revenue streams.

    This sham cannot be passed under any circumstances in its present shape and form.

  5. #6 by Joe Imbriano on June 16, 2014 - 10:40 am

    If you were one of the 2,000+ volunteers for this year’s Love Fullerton Event, thank you. If you weren’t please consider participating in the next event…

    Fullerton Police News » Police department joins faith community to give Fullerton some love
    fullertonpolicenews.com
    The inaugural Love Fullerton event on May 27 drew more than 2,000 men, women and children eager to roll up their sleeves to help their neighbors and the homeless, as well as sprucing up their hometown’s…
    1 ShareLikeLike · · Share
    Fullerton Firefighters and 39 others like this.
    View 2 more comments

    Rick Alvarez The pleasure was all mine washing and waxing our patrol cars. It changes your perspective when one sees the patrol cars on our streets and look to see if that was one of the ones I worked on. Besides all the many other events that took place it was a great day for Fullerton!!
    June 11 at 9:13pm · Like

    Fullerton Collaborative The Fullerton Collaborative will be working hard to make sure we stay connected 365 days a year. It is a pleaseure to work with the Fullerton Police Dept and so many wonderful community partners.
    June 11 at 10:04pm · Like

    • #7 by Joe Imbriano on June 16, 2014 - 10:41 am

      Rick Alvarez-Would the pleasure be all yours if your kids were in the back seat of one as the Fullerton police officers threatened to “smash their f****ing faces in like they allegedly did to the 12 live streamers? Do you have a position on those allegations or does the union vote got your tongue? I thought you were from Cuba? Did you learn anything from how that country operates?

  6. #8 by Rudy on June 16, 2014 - 11:00 am

    Phony reform by phony reformers.

  7. #9 by Barry Levinson on June 16, 2014 - 12:56 pm

    Since one person under various names keeps on calling me a gadfly, I thought it appropriate to provide the readers with the actual definition of the word as follows:

    “Any of various flies that bite or annoy livestock.”

    Therefore, backdoor you are identifying your associates and yourself as livestock since it is only those individuals who are annoyed by this oasis of truth. Are you trying to insult me with your crude remarks, or are you attempting to insult your friends and yourself?

    Whatever, your intent, you again provide the vast majority reading this website with a hearty chuckle at your expense and at the same time providing nothing of value to the discussion at hand.

  8. #10 by Anonymous on June 16, 2014 - 2:35 pm

    Spot on Barry!

  9. #11 by Anonymous on June 16, 2014 - 2:43 pm

    So there are these protesters whose whole reason for being is to taunt and tease the cops, vandalize property, cause traffic jams and disturb residents and business owners. Cops let them have their fun for six hours and then when the situation gets out of hand, they are ordered to leave. Some don’t obey the order so they are arrested. So maybe the cops talked a little smack to those arrested. You know what. If you want to play, then don’t change the rules in the middle of the game and whine and cry because a cop was mean to you. If these people had any real heart, they’d be out robbing banks for a living.

  10. #12 by Barry Levinson on June 16, 2014 - 4:52 pm

    According to Anonymous (June 16, 2:43 pm), our FPD officers are apparently the most sensitive, easily upset group of law enforcement officers on the entire planet. According to Anonymous, they are totally not responsible for their physical threats. He also said that the Fullerton police let the demonstrators “have their fun for 6 hours”. I guess Anonymous has not heard of the Constitution and our 1st Amendment rights. The problem for the citizens of Fullerton has been and still is who is going to protect us from these bad police officers.

    Anonymous probably is also back door and under either pseudonym his comments make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

    Yet under both names, you still are providing the vast majority of us on this website with a lot of laughs. Thanks so much back door and anonymous because we all need some humor to break up the very serious business of dealing with a city government run mainly by and for the benefit of our city leaders.

    I REPORT, YOU DECIDE.

  11. #13 by Anonymous on June 16, 2014 - 7:21 pm

    Barry Barry Barry,
    I’m so sorry! I stand corrected. Here I was dumb enough to believe the Constitution applied to all citizens not just protesters. I was dumb enough to think business owners had the right to have their establishments protected from vandals and motorists had the right to drive freely through town without being blocked by protesters. Thank goodness you are here to correct me.

    • #14 by say what you will . . . on June 17, 2014 - 5:59 am

      The only issue here is, did the COP(s) threaten these demonstrators with bodily harm?

      If they did, they are guilty of the commission of a crime while in uniform and need to be fired.

      After reading all of this and understanding the FPD history, I am inclined to think the protesters speak the truth. The recording device will tell us, one way or the other.

  12. #15 by Joe Imbriano on June 16, 2014 - 8:41 pm

    ——— Forwarded message ———-
    From: joe imbriano
    Date: Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 8:26 AM
    Subject: c.o.i.n.
    To: JenniferF@cityoffullerton.com, jflory1@sbcglobal.net, “Greg Sebourn, PLS” , Bruce Whitaker , council@cityoffullerton.com

    https://thefullertoninformer.com/civic-openness-in-public-employee-labor-negotiations-is-not-coming-to-fullerton-unless-the-people-stand-up-to-our-city-leaders/

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: joe imbriano
    Date: Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 8:40 PM
    Subject: Re: c.o.i.n.
    To: JenniferF@cityoffullerton.com, jflory1@sbcglobal.net, “Greg Sebourn, PLS” , Bruce Whitaker , council@cityoffullerton.com, Barry Levinson

    No response except for Bruce? How about you Greg? They package up fraudulent reform and you expect us to swallow it just because it comes on a silver platter? What is this?

    Guess we will find out tomm night who needs to be replaced in November and next year.

  13. #16 by Vaudeville on June 16, 2014 - 9:37 pm

    The streets were cleared, property defended and the 12 were in cuffs in the FPD van when they had their lives threatened. Case closed.

    Death threats are terrorist acts under the Patriot Act. You can suck up to the thugs all you want with you and your cronies. Bottom line is the cat is out of the bag and the light of day is shining on the misdeeds.

  14. #17 by 33 degrees of separation on June 16, 2014 - 10:01 pm

    Joe, did you know that your bounce rate is in the low teens? For a word press site, that speaks volumes. People are listening on both sides. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The issues covered here are real and hard hitting. You pull no punches, thats for sure.

  15. #18 by Rudy on June 17, 2014 - 1:17 pm

    Looks like we have a bit of a controversy on our hands as there there is another side to this coin deal.

    http://fullertontaxpayers.org/2014/06/flip-a-coin/

    • #19 by horrible strategy on June 17, 2014 - 4:56 pm

      Do I understand Mr. Paden correctly?

      Approving something, only to have to walk it back after November is a horrible strategy.

      • #20 by Say What? on June 18, 2014 - 8:54 pm

        Thanks Rudy. Here is Sean Paden from his post on fullertontaxpayers.org

        “In my last article, I discussed the importance of the Civic Openness in Negotiations Act (the “COIN Act”), an ordinance which would remove the secrecy involved in labor negotiations – secrecy that gives the City’s public employee unions undue leverage in agitating for ever greater pay and benefits. Since then, we have good news and bad news.

        First the good news: the City Council has taken up the Coin Act, sort of. However, that’s also the bad news, because the Council is considering, and appears to be leaning towards implementing, changes to the COIN Act that would eliminate the most important benefits of the act. The vote will occur at the next Council meeting tomorrow night, June 17.

        The first warning sign was probably the fact that the agenda forecast didn’t even mention the COIN Act at all, but referred generically to “Labor Negotiation Ordinance” — with no mention of COIN specifically, which is why it did not appear that the Council was even going to take up the COIN Act in the month of May, as originally promised. However, given the proposed changes, this would at least have been more honest, since the proposed revisions considered by the Council during the May 20 meeting undermine many of the tenets of COIN in the first place.

        One of the changes proposed by the new and “improved” version of COIN is that negotiators are only selected if there are “significant changes” to the wages, hours or benefits. This was included to mollify concerns that the COIN act would cover minor, trivial revisions to employment contracts but, as drafted, leaves the door open for abuse. For example, COIN would not be triggered if the change in pay and benefits is less than ½ of one percent of total base salary, and would not be triggered if a Memorandum of Understanding of 12 months or less was agreed to. This revision could prove to be uneventful, but it is not difficult to see how these rules could be exploited (by entering into successive 3 month MOUs, for example, all of which kept changes in pay and benefits under the 3 month threshold), and there is nothing in the proposed ordinance that would prevent this.

        More egregious is that the Staff has included a provision that requires the City Council designate “Executive or Management level employees” to “assist” the outside, independent labor negotiator in their negotiations. This provision guts the entire purpose of having an independent negotiator, as it sends a very clear signal to our negotiator that their “assistants” – who stand to benefit from the results of labor negotiations – speak with the authority of the council itself.

        In addition, the proposed version of COIN on May 20 revised the ordinance to only allow the City Council to report the “details” of rejected offers. During the Council meeting, staff indicated their preference of reporting only a memo summarizing the offer, rather than the written offer itself. It appears that this provision has been changed to require the City Council to report “notification of written offers rejected”, but I honestly can’t tell if this is better or worse. A revision requiring the Council to make the written offers themselves available would be a superior alternative.

        And as a final payout to our biggest public employee union, the Fullerton COIN Ordinance will not apply to any labor negotiations “for which exchange of initial written proposals” occurred prior to August 15, 2014. This means the ongoing labor negotiations with the Fullerton Police Department, which represents close to half of the budget for the entire City, will not be affected by this Ordinance.

        To be sure, the proposed Fullerton COIN Act does represent an improvement in the current process of negotiating pay and benefits for public employees. However, the revisions made at the behest of our current Council majority (Bruce Whitaker and Greg Sebourn exempted) almost uniformly undermine the intent of the COIN Act which, let us not forget, stood for Openness and Transparency in the negotiation process. In order to implement true openness and transparency, it will be necessary to have our voices heard at the ballot box this November, so we can revisit this ordinance in the future.”

  16. #21 by Rudy on June 17, 2014 - 4:58 pm

    Here is Barry’s well written response from Jack Deans site and I quote:

    Mr. Paden states that he has some issues with the current version of C.O.I.N proposed by the City of Fullerton. Yet, I must take exception to two points he makes in his last paragraph. First he states as follows: “To be sure, the proposed Fullerton COIN Act does represent an improvement in the current process of negotiating pay and benefits for public employees.” I disagree with his conclusion that the proposed Fullerton C.O.I.N. ordinance represents an improvement in the current process of negotiating pay and benefits for public employees based on all the reasons I gave in my article on C.O.I.N. posted earlier. Most if not almost all of the specific language that ensures that the public receives timely and accurate information about all the terms and conditions of the proposals are missing from the Fullerton version. Mr. Paden mentioned that an independent negotiator was not required if a significant change to an MOU has not occurred. But what he did not mention is that the Fullerton version allows the city council to waive the requirement to have an independent negotiator in all instances with a simple majority vote. Without this key provision, a fair and objective negotiating process is basically impossible. To have a law that implies to the public that an open and transparent negotiating process has been put into place, without that truly being the case, only serves to fool or mislead the public.

    Council Member Whitaker’s eloquent remarks in response to my article on C.O.I.N. are restated as follows: “Barry; A very good summary of the fraudulent “reform” which is being plated up for tomorrow’s meeting. During the last campaign, nearly every candidate professed to support improved transparency measures. Support for this sham is worse than no reform . . . it would be thumbing one’s nose at a public which wants and deserves changes in the closed-session bargaining process.”

    I also disagree with another conclusion Mr. Paden stated as follows: “In order to implement true openness and transparency, it will be necessary to have our voices heard at the ballot box this November, so we can revisit this ordinance in the future.” Four and a half months prior to the November election we will be debating tonight the merits of our draft C.O.I.N. ordinance. Mr. Paden’s remarks suggest that the proposed ordinance has already been passed by a majority vote of our city council. Like minded associates and I plan to do everything we can at tonight’s council meeting to convince a majority of our council members that a vote for this version of C.O.I.N is not in the best interests of the taxpayers of Fullerton and therefore should be rejected in its current form. This will not be an easy task, but if enough citizens speak out as I have already urged, we can prevail. To accept defeat before we the people of Fullerton have had a chance to fight back espousing the true purpose of the Openness in Labor Negotiations ordinance as written and passed by the Costa Mesa city council last year, in my opinion, is not an option I am willing to even consider.

    If we as the loyal opposition to the majority view of our council are just going to roll over and play dead in this instance, then we are not being loyal to our principles nor are we much of an opposition, either.

    It is imperative that those who believe in an ethical, honest and transparent city government must never hoist the white flag of defeat before the battle to allow the public an accurate, timely and clear window into the labor negotiating process has even begun. I know I can count on the support of Council member Whitaker. The question remains are there two other council members willing to stand with the people of Fullerton to allow them real transparency and the right to voice their opinions concerning a proposed labor package before our council decides how it is going to spend our money.

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is an election coming up this fall. However, there is much work to be done and much good that we can accomplish before the arrival of that day in November.

    • #22 by Roger on June 19, 2014 - 10:21 am

      Mr. Levinson, your assessment of the ordinance is very exacting and right on the money. What is the next step? What can we do as citizens?

  17. #23 by Streets on June 17, 2014 - 8:02 pm

    Where is the live feed? Nothing up right now? Anyone know what is going on?

  18. #24 by Anonymous on June 17, 2014 - 9:19 pm

    This is simply more of the same with Flory Fitzgerald and Chaffee in the drivers seat. Whaddaya expect?

  19. #25 by Barry Levinson on June 18, 2014 - 2:23 am

    Well a few of us tried valiantly to persuade 2 other council members in addition to our consistent friend and advocate for the people, Council member Whitaker to reject the City of Fullerton’s sham version of labor negotiation reform. Diane Hickey and I presented a comparison between the two tales of “good” government. The real version known as the Costa Mesa version and than the cynical, phony, corrupt version hoisted upon us at council last night by Human Resources Director Gretchen Beatty with the blessings I am sure of our fearless City Manager, Joe Felz.

    It was pitiful to watch, Council member’s Flory, Fitzgerald and Chaffee do their phony acceptance speeches for this so-called reform measure.

    Ms. Fitzgerald offered that she would be supportive of removing the language that allowed her and two other council members to waive the requirement for an independent negotiator. But as Gomer Pyle used to say – surprise, surprise, she never offered that as a motion that the council with only one other council member seconding the motion could have changed the draft for the better.

    Council member Flory, stated the the five principles necessary for a good C.O.I.N. ordinance as expressed by OC Supervisor Moorlach was also included in our draft ordinance but of course Ms. Flory did not even offer up one of those principles as an example. Why take the time and effort to include even one fact in your argument when it is so much more fun and so much easier for Ms. Flory to provide the 10 people or so left in the audience at 11 pm with hyperbole instead. As Council member Whitaker so ably pointed out that this Agenda Item was so very important to a majority of our council and to City Manager Joe Felz that they made it the absolute last piece of city business.

    And then there was the example of the flip flop of the evening, but I will report and you will decide on that bit of information tomorrow.

    I REPORTED AND I HOPE YOU DECIDED THAT WE GOT PROBLEMS IN THIS HERE CITY!

    • #26 by Joe Imbriano on June 18, 2014 - 7:02 am

      The most significant opportunity for economic reform in years for Fullerton was squandered as they scheduled the council meeting in the library with no live feed, placing the item dead last on the agenda in the middle of summer for an 11pm vote in front of a room full of empty chairs on a Tuesday night.

      Barry your analysis of Fullerton’s C.O.I.N. ordinance was spot on. The three stooges not only took all the teeth out of it, and slit the achilles heels, but they gutted the Costa Mesa version like a fat hog and left the taxpayers to bleed out in the gutter. They must be very proud of themselves. Thank you Greg and Bruce for trying to right this egregious wrong.

    • #27 by Anonymous on June 18, 2014 - 9:43 am

      Corrupt DA, corrupt PD, corrupt council majority and no one is paying attention except for their corrupt establishment cronies.

    • #28 by summers eve on June 18, 2014 - 11:40 am

      Phony Phitzgerald needs to recuse herself from everything by stepping down.

      • #29 by Rudy on June 19, 2014 - 11:15 am

        She ignores everything that gets in the way of the establishment agenda.

  20. #30 by emperors, sans clothes on June 18, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    The majority of the council consists of emperors with no clothes.

    How long will it take for Fullerton residents to find this out?

  21. #31 by Anonymous on June 20, 2014 - 11:23 am

    Jennifer Fitgerald is a Rhino hack

  22. #32 by Anonymous on June 20, 2014 - 2:58 pm

    Barry your analysis is very accurate. The ordinance needs to repealed immediately. It is a tragedy that so may people are simply not paying attention to what is going on in their community.

  23. #33 by Barry Levinson on June 21, 2014 - 12:41 am

    Roger there are many things you and others can do as citizens. A short list follows:

    1. Attend city council meetings. Even if you watch the city council video, you miss so much by not being there in the room. Even attending 2 or 3 meetings, will allow you to learn so very much about the process and our elected and appointed officials in the chamber.

    2. Once comfortable at these meetings, address the council during public comment time.

    3. Contact your council members via email and/or request a sit down meeting one on one and tell them you want them to provide us better government.

    4. Read, listen, talk, analyze. Follow the words and the actions of all council members. Follow them as you would your favorite baseball player when you were a kid. Learn about their pluses and minuses.

    5. Use social media. Let you voice be heard. The internet is a great way to do the job that a large majority of our main stream media fails to do on a regular basis.

    6. Do not let any elected or appointed government official get away with disseminating misinformation or stonewalling the truth?

    7. How do you accomplish Item No. 6, simply perform Items’ 1 – 5 and if that does not do the trick, there is always Item No. 8

    8. Vote the bums out of office. I have no reservations to state that Mayor Chaffee deserves to be told by the electorate loud and clear that he has definitely overstayed his welcome. He has demonstrated his arrogance and rudeness at numerous city council meetings. He truly is an embarrassment as our Mayor. Although he has personally treated me consistently with disrespect and rudeness, I wish the Mayor Chaffee the very best once we have shown him the exit door to the house of the people of Fullerton.

    9. Pay attention to those that challenge our incumbent council members and vote very wisely.

(will not be published)


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