Work for Free?

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In these tough economic times, everyone has been asked to tighten their belts, cut back, trim expenses, make sacrifices, and every other euphemism out there.

Newport Beach’s Full-Time Lifeguards were told (asked) to contribute to their own pensions, layoffs have been proposed, outsourcing has been suggested, City Departments will be merged, and currently vacant City Jobs will not be filled.

Lots of stuff getting done to counteract the debt incurred in building of the new shiny Taj Mahal right?

Well, in an effort to demonstrate that he is not above the cost-cutting, City Manager Dave Kiff has offered up his own benefits to the City axe by also contributing more towards his own pension as well as lowering the caps on his leave time.

But a question has arisen with this decree that “the City Council has asked employees, beginning with employees at the Executive Management level, to contribute more towards their retirement and to accept reduced leave benefits.”

And I’ve posed it earlier this summer…

What are the City Councilmembers themselves going to do to help relieve some of the City’s financial obligations?

City Councilmembers are City Employees, so are they going to cut back on their own benefits?  Are they going to cut back on what they get paid?

And unlike each City Employee, do any of our Magnificent Seven actually NEED to have the City pay $16,110 a year each for their Benefits, plus the $14,443.66 a year per Councilmember, $20,491.90 a year for the Mayor that they earn?

If you ask each and every Councilmember if they do it for the money, for the benefits, each and every Councilmember will unequivocally say NO!! Right?

So, if they don’t need the money, don’t need the benefits, then why not turn them down?

Let the City save that $219,923.86. It may be only a very small percentage of the entire $255 million 2011-12 budget, but that would be quite a gesture nonetheless.

In fact, a HUGE gesture.

And a gesture that is starting to spread around Orange County.

Newly elected Irvine Councilman Jeff Lalloway rejected his benefits package, as did Costa Mesa Councilman Jim Righeimer, while Fountain Valley Councilman Michael Vo rejected his benefits AND his pay.

And now, the Orange’s City Council is proposing eliminating ALL pay and benefits for all future City Councils (letting each Councilmember to keep everything until their terms end, then nada, zip, zero for every new term), even going to the extra step of possibly putting the issue on the November 2012 ballot to prevent future City Councils from reinstating the pay and benefits.

Now THAT is leading by example, right?

And before any of the Newport Beach Councilmembers can say that it takes a lot of time and work to properly “serve” our 85,376 residents, let me point out the Orange has more than 136,000 residents, and their City Council UNANIMOUSLY voted to end their pay and benefits.

So try it.  Next time you see the Mayor, or see a Councilmember, ask him or her, “Do you do it for the money and for the benefits?”

And when they say, “Well…no,” ask them, “Then why do you TAKE the money and the benefits?”

When I sat down with District 2 City Council Candidate Tony Petros recently, he absolutely promised that if elected, he would not take any of the Benefits (I forgot to ask him about the pay …).  Potential Council Candidate Gloria Alkire said the same thing.

So there you go … instead of the Do-As-I-Say, Not-As-I-Do mentality, perhaps our Newport Beach City Council should start leading by example and start tightening their already Retired (in most cases) belts.

…as City Manager Dave Kiff already has.

 

 

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