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City Charter measure soundly rejected by Costa Mesa voters

November 7, 2012 |  3:19 pm

Council members Jim Righeimer, Gary Monahan, and Wendy Leece bow their heads in prayer before meeting. Credit: Dan Krauss / For the Times.

Voters in Costa Mesa soundly rejected a charter measure that detractors said was a veiled power play by council members bent on slashing the city’s work force and reining in the power of employee unions.

Supporters of Measure V, who said the initiative would save the city money and give it greater independence, said they would try again in a future election.

Nearly 60% of the voters opposed the measure, according to final but official results.

Full Results: California elections.

The charter initiative added another contentious layer to the politics of a city that has become a battleground over City Hall austerity and union influence. The Orange County Employees Assn. and another charter opponent poured nearly $500,000 into the campaign against Measure V.

Costa Mesa council members announced their intent in 2011 to lay off nearly half the city workforce, an effort that gained added attention when a 29-year-old worker jumped to his death from the roof of City Hall.

The employee association later filed a suit to block the city from outsourcing jobs, winning a temporary injunction that remains in effect.

"I think the residents of Costa Mesa took a resounding stand against the devastating impacts of the council's attempt to advance their political agenda at all costs," said Jennifer Muir, spokeswoman for the employee association.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, the charter's architect, said he will try again.

There will be a future committee that will try to hash out another charter in time for a city vote in the 2014 primary election, he said, adding, "There was a real concern about the community being involved in the charter process."

"We didn't have any time before," he added. "There was no time for a committee, and now there is."

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-- Bradley Zint

twitter: @bradleyzint

Photo: Council members Jim Righeimer, Gary Monahan, and Wendy Leece bow their heads in prayer before meeting. Credit: Dan Krauss / For the Times.

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