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State Supreme Court rejects Costa Mesa's appeal on job outsourcing

November 29, 2012 | 11:23 am

 Members of the Costa Mesa City Council at a recent meeting. Credit: Los Angeles Times

The California Supreme Court has declined to hear Costa Mesa’s appeal of an injunction that for months has blocked the city from moving forward with a plan to lay off hundreds of workers and outsource jobs.

Both labor and city leaders predict that the high court’s refusal to hear the city’s appeal will have wide-ranging implications for the state's general-law cities and their ability to privatize services.

In response, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer suggested that some cities may adopt city charters in order to have the legal freedom to farm out services to private companies.

"We'll see many cities become charter cities in the years to come," he said.

Costa Mesa had appealed the decision that prohibited its privatization plan, Righeimer said, not for its own sake, but for other cities that could have benefited from a ruling to lift the injunction.

Costa Mesa has since backed away from its initial outsourcing concept, which began with plans for laying off about 200 city workers. Righeimer said he now wants to work with the employee associations to see where outsourcing would be a good fit.

Nick Berardino, general manager of the Orange County Employees Assn., said he doubts there will be a sea change of cities moving to charters.

"There may be some that might," he said, "but I think what you'll find is that because of the corruption and lack of oversight and control that characterizes a charter city with recent events in California, I think most of the public will be very hesitant to leave the jurisdiction and protection of California's Constitution."

The decision to not hear Costa Mesa's case is a milestone, he said.

"It is one of the most significant decisions for labor in the last several decades," Berardino said. "And it upholds the law, which was clear — that general-law cities are not allowed to contract to the private sector except for a very narrow range of services."

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-- Lauren Williams

Photo: Members of the Costa Mesa City Council at a recent meeting. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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