Costa Mesa pink slips entire fire department

March 24, 2011

As part of a plan to solve a looming pension crisis and budget gap by outsourcing services, Costa Mesa officials handed pink slips to their entire fire department. [NewYorkTimes]

Almost half of the city’s workers were told late last week that, come September, they would probably be out of a job. Disbanded departments include fire, maintenance and street cleaning.

Private ambulance companies will respond to medical emergencies and fire calls will be routed to the Orange County Fire Department.

Pink slips went out to more than 200 of the city’s roughly 450 workers sending many into a panic. After receiving a summons to come pick up his letter, one city worker climbed five stories to the roof of the city hall building and jumped to his death.

The City Council moved quickly to approve the outsourcing and layoff plans as a way to solve a budget gap of as much as $15 million next year and deal with pensions that grow exponentially each year, eating away at the city’s $93 million budget.

“We see the train wreck coming and the only questions are how bad it will be and how quickly we want to try to stop it,” said City Councilman Jim Righeimer, who has led the push for outsourcing and has battled with public employee unions for years to the New York Times. “We have to stop blaming other people and start to solve these problems ourselves. These are hardworking people, but we know we cannot afford to keep paying what we have been.”

City officials expect to cut anywhere from 15 to 40 percent in labor costs.



  1. rogerfreberg says:

    Everyone cries when their ox gets ‘Al Gored”.

    Pink slipping an entire department gets a lot of press by folks who either don’t want to make the tough calls line by line… or they are trying to get support to go in another direction. It’s kinda like when 10’s of thousands of public teachers were pink slipped prior to the passage of Prop 13… no one lost their job. It was just the Governor… Governor Brown, heard of him?… threatening posture to have his way.

    I have said before, we need to look at utilizing the resources of local volunteers to help manage our government. How much would we save with a ‘volunteer fire department?” Ever heard of that? Why do we need layers of city administrators for a city of only 40,000????

    There is a better way of doing this… one just needs to look backward to the past.

    (-1) 15 Total Votes - 7 up - 8 down
    • slojo says:

      Volunteers is no bueno. Volunteer’s are for communities out in the boonies. Get real.

      (-4) 10 Total Votes - 3 up - 7 down
  2. dswinter says:

    When a fireman job opens up we get 1000 applicants. When we need engineers we need to look overseas. It seems pretty obvious to me that we are offering to much compensation to fire fighters. I know they are hero’s and their job is dangerous. Farmers jobs are more dangerous and for me food abundance makes them hero’s in my eyes.

    (8) 30 Total Votes - 19 up - 11 down
    • Crusader says:

      Amen. I wonder how much SLO City firefighers’ compensation could be lowered before there ceased to be an adequate supply of qualified people applying for the open positions? 10%? 20%? 30%? 40%? 50%?

      I remember when firefighters and law enforcement officers received much lower pay than actual PROFESSIONALS like engineers, accountants, lawyers, etc. What they got in return was lifetime employment, excellent medical benefits and a nice retirement. Today they often take home more than actual professionals (particularly with overtime), their medical benefits are the best imaginable and their retirements are downright piggish.

      (7) 31 Total Votes - 19 up - 12 down
      • slojo says:

        Crusader…….jeez, why do you have such a h*ard on for firefighters? I have never heard such jealousy in my life……

        They are professionals, why can’t you just accept that?

        (-3) 27 Total Votes - 12 up - 15 down
        • Crusader says:

          You need to settle down.

          Firefighters aren’t “professionals.” It doesn’t require an advanced degree and licensing or registration to become a firefighter. No firefighter that I know of has hung out a shingle in order to build a client base. The term “professional” has been misused in this day and age to mean some sort of badge of excellence and that’s wrong.

          That brings up a point though. If firefighters have piled-on the self-serving “certifications” (while either on or off the clock) to boost their compensation rather than to fill an actual city needs, maybe some of them are over-qualified for the jobs they actually do? Maybe we need to re-align the department in SLO?

          (-2) 22 Total Votes - 10 up - 12 down
          • slojo says:

            Yes sir! Please……….not all professionals require advanced degree’s. Why are you so mad? Did your wife leave you for a firefighter or somehing?

            (-3) 13 Total Votes - 5 up - 8 down
            • Crusader says:

              Why do you lie? Why do you insult my wonderful wife? Are you a firefighter in SLO?

              Simply put, firefighters aren’t “professionals.” Professionals aren’t hourly wage “earners” who get paid OT. Firefighters are tradespeople yet for some reason they think they can bend the definitions to exalt themselves.

              Go ahead and continue with your personal attacks — you clearly have nothing else, but the ruder you get, the clearer it is to others that you are wrong.

              (3) 15 Total Votes - 9 up - 6 down
              • slojo says:

                It wasn’t an insult, it was simply a question…you are just so defensive.

                One of the definitions of a “professional” according to Wikipedia is:
                “A professional is a person that is paid for what they do. Qualifications have little to do with being a professional as the world’s “oldest profession” is strictly a monetary gain career. An amateur maybe more qualified than a professional but they are not paid, thus they are an amateur.”

                They are professionals.

                I am not a firefighter or any public safety employee.

                (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
              • element1 says:

                crusader, although i don’t think it was right for slojo to insult you i don’t feel that it is right for you say that fire fighters aren’t professionals. That is simply not the case, for you to say it doesn’t require an advanced degree or licensing to become a firefighter shows how miss informed you are. To be seriously considered for a position in most of southern California you need a fire academy and emt license at the very minimum. Many departments are only really hiring paramedics now. Non of those certificates or licenses are easily obtained and they all require you to constantly re certify and continue your education. Also all of those certificates take time and money. On top of that once you do have that education under your belt there is still a huge competition when applying for the job. There are times when there are over a hundred people all applying for one opening.
                On top of that once you do get the job you are always held to a higher standard of honesty and integrity (something i think you’ll find lacking in some of the positions you listed as being professional ex. lawyer). I wont argue with you in that i think there are some serious issues with pay and retirement however that is no reason to hold a grudge and say that they aren’t professionals. You should give respect where it is due just as i would to you.

                (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
    • SLOCare says:

      “Early this morning CAL FIRE and Riverside County Firefighters successfully rescued a women from an apartment fire in Moreno Valley.”
      Yep – we definitely pay firefighters too much – I’m sure that is what she and her family are thinking!!

      (-2) 10 Total Votes - 4 up - 6 down
      • Crusader says:

        Aha! The ULTIMATE trump card. EMOTION! When someone notes that fully qualified firefighters can be employed for less (even far less) than what some are being paid today, just shift gears to EMOTION!

        Whatever you do, don’t mention the fact that lower compensated firefighters would do the same darned thing…

        (-1) 11 Total Votes - 5 up - 6 down
  3. racket says:

    In case you missed it:

    Please click on the “Chamber Releases Executive Salary” editorial on this site.

    The information therein is 100% germane to the union/firefigher issue.

    I point this out because you might’ve missed it, based on the “ho-hum” headline.

    (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
    • Crusader says:

      The SLO Chamber of Commerce is a public enterprise. What does the salary of its CEO have to do with government employed firefighters?

      (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
      • Crusader says:

        Mea culpa. It’s a PRIVATE enterprise!

        (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
      • racket says:

        Realistically, nothing, except that a 38-year veteran executive makes less than many/most firefighters. The cogent part is that the Chamber “released” this info in response to a request from the firefighters’ union rep. He requested the information because he was trying to make a case that the Chamber had bloated wages like the union does. The information shows that not to be true. That was my interest in it.

        (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
        • Crusader says:

          Yes, I absolutely agree. I thought the “professional” firefighters were carping about Garth being paid too much. If anything it underscored how absurd their own compensation is.

          (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
          • racket says:

            That is exactly how it appears to me.

            It also appears the union has turned off its loudspeaker on the issue.

            (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
        • SLOCare says:

          I don’t think the Chamber executive works 72 hour a week either …

          (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
          • Crusader says:

            Those 72 hours/week includes “dozing for dollars.” They would have been lucky to be awake for more than half of those 72 hours.

            (-2) 10 Total Votes - 4 up - 6 down

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