My report in advance of today’s City Council hearing on deadlocked labor negotiations for the city’s outsourcing program shows that new rules from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith could play a substantial role in how the matter plays out.

It won’t be the last time Goldsmith has an important say in what the stalled “managed competition” outsourcing program looks like if and when it becomes city law. For context, managed competition, passed by the voters in November 2006, would allow the privatization of city services.

Today’s impasse hearing is just one part of implementing the outsourcing program. City leaders will be debating the program’s guide, or a 55-page document of ground rules such as whether city employees’ health care cost will be included when comparing public and private costs.

After today, council has to pass an ordinance before managed competition goes into effect.

The ordinance raises another area where Goldsmith’s influence shouldn’t be understated.

The City Attorney’s Office determines if ordinances passed by council conflict with the city’s charter. In other words, any ordinance City Council passes on managed competition has to comply with the charter section enacted by city voters three years ago.

The charter, Goldsmith said in an interview yesterday, gives council latitude to decide how managed competition will be implemented. But council cannot do anything that would alter the program’s scope as defined in the charter.

Goldsmith declined to say if any of the issues at impasse Tuesday, such as including or excluding heath care costs in comparing public and private bids, would violate the voters’ will if implemented by council. Outside attorneys, not his office, have negotiated the guide on behalf of the city so Goldsmith hasn’t done a thorough analysis.

The City Attorney’s Office will look at the matter when the time comes.

“If it violates (the charter),” Goldsmith said, “we would raise our voice.”


As I mentioned in today’s edition of The Agenda, I will be live tweeting from City Hall this afternoon.

Here’s some background to get you up to speed on managed competition and impasse issues:

  • This week’s edition of Public Comment, which includes a summary of today’s hearing and links to the City Council agenda and primary source documents.
  • An explainer on Goldsmith’s new rules for impasse hearings.
  • A back-and-forth between the Mayor’s Office and labor on health care issues that will be debated today.
  • A blog post on the impasse declaration.
  • A memo from the Mayor’s Office detailing all the issues that are at impasse.

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