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Nick Plays Hardball

Credit: The Liberal OC

Credit: The Liberal OC

We recently reported on the progress, or lack thereof, of the Orange County negotiations with employees represented by the Orange County Employee Association. After two year, the county finally gave the ultimatum of the “Last, Best and Final” offer to OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino. That generated an alleged response that was less than cordial.

Shortly thereafter, OCEA took to the airwaves with a new commercial and a website that would hopefully enlighten the public on the issues at hand.

Berardino has also issued a number of essays to OCEA members regarding the negotiations and what will happen next. Today, he sent out this missive, explaining that Mediation Day is here:

Dear OCEA member,

As you know, OCEA members recently rejected the County’s last, best and final offer, standing together against the Board of Supervisor’s attempts to threaten and intimidate us into taking a bad deal. The next step in the negotiations process is to go to mediation, where an independent third-party professional will work with the County and OCEA in an attempt to help us reach an agreement. We are scheduled to be in mediation Tuesday, Feb. 18.

Meanwhile, we continue to stand together against the corruption and culture of intimidation that has been poisoning our County for far too long. We truly believe that nobody—not taxpayers or County workers—will be treated fairly here until all the issues laid out by the Orange County Grand Jury last year are resolved. It is wrong that the Board of Supervisors attempted to cut the Grand Jury’s pay in retaliation for standing up for transparency and accountability, and it’s wrong that they’re doing the same to us. We stand with the Grand Jury and with our community to clean up this County.

Nick goes on to promote the website and the association’s Facebook page.

In addition, we were treated to former OC Register Reporter and current OCEA Spokeswoman, Jennifer Muir (always a pleasure) facing Rick Rief on SoCal Insider. The video shows Muir not pulling any punches while Rief tries to “guide” the conversation. In the end, Muir gets her point across and an apology from Rief for trying to mute the discussion.

The video is only about 5 minutes but very interesting:

County Runs Into Trouble Filling Top Spot

High Paid StrikeThere is only one item on the Planning Commission Agenda and it is barely worth meeting over. Except for timeline requirements, they probably could have postponed and save the taxpayer a few thousand dollars in stipends and staff salaries. That being the case, we are reporting on an item that is truly of some importance to Tustin and particularly the surrounding unincorporated area.

Oh, So Close

The Orange County Board of Supervisors were saved further embarrassment on the hiring of a new CEO candidate at their March 19th meeting. As reported on the Chandra WallarVoice of OC last week, CEO candidate, Chandra Wallar demanded an up or down vote on her taking the top county job. The BoS obliged her by voting unanimously to hire her but public discussions on salary and benefits went sideways. Wallar had earlier demanded a salary that was commensurate with other southern California counties. The BoS was adamant they wouldn’t be blackmailed.

According to the VOC, the real sticking point has been on pensions. While Supervisors have demanded that every employee pay into their own pensions, Wallar demanded she not be held to the same standard. If this is starting to sound like a Tom Mauck rerun, you are right. Except this time 5th District Supervisor, Todd Spitzer, was joined by ultra-conservatives, Moorlach and Nelson in refusing to pay more than what Wallar’s predecessor was paying. “She made it clear to me that if there isn’t interest in moving up from $254,000, she’s not interested,” said Spitzer.

tom maukSupervisors made it clear that a new CEO will not receive anything more than Mauck received and, presumably, will be required to pay into their own retirement as well.

Wallar, who now mus return to her Santa Barbara CEO post and try to mend fences ( I smell a lawsuit coming on), criticized the board for changing the terms originally offered in closed session negotiations. But, as the VOC points out, new state law requires that top officials salaries be discussed in public. They also say that any approvals required the full consent of the board and not just the subcommittee consisting of Janet Nguyen and Pat Bates both of whom rolled over and supported a higher salary and perks.

From the VOC:

Bates and Nguyen initially supported Wallar’s demands. Last week, however, they insisted they were only presenting Wallar’s salary demands.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who supported Wallar’s  appointment but not her salary demands, lamented the situation, saying board members had erred by not having a public discussion about salary earlier.

Spitzer said that the board “should have been much clearer and had the discussion about compensation out in open when they designed the recruitment flyer.”

Given the debate in public over her salary, Spitzer acknowledged that “I can’t blame her for being offended.”

The public debate also revealed an important downside to Wallar.[sic] Spitzer said  that, when Wallar wouldn’t agree to a compromise salary of $270,000, it became clear that  “she wouldn’t be a good fit for Orange County.”

We agree, of course. It is fortunate the BoS decided to follow state law and common sense in making salary discussions public. Even if OCEA’s Nick Berardino and other public employee union officials had not said anything, the idea of publicizing the county’s intent forced boardmembers to consider public backlash in hiring new employees at exorbitant salaries. Spitzer, who has championed the cause of reining in employee costs, said the county will not have a separate policy for high ranking officials that differs from the rank and file.

Now, if we could just do something about those pesky supervisors paying their own way in regards to pensions. John Moorlach, who has made a career lamenting the fact that many employees in the county did not pay into their pensions, refuses to discuss his own pension issues. Shawn Nelson and Pat Bates are the only sitting supervisors who have declined pension participation outright. The other three remain in the county pension system known as OCERS. Nelson has also voiced support for a law that would force elected officials to swap social security for pensions. That would take them out of the game and allow a more balanced discussion of pension issues.

For now, the residents of the county will have to be content with the more than adequate job the temp CEO, Bob Franz, has been doing since Tom Mauck’s departure. So, why don’t they hire Bob permanently? We could ask Todd. We suspect Bob’s just not that stupid.

Pauly Swings and Misses, Spitzer Feints

Todd Spitzer

The race for Orange County Third District Board of Supervisors is heating up. But, one really has to wonder why.

I see that Deborah Pauly has spent most of her campaign funds on shiny new yard signs that she has posted in strategic areas around Tustin. I even saw one in her home town of Villa Park today. It was pretty prominent and the only one in the area. I figure it must be her house or a relative who couldn’t get out of displaying it. Coincidentally, the yard sign for Todd Spitzer I had posted in my yard, mysteriously disappeared. Well, maybe that nice campaign girl will call and offer to replace it.

Pauly must have used the rest of her meager funds to mail out a slick campaign piece. I got mine in the mail last week.  She had no new message to deliver so she relied on the tainted letter from the Orange County  District Attorney’s Office. You now, the one Susan Kang Schroeder, chief mouthpiece for T-Rack, lamented that Spitzer erred in calling himself a Deputy District Attorney after he had been fired? It seems that Susan, wife of Repubican Party kingpin, Mike Schroeder, decided to blast Spitzer for a minor error that had already been corrected, in a letter to him. Only problem was, the letter was given to Deborah Pauly before it was even mailed out. No one wondered how that happened as the legendary hatred Schroeder and Rackauckus have for Spitzer is only shadowed by Pauly’s inane attempt to use this ruse to gain voter confidence.

Apparently, either her endorsers have dismissed Pauly’s racist attitude toward Muslims and have embraced her “world christian view”, or they have dismissed it altogether and hope it won’t come back to haunt them. I favor the second over the first. I will say that Pauly’s endorsement by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is a big one. But, the only other noteworthy endorsement is Chuck Devore. Devore, if you will remember, entered the race swinging. Then suddenly, he decided to forego his bid for Supervisor and head to Texas where he has been bashing California ever since. C’mon, Chuck, we know you want to come back.

Devore actually had the best chance of beating Spitzer. But, he was aware of Spitzer’s huge warchest (we’ll get to that in a minute) and probably felt he would not be able to compete. I guess he didn’t stop to think that Spitzer, who can raise money at the drop of a fake letter, would save that cash for his dream job of Orange County District Attorney (it’s OK, Todd. Just do a good job as Supervisor for the next four years). In any case, Devore, a wannabe career politician, took off for higher ground. Oh yeah, if you haven’t kept track, Spitzer started the race with $1.1 million dollars in the bank, plus assorted other accounts. Since then, he has raised a boatload of money because, while Deborah is out cashing in PET bottles for their redemption value, Spitzer just has to mention he is holding a fundraiser and the ATM starts ringing.

Spitzer also sent out a campaign mailer this week. This was a slick two sided piece with a photo of Todd with Repubican Party Chair, Scott Baugh (apparently, not everyone in the Central Committee hates Todd). The other side has the usual blather about being a tax fighter and his record as a legislator. Oh, but what is this? On the back side is a nice little side note that says, “A Rating from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association”. So, while the Jarivs folks may not have endorsed him, they certainly think a lot of him. Take that, Deborah. One thing that is definitely missing is any word, good or bad, about Pauly. In fact, Todd would not even mention her by name for the first 4 months or so of his campaign. And, in every debate, he sent Pauly walking. In fact, we heard she actually walked out on the last one.

The most often heard complaint about Spitzer from Pauly is that he voted for the enhanced pensions that have now been “proven” to be bad mojo. Never mind the mystical accounting scenarios the federal government requires that puts any pension that relies on investments for funding at a disadvantage (most do), Todd has stated emphatically that, had he to do it over again, he would not have voted for the enhanced pensions for county employees. How many times does he have to say he is sorry?

It is interesting that a lot of political blogs keep bringing up Deborah Pauly’s run-in with the police over a DUI incident last year. We aren’t saying that she used her vast powers as a Villa Park Councilwoman to sway the police. But, she certainly used poor judgment in the situation. Had she even thought of the consequences of her actions in regard to a political career?

Now, I only bring this up because a recent blog post elsewhere attempted to equate Spitzer’s hiring of a Democrat political pundit who has a felony DUI record a few years ago for a Christmas party, with Pauly’s poor judgement. I hardly see the similarity as the guy, Vern Nelson, was simply paid by Spitzer to play the piano. The blogger asks, “Where was Todd’s concern for public safety?” So, hiring an ex-felon piano player is equal to using poor judgment, being drunk in public with your drunk spouse at the wheel of a vehicle trying to outrun a DUI checkpooint? Nice try. I should tell you the blogger in question has a personal hatred for both Vern and Todd and thinks a racist like Pauly is the better candidate. He is also running for the OC Board of Education. You might want to consider that when you vote in June.

June 5th is coming up quickly and will be here before you know it. Absentee ballots, which account for the majority of votes in this county, have been sent by the Registrar and received by most households. For those of you who are teetering on the edge, we have a few recommendations. First, and foremost, is Todd Spitzer for 3rd District Supervisor. I know Todd personally. He is an opportunist, to say the least. Don’t expect him to sit down and talk to you about issues unless you have a checkbook in your hand. But he is honest about it. And, he has a proven track record. Forget the legislature, where he was relegated to the doghouse. Forget his recent failed bid for OCDA (but not his track record as a prosecutor). Remember the fact that he has an excellent record as a former member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. He is endorsed by every notable Republican in Orange County and even Democrats like his boyish good looks. He is the only logical choice against an opponent who is a proven racist and whose only political experience is that of Villa Park Councilman, of whom even her own colleagues refuse to endorse her. They have, by the way, all endorsed Todd.