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in•teg•ri•ty (n):

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been a bit obsessed lately over the County Board of Supervisors inability to step up and act with customary integrity and ratify their commitment to County workers of a well deserved one-year 4.75% general wage increase.

Out of curiosity I reviewed the Brown Act, which regulates meetings of public agencies and I found this section:

54957.1. (a) The legislative body of any local agency shall publicly report any action taken in closed session and the vote or abstention of every member present thereon, as follows:

(6) Approval of an agreement concluding labor negotiations with represented employees pursuant to Section 54957.6 shall be reported after the agreement is final and has been accepted or ratified by the other party. The report shall identify the item approved and the other party or parties to the negotiation.

Thomas Mauk and the other members of the negotiating team for the county told the OCEA negotiators that the Board had authorized the 4.75% salary increase offer they were putting on the table.

It seems that one of two things has happened here.

1. Thomas Mauk is lying and the Board did not approve the offer, or

2. The Board of Supervisors is now in violation of the Brown Act for failing to report an action of the Board to approve a final agreement concluding labor negotiations with OCEA that has been accepted.

Either way, you have to feel a little sorry for Mauk. Since there would be no reason for him to lie here, he seems to be caught in the middle between four Supervisors who approved an offer that they are now afraid to face the public on, and the employees to whom he gave his word that the deal was approved and authorized.

By the way, I’ve figured out why Norby is so ticked about the agreement. He wasn’t here on July 18th when the rest of his colleagues apparently approved the offer.

Here’s the timeline that I’ve been able to reconstruct:

On Tuesday, July 18, 2006 the Board of Supervisors met in closed session regarding agenda item #CS-6: CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATOR – Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957.6. Agency Negotiator: Dianna Garcia RE: Terms and Conditions of Employment for all represented and unrepresented employees.

On Wednesday, July 19, 2006 County Negotiators notified the Orange County Employees Association of its desire to meet for the purpose of presenting a formal offer of agreement regarding the re-opener negotiations for a general wage increase.

On Thursday, July 20, 2006 County Negotiators and the OCEA bargaining team met and discussed the County’s formal proposal. Upon assurance from County negotiators, including CEO Thomas Mauk that the proposal had been approved and authorized by the Board of Supervisors, the OCEA bargaining team accepted the offer pending ratification vote by the OCEA membership.

During the period of July 24th, through July 29th OCEA conducted a ratification vote regarding the County proposal and the offer was overwhelmingly approved by the OCEA membership.

The sequence of events demonstrates that the Board of Supervisors may have taken action as permitted under Government Code 54957.1 that constituted the “approval of an agreement concluding labor negotiations with represented employees” pursuant to Section 54957.6 which by law, is required to be publicly reported once the agreement was accepted or ratified by Orange County Employees Association representatives and its membership.

One thing is certain here, the public doesn’t yet know for sure yet what happened and the Board owes the taxpayers, including their employees an explanation.

in•teg•ri•ty (n): Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.