And another Orange County Register Editorial distorts the truth, again.
In a Sunday Editorial The Orange County Register tries to paint Fullerton City Councilman Shawn Nelson as a hero for revealing confidential discussions from closed session meetings of the Fullerton City Council regarding contract negotiations with city employees.
Not only is Mr. Nelson not a hero, he is probably a criminal.
It is against the law to disclose information discussed in closed session. There is no debate about this. It doesn’t matter is you agree with the discussions or not. Let’s take an item from this Tuesday’s Fullerton City Council agenda identified for closed session for example.
3. CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATOR – Per Government Code Section 54956.8
Property:Â Assessor Parcel Map Number 033-030-19 (Northwest Corner of Lemon Street and Walnut Avenue), Fullerton, CA
Agency Negotiator:Â Rob Zur Schmiede, Director of Redevelopment and Economic Development
Negotiating Parties:Â Art Leahy, OCTA CEO
Under Negotiations:Â Price and terms
This item is identified as required by law, but the details of the City’s negotiating position are not disclosed. If the negotiating position of the city was that they would be willing to sell this parcel for as low as Â½ market value, it would be illegal and unethical for Mr. Nelson to disclose that information, to anyone.
The public right to know is provided when a negotiated agreement is presented to the Council for approval. The same holds true for the details of negotiations regarding the terms and conditions of employment for city employees.
Further, the assertion that pension benefits are being “spiked” is misleading. For example, if the terms negotiated requires that employees pay for the increase in their pension benefits, such as is the case with Orange County employees, the disclosure of only partial information is a disservice to the public. The Register does not know the facts or details of the agreement. Yet they have no problem spouting off how “The Fullerton City Council has been trying to secretly negotiate a 25 percent pension spike for government employees in closed session,” or how “the fix was in behind closed doors for a 25-percent pension increase.”
Shawn Nelson is simply grandstanding for his reelection campaign. He has had no problem, which we know of, keeping his mouth shut about other closed session items in the past. Of course, you’ve got to wonder if he has chosen to secretly reveal the position of the city on other matters discussed in closed session.
His own comments and actions on this matter leave little doubt that the source of the closed session information regarding Fullerton City employee contract negotiations is Shawn Nelson.
Sorry Shawn, you cannot pick and choose the laws you want to follow, or when you want to follow them. You cannot disclose the details of closed session discussions, no matter what you think of them.
And Orange County Register, shame on you for claiming; “These benefit hikes are irresponsible and especially unconscionable in a troubled economy. The retroactive portion of the pension spike is especially troubling and could be construed as a gift of public funds.” If you had some actual facts or documents to back up you wild assertions, I would expect that you would publish the information.
From where I’m looking, you’ve got nothing more than the claims made by Mr. Nelson, which are a violation of law and the public trust. For violating that trust, Shawn Nelson should be censured by his colleagues on the Fullerton City Council.