On the very day 210 county workers who provide services to the most needy in the county were handed layoff notices, Board Chairman John Moorlach tried to distract attention yet again from his wasteful spending ways. After weeks of blistering attack from the Orange County Employees Association over his wasteful extravagance, Moorlach and his allies tried to discredit the union’s General Manager Nick Berardino by asserting the absurd notion that he is over paid.
As you well know, the economic downturn facing our County, the state, and our nation is forcing tough decisions about what to cut and what to keep.Â You have probably had these conversations with your families and are making the tough decisions about what to cut and what to keep in your lives.Â It is the reason we at OCEA have been asking these questions and standing up for solutions that protect jobs instead of more wasteful spending on perks and goodies for the Board of Supervisors and County managers.Â
Today, hundreds of County employees received layoff notices.Â It is unfortunate, but in tough times we all have to share the burden. That is, unless you are a high-level County bureaucrat or a member of the Board of Supervisors.Â Right now, the Supervisors are remodeling their offices, and the highest-paid County bureaucrats are receiving 5% pay-hikes while those who provide the services Orange County depends upon are laid off and left to fend for themselves.
In this time of economic belt-tightening, we believe everybody should do his or her part.Â
That’s why we marched over to the offices of the members of the Board of Supervisors and asked the Board to immediately:
- Bring in a fiscal oversight committee of independent auditors to review the County budget, spending by the Board of Supervisors, and County contracts, to cut waste, balance the budget, and oversee how the money is spent.
- Place a freeze on the salaries of the Board of Supervisors and high-level bureaucrats, including rolling back the 5 percent raise the highest-paid bureaucrats are to receive over the next 6 months.
- Eliminate the perks of the Board of Supervisors and high-level bureaucrats, such as the $765 monthly car-allowance.
As you can well imagine, the Board did not like the fact we were highlighting their free-spending ways in this economic downturn and have responded by trying to criticize me and how much I’m paid.Â They didn’t respond by saying, “Let’s keep people working and slash unnecessary benefits like free cars and gas.”Â The Board’s response was a disappointment to me and the hundreds of people who will now be looking for work because the Board of Supervisors took jobs away from working families instead of cutting their own wasteful spending.
Now, a few quick comments regarding the setting of the salary for the OCEA General Manager.Â Since 1959 the salary of OCEA’s General ManagerÂ has beenÂ directlyÂ tied to the salary of the County’s Personnel Director.Â This has had at least three advantages for OCEA and its members.Â First, it has allowed OCEA the ability to choose from a roughly equivalent pool of prospective employees, ensuring that OCEA could hire equally talented leadership to protect its members.Â Secondly, it has given OCEA an objective basis for determining the General Manager’s salary.Â Thirdly, it has been an effective “cap” on the General Manager’s pay.Â This has been the case for nearly 50 years.
Moreover, the total compensation of the County’s Personnel Director is actually significantly greater than that of the OCEA General Manager, because the benefits package of the County, for its executive managers, is so rich.Â The County’s Personnel Director receives the 2.7% at 55 retirement benefit (which OCEA’s staff does not have), the car allowance, and other benefits.Â Overall, during recent years we have not been able to match the County’s benefits package for any of our OCEA staff.Â Currently, the OCEA General Manager’s salary (apart from benefits) is below that of the County’s Personnel Director.Â (Also, the County’s Personnel Director is in the third level down from the County’s top level in the CEO’s office!)
We won’t be distracted.Â We’ll continue to fight!Â I’ll continue to do my best to keep you updated and in the loop!
Figures. Moorlach tries to divert attention from his wasteful spending by changing the subject to the salary of the OCEA General Manager, which happens to be less than what comparable county managers are paid.
Again he tells us to “look over there,” while he lines his own pockets behind our backs.