Norberto Santana has a post up over on Total Buzz about today’s hearing. Click this link to read more. OC union says Supervisors/Managers eat up $21 million in perks.
I’m sitting through Assemblyman Solorio’s public hearing on the County layoffs. The room is filled and over capacity. The County, represented by CEO Tom Mauk and several budget geeks from his administration.
Mauk tried, and failed, to illustrate that he and his managers have explored other avenues than layoffs. All the figure distortion in the world cannot hide the fact that there are millions of dollars in executive perks that have not been touched.
Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) General Manager Nick Berardino pointed out during his comments that OCEA recognizes the harsh economic climate and budget shortfalls call for layoffs. But he called on the board to consider all other options first. Berardino went on to highlight some of the outrageous waste and mismanagement that has occurred on Mauk’s watch. Berardno reported that the Executive Management is operating in a culture of denial and inaction.
While Mauk cites the county general reserves as not being available for use to address the crisis, while ignoring the mllions of dolars in individual agency reserves. Berardino cited as an example the welfare fraud investigation program, that last year prevented $37 million in fraud, which has $6 milion in reserves and an operating budget of $5.7 that they won’t touch to prevent cuts.
The current round of cuts in Social Services was not unforseen. Last year the Social Services Agency spent out of their reserves $26 million in CASH to build a new facility in Tustin. This is a particularly shocking revelation when we consider the $30 million shortfall in the Social Services Agency budget.
Since 2004 the Management ranks in Orange County have increased 21% while the workforce has only increased 6.7%. Managers have taken more than $4 million in cash payout for unaccounted for “optional” benefits. These same managers draw down a total of $21 million in perks that could be reduced to save jobs and maintain vital services. The CEO has repeatedly clamed that managers have taken a cut in their performance increase scheduled for this year. This is a gross distortion of fact. County managers have only agreed to defer the implementation of their increase pending the successful negotiation with the County to make those increases payable retroactively at a later date.
So who gets the blame for the mismanagement of this crisis? Who gets the blame for the management approach of cut jobs first, look somewhere else second and only as a last resort? Tom Mauk accepted full personal responsibility for his bone-head management plan.
And here is the icing on the cake of how we have treated out laid off workers. Mauk in his infinite wisdom set the layoff date to January 19th. That day was a county holiday, and Mauk decided these laid off workers would not get paid for their last day because they were not working the day after. Add to that, their final pay checks will not be available for two more weeks because the county payroll system can’t handle it.