Former Fullerton City Councilman R. Shawn Nelson rode a wave of anti-government employee pension hysteria to victory in the June Primary/Special election for the Orange County Board of Supervisors 4th District seat. During the campaign he assailed the pension benefits for public employees. Nelson’s attacks on public employee pensions. while he was a member of the Fullerton City Council and during the primary campaign, lead us to Today’s Word…
Hypocrite “a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.”
At a May 5th Candidate Forum Shawn Nelson said;
“The programs with retirement should not have non-safety personnel retiring at the age of 55. It’s absurd. They should also not be guaranteed by the tax payer. They should be defined contribution (similar to a 401K) and retirement at least after 60, if not 65.”
The Voice of OC’s Norberto Santana, Jr. asked an interesting question the day before Shawn Nelson took his seat on the Board;
Under a little-known and not publicized state law, each county supervisor has to actually decide to opt into the county’s pension system to get the same benefit most employees do. Read More.
In response to Norberto’s question I wrote in my post Shawn Nelson’s First Day:
I always thought that Supervisors and other County elected officials were automatically enrolled in the county pension plan. With the new hybrid pension plan available as an option the elected official has to make an affirmative decision. Supervisor Nelson will be the first Supervisor that will need to decide to either stay out of the retirement system, or join by choosing the 2.7% @ 55 benefit or the hybrid plan. By statute a newly elected Supervisor would need to ask to be enrolled in the pension plan at the time they enter the payroll system.
I learned today that Supervisor Shawn Nelson decided to opt in to the County Pension Plan. I am still waiting to find out if he chose the Hybrid Plan, which he claimed on his first day was flawed, or if he took the plan that lets him retire at 55 years old.
UPDATE: We heard from Chip Hanlon over at RedCounty.com, who has written about this here, that he learned for the Director of OC Human Resources thatNelson chose the 2.7% @ 55 defined benefit plan.
I did get the chance to ask Jennifer Muir over at Orange County Employee’s Association (OCEA) what she thought of Supervisor Nelson’s decision.
“I think it’s a positive step that he took it because it demonstrates that even critics of the system — once they examine the facts — realize that in the long term, pensions aren’t as detrimental to taxpayers as some would believe,” OCEA Communications Director Jennifer Muir said.
Muir has a good point. However I find it strange, in light of all of the anti-pension and anti-public employee rhetoric that Nelson spewed forth during the primary campaign, that he would opt in to the very pension plan that he was so hyper-critical of.
What I think it demonstrates is that Shawn Nelson had no problem saying whatever he needed to say to get elected. Now that he’s in, he quietly accepts the benefit of what he so strongly opposed during his campaign. For the record, since he pays nothing towards the employee portion of his benefit, Shawn Nelson is helping increase the very pension contributions he claims are bankrupting the county.
Which leads us back to Today’s Word,