Firefighters Union Responds to “Political Vitriol” Column

Republican Party boss Scott Baugh recently penned a Reader Rebuttal to the OC Register regarding Political Vitriol and a hat tip to Tony Bedolla of the OC Professional Firefighters Association to call out Baugh for selective outrage.  Fascinating to see Republicans complain about deserved criticism while turning the other cheek to more obvious examples.  Bedolla calls out Baugh is this letter sent yesterday to a host of media outlets and public officials.

 

In your recent rebuttal to the Orange County Register editorial (Reader Rebuttal (Scott Baugh): Spitzer, public-sector union pensions) that is critical of your support of Todd Spitzer for Supervisor, you made mention of the vitriol that was utilized in an editorial you believe was “obviously penned” by Steve Greenhut.  The Orange County Professional Firefighters Association wholeheartedly agrees with you that vitriol should have no place in the dialogue amongst leaders desiring to find solutions that are currently plaguing local government.

I am writing to you to express concerns regarding recent comments from Councilmember Jim Righeimer.  I realize that he is his own person and functions autonomously as a councilmember for the city of Costa Mesa.  However, he does align himself with you as an ideological colleague and friend.  He stated as such when I met him at your office (which he shares) in December, 2010.  I am dismayed by the level of vitriol that Councilmember Righeimer states from the dais that is at the very least vitriolic or completely false.  During the course of the council meeting on April 3, 2012, Councilmember Righeimer states the absorption of the Santa Ana FD into the OCFA was a “takeover” or was “stolen.”  If you are not aware, the city of Santa Ana approached the OCFA with a request to bid on providing service to that city.  The OCFA is not a private corporate entity that engages in “takeovers.”  In fact when the initial inquiry was made by the Santa Ana city staff, there was significant concern from the outset if real savings would be in place to make the absorption feasible for either party.  A review by the OCFA determined that as much as $10 million in savings could be realized by the city of Santa Ana with contracting their fire department to the OCFA.  After serious discussion the Santa Ana City Council believed fiscal responsibility was more important to their citizens than nostalgia and accepted the OCFA bid to merge.  A merger that becomes effective on April 20, 2012 as a result of an approval vote by the OCFA Board of Director that is comprised of elected representatives from all of the member cities and the County of Orange. 

Councilmember Righeimer then goes on to state the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association “locked up” all the slates that would have been used as voter contact in the proposed charter initiative in the June primary.  This is patently false.  The Orange County Professional Firefighters Association did inquire about the availability of purchasing slate mailers, but never completed the act of purchasing them.

Later in that same meeting (again from dais), Councilmember Righeimer makes remarks about contributions that are not indigenous to Costa Mesa with an implication of there being a nefarious purpose.  We believe that we (like you and he) live in the United States of America.  As such one is allowed to contribute to any political cause one deems worthy.  The Orange County Professional Firefighters Association is not criticizing Councilmember Righeimer’s contributions that originate from outside the city of Costa Mesa.  According to his recent 460 filings, there are many.  None of which will be mentioned.  The Orange County Professional Firefighters Association does not believe in making derogatory insinuations about contributors that are external to a specific locale for the simple fact we believe one should be allowed to contribute to any political cause worthy of one’s beliefs.

Mr.  Righeimer then makes a reference to unions being analogous to plantation owners and the public being the slaves.  This is nothing less than a vitriolic statement that is an insult to those Americans whose ancestors were indeed slaves during our nation’s history and to those current American émigrés who were forced to flee nations that currently practice various types of political or religious oppression that utilize slavery, imprisonment, or execution.  Many of whom are current residents in Orange County.

You once stated to me that we while we disagree, we are not enemies.  I still believe that to be the case.  I am only asking that you review the comments made and determine if you believe they are ultimately helping or hurting your cause given the OC GOP’s commitment to dialogue that is both ethical and honest in its presentation and whether or not you believe vitriol should indeed be absent from the public discussion as you alluded to in your rebuttal to Mr. Greenhut.

Lastly, I would like to remind you of the accomplishments of the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association in addressing the current fiscal challenges of the Orange County Fire Authority.  They include but are not limited to many of the items being pursued by the CRP and OC GOP as it relates to pension reform.  Amongst them being a new tier for new hires, and greater contributions from current employees towards their retirement pensions.  In addition the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association has aggressively pursued sources of functional revenue via public private partnerships, grants at the state and federal level, and adoption of programs that have shown to be greatly beneficial to ensuring the fiscal health of the Orange County Fire Authority.  As of this writing that sum accounts for approximately one quarter of a billion dollars in the last 15 years, with roughly ten percent recurring annually.  We believe this type of responsible planning should not be criticized and in fact be used and embraced as an example to leaders, regardless of party affiliation, of other cities looking for solutions to deal with their current fiscal challenges.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Tony Bedolla Director of Government Affairs

 

Baugh’s Register Reader Rebuttal (wow, why can’t Democrats get these?), goes like this:

It’s a good thing that Register editorial writers did not meet the woman at the well mentioned in the biblical book of John. The fact that she had five previous husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband would have doomed her to a life not worth living. Instead, the woman met Jesus, and she became a great messenger for changed lives.   Beginning in 2001, we witnessed more than 100 local elected Republicans receive contributions from public employee unions and vote for the generous retirement benefits called “3 percent at 50.” This is abusive to the taxpayer and fiscally unsustainable.

As Republican Party chairman, I had a choice to publicly criticize all of these Republicans for casting these votes or to challenge them to see the errors of their ways. I chose the latter path and proposed a resolution to prospectively withhold support for any Republican who took money from public employee unions. This was not a perfect solution but it was step in the right direction.

Steven Greenhut [who writes occasional editorials for the Register] has a long-standing and vitriolic view of Mr. Spitzer dating back to his vote as a supervisor in 2001 for 3 percent at 50. Mr. Greenhut now takes issue with my support of Mr. Spitzer. In an April 1, editorial [“Baugh, Spitzer and unions”] – obviously penned by Mr. Greenhut – the Register states that Mr. Spitzer “epitomizes everything Baugh and the party said it would stand against.” The editorial specifically mentions Mr. Spitzer’s 10-year-old vote on the 3-percent-at-50 policy, and goes on to state that “Mr. Spitzer no doubt is complying with the letter but not the spirit of Mr. Baugh’s edict.” The editorial concludes by saying that the chances of Mr. Spitzer pushing proactive union reforms envisioned by me is in the neighborhood of “zero.”   This is childish language, and the vitriolic prose ignores actual facts. For example, the Stop Special Interest Initiative on the November ballot is a game-changer that will help neutralize the enormous public employee union power in this state. The fact that Mr. Spitzer donated $5,000 to help fund this initiative is probably uninteresting to Mr. Greenhut and his colleagues because there is no vote, no contribution and no public statement that Mr. Spitzer can make to erase the unpardonable sin in their minds.

This of course did not stop Republican candidates seeking union endorsements, just Republican candidates accepted contributions from unions.  Of course, thanks to Citizens United, Republican candidates benefit from IEs and all other manner of corporate contributions.  Our previous stories note that private sector and municipal government entities already spend considerably more on Lobbying than Unions do.  I’m certain by culling through Campaign Finance reports, we’d leanr this pattern holds true as well.

 

  1 comment for “Firefighters Union Responds to “Political Vitriol” Column

  1. Mike moon
    April 9, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Scott Baugh are room mates. They share an office and likely the same lists of donors and people they owe favors to. The Register is heavily influenced, some say controlled, by the OC republican party. The same party that brought you Mike Carona, the OC bankruptcy, the scandal of the john Wayne expansion. Righiemer is trying to crown himself king of costs mesa. Scott Baugh is there to help. Nothing democratic about it. Just good ole boy politics.

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