MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register — December 19, 2010

Nick Berardino has been a busy contributor to the OC Register’s “Reader Rebuttal” section this year.  I don’t believe one of them solicited a response from me.

Nick’s also pretty good about publicity stunts, accusations, and other creative ways to successfully obtain media attention.  Heck, his union has even funded a new web news organization to the tune of $100,000.  I don’t recall reacting to many of his creative outbursts, but when I write or say something, even if I’ve been saying it for months (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Passage — June 17, 2010), maybe years, it somehow warrants a response from Nick.

I am honored, because Nick is the new face of public employee unions.  Nick gets it most of the time.  He’s been progressive in addressing the pension issues.  Together with the Board of Supervisors, he’s been able to address all of the low hanging fruit.

All I’m saying is that, in spite of all his wonderful efforts, we still have a fiscal iceberg ahead.  He can and should do more and he’s the type of leader that can.

Moving up from a $2,000 per month rental, to a $3,000 per month, plus expenses, penthouse suite, may be an overreach for some.  It gets worse when the expenses, like the paid doorman, start to creep up.  The realization that the nicer place is consuming too much of one’s available resources is an encouragement to move back to the old place.  That’s all I’m proposing.  If you’ve overreached and the costs are prohibitive, then move back.

In Sunday’s OC Register’s Commentary, Nick fired back with the piece below (see MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register Orange Grove — December 15, 2010).

Ironically, in the OC Register’s News section, page 6, there was an article titled “Cuts bite into teacher salary gains – Pay is expected to slide further in next few years, and more layoffs are likely.”

Nick’s piece provides some opportunities for positive debate.  What exactly does Nick envision with the “collective moving forward” strategy?  Who is the opposition in this so called “fight to forge ahead?”  Not me.  Nick says that “both sides must be willing to sacrifice” but wouldn’t a shift in the retirement formula by all of the bargaining units benefit “both sides?”   

Expect more point-counter-point opportunities over the coming weeks and months.

INVITATION

The three Board of Supervisors members who were elected this year, Supervisors Bates, Nelson and myself, will be sworn into office on Tuesday, January 11, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. in the Board Chambers.  Orange County Superior Court Judge James E. Rogan will officiate my swearing in.

INVITATION

On January 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., we will enjoy a rowing opportunity in the Upper Newport Bay with the Newport Bay Conservancy – see www.newportbay.org.  More info to follow.  Date subject to change in case of rain.

INVITATION

On March 26th we’ll enjoy a morning hike on with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy to enjoy the spring flowers.  More info to follow.  Date subject to change in case of rain.

JOB OPENING

The new Commission to End Homelessness in Ten Years is recruiting an Executive Director.  If you or someone you know is interested, please contact Christina Altmayer at Christina@AltmayerConsulting.com.

Rebuttal (Nick Berardino): Let’s move forward, not back, on pensions

By NICK BERARDINO

General Manager, Orange County Employees Association

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, in a column posted Dec. 10 on ocregister.com and printed in The Register on Dec. 14 ["County needs lower pension costs"], presented two options for how he believes public employees can avoid financial disaster for the county: either scale back existing, ratified pension formulas, or don’t, and eventually face pay freezes and layoffs.

This comes within a week of the Board of Supervisors’ review of the 2010 Strategic Financial Plan, which is meant to provide a financial snapshot of the county. Though it is not a finalized budget ready to be voted on, the document asks staff to develop a salary and benefit cost-reduction plan to cut costs by up to $100 million during the next five years and enforce a hiring freeze that stops most hiring, with a few exceptions as required by state and federal mandates.

Moorlach suggests reverting to a previous pension formula, one that would provide reduced benefits to current county employees.

"Sometimes in life you have to go backward to move forward," he writes. "This is a mindset that has to be adopted by the public employee unions in this state. Not doing so will only lead to the inevitable: massive layoffs, pay cuts and possible bankruptcy workout plans."

Instead of resolving to move backward, wouldn’t it be better to move forward collectively?

Instead of asking working men and women to take a step back, why not join us in the fight to forge forward with the limited resources we have? Some in Washington, D.C., are listening, as are the folks at The Economist, who recently published information about our hybrid pension plan which proposes a defined-benefit plan with a voluntary defined-contribution plan and an employer match contribution. The hybrid plan includes a reduced pension and a defined contribution plan similar to a 401(k).

"The ball is in the unions’ court," Moorlach writes. If that’s so, then we choose to collaboratively engage rather than forfeit. Instead of simply taking away from working families as a quick fix to a long-term problem, let’s work toward improving the situation for all working Americans.

"Giving up something that you have is a very difficult thing to do," Moorlach writes. We’re with him on that point – but both sides must be willing to sacrifice. OCEA members have done just that by reforming the pension, retiree medical benefits and setting our salaries to the private sector.

We understand times are tough – nowhere is that felt more than in the wallets, and on the dinner tables, of the working class.

Everyone has been hit by this recession, and regardless of which side we’re on, we are all in this together.

For once, Supervisor Moorlach should act like it.

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