MOORLACH UPDATE — Transparency Turkey — September 18, 2015

The Sacramento Bee provided an editorial yesterday that called three bills that passed the State Legislature "turkeys" worthy of a veto. One of the three was SB 331 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 107 — September 15, 2015 John Moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — Winsome Session — September 12, 2015 John Moorlach, and http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article35508057.html).

The editorial’s headline and three subtitles hit the mark: "Bills that should never become law — Democrats carry water of public-employee unions — Sen. Tony Mendoza is carrying an especially cynical bill, SB 331 — Gov. Jerry Brown needs to intervene by vetoing these turkey bills."

Not to defame the noble bird, but Jerry Brown needs to sharpen his veto pen and kill numerous turkey bills.

Not to defame the noble bird, but Jerry Brown needs to sharpen his veto pen and kill numerous turkey bills. CLAY JACKSON (Pleasant Hill, Ky.) Advocate Messenger file

Here’s what it said (and what we communicated to the media in the release at the bottom of this UPDATE):

SB 331 by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, is an especially cynical bill that goes by the disingenuous title “Civic Reporting Openness in Negotiations Efficiency Act.” It’s an Orwellian name for a bill that would limit sunshine.

Mendoza pushed this turkey because in recent years, a handful of municipalities had the temerity to adopt ordinances requiring additional public disclosure of labor contracts with public employee unions.

A gift to AFSCME and the Orange County Employees Association, this mendacious bill would require those municipalities – and only them – to adopt ordinances requiring greater disclosure of any contract worth $50,000 or more.

The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board supports transparency. But SB 331 requires information that already is generally public. And if it’s such a great idea, Mendoza should have attempted to apply it to all local governments. He didn’t; that’s not his goal, nor that of his benefactors. Once again, Democrats approved it overwhelmingly. Brown needs to kill this turkey.

Today the Sacramento Bee has an article on the topic (see below), I was rather firm and candid (surprise) about my disappointment with SB 331. It is a poison pill for better transparency of bargaining unit negotiations — the largest expenditure on every municipalities’ books! A signature by the Governor will solidify the notion that Sacramento is run by the public employee unions.

SacBeeLogo

Public employee unions push bill on transparency; some say it does the opposite

Measure puts new disclosure requirements on some local governments

Opponents call SB 331 a union-backed measure to deter labor-contract scrutiny

Labor groups counter that it fairly applies same standards to all contracting

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said he expects labor-backed Gov. Jerry Brown to sign SB 331.

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said he expects labor-backed Gov. Jerry Brown to sign SB 331. Rich Pedroncelli The Associated Press

By Jon Ortiz

jortiz

A union-backed measure on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk would require that a handful of cities and one county disclose more information about outsourced services, but the bill’s opponents say its real aim is to keep union labor negotiations opaque.

The only point of agreement between the two sides is that Senate Bill 331 by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, responds to a small but growing movement among local governments to adopt ordinances that reveal the details of labor negotiations normally kept under wraps.

The movement, known as Civic Openness in Negotiations, or COIN, sets labor-negotiation disclosure standards that vary from relatively minor to comprehensive. The most sweeping, such as that adopted by Orange County last year, require an outside negotiator to represent the governing body plus a full analysis and extended public disclosure of specific contract proposals before any negotiated agreement is approved by elected officials.

Under COIN, if a union’s opening position is a 10 percent raise for members and an employer counters with a 10 percent pay cut, both proposals would be made public. Currently, neither side is obligated to disclose intimate bargaining-table details. The public becomes aware of the outcome of talks when the two sides reach an agreement, usually shortly before it goes to a board or council vote. COIN requires that proposals and counterproposals be made public.

Currently, Costa Mesa, Beverly Hills, and Fullerton have COIN measures in place along with Orange County. Marin County has considered an ordinance, although local news reports indicate administrators gave the proposal a cool reception last month.

The measure sent to Brown would apply those transparency standards to any contract for private services valued over $250,000 – but only for COIN-operating agencies. An analysis by Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai, a law firm that represents public employers, notes that the bill would affect arrangements for more than a dozen contracted services, from accounting to waste removal.

“In short, SB 331 would impose extraordinary burdens on agencies working to promote a better public understanding of labor costs,” the analysis states.

Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, said the bill “purports to be about transparency but it’s really about the opposite.”

He predicted that if passed, it will chill the nascent movement to pull back the covers on union contract talks.

Labor unions counter that COIN unfairly targets their contracts and lets outsourcing pacts slide. From their perspective, the Mendoza bill merely balances the books.

“If the message (of COIN) is, ‘Let’s shine a light,’ there are billions of dollars in other contracts that should face the same scrutiny,” said Carroll Wills, spokesman for California Professional Firefighters, one of nearly two dozen labor unions supporting SB 331.

Jennifer Muir, general manager of the Orange County Employees Association, said that COIN ordinances spring from a “narrative” that unfairly casts public employees and their unions as villains. Meanwhile, she said, about half of Orange County’s $5.4 billion budget is spent on private-sector contracts that don’t receive as much scrutiny as employee compensation.

“I don’t think anybody can say with a straight face that the public wouldn’t be better served with more light on those contracts,” Muir said.

Sen. John Moorlach, a Costa Mesa Republican who successfully backed a COIN ordinance last year when he was an Orange County supervisor, said that labor contracts come from a system at cross-purposes: Unions bargain for terms with politicians who also take union campaign money or fear it.

“It’s the biggest conflict of interest on the planet,” Moorlach said. “(The unions) do not get how abusive they are.”

He dismissed union concerns that personal services contracts are abused, since substantial contracts are subject to competitive bidding.

If Brown is “savvy,” Moorlach said, he will veto the Mendoza measure and allow local governments to handle their affairs as they see fit.

But Moorlach expects the Democratic governor will sign the bill, citing unions’ consistent support for Brown since his return to office in 2010, his 2014 re-election and the successful 2012 tax hike.

“If the governor vetoes it,” Moorlach said, “I’ll fall out of my chair.”

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In Case You Missed It…

Bills that should never become law

Sacramento Bee Editorial Board
September 17, 2015
[Excerpts]

"Gov. Jerry Brown calls himself the Capitol’s brooding omnipresence. We suggest another moniker: turkey bill killer, not to defame the noble bird. He probably should veto many bills sent to him at the end of the legislative sessions."

"SB 331 by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, is an especially cynical bill that goes by the disingenuous title “Civic Reporting Openness in Negotiations Efficiency Act.” It’s an Orwellian name for a bill that would limit sunshine."

"The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board supports transparency. But SB 331 requires information that already is generally public. And if it’s such a great idea, Mendoza should have attempted to apply it to all local governments. He didn’t; that’s not his goal, nor that of his benefactors."

"Common themes run through these bills. Republicans oppose them, and Democrats voted almost in lockstep for the turkeys. Indeed, we counted only one Democrat who voted against each of the four, Sen. Steve Glazer, of Orinda."

"We understand that public employee unions are Democrats’ biggest benefactors. But when legislators go out of their way to intervene on their behalf, taxpayers end up paying."

CLICK HERE to read the full Sacramento Bee article.

Watch my floor comments on SB 331 HERE.

If you would like to request an interview with Senator John Moorlach, please contact Amanda Smith at Amanda.smith.

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This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

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