MOORLACH UPDATE — Keep Public Out — October 19, 2015

The OC Register‘s editorial pages are most inclusive. After the Governor signed SB 331, and we covered it in MOORLACH UPDATE — Closed Doors — October 13, 2015 october 13, 2015 john moorlach, the OC Register printed a column from one of the sources of this unbelievably biased bill, seehttp://www.ocregister.com/articles/transparency-687734-public-county.html.

Today, the OC Register‘s editorial board weighed in on the subject in their lead editorial below.

I try not to be too repetitive, but the Daily Pilot also recently covered this cynical legislation, seehttp://www.dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-me-1015-crone-law-20151014,0,6392522.story.

Public employee unions have spent tens of millions of dollars over the past two decades to elect pro-union lawmakers. The payoff is legislation like SB 331, which has no rhyme or reason, except to explicitly block the general public from knowing how much they’re paying public employee union members.

Union power also showed up with the recent signing of SB 99, which gives Caltrans engineers a 7 percent raise, despite all of the discussion about how we have a serious road-repair budget shortfall. We’ve learned that a typical Caltrans engineer earns a total compensation package of $143,000 per year (per the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, where 3,500 employees cost $500,000,000 per year.) Also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Cost of Engineers — August 26, 2015 august 26, 2015 john moorlach. If 20,000 employees are earning $143,000 per year, a 7 percent increase is another $200,000,0000 per year that taxpayers will have to fork over. And that expense won’t produce one single inch of road repairs.

Is it any wonder that the public employee unions are leading the charge for higher gas taxes and vehicle license fees? It is becoming very obvious that the new taxes won’t be for roads, but instead to make even more room for state employee pay raises and their pension plan contributions (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Pricey Labor — September 7, 2015 september 7, 2015 john moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — Pothole Tax — August 30, 2015 august 30, 2015 john moorlach, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Pothole — August 19, 2015 august 19, 2015 john moorlach).

How to keep public out of municipal contract talks

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the “Civic Reporting Openness in Negotiations Efficiency Act” on Oct. 9, a tit-for-tat bill pushed by public employee unions against municipalities that have adopted Civic Openness in Negotiations ordinances.

Under the newly signed law, any municipality operating under a COIN-style ordinance – or just preparing an independent economic analysis of current employee pay and benefit costs – will be forced to comply with costly new rules and will be pressured to return employee contract negotiations to the shadows.

Proponents claimed COIN created an unfair burden with union contracts, but not those with corporations. In reality, the bill imposes largely dubious hurdles to the competitive bidding process.

Contracts with the private sector currently involve a public request for bids, where the desired work is detailed. Bids are then publicly unsealed, publicly debated and a winner publicly selected.

While contractors may hold undue influence over some politicians, it isn’t exercised through the competitive bidding process.

If the law was really about righting a wrong in the competitive bidding process, it would apply to everyone, rather than only to cities that adopt COIN-style ordinances. In that regard, it seems nothing more than an eye for an eye or, at worst, might be characterized as, “Backroom dealings are fine, as long as unions get to use the back room, too.”

“Public employee unions saw COIN as a threat, and the governor was glad to oblige,” state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said in a press release. “Many editorial boards advocated for COIN, but unions obviously have our governor’s ear.”

To be sure, when newspaper editorial boards across the state, including those at the Register and the Los Angeles Times, agree that a bill is bad for business, they might be onto something.

Currently, the public’s input is largely a formality in municipal union contract negotiations. The deal is largely already done, and the taxpayer’s money already committed, before it reaches a public hearing. COIN ordinances were intended to change that.

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