sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Public Employee Union Fights Back

Today, the California Supreme Court (each member of which had been appointed by a Republican Governor) unanimously turned down the County of Orange's appeal on a lawsuit regarding the Deputy Sheriff Pension Issue. COUNTY OF ORANGE v. ASSOCIATION OF ORANGE COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFFS et al., Case #S191218

I know that a lot of the blog readers who browse this page consider public employees greedy and their unions to be an extension of that greed. In this case, the County has been working diligently for the past three years to strip retired police officers of 1/3 of their pensions.  They worked, they retired, in some cases many years prior. In some cases the officers since died and their widows/widowers are living on a fraction of that pension. The County, which negotiated the pension amounts years before, felt as if the Deputies received a better deal in the negotiation than they should have been entitled to.  So, 10+ years later they want to strip it from them.

The case brought by the County of Orange had been unanimously tossed out of trial, and appellate courts has now been decided by the Supreme Court and the only court that the County can appeal it to now it the US Supreme Court. The third unanimous decision against the County ends the $2.5 million dollar campaign made by (whacko bomb thrower) County Supervisor John Moorlach and his legal advisors. This vindictive campaign may end up costing the taxpayers of Orange County over $5 million.

Before the County of Orange filed their controversial and frivolous lawsuit in February 2008, three different outside law firms they had hired for legal counsel, warned them they could not win such a case. They were thrown out of Superior Court twice in 2009 without even a trial and unanimously thrown out of Appellate Court on a 3 – 0 vote this last January. 

All six of the State Supreme Court justices (there is presently one vacancy) ruled unanimously. They had 90 days to decide whether to take the case up and formally review the Appellate Court’s decision. They came to a quick, unanimous decision in only 6 working days. 
“The Deputy Sheriffs Association now plans to file in court for complete payment of our four years worth of attorneys fees for this frivolous, mean spirited lawsuit. By the time everything is over, the vindictive political judgment of John Moorlach and Mario Mainero will have cost the County a tremendous amount of time and money. It is both sad and unfortunate -- and a textbook example of abuse of our legal system.”
Everyone negotiates for pay and benefits. Taking on the retired for what retroactively looks as if it was too good for the workers is not right in any context. The Deputy Sheriffs didn't steal anything or take advantage of anything. They gave up pay in lieu of pension benefits and the County went along with it. Some conservative Republicans, eager to find a scape goat and I'm not going to officially name names (Chuck), find the current wave of public resentment toward the retired is a good place to jump on the band wagon. Unfortunately, the appellate court (three Republicans sit on that court) and the supreme court (six Republicans sit on that court) didn't agree.

7 comments:

  1. Unfortunately we are going to have to cut these pensions; it's terrible, but it's a mathematical reality if we are going to have a decent future.

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  2. Trestin, you will need a new body of law to slice into those contracts beyond the Constitution and the law of the land. And sadly, the axe can swing both ways. There is a property interest in pensions. If the government can strip property from one class of people, it can strip your family of their land, home and all that they have to satisfy government debt. And the lesson here is that one must be very careful what one enacts.

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  3. A deal's a deal. The 'value' in those pensions was already recieved, over twenty years times the number of Sheriff's, and their families...now its time to pay. Its no coincidence that the attorneys warned them, and they have zero victories in trying to break this contract. If they were allowed to break it - what's next?

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  4. While one can question pensions in the sense that many are either too high or insane, the fact is that these folks were promised this and in fact the state govts. (all, not just AZ) in most cases used that money for other things as is normal in government.Having said that, I have a big problem with anyone who fights rewarding decent pensions to our firefighters, police and most importantly our service men and women. Yes, it costs us. Yet unlike any other profession these people work their entire careers PUTTING THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE FOR US.
    Teaching? Yes it is important. Politics? At least kind of important I guess (pun intended).

    A contract is a contract. Unfortunately, we have a leftist slant that feels any law or contract can be broken to affect their end results. whatever the case, it is time for us to remember the people who ddi indeed put their own lives at risk for us. Give them what they are promised. I for one am alive today due to a brave policeman who while saving my crazy teen aged ass from getting the bejabbers beaten out of me years ago. In the ensuing scuffle he got stabbed. Luckily he was alright. No matter how many times I thanked him he always told me "it was his job". Enough is enough! They've earned their pensions.

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  5. Race & Joe - When "conservative politicos" turn into vigilance committees who want to decide who 'deserves' what, irrespective of law, they become that beast they wanted to fight in the first place. Strangely there is talk in Orange County of spending the money to take it to the US Supreme Court in hopes of an ultimate victory. I don't think that the court-of-last-resort would give them what they want and they'd get a 9-0 smackdown.

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  6. LL, Trestin's right, these pensions have to be cut, but I disagree strongly with taking them away from people who've earned them and are collecting them, relying on them to live. Retroactive cutting of pension and benefits is unacceptable (dare I say "draconian").

    Going forward, however, they do need to be renegotiated by whatever means necessary and no longer granted to new employees.

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