Next week, the Orange County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on a new labor agreement with the politically powerful Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS). But while county officials are hailing the deal as a $4-million-plus savings over three years for taxpayers, they are hiding specific details from public view until the contract is finalized.
That disturbing revelation is according to OC Watchdog's Jennifer Muir, who yesterday reported that her California Public Records Act request for the data was rejected by Howard Sutter, a county spokesman. According to Sutter, public knowledge of the terms might have "a chilling effect" on negotiations.
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But the Register reporter rightly points out that this information blackout makes it currently impossible for the public to verify any actual savings, especially given that we do know taxpayers will be responsible for paying $125 more a month in medical benefits for each deputy if the new deal passes. (The proposed cost would be $745-a-month per deputy.) The AOCDS won that tentative concession after agreeing to push back retirement ages to 55 (instead of 50) for new hires and forcing deputies to contribute a small portion to their retirement funds.
Depending on their length of service, some deputies can retire at the age of 50 with 90 percent of their pay for the rest of their lives. That's a sweetheart deal a previous all-Republican OC Board of Supervisors approved. Republican Party boss Scott Baugh recently called on future Republican candidates to reject contributions and endorsements from public employee unions.
The board meets on Tuesday morning.