From the Association of California Cities — Orange County‘s Facebook page today comes this photo of newly appointed OCTA Chief Darrell Johnson speaking to the ACC-OC’s “Pension Committee”. OCTA is an “affiliate” member of this lobbying group — but the ACC-OC has no vote in OCTA activities, no Board representation and should have NO influence in how the agency operates.
We question why the OCTA’s CEO is speaking to this particular organization about something as important and financially impactful as pension reform, and why this meeting was apparently not noticed to the public. Was the press invited? Would they and/or the general public have been 1) welcomed and 2) been allowed to ask questions? ACC-OC is a membership organization that includes only 26 of the 34 OC cities (Fountain Valley pulled out last year, and large cities like Santa Ana and Fullerton have stayed away) and quite a collection of lobbyists, bit players and hangers-on:
It would be important to others that there’s no union representation displayed above — and if pensions were under discussion at this meeting, one might think the Teamsters and TCIU (who apparently represent some OCTA employees, see page four here) might have been invited or demanded to attend to hear what was being said about their membership, and their financial futures and retirements. In any OCEA members work for the OCTA, we suspect Nick Berardino and his minions would have an interest as well.
Our point here is that this self-important group of lobbyists and city officials with no legal authority in this setting is convening and discussing financial issues that only the OCTA Board (which includes all five County Supervisors and 12 quietly appointed representatives from all five OC Districts) have any authority to manage and vote upon. We’d also question if any Brown Act violations could be found in these get-togethers. As well, we’d ask if Jack Dean, our local EXPERT on public employee compensation was asked or invited to attend for his expertise — Jack runs PensionTsunami, a one-stop shop for all things pension. And was the OCTA’s feckless Chairman there? Since this was not a public meeting, no minutes were likely taken for publication, and only the ACC-OC knows who attended and if any “action items” or policy or positions were agreed to.
If the OCTA feels a need to discuss important issues like employee pensions, a more appropriate format would be a simple workshop to which the press and public is invited after a formal public notice. The agency has done this many times before, especially when they’re trying to sell snake oil to the taxpayers like toll lanes to those of us who were snookered into voting for Measure M. These meetings with special interest groups with their own agendas outside the view of the public and press are inappropriate.