Supervisor Spitzer says supposals without public knowledge is not transparent at all
By: Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer
At the Board Meeting on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors considered the Civic Openness in Negotiations (COIN) proposal. The proposal increases levels of transparency and public disclosure regarding labor negotiations before the agreements can be approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Spitzer raised concern over supposals, which are hypothetical offers that the Board discusses in closed session. Under current policy, these potential offers are not disclosed to the public.
“When you do any proposal, formal or through a hypothetical offer, it should be reported out,” Supervisor Todd Spitzer said. “The people have the right to know.”
Stating that supposals in closed session are not transparent and not fair to the process, Spitzer asked that the County draft language to be included in the COIN proposal to improve the effectiveness of the proposed ordinance. His proposal received unanimous Board support. In addition, the COIN proposal would require:
- Each offer and counteroffer must be disclosed to the public within 24 hours during the negotiation process
- Disclosure of each negotiating session information, including the date, the session length, the location, and a list of all people who attended
- The Auditor-Controller must prepare an Independent Economic Analysis summarizing the fiscal costs of current benefit and pay components in comparison to the costs in each offer or counteroffer
- No labor agreement can be voted on by the Board of Supervisors until the matter has been heard at two meetings of the Board where the public has the right to review and comment on the proposed labor contract
- An outside party must represent the County in labor negotiations unless waived by a majority vote of the Board of Supervisors
Modeled on Costa Mesa’s COIN ordinance, the County’s COIN proposal is scheduled to come back to the Board of Supervisors on July 22 for the first reading and for a second reading on August 5. If the second reading is approved, then COIN will take effect 30 days later.
The first piece below in the Voice of OC strongly supports why my proposed Civic Openness in Negotiations (COIN) ordinance is so important. After “more than two years of private negotiations,” the public finally gets to see what the Board majority is willing to agree to with the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS). I refused to share any details with the reporter about what was discussed in closed session amongst myself and my colleagues, as I am required to do. Unfortunately, Supervisor Spitzer had no problem revealing deal points that were discussed in closed session. Consequently, I now feel free to share my own observations from these prolonged negotiating sessions. For a good briefing on the deliberations, I would recommend that you reread MOORLACH UPDATE — Another Impasse — April 21, 2014, where I wrote the following:
“Negotiations are done in closed session, which means that we are not to divulge the details. But, allow me the risk of providing a couple of clarifications to the story, as I was not interviewed for this piece. First, I asked the Chair to call a special closed session meeting, which occurred a week ago Friday, in order to clarify one of the components of the counter that was agreed to the previous Tuesday. Everything was clearly spelled out in writing and agreed to by the conclusion of the Friday afternoon session. I thought that the Board had made some significant concessions. Second, the following week Supervisor Spitzer decided that he did not agree with one of the components that he had previously agreed to and requested yet another special closed session. This request was declined by the Chair, as the proposal was thoroughly discussed in the special closed session and other Supervisors had notes reflecting and concurring with the results. The negotiations now move to the impasse phase, which has resulted in agreed to terms and closure in the majority of recent mediations.”
Allow me to elaborate. It is my conclusion that Supervisor Spitzer circumvented the negotiation process and worked independently with AOCDS. I thought the deal points that he proposed were a sincere effort to come to a resolution. I have since come to the conclusion that he was a messenger for AOCDS and was attempting to convince his colleagues into believing that we were countering with an offer that was very magnanimous. I learned rather quickly that Supervisor Spitzer was just usurping the process and being a mouthpiece for AOCDS when he requested another closed session. He had apparently not delivered the specific deal points in the precise manner as he was directed by AOCDS and wanted another closed session to fix his error and satisfy the union. And now I regret having made the vote, because I believe that I was misled by my colleague. This is unfortunate, because the Board was working and coming close to a resolution. We were then surprised at the June 24th Board meeting in our closed session with another attempt to accept a modified version of Supervisor Spitzer’s proposal, which passed but was opposed by myself and Chair Nelson.
I am not necessarily “slamming” this proposal, I’m just staying consistent with the process and the desire for equitability with all of the bargaining units. Those who believe this is slamming may be reacting from their awkward position of cramming down a non-unanimous deal.