Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, June 02, 2006

A County Supervisor Race With National Implications?

Nothing is quite as provincial as a county supervisor race: Hard fought, loaded with hot issues -- and insignificant to anyone on the other side of the county line.

Not so the John Moorlach-David Shawver race in OC. Moorlach's name might be familiar to those of you in less-guilded realms -- he's the guy who sounded an early warning alarm on the OC investment schemes that eventually led to the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. That won him admiration, respect and the job of our elected treasurer. (That's him in the OCReg photo.)

He's running for supe on a single issue: The county employee retirement fund, which is also headed for bankruptcy due to its provisions for very early retirement with very cushy pay-outs.

Running against him is a city councilman/union hack from the North County, funded by near-mandatory union contributions (i.e., "Let your union boss know if you don't want to fund Shawver's campaign. He will remember you, bud."). A slammer of an editorial in today's OCRegister describes the scumball quality of the union campaign:

The [mailer's] front cover shows a photograph of a fireman engulfed in flames and another small photo of a grieving family. It states: "WE LOST HIM. Now John Moorlach says we should lose everything." The mailer goes on to quote an unknown magazine saying disparaging things about Mr. Moorlach, the county treasurer who is running against Stanton councilman David Shawver. The truth is, Mr. Moorlach never supported any denial of benefits to widows and orphans of public safety workers, but did endorse a modest measure that would have reined in some pension costs. Union members alleged that loose wording could be interpreted to cut back such benefits, and the governor withdrew the measure as a state initiative. That's a far cry from the portrayal of Mr. Moorlach as an enemy of widows and orphans and, quite frankly, a shameless use of emotional imagery.

Local unions have dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the anti-Moorlach campaign because Mr. Moorlach ... is pointing to billions of dollars in unfunded county pension liabilities – a point confirmed by the county grand jury. That's what this smear campaign is all about.

My friend Reid Royalty of the OC Taxpayers Association chimes in in a letter to the Reg:

Orange County taxpayers (who often must work to ages 65 or 70) are on a double-barbed hook to pay for county benefits. The Pensions & Investments newspaper asks, "Why should public-sector employees have better benefits than the working stiffs paying the taxes?"
How much better? Oh, how about retiring at 50 or 55 with 90% of your salary for life?

The union campaign is nothing more than government arrogance; the same arrogance that says, "We can spend your money better than you can, we can tear down your house if we want to, we can educate your child about our prejudices but won't about your beliefs."

Moorlach is running against that arrogance ... and against a war chest of not exactly voluntary union contributions. He'll probably win nonetheless, and hopefully his victory will inspire others to question arrogant and dangerously bloated public employee retirement plans in cities and counties across the country.

hat-tip: OCBlog
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