But for County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, the Orange County Sanition District might have gotten away with a fast one.The sanitation district board on Sept. 28 approved pay raises for 17 managers and 18 "confidential" workers during a closed-door session. The vote was in violation of the state open meeting law -- the Brown Act -- because the workers are not represented by any bargaining group.
The public never got to question the raises, generally about 2 percent, especially problematic in such a down economy. Nelson -- who sits on the board as an alternate director -- said he spotted the violation and called agency attorney Brad Hogin.
I wrote about Nelson when I worked at the Register. He was a Fullerton council member who blew the whistle on a secret retroactive pension-increasing deal and brought down the wrath of the Republican establishment, which was too busy protecting its council members to worry about such things. He got elected to the Board of Supervisors, where he continues to alert the public to these deals. This reinforces the importance of getting at least one taxpayer advocate elected to councils and boards. At least there's one person to alert the public to these deals, which are like rust -- they never sleep. Public agencies and their employees are constantly pushing for more while no one is looking. They do this in good economic times and bad times. When the pension crisis hit the fan, instead of pulling back many agencies pushed forward with increased pay and pension plans more rapidly than ever -- an attempt to get on the gravy train before it went off the rails.