The Orange County Supervisors will soon take a position on the ongoing battle between a pension advocacy group, the Orange County Register and the Orange County Employees Retirement System over the retirement system’s refusal to release names of officials receiving six figure retirements.
The California Foundation for Fiscal Accountability has secured such disclosures from the state’s pension system for both public workers and teachers. The group sued OCERS in December after it refused to release names. The Register has filed a declaration in support of the action.
This information is released elsewhere, and County supervisors are clearly unhappy that it is not happening here.
“Those names should be released,” County Supervisor John Moorlach said Tuesday at the board’s weekly meeting.
Moorlach asked his colleagues in open session whether the Board of Supervisors should take an official position, especially since its partly their money – as OCERS largest participant – that’s funding legal defenses against disclosure.
“It’s been released elsewehere,” Moorlach said. “And indeed we’re spending plan sponsor money on a lawsuit that shouldn’t be going on.”
Supervisors Chairwoman Janet Nguyen instructed county CEO Tom Mauk — who also agreed that the retirees names should be released — to bring back the issue for a formal vote on June 22.
Disclosure of public employee salaries became a controversial policy in recent years as media organizations increasingly published individual salaries on databases available to the public.
Many public sector unions protested the move, arguing that it’s unfair to workers. Judges, however, have repeatedly decided that workers’ privacy is trumped by the public’s right to know how tax dollars are spent.
The same argument is now playing out in Orange County over retirees earning more than $100,000 a year in retirement payouts.
— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.