Here is another roundup of some of the most thought-provoking reader comments of the week. Comments are selected by our editors and subject to editing for grammar, spelling, clarity and length.
Click on each topic’s headline to see the article in question.
Santa Ana Retreats on Disputed Housing Funds
Actually, it appears that the city did not enter into these contracts properly by the rules of the closed redevelopment agency. If the contracts were valid, all they would have to do is show them to the state to justify them, and the state would adjust the amount owed, like they did for other redevelopment agencies all across the state.
The city met with the state officials a while back and were asked to provide proof, and whatever the city came up with was insufficient for the state Finance Department to allow it.
It’s revealing to see that this City Council has backed away from its defiant posture and is seeing the writing on the wall and realizing that these redevelopment financial shenanigans could end up costing around $54 million. If there was no issue with these contracts, the council would still be bold and forward, willing to protect these developers, but they aren’t anymore.
— SA Resident
The state is basically saying the money is not Santa Ana’s too spend. This is not an issue of wanting to help people find affordable housing. It’s about misappropriation of funds.
If I hacked your identity and drained your savings and 401(k) to house the poor, uneducated immigrant population, would that be fair? That’s what we are talking about here.
— Victor Mendez
Paul Walters’ Golden Parachute
Residents can blame an ignorant and bumbling City Council for this mess. This current City Council approved the payout for termination before Walters even took the city manager position.
Then when they attempted to force him out of the police chief position that was rightfully his by that same contract, he did them a favor by resigning and not suing the heck out of them and the city.
The whole time, the City Council generated a hostile work environment for him and other staff. Any mediocre labor lawyer could have made mincemeat out of this scenario and litigated, costing the city much more money.
The payout is rightfully his as determined by the agreed terms of his contract, with an additional fairly negotiated sum to relieve the city of the legal liability that this council led the city into.
Was the “Santa Ana Spring’s” misguided quest to attack Mr. Walters worth it? For the residents, it probably wasn’t. This whole debacle lies squarely on the shoulders of a vindictive and arrogant City Council and not the former city manager.
— SA Resident
Government executive pay and severance agreements are out of control. This pattern is repeated in city after city, county after county, government entity after government entity. Senior executives are granted extraordinary pay, benefits and severance agreements that paint an inaccurate picture of public employees as being over-paid and getting sweetheart deals on the taxpayer dime.
But that picture only reflects the reality for the chosen few, the most senior of executives. These high rollers get car allowances sufficient to fund two luxury car leases and other perks which the remainder of our public workforce are not entitled to.
OC’s Government-Business Think Tank Is a Good (or Bad) Idea
It’s hard to take Orange County Employees Association’s criticisms of the Association of California Cities-Orange County seriously, starting with the union being aghast that part of ACC-OC’s $433,000 annual budget goes to “advocacy”: i.e., serving as a forum for municipal policy education and formulation.
This is the same OCEA whose revenue comes from the taxpayer money river in the form of automatic deductions from the checkbook of county and municipal employees.
This is the same OCEA that, in 2012 alone, spent $391,000 in a failed “advocacy” campaign for John Leos for Anaheim City Council. In the same year, OCEA spent far more than that in the Costa Mesa City Council elections. The OCEA’s per-cycle campaign budget it reportedly $2 million.
Membership in ACC-OC is voluntary; cities have to opt in. Membership in OCEA isn’t voluntary; government employees have to go through a process to opt out.
Every year, ACC-OC has to demonstrate value to its members so that they will renew their membership. OCEA just keeps harvesting dues from members’ pay checks.
If ACC-OC is a taxpayer-funded lobby for business, then OCEA is a taxpayer-funded lobby for government.
— Matthew Cunningham
ACC-OS is absolutely regarded as a black sheep in Sacramento. As long as Orange County voters elect no one but Republicans to their city councils and state legislative offices and as long as those officials drop out of the League of California Cities to form their own organization, OC cities will continue to get the dirty end of the stick from Sacramento.
OC is so out of step with the rest of the country that we all might as well jump into a time machine and go back to 1960. Or maybe 1860.
— Sincerely yours
These municipalities spending $430,000 on these meetings are some of the same local government entities claiming they do not have enough money to fund their pension obligations, patch potholes and otherwise run their operations, right?
– News Hound
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