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Frank Ury Omitted Several Of His Past Council Votes To Maintain Lifetime Medical Benefits For Council Members When He Appeared Before The Republican Party Endorsement Committee

Posted by Greg Woodard on September 16, 2012

I currently am the only member on the Central Committee from Mission Viejo.  We have four conservatives running for two spots.  Consequently, I’m recommending we vote no endorsement for any candidate, and let the Mission Viejo voters decide in November.

On September 5, 2012, incumbent Frank Ury, and three other conservative candidates for Mission Viejo City Council, went before the GOP Endorsement Committee.  When Ury spoke, he touted his conservative principles and his list of endorsements (see Chris Nguyen’s extensive coverage here: http://ocpolitical.com/2012/09/05/ocgop-endorsements-committee-meets/).  Endorsement Committee member Thomas Gordon asked Ury whether he had voted to bestow lifetime medical benefits on part-time council members.  To his credit, Ury was prepared for the question.  Ury stated that he had voted to rescind lifetime benefits for council members and he produced an affidavit he presented at the July 6, 2010 Council meeting that purported to irrevocably release any lifetime medical benefits he may be entitled to.

After hearing the candidates and their supporters and detractors, the Endorsement Committee voted 4-2 to recommend Ury for endorsement by the full Central Committee.  The Endorsement Committee also voted 4-2 to recommend endorsement for challenger Wendy Bucknum.  Having made two recommendations, the Committee effectively voted against endorsing the other conservative incumbent, Cathy Schlicht.

Ury’s response to Gordon was incomplete.  Ury gave the impression that he never had voted for lifetime medical benefits for part-time council members.  In doing so, Ury left out several key votes he made that allowed such benefits.  Here is a brief rundown of those votes:

In 2000, a prior City Council voted to provide lifetime medical benefits for city employees and their spouses who had 12 years of continuous service with the city (we can debate the wisdom of that boondoggle at a different time).  Subsequently, the issue was raised as to whether or not this policy would apply to council members.  On May 19, 2008, six months before he was up for re-election to the Council, Ury proposed a resolution to eliminate lifetime medical benefits for council members.  The measure passed 5-0.

On November 17, 2008, the first Council meeting after Ury was re-elected to a second 4 year term, Ury made a motion to adopt a resolution that would re-instate lifetime medical benefits for council members and give them the option of declining the benefits.  The measure passed 3-1 with Ury voting to re-instate lifetime medical benefits.

On June 21, 2010, Councilmember Cathy Schlicht proposed eliminating lifetime medical benefits for current and future council members.  The proposal failed 2-3 with Ury voting against it, keeping lifetime medical benefits in place.

On July 6, 2010, Schlicht again proposed eliminating lifetime medical benefits.  This time, the measure passed 4-1, with only Ury voting against.  Ury had earlier attempted to get a vote to lay the item on the table (for those parliamentary procedure fans like Kermit Marsh, that means Ury tried to avoid voting on Schlicht’s motion), but it failed.

It was at that same July 6, 2010 meeting that Ury presented his affidavit, including a memo that stated, “When I first brought this up over two years ago, and even as recently as a few months ago, the Council taking action to revoke this benefit was criticized under the argument that the Council could change its action in the future.  Therefore, executing this irrevocable release is the best and proper way to ensure that any claims to this benefit are severed. I have executed the documents and have therefore revoked this benefit. This has been delivered to the City Attorney and is on file with the City.”

I would note that Councilmember Trish Kelley also submitted an affidavit purporting to irrevocably release any lifetime medical benefits she may be entitled to at the July 6, 2010 Council meeting.  However, she also voted in favor of Schlicht’s motion to eliminate lifetime medical benefits, while Ury opposed it.

The Endorsement Committee’s recommendations for Ury and Bucknum should be heard by the full Central Committee at its meeting tomorrow night.  No candidate, however conservative, is perfect, and while Republicans often agree on a majority of issues, there will always be disagreement between us.  I have supported Ury’s positions on several occasions (particularly in opposing the anti-property rights Measure D that was defeated in 2010.)  However, for me personally, public pension and benefits are out of control, and I cannot agree with any vote to give lifetime benefits for part-time council members, regardless of the reason.  Ury voted to re-instate lifetime benefits for council members, and twice voted against removing those benefits.  Accordingly, I urge the full Central Committee to take a neutral stance at tomorrow night’s meeting and not endorse any candidate for Mission Viejo City Council.

6 Responses to “Frank Ury Omitted Several Of His Past Council Votes To Maintain Lifetime Medical Benefits For Council Members When He Appeared Before The Republican Party Endorsement Committee”

  1. larrygilbert said

    Greg. As someone who has just opened a new law practice, combined with your family responsibilities, I commend you for adding a new conservative voice to the OC blogosphere. What is sad is that recommendations were made by the endorsing committee without full vetting of inside baseball issues in our city that are unknown to the full voting members. While the law was changed enabling major party Central Committees to endorse candidates in non partisan races there are times when the body should refrain from issuing those endorsements. This years Missikon Viejo city concil race being a perfect example to avoid exposing our internal dirty laundry. As Dana said yesterday at the Grand Opening of the Laguna Niguel HQ we need to work together to get over 65% of the OC vote. There are multiple “grass roots” Republicans in Mission Viejo who oppose the GOP recommendations. Enought said. Wait until tomorrow for the “rest of the story.”

  2. hm… a “Newbie?” welcome greg!

  3. Frank Ury said

    Greg, I am am the person who brought forward the atrocity of Lifetime Medical benefits for ALL city employees, including council members. We removed those benefits for all employee going forward, including council members. It was voted in originally by Gilbert protege JP Ledesma (before my time, funny how you never ask how that happened with “watchdog” oversight). The only two council members elected before the elimination were myself and Trish Kelley. We both signed the irrevocable declining of those benefits over two years ago. The issue is done.

    All the other votes put forth since have been sideshow theater, which you have obviously bought in to. You will note in my comments at those meetings that I do not support “symbol over substance” in my voting. If if makes you feel better, have Schlicht put it on every agenda, it will still carry less weight than me declining it myself.

    And the reason for rescinding the previous vote was the squealing that Gail Reavis was doing via email that the council could not take away the benefit from other council members. Send me your email address, I will forward her emails on to you. After months of sparring, the city attorney told us it would be better to revoke the prior vote and decline individually, which we have all done.

    No current or future city council member will ever receive lifetime medical.

    And since you are an attorney, please confirm for all that my turning down of the benefit is valid and legal and that I will never receive this benefit. This is pretty simple, a direct answer is easy. If you are unsure, I can have the city attorney assist you.

    Frank Ury
    Mayor, Mission Viejo

    • Greg Woodard said

      Frank,

      As I understand your response, you initially voted to re-instate lifetime medical benefits for council members in November 2008 because Gail Reavis was making a stink about the Council not being able to take benefits away from current council members. I have seen the correspondence, and I would agree that Reavis was pestering staff and the City Attorney for answers. The City Attorney in November 2008 stated arguments both for and against re-instating the benefits. On the pro side, it stated that the benefits program allowed it to be changed, and Attorney General decisions supported that. On the con side, it said that no court case had yet addressed the decision, so it was unclear how a court would come down on the issue. The City Attorney then did what nearly every City Attorney does – it recommended the most conservative approach, which was to re-instate the benefits. While I disagree with your vote, I am always happy to hear your reasoning. However, in 2010, Reavis was no longer on the Council and no longer eligible for lifetime medical benefits, yet you still twice voted against rescinding the lifetime medical benefits. You appear to state that this was “sideshow theater” and rely on the affidavit you submitted. That’s fine. I also am happy to hear if you have any other justification for voting against rescinding lifetime medical benefits for council members. Trish Kelley also signed the affidavit claiming no right to benefits, but she also voted the second time to rescind the benefits. If you just wanted to vote against Cathy Schlicht’s motion, that’s your right as well. As I stated in my post, I cannot agree with any vote that would allow lifetime benefits to part-time council members.

      Regardless, this is what I like so much about this blog. There was far too little time at the Endorsement Committee to flesh out all of these issues. My point was that I felt you were misleading the Committee on your votes and I wanted them all out there. I still don’t know why you wouldn’t vote to rescind lifetime medical benefits, even if you believed it was purely theater, but I welcome your response.

  4. Joe Holtzman said

    Ury voted for lifetime health benefits before he voted against it after he voted for it– then voted for it- then wrote a letter to cover his waffling to and fro. Suggest Waffel award for F. Ury !

  5. [...] With Permission Of OCPolitical (OcPolitical) [The comments to that post include a response from Mayor [...]

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