Unions Throughout The State Infiltrate Costa Mesa In An Attempt To Stop Charter Measure
Posted by Greg Woodard on November 1, 2012
Liberals often decry the influence of outside corporate money when it suits their purposes, but do not expect to hear much from them as union money pours in from all over the state in the effort to defeat Measure V, which would convert Costa Mesa from a general law city to a charter city and give the City Council the freedom to combat union abuses. If Measure V passes, the city would no longer have to pay prevailing (union) wages, any increase to city employee pensions would have to be approved by the voters, and local unions would not be allowed to use the city’s payroll system to raise money for political contributions.
Facing an end to their unfettered reign in Costa Mesa, the unions are pulling out all the stops. At least one union member has been caught destroying signs supporting the charter (see here). And now, unions from all over the state are chipping in large sums to defeat Measure V. As the Orange County Register reported today, opponents of Measure V have accumulated an astounding $520,000 as of October 20, 2012, to just $56,000 for supporters of Measure V. Of the $520,000, $320,000 (over 60%) has come from state and county unions. The union’s largest expenditure ($152,000) went to a Georgia company that specializes in media-buys and political strategy.
The union money is largely contributed to the ironically named Taxpayers for Open and Accountable Government, which is sponsored by the Orange County Employees Association. I say ironic because unions in California have operated in the shadows for decades, negotiating contracts favorable to their members in secret with public agencies, buying elections at the local, county, and state level to put their candidates in place to protect the ever-increasing compensation and benefit packages that are bankrupting cities and the state, and massively funding opposition to any proposition presented to the state’s voters that would rein in their power.
One of those propositions, Prop. 32, is on the ballot next week . Prop. 32 would prevent unions from donating to political candidates directly and end the abusive process of extorting dues from members for political purposes, even if the member does not support the candidates or causes that the union spends the money on. The unions have reportedly spent at least $50 million to defeat Prop. 32. I note the irony of the unions using money they extorted from their members to defeat a measure that will prevent them from extorting money from their members for political purposes. The importance of Prop. 32 is not lost on Costa Mesa’s leaders. As the Register reported, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, when reviewing the unions’ campaign finance disclosures opposing Measure V, said “It’s a poster child for Prop. 32.”
It does not take a lot of effort to discover why California consistently ranks among the worst states in the country for business climate. We are near the top (not a good thing) in terms of income taxes, gas taxes, business taxes, and sales taxes, largely due to Democratic legislators who have been bought by unions. Government employee compensation and benefits are eating up a larger chunk of budgets, leaving little for actual services, and any time someone tries to reduce the burden, the unions tap in to their war chest and sue. Costa Mesa is leading the charge to make real changes to blunt the union control, yet they face an uphill battle, being outspent 10-1. Proponents of Measure V must earn their money the hard way, by soliciting small and large benefits from people and businesses. The unions simply have to write a check from money the did not even have to ask their members to provide.
November 6 may be a bellwether for conservative values, both at the national and local level. Costa Mesa is leading the charge in Orange County.