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Los Angeles Could Use a COIN Ordinance – But That Will Only Come When Its Voters Demand It

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on September 2, 2015

We in Orange County have seen several versions of the COIN Ordinance (Community Openness In Negotiations). COIN ordinances provide for more and earlier disclosure to the taxpayers during and in the run up to the final approval of a contract between the public entity employer and a government employee union. This allows the citizens to know and understand the costs of the “deal” they will have to pay for.  It also gives them time to give their opinions to their own elected officials about the deal the officials negotiated on the voters behalf.

The City of Costa Mesa was the first to put a COIN ordinance in place.  The County of Orange also put one in place only to have the employee’s union challenge it before a Labor Commissioner who ruled against the ordinance – that is currently on appeal by the County.

It was with some surprise that I saw that the Los Angele Times (no fan of conservative ideals and principles) called for the implementation of a COIN ordinance in the City of Los Angeles.  Here is a link to the editorial: Los Angeles Could Use More COIN.  As the LA Times editorial points out, the back room deal of 2007 was a financial disaster for the City and its taxpayers.  It looks like a similar secret negotiation then quick City Council approval process is going on again.  A COIN ordinance would likely allow for the taxpayers who are going to foot the bill for this deal to know what they are being obligated to pay for before their elected officials vote for the labor contract.  In other words, so the voters and taxpayers of the City of Los Angeles could have time to communicate to their elected representatives what they think of the deal.

Lets put some numbers to all of this:  According to www.TransparentCalifornia.com the 2013 median income of Los Angeles residents was $38,939.00.  The average salary for City employees in 2013 (there were 35,919 full time and 46, 918 total employees in 2013) was $90,167 and when benefits (pension and health care costs) are added that rises to $101,675.00 not including future payments for retiree pensions and retiree health care costs.  Los Angeles total employee compensation for 2013 was $3,866,476,670.00.  Thats right: almost 4 billion dollars (and down from almost 5 billion dollars for 2011 and 2012).  With 3,827,261 residents in the City of Los Angeles, that means the total employee compensation cost per resident is $1,010.00.  Here is the link for the summary page for 2013 from Transparent California.  By comparison the 2013 cost per resident in Orange County was $577.00.  Orange County summary. The City of Orange: $597.00.  City of Orange summary.  And perhaps no surprise: Los Angeles County for 2013: $933.00.  Los Angeles County summary.

So it would appear that in the City of Los Angeles city employees are paid more than twice the median salary of taxpayers of that city.  Plus the public employees also receive all of the city paid health care and pension benefits now and in the future.

When will the citizens of Los Angeles get a COIN ordinance – likely never unless the voters of Los Angeles demand it by making big changes in their City Council and the Mayor’s office.  This would mean that the generally left leaning voters of LA would need to ignore the labor union financed campaign ads for City Council and Mayor candidates.  They would need to stop those nice labor union bosses with their labor friendly politicians cutting these deals behind closed doors.  How?  By electing City Council members and a Mayor who are not beholden to the unions for their political fortunes and futures.

Voters of the City (and County) of Los Angeles – the decision is in your hands.

3 Responses to “Los Angeles Could Use a COIN Ordinance – But That Will Only Come When Its Voters Demand It”

  1. KenCoop said

    Does this mean you support SB 331? It would apply the same level of transparency to private vendors.

  2. Craig P. Alexander said

    Actually Ken – I might support it. But it would need to be fair – mirror for mirror what a COIN ordinance provides. Not require greater or fewer disclosures than what is required for public union collective bargaining under a COIN ordinance. It would be even better if there was a requirement by all public entities to implement COIN and CRONE as long as the playing field for public union and private contracting negotiations are the same. One factor that would need to be dealt with – a labor union is normally the exclusive group the public entity must negotiate with. With private contractors selling goods and services to the governmental entity, there is competition (or there should be). I would not like to see a government entity lose its negotiating position so it could not negotiate the best deal for the taxpayers.

    What I don’t like about SB331 is its revenge factor by some Democrats and labor unions using Sacramento as a hammer against Orange County.

    • KenCoop said

      As I read the legislation, SB 331 only takes affect after the contract has been awarded.

      I don’t view it as revenge. I view it as good policy inspired by the COIN process.

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