Commissioners Concerned about Chamber Interests in Key Memos
Before all the drama of ignoring court rulings, attempted filibusters and voter suppression, Orange County Commissioners made it clear they were concerned about Chamber interests in key memos. Last month, as signatures were verified and the Supervisor of Elections notified the County, memos swirled as strategy was put in place on how to handle the Earned Sick Time citizen initiative.
Every Commissioner – even the only Democrat on the County Commission – showed concern solely for the Chamber of Commerce’s position to delay and ultimately derail the Earned Sick Time measure.
What became clear is that Commissioners really did not know how to react to the first citizen initiative to qualify for the ballot by petition. They wanted to research, analyze, and take as much time as possible to “understand” the issue. The Commissioners did not understand their duty was to follow the Charter and put this measure on the ballot because the citizens already spoke on the matter.
8/15/12 Memo from Commissioner Scott Boyd:
In his memo, Commissioner Boyd requests a full 30 days before adding the measure to a hearing, citing Chamber and agriculture industry questions. No mention of the 50,000 registered voters of Orange County who signed a petition.
8/15/12 Memo from Commissioner Fred Brummer:
Commissioner Brummer believed Commissioners must thoroughly analyze the proposed ordinance and stated it was their responsibility to launch a “study and investigation to any issue” before the Commission.
8/16/12 Memo from Commissioner John Martinez:
Commissioner Martinez urged the Commission to do “proper due diligence” on the issue and wanted county staff to research the topic and look into the economic impact. He also said he wanted time to discuss it with constituents. Did the Commissioner forget 50,000 constituents already weighed in?
8/16/12 Memo from Commissioner Ted Edwards:
Echoing the others, Commissioner Edwards was looking for shared county staff analysis on the measure. He also cited “limited public comment by advocates of Paid Sick Leave on August 6” – wonder what he thought of all the public comments this week?
8/21/12 Memo from Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell:
In one of the more surprising memos, Commissioner Russell, the only elected Democrat currently on the Commission, also wanted the full 30 days before putting the measure on the agenda. She stated this should be left between an employer and an isolated employee. She went further to say the proper forum for this issue would be the Charter Review.
Memos from Commissioner Jennifer Thompson:
Commissioner Thompson garnered a lot of media on the issue for being the most outspoken regarding Chamber interests and even proposed a dueling amendment banning all regulations of employer-employee benefits. No surprise in an 8/15 memo, she pushes for the full 30 days to “understand the proposed ordinance.” Surprisingly, Commissioner Thompson said in an email to a constituent that she expected the Board of County Commissioners to place the sick time measure on the ballot. Sure she did.