County To Pay $1.3 Million In Legal Fees
In a press release today the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS) announced today that they have reached a mediated settlement with the County of Orange regarding reimbursement of legal fees they expended defending themselves against the County's recently failed lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of their "3% at 50" retirement benefit that was negotiated in 2001.
$1.3 MILLION FOR MOORLACH'S FOLLY
You may recall that County Supervisor John Moorlach - a Costa Mesa resident and strong advocate for the current path the Costa Mesa City Council is taking to shed city government of public employees by outsourcing - was the prime mover of this ill-fated legal adventure. The County will pay AOCDS $1.3 million in settlement of the legal costs and fees expended by the Association in defense of the lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2008. The settlement agreement was mediated by the Honorable Howard B. Wiener, a retired Justice of the California Court of Appeal.
In February of 2009, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Helen Bendix dismissed the County's lawsuit, ruling that their arguments lacked merit to warrant a trial. The County of Orange appealed that decision to the Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal, which unanimously affirmed the lower court's decision. The County was also unsuccessful in its effort to appeal to the California Supreme Court, which unanimously denied the County's petition for review.
TIME TO MOVE FORWARD
Quoted in the press release, AOCDS President Tom Dominguez, although satisfied with the agreement, stated, "No one is ever completely satisfied with the final outcome in such matters. The courts have ruled, however, and with this agreement, we consider the matter officially closed. It is now time for the AOCDS and the County of Orange to move forward and direct our time, resources, and energy to doing what we do best: providing the most efficient and highest quality public safety services possible for the residents of Orange County."
WILL COSTA MESA LEADERS LEARN FROM THIS?
I find myself wondering if our "union-busting" city council will learn anything from this situation. I'm guessing not, especially since they've turned the spending of legal fees into an art form. No, I think they will probably just keep on spending our tax dollars at stratospheric rates to some of the most expensive lawyers available to try to pound the employee associations into submission.