Mission Viejo part-time city council majority votes “lifetime health benefits” for themselves

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As hard as I try to write something positive about our city council they throw me under the bus. At tonight’s Mission Viejo city council meeting I urged them to vote NO on offering “lifetime health care” for our part time city council. I even told them I would be writing a blog post on their votes once I got home.
Let me set the stage. At the May 13th council meeting our city council voted unanimously to terminate the City Councilmembers right to obtain lifetime medical benefits.
Fast forward to around 10:30 tonight when council member MacLean discussed a “strategic planning” meeting to be held on December 15th. Lance wanted to make sure we address the state of the economy as it relates to our finances. City Manager Dennis Wilberg responded telling us that his staff is monitoring our revenues and expenditures during this current recession pointing out the problems being faced in Sacramento.
Yet after I urged them to oppose lifetime health care on the very next Agenda Item Lance, Frank Ury and Trish Kelley voted to enable themselves to have lifetime health care after 12 years of continuous service and 50 years of age.

Prior to their vote, during my comments on this item, I asked the city treasurer why the potential cost of this benefit was not included in the Staff Report. Although the mayor nor staff responded, Councilman Ledesma followed up on my comment by reporting that the cost would be $257,000 per eligible employee (that also includes our “part time” council members who achieve three consecutive terms). This is based on a typical 24 year benefit. He said he may not have had a problem recently doubling their stipend but was not comfortable approving this item. Paraphrased he went on to state that “I don’t think it’s appropriate to give ourselves a benefit of $257,000 or more” and voted NO. Member Gail Reavis was out of state and missed this meeting.
The Resolution addressing the “policy regarding retiree health insurance benefits” does include an “opt out” provision but Trish, Lance and Frank could not vote fast enough to give themselves a shot at getting this taxpayer gift of public funds. Each of them would qualify if they get reelected in their next races.

Amazing. If I had not questioned the long term cost of this potential benefit they may have voted without a peep.

OCGOP. You keep rewarding the likes of Trish Kelley and Frank Ury, who at one time called themselves fiscal conservatives, as you gave them your highly treasured Republican Party endorsements. You should be proud of those selections. Those endorsements, in non-partisan races, lowers the bar for all the qualified conservatives in the party. It’s called the old boys’ club. We automatically reward incumbents unless they are a complete disaster.

Over time tonight’s vote has the potential to cost Mission Viejo taxpayers in the millions of dollars long after this current group is out of office.


PS: “Agenda Management.” I am remined that this item was posted on our Agenda at the first meeting after the election where Frank Ury was reelected. Who knows what the outcome would have been if the voters knew his position on this costly issue before Nov 4th????????

About Larry Gilbert