It’s already November in Mission Viejo

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Mission Viejo The California Promise


According to Monday’s comments and a vote from Mission Viejo mayor Kelley the Nov. General election is now underway. After fighting if favor of retaining access to lifetime health care benefits, as recently as our last council meeting, Trish made the following statement before voting in support of Cathy Schlicht’s Agenda item calling for removal of this perk on Monday evening. The final vote to remove the lifetime health care option for members Kelley and Ury was 4 YES and Frank Ury voting NO. 

“I would like to just say this is redundant. I think it is unnecessary. This is being used as a political tool to try to use against me and against council member Ury and I’m going to vote in favor of it because anything other than this is going to continue to be used against me.” 

She went on to say that “I will support this because the city attorney said that its PROBABLY a safe thing to do. Probably duplicating an effort” (in reference to her last minute questionable recision of the benefits). 

Question. Why didn’t she ask the city attorney the same question at the last meeting so that council member Schlicht did not have to place it back on the Agenda? 

Let me now take us back to the beginning of this 50 minute discussion where the first action of mayor Kelley was an attempt to block this item from ever seeing the light of day. After the city attorney provided a menu of options council member Ury questioned Mr. Curly on our current city policy suggesting a typical 6 month wait for revisiting an item.
Note: Trish is up for re-election in less than four months.
The attorney advised him that you can “lay it on the table” adding that it can be back on any Agenda. Hearing that option Frank stated “I am very comfortable with laying this in the table right now, so, I will make a Motion to lay this on the table.” Trish asked if he would allow public speakers (of which I was one). He did not respond. We than heard is there a second?” The delay was very dramatic.  After a period of silence mayor pro tem Leckness asked a basic question. “Tabling this just delays it. Am I right?” He than added that “I can’t support delaying this. I think we need to get this thing and be done with it. So I won’t be able to support delaying of it.” The Ury Motion to table failed by a vote of 3-2 with only mayor Kelley, who also would benefit from the health care perk, voting YES. 

At this point member Schlicht made her Motion which was seconded by member Ledesma.
When they opened the item for public comment I read my transcript of a prior council meeting exchange between member Ledesma and city treasurer Irwin Bornstein in which the benefit, based on our city’s actuarial analysis, would result in a cost to MV taxpayers of approximately $257,000 per eligible participant.
I than read part of a city document regarding these unnecessary benefits as follows: 

“Elected officials run for office with the call to ‘public service’. In no way should that mean that the public continues to ‘serve’ them after their time in office is completed. Note that the benefit is for the Council Member AND their spouses. 

One of the areas of government impacting the financial position of the State and local government is the issue of lifetime benefits of any sort, be they retiree funds or retire medical.
Bottom line: It is not right for the taxpayers of Mission Viejo to pay a lifetime of benefits to retired Council Members (and their spouses) for 12 years of part time work.” Author of the above document. Frank Ury. Date May 19, 2008.

This Agenda report from Mr Ury was heard five months prior to his re-election. The first meeting after his Nov 2008 re-election Frank voted to reinstate that very same benefit. 

Bloggers will like the discussion between Cathy and Trish in which Cathy references a June 23rd OC Weekly article where Trish was quoted to having said she would not rule out taking advantage of the benefits if she was no longer eligible under her husband’s plan. Trish replied stating “what a reporter wrote on a blog was innuendo. I don’t know. None of us have ever been misquoted on a blog… have we?” 

If you watch the city video of this meeting you will see Frank and Trish devote probably 10 minutes beating up on former Mayor Reavis who chose not to run for a third term. At no time has she accepted any health benefit from the city while she has been out of office for two years.
Readers not familiar with the lifetime policy as it relates to council members let me simply state that you must serve for 12 consecutive years by a specific age to qualify for the benefit. Although John Paul Ledesma, whose third term ends this year, is not eligible due to his age which does not meet the policy requirement.
Earlier in the meeting Frank mentioned having a “fiduciary responsibility” as a council member. I repeated his words twice last night.  How sad. Frank Ury is conducting a scorched earth policy against former mayor Gail Reavis that is obvious to anyone in attendance or watching at home. 

Folks. Trish was right. This does warrant voter attention. She, along with Frank Ury, fought to block this vote knowing that we will put your feet to the fire when you abuse the taxpayer. 

Mission Viejo voters are already calling Cathy to commend her for her staying the course on this issue which was one of her campaign promises. Being a freshman last year, it is no easy task to get a majority of your peers to support your proposals. In this case she might have saved taxpayers over $500,000 if we are to believe our city treasurer.

About Larry Gilbert