Reprinted With Permission Of OCPolitical (OcPolitical) [The comments to that post include a response from Mayor Ury]
By Greg Woodard
I currently am the only member on the Central Committee from Mission Viejo. We have four conservatives running for two spots. Consequently, I’m recommending we vote no endorsement for any candidate, and let the Mission Viejo voters decide in November.
On September 5, 2012, incumbent Frank Ury, and three other conservative candidates for Mission Viejo City Council, went before the GOP Endorsement Committee. When Ury spoke, he touted his conservative principles and his list of endorsements (see Chris Nguyen’s extensive coverage here: http://ocpolitical.com/2012/09/05/ocgop-endorsements-committee-meets/). Endorsement Committee member Thomas Gordon asked Ury whether he had voted to bestow lifetime medical benefits on part-time council members. To his credit, Ury was prepared for the question. Ury stated that he had voted to rescind lifetime benefits for council members and he produced an affidavit he presented at the July 6, 2010 Council meeting that purported to irrevocably release any lifetime medical benefits he may be entitled to.
After hearing the candidates and their supporters and detractors, the Endorsement Committee voted 4-2 to recommend Ury for endorsement by the full Central Committee. The Endorsement Committee also voted 4-2 to recommend endorsement for challenger Wendy Bucknum. Having made two recommendations, the Committee effectively voted against endorsing the other conservative incumbent, Cathy Schlicht.
Ury’s response to Gordon was incomplete. Ury gave the impression that he never had voted for lifetime medical benefits for part-time council members. In doing so, Ury left out several key votes he made that allowed such benefits. Here is a brief rundown of those votes:
In 2000, a prior City Council voted to provide lifetime medical benefits for city employees and their spouses who had 12 years of continuous service with the city (we can debate the wisdom of that boondoggle at a different time). Subsequently, the issue was raised as to whether or not this policy would apply to council members. On May 19, 2008, six months before he was up for re-election to the Council, Ury proposed a resolution to eliminate lifetime medical benefits for council members. The measure passed 5-0.
On November 17, 2008, the first Council meeting after Ury was re-elected to a second 4 year term, Ury made a motion to adopt a resolution that would re-instate lifetime medical benefits for council members and give them the option of declining the benefits. The measure passed 3-1 with Ury voting to re-instate lifetime medical benefits.
On June 21, 2010, Councilmember Cathy Schlicht proposed eliminating lifetime medical benefits for current and future council members. The proposal failed 2-3 with Ury voting against it, keeping lifetime medical benefits in place.
On July 6, 2010, Schlicht again proposed eliminating lifetime medical benefits. This time, the measure passed 4-1, with only Ury voting against. Ury had earlier attempted to get a vote to lay the item on the table (for those parliamentary procedure fans like Kermit Marsh, that means Ury tried to avoid voting on Schlicht’s motion), but it failed.
It was at that same July 6, 2010 meeting that Ury presented his affidavit, including a memo that stated, “When I first brought this up over two years ago, and even as recently as a few months ago, the Council taking action to revoke this benefit was criticized under the argument that the Council could change its action in the future. Therefore, executing this irrevocable release is the best and proper way to ensure that any claims to this benefit are severed. I have executed the documents and have therefore revoked this benefit. This has been delivered to the City Attorney and is on file with the City.”
I would note that Councilmember Trish Kelley also submitted an affidavit purporting to irrevocably release any lifetime medical benefits she may be entitled to at the July 6, 2010 Council meeting. However, she also voted in favor of Schlicht’s motion to eliminate lifetime medical benefits, while Ury opposed it.
The Endorsement Committee’s recommendations for Ury and Bucknum should be heard by the full Central Committee at its meeting tomorrow night. No candidate, however conservative, is perfect, and while Republicans often agree on a majority of issues, there will always be disagreement between us. I have supported Ury’s positions on several occasions (particularly in opposing the anti-property rights Measure D that was defeated in 2010.) However, for me personally, public pension and benefits are out of control, and I cannot agree with any vote to give lifetime benefits for part-time council members, regardless of the reason. Ury voted to re-instate lifetime benefits for council members, and twice voted against removing those benefits. Accordingly, I urge the full Central Committee to take a neutral stance at tomorrow night’s meeting and not endorse any candidate for Mission Viejo City Council.