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Who Will Sign the Public Service Pledge?

Candidates are asked to lead by example by rejecting full-time benefits.

I contributed a post last week that covered my report on community college trustees’ wasteful spending. You can read it here.

Orange County residents are outraged by my findings. The only ones who seem to defend the misappropriation of funds are your employees: the current community college trustees.

It is wrong for part-time elected officials to receive lucrative full-time benefits. Unemployment is high, California is in a fiscal crisis and we simply cannot afford it. Meanwhile, we are faced with a proposition on the November ballot—Proposition 30—that will trigger cuts to California’s public education system if voters do not approve a tax increase.

However, before we start discussing more taxes, we should consider where we can tighten our belts and eliminate unnecessary spending.

Earlier his month, I created the 2012 Public Service Pledge and sent it to every candidate for Orange County school board and community college board. The idea is simple; by signing the pledge, the candidate will refuse all medical benefits and retirement benefits if elected on November 6.

My opponents in the South Orange County Community College District race have been asked to sign the pledge. So have the candidates in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District race—Earl Carraway, Ginny Fay Aitkens, Suzie Swartz and Don Sedgwick—and the Capistrano Unified School District race—Karin Schnell, Amy Hanacek, Michele Taylor-Bible, Carol McCormick, Don Franklin Richardson, Jim Reardon, John Alpay, Yolanda McNamara, Steve Lang, Gary Pritchard and Bill Perkins.

Before casting your ballots, consider contacting them and asking them if they plan to sign the pledge. Ask them if it is appropriate for officials we entrust with our tax dollars to spend precious money on lucrative full-time benefits for themselves, despite that they are part-time officials. If they decline to sign it, seriously consider whether they deserve your vote.

Of course, many who decline will say that these costs are minimal compared to larger budget issues. But this is a matter of principle, and leaders need to lead by example.

Our founders would seriously frown upon the outrageous compensation packages we have for our elected officials, many of whom have full-time jobs. This extends to all public agencies, including city councils and water boards. Our part-time citizen board members have eroded into the British aristocracy; our elected officials are modern-day robber barons who siphon public funds for extravagant expenses.

If enough candidates sign the pledge, we can create a good-governance model in Orange County for the rest of the state to follow.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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