By taking the more generous retirement plan that was presented to him as a County employee, Supervisor Shawn Nelson has created an onslaught of Internet outrage from the Blue and Red blogs.
Nelson says it was an accident. Was it? County policy requires that all new employees sign up for one of two plans: the old 2.7 @ 55 or the new 1.62 @ 65 that so far, almost nobody has signed up for at all. If you don’t choose, they will choose for you – 1.62 @ 65. Every single new hire in the County government is presented with this scenario.
In any case, Nelson’s decision highlights the dismal failure of Orange County’s alleged pension reform. When presented with two disparate retirement choices, what rational human being would pick the lesser?
If a guy like Shawn Nelson won’t do it, why would ANY public employee go for the option that is ultimately less generous – except, most likely, long-time employee pension abusers?
When union leaders originally hatched this goofy alternative plan, pension experts warned that new employees would not select a 401(k) style plan when offered alongside a traditional, elaborate government pension. Boy, were they right. But the unions and the supervisors went along with it anyway, just so they could notch pension reform in their pathetic pistol grips.
The bottom line: nobody wants a lesser benefit when they can choose a better one. Orange County’s much ballyhooed pension reform has completely failed because employees can simply avoid it altogether. What a joke.
But back to Nelson. He was presumably elected to represent taxpayers in union negotiations. I do not recall Nelson making any promises regarding his own pension. That would have been nothing more than a distraction from the real issue, as evidenced by Supervisor Pat Bates. Bates promised to not take a pension and followed through with it, but subsequently has done nothing to stop the real problem: runaway entitlements for every employee in the county! All 20,000 of them.