Beaten, Bruised and Bankrupt, OC Register Still Has Spunk

Their numbers have dwindled. Their pay has been cut. They're often strapped with bean-counter goals devoid of editorial meaning. For years, they were forced to work in the same building as Gordon Dillow, and they've constantly watched their corporate bosses invent new ways to lose bundles of precious cash on mind-numbingly stupid ideas.

Despite that mess, The Orange County Register still has reporters who are kicking ass. Consider Teri Sforza, for example. On Monday, I nearly choked on my morning coffee while reading Sfora's story about a new plan at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to "increase employee pensions by 25 percent."

Yes, that's right. Never mind the shitty economy, layoffs, furloughs, foreclosures and that everyone else in government is trying to reduce spending: Bureaucrats at the Met want to spend an additional $70 million so that retiring employees receive 62.5 percent of their income every year for the rest of their lives. The move will increase the agency's unfunded employee liability to almost $500 million, according to Sforza.

Fiscal mismanagement in Southern California is as commonplace as a traffic jam on the San Diego Freeway. But Sforza deftly points out the other component of the Met's plan: hire public-relations experts to spin the spending as--I kid you not--a way to save money. Indeed, her article notes that the Met's spin doctors at Marathon Communications are arguing that spending $70 million actually saves, drum roll, $21 million.

Four minus six is now apparently 22.

Meanwhile, the Met and its PR guns refused to let Sforza see the agency documents outlining their proposed spending plan until after it has been formally approved. That action is, of course, illegal. California has a public-records law that requires open, honest government, and Sforza has found another warped bureaucracy that needs cleansing.

Read Sforza's story HERE.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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