By Steve Greenhut, Orange Punch
Republican Councilman Shawn Nelson of Fullerton fought a lonely battle to stop a retroactive pension increase on his council, while two fellow Republicans (Dick Jones and Don Bankhead) were unhelpful and hostile respectively to his efforts. Jones went back and forth on the issue, first supporting it then opposing it after GOP leaders had a pension expert explain the foolishness of the vote to him. That didn’t stop him from publicly supporting one of the council’s pro-pension-spike liberal Democrats while snubbing Nelson. Meanwhile, Bankhead was a cheerleader for the plan. His comments, available on the city Web site in its videos of the council meeting, were priceless. He said, basically, we’ve been increasing pay and benefits forever and it never hurt us. He complained about unfair criticism, but backed away from increase at the last minute thanks to political pressure. He joined with the council’s most rapidly liberal member to criticize me for writing favorably about Nelson’s expose of their union-supported scam. Meanwhile leading Republicans were either silent on the matter or hostile to Nelson. They accused him of violating the Brown Act for telling the public about the general parameters of the closed-session deal. Actually, Nelson was conforming with the act (the public is supposed know the subject of the meetings, rather than have it concealed from them). Still, the GOP did not come out in defense of Shawn even though individual members certainly were supportive of him.
Well, Nelson won the battle and saved taxpayers a great deal of money. And the OC GOP named him the 2009 Local Elected Official of the Year. Pretty good. Well deserved. But as Nelson told me, one shouldn’t win an award for standing up for basic Republican principles. Nelson is probably going to run for Chris Norby’s supervisor seat.
Here is the OC GOP press release:
FULLERTON COUNCILMAN SHAWN NELSON NAMED LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR
ORANGE, CA – The Republican Party of Orange County has honored Fullerton City Councilman Shawn Nelson with the 2009 Local Elected Official of the Year Award. The award was presented at the January 19th Republican Party of Orange County Central Committee Meeting.
Councilman Nelson is being honored for his commitment to smaller government and lower taxes, willingness to stand up to pressure from special interest groups, and strong support of property rights.
Councilman Shawn Nelson was elected to the Fullerton City Council in November 2002 to fill the remaining two years of an unexpired term, and was reelected to a four-year term in November 2004 and again in November 2008.