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County Administrative Office

Union sinks to deceit in ploy for more taxpayer money

sb_cologo-full_colorThe California Nurses Association, the union that represents County nurses, is attempting to deceive the public in its effort to justify a planned two-day abandonment of patients and its demands for tens of millions of additional taxpayer dollars.

Negotiations between taxpayer representatives and the union have dragged on for more than a year because of the union’s insistence on receiving millions more in salaries and benefits than any of their peers and the union’s refusal to agree to the same reasonable terms already accepted by thousands of other County employees.

Publicly, the union claims its concerns center on patient care and working conditions for its members. However, at the bargaining table, the only thing the union talks about and really wants is more of the public’s tax dollars.

Despite the union’s claim that its primary mission is patient safety, the California Nurses Association is urging its members to walk off the job and leave patients in the lurch for two days on December 9 and 10 as a way to pressure taxpayers into giving the union millions in additional public dollars.

The walkout could cost taxpayers millions of dollars if the County is forced to hire temporary nurses to ensure patients receive the care they need. That’s why the County will seek injunctive relief to protect County patients and taxpayers from the union’s planned job action.

In making its case for relief, the County stated that trauma center nurses are necessary and should be exempted from the planned walkout. The County’s Arrowhead Regional Medical Center operates the state’s second-busiest trauma center and is the hospital of last resort for thousands of needy families. The California Nurses Association stated specifically that trauma center nurses are unnecessary.

Regardless of the outcome, the County is committed to ensuring that patient care would not be affected by a union walkout. The County has multiple strategies to ensure its healthcare mission would not be affected.

In its attempt to justify its unreasonable demands and its walkout plans, the California Nurses Association is making outrageous and false claims:

– County nurses are inexperienced – False. The average RN II at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center has more than 9 years of service. Corrections and Public Health nurses have even more experience, an average of about 12 years of service.

– County nurses are underpaid – False. Based on data provided by the Hospital Association of Southern California, RN’s at ARMC are slightly above the median salary of 21 Inland Empire hospitals surveyed, but the County provides far greater benefits than most of these other hospitals.

In fact, the County’s pension contribution for each nurse is approximately $12 per hour for a benefit that most other area hospitals do not even provide. The County’s proposal would result in the salaries of the average nurses at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Department of Public Health, and in corrections being even higher than their peers in other Southern California counties.

A nurse who works 30 years with the County, retires at age 55, and lives to age 80 can expect to receive $1.86 million in retirement income from the County.

– The County is having trouble recruiting nurses – False.  Since July 1, the County has received 983 applications for nursing positions at ARMC.

– There is a high turnover rate among County nurses – False. According to the Hospital Association of Southern California, for 2013, the average turnover rate for nurses statewide has been 8.9 percent. The Southern California rate has been 9.5 percent. The turnover rate at ARMC has been only approximately 5.75 percent.

Ask the California Nurses Association for the data to back up its claims and to cite its sources.

High Desert Corridor report available for public review

highdesertcorridorAs a member of the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority, the County of San Bernardino invites citizens to view and comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed 63-mile High Desert Corridor through Dec. 2, 2014.

The project would run from Highway 395 and State Route 18 in San Bernardino County to State Route 14 in Los Angeles County. The High Desert Corridor could accommodate a highway, bikeway, energy production and transmission facilities and a high-speed rail feeder and connector service to the region.

“The High Desert Corridor will create jobs, grow the economy, reduce the number of vehicle miles people travel for work, and encourage the development of renewable energy,” said San Bernardino County First District Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood, who is chairman of the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority.

In 2006, the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority was formed between San Bernardino County and Los Angeles County to work on the High Desert Corridor project. The JPA represents the two counties, and the cities of Victorville, Adelanto, Apple Valley, Lancaster, and Palmdale.

“This project would address current and future regional growth and would provide transportation connections between regional airports and the efficient movement of goods throughout the High Desert in Southern California,” Lovingood said. “The Joint Powers Authority exemplifies what can be done when two counties work together to improve their communities.”

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Federal agencies offering drought disaster loans

farmlandOwners of small farms, agricultural nonprofits, and small businesses in San Bernardino County impacted by the drought may be eligible for low-interest disaster relief loans.

The loans are expected to offset economic losses caused by the drought that began on January 1, 2014.

The Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are offering the loans, but each agency has a different set of criteria that must be met.

The Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans to businesses that work directly with growers, such as truckers and suppliers of agricultural equipment or services, small agricultural cooperatives, and small businesses engaged in agriculture, such as nurseries.

Small Business Administration Economic Disaster Loans could offer up to $2 million in relief.

Businesses engaged in farming or ranching may be offered assistance through the USDA Farm Service Agency. The USDA FSA offers emergency farm loans of up to $500,000 for actual losses as a result of the drought to farmers and ranchers who conduct family-size farming operations or those who operate certified farmer’s markets.

Contact the Small Business Administration at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Contact the USDA Farm Service Agency at (661) 942-9549 or click here to visit the website.

For more drought-related information, visit the following links:

http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/grants_loans/applications/index.shtml

http://www.calema.ca.gov/NewsandMedia/Pages/Current%20News%20and%20Events/Drought.aspx.

County crews continue cleanup

The County’s Department of Public Works and County Fire Department have been busy helping to restore order to various county communities following Sunday’s floods and debris flows.

ap-image-f8f0fb7fa7fc45d9b8484f6b96aef929Mt. Baldy, Forest Falls, and Oak Glen were hit the hardest. County Public Works Crews have cleared Mt. Baldy Road of debris, and a loader and grader are staged in the area in case additional work is needed. Some reports hold that thunderstorms might return as soon as Sunday.

In Forest Falls, crews were able to open Valley of the Falls Drive, even though cleanup in the community is expected to last at least through August 22. Crews are also expected to spend two more weeks cleaning up in Oak Glen, where at least four major storm culverts were completely blocked. Oak Glen Road is now open.

County Fire Hand Crews have been in Mt. Baldy and Forest Falls helping residents dig out from the mud and debris. County Fire also brought in equipment to start clearing driveways of mud and debris.

The desert areas of the county are suffering as well, with Barstow Heights and Big River the hardest hit. Public Works crews were also dispatched to Helendale, National Trails Highway, and various earthen flood control channels.

Keep up to date on road closures by visiting Public Works’ award-winning website at http://www.sbcounty.gov/dpw/

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors ratified a declaration of local emergency signed Monday by County Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux. If the governor concurs, the county’s cleanup costs will be eligible for reimbursement and low-interest loans might be available to residents who lost property.

 

Newspapers praise County’s progress

County government earned some well-deserved praise from The Sun and Daily Bulletin newspapers over the weekend. In an editorial, the newspapers said:

“Residents have regained faith in their county government.color seal small

“Supervisors have wisely ceded much of their former power to the county CEO. They now rely on him to carry out their policies — rather than shady old practices like directing staff members to move a favored project ahead of others, for example — and they have given up the massive discretionary funds — slush funds, if you prefer — that they used to control.

“As the economy has slowly improved, the county has been able to build its reserves while reducing its projected budget deficit. Most of the county employee unions have agreed to pick up the employee portions of their pensions costs, as they all should.”

The editorial also mentioned how other counties are now looking to emulate San Bernardino County’s good government practices.

It was encouraging to see the news media so clearly acknowledge the efforts made by the Board of Supervisors and all County employees to create a county in which those who reside and invest can prosper and achieve well-being, as articulated in the County’s Job Statement.

 

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