Jim Silva's Hilarious Hypocrisy

Steven Greenhut: Assemblyman Jim Silva must think that Californians have extremely short memories and no sense of irony. The Republican from Huntington Beach has been a long-time union ally, someone who twice retroactively increased pensions while serving as Orange County supervisor and who championed the state’s broadest union-monopoly Project Labor Agreement on the board. Yet in a column on Flashreport today, Silva writes, “Earlier this week the Legislature ratified a package of “Memorandums of Understanding” that will result in a net loss to taxpayers, and a further disconnect between public employees and the people that they serve. Put another way, this is a bad deal for taxpayers.”

He is right of course. Gov. Jerry Brown’s MOUs with the unions did come up short: “Unfortunately, the Governor’s negotiations resulted in MOUs that came up $200 million shy of that promise. According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, the new agreements will only save the state about one percent of its $10.7 billion employee costs this year. It is estimated this token savings will then be wiped out and superseded by increased health care contributions, an increased number of paid days off, and pay raises in the following years.”

But it was hard to keep from spilling my coffee reading this from a man who, when it really matters, usually sides with the public employee unions. How can someone who has spent his career expanding public employee pensions and benefits, and who repeatedly has screwed over taxpayers on behalf of unions, now suddenly stake out the high ground to blast legislators and the governor for doing the same thing? This is the same Jim Silva who attended an SEIU “no more cuts” rally in order to save the in-home supportive services program. How can a union hack all of a sudden denounce union influence?

I’m all for politicians seeing the foolishness of their ways and repenting, so to speak. But I have never heard union ally Silva ever do anything other than defend his past union votes.

Last time I saw Silva, it was at the Republican convention in Sacramento. He criticized me for never writing a nice thing about him. That’s not exactly true. He did a couple of good things for which I praised him over the years. I implored him to do the right thing for a change and actually vote like a conservative rather than like a Rockefeller Republican. It’s about the issues, not the personalities. Jim is a very nice guy and by all accounts someone you would be happy to have as a neighbor or an uncle. It takes more than a meaningless op-ed to change one’s stripes. How about voting the right way when it really counts?

Silva still adamantly defends his pension-increasing votes. He doesn’t get it. And now he writes this — or at least someone wrote it for him. The Republican Party will not be relevant again until its members live out the principles they claim to hold. Silva is the poster child for hypocrisy. Someone should have suggested that a GOP Assembly member with more credibility on the union issue write such a column.

MAY 20, 2011

 


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