10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, May 17, 2011

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

The war of words escalated Tuesday between Riverside County supervisors and the union representing sheriff’s deputies.

A majority of supervisors criticized the Riverside Sheriff’s Association for sending fliers containing what they said was misleading information about ongoing contract talks. The association Tuesday stood by the fliers.

The discussion at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting comes days after Sheriff Stan Sniff began sending notices that as many as 500 layoffs may be needed to meet budget targets.

Sniff has said his department needs $260 million in general fund support to maintain operations, but the county executive office’s goal is $225 million.

If supervisors approve a budget with the lower amount, the first 100 layoffs would begin July 13, Sniff said.

The contentious contract talks between supervisors and the sheriff’s association have become more public in recent weeks.

In addition to the fliers, the sheriff’s association has posted statements on its website and Facebook page. The association has launched a stand-alone website — rivcofactcheck.com — to counter the county.

Meanwhile, supervisors often provide their view at the start of their weekly meetings and have their own website — rc-budget-labor.com — detailing talks with the sheriff’s association and other unions.

The most recent flier detailed four offers the sheriff’s association made from August 2009 through April that it says would have saved the county between $14.5 million to $28 million.

Supervisor Jeff Stone said the information was wrong and asked county Human Resources Director Barbara Olivier to provide a rebuttal.

“I don’t have a problem with public information. But when they give the facts, they only tell one side of the story,” Stone said.

Olivier said the association’s offers to defer wage increases, contribute more toward retirements and take furloughs contained details that erased possible savings.

Olivier said the true savings from the association’s offers ranges from $6 million to $9 million. Two offers would have cost $4.8 million and $12 million, she said.

The county wants nearly $30 million in concessions, including a one-time 10 percent reduction in pay, something other employee groups have made, Olivier said.

Riverside Sheriff’s Association President Pat McNamara stood by the flier and said the union “will continue to issue the public information updates so long as certain people in the county continue to put out misinformation to the public.”

“We respectfully disagree with the information Ms. Olivier put out in her presentation this morning, but we are not surprised she did it,” McNamara said by email. “No doubt she has a mortgage and bills to pay like everyone else.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, only Supervisor Marion Ashley declined to weigh in on the sheriff’s association.

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