Sunday, June 18, 2012 – 10:00 a.m.

Why would the political advisor to the San Bernardino County District Attorney be communicating via e-mail with the county’s convicted former Assessor?

Why would the political advisor to the San Bernardino County District Attorney be communicating via e-mail with Bill Postmus over an issue such as the qualification by the San Bernardino County Safety Employees’ Benefit Association (SEBA) of an initiative to make the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors a part-time body, and also gut their salary and benefits package?

Orange County-based political consultant David Ellis simultaneously communicating with Bill Postmus and SEBA over hammering the board.

It’s no secret that Postmus played a part in talking Wrightwood businessman Eric Steinmann into funding the initial signature gathering campaign that was later completed by SEBA.

But, this new triad is a bizarre connection to say the least.

What isn’t widely-known was the behind-the-scenes involvement of Ellis, who has been working with the union in a limited capacity for some time now.

Playing into this oddball relationship is information starting to surface that strong-arming is taking place between county management officials, at least one member of the board, and SEBA.

The focal point being the expired collective bargaining agreements for the Safety and Safety Management & Supervisory Units, which expired last March.

Talks in which county management has been seeking concessions equaling 12%.

So far the unions membership has rejected any such deal. Even though union management has been, and apparently still is, trying to ram a deal down their throats.

The James Ramos for supervisor campaign is even playing a roll in this dialogue.

In a story in today’s Press-Enterprise, SEBA President Laren Leichleiter says the unions endorsement went to Ramos over incumbent Neil Derry because of a misdemeanor plea by Derry related to a campaign finance charge.

Not a chance.

The only mistake? Making certain people who can’t keep their mouths shut aware of the backdoor hardball tactics being employed.

Information is still flowing, and by no way is this issue going away.

Instead, what is happening is likely to be another ugly chapter in county government.

This time involving SEBA. An organization that has definitely lost its way over the past several years.

The problem? SEBA picked a poorly-conceived political fight with the board of supervisors and now doesn’t have the stomach to see it through.

Adding to the problem is no one, and I mean no one, in the organization has the political insight to affect the situation.

At SEBA, it’s 1995-96 all over again!

The county has the union’s executive board under a steam roller and the groups membership is clueless to that fact.

A steam roller that has gone as far as to dictate who the union endorses.

A little more than a week ago, the SEBA negotiation committee was told that maybe a new voting block on the board would preserve their salary and benefit levels.

Not a chance!

The hammer is coming down one way or the other.

The union is going to be on the receiving end of concessions period. Be it a new agreed-to contract or an imposed contract, it will happen.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where the $8.9 million in union concessions factored into the county’s 2012-13 fiscal year budget is coming from.

It’s the amount the county will save on an ongoing basis as a result of the two aforementioned SEBA bargaining units surrendering their county-paid retirement pick-ups. Meaning employees, for the first time, will be paying 100% of the employee retirement contribution rate.

An amount only equal to roughly 4.5% of the 12% the county is seeking.

Now SEBA is looking for a way out.

Though, in reality, employees should pay more into the system. The current economy and investment climate dictate as much.

The only problem is the union can’t figure out how to explain it to its members in any cogent fashion.

One can expect a resolution as soon as the advisory arbitration process between the county and SEBA is concluded.

It is also likely SEBA will sit on its hands when the time comes to promote the aforementioned part-time board of supervisors measure that will appear on the November ballot.