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Ensuring fair and open competition in county contracting

SAN DIEGO – The County Board of Supervisors recently approved a recommendation by North County Supervisor Bill Horn to place on the November 2010 ballot a proposed Charter amendment aimed at ensuring fair and open competition in county contracting for generations to come.

Currently, a simple majority of the County Board of Supervisors has the power to require, prohibit or remain neutral on Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for county contracts. If the ballot measure is approved, that power would be transferred to a majority of voters in San Diego County, requiring a majority vote of the people for the Board of Supervisors to do anything other than allow all qualified contractors the opportunity to compete for county contracts.

The State of California and the federal government require Project Labor Agreements be used in certain types of local government contracts. Executive Order 13502 issued by President Barack Obama defined a PLA as “a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement with one or more labor organizations that establishes terms and conditions of employment for a special construction project.”

“While the County has resisted Project Labor Agreements, two things are clear: there will be a new Board of Supervisors in the next decade, and voters have shown they want fair and open competition in government contracting. Union or not, everyone deserves the opportunity to ensure that they and their children can compete for the jobs for which their tax dollars pay. Now the voters will have the opportunity to lock our existing contracting practices into the County Charter to preserve taxpayer resources and promote jobs for future generations,” said Supervisor Horn.

In June, voters in Oceanside and Chula Vista passed laws prohibiting Project Labor Agreements. This proposed action, however, preserves fair and open competition and will not prevent any business, whether they use PLAs or not, from being awarded a county contract.

“If approved, this is a smart investment in our region’s future,” said Horn. The County Grand Jury recently released a report showing the county had saved $80 million by using open competition practices. “Future Boards will manage more projects worth millions of dollars,” said Horn. “Those contracts should be given to whoever can build a project better, faster, and cheaper than the rest. A future Board could reverse our contracting policies and waste millions of dollars in just one contract. As a taxpayer and a County Supervisor, that’s a risk I’m not willing to take.”


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