We’ve learning new information Wednesday about the role lobbyists played during a key vote on sick pay ballot initiative in Orange County.
The measure was voted down by Orange County Commissioners on Sept. 11, 2012 but not before several commissioners texted with lobbyists who were against the ballot initiative.
News 13 poured through the text and Facebook messages.
So far, we discovered that Commissioner Scott Boyd was texting with two lobbyists during the Sept. 11 meeting.
Orange County Commissioners later voted not to put the paid sick time proposal on the November 2012 ballot.
Commissioner Scott Boyd began texting with Shannon Gravitte, the vice president of government and community affairs at Mears Transportation Group, at 1 a.m. on Sept. 11.
“Hi, r u ready for the circus tmrw?”
“Sure, call u in 10 mins?”
During the actual meeting at approximately 7 p.m., Boyd sent a text to Cindy with Avalon Homeowners Association.
Commissioner Boyd tells her he was:
“Trying to kill it.”
Cindy texted back:
“Please do not let the sick leave pass it will only slow job growth I am watching.”
Around 8:20 p.m, Sharon Smoley at Walt Disney World texted Boyd saying:
“Checking in. All good?”
A few hours later at 11 p.m., Boyd texted the Disney lobbyist back responding with one word:
After the proposal was voted down, Smoley texted Boyd telling him:
“If something in the lawsuit is overturned, and we do not have JT (Commissioner Jennifer Thompson) ordinance, we are vulnerable.”
Commissioner Jennifer Thompson’s text messages were not released. They may have been permanently deleted.
We’ve also learned Commissioner Ted Edwards was texting Orange County Republican Party Chairman Lew Oliver before the Sept. 11 meeting.
Oliver told Edwards via text:
“Btw I won’t tell Teresa about this effort until 10 min before the meeting to avoid any possibility that she or the county attorney would have a chance to prepare some corrective language. I will also make sure three to four other votes even if Teresa balks for some reason (frankly I think she will be pleasantly surprised).”
"Thanks. Will get back with you once I have reviewed manuals tomorrow.”
Oliver told News 13 on the phone Wednesday evening that he was “looking for an excuse to kill the whole thing.”
“If Orange County established a precedent that at the whip of a group of voters, contractual relationships between employers and employees could be changed with random referendums, our economy would collapse,” said Oliver.
Oliver also said he did not do anything wrong because he was not lobbying on behalf of anyone but himself. He also said if employees do have jobs but want paid sick time, they should get a better job.
“If you want great jobs and great job security, you should do what Americans have always done, which is go to school. Work hard, work well, work honestly and move up into the jobs that provide those type of benefits,” Oliver explained.
Stephanie Porta of Organize Now helped during the petition drive setup by Citizens For A Greater Orange County.
Porta told News 13, even with Wednesday's text message release, she still feels like Orange County Government is holding back some text messages and the truth about why the ballot initiative was voted down.
“Then having nearly a month to review which text messages they wanted to realize to the public and the fact that it comes now, several months after the request. We put in the request on Sept. 12,” Porta said.
Meanwhile, the Orange County Attorney’s Office believes the text messages did not have to be made public, but decided to release them anyway because of the media.