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SAN JOSE — Saying government attorneys are greedy and unconcerned with fellow county workers, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and union members held a mock funeral Thursday for the county budget. Joined by members of SEIU Local 715, the supervisors alleged that the Government Attorneys Association has misinformed the public about the costs of Measure C, a ballot initiative that will require binding arbitration in some county labor disputes — including those involving lawyers. County Counsel Ann Ravel also used the occasion to blast a recent order barring the county from spending money to oppose the measure. If C passes, the supervisors claim, the county budget will be gutted, services will be cut and other union workers will be paid less while prosecutors and public defenders command increasingly higher salaries. They also say attorneys could manipulate the binding arbitration system to their own benefit. “Quite frankly, these attorneys are already well paid, but they want to be compared to the private sector,” said Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, speaking in front of a cardboard coffin marked “County Budget” and a large fake check written to “Government Attorneys,” for $100 million. “We cannot allow these unions, the attorneys in particular, to rip off the county,” Alvarado said. “We’re asking the county to see Measure C for what it is — a sham.” Measure C has been a divisive issue since it was introduced this spring. But the contest has become even more heated closer to Election Day, especially after Superior Court Judge Socrates “Pete” Manoukian ruled earlier this week that the county may have circumvented California election laws by obtaining a union’s agreement not to support the ballot initiative. Alvarado was singled out in the ruling for sending e-mails from a county account to employees urging a no vote on Measure C and yes votes on two related measures. Alvarado’s views are shared by her colleagues. “I think this is about greed and pushing aside your colleagues and fellow workers to get a bigger piece of the pie,” Supervisor James Beall Jr. said. County Assessor Larry Stone even compared the attorneys’ union to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, saying lawyers kept the public in the dark about the costs of Measure C, adding that Ashcroft didn’t fully explain the loss of certain civil rights under the USA Patriot Act. Ravel said an appeal of Manoukian’s order, which barred county officials from using public money to oppose Measure C, would be filed late Thursday. Ravel said the ruling was shortsighted because it prevents supervisors from informing voters about their views. “The Board is elected to protect the county. They have to be free to speak out, which is why Manoukian’s ruling was so wrong,” Ravel said. But Deputy District Attorney James Shore, president of the Government Attorneys Association, said Measure C is the end result of the county being uncooperative with attorneys about workplace issues. “This wasn’t like, ‘Let’s go and take on the county,’” Shore said. “This was a culmination of trying to work with the county and them not being interested.” “The way they have treated the attorneys and my members during the past 30 years has not been fair,” he said. In addition to county lawyers, public nurses and corrections officers would use binding arbitration if C passes on Tuesday.

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