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Briscoe: County of Orange “Dirty Filthy Secret Hiring” Stopped by the Courts

Orange County Counsel Leon Page denied all access to job application information under the tutelage of Supervisor Todd Spitzer. During a Board of Supervisors meeting, Spitzer gaveled me down from the dais while I stood at the podium during public comments for having the nerve to characterize County personnel practices as “Dirty Filthy Secret Hiring.” Page even opined for the public record that job applications are all confidential while Spitzer deprived me of my right to address the Board. Page threw down the gauntlet challenging me to seek redress in court. A lawsuit was filed using public governance expert attorney Chad Morgan in a real court with a real judge. Once Leon Page saw the lawsuit he capitulated and produced a giant CD full of all OC transfer stations and trash dump inspector credentials and no other information; the lawsuit proceeded nonetheless.

The County claimed exemption based on three legal theories.

1. The OC claimed job applications are confidential because they are stored in a personnel file. This is a false claim because the document itself confers its own confidentiality or lack thereof, not where it is stored. This claim would make a phone book confidential if stored in a personnel file.

2. The OC claimed job applications are confidential because “…job applicants and employees all expect confidentiality…” This is a false claim because specific information confidentiality is conferred by CA State Law, not the wishes and hopes for confidentiality by applicants and employees.

3. The OC claimed job applications are confidential because a CA State code specifically states, “…all employee records are confidential…” This is a “true-but-false”
claim. Employee records are confidential, but the subtle subterfuge here by Leon Page is blatant. A job applicant is not an employee; therefore, the application has no confidentiality other than that conferred by CA State Law (address, phone, email, medical and references are…

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