Watching pro football over the weekend, you heard about the replacement referees and the controversy surrounding their abilities to call a fair game. In most cases, the criticism of the substitute referees over the first three weeks of the season from coaches, players and fans has to do with their lack of understanding of the rules or their inability to be clear on calls and to control the game. But, what if as referees the problem was that they favored one team over another?

That thought came to mind as I reflected back to a piece I read last week in CalWatchDog written by Chris Reed, an editorial writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Reed writes about the “radicalization” of the Public Employment Relations Board, which he describes as “a quasi-judicial government agency that acts — or is supposed to act — as a de facto referee in disputes between governing bodies and unions over collective bargaining.”

Reed reviews the history of the Public Employment Relations Board reaching its current status as what he describes as a “union enforcer” rather than a “union referee.” He points out examples of how the Board concluded that its authority exceeded state law over a collective bargaining issue involving the Los Angeles Unified School District, a notion that an LA Superior Court judge overturned.

Perhaps most glaring, the Board sided with public unions in San Diego when they were trying to keep a pension reform measure off the ballot. The twisted logic the Board accepted is that since elected officials in the city pursued an initiative to reform pensions, it was an attempt to circumvent collective bargaining rights.

The courts rightly rejected this frivolous argument and the voters of San Diego overwhelming passed the ballot initiative.

Reed notes that San Diego City Attorney, Jan Goldsmith, wrote that before the San Diego case, the Public Employment Relations Board never lost a case in court but have lost a couple related to the San Diego pension challenge. The reason appears to be that the Board no longer acts as referee but as an advocate for the union. Board officials have strong union backgrounds.

For the integrity of the game, NFL refs have to be impartial. The same goes for the commissioners that are supposed to be even-handed about state affairs. Check out Reed’s story and see why these state “referees” are being criticized as much as the NFL refs are.