Everyone’s talking pensions and benefits these days. It’s the elephant in the room that can no longer be avoided. Even the Mercury News Editorial Board has found religion on the subject, endorsing the passage of Measures V and W. “As to pensions, there’s a recognition across the nation that the level of public sector pensions is not sustainable…spiraling towards bankruptcy serves no one.”
And… former Mayor Willie Brown has “turned to the dark side,” supporting Jeff Adachi’s pension reform measure in San Francisco. From SF Chronicle columnists Matier and Ross; “‘This is bull,’ Police Officers Association President Gray Delagnes said…‘These workers walked precincts for him when he was mayor, and now he’s banging them over the head,’” “‘They’re wrong,’ said an unapologetic Brown. ‘This isn’t anti-labor. This is just an effort to get some intelligence into the pension system because we public officials have screwed up.’”
In San Jose, pension costs have tripled over the last decade, yet there are now 1,000 fewer city employees working. That translates to a huge decline in the level of city services. In their September 26th editorial, the Mercury News exposed the silly (and disingenuous) argument being circulated by some opponents to pension reform. “The measures’ opponents, including police and fire unions, argue that they will result in even deeper cuts to public safety. The opposite is true. By controlling per-employee costs, the city can increase services and hire more employees.” This is “math” that a sixth grader could understand.
In a recently broadcast commentary, Robert Kieve, President of Empire Broadcasting quoted New York Times’ columnist David Brooks. “The (Democratic) Party believes in the positive uses of government. But if you want the country to share that belief, you have to provide a government that is nimble, tough-minded and effective. That means occasionally standing up to the excessive demands of public employee unions. Instead of standing up to those demands, the (Democratic) Party has become captured by the unions.” Mr. Kieve added, “How’s that for a description of a national situation which is precisely mirrored here in San Jose?”