Every now and again the Mercury News editorial board hits a home run. Shortly after the election, the Merc issued a strong and thorough editorial about the city’s problems as they relate to city employees and their unions. “It’s time for San Jose city employees and union leaders to drop the ‘scapegoat’ label. It’s wearing thin, and nobody outside of union circles is buying it.”
“Union leaders, along with many hardworking city staffers feel people blame them for the city’s fiscal crisis. They are confusing placing blame with facing facts…the bulk of city costs are for personnel, so suggesting spending cuts without looking at layoffs or salary concessions makes no sense.”
The editorial then provided the statistics, that average compensation for city employees has jumped 87 percent since 2000, while city revenues grew by only 21 percent. “For police and firefighters, compensation doubled in the same time.” The paper explained the choice that the City of San Jose is now confronted with. “We can have more men and women working for the city at a little less pay, or we can have fewer staff members at higher pay.” And, “The overwhelming approval of measures V and W showed no disrespect for city employees, it was a recognition that we need to find ways to afford more of them.”
The City of San Jose’s workforce has been reduced by nearly 20 percent over the past decade. That translates to a huge drop in city service levels. The truth is, that the passage of Measures V and W will do very little to help solve the problem in the short term…it only slows the bleeding a little.
At the begining, I applauded the Mercury News for hitting a “home run,” by providing a useful and instructive editorial about the state of San Jose’s budgte affairs. It’s too bad that the paper didin’t publish their piece four or five years ago!