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WatchSonoma Watch

Mayors worried about Legislature’s pension plans

In my column Sunday, I explored how the state Legislature seems more intent on helping public employee unions protect their Cadillac pensions than helping counties and cities that are breaking under the weight of them.

But there’s more to the story.

The mayors of San Diego and San Jose, where voters recently approved bold pension reform initiatives, are angry that the Legislature may try to preempt those ballot measures with its own actions.

San Jose could become ground zero in the pension debate as it seeks a federal court ruling on the city’s ability to challenge the historic “vested right” of public employees to continue receiving benefits they were promised – until they retire – regardless of a city’s financial ability to pay those benefits.

In a letter sent to legislators last week, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed sharply warned lawmakers against doing anything that would undermine the will of the voters.

“Any legislative effort to override the reforms approved by our voters would be a travesty of the democratic process and a violation of the voters’ constitutional right,” he wrote.

In a letter to Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders wrote, “Any attempt to nullify their vote would be a slap in their face and an outright insult to the Democratic process.”

If the legislators push ahead with such a knee-capping approach, it seems to me it would leave the governor’s tax initiative with just two chances of passing in the fall – slim and none.

- Paul Gullixson





40 Responses to “Mayors worried about Legislature’s pension plans”

  1. Lisa Maldonado says:

    http://www.marinij.com/sanrafael/ci_21124008/assembly-candidate-marc-levine-admonished-failing-fully-disclose?source=email

    Still wondering why the PD(which wasted a ton of ink on an FPPC complaint against Michael Allen (including front page top of the fold articles) has yet to run a story on Marc Levine’s obvious obfuscation? Is it because Allen is the much detested ‘labor backed’ candidate and Levine is the business and developer favorite? The PD’s biased coverage continues to dismay. If you favor and make allowances for candidates such as Levine,while constantly attacking progressives like Allen and Noreen Evans you can’t wonder why you lack credibility with working families.

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  2. bear says:

    Elected officials approved all pension agreements. Those would be the elected officials that YOU elected. They may have personally profitted from their own votes. Is this a surprise?

    “3% at 60″ with 20 years service or “3%
    at 50″ for public safety employees with 20 years service.

    3% of WHAT? It’s your closing 3-years salary, averaged with a few tweaks that don’t really increase your check.

    And what if you work less than the prescribed time? You get A LOT less.
    So those with high closing salaries get a lot more. Who are those with the highest closing salaries?

    This is a test?

    People do not age at the same rate, or suffer disabilities at the same rate, or plan for sudden layoffs. I do not begrudge the better benefits offered to public safety employees (cops, firefighters, etc.). I’ve seen what they do.

    Point is that all of us have chosen public service, and paid our check deductions for retirement every two weeks for decades.

    Do you really want to screw us for economic policies that were not under our control?

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  3. Jean Anderson says:

    “Once the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the Republic.” – Benjamin Franklin

    And apparently the end of solvent cities, as they declare bankruptcy under the burden of public pensions.

    @Rick – wrong word. Not jealousy, but resentment and outrage that some unaffordable public pensions plunder the taxpayers to the tune of more than $200,000 per year, even in Sonoma County. Insanity.

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  4. GAJ says:

    Rick, I planned my retirement (started my IRA when I was poor in my very early 20′s) without any thought of collecting SS; which is a smart way to go if you ask me.

    In bankruptcy you cannot lose your defined benefit plan monies or any monies in a 401k but you absolutely and positively can lose your IRA monies if you go bankrupt.

    Strange, huh.

    If I had a defined benefit plan, like my recently retired brother did, (large US manufacturing company), I would STILL follow his example and ALSO pile as much money as possible into a 401k or IRA. He as well made his plans assuming zero SS money.

    Takes living well below your means, a trait that is in very short supply these days.

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  5. Rick says:

    I wonder if anyone here even ealizes that Social Security is NOT a pension? It is a government program meant to keep people from starving and being completely homeless if they FAIL to plan for their retirement years. If you want more than the extreme minimum, you need to plan, do the math and save/invest. There is no big conspiracy. I have a friend who works for the County. He told me about his retirement benefits 20 years ago. I told him it was good, but mine was better because there was no cap on mine. He said his would be enough and it looks like it will. Unless people take it away from him. the only one who can grab mine, is a criminal government. The only one who can steall his would the criminal intent of jealous people. Get a life and get a real plan.

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  6. GAJ says:

    @Juvenal, when some government employees can start collecting retirement 50 at 55 while I have to wait till 66 to collect my full SS benefits something is askew.

    If I try to access my IRA money before 59 1/2 I pay a 10% penalty.

    How DO you feel about 3% at 50 or 55 for government employees?

    Excessive or should it be the norm for all government employees?

    The compensation for the new Police Chief in Petaluma at his last job was $202,000 supervising a force of 34, (he could retire today as a 30 year cop at $186,000).

    Excessive or fair?

    Do you feel it is fair that government employees at the lowest wage/benefit levels are losing their jobs at the expense of those earning the most pay and benefits?

    Why are we seeing an acceleration of bankruptcies of municipalities?

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  7. Juvenal says:

    @GAJ:

    “@Juvenal, and what % of employees in the private sector do you think are offered stock options and profit sharing?”

    It doesn’t really matter, GAJ. The point is that NO public employees enjoy stock options or profit sharing.

    The point, for you and the staff of the PD, is that it is TOTAL COMPENSATION that matters, not this benefit or that which either is or is not “Cadillac.”

    The sole study cited to support the contention that the public sector is more highly compensated than the private sector is a DOL comparison of total compensation for the ENTIRE public and private sectors.

    The public sector requires, on average, a higher level of education than does the private sector. This is not elitist; it is a fact. If required education does not matter, one might as well just use total compensation at NASA and Burger King.

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  8. Canthisbe says:

    “Total available funds for fiscal year 2011/12 are $256,647,400. Included in this amount is a $22,144,160 beginning fund balance, $218,627,200 in revenues and $15,875,600 in transfers. The amount transferred is comprised of $12,691,100 into the General Fund, $2,649,500 into the Special Revenue Fund, $200,000 into Assessment Districts and $65,000 into Enterprise Funds”.

    http://www.ci.san-bernardino.ca.us/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=12145

    Juvenal – Looks like taxpayers are contributing $218,627,200.

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  9. Accountable says:

    @Juvenal claims that employees of Sonoma County are required to be more highly educated. The facts don’t prove that at all, not even among the public sector.

    CSU Sonoma has an Administrative Trainee position (max salary $50,904); requirements specifically mention 4 year college degree http://www.calstate.edu/HRAdm/Classification/R09/Admin_Trainee.pdf. Sonoma County has a comparable Administrative Trainee position that pays significantly more (max salary $68,061); education requirements are a vague “combination of course work and training” http://agency.governmentjobs.com/sonoma/default.cfm?action=viewclassspec&classSpecID=6801&agency=423&viewOnly=yes.

    Contra Costa County has twice the population, and a higher cost of living than Sonoma. They have an Administrative Aide-Project position (max salary $50,642); requirements specifically mention successful completion of semesters at an accredited college http://agency.governmentjobs.com/contracosta/default.cfm?action=viewclassspec&classSpecID=4309&agency=141&viewOnly=yes. Sonoma County has a comparable Administrative Aide-Project position that pays more (max salary $59,212); education requirements are a vague “combination of course work and training” http://agency.governmentjobs.com/sonoma/default.cfm?action=viewclassspec&classSpecID=105942&agency=423&viewOnly=yes.

    Even in the public sector, Sonoma County pays more for a less educated individual. The real question is who is the incompetent person in Sonoma County’s Human Resources that can’t do a comparable salary evaluation?

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  10. truth in news says:

    @ follower…I hope when all the cops quit they post it in the paper so all the “good” people you want to trust can come by and thank you in person. Then you can explain why they shouldn’t be taking your stuff, how you were just a “follower”.

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  11. Reality Check says:

    ” . . . while taxpayers, contractors and the holders of municipal bonds contributed nothing . . .”

    Taxpayers contributed nothing! Where do you think San Bernadino gets its money? And what tell did muni bond holders do that they should “give back”? Maybe it was lending money to the city, that was their mistake.

    City labor costs vastly exceed every other expenditure. But now that BK has been filed, everyone, including muni bond holders, will be getting a haircut.

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  12. GAJ says:

    @Juvenal, so it’s those “highly educated” bureaucrats that have dug this hole…and the first people most severely impacted are K-12 education and an increasingly expensive and unattainable higher education.

    Nice.

    And the cost of housing is the same for public and private workers in this County…but private workers don’t have taxpayer guaranteed pensions…2% at 60 was sustainable…3% at 50/55 for the upper tiers is certainly not and will drag down the more reasonable pensions with them as more municipalities declare bankruptcy.

    Had I moved here in 2004 instead of 1984 you can bet your bottom dollar I would have RENTED and plowed the difference between that and an obscene mortgage into savings and then bought when the market inevitably dropped.

    As the housing market locally has tanked, perhaps a salary reduction across the board is in order based on your logic.

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  13. Canthisbe says:

    Off the Rails
    How union power plays could crash spectacularly in California
    10 July 2012
    The arrogance displayed last week by California’s legislature and its union comrades-in-arms can scarcely be exaggerated. In rejecting Governor Jerry Brown’s surprisingly ambitious pension-overhaul plan in favor of a proposal that defines minor tinkering as “reform,” Democratic legislative leaders have ignored how crippling the pension crisis has been for local governments, as well as the bipartisan support that exists for serious reform.
    Read all about it!!

    http://www.city-journal.org/2012/cjc0710cr.html

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  14. Canthisbe says:

    “Any discussion of pensions, Cadillac or otherwise, in isolation from other elements such as “pay” is inflammatory and irresponsible. For example, public employees are offered NO stock options and NO profit sharing…where is the outrage???”
    This is a very good argument. I suggest that we immediately reduce government pensions by putting a cap on them at 2 times the Federal poverty level in exchange for giving the government employees 50% of all profits earned by the State, counties and cities. The the 50% rate is vastly higher than what private businesses with profit-sharing plans offer their non-owner employees.
    Oh, wait, The State, counties and cities don’t have any profits. They all have millions or billions $$ deficits. Well maybe profit-sharing for government employees and politicians could result in some budgets with surpluses?

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  15. Juvenal says:

    San Bernardino County employees agreed to $10 million in concessions–while taxpayers, contractors and the holders of municipal bonds contributed nothing–and STILL it’s the employees fault. What BS…

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  16. Juvenal says:

    @GAJ:

    “The median earnings for a worker in a city or county job in Sonoma County were $56,085 (in 2009), according to a database analysis. By comparison, the median earnings for workers across the county — including private and public sector jobs — were $31,190 last year, the U.S Census Bureau reported.”

    Two problems: 1) All workers in the private and public sectors is not a valid comparison with the public sector–more education is required for the average public sector job than for the average private sector or for the average of all workers; 2) How about including median home prices “across the country” while making your comparisons?

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  17. Peter's Principal says:

    The next municipality to file chapter 9 bankruptcy will be San Bernadino.

    This will make four in one week.

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  18. GAJ says:

    Mockingbird, I should have said “defined benefits for public workers that are guaranteed by taxpayers so such entities as CalPers can make wild bets based on completely false assumptions resulting in the taxpayer holding the bag with NO recourse to right any injustice.”

    You realize CalPers invests in vineyard properties and such, (complete and utter madness), and that the current fiasco is largely promulgated on their contentions in the late ’90′s that boosting already generous pensions would cost the taxpayer NOTHING!

    But, it’s actually worse; a poll was just released that clearly places the blame on gullible, apathetic and ignorant voters…easy saps for the like of public Unions and their surrogates like CalPers to play like a piano.

    Here’s the gist of that poll:

    “A public employee group says it is encouraged by a new Field Poll that indicates California voters have mixed views on whether government pensions are too generous.

    While 37% of voters thing benefits for local and state government workers are excessive, 36% say they are about right. Some 17% think the benefits are not generous enough.”

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2012/07/field-poll-results-show-mixed-view-of-public-pensions.html

    With voters as oblivious as those in California we are well and completely screwed and they might not even wake up even after the 50th municipality declares bankruptcy.

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  19. Skippy says:

    “The rich got more tax breaks during Bush to “stimulate” the economy and all it did was create a massive deficit and job loss. Proven beyond discussion.”
    Joseph Goebbels and Al Gore would agree that no further discussion is necessary.
    The free-speech prescription the left applies to the right is so simple and succinct.
    Just say “shut up” and all your worries about pesky facts disappear.
    Not. A. Chance.
    The Tea Party is here.

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  20. Jean Anderson says:

    It’s intellectually dishonest not to acknowledge that private and public pensions are VERY different.

    Anyone allowed to plunder at the public trough for six-figure pensions – paid by taxpayers – is part of the problem. Cities are going bankrupt, but it sounds like public employees have the attitude that “I got mine, I deserve it, and to heck with taxpayers.” Of course, the city “leaders” who helped cause this debacle should be held accountable for their stupidity and dishonesty.

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  21. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    GAJ-defined pensions used to be the norm, both in government and private industry. Just like unions used to have more than 12% of workers. Someone had the bright idea of IRAs and 401Ks for people who didn’t have a defined pension plan through their work and private industry jumped on it for their own workers KNOWING THAT it would save them money and they wouldn’t be liable if the investments tanked. Then government and private industry alike took holidays from investing in their workers pension funds during flush times which compounded the pension problems when the bottom dropped out of the economy. The workers paid their share.

    This is part of the middleclass busting of those at the top of the wealth ladder. The more concentrated the wealth is at the top the worse it is for the middleclass and the poor. The rich got more tax breaks during Bush to “stimulate” the economy and all it did was create a massive deficit and job loss. Proven beyond discussion. If we were still at Clinton era taxation (when times were good) we wouldn’t have this huge deficit and could have weathered the housing bubble better.

    It’s scary to me that MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS control our government and our elections. I don’t understand how there can be people in this country that still don’t see this, how damaging to we the people this is. I don’t understand how there can be voters out there who continue to vote against their own self interest. It seems very self destructive to me.

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  22. Union Guy says:

    I see the facts that retired cop posted upset Snarky.. I guess the truth hurts.

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  23. Follower says:

    @ truth in news

    I hope your right! DON’T “replace” them! Let the Government shrink down to a manageable size.

    Many voters fall victim to the terror tactics of the big government machine.

    “We’ll cut the police force so you’ll be helpless to fend off criminals”.
    “We’ll close down fire stations so your house will burn down”.
    “We’ll lay off teachers so your children won’t be educated”
    “We won’t fix potholes”
    “We’ll cut your government aid”
    “We’ll close the library, the parks and anything else you enjoy”

    I’ve had ENOUGH of this crap!

    GO AHEAD! CLOSE IT ALL DOWN!!! I DARE YOU!

    The emperor has no clothes folks.

    We’ve poured BILLIONS in valuable resources into this farce of a government, Federal, State AND LOCAL and what has it gotten us?

    Less crime? NO!

    Less fires? YES? …Then why are we building more Fire Stations?!! (guess NOT!)

    Better teachers? PLEASE!!

    Better roads?… _ _ _ _

    More government aid? OH YEAH! LOTS MORE!

    Better libraries? For the most part yes, but how much “better” do they really need to be?

    As far as “Pensions” go… If we were to ban Public Employee Unions, cauterizing this gaping wound I would be 100% behind doing anything we must to honor the existing pensions. Comforted in the knowledge that we FIRST fixed the problem, THEN cleaned up the mess.

    But you “retired cops” not only want YOURS.. but you want to keep the gravy train rolling!

    You couldn’t give a rats rear that we are drowning in exponentially growing debt.

    “RAISE TAXES” ….”only on the rich of course”.
    Yeah, that’ll fix everything. GENIUS!!

    How about we close down the “Department of Redundancy Department” instead!

    Sell off some state property.

    Reduce stifling, RIDICULOUS regulations and fire the regulators.

    Put pressure on businesses that hire ILLEGAL immigrants.

    Cut ALL government aid to ILLEGAL immigrants.

    I could go on but “truth” is irrelevant to “agenda”… “in news” or otherwise.

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  24. Stephen Radeljic says:

    It looks like San Bernardino may be the next California city to declare bankruptcy….

    http://www.scpr.org/news/2012/07/10/33197/san-bernardino-teetering-edge-bankruptcy1/

    Anyone see a pattern?

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  25. Reality Check says:

    While it’s true that reforming public employee pensions won’t solve all local government budget problems, who said it would? It is, though, one notable expense that is rising rapidly and costing much more than advocates predicted.

    Fixing local budget problems will be solved one step at a time. Right now, this elephant in the room is visible to almost everyone.

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  26. Dan Drummond says:

    David Keller,

    Much of what you say may be true and I encourage you to speak out and fight against inequities as you see them. I may even stand by your side. But it is a schoolyard tactic when faced with an undeniable argument to redirect the attention elsewhere.

    Nothing you say changes the fact that pension costs in Sonoma County alone went up nearly fivefold from $21 million in 2000 to $97 million in 2010 and are projected to reach $209 million by 2020. We can argue over the numbers, but these come directly from the Zane/Rabbitt Ad Hoc Committee on Pension Reform Report.

    If you have something constructive to say about the pension crisis, I’d love to hear it. But simply pointing the finger at some other problem doesn’t make this one go away. It simply rings hollow and crass – and is bad, myopic and ineffective.

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  27. GAJ says:

    @Juvenal, and what % of employees in the private sector do you think are offered stock options and profit sharing?

    The numbers for stock options nationally are well under 10% (generally highly paid upper managers) and less than 20% of companies have offered profit sharing in some form since 1963, (some that did, don’t now, and vice versa). The percent of employees covered by a defined benefit retirement plan is under 20%.

    The vast majority of government employees receive a defined benefit program; I’m sure people would opt for that in a heartbeat over profit sharing.

    The median earnings for a worker in a city or county job in Sonoma County were $56,085 (in 2009), according to a database analysis. By comparison, the median earnings for workers across the county — including private and public sector jobs — were $31,190 last year, the U.S Census Bureau reported.

    http://www.watchsonomacounty.com/2010/11/cities/how-much-do-they-make/

    While a 2% at 60 vesting schedule was sustainable, the new since 1999 3% at 50/55/60 schedules for the highest earning government employees (and grandfathered in to all existing employees in those categories) are destroying the whole balance.

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  28. Snarky says:

    Retired cop: Go away. You had your fun playing the bully in life. Now leave. You don’t deserve your retirement at age 50 nor the hefty public safety pension you steal from us.

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  29. Juvenal says:

    Any discussion of pensions, Cadillac or otherwise, in isolation from other elements such as “pay” is inflammatory and irresponsible. For example, public employees are offered NO stock options and NO profit sharing…where is the outrage???

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 18

  30. Sarkyfish says:

    One party (D) one rule; one press (D) big mess. It will all get worse until Californians stop toking with the fantasy party and press.

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  31. David Keller says:

    I am troubled by a national line of thinking, advanced here in Sonoma County by pro-small government, anti-union, anti-tax political forces, that magically believe that cutting public employees’ pensions will solve government funding shortfalls. There isn’t enough in the system to do that! Then what?

    Where are the proposals to solve other parts of funding-challenged government, such as the gross inequities built into Prop 13, where newer property buyers significantly subsidize the costs of local services enjoyed by pre-1976 buyers? Prop 13 subsidizes many corporate property ownerships, where the corporate name stays the same when owners change, thus not triggering reassessments?

    What about the subsidies that are given to 2nd homeowners who can take the homeowner’s tax deduction for multiple ‘residences’? What about taking action against the many California corporations paying little or no taxes to the State through carefully crafted loopholes in tax law? What about online sales, where most companies outside California collect and pay no sales taxes to our state for goods delivered here?

    How about oil and gas severance fees in California? Gasoline taxes that are actually sufficient to pay for road maintenance? Can’t raise gas taxes because it will penalize drivers? How about the multi-billion dollar profits for Chevron, Exxon-Mobil et al, who raised gasoline prices anyway?

    Until newly formed advocates for cutting public employee pensions and benefits are willing to address these other considerable inequities in government financing, their attacks on public employees ring hollow and crass – and as bad, myopic and ineffective.

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  32. truth in news says:

    Typical. I’ll bet most the folks don’t see the wrong in breaking a promise to pay pensions. Most sonoma county folks have had no raises in years. Any thing disguised as a raise went to pay a larger share of their retirement or medical. I think replaacing the folks who retire will be difficult enough. People don’t want to be paid less to wade into other folks BS. Just look at the number of folks fleeing police work and the lack of people in the acasemys to replace them.

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  33. GAJ says:

    Alex, nowhere in the debate about bloated pensions, (like 3% vesting/year and able to retire at 50, 55 or 60), have I read anyone complaining about the “old style” pensions you seem to be referring to where the pensioner receives $4,000 or less per month and vesting is at 2%/year.

    Those pensions are NOT the problem.

    Generally the 3% vesting pensions are associated with people making near $100,000/year and more, (think Public Safety, Managers, and Supervisors).

    In fact the 3% vesting pensions are a direct threat to the sustainable 2%@60 pensions that used to be the standard.

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  34. Accountable says:

    When I read some of these WSC posts, I’m struck be a couple of things. First, people just keep repeating the myth about the timing of retroactive pension increases and the dot.com financial boom. Here are the facts: the dot.com bubble burst in March 2000. Most of the dot.com “wealth” was in the form of stock options, which evaporated because it was just on paper. The stock market crash of 2000-2002 lead to a recession, with layoffs and a glutted job market. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot.com_bubble. At the exact same time, Sonoma County agreed to guaranteed higher pensions ratios, retroactive to the date of hire (even though those employees had not been contributing to the higher pension payout).

    Second, the hubris of some posters who speak about how they deserve a raise (of any kind) during that recession and the current recession is appalling. The point that local government employees are missing is that your salaries and pensions are funded from other people’s paychecks. Speaking to us in such condescending terms simply makes us want to vote against your salaries and pensions. We have the Constitutional power to put a referendum forward to halt a Compensation Ordinance determined by the Board of Supervisors. It would then become a ballot measure, in which that Compensation Ordinance would be voted on by the general public, the majority of whom are not public employees.

    California Constitution states, “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and they have the right to alter or reform it when the public good may require.”

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  35. Reality Check says:

    Democrats face a dilemma. Public employee unions are a vital part of their political base. And they’ve said loudly and clearly that anything but a token rollback in pension benefits is an attack on unions and workers. What are Democrats to do?

    Fortunately for them, Republicans don’t seem able to articulate a credible alternative on public pensions, or just about anything else.

    So we muddle along, with one side a captive of the largest special interest group in the state and other unable to say anything that resonates with voters.

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  36. Alex says:

    I think what we have here is the public and Press Democrat now becoming the Enron where they tinker with people’s retirement. When all these so called contracts were negotiated prior to the “dot.com-housing” bubble burst, the Counties, Cities, and State offered a pension in lieu of big raises. Part of this is when you retire, if you get Social Security the State will deduct that amount from your pension retirement. Unlike the private sector that puts their money into Social Security, the contributions by state and county employees are put into Calpers. Think of Calpers as being Social Security. Think of your bonuses and raises as your company saying we are giving you a 2% raise (mind you this was during dot com expansion) BUT we will contribute more to your retirement in lieu of everyone else who gets a 5% raise and gets bonuses). So this was all good because you got to keep public employees for lower pay than the private sector. Basically, the employees said, ok to the low raise and no bonuses now, but in retirement years, I get a pension. So now the coin has flipped, and all the public and cities, counties, and state are playing dumb calling it a Cadillac plan. You idiot, do you realize I went for three years without a raise while we negotiated some raise and benefits. The raise was 5% (after 3 years of no raise) then 2% for the next three years…no bonuses or anything. The one thing, you left the pension alone. However, when I retire and turn 65, the years worked in the private sector that were contributed to Social Security will reduce my pension. So even if I retired with a $1200 a month pension, and then my SS kicks in and is $1200 the state pays me nothing. If I never worked for a private industry then I would continue to get $1200 a month. So you see, there is no damn Cadillac as you the inferior reporter of a defunct newspaper call it. Again, it is another failure of the Press Democrat like Unreliable CNN or False Fox News. Reporter drop-outs writing without doing research…and the dope public bait and hook as usual.

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  37. GAJ says:

    Oops, forgot to post a link to the entire very well written San Jose Mercury News article that was in the paper edition of the PD:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/california-high-speed-rail/ci_21022882/all-aboard-california-approves-high-speed-rail-project?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com

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  38. GAJ says:

    Paul, this State is INSANE, so I expect your worst fears to be realized.

    Rather than address the Pension issue and show some fiscal responsibility the Democrat legislature chose to vote YES on High Speed Rail, a White Elephant that will drain budgets, (State and County), for years to come.

    The most knowledgeable Democrats gave impassioned speeches AGAINST it, however, as it will benefit Unions by providing short term jobs at the long term expense to taxpayers, it passed.

    Sheer madness.

    The Democrats do not even listen to responsible Democrats.

    “In a dramatic monologue four years in the making, the key oversight senator on high-speed rail, Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, silenced the floor by finally announcing he was against the plan.

    In fact, not one Democrat from the Senate’s unofficial bullet train oversight group — including Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Alan Lowenthal, D-Long
    Beach — supported the project. Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica, was the fourth Democrat who voted no.

    The group said they support the bullet train in concept but opposed it because of high costs, uncertain funding prospects to complete the line and the plan to spend so much in the Central Valley.

    But the vote does not guarantee high-speed rail service — far from it.

    Instead, the state still needs $56 billion to extend the tracks to Southern California and the Bay Area over the next 15 years, and is hoping the federal government and private sector fund the bulk of it. Nearly $20 billion more is needed before the first leg of service can begin between roughly Merced and greater Los Angeles.

    Without the money, the first stretch of track through Fresno would sit desolate. “

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  39. Accountable says:

    Voters are demanding the right to decide how their tax dollars are being spent. The pension issue will be decided in court, but, we the people, have the right to vote against future County salary ordinances. California Constitution XI (b) reads:

    The Legislature shall provide for county powers, an elected
    county sheriff, an elected district attorney, an elected assessor,
    and an elected governing body in each county. Except as provided in
    subdivision (b) of Section 4 of this article, each governing body
    shall prescribe by ordinance the compensation of its members, BUT THE
    ORDINANCE PRESCRIBING SUCH COMPENSATION SHALL BE SUBJECT TO
    REFERENDUM.

    Article II, section 9, of the California Constitution provides for the referendum process in California. ELECTORS (voters) HAVE THE POWER TO APPROVE OR REJECT STATUTES OR PARTS OF STATUTES…

    Sonoma County residents can control compensation of our elected officials, which is one step closer to managing pensions.

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  40. Retired Cop says:

    California has a long history of knee jerk legislation that gets challenged in court when it singles out a group of people. The courts generally does not like legislation that creates rules limiting one group while allowing other groups to enjoy to their hearts content.

    Some would say the drain of pensions, legally obtained, are sustainable and want to pass a law to limit them. Prop 187 said that aid to illegal immigrants and their children were a drain on the system and unsustainable, and California courts said, no, you must sustain it. California is a victim of it’s own silliness. Our drivers, our tolerance for criminals, legalizing marijuana, our gun laws, the list is long for knee jerk reactionay laws that other states laugh at our state. The pensions, like many gov’t programs, are not unsustainable, but they are expensive. Welfare and aid to illegal immigrants goes up every year and takes a much bigger bite of the budget that pensions. In the end, how do you see our courts addressing this issue? Remember, this is California.

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