Two California cities vote overwhelmingly for public-pension reform

posted at 11:21 am on June 6, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Voters in Wisconsin’s recall election decisively retained the governor that delivered on his promises for public-sector reform, but they weren’t alone.  Two California cities voted on referendums to impose cuts on out-of-control pension systems, and they made the Wisconsin vote look like a nailbiter in comparison:

Voters in two major California cities overwhelmingly approved cuts to retirement benefits for city workers in what supporters said was a mandate that may lead to similar ballot initiatives in other states and cities that are struggling with mounting pension obligations.

Supporters had a simple message to voters in San Diego and San Jose: Pensions for city workers are unaffordable and more generous than many private companies offer, forcing libraries to slash hours and potholes to go unfilled. …

In San Diego, 66 percent voted in favor of Proposition B, while 34 percent were opposed. Nearly 97 percent of precincts were tallied by early Wednesday.

The landslide was even bigger in San Jose, the nation’s 10th-largest city. With all precincts counted, 70 percent were in favor of Measure B and 30 percent were opposed.

San Diego tends to be more conservative anyway, but San Jose does not.  Even still, the Democratic mayor backed the referendum in the central-coast city.  It’s not difficult to understand why.  In both cities, pension payments have exploded over the last several years as the defined-benefit plans demonstrated their fiscal insanity.  The Post reports that pension payments now eat up 20% of San Diego’s operating budget, and 27% in San Jose.  Both cities have been forced to lay off thousands of public-sector workers to cover those costs, which means that services have deteriorated badly.

When voters stop getting the same value for their tax dollars and watch potholes go unfilled, they tend to lose patience rather quickly.  Opponents of the referenda — mainly the same public-employee unions that fought and lost in Wisconsin — tried to argue that changing the pension systems now was unfair to people who had passed up private-sector work in favor of a more secure retirement.  That argument has worked in the past, but clearly a bipartisan coalition of voters are fed up with the fiscal crisis in California.  That will send a message to Sacramento, where the state pension funds have the same defined-benefit problem of too many unrealistic promises with far too little revenue.  After the scandal in Bell in 2010, where city officials got paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — in one case, twice as much as the President of the United States — Californians aren’t terribly sympathetic to public-sector workers.

And if that’s true in California and Wisconsin …

Update: David Harsanyi says that public-employee unions had better prepare themselves for some real people power:

While most of the nation’s attention was understandably focused on Wisconsin’s recall elections other local governments were taking important steps towards breaking free of public-sector unions, as well. And though Wisconsin might prove that unions are in decline in traditionally Democrat-leaning Midwestern states, two local elections in California may portend even bigger things for the reformists.

When you’re looking for public-sector unions carnage, there is no better place than California, a solidly Democratic state where pension-plan funding for government employees is more than $500 billion in the red. Gov. Jerry Brown tepid 12-point pension reform plan hasn’t gotten anywhere in the state legislature, but  two of the state’s — and country’s — biggest cities dealt unions major setbacks yesterday. …

Unions may know a lot about the unfortunate spending of taxpayer money, but though all these initiatives will end up in courtrooms — “so much for Power to the People!” — the mood of voters is unmistakable.

And, I’d daresay again, not just in California and Wisconsin.


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Comment pages: 1 2

I am surprised that I am surprised!

jake-the-goose on June 6, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Almost make me proud to be a Californian………..almost.

antipc on June 6, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Sadly enough, the will of the public in California takes a back seat to the whims and wallet of a liberal judge. Let’s hope this stands.

AubieJon on June 6, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Nice, but just wait till it reaches our court system. (remember prop 187?)

Did I also hear the cig tax failed?!?! That’s gotta be bad news for Brown’s tax-till-you-bleed initiative.

LASue on June 6, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Please please please stop using “public sector unions”. This is a lefty term of obfuscation. Please do a global search and replace on your website and replace that term with “government employee unions” or “tax-payer funded unions”. Only then will everyone read articles with the same understanding. The readers of this site most likely understand the term, but I bet if we did a ‘man on the street’ type of survey a large percentage wouldn’t make the connection.

Fogpig on June 6, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Eh. It’s not all good. My fellow Californians seemed to be at least half OK with Proposition 29 (more cigarette taxes), ’cause, you know, when it comes to tobacco, there will always be that tyranny of the majority thing… But at least it is/was close for a change.

apostic on June 6, 2012 at 11:28 AM

As a conservative Californian, you have to really enjoy the few victories. As Mr. Biden might say “This is a big f’ing deal.”

dirtseller on June 6, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Are the people of California finely waking up after a long overdose …. I mean sleep.

SC.Charlie on June 6, 2012 at 11:30 AM

9th circus to overturn the will of the people in5….4…..3

cmsinaz on June 6, 2012 at 11:30 AM

That will send a message to Sacramento, where the state pension funds have the same defined-benefit problem of too many unrealistic promises with far too little revenue.

No problem! Just raise taxes! That’s Jerry and the Legislative Clowns mantra!

GarandFan on June 6, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Unions are already making threats in San Diego about the illegality of the measure (B) and tried everything in their power, including trips to court to stop the measure from reaching the ballot.

The other measure in San Diego that won was Prop A which opens contracts up to all parties and not just those under public labor agreements(PLA) which favors unions..heavily.

To try and do A in, unions pressured Gov. Moonbeam to sign legisltation limiting funds they send to SD if a measure were enacted like A.. They then uised that as leaverage to try and pursuade San Diegans to not pass the measure.

Screw moonbeam.. it’s our money and WE should decide how things are being spent.. if unions shops win fine, but they shouldn’t be guaranteed squat nor favored..

theblacksheepwasright on June 6, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Public service is supposed to be a sacrifice. If you want higher wages and benefits go work on someone else’s dime, not the taxpayer.

The city I work in (Huntington, WV) is carrying an unfunded pension liability that has left the city insolvent. Instead of declaring bankruptcy so these can be re-negotiated, the city keeps raising taxes and businesses and individuals keep leaving… Which of course makes the financial situation worse.

wildcat72 on June 6, 2012 at 11:31 AM

What does their version of pension reform do, exactly? I think the best part of Walker’s law was making union dues voluntary…that ought to be the first step everywhere.

changer1701 on June 6, 2012 at 11:32 AM

SO I do not understand exactly why the courts can overturn the will of the voters?

watertown on June 6, 2012 at 11:32 AM

California Primary results: Te cigarette tax (Prop 29) is losing:

YES 1,894,871 49.2%
NO 1,958,047 50.8%

Also of interest:

BARAK OBAMA 1,561,290 100% of Dem primary vote

MITT ROMNEY 1,151,275 79.6% of Republican primary vote (1,446,130 votes total)*

The interesting thing is the 10% gap in votes for a sitting President in an uncontested primary vs.the total Republican vote, in a state with a 6:1 Dem to Republican voter registration ratio. Obama’s weak. This, in a primary in which Dems had a decided reason to turn out in much higher numbers, because California’s new law awards the November ballot placement to the two highest vote earners for each office, regardless of party affiliation. In other words, with such a huge registration advantage, in many parts of the state, Dems could insure that Republicans aren’t even on the November ballot. But the Dems didn’t show.

* Gingrich 3.8%; Karger 0.4%; Ron Paul 10.2%; Roemer 0.7%; Santorum 5.2%.

de rigueur on June 6, 2012 at 10:57 AM

de rigueur on June 6, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Voters in two major California cities overwhelmingly approved cuts to retirement benefits for city workers in what supporters said was a mandate that may lead to similar ballot initiatives in other states and cities that are struggling with mounting pension obligations.
=============

Oh boy,the Goonions are gonna be on
the War Path,probably spear-headed
by Elizabeth Warren to boot!!

(sarc).

canopfor on June 6, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Make all public unions illegal as they are in direct conflict with their charters.

They’re supposed to be public servants. Period.

Schadenfreude on June 6, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Roosevelt, the leftie paragon, understood the dangers of public unions and opposed them.

Schadenfreude on June 6, 2012 at 11:35 AM

~ California here we come ~
~ California here we come ~
~ Cali-forn-yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ~
~ *unintelligible mouth noises* ~

That was music from “The O.C.” dedicated to the P.E.U.’s of CA from your friends in the electorate.

Turtle317 on June 6, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Public unions were crushing the country before the democrat 08 economic crisis.

That they’ve gone on for decades shows the immense power unions have accumulated in their corrupt dealings across bar tables with democrats.

Speakup on June 6, 2012 at 11:36 AM

So, which state is going to be bold enough to pass a law saying public sector union pensions and health benefits cannot exceed comparable private sector pensions and health benefits?

ButterflyDragon on June 6, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Not only were the for it, the were overwhelmingly for it. How about dat?

cajun carrot on June 6, 2012 at 11:38 AM

This does not bode well for public sector unions and the Democrat proles they kickback to! There will be a wave of similar actions across the country. Ordinary non-union taxpayers are fed up with the incestuous relationship between the Democrat politicians and union bosses scratching each others back. Even union members wonder why their dues are so high and their union bosses are living high off the hog on their dime. Couldn’t come soon enough!

Bob in VA on June 6, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Sadly enough, the will of the public in California takes a back seat to the whims and wallet of a liberal judge. Let’s hope this stands.

AubieJon on June 6, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Yup, it is utterly disgusting that a liberal gay activist judge can fabricate a right out of thin air and essentially void the entire democratic process in California. The will of the people be damned.

SWalker on June 6, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Don’t blame me, I voted for Tom McClintock…

OmahaConservative on June 6, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Greed voted down. Shocker.

slickwillie2001 on June 6, 2012 at 11:40 AM

de rigueur on June 6, 2012 at 11:33 AM

I’m not sure, but I don’t think the new ‘Top two candidates’ rule applies to the presidential election.

LASue on June 6, 2012 at 11:41 AM

More evidence that democracy is dying.

blink on June 6, 2012 at 11:36 AM

Gee. If you call the rule of democrats of the NC assembly since the Civil War without any viable opposition “democracy”, I guess “tyranny” is when the electorate voted their sorry butts out in 2010? I guess opposite-speak is popular in liberal culture….

Turtle317 on June 6, 2012 at 11:41 AM

May the GEUs with and die from coast to coast.

de rigueur on June 6, 2012 at 11:33 AM

The Emperor Zero will have to fight for California, NY and possibly Mass.

And his campaign is running on fumes now…

dogsoldier on June 6, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Meanwhile,back at Team Union Goons HQ!

San Jose:

Employee unions to file lawsuits challenging pension reform measure
06/06/2012 07:50:41 AM PDT
June 6, 2012 3:5 PM GMTUpdated:
06/06/2012 08:05:45 AM PDT
****************************

Just hours after San Jose voters approved a nationally watched pension reform measure, city employee unions are planning to file lawsuits challenging it.

The police, fire and other unions have scheduled an 11 a.m. press conference outside the Santa Clara County Superior Court to officially announce the legal action.

An email from the unions sent early this morning said: “Following the passage of San Jose’s Measure B — a City ballot measure that unlawfully modifies pension benefits for city employees-San Jose’s Police Officers, Fire Fighters and other workers will file multiple lawsuits to enjoin the City from implementing the unlawful changes to employee pensions, health care and disability benefits.”

San Jose voters Tuesday handed Mayor Chuck Reed a crucial victory with his nationally watched pension reform measure passing by a decisive margin.

It was a big night for pension reform, with a San Diego measure also winning by a wide margin.

But voter approval of San Jose’s Measure B puts Reed and the city in the vanguard of efforts to shrink taxpayer bills for generous government pension plans. Passage also strengthen’s Reed’s hand as he and his City Council allies work to enact the measure’s reforms with a vote next week to reduce pensions for new hires.

“I want to thank the voters of San Jose for their commitment to fiscal reform and to creating a more sustainable future for our children and grandchildren,” Reed
(More….)
=============

http://www.mercurynews.com/elections/ci_20794968/san-jose-employee-unions-file-lawsuit-challenging-pension

canopfor on June 6, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Public unions were crushing the country before the democrat 08 economic crisis.

That they’ve gone on for decades shows the immense power unions have accumulated in their corrupt dealings across bar tables with democrats.

Speakup on June 6, 2012 at 11:36 AM

Sad but true. It will take years and years to correct what the greedy unions have accomplished. On the other hand, in states like California it could fall apart overnight with some kind of a bankruptcy proceeding.

One of the first things a new Republican president has to do, is put together a legal team to work out the details of how a state bankruptcy will be handled.

slickwillie2001 on June 6, 2012 at 11:44 AM

But I thought that people loved the unions, I mean, didn’t Al Gore tell us that his Mother sang him to sleep with “Look for that union label”?

Snake307 on June 6, 2012 at 11:44 AM

Even the dimmest of dimmies will start to change their tune when you actually start taking real money right out of their hand. People will almost always not give a sh*t about government spending until it hits their own little household and wallet, then it becomes real…

Tim Zank on June 6, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Can we start privatizing the federal government already?

Archivarix on June 6, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Just hours after San Jose voters approved a nationally watched pension reform measure, city employee unions are planning to file lawsuits challenging it.

The police, fire and other unions have scheduled an 11 a.m. press conference outside the Santa Clara County Superior Court to officially announce the legal action.

An email from the unions sent early this morning said: “Following the passage of San Jose’s Measure B — a City ballot measure that unlawfully modifies pension benefits for city employees-San Jose’s Police Officers, Fire Fighters and other workers will file multiple lawsuits to enjoin the City from implementing the unlawful changes to employee pensions, health care and disability benefits.”

And California being what it is, some judge will rule with these clowns too.

wildcat72 on June 6, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Small quibble, but to call San Jose a central-coast city gives it an undeserved separation from its actual location in the very liberal SF Bay Area. The only coast SJ touches is the south end of SF Bay. It may not be quite as liberal as SF or Berkeley, but it’s close.

tbradshaw on June 6, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Can we start privatizing the federal government already?

Archivarix on June 6, 2012 at 11:47 AM

NO, because some Cornholio would then insist that they were “To big to fail” and we would end up spending even more money on failed Marxist programs. Instead let’s just abolish any and every federal agency that has failed to achieve beneficial results.

SWalker on June 6, 2012 at 11:52 AM

Switch all defined benefit plans to 401k plans and then maybe the unions will start to concern themselves with the health of the private economy.

If they have a stake in the economy then maybe they’ll become more fiscally conservative in the same way kids become more so when they get their first jobs and start paying taxes.

Charlemagne on June 6, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Good for SD & SJ! And those aren’t podunk CA farming towns, either. Hopefully a major trend that the WI election will only encourage.

KS Rex on June 6, 2012 at 11:54 AM

California will be able to change the pensions of new hires, but expect a next to impossible epic battle to change the pensions of existing employees and retirees, and with good reason.

Just because a municipality or state is dumb enough to enter into a budget busting pension benefits contract doesn’t mean they can arbitrarily back out of that contract simply because it no longer suits them, financially or for any other reason. A contract is legally binding, and just because one fully informed party (in this case California and its cities) is getting hammered by it’s own moronic financial decisions, doesn’t mean they are no longer required to meet their mutually agreed upon legal obligations to pensioners and existing employees. And California cities have lost that battle with their existing public sector employees in the past, in the courts.

The late John Wayne once said, “Life is tough, and its tougher when you’re stupid”. California is stupid, and life should be tougher for them.

Cavalry on June 6, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Both propositions will be fast tracked to the 9th Circus who will waste no time and reject both resolutions as hate crimes.

CorporatePiggy on June 6, 2012 at 11:56 AM

I’m not sure, but I don’t think the new ‘Top two candidates’ rule applies to the presidential election.

LASue on June 6, 2012 at 11:41 AM

You are correct. Presidential candidates are selected by national conventions (ultimately), not by states. I was thinking of the overwhelming advantage Democrats could exercise over choosing the nominees for state offices, everything down-ticket from the Presidency. In theory, with the 6:1 voter registration advantage, enough Democrats could insure that Republicans never even make it onto the November ballot.

de rigueur on June 6, 2012 at 11:56 AM

And as preview of things to come, and come rather quckly, is city of Stockton is about to file for bankruptcy. Moonbean was the first GULAG governor to allow unions into state jobs, now the circle is complete. Shut down entire system, the only way out for GULAG.

riddick on June 6, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Cavalry: As long as other states are not penalized by this, fine. However, the _second_ any federal money is given to California to pay for its own stupidity, then this issue becomes the nation’s issue.

I don’t like the idea of voiding contracts, but bankruptcy proceedings will do that regardless, no? Hence why cogent posters upthread suggested that the winner in November really needs to create a team to figure out how to handle them.

Scott H on June 6, 2012 at 11:59 AM

Granted, I’m glad to see these public sector unions get smacked down finally in even the bluest of states. But one thing that concerns me is retroactively changing the benefits of existing employees. The linked article didn’t go into specifics, but what exactly did they vote to take away from these workers? It ain’t exactly right to tell folks who’ve been working potentially for decades in these jobs and planning their retirement around those benefits that suddenly they’ll no longer be there(or get severely reduced).

Doughboy on June 6, 2012 at 11:59 AM

Cavalry on June 6, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Sorry, but you are actually mistaken, contracts are always renegotiable. This is especially true when the terms of the contract result in a bankruptcy.

SWalker on June 6, 2012 at 12:01 PM

the Democratic mayor backed the referendum in the central-coast city.

Central coast? San Jose is the heart of Silicon Valley and indeed part of the Bay Area.

DaveO on June 6, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Sorry, but you are actually mistaken, contracts are always renegotiable. This is especially true when the terms of the contract result in a bankruptcy.

SWalker on June 6, 2012 at 12:01 PM

But how is this negotiating? Wouldn’t that be done in a court and not at the ballot box?

Doughboy on June 6, 2012 at 12:02 PM

SO I do not understand exactly why the courts can overturn the will of the voters?

Because they can. Left leaning, government union sympathizing judges, especially, believing the unwashed masses are too ignorant of the law and politics to be trying to change things by means of inappropriate propositions. The voters’ misjudgements need to be corrected by those who hold themselves in the highest regard and who know that they are in a better position to know what is best for all.

hawkeye54 on June 6, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Cavalry on June 6, 2012 at 11:55 AM

The contract for pension benefits will effectively “void” itself when the money is all gone….If the “pensioners” had any brains they’d understand it’s better to take a haircut on your future pension than have it just frickin disappear into thin air when the funds aren’t there…

Tim Zank on June 6, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Granted, I’m glad to see these public sector unions get smacked down finally in even the bluest of states. But one thing that concerns me is retroactively changing the benefits of existing employees. The linked article didn’t go into specifics, but what exactly did they vote to take away from these workers? It ain’t exactly right to tell folks who’ve been working potentially for decades in these jobs and planning their retirement around those benefits that suddenly they’ll no longer be there(or get severely reduced).

Doughboy on June 6, 2012 at 11:59 AM

As I pointed out to (Cavalry on June 6, 2012 at 11:55 AM), contracts are always renegotiable. When a entity goes bankrupt contracts end up being completely voided.

SWalker on June 6, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Not just Wisconsin.

I just want to remind you all that, it is not just Wisconsin, it is just that the unions only chose to go after a republican governor. In NYS Gov. Cuomo has pushed a myriad of chipping away at reforms against his many many public sector unions, they don’t make the news, but they grumble about them in the capitol confidential blogs. And they are not going to vote for him next time, they are going to vote for the republican. ?.

And in nearby MA, the unions gathered to protest with Mike Get em bloody Capuano last year, and Duval Patrick spoke to them and it was all OK.

Patrick directed the towns to change Municipal health insurance (town employees all over the state) to cheaper contracts, the unions could not choose. But then you have to remember that lefties like government telling them what to do so they went quietly and did not try to embarrass their (D-MA) Gov. in the way they chose to single out Scott Walker.

And today you see them voting for this pension reform in CA. One theme is that liberal elected officials are allowed to do/initiate things that republican are not allowed to do. So, if you want reform, vote for Barach Obama because they will let him fix the system???? Why doesn’t he triangulate? Is he really that Obdurate. Pharoah was Obdurate.

Fleuries on June 6, 2012 at 12:05 PM

enough Democrats could insure that Republicans never even make it onto the November ballot.

de rigueur on June 6, 2012 at 11:56 AM

That was the entire point of the law. In just a couple of election cycles there will be just a few Republicans left in state legislature. Literally a few as there are just a few GOP counties left, in Central Valley and North of Sacramento. So called conservative counties in SoCal (OC and San Diego) are now about evenly split and getting bluer by the day.

riddick on June 6, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Central coast? San Jose is the heart of Silicon Valley and indeed part of the Bay Area.

DaveO on June 6, 2012 at 12:01 PM

You beat me to it. Paso area is Central Coast.

riddick on June 6, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Schadenfreude is exactly right – and that his point ranks as an obscure one makes things still very dark. Unions are a restraint on trade – anathema to a lawful free economy – and allowed in the private sector for a mixture of reasons (several of them debatable, others more compelling).

They have no place in the public sector. Period. None (as in zero) of the rationales for allowing unionization in the real economy apply to public jobs. But it gets worse.

As is obvious, unionization of public employees has tremendous pernicious effect. It sets public employees AGAINST the public (literally, in the sense of the most basic rationale for a union, to balance management power). The reason strikes are forbidden to public safety workers is the same reason unionization makes no sense – public service is supposed to be different.

The result is poison. Here in San Diego, back when the unions were trying to keep Prop B from even getting on the ballot, the most astonishing (and disturbing) radio ad was aired. A young firefighter urged voters not to sign the petition (we ARE already in jaw-dropping territory here – WTF are public employees doing telling the public not to exercise basic civil and political rights?). Then it got worse. It was implied – and for this I have no words – that it would be dangerous to reform pensions, as this would force some firefighters to not retire as early, which would endanger the public as “older” firemen would be on the job! As if there are no physical requirements for the job? Unbelievable.

“Nice community you’ve got here. Be a shame if we didn’t feel like helping do our jobs to protect it cuz you didn’t give us enough money”.

It’s been long enough now that it seems likely a true public service mindset has been mostly destroyed in public service. You’d have to be fairly old now to not have served your entire career in an environment where greed, sense of entitlement, and lack of a true public service mindset prevailed. A retired cop I know who typifies the former and far healthier mindset can barely discuss the subject, he’s so outraged and embarrassed at the way everything has been turned upside down.

Didn’t follow it closely, but I believe the firefighters in Ohio really besmirched themselves in their campaign to defeat the effort there to limit their looting of the treasury. So it’s a national disaster. It took some hard work to get someone like me to look with complete contempt on public safety and other workers, but they got it done. They’re just another segment of America that’s dead to me.

IceCold on June 6, 2012 at 12:11 PM

As I pointed out to (Cavalry on June 6, 2012 at 11:55 AM), contracts are always renegotiable. When a entity goes bankrupt contracts end up being completely voided.

SWalker on June 6, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Contracts can also be struck down if it can be demonstrated that they were written in a corrupt relationship. That’s the very definition of government unions paying to elect leaders that will give them more government money.

slickwillie2001 on June 6, 2012 at 12:12 PM

What this should show the California legislature is that there IS voter support for taking on these pensions. The legislature has been afraid to tackle this issue for fear voter backlash. This is why we see such measures on ballot initiatives rather than being addressed by the legislature or the various city councils. This should show these elected officers of government that they do have popular backing for taking action.

I also think government workers would be happier with a more sustainable plan than have to worry as they do now under the current system if they are going to suffer forced furloughs, layoffs and other issues.

crosspatch on June 6, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Sorry, but you are actually mistaken, contracts are always renegotiable. This is especially true when the terms of the contract result in a bankruptcy.

SWalker on June 6, 2012 at 12:01 PM

But how is this negotiating? Wouldn’t that be done in a court and not at the ballot box?

Doughboy on June 6, 2012 at 12:02 PM

The renegotiation of a contract is done at the request of either the employes or the employer. In this case, it is the employers, i.e. the tax payers who have demanded that the pension contracts be renegotiation before those contracts force the cities into financial insolvency, aka bankruptcy.

It is basically the same thing when a corporation demands a contract renegotiation, the board of directors place a ballot before the shareholders and the shareholders vote on it.

Contract renegotiation’s only end up in court when neither party is willing to negotiate, or they cannot agree on the terms being renegotiated.

Even when it is the employes who demand the renegotiation it starts with a vote.

SWalker on June 6, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Who knew all of this would happen under the leadership of “The annointed one!” in the era of hope ‘n change?

JB-STLMO on June 6, 2012 at 12:16 PM

The new 2 top candidate law in GULAG has produced exactly the results expected. So far at least 20 state level races in November will feature Dem against Dem on the ballots. And only 4 will have GOP vs. GOP. And with some results being counted, still, even more Dems will be up for Nov votes. There are a few races that so called Independents will feature in, but an I usually stands for a D who lost in a D district. So, Rs, come November, will be mostly extinct from state offices.

Anf to show you just how stupid typical liberal voter is, GULAG Prop. 28, term limits, was also passed. Prior law stated that one can server up to 3 2-year terms in Assembly and up to 2 4-year terms in Senate. Now one can serve up to 12 years at any level. Stupid is as stupid does. Prior law was the only reason the state was able to get rid of Willie Brown, with new law he’d be serving a longer term.

This is the the state that supposedly features the highest number of “educated” residents. Obvious idiots, for the most part, who cant even do simple arithmetic.

riddick on June 6, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Sadly enough, the will of the public in California takes a back seat to the whims and wallet of a liberal judge. Let’s hope this stands.

AubieJon on June 6, 2012 at 11:25 AM

…I was going to say………..

9th circus to overturn the will of the people in5….4…..3

cmsinaz on June 6, 2012 at 11:30 AM

…….and then cmsinaz beat me to it!

KOOLAID2 on June 6, 2012 at 12:34 PM

…….and then cmsinaz beat me to it!

KOOLAID2 on June 6, 2012 at 12:34 PM

oopsie

cmsinaz on June 6, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Opponents of the referenda — mainly the same public-employee unions that fought and lost in Wisconsin — tried to argue that changing the pension systems now was unfair to people who had passed up private-sector work in favor of a more secure retirement.

.
This.

And why should “Public” employment be more “secure” than private?

Tax payers having to pay for someone else to have a more “secure” work position- that they do not have.

That doesn’t sound “fair”.

FlaMurph on June 6, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Sorry, but you are actually mistaken, contracts are always renegotiable. This is especially true when the terms of the contract result in a bankruptcy.

SWalker on June 6, 2012 at 12:01 PM

No, I’m not mistaken.

California municipalities have in the past tried to arbitrarily change the defined pension benefits of existing employees, and have lost in the courts. They even send pension checks to convicted felons serving life in California prisons. Murderer O J Simpson took his California pension to Florida, and avoided paying his civil wrongful death suit to the Nicole Brown Simpson family.

As I said previously, California will be able to change the pensions of new hires, through ballot initiatives and public votes, but expect an epic battle to change the pensions of existing employees and retirees, and with good reason. Doesn’t mean re negotiations won’t occur, but California won’t get out of the mess they made for themselves painlessly, and neither should they.

And as a side note, many of these contracts were signed by a so called republican two term governor, so those blaming exclusively California democrats for the fiasco are wrong. The idiocy was bi partisan, in many cases.

Cavalry on June 6, 2012 at 12:45 PM

IceCold on June 6, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Thank you. This must be fought, along with the Congress and the president not living by the rules they act upon us. They s/b on Social Security and Obamascare, and all other stupid laws they pass, not exempt themselves. That the people are so ignorant on both, what you wrote, and this, is dangerous and self-destructive to them and their families.

I have grown to detest policemen and firemen for this, while still apprciating what they do as a profession. Many also claim disabilities when there are none, retire early, then go work as guards or play gold, immediately after.

Schadenfreude on June 6, 2012 at 12:46 PM

riddick, just to pick a nit – well maybe more than that – “term limits” are a pathetic and poorly thought-through magic pill swallowed by so many “conservative” voters.

Term limits exist – they’re called “terms”. As the Sacramento experience clearly and inarguably shows, term limit laws do nothing whatsoever to change the revolving door situation, and the systemic corruption.

There’s no easy, magic solution to voters choosing to destroy their own country (even if slowly). If you want to do something to break up the pathologies of Sacramento, enact harsh limits on post-office involvement with legislation (similar to federal employee limits on post-employment involvement). Ban lawmakers from any lobbying or representational involvement with public issues for 10 years – period.

Term limits do nothing to help in a de facto one-party state like CA. They do little more in any other situation.

IceCold on June 6, 2012 at 12:47 PM

s/b “play golf”…not gold.

Schadenfreude on June 6, 2012 at 12:48 PM

While pleased with the results, San Jose is not a Central Coast city... It’s in the south bay, and decidedly Northern California.

juanito on June 6, 2012 at 12:49 PM

I’m thrilled about what’s happening, but I’ll truly believe that it’s taken hold when the zombie voters in Illinois wake up and do as WI, SD and SJ did. And by the time that happens, the Dembeciles will be claiming credit for the massive reforms. Bet on it!

stukinIL4now on June 6, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Scott Walker winning big with a big union turnout means even private sector union members hate public sector unions.

Jump in, Mitt! The water’s good.

petefrt on June 6, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Someone correct me if I’m wrong…but it is my understanding that in certain instances,these types of pension benefits are determined solely by the amount of time worked during the last year of service.I have also heard it said that it is fairly common practice for public sector workers to inflate their pension benefits by working more hours during this last year. Seems like there could be plenty of these public employees that have basically bilked the system for far too long.

lynncgb on June 6, 2012 at 12:55 PM

And as a side note, many of these contracts were signed by a so called republican two term governor, so those blaming exclusively California democrats for the fiasco are wrong. The idiocy was bi partisan, in many cases.

Cavalry on June 6, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Well, the City contracts at issue in this post were not signed by the governor.

But, you are probably correct that the pensions can’t retroactively be changed. I know in NY, the Courts have held that such benefits are protected by the NY Constitution. So, only the pension benefits of new hires can be changed. thus, we have different “tiers” (or plans) depending on when you were hired into the system.

I would be surprised, however, if these were put on the ballot without at least some chance of being successful in Court. I don’t know CA law on the issue though.

Monkeytoe on June 6, 2012 at 12:56 PM

Someone correct me if I’m wrong…but it is my understanding that in certain instances,these types of pension benefits are determined solely by the amount of time worked during the last year of service.I have also heard it said that it is fairly common practice for public sector workers to inflate their pension benefits by working more hours during this last year. Seems like there could be plenty of these public employees that have basically bilked the system for far too long.

lynncgb on June 6, 2012 at 12:55 PM

In NY, pension benefits are determined by final average salary of your highest paid 3 consecutive years. And yes, many employees do (particularly firefighters and policy) take on enormous amounts of overtime their last 3 years to increase their pensions enormously. Typically, o/t has to be offered based on seniority pursuant to the union contract, so someone on the verge or retirement is going to have first pick at taking the o/t.

Monkeytoe on June 6, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Cavalry may be right on undoing the existing pension damage. We can only hope these health and pension plans go bankrupt due to their inherent financial and actuarial flaws. And any efforts to steal more $$$$ from the public to feed these outrageous “plans” can be blocked. That way no renegotiation will be needed.

FlaMurph, you said it. WTF with “fair”, and especially with “passed up private sector employment for a more secure retirement”?

Ed appears old enough to have lived when these public employees indeed chose public work partly for job and retirement security – at pay and total compensation/penions levels far, far, far below those of today (in real dollar terms).

Economic ignorance, combined with selfishness and greed, are as usual the culprits here. The “fair” pay for anyone, in any job, is the minimum they will take to do it. Period. From NBA stars to McDonald’s burger flippers.

Any deviation from this pattern – any – results in waste, foregone economic growth, in the real economy bankruptcy and failure, and in the public sector insolvency – with a healthy dash of poisonous damage to the civil society as a bonus.

When I was 12 years old, firefighters were a bit controversial already because (at vastly lower pay levels and absent ridiculous retirement schemes) they had little to do, worked very little, and usually had prosperous second jobs/businesses. Maybe I should say there was a bit of envy for their situation. That was small and harmless. But from that “base,” they have become incredibly arrogant and vastly, vastly over-compensated. And funny, my non-unionized teachers all had second (summer) jobs, still made far less than today’s teachers, and produced incredibly superior educational outcomes (oh, and didn’t all exhibit jaw-droppingly vapid, idiotic public policy instincts).

IceCold on June 6, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Monkeytoe on June 6, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Thus, someone with a base salary of around $70k may end up with a final average salary of $100k and retire (depending on the tier they were in) at say 65% of final average salary, or $65k a year for the rest of their lives. Assume the police officer started on the job at 22 and worked 30 years. That means he retires at 52 at $65k per year (with COLA increases).

Monkeytoe on June 6, 2012 at 1:02 PM

When I was 12 years old, firefighters were a bit controversial already because (at vastly lower pay levels and absent ridiculous retirement schemes) they had little to do, worked very little, and usually had prosperous second jobs/businesses.

IceCold on June 6, 2012 at 1:02 PM

this is all still 100% true, with the added bonuses that they are vastly overcompensated and have benefits through the roof – at least around where I am.

It always amuses me for firefighters and police that the argument is you have to pay them so highly to get and keep qualified candidates, yet whenever their is an opening, literally hundreds of well qualified candidates show up for the test and want the job. And, let’s not forget how many people are willing to do the firefighter’s job for free in volunteer departments.

They can be paid much, much less and still have a well-qualified work force.

Monkeytoe on June 6, 2012 at 1:05 PM

In NY, pension benefits are determined by final average salary of your highest paid 3 consecutive years.

Monkeytoe on June 6, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Thanks for the correction. Still sounds like something could/should be done regarding the practice.

lynncgb on June 6, 2012 at 1:07 PM

Yes, two tiers. Can’t wait to hear about the pernicious social dynamic that two tiers of employees create in these public agencies. I hope it’s vicious. Unfortunately it proably won’t extend into retirement, so that the pigs feasting on these absurd, larcenous “pensions” can’t be readily identified and suffer social stigma (not that they would in brain-dead CA, anyway).

Sister in law is the nicest person on earth, not very bright, and one of these people who worked an easy job for the city with total security for 25 years and now lives on easy street. Never thought I’d have a welfare recipient in the family – maybe I can expand my horizons!

IceCold on June 6, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Well when you live in a weak willed state like Maryland you get a double kick in the groin. The state just passed legislation transferring teacher pension benefits cost to the counties. Now my property taxes are going to go up and the state is still raising taxes (income, alcohol and gas) to pay for public worker benefits. Next I am voting with my feet – I will move to Virginia.

I have a great platform to run on. Take all the current and past legislator’s pension/ retirement benefits and apply them against the unfunded federal union retirement benefits.

triumphus04 on June 6, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Well, the City contracts at issue in this post were not signed by the governor.

But, you are probably correct that the pensions can’t retroactively be changed. I know in NY, the Courts have held that such benefits are protected by the NY Constitution. So, only the pension benefits of new hires can be changed. thus, we have different “tiers” (or plans) depending on when you were hired into the system.

I would be surprised, however, if these were put on the ballot without at least some chance of being successful in Court. I don’t know CA law on the issue though.

Monkeytoe on June 6, 2012 at 12:56 PM

You’re correct about municipal contracts, but employees of the California Highway patrol, a state agency, can garner in retirement OVER 100% of their working annual salary, when all the dust settles over benefit disbursements and overtime pay issues factored into final annual salary calculations, and this was signed and approved by Govenator Schwarznegger.

And there are California budget busters embedded in many state government agency union contracts.

Cavalry on June 6, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Pensions for city workers are unaffordable and more generous than many private companies offer, forcing libraries to slash hours and potholes to go unfilled. …

YES!!!! This is why these things happen, not because we’re not taxed enough.

mankai on June 6, 2012 at 1:10 PM

They can be paid much, much less and still have a well-qualified work force.

Monkeytoe, exactly what I was implying, and the key point.

I think police and fire should end up with a better deal than paper pushers at City Hall – and they WILL, if basic common sense and market dynamics are allowed to operate.

This whole discussion illustrates my initial point about poison in the water of civil society. I’m the sort who would run into danger to help a fireman or policeman in trouble – as are many people. I was raised with high regard for these jobs. To alienate someone like me is quite an accomplishment – a vile, depressing, unforgiveable “accomplishment”.

IceCold on June 6, 2012 at 1:12 PM

Term limits do nothing to help in a de facto one-party state like CA. They do little more in any other situation.

IceCold on June 6, 2012 at 12:47 PM

I was simply pointing out the stupidity of typical liberal voter, as long as a proposal is presented with right keywords he/she will vote for anything.

Term limits are already built in, they are called “elections” and granted, hard term limits will only do more harm, IMO.

I was actually more surprised that Prop. 29 was voted down, but then again it would hit the lower incomes the most with absolutely no money collected ever to be spent for their benefit, so once again the argument of “educated people” falls on its face, educated does not mean smart.

riddick on June 6, 2012 at 1:25 PM

You’re correct about municipal contracts, but employees of the California Highway patrol, a state agency, can garner in retirement OVER 100% of their working annual salary, when all the dust settles over benefit disbursements and overtime pay issues factored into final annual salary calculations, and this was signed and approved by Govenator Schwarznegger.

Most emergency services personnel retire on a “disability” retirement which means that some percentage of their pension, usually 50%, is exempt from state tax. So not only do they retire with more than 100% salary, they pay taxes on only 50% of it making even MORE than when they were working.

Usually they simply get a doctor to sign off on a disability. Even something like insomnia can qualify someone. San Jose mayor Chuck Reed appointed a doctor to review these disability claims and he was immediately attacked by the unions when he began to disallow many claims.

I also know of at least one county government in California that has a special position created in its public works department for the purpose of cycling through the next retiring employee in order to boost their salary for retirement. This was originally a position that required a state engineering certification but that requirement was dropped (and the pay rate INCREASED!) and is used now to cycle through the next retiring employee of the department in order to boost their pension payout.

crosspatch on June 6, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Cavalry: As long as other states are not penalized by this, fine. However, the _second_ any federal money is given to California to pay for its own stupidity, then this issue becomes the nation’s issue.

I don’t like the idea of voiding contracts, but bankruptcy proceedings will do that regardless, no? Hence why cogent posters upthread suggested that the winner in November really needs to create a team to figure out how to handle them.

Scott H on June 6, 2012 at 11:59 AM

California already received federal dollars for their stupidity.

But here’s the irony…… Obama’s so called stimulus cash went to temporarily band aid paper over these state pension financial problems…to keep the party going…….the money that didn’t go to 2 million dollar per job California fantasy unicorn projects, that is.

So all Obama did was to delay the budget implosions in many of these blue states until this election year.

Classic idiocy.

Cavalry on June 6, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Also of interest:

BARAK OBAMA 1,561,290 100% of Dem primary vote

MITT ROMNEY 1,151,275 79.6% of Republican primary vote (1,446,130 votes total)*

I’m not sure how Barak got 100% considering that as an independent I voted on a dem ballot and voted the other block and wrote “Any Stray Dog”.

PrettyD_Vicious on June 6, 2012 at 1:36 PM

In both California and San Diego, what happened in the “good years” was that politicians and union leaders agreed to retroactively increase pensions of existing workers significantly in exchange for short-term reductions in the minimum payments the state/city were required to make to cover pension costs. Some of the retroactive changes included guaranteeing much higher rates of returns for pension contributions (7-9%) which are about triple what might see on average in the stock market (2-3%) over long investment periods. Legislators/city council members were told that the union investment managers were sure they could reach those numbers. Turns out, they didn’t….some years they even lost money but the state/city were still obligated to provide the guaranteed higher returns.

What the voters are saying now is not that they want to renegotiate contracts, but that those pension increases were blatantly unrealistic and that the people shouldn’t be held to them now that the city/state is going broke. These benefits were essentially unilaterally given as gifts by voters and should be able to be rescinded. In particular, San Diego isn’t cutting already earned pensions under prior formula’s as much as saying that if employees want to stay employed – they will need to agree that for 5 years – any raises will not count towards their future pension earnings. Structuring the changes to reflect future pension earnings was supposed to get around any challenges in laws the unions might make.

Unfortunately, the only real changes at the moment are at the local level. The state leadership is firmly in union hands and continues to try to deceive the public about the full scale of future pension obligations.

deploylinux on June 6, 2012 at 1:42 PM

lynncgb on June 6, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Indeed. They book lots of overtime and double time toward the end to have a near 100% monthly retirement fee, of salary.

Schadenfreude on June 6, 2012 at 1:50 PM

I’m not sure how Barak got 100% considering that as an independent I voted on a dem ballot and voted the other block and wrote “Any Stray Dog”.

PrettyD_Vicious on June 6, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Oh, come on! Don’t you think that by now they know who you really wanted to vote for? No reason for you even to check off boxes, they make it real easy for you.

/s

Typical socialist USSR/China/Cuba/N. Korea voting system. I am surprised they couldn’t fake Prop. 29 numbers, or rather, they couldn’t even after they tried all night and morning long to “re-count” them.

riddick on June 6, 2012 at 2:05 PM

It’s a Koch Brothers’ conspiracy! It really, really, truly, truly is. The tinfoil hats on MSNBC told me so.

Resist We Much on June 6, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Even still, the Democratic mayor backed the referendum in the central-coast city.

I know it is completely petty and totally off-topic, but thank you for correctly identifying San Jose as a part of Central California. Although I would argue with “coast”. The Santa Cruz mountains are between San Jose and the coast.

I tell people I used to live in the Monterey/Santa Cruz/San Jose area, and their immediate response is “oh, Northern California.” Uh, no. Northern California is north of San Francisco, folks.

Petty & pedantic? You betcha. Irritating as hell to me? Absolutely.

nukemhill on June 6, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Petty & pedantic? You betcha. Irritating as hell to me? Absolutely.

nukemhill on June 6, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Hmmm… San Jose is part of BAY AREA. Even Monterey/Santa Cruz are considered part of that since they are commute distance to many working in Silicon Valley. NORTH CAL. All of them. Check both with state and USA government regulations, I could not put “Central Coast” on my wine labels even if I wanted to and (not that I ever would).

Anyway…

riddick on June 6, 2012 at 2:29 PM

Back to Prop.29 vote count.

RE: “All precincts were reporting, but mail-in ballots that arrived on election day and other votes remained to be counted.”

What does “other votes” mean? They are awaiting a few car trunk fulls to arrive?

riddick on June 6, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Bureaucratic bullsh*t. I don’t care what government regulators say. Culturally, and historically, Northern California has always been north of SF.

Traditionally, Southern California goes from the southern border to approximately San Louis Obispo. Some will say that it is only to Santa Barbara. Central California is from that fuzzy area to north of San Francisco, although you will find some traditionalists taking it all the way to Sacramento. And Northern California is north of that.

Having lived for many years in Southern (15) and Central (15) California, I can assure you that the “official” designations are compete and utter crap. And most people in those regions will agree. In fact, I don’t think I ever met anyone in the greater Monterey Bay area who thought they were a part of Northern California.

Laughable.

nukemhill on June 6, 2012 at 2:36 PM

SO I do not understand exactly why the courts can overturn the will of the voters?

watertown on June 6, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Ever been to Massachusetts?

Del Dolemonte on June 6, 2012 at 2:57 PM

I liked the movie “The Fly” with Jeff Goldblum when his character said;

Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects … don’t have politics. They’re very … brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can’t trust the insect. I’d like to become the first … insect politician.

That’s what liberals are, insects that need politics. ROTFLMAO

Wolfmoon on June 6, 2012 at 2:59 PM

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