Pension reform and public discontent

Voter anger on the constant rising of property taxes to feed government needs came to an abrupt end with the passage of proposition 13 more than 30 years ago. June 5, 2012, will also be remembered as the beginning of the long decline of the public sector unions brought about by voter anger. The state of Wisconsin took the grand prize for pension reform, followed by the California cities of San Diego and San Jose. But let us not forget the recent filing for bankruptcy by the city of Stockton, or the smaller city of Santa Ana, which slashed its city fire department and outsourced it to Orange County.

According to the Social Security Administrator, the maximum benefit at age 65 is approximately $30,000 annually. In the public sector, because of the need of self-entitlement, enrichment and greed, politicians have pandered to the unions, who were willing to give our elected officials thousands of dollars in campaign money in return for unsustainable higher pay, pensions, medical benefits and special perks than one could not find in the private sector.

Glendale city employees after 30 years can retire at age 50 or 55, receiving 90%, 75% or 60% of their last year of spiked earnings — not bad for secure jobs with lots of benefits.

Union employees’ contributions toward their pensions are generally offset with salary increases to match. In private industry, employees have no job security and must worry about their companies staying profitable.

In 2001, Glendale City council members Manoukian, Quintero and Weaver agreed to change the Benefit Factor for Safety Personnel and City Managers from 75% of their last year’s salary to 90%, with retirement age changed from 55 to 50 years of age.

During these harsh economic times, with high unemployment, crumbling roads and sidewalks, dirty parks, dirty streets, increases in utility rates and fees, our city council members must go back to the unions and demand rolling back the pension obligations.

Without pension reform, public discontent will probably grip Glendale voters at the ballot box in 2013.

Mike Mohill

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