Wednesday, August 22, 2012

LA Pensions Pounding the People of LA

City police and fire command a great deal of respect in our communities, as they should.

They put their lives in the line to protect us, and the quality of life for public safety officers can diminished more precipitously than public servants in other sectors of employment.

LA voters already approved trimming the pension costs for new hires.

The real battle for pension reform now comes down to the public safety unions. Even Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin did not curb the collective bargaining rights of public safety officers, yet he still faced an immense backlash from the public for taking on necessary entitlement reforms. He was able to overcome the recriminations and the recall efforts, but still his state senate caucus suffered a loss.

The battle to take down the costs of public sector pensions can no longer avoid the debate with police and fire. Serve and Protect must now apply to the future residents and taxpayers in this state, not just to the present property owners.

Former Mayor Richard Riordan offered a compelling argument for dealing with the spiraling pension costs which are eating away at Los Angeles' reserve. As the costs for providing for lucrative retirement packages increases -- from 4.2% to 11.1% in just six years -- the city will have no choice but to cut back on services, thus diminishing the peace and safety presence which has attracted new businesses to the region. As more businesses get scared, pulling up stakes and leaving for more stable communities, LA's tax base will plummet, precipitating more cuts, and the downward spiral continues.

"It's Wall Street that created this crisis", one union rep intoned. Still, the city leadership from years passed holds the greater part of the blame, expanding benefits in flush times, as if they money would never stop rolling in. Either way, the city taxpayers and future residents are now on the hook for these outrageous and untrimmed obligations. This is a moral as well as a fiscal issue.

No matter what service a man offers to his community, for that person to take home 90% of his pay upon retirement is just inexcusable. Pension reform is a must, and if that means that public safety officers threaten to walk or to strike, then bring in the national guard, just as Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge did in 1919.

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