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Edward Ring

The Bell Syndrome Afflicts More Cities Than Just Bell

Remember Bell, California? Back in 2010 the Los Angeles Times reported thatBell city officials were receiving unusually large salaries, perhaps the highest in the United States. For example,Robert Rizzo, the City manager, had received $787,637.By September of that year,as reported on CNN, the California Attorney General filed charges againsteight former and current city officials. The public was outraged.

Not generally known however was the process whereby the City of Bell employees managed to pay themselves so much money. Earlier that summer theLos Angeles Times covered this part of the story, reporting “The highly paid members of the Bell City Council were able to exempt themselves from state salary limits by placing a city charter on the ballot in a little-noticed special election that attracted fewer than 400 voters.”

This use of barely legalmaneuvers to extract ridiculously generous salaries and benefits from taxpayers is not restricted to Bell, however. The Bell Syndrome… Read More

Edward Ring

A Pension “Pledge” for State Politicians

Earlier this week, noted pension reformer John Moore published “The Mechanics of Pension Reform,” listing specific principles of pension reform. Moore’s article focuses on state policy; he intends to focus on local pension reform policies in a later article. The list he has produced for state legislators is quite detailed; here’s is a partial summary of highlights:

1 – Change control of public employee pension boards to politically neutral private institutions. Currently, government union operatives exert nearly absolute control over California’s 81 state and local government employee pension systems.

2 – Limit the total annual pension contribution by any government entity to a fixed percentage of pension eligible salary.

3 – Differentiate between annual salary and pension eligible salary to lower overall contributions. Stop counting annual wage increases as pension eligible.

4 – Eliminate collective bargaining for government workers.

5 – Prohibit legislative bodies from granting vested contract rights to pensions.

6 – Require agency in-house… Read More

Katy Grimes

How Many Local Office Holders Not Worthy Of Election To Legislature?

There is a disturbing trend happening in California, with cities trying to place sales and property tax increase initiatives on the ballot, often without a petition drive of the voters. Ostensibly these tax revenues are earmarked for “public safety,” or 
road maintenance, and improvements.

But that’s complete hooey; this money will be undoubtedly be used to pay for CalPERS pension and retiree health benefit payments. It has to be used for pensions and benefit payments, because most cities are so deep in debt, they can’t afford to fix sewer systems, maintain roads, or even maintain parks.

Think… Read More