Posts Tagged ‘public employee unions’
July 23rd, 2010 at 1:02 pm
CFIF Article Prompts Mass Resignations of Overpaid California Officials

Once CFIF reported on the outrageous compensation packages of top city officials in Bell, CA, the city council announced the following resignations just after midnight today: Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo ($787,637 annual salary); Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia ($376,288); and Police Chief Randy Adams ($457,000).

Although none of the three will get severance packages when they leave, all will get substantial taxpayer-funded pensions not to work.

Rizzo would be entitled to a state pension of more than $650,000 a year for life, according to calculations made by the Times. That would make Rizzo, 56, the highest-paid retiree in the state pension system.

Adams could get more than $411,000 a year.

Spaccia, 51, could be eligible for as much as $250,000 a year when she reaches 55, though the figure is less precise than for the other two officials, the Times said.

The reason these pensions are so high is simple.  In California, many state workers get pension awards based on their highest income earning year.  All the years of lower pay – decades’ worth! – are ignored.  Since the pension amount is a percentage of the worker’s best paid year, abuse is rampant.

Anyone familiar with the system knows a police officer, firefighter, state nurse or other public employee who arranges to get tons of overtime during their last 1 to 3 years of service.  Since overtime boosts a person’s highest annual income amount, it inflates the resulting pension percentage.  This allows thousands of California public employees to retire in their 50s making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year – for life – not to work.

In fact, that’s exactly the kind of retirement Bell Police Chief Randy Adams was enjoying when Bell officials approached him for the job.  Adams had retired as the police chief of Glendale, CA, and said he would only work for Bell if the city paid both his $165,000 annual salary and the amount he was making in retirement.  If we subtract $165,000 from his annual compensation of $457,000, we can see that Adams was making $262,000 a year in retirement.

This is insane.  The public employee unions who negotiate these kinds of ridiculous contracts – and the politicians who sign off on them – have corrupted both the budget process and the integrity of their offices.  A reckoning is coming at all levels of government for precisely this kind of behavior.  The “Bell Three” are just the first of many to be rung out of office.


July 22nd, 2010 at 11:39 pm
More Public Pension Insanity
Posted by Print

Following on from my column last week, Steven Greenhut, editor-in-chief of, sits down with Reason to explore the excesses of public pensions and public-sector workers in general, especially in California. Enjoy, if you can stomach it:

March 13th, 2010 at 12:58 am
Deficit Panel Gets a Few Hawks to Fend Off Andy Stern

Today, congressional Republicans put up their six members to sit on President Barack Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  They are Representatives Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Jeb Hensarling of Texas, and Dave Camp of Michigan, along with Senators Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, and Mike Crapo of Idaho.  Hopefully, their combined focus on cutting spending will off-set fellow panelist and SEIU chief Andy Stern’s insatiable appetite for more tax dollars funneled to public employee unions.  Bring on C-SPAN!

January 23rd, 2010 at 7:00 pm
“Wormy” California Politicians Still Haven’t Learned to Resist Public Employee Unions

Apparently, if you poke an earthworm a few hundred times, it eventually starts avoiding your finger. In California state politics, it’s looking like a few liberal stalwarts are starting to think twice about the Democrat Party’s sweetheart pension deals given to public employee unions. Any rational person that looks at the financial benefits of becoming a California cop, firefighter, or prison guard (among others) is bound to give serious thought to abandoning any other career option. Why? Because you can retire at 50 and get 90% of your last year’s pay. For the rest of your life. Guaranteed.

Think you can get that kind of compensation in the private sector? There’s a reason – it’s unsustainable. So says Democratic State Treasurer Bill Lockyear. But with the state facing a $20 billion deficit this year and Arnold Schwarzenegger entering his last as governor, it looks like Golden State taxpayers are in for another round of deferred maintenance on state budgeting. All this insanity kinda makes one wonder why anyone would want to be governor of California – or even a citizen.

H/T: Wall Street Journal

January 21st, 2010 at 11:20 am
JFK, Public Employee Unions, and Obama

Today’s Wall Street Journal features an op-ed by Daniel Henninger that traces the rising stranglehold of public employee unions on the Democratic Party. Prior to 1962, federal workers were not unionized. That changed with a JFK executive order. Many states soon followed suit.

Looking back, the change in policy continued the Democrats’ long association with unions, but for the first time there were substantial numbers of union members that worked in jobs uncoupled from business realities like profit and loss. Instead, their budgets were the product of taxing and spending.

The results, as we all know, have been catastrophic for government budget writers at all levels. Public sector unions claim members from the ranks of teachers, cops, fire fighters, DMV personnel, and a myriad of other support workers. As membership increases, so do demands for higher wages, bigger pensions, and greater emphasis on seniority rather than performance. Since governments themselves aren’t measured on the taxpayers’ return on investment, it’s been easy for Democrats to champion public employee unions, trading money for votes, and vice versa.

That may be coming to an end. Henninger notes that Republicans have a unique – and short – window to align themselves as the party of spending restraint by vowing to take on the public employee unions and their entitlements. It won’t be easy because taking on these groups can actually be worse than attacking another politician. Organized labor is the Democratic Party’s grassroots, so challenging them is a request to have millions raised in opposition while thousands of government employees work phone banks, neighborhoods, and break rooms lobbying for support. As California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger learned in 2005, all it takes to create a union’s war chest is a few dollars increase in each member’s dues.

But it’s worth it, especially in a campaign year when most of the people out of work are from the private sector. Because of the stimulus money, most state and local governments were able to “create or save” jobs. Of course, the federal government has been on a hiring spree to keep pace with President Obama’s rapid expansion of the public sector. If this is truly the year when fiscal conservatives taste victory in coastal bastions of liberalism, it will be because GOP nominees take the time to educate and persuade voters that public employee unions are some of the greatest threats to our economic recovery.