About Me

My photo
After 35 years in public education as a high school English teacher and university administrator, I began my second life as a freelance writer, winning San Diego Society of Professional Journalist awards for my opinion columns in the former San Diego daily North County Times and the San Diego Free Press.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Carlsbad City Council's Sweet Deal

Getting fan mail from elected officials is one of my pet peeves. They want “my opinion on the issues,” they say. But what they really want is the answer to a question not included in their questionnaires: “Do you still love me?”

To add insult to injury, I’m paying the postage for their reelection campaign. If politicians made decisions based on their deeper understanding of the issues, rather than their popularity, their newsletters would be more informative and voters could make better choices at the polls.

It’s doubtful the Civil Rights Act would have won the popular vote in the general election of 1964, the year Congress passed it into law. Our elected representatives had the courage to do what was right, at the risk of popular opinion. The Democrats lost the Solid South because of it.

Fast forward to this year’s Election Day in Carlsbad. By putting Proposition A on the ballot, the City Council found an easy way to shirk their responsibility for making tough decisions. What could be better for elected representatives than being allowed to decrease city employee benefits, but requiring a vote of the people to increase them?

It’s a politician’s dream.Section 502 of the City Charter, approved by voters in 2010, has a deceptive title, “Retention of Benefits.” It locks in a reduction of retirement benefits for police officers and firefighters hired after October 4, 2010. If Prop A passes, the same limit will apply for the rest of Carlsbad city employees hired after November 27, 2011.

Section 502 stipulates the city council continues to have the right to reduce benefits, but an increase will require a majority vote in a special or general election to amend the City Charter.

“Retention of Benefits” sounds more like, “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

Supporters of Prop A say it will save the city millions over the next decade, but that is simply not true. The reduced retirement benefits already negotiated, not Prop A, will create the savings. To claim otherwise is insulting to city workers, who agreed to the reduction in their negotiated contract with the city.

Prop A won’t save money, but it will create costs. The price of putting the previous city charter amendment on the 2010 general election ballot came to about $35,000. The estimated cost of special elections ranges from $450,000 to $500,000.

Although the failure of Prop A will have no effect on the city budget, it will require council members to summon up the courage to do the job they were elected to do.

This evasion of council responsibility and assault on collective bargaining should be re-titled, “The Incumbents Security Act of 2012.”

That’s why I’m voting no on Prop A.

No comments:

Post a Comment