Two California public pension cases in court

January 19, 2011

Two important public pension cases winding their way through the court system could have an impact on San Luis Obispo County. [PacificLegalFoundation]

Wednesday, the second district court of appeals in Los Angeles heard arguments in the County of Orange versus Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs’ case. The case focuses on a retroactive pay hike awarded to favored county employees.

The lawsuit contends that the pay hike was in violation of the California Constitution which prohibits local governments from incurring debt without voter approval.

It also noted that employees receiving extra benefits for no additional work, while requiring taxpayers to cover the financial burden, might be voided by California courts as unconscionable.

In the second case, a retirement agency is fighting a media requests for an accounting of who is receiving Sacramento County pension benefits along with how much they are receiving. Briefing of the case was recently completed at the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento.

The plaintiffs are arguing that taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent.

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Don’t hold your breath, pilgrims. The public teat suckling workshy looters and their union masters are just hunkering down, tossing back tiny crumbs from the trillions they have stolen, and waiting for the storm to pass. Which it will. Fed, state and local lackies are already framing the “solution” to being robbed in terms of reduced services to the mugged tax payer, not reduced riches for the robbers.

Jesus wept.

Until very, very recently the path to mid-upper and upper class wealth was paved by education, focus, and hard work in the private sector where you most likely created many additional value-creating jobs along the way. Today, that road resembles Baghdad Airport circa 2003 – blown to smithereens. No longer should you, as a good, responsible parent tell your kids to get educated and then venture into the world as a participant in capitalism, the great meritocracy, where achievement is rewarded and mediocrity is punished. Where creating value brings success and destroying it ensures failure.

Today, you as a parent wishing to see your children become independent and financially secure would be irresponsible not to steer your young adults into the minimum, if any, post high school education required to secure a union protected job in the public sector. Nowhere else will they be able to enjoy the salary, benefits, short days, vacation, sick time, low stress, low expectations, bullet-proof job security, no accountability, no need to add value, and early and fat retirement with ginormous lifetime bennies.

Nothing in the private sector compares, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about save municipal bankruptcy. You know it and so do they.

The days of the public sector being a safety net for low achievers to find employment at low-mid to middle class pay in exchange for low stress, job security, and early retirement are forever gone. They’ve figured out to keep the low stress, job security, and early retirement, and gold plate the deal as well. They’ve learned that all they have to do is…take your money. As much of it as they want. Just. Take. It.

And there aint a damn thing you can do about it.

Once upon a time in a land called America, any person with the drive and determination could get an education of whatever level they desired, find gainful employment with a company in the private sector and be assured that they had some relative job security if they performed well and helped their company succeed. Many would decide to strike out on their own and start their own business, risking much because if they were fortunate enough to have any sort of pension or retirement they had started building on and any sort of healthcare insurance provided by their employer, they had to walk away from all of that to do their own thing. Some people decided that working for a government entity would be a more secure way to plan for their future and some even felt they were providing a “public service”. ALL of that changed, slowly enough, when we elected leaders of our nation who were more interested in providing any break they could to those who ran the big businesses that employed so many people. When the politicians wrote laws that gave very generous tax breaks to businesses that moved their manufacturing out of our country and put more and more Americans out of work, many of those that lost their jobs started looking for jobs in government agencies. In a move that was more that just ironic, those politicians who railed against “big government” actually grew government larger and larger, hiring more and more people. In the early 1980s when government started growing more and more, in order to attract better, smarter, more educated workers, government employees were offered very small increases in their pay, but were offered better retirement packages and benefits. As more and more of the manufacturing companies moved their operations off shore, they found that they could negotiate smaller raises for their remaining workers, and after awhile they found that they could forgo raises altogether since employees were more concerned about just keeping their jobs. The government workers continued to receive their small cost of living wage increases over the years even as the private sector was slashing wages across the board, that is except for those actually on the boards and the upper management executives. After forty years of an economic system that seems to only really reward those that can find the best way to screw the lowest wage earners the most, and through tax policies that rewarded both those who sit on their butts waiting for the dividend check to come and those who can ship the most jobs out of the country, we have arrived at the mess we have now. The federal government won’t protect the companies that still want to make things here in this country, they won’t go after countries that don’t respect our intellectual property laws or copyrights, and because of the reduction in revenues the feds take more and more from the individual states. The state governments cannot run in a deficit mode, so they make more and more cuts to services and take more and more from county and city governments. And now we have arrived at the point where the blame for all of our governmental budget problems are blamed on the government worker, with no regard to how our tax policies and lack of tariffs have contributed to the downward spiral of our economy. Must be interesting to live in a conservative world viewpoint where everything is “black and white” and one doesn’t need any facts to back an assertion that government workers are “taking your money”. Do we need a conversation about government workers pay, benefits and pensions? Absolutely yes. But does anyone honestly believe that if we cut every single government worker’s pay, reduce all of their benefits and pensions that that alone is going to solve our budget woes? If you really believe that we can solve our economic woes on the backs of government workers, you really don’t have a grasp of true reality, you are just vindictive and probably jealous of what they have been getting. Look a little deeper at what is the cause of where we are, how we got here; it isn’t as simple as government workers getting paid too much or having too generous of benefits. Tariffs, trade policies (NAFTA, GATT, etc.) and tax policies, along with companies that once were US corporations with government contracts that have moved their operations completely out of our country are a much bigger problem and need to be addressed as well.

Taxpayers DO have a right to know how our money is being spent; let’s hope that the courts will decide that we do have that right, and that the other court upholds that our state constitution has to be followed and not allow any local government to incur any debt that is not voter approved.

“It also noted that employees receiving extra benefits for no additional work, while requiring taxpayers to cover the financial burden, might be voided by California courts as unconscionable.”

I like this one too.